A History of Aragon and Catalonia: The Reconquest. Books.book Aragon in English. Spain.

A History of Aragon and Catalonia: The Reconquest. Books. book History Aragon Aragon

Aragon in English > book > History Aragon

The Reconquest

[28] Formation of Christian states in the north, Navarre and Aragon. Sancho the Great. The Cid. Muslim rule in the north-east. Its culture. The Crusade of 1064. The Cid's early campaigns. His exile. Barcelona, its growth and importance. The Cid in Zaragoza. Affairs in Valencia. The invasion of the Almorávides. The Cid's operations in the East. Conquest of Valencia and alliance with Aragon. Consolidation of the conquered district. Death of the Cid.

Visigothic Spain had maintained the character of a united kingdom, secured by the existence of a king and court and a general similarity of administrative methods. It was, however, a unity more apparent than real, and when the Muslim invasion had separated one district from another, such regions as remained in Christian occupation began to develop upon individual lines. In the north-west, the kingdom of the Asturias and Galicia continued the Visigothic traditions, customs and laws; but the states which began to emerge in the north-east, Navarre, Aragon, Barcelona and smaller duchies, were under Frankish influence or predominance, and possibly contained racial elements peculiar to themselves: hence these states gradually developed institutions and methods of government which diverged considerably from the course of development followed in the west.

The original nuclei of these states consisted of bodies of refugees who retreated to the southern slopes of the Pyrenees and joined such populations as were already settled there. Some of these were already known to the Gothic kings as troublesome neighbours; the Basque tribes had been a perpetual menace to the peace of such towns as Pamplona; when they had taken Christian fugitives under their protection, raids which had been criminal in Visigothic days became meritorious when the Muslim was in power. [29] Peaceful tribes were stirred to aggression by the fear of invasion or the hope of booty, and thus the Reconquista was begun, primarily with the object of recovering lost territory, influenced occasionally in later days by religious motives or foreign encouragement, but in its beginnings individualist in character and utilitarian in intention. Thus arose, to enumerate them in order from west to east, Navarre, Aragon, Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, Pallars, Urgel, Cerdaña, and the component condados of Barcelona. The majority of these were soon absorbed by Aragon or Barcelona, but some consideration must be given to their early history, which has been obscured by the piety or patriotism of later chroniclers. These writers conceived that the Reconquista was begun by a few men banded together to defend the Christian religion against Mahomet and to recover possession of their country; such men must have had a leader and a rallying-point, and when these were not known by tradition, they were invented, and excessive improbabilities were explained by reference to the miraculous. In consequence, the rise of the Spanish kingdoms remains one of the most obscure and difficult subjects with which historians of Spain have to deal.

The provinces of the Spanish mark formed part of the Carolingian Empire and appear to have accepted, in general, the institutions of that Empire. They formed part of the province of Septimania and were under the general authority of the Count of the province. The relationship of the social elements which composed the population was entirely feudal in character. The freeman could not stand alone and "commended" himself to an overlord, whose protection was given in return for service. He might hold land temporarily granted in beneficio, or as allodial property: in either case, he could not afford to stand outside the feudal system and if his holding was considerable he might himself become an overlord. Land recovered from the Moors was the property of the Crown, which made grants of it to particular subjects or to ecclesiastical corporations. Frontier landholders were excused certain taxation in return for the increased liability to military service which their position involved; they might attach themselves to an overlord or make grants to vassals of their own, as circumstances required. Their aspirations were naturally towards independence and [30] titles became by degrees hereditary. By inheritance and intermarriage, several feudal hierarchies might become united; such a power was then able to attract other feudatories; distance from the central authority favoured any movement towards independence and in this way arose a number of counties of which Barcelona became the strongest.

The region afterwards known as the Kingdom of Navarre was occupied from very early times by Basque peoples, who were always intolerant of authority and as ready to fight with Frankish lords in the north as with Muslims in the south. The latter overran the level parts of the province, seized Pamplona and drove the native inhabitants into the mountains where they maintained their freedom by a series of struggles against the Muslims as well as against the Carolingian rulers. In 824 they succeeded in driving out the Franks with the help of the renegade Beni-Kasim, after which they were free to turn upon the Muslims. About this time appears the name of one Íñigo Arista, who is said to have come from Bigorre and to have been Count of Navarre or of a part of it.

Legend relates that Sobrarbe owed its foundation to Voto and Felix, two nobles of Zaragoza, who became anchorites in a hermit's cave which Voto had discovered in Mount Pano, near Jaca: numerous fugitives gathered round them and were eventually organized as an army under the influence of the two holy men. One Garci-Ximenes was elected leader and, after his first victory over the Moors, acclaimed as king: a resemblance to the story of Pelayo and Covadonga is obvious. To this event is also ascribed the formula said to have been pronounced by the Justicia of Aragon at the coronation ceremony, when the oath was administered to the new King: "nos que valemos tanto como vos os facemos nuestro rey y señor con tal que nos guardéis nuestros fueros y libertades, y si no, no." This version is apparently due to Antonio Pérez, the secretary of Philip II, who improved upon the formula as given by Francesco Hotman in his Franco Galia, published in 1578: neither of these writers can be regarded as reliable historians. Garci-Ximenes is said to have been succeeded by his son Garci-Íñiguez, who styled himself King of Pamplona and created the condado de Aragon with Aznar, a local chieftain, as count. The third [31] King of Sobrarbe was Fortun Garcés I. Between Sobrarbe and Navarre lay Aragon, a small and unimportant county to the west of the river from which it takes its name. These provinces of the Spanish mark were more or less subject to the Dukes of Toulouse until the weakening of the Muslim Empire gave them opportunity to expand, and the period is filled with the names of dukes and kings whose chronology is uncertain and whose achievements are shadowy. Sancho García in the first quarter of the tenth century is an authentic figure; he repelled the Franks with the co-operation of the Moors and then turned upon the latter in conjunction with the Christians of the Asturias. He was known as Sancho Abarca, from the fact that he provided his troops with leather-soled shoes to increase their mobility; his daughter married the famous Fernán González, the kingmaker of medieval Spain. Sancho's son entered into alliance with Ordoño II of Leon and attacked the Moors, but was beaten by them at Val de Junquera, though he eventually drove the enemy out of his country. His son, the grandson of Sancho Abarca, was Sancho the Great (1000-1035), who became the most powerful of the Christian rulers in Spain; he was lord of Aragon, besides ruling over Navarre and Sobrarbe, and marriage connections had made him the uncle of Alfonso V, the King of Leon. The Count of Castile stood in the same relationship to Alfonso, and the three rulers made a combined attack upon the forces of Almanzor, who was then hampered by civil wars in Córdoba; they thus gained an extension of their respective territories on the south. Alfonso's son, Bermudo III, who succeeded in 927, married a sister of García, the Count of Castile, who was also related to Sancho, as has been said. A quarrel which ended with the assassination of García, broke up this family compact and Sancho proceeded to occupy Castile and to dispute with Bermudo concerning the delimitation of the frontier. The Church negotiated a peace and Bermudo married his sister Sancha to Sancho's son, Fernando, who assumed the title of King of Castile in 1087. War broke out again; Castile and Navarre attacked Leon and Bermudo was driven out of his kingdom into Galicia. Sancho thus ruled over Northern Spain from the frontiers of Galicia to those of Barcelona, and assumed the title of Rey de las Españas, which suggests [32] that he and his contemporaries did not regard his kingdom as a unity. Before his death in 1035, he divided his possessions among his sons; García received Navarre and the Basque provinces, Fernando took Castile, Ramiro took Aragon, and Gonzalo obtained Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. Thus was broken up the first combination which seemed to promise a union of Christian Spain.

The modern reader inevitably regards this and subsequent divisions as acts of singularly short-sighted policy, retarding that organized co-operation against the Moors which alone was likely to recover Spain for Spaniards. The Germanic laws of succession still held good in Spain and the Roman principle of primogeniture was only tardily adopted. The Crown might be regarded as symbolizing the power of the nation which was one and indivisible; such was the Roman, the ecclesiastical and the Visigothic conception of monarchy, a tradition continued in the Kingdom of Leon. There was another view, that of Teutonic feudalism, which regarded the realm as a piece of personal property and therefore divisible among heirs; Navarre, with its Teutonic mode of coronation by elevation upon a shield as opposed to [33] ecclesiastical coronation and unction upon a throne, was under the influence of this latter theory, which was also held by the Merovingian and early Carolingian kings of France. Sancho's action is among the first of similar acts of partition. Menéndez Pidal has suggested that the disintegrating influence apparent in the Carolingian Empire at the close of the ninth century had spread to Spain and will account for the rise of several petty kingdoms and duchies upon the model of the great feudal states in France. In any case, the division is indicative of the fact that national union was not an ideal in any degree present to the minds of Spanish rulers at this period of their history.

The Kingdom of Aragon was brought into existence by the will of Sancho the Great, who bequeathed the former county to Ramiro as a kingdom, Fernando obtaining Castile with the same title. Ramiro attempted to secure the Kingdom of Navarre from his brother García, but was defeated and driven out of the country; however, the death of his brother Gonzalo put him in possession of the counties of Ribagorza and Sobrarbe and thus turned his attention to the eastern side of his possessions. His war with Navarre had been undertaken with the object of gaining some outlet for expansion on the south and west; Aragon itself was confined to the upper part of the river of that name and its tributaries, and was cut off by the frontier of Navarre from its natural outlet towards Huesca. Ribagorza offered other possibilities, and Ramiro and his successors attacked the Moors with the purpose of extending his frontiers upon that side. In the ensuing wars Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid, made his appearance on the side of the Moors of Zaragoza who were helped by Castile, a state of affairs which requires some explanation.

The great Al-Manzor had gained his successes with the help of Berber troops imported from Africa in place of the former Arab militia; he also employed so-called Slavs, troops of European origin who might be of Gallic, Germanic or Spanish as well as of Slavonic extraction; many of these held high offices in the Muslim state. In the troubled years which followed the death of Al-Manzor in 1002, we find the Berbers taking possession of the southern districts from Granada to Cádiz; the Slavs occupied the east coast from Almería to Tortosa; the former Muslim nobility held various cities [34] and districts in the interior, forming petty states of little importance (taifas), while the Caliph's power did not extend far beyond the gates of his palace in Córdoba. Hixem (Hisham) III, the last Caliph, died in 1080, at which time Valencia was held by Abd al-Aziz Al-Manzor, a grandson of the great Al-Manzor, while various Slav dependents of this ruler held petty states in the vicinity. Tortosa and the Balearic Islands were in the hands of Slav rulers. Further north, the previous organization for the defence of the Muslim frontiers was maintained by governors of Arab extraction; thus the Beni-Hud held Lérida, Tudela and Zaragoza from 1039. Only two kingdoms among these petty principalities showed any capacity for expansion; Seville, with which we are not concerned, was one; Zaragoza was the other. The Beni-Hud had overpowered Tortosa in 1061 and Denia in 1076; members of the family also claimed to rule in Valencia. Thus the eastern side of the Spanish peninsula is composed of a number of petty states, both Christian and Moorish; the western side, in comparison, shows much greater homogeneity. The east was consequently the natural area for adventurers and freebooters, whose inclinations were to be further stimulated by the rise of the crusading spirit, of which the exploits of the Cid are typical. The Cid cannot be regarded as a crusader, but he came to rely upon the Mozárabic or Christian elements among the Moors, and found that the Muslim populations were the strongest supporters of his enemies. Thus, in consequence of the Cid's career, the Reconquista began to assume a more accentuated political and religious colouring.

Relations between Christian and Moorish states during the eleventh century were marked by certain changes, symptomatic of which was the system of parias, monetary payments made by Moorish to Christian states in return for help or protection against enemies. Such a system of semi-vassalage was made possible by the fact that the process of nationalization among the Moors had advanced considerably: the Roman and Gothic strain had assimilated the Asiatic or African element, and the breach between the Christian civilization of the north and the Muslim culture in the south had considerably diminished. Moors and Christians were able to live side by side, no longer so abruptly divided as before by racial and religious differences. This equilibrium, [35] such as it was, was eventually upset by the Almoravid invasions of 1086 to 1092, after which occupation of territory rather than the imposition of tribute became once more the Christian ideal. While the first half of the eleventh century was marked by the political weakness and instability of the Moorish states, it was a period of vigorous intellectual and artistic life, developed for the most part in the south. Córdoba and Seville were the chief centres of culture. Valencia and Zaragoza were the only centres of learning within the limits of the later Aragonese state. In the latter town, Moctádir and Mutamin, two Moorish kings with whom the Cid was on terms of friendship, were also philosophers and mathematicians of repute. The Moors in general admired learning; few of the petty princes did not possess a library and many of them were anxious to attract scholars to their courts. Poetry and music were their special delights and were regarded as no less indispensable than wine at the Moorish banquets. The culture of the Christian courts was meagre in comparison with the achievements of the Moors; the library of the famous monastery of Ripoll contained less than two hundred volumes in 1046; most of these consisted of patristic writings or of classical literature, until the Cluniac reform in the eleventh century banished the profanities of Virgil, Cicero and Ovid from monastic and, as far as possible, from secular life. The Moors despised the Northern Christians as uncultured barbarians; but their own culture, however brilliant, was built upon no such social foundation as Christianity provided for the Northern states. The Moorish rulers were individualists; the Christians had a common hope and purpose, often interrupted and obscured by political selfishness, but none the less real and steadfast.

It must not be supposed that the parts of Spain under Muslim domination at this time were in any sense permeated by Arab influence. The majority of the Muslim families constantly intermarried with persons of Gothic, Hispano-Roman or European extraction; there was a large population of Mozárabes, Spaniards who had retained their religion and their church organization, living in their own quarters of the towns and paying tribute to the Moors; there were also independent Christian lords, who for various reasons had been able to secure treaties of peace with the conquerors. [36] The population was, for the most part bilingual, speaking Arabic and Latinía or Aljamía, as the Spanish romance tongue was called. One of the reasons which enabled Christian invaders to push their raids deeply and successfully into Moorish territory was the lack of coherence between the heterogeneous elements of which the Moorish population was composed. This fact, again, the exploits of the Cid will illustrate.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was born of noble parents about 1043 and was brought up at the court of Fernando I of Castile, under the patronage of his eldest son, Sancho. The Gothic kings had been accustomed to keep the Sons of their nobility at court and to fit them for their future positions by providing them with some training in letters and in the art of war. In continuation of this custom Fernando I organized a course of instruction for his sons and those of his dependants, in which the youths studied letters under clerical direction and were trained in the use of arms, in riding and hunting. In this environment Rodrigo grew up; his uncles, Laín Núñez on his father's side and Nuño Alvarez on his mother's, were in constant attendance upon Fernando I and Sancho, and it was Sancho who invested Rodrigo as a knight (caballero) when he came to maturity. His first campaign after this event was undertaken with Sancho, in support of Moctádir, the Moorish King of Zaragoza, against Ramiro I of Aragon who was attacking the frontier town of Graus in the early months of 1063. Zaragoza had been tributary to Fernando I for some two years previously, at which time the King of Castile had captured two of its frontier towns. The joint enterprise was a failure, and Ramiro was killed in the action. This event produced an impression far beyond Spain. The papacy was kept informed by the monks of Cluny of the progress made by Christianity in the task of the Reconquista, and it was felt that the defeat and death of Ramiro, who had shown particular favour to the Church, called for vigorous action. Pope Alexander II, who owed his elevation to the papacy in 1061 to Cluniac influence, proclaimed the cause of Spain in Western Europe, preaching and organizing a crusade on a scale which was to be the model of the Eastern crusades, the first of which set out thirty-four years later. Contingents from Italy and the South of France [37] joined the Catalan and Aragonese troops at Gerona, under the command of Guillaume de Montreuil, known as le Bon Normand, a soldier of fortune in the service of the Pope. From Northern France was collected a more formidable force, the backbone of which consisted of troops from Normandy and Aquitaine; their leader and the most important personage in the whole expedition was the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers and Bordeaux, who had recently extended his power to the northern base of the Pyrenees and was a close friend of the Cluniac monks; both for religious and political reasons he was anxious to inflict a blow upon the Moors. His army crossed the Pyrenees at Somport, and joined the army concentrated at Gerona in the early part of 1064, when the whole force advanced upon Barbastro. This town, some thirty-five miles south-east of Huesca, and half-way between Zaragoza and Lérida, appears to have been a more important place than it now is. It was a strategic point between the Ebro valley and the mountainous lands of Upper Aragon, and its capture was a necessary preliminary to an attack upon Zaragoza. An accident to the water-supply obliged the defenders to surrender and the town was sacked with every circumstance of cruelty and debauchery. It is said that some fifty thousand Muslims were killed or captured, the surrounding country was devastated and enormous booty was divided among the conquerors; le Bon Normand obtained five hundred young women with a corresponding wealth of furniture, clothing and jewellery as his share. The exploit had no permanent result, for the Moors recaptured the town in the following year and slaughtered the garrison which was enfeebled by a long bout of debauchery. But the moral effects were considerable; the Moors were profoundly impressed by the military power of the French, and the French were roused to enthusiasm for the cause of Christianity in Spain; hence-forward, crusaders were attracted not only by the call of religious duty, but even more by the prospect of material wealth in the shape of plunder.

Moctádir of Zaragoza broke his alliance or agreement with the Castilians in consequence of these events and was attacked by Fernando I of Castile, who pushed his invasion as far south as Valencia. Ill-health obliged him to retire; in the [38] last month of 1065 he died and was succeeded by Sancho II in Castile, Alfonso VI in Leon and García in Galicia; the Cid held the post of alférez or standard-bearer at Sancho's court and with it the highest military command. His prestige was increased in the course of an attack upon Zaragoza by which Sancho attempted to recover his supremacy over that town. This enterprise brought him into collision with the Kings of Aragon and Navarre who considered him as a trespasser upon territory which they hoped to recover for themselves; the resulting conflict, known as the "War of the three Sanchos," ended in no advantage to any one of the combatants and the death of the widow of Fernando I in 1067 removed an influence for peace and allowed Sancho of Castile to turn his energies in another direction, that of uniting Leon with Castile at the expense of Alfonso VI. The events of this fratricidal struggle which continued until 1072 did not immediately affect the position of Aragon. Sancho defeated Alfonso in the battles of Llantada and Golpejera, and took him prisoner in the latter engagement; Alfonso escaped and took refuge with the Moorish King of Toledo, while Sancho attacked García and drove him out of Galicia and into exile at Seville. While attacking Zamora, [39] one of the last towns which held out against him, Sancho was killed by a pretended deserter from the town, Vellido Adolfo, said to have been sent by Urraca, Sancho's sister who held the town. Alfonso returned from Toledo, was recognized as King by the nobles both of Castile and of León, and attacked and defeated his brother García who had returned to Galicia with the help of the Moors of Seville. Alfonso thus became ruler of the united kingdom. He attacked and defeated the Sevillans who had helped García; the overthrow of the King of Toledo who had befriended him, and had been dethroned by his own subjects, enabled Alfonso to interfere in the affairs of that city which he captured in 1085, an important date in the history of the Reconquista. Numerous petty kings offered their submission; Alfonso besieged Zaragoza and overran Valencia, upon the throne of which he placed Al-Cadir, the former King of Toledo. These triumphs were ended by the invasion of the Almorávides to whom the Spanish Moors had appealed for help.

Alfonso was not recognized by the nobles of Castile and Leon in 1072 with any immediate show of unanimity. There is no reason to doubt that he was accused of complicity in the assassination of Sancho and that he had to clear himself before an assembly of nobles held at Burgos; the oath on this occasion was administered by the Cid, Sancho's former commander-in-chief. The Cid appears to have taken the usual oath of allegiance, but memories of the battle of Golpejera and the part which he played in the recognition of Alfonso by the Castilians must have left relations between himself and Alfonso in a state of tension. The King naturally showed favour to his former supporters, such as García Ordóñez, his alférez; but he gave the Cid in marriage his cousin, Jimena, the daughter of Diego Rodríguez, Count of Oviedo, and the wedding took place in 1074; it was no doubt a political marriage and one of various measures by which Alfonso hoped to unite Castile and Leon. In the following year the Cid's landed property was relieved of all liability to taxation and the King seems to have been anxious to secure the goodwill of this formidable personage. Trouble began in 1079, when he was sent to Seville by Alfonso to receive the parias, the tribute due from the King, Motámid. Rodrigo found Motámid at war with the King of Granada who had [40] in his service certain Castilian nobles, including the Count García Ordóñez of Nájera. These Castilians were probably acting under orders from Alfonso who may have wished to preserve a balance of power between two Moorish rulers; but the Cid thought that it was his duty to protect Alfonso's tributary when he found him attacked. He completely defeated the forces of Granada and took the Count of Nájera prisoner together with other Christian nobles. He released them after three days, when his victory was secure, returned to Seville, collected the tribute and arrived at Burgos, where the King was holding his court, in May 1080, bringing with the money various presents from Motámid. Rodrigo was then accused, upon what grounds is not clear, of appropriating part of the treasures entrusted to him. The fact that he had engaged in a war against Moors without permission may also have been brought against him. Alfonso further suspected him of an attempt to interfere in his relations with the subject ruler of Toledo. The Cid had numerous enemies of whom García Ordóñez was the leader. The hostility of the court completed the distrust of the King and Rodrigo was sent into exile.

Vassalage was a contract terminable at will by either of the parties to it. If the King removed his favour from a subject, confiscation of property did not necessarily follow; the exile remained a subject of his King as before and the old relationship might be resumed at a later date. But the fact of exile in the case of a prominent person, affected a number of others who might be in feudal relation to him. The Cid's own vassals thus went into exile with their overlord; they were men whom he had brought up at his court, endowed with land, or united to himself by marriage, as well as men who had no particular tie of relationship with his family. These formed the mesnada, the following of the house, and the principal names mentioned in the Poema de mío Cid, Álvar Álvarez; Álvar Háñez, Félez Muñoz, Pedro Vermúdez, the alférez, were all united with the Cid as relations of himself or of Jimena. To this nucleus others were attracted ; the disappointed or dissatisfied, the adventurous and those anxious to fish in troubled waters. Thus the Cid left Burgos at the head of a considerable force. The only career open to an exile in his position was one of war for or against the Moors. There was nothing to be [41] done in the west and south, as Alfonso himself was prosecuting various plans for expansion in that direction. The Cid therefore made his way to Barcelona; he already had experience of war in that part of the country; he knew that the Aragonese rulers and the Counts of the Spanish mark were striving to secure the valley of the Ebro; Castile appeared to have abandoned her former efforts in that direction, and he might well continue the policy of Fernando I, in conjunction with one of the local Christian powers.

Barcelona was even then one of the most important cities in the peninsula. Its commerce was considerable and it was a point at which foreign influence could enter Spain both by land and sea. As regards its earlier history and that of Catalonia, for which it formed the centre of gravity, reference has already been made to the formation of the Spanish mark and to the manner in which the local counts made themselves independent of Frankish control; Wifred, known as the Hairy (El Velloso), united the counties of Urgel and Cerdaña to Barcelona: he extended his power to Montserrat and to the mountainous region in which the rivers of Catalonia have their source, and is said to have founded the Monastery of Ripoll. He died in 898 and his successors were able to intervene in the Moorish civil wars and to gain some extensions of territory; but progress was slow until the death of Al-Manzor and the consequent break-up of the Muslim power. At the outset of the eleventh century, the reigning count was Berenguer Ramon I (1018-1035), who did little to extend his frontiers -- he is said to have been entirely under the control of his mother -- but made some settlement of the political conditions of the country, by recognizing, granting or codifying the fueros and liberties of Barcelona, which at that time included Gerona, Ausona and Manresa. This work was continued by his successor, Ramon Berenguer I, who supplemented the old Gothic laws of the Fuero Juzgo by formulating the celebrated Usatges which reduced to unity the varying customs and laws prevailing in the several condados which made up the state of Catalonia in confederation under the leadership of Barcelona. After a preliminary struggle with his grandmother, who established herself in Gerona and claimed the greater part of his dominions as her own, Ramon Berenguer was able to extend his influence in two directions. [42] He extended his frontiers as far as Barbastro by conquests from the Moors; and in other directions, more especially in the south, Moorish chieftains and governors paid him tribute and acknowledged his supremacy. By marriage he also increased his influence north of the Pyrenees; both his first wife, Isabel of Béziers, and his second, Almodis de la Marche (of Limousin), brought him into connection with the nobility of Southern France, while through his grandmother he obtained lands in the area of Carcassonne. Thus began an extension of power which was to prove more trouble than benefit under Pedro II. His son by his first marriage, Pedro Ramon, quarrelled with his second wife Almodis and eventually killed her, in consequence of which he was exiled. Ramon Berenguer I died in 1076, his last years embittered by family troubles and by the failure of an expedition into Murcia, and left his possessions to the twin sons of his second marriage, Ramon Berenguer II, known as Cap d'Estopa, "towhead," from the thickness and colour of his hair, and Berenguer Ramon II; his will shows that he held almost as much territory north of the Pyrenees as in the peninsula itself.

These twin sons were in power at Barcelona at the time of the Cid's arrival. They do not appear to have accepted the Cid's estimate of his personal reputation and capacity; the exile was affronted by the lack of consideration which he received and opened negotiations with the Moorish ruler of Zaragoza, Moctádir Ben Hud, who had been upon the throne since 1046. He had secured possession of Lérida, Tortosa and Denia, overcoming the petty kings of those places by force or treachery, and at the time of the Cid's arrival Zaragoza was one of the largest Moorish kingdoms in Spain. Moctádir was, however, not averse from the prospect of securing the support of the Cid, whose capacity he had observed in the days of Sancho the Strong. He regarded Aragon as a permanent danger, and there was always the possibility that Castilian attacks might be renewed; he was therefore glad to have on his side a soldier to whom the Christian methods of warfare were familiar. However, in 1081, shortly after the arrival of the Cid, Moctádir died; he divided his kingdom between his two sons, Mutamin, the elder, taking Zaragoza, while Al-Mundhir obtained Lérida, Tortosa and Denia. The inevitable result was a fratricidal war, in which the Christian [43] rulers intervened in the hope of furthering their own interests. As Mutamin had secured the services of the Cid, the brother turned to Aragon and Barcelona for help; he also obtained assistance from most of the counts of the Spanish mark and from Languedoc and Gascony. The allies were defeated and Berenguer Ramon of Barcelona was taken prisoner by the Cid. This Arab title (Sidi, lord), is the usual mode of reference to Rodrigo de Vivar by Christian writers who speak of him as Mio Cid; Muslim writers more often give him the title of Campeador, the Challenger or Champion.

This exploit naturally increased the reputation of the Cid and attracted the attention of Alfonso, who had been induced to interfere in the family quarrels of the Beni Hud. His intervention led to no result, but Rodrigo took the opportunity of meeting Alfonso with a view to reconciliation. Nothing came of it and he returned to Zaragoza. During the years 1083 and 1084 military operations were exclusively concerned with the war between Mutamin and his brother, Al-Mundhir. The King of Aragon, Sancho Ramírez, who had succeeded Ramiro in 1063, was able to capture Graus and other strong points upon the northern frontier of the Moorish kingdom. He renewed his alliance with Al-Mundhir, but the Cid defeated their united forces in August 1084, and made a number of important prisoners. The Cid's inactivity for the next two years may be explained by his reluctance to oppose Alfonso, who was pursuing his imperialist policy in almost every part of the peninsula. While continuing his career of conquest in Andalucía, he was also attempting to secure adherents in Aragon; to García, the Bishop of Jaca and a brother of Sancho Ramírez, he offered the Archbishopric of Toledo, which city he hoped to make the capital of Christian Spain. In 1083 Alfonso succeeded in capturing Toledo from the Moorish King of Badajoz and in replacing upon the throne Al-Cadir, the grandson of the king who had protected him in his exile. Al-Cadir found his position very insecure; Alfonso demanded enormous indemnities for the expenses of the war, and the taxation which Al-Cadir was obliged to impose made him very unpopular; many of his subjects migrated to Zaragoza and induced Mutamin to invade the Toledan territory on the east; Motámid of Seville grasped the opportunity for an attack in the south. Al-Cadir was obliged [44] to appeal to Alfonso for help and eventually agreed to surrender the city to him upon terms which allowed the Moorish population to remain or migrate as they pleased and secured to them the practice of their religion. Al-Cadir was to be compensated by the possession of Valencia, which his grandfather Mamun had added to the kingdom of Toledo, but which had recovered its independence under Abdal-Aziz; this king died in June 1085, about a fortnight after Alfonso had secured possession of Toledo. It was understood that Al-Cadir would enjoy the protection of the Castilian power, nor was he likely to remain upon the throne without it; the Valencians did not want him; the King of Zaragoza, Mostain, the son of Mutamin, had a strong claim to the throne through his wife, a daughter of Abdal-Aziz, and intended to prosecute it. Al-Cadir was escorted to Valencia by a large force of Christian troops under Álvar Háñez, for the maintenance of which he had to pay heavily; the exasperation of the inhabitants was completed by the outrageous behaviour of the troops and by the taxation which their presence necessitated. The real masters of Valencia were Alfonso and his lieutenant, Álvar Háñez. Alfonso treated Seville and its king to a similar display of imperial aggression; he had for some time been besieging Zaragoza with reasonable hopes of success and its capture would bring every Muslim power in Spain under his sway. These ambitions were shattered by the invasion of the Almorávides.

The Almorávides were originally a tribe of Sahara Berbers, who were converted to Islam by one of the religious fanatics which North Africa periodically produced; in the strength of their new faith they gradually extended their power from Senegal to the northern coast. They were a barbarous, uncultured race of bigots, regarded with considerable apprehension by the civilized Moors of Southern Spain, and it was not without much searching of hearts that Mutamin and others decided that they could not make head against Alfonso without their help. The Almoravid leader, Yusuf, landed at Algeciras with a great force in 1086; the decisive battle was fought near Badajoz, at a spot known as Zallaca by the Muslims and Sagrajas by the Christians, and Alfonso was totally defeated. His authority over the Moorish taifas collapsed incontinently; Yusuf had united Islam and it was no [45] longer possible to deal with petty princes separately: there was a distinct possibility that the Christians might be driven back to the mountains of the north. Alfonso, therefore, sent messages to ask for help from the several princes in France; he also remembered the prowess of the Cid and secured a reconciliation with him early in 1087. The French provinces were fully alive to the danger and most of them sent contingents to a large army which operated, as usual, in the valley of the Ebro, and not where Alfonso would have preferred to see them, south of Toledo. No great result was obtained; the scanty notices which have survived suggest that the expedition was broken up by internal dissension, and by the end of the year most of the crusaders had returned to their homes. The Spanish Christians were left to provide for their own safety and the Cid undertook the conduct of operations in the east.

The miserably incompetent Al-Cadir of Valencia was once more in trouble; threatened with expulsion by his own citizens, who were supported by Al-Mundhir of Lérida, the uncle of Mostain of Zaragoza, Al-Cadir applied for help to every one he could think of, including the Cid. Mostain and the Cid arrived at Valencia simultaneously. The case was further complicated by the intervention of Berenguer Ramon of Barcelona. To follow the tortuous intrigues of the business would be waste of time; the Cid remained master of the situation, and the Almoravid leader determined to advance against him and against the Christian forces which used Aledo as a base of operations under the generalship of García Jiménez. Alfonso summoned the Cid to join him in an attempt to oppose this movement; the Cid failed to reach the King at the appointed time, and the result was a second quarrel and a second formal dismissal into exile. The Cid had broken with his Moorish allies in loyalty to Alfonso and thus found himself in the position of a private adventurer with no obligations to any one except himself. He established himself in the neighbourhood of Alicante, moved northward in the early months of 1090 and secured from Al-Cadir the submission of Valencia. The Moorish King of Tortosa, his old enemy Al-Mundhir, induced Berenguer Ramon of Barcelona to join him in an attack upon the Cid, who completely defeated the confederates in the battle of El Pinar de Tévar and once [46] more took Berenguer prisoner. This victory left the Cid master of the modern province of Valencia; he exacted an enormous ransom from Berenguer; he drew tribute from all the chief towns in the district and was able without difficulty to maintain a formidable army of chosen warriors. He also showed sufficient statesmanship to spare the feelings of his Moorish subjects and to rouse among them a strong antipathy to the Almorávides, based upon the contrast between civilization and barbarism.

It was obvious that he could not continue to stand alone in face of the Almoravid power, and as reconciliation with Alfonso was impossible -- another attempt in 1091 had failed -- he concluded early in 1092 a treaty with Sancho Ramírez, the King of Aragon and with Mostain, his old ally of Zaragoza; the object of the coalition was the defence of the east against the Almorávides. Alfonso in that year made an attack upon Valencia with the help of the sea-power of Pisa and Genoa, at a time when the Cid was absent in Zaragoza. The Cid replied by ravaging the districts of Nájera and Calahorra and destroying the city of Logroño, and Alfonso was obliged to raise the siege of Valencia and hurry back to the defence of his own dominions. He had, however, caused a crisis in the internal politics of Valencia; the helpless and invalid Al-Cadir was murdered by a hostile faction of the inhabitants who had made common cause with the Almorávides, and the Cid had now a reasonable excuse for securing possession of a city of which he had long been the virtual ruler.

Valencia was now governed by a municipal council with the leader of the revolt, one Ibn Jahbaj, as cadi. In no long time he found the Cid before the walls of the city. Supported by Mostain with men and money, the Cid had started southward as soon as he heard of the revolution. In the last months of 1092 and in the early part of 1093 he succeeded in subjugating the outlying districts of Valencia and began to attack the suburbs of the city; he was soon able to complete the blockade and the revolutionaries were forced to capitulate in July. Meanwhile Yusuf, the Emir of the Almorávides, unable to acquiesce in the loss of so important a city, was advancing to its recapture. To secure the fidelity of the inhabitants, the Cid made them an offer which is not without parallel in medieval Spain, strange as it may seem to modern ideas; he [47] offered Valencia a truce for the month of August, on condition that the city should accept his rule, if he succeeded in defeating Yusuf; but if the Almoravide should be able to defeat him, he undertook to abandon all pretensions to Valencia. The condition was readily accepted and the Cid began his preparations to meet the Almoravide attack, by gathering supplies and men and securing the safety of his communications with Zaragoza. The enemy advanced slowly and it was not until November that they were visible from the city, which broke the terms of capitulation in the expectation of speedy relief. But a terrific storm of rain and the reputation of the Cid were obstacles which the invaders could not face; their army melted away; "nimis pavens nocte per umbras fugit," and Valencia was left to its own resources.

The Cid besieged Valencia for the second time and forced the Almoravid party to capitulate in May, 1094. The defending force had seized all the food for themselves and the unfortunate inhabitants were reduced to the direst straits. The Cid refused to allow them to leave the town, and those who were caught in the act of escaping were killed and in some cases burnt alive before the eyes of their fellow-citizens. The property of Al-Cadir fell into the hands of the Cid, together with a great amount of booty; after securing his possession of the city, he sent to Alfonso of Castile to announce his success which was the more striking, as Alfonso had himself failed to make any impression upon the Almoravid power in the south; with the announcement came a present and a request that the Cid might resume the former tie of vassalage; he obtained permission for his wife Jimena and his children to join him in Valencia, all of which details are related at length in the Poema.

In this year, 1094, Sancho Ramírez of Aragon died while engaged in the siege of Huesca, either from illness or in consequence of a wound. His successor, Pedro I, renewed the alliance which had existed between his father and the Cid, whose attention was then fully occupied by a further attempt which the Almorávides made to reconquer Valencia. Yusuf placed his nephew, one Mohammad, in command of a force said to consist of 150,000 horse and 3000 foot; compared with this overwhelming number the Cid's army was insignificant; nor could Pedro of Aragon help him, as he was [48] himself occupied in besieging Huesca, which he captured in 1096, after defeating a relieving army sent out by the Emir of Zaragoza.

The Cid remained within the walls, allowing the enemy to expend their arrows upon the fortifications and to grow careless of the possibility of attack upon themselves; when the favourable moment arrived, he made a sudden sortie which threw the Almorávides into confusion and enabled him to inflict a crushing defeat upon them; an enormous amount of booty was captured and the danger of invasion was averted for some time to come. The Cid was then able to consolidate his hold of Valencia; he punished the murderers of Al-Cadir, most of whose treasures he recovered from the hiding-places in which the assassins had concealed them; he showed considerable leniency towards the Moorish population which was allowed to retain its lands, customs and places of worship, on condition of paying a moderate tribute. This leniency emboldened such of the hostile faction as remained to begin a fresh series of intrigues; but the Cid averted any danger from this quarter by expelling them from the city. While prepared for a reconciliation with Alfonso, he had a definite policy of his own, of which his alliance with Pedro of Aragon was the outward expression; the Eastern provinces of the peninsula were to be regarded as a whole and the Cause of the Christians was not to be disturbed by the interference of any Western power, whether Christian or Muslim. When Mostain, the King of Zaragoza, persuaded Alfonso of Castile to allow some of his vassals to help in the relief of Huesca, the Cid appears to have given what support he could to Pedro of Aragon, who completely defeated the relieving force in the battle of Alcoraz. Similarly, when the Cid was threatened shortly afterwards by another Almoravid invasion, Pedro came to his help with all the forces that he could collect and helped him to gain another victory. But when Yusuf attacked Toledo in 1097, the Cid sent a force to the aid of Alfonso and with it his son Diego, who was killed in the defeat which the Castilian forces suffered at Consuegra.

In 1098 the Cid captured Murviedro and the possession of this important fortress secured him from any surprise attack by the Almorávides. He had already restored the bishopric of [49] Valencia and one Jerónimo or Jérome had been appointed to this see; he was from Périgord, one of a number of French monks whom Bernardo, the Archbishop of Toledo, had brought into Spain to supplement the deficiencies of the Spanish clergy. Jerónimo is represented in the Poema as a warrior cleric, who had joined the Cid to take an active part in fighting against the Moors; when the bishopric was reconstituted, he was the obvious candidate for the post and his election appears to have had the approval both of the Pope Urban II, and of the Archbishop of Toledo, to which Valencia had been suffragan from very early times. About this time the marriages of the Cid's daughters must also have been contracted. The elder, Cristina Rodríguez, married Ramiro, the infante of Navarre, which was at that time united with Aragon; their son became King of Navarre as García IV in 1134, when a final separation of the kingdoms took place. The second daughter, María Rodríguez, married the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer III. He was the son of Ramon Berenguer II, known as Cap d'Estopa; the possessions of Barcelona had been bequeathed to him and to his twin brother, Berenguer Ramon II, in 1076. The twins had failed to agree and divided the inheritance between them; "Towhead" was finally killed while hunting, and popular opinion credited his brother with his assassination. Berenguer Ramon II, who was thus left as sole ruler, fought against the Cid, as has been said, and was twice taken prisoner by him. In 1091 he captured Tarragona, which had previously paid tribute to his father, after which date his history is obscure it is said that he was accused of his brother's murder before Alfonso VI of Castile by certain Catalan nobles and that he was defeated in the subsequent ordeal by battle; there is also a tradition that he went upon a pilgrimage or crusade to the Holy Land and died in Jerusalem. His nephew became Count in 1096 and was some seventeen years of age at the time of his marriage with the Cid's daughter. By her he had two daughters who married the count of Besalú and the Count of Foix; their mother died about 1105, and Ramon married again, as will be seen later.

The Cid died in July 1099, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six; campaigns, wounds and anxiety had doubtless worn him out. Jimena continued to rule in Valencia for [50] another three years, after which the Almorávides threatened an invasion with which she could not deal. Alfonso of Castile came to her relief and obliged the invaders to retire; but he felt unable to retain possession of the city; much of the crusading energy of Spain was being attracted to the Holy Land and men were anxious to join Godfrey de Bouillon in founding the Kingdom of Jerusalem, though there was an enemy of greater importance to them almost at their doors. Alfonso, therefore, decided to abandon Valencia, which was too far from his dominions to be defended; the Christian population evacuated the town and retired with the army of Castile in May 1102, taking with them the great stores of booty and treasure that the Cid had accumulated, together with the body of the hero for burial in Castile. Valencia was set on fire, and the Moors returned to find a heap of blackened ruins.

It was thus within the limits of the later kingdom of Aragon that the Cid's energies were displayed; nor is it mere coincidence that on this side of Spain and not in his native Castile was produced the chief literary document which tells the history of his exploits. Some writers have regarded the Cid as an outlawed freebooter whose victories over the Moors were chiefly inspired by the hope of plunder for himself and his followers. Such a view is entirely mistaken. Nor should he be compared with refractory nobles, such as Bernardo del Carpio, whose defiance of monarchical authority aroused the admiration of a public impatient of subordination for the common good, and intent only upon the aims of individual selfishness. With these the Cid had nothing in common. It is sufficiently plain, in the first place, that he was a military leader of outstanding skill; he was the only general in Spain who succeeded in defeating the Almorávides. While the King of Castile could make no impression upon this Moorish power in the south, Rodrigo Díaz, with resources far inferior, was able to capture a very important city and to defeat the successive Moorish commanders who attempted to retake it. He possessed that peculiar quality of leadership which inspires confidence in followers and misgiving in opponents, and thus gained a reputation to which he owed some of his victories and to which Arab chronicles have borne full testimony. He appears as the foremost strategist of his time. The Almorávides are repeatedly said to have terrified their [51] foes by the noise of their drums, los atambores; possibly they were able to direct the movements of their troops at a distance or to send them information by one of those systems of drum signals which have been highly developed in different parts of Africa, and so to use a form of tactics unfamiliar to the Spaniards; if this was a reason for their success, the Cid showed himself able to counter it effectually. Bold, aggressive, and supported by a small standing army, he was a statesman as well as a warrior: he had a definite plan for securing Eastern Spain against Moorish domination, and his very genuine religious belief was strongly tempered with the crusading spirit. Yet he was lenient to subjugated populations and the situation which ended in the expulsion of the Moriscos four centuries later would never have arisen under his methods of administration. His defects were those of his time; considerable emphasis is certainly laid by the early documents upon the amounts of booty which he acquired, but such references are not surprising in an age which regarded personal property as the only form of wealth worth consideration. Occasional outbursts of anger or the occasional use of cruelty and terrorism to gain his ends were not sufficiently frequent to break down that equanimity and sense of proportion known to his age as mesura and regarded by it as an essential quality of the knightly character. Remarkable also was his steadfast patriotism; unjustly exiled, repeatedly rebuffed and constantly suspected by Alfonso, he none the less remained consistently loyal to the obligation of vassalage and fully justified the eulogy of the Poema:

¡Dios, que buen vasallo, si oviese buen señor!
And if his undaunted soul after death may be conceived to have lamented the abandonment of the crown of his ambition, Valencia, yet it may have found some measure of comfort to see his body laid to rest in his own native land, in the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña. Nor was that the end of his name and fame. His figure became the centre of a folk poetry and of an epic which is the most precious literary document of early Spain, and has continually provided material for drama and lyric in modern Spain, France, Germany and England.

This work was originally published by Methuan Publishing Ltd. in 1933.
Pagination of the original edition is indicated set off in brackets, as in [19].

Ample your information on Aragon

If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.

Also Aragon enjoys a diverse and varied Nature where passing by plants, animals or landscapes we can arrive at a fantastic bestiario that lives in its monuments.

The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.

Also you can dedicarte to the intangible ones: from the legend compilation that also does to universal Aragon you can persecute the presence of del Santo Grial in Aragon.

Huesca | Teruel | Zaragoza | Aragon | Maps |
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Tourism | Mudejar | Goya | Alphabetical Index | Thematic

A History of Aragon and Catalonia: The Reconquest. Books.

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