The Kingdom of León-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, 1065-1109
Reilly, Bernard F.
Princeton University Press (1988)
The decision to write a history of the kingdom of León-Castilla during the period of Alfonso VI requires no explanation and little illustration. The years between 1065 and 1109 saw the political amalgamation of a kingdom that included not only León and Castilla, but Asturias, Galicia, the Rioja, the Basque country, the trans-Duero, the half of the old Muslim kingdom of Toledo that lay north of the Río Tajo, and the northern half of Portugal as well. The active and successful statecraft of its royal master thus carne to direct a political leviathan of roughly 200,000 square kilometers or half again the size of the kingdom of England. From its new position of hegemony of the meseta León-Castilla was to dominate the states of the peripheral lowlands unless and until they could secure assistance from without the peninsula. As the future was also to reveal, Spain was destined to emerge from the dream of León-Castilla. We are assuredly still too much the captives of a nineteenth-century political naturalism that regarded the modern nations of Europe as grounded in eternal, particular characteristics that needed only the growth of our rational perception to find realization in simple, preordained states. To the contrary! Spain had to be imagined before it could be created, and one simply cannot credit that the tiny Pyrenean states of Navarra, Aragón, or Catalonia could have conceived such an imperial future of themselves. Even Castilla had, willy-nilly, to be inducted by León into the fantasy of the restoration of the old Visigothic imperium in Iberia. But through the union of the two, and their aggrandizement, precisely during the reign of Alfonso VI such material power was achieved as to permit the translation of that wish into a realistic program for its fulfillment.