Tiresias: Vol.2 (2013)
Reconquista society in medieval Christian Spain is all too often considered through only economic and martial eyes. In this study of the prevelant cult of Santiago de Compostela (or St. James the Greater) I will demonstrate how medieval society meshed both war and religion.
James F. Powers’ Society Organized for War is a comprehensive study of the martial organization 1 of medieval Christian Iberia during the Spanish Reconquista. However, the Reconquista society which Powers discusses only encompasses the economic, civic, and martial bodies of medieval society. Both he and others writing on the same topic focus heavily on the secular branch of medieval Spanish society, while largely neglecting the religious branch. At a time when the ever-present Catholic Church had both political and religious prominence over all of Western Europe, the study of medieval society without religious considerations limits the modern historian to an incomplete understanding of motivations and influences at play during the Reconquista. Since the nature of medieval society was composed of three estates – namely, the nobility, the clergy, and commoners – it is important to examine all these aspects of the Reconquista to gain a complete picture. In the case of the Reconquista, the religious ideology of Christian Iberia was geared towards war, blurring the distinction between the estates, and compelling an examination of this religious ideology to complement the in-depth discussions of the secular war-making and labouring components provided by historians such as Powers and Lourie.