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New Medieval Books: The Conquest of Santarém and Goswin’s Song of the Conquest of Alcácer do Sal

The Conquest of Santarém and Goswin’s Song of the Conquest of Alcácer do Sal: Editions and Translations of De expugnatione Scalabis and Gosuini de expugnatione Salaciae carmen

By Jonathan Wilson

ISBN: 9780367753825

Part of the very influential Crusade Texts in Translation series, this book offers editions and translations of two accounts of Crusader conquests of two towns that are now part of modern-day Portugal: Santarém in 1147 and Alcácer do Sal in 1217. The connections two texts were found in the same thirteenth-century codex and were likely written by the same person, a Cistercian monk named Goswin of Bossut.

Excerpt from De expugnatione Scalabis:

But this is what we must do first. One hundred and twenty from your number will be chosen divided into groups of twelve who will make ten ladders, so that when one man ascends his, there will not be one but ten on top of the wall of the city, and in this way the escalade will be easy and the numbers climbing will be multiplied. Once this has happened, raise my standard so that it may be visible from a distance to us in the main taskforce, and also to those who perchance to be awaking to their defeat. Then you break the bolt of the doors so that a charge inside made simultaneously by the rest of the army will throw those who are unarmed and drowsy into confusion.


Who is this book for?

The two texts offered in this text are quite short, filling only about two dozen of the 183 pages in this book. Therefore this book will mostly appeal to specialist scholars – those interested in Portugal, military history, and the writings of the Cistercians and the crusades. A large portion of this book is dedicated to making the case that Goswin of Bossut is the author of both texts, so if you like deciphering historiographical problems then you will enjoy that aspect.

The author:

Jonathan Wilson is a Researcher at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where he focuses on the medieval history of Portugal, particularly its wars in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. You can learn more from his page. See also his article “Enigma of the De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi,” where he looks at another text involving the crusades in Portugal.


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