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The Last Crusade in the West

The Last Crusade in the West: Castile and the Conquest of Granada

Joseph F. O’Callaghan
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    The Last Crusade in the West
    Book Description:

    By the middle of the fourteenth century, Christian control of the Iberian Peninsula extended to the borders of the emirate of Granada, whose Muslim rulers acknowledged Castilian suzerainty. No longer threatened by Moroccan incursions, the kings of Castile were diverted from completing the Reconquest by civil war and conflicts with neighboring Christian kings. Mindful, however, of their traditional goal of recovering lands formerly ruled by the Visigoths, whose heirs they claimed to be, the Castilian monarchs continued intermittently to assault Granada until the late fifteenth century.Matters changed thereafter, when Fernando and Isabel launched a decade-long effort to subjugate Granada. Utilizing artillery and expending vast sums of money, they methodically conquered each Naṣrid stronghold until the capitulation of the city of Granada itself in 1492. Effective military and naval organization and access to a diversity of financial resources, joined with papal crusading benefits, facilitated the final conquest. Throughout, the Naṣrids had emphasized the urgency of ajihādwaged against the Christian infidels, while the Castilians affirmed that the expulsion of the "enemies of our Catholic faith" was a necessary, just, and holy cause. The fundamentally religious character of this last stage of conflict cannot be doubted, Joseph F. O'Callaghan argues.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0935-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. A Note on Money
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Genealogical Tables
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction. Castile and the Emirate of Granada
    (pp. 1-12)

    Ever since the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century, the Christians had fought to expel them. The present volume describes the ebb and flow of that conflict, known as the reconquest, from the middle of the fourteenth century until its completion in 1492. Accorded crusading status by the papacy, the struggle continued long after serious attempts to recover the Holy Land had been abandoned, and so can rightly be called the last crusade in the West.

    Not long after the Muslims destroyed the Visigothic kingdom, independent Christians in the northernmost reaches of the peninsula expressed their...

  6. Chapter 1 Pedro I: An Era of Ambivalence
    (pp. 13-28)

    After Alfonso XI’s death, his only legitimate son, Pedro I (1350–69), not yet sixteen years old, ascended the throne and, in time, gained the sobriquet, the Cruel.¹ Absent the threat of Marinid invasion, he made no attempt to conquer Granada though he intervened in Naṣrid civil strife. While he engaged in a frenetic war against Aragón, the bitter hostility of his half-brother, Enrique, the count of Trastámara, eventually plunged the realm into civil war and led to his violent overthrow. That conflict enabled Muḥammad V of Granada, for many years Pedro I’s loyal vassal, to recover Algeciras. Both Pedro...

  7. Chapter 2 The Early Trastámaras: An Era of Peace
    (pp. 29-45)

    In the nearly forty years following the death of Pedro I, the kings of the Trastámara dynasty maintained peace with Granada. Consolidation of their hold on the throne and the annexation of Portugal took precedence over the crusade against the Moors. The division of Christian Europe caused by the Great Western Schism resulted in the anomaly of crusades directed by rival popes against Castile and Portugal. For most of that epoch Muḥammad V reigned in Granada, bringing peace and prosperity to his people. As the fourteenth century drew to a close and a new Naṣrid monarch was proclaimed, hostilities between...

  8. Chapter 3 The Crusades of Antequera and Ceuta
    (pp. 46-67)

    In the decade following Enrique III’s death, his brother Fernando executed the first major offensive against Granada since the end of Alfonso XI’s reign more than half a century before. As regent for his nephew Juan II (1406–54), Fernando, with scarcely any letup, pressed forward, conquering Antequera a few miles west of Granada, whence he gained his sobriquet, Fernando de Antequera. His election as king of Aragón, however, added to his responsibilities and distracted his attention from the struggle against the Naṣrids. If he had lived longer he might have used the resources of both realms to gain additional...

  9. Chapter 4 The Failed Crusades of Juan II
    (pp. 68-92)

    During his long reign, Juan II (1406–54), after the death of Fernando I, made only one significant assault on Granada. Although he triumphed on the battlefield of La Higueruela in 1431, he failed to reap any benefit. Disinclined to pursue serious warfare, he was distracted by palace intrigues, rivalry among members of the royal family, and discordant relations with the magnates. Even if he had wished to do so, he could not take advantage of Naṣrid dynastic upheavals. Despite truces extending over many years, life on the frontier was stressful and uncertain because of raids carried out by both...

  10. Chapter 5 The Intermittent Crusades of Enrique IV
    (pp. 93-121)

    Enrique IV (1454–74), who was twenty-nine at his accession, has long been regarded as one of the worst Castilian kings. As Luis Suárez Fernández remarked, “There are few figures more unanimously vilified than he.”¹ The persistent hostility of the chronicler Alonso de Palencia and the partisans of Isabel the Catholic did much to blacken his memory and minimize his achievements. Recently, historians have attempted to rehabilitate his reputation, arguing that at least initially he tried to execute the crusading policy of Fernando de Antequera.² During his early years he launched a methodical campaign of destruction against Granada, but the...

  11. Chapter 6 Fernando and Isabel’s Crusade: From Alhama to Málaga
    (pp. 122-167)

    The distinction of bringing the centuries-long reconquest to a close pertains to Isabel of Castile and her husband, Fernando of Aragón.¹ After overcoming initial opposition to Isabel, they proclaimed their intention to conquer Granada and expel the Moors. The papacy, comprehending that victory over Islam in the Iberian Peninsula would counterbalance the growing power of the Turks, supported the Castilian enterprise with crusading indulgences and financial benefits. The initial phase of the war took place in the western sector of the emirate as the king and queen endeavored to expand the territory acquired by their predecessors. Dissension within the Naṣrid...

  12. Chapter 7 The End of the Crusade: From Baza to Granada
    (pp. 168-196)

    The second stage of Fernando and Isabel’s crusade began after the submission of Málaga and culminated nearly five years later with the fall of Granada. Once again, they benefited from Naṣrid dissension. Muḥammad XII, known as al-Zaġal, contended for power with his nephew Abū ‘Abd Allāh, who had been compelled to become a Castilian vassal and promise to surrender Granada on demand. A third member of the family, Yaḥyā al-Najjār, lord of Almería, assisted the Catholic Monarchs in reducing the eastern sector of the emirate. When Baza capitulated after a strenuous resistance, al-Zaġal abandoned the struggle and yielded Almería and...

  13. Chapter 8 The Frontier in Peace and War
    (pp. 197-225)

    Though in abeyance for much of the late fourteenth century and carried on only intermittently during most of the fifteenth, the Castilian conquest of Granada was finally concluded by Fernando and Isabel. Their entrance into the Naṣrid capital on 6 January 1492 fulfilled the aspirations of generations of Christians who had struggled to oppose the Muslims and destroy their kingdom. The achievement of that goal required the organization and maintenance of a powerful military force equipped with the most modern weapons, especially artillery, and the collection and disbursement of vast quantities of money. The papacy facilitated the enterprise by proclaiming...

  14. Chapter 9 A War of Religions
    (pp. 226-252)

    The Castilian struggle to vanquish the emirate of Granada was essentially a war of religions. In making that statement I do not mean to exclude other more mundane motives. Human nature being what it is, people act in given circumstances for a diversity of reasons. So it was with the people of medieval Spain. Kings and emirs fought over boundaries, the possession of castles and lands, and economic resources. The contrast between fertile areas in Naṣrid Granada and barren lands in certain Castilian regions surely drew the attention of the Castilian monarchs. Access to the Mediterranean and control of the...

  15. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 253-256)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 257-324)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 325-354)
  18. Index
    (pp. 355-364)
  19. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 365-365)