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In the Name of Reconquista

In the Name of Reconquista

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Published by carrielofty
Carrie Lofty's article "In the Name of Reconquista" for the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of The Medieval Chronicle. www.carrielofty.com
Carrie Lofty's article "In the Name of Reconquista" for the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of The Medieval Chronicle. www.carrielofty.com

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Published by: carrielofty on Jan 19, 2010
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09/29/2010

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nglo-Saxonawand customso horoughlynformsourculture hatwe canoccasionally orget howothernationsdeveloped ifferentpractices.nmedievalCastile,sifuatedntheheartofpresent-daySpain, he Christianmonarchs'planofReconquista-theprocessfreclaiming he berianPeninsula romtheMoors, by forceorbyculturalinfluence--created n ever-changingrontier.Miles of territoryremainedcontestedorcenturies. owns ell to the Christians ndwereeclaimed v theMoors, henbackagain.This stateof culturalluxdiminishedhe CatholicChurch'sabilify to remainrigid with regardmarriage,nheritances, exual aboos,andelationswithJews.TotheChristiankingsand heir subjects,ocked n acenturiesJongtruggleagainst heir contentiousslamicneighbdrs,veryawexisted ofurtherReconquista;ittle elsemattered.Mengreatlyoutnumberedomen nfrontier owns, and bachelornightswereconsidered sgreata threat asMoorish nvasion. tinerancyandirresponsibilitywould notpromoteReconquista, eithermilitarily nor culturally.Thus owns enactedueros,or laws, opromotestabilityamong heseogue,potentiallydangerousnights,namelyime offfrom military serviceaftermarriage, inancialewards or bearing hildren,and evenhesocialacceptanceofillegitimate sexualelations.A knight's officialmistresswascalleda barragana ndwasaffordedalmostall of the rights ofa wife. If the affair cameoanend,hewomanwas not ruined.Frontier atherswanted heirdaughtenosecureeputablematches,ndrontiersuitorsdid not want he(relatively)smallssueof anaffairto removeapossiblemateromthemarket.Maintaininga mistress, lthoughnot ideal,atleastmeantthat bachelorswouldbehave smorestableguardiansffrontiersociety.Anychildrenborntosuchunionswere egitimate.Numerous ecordsexist of so-calledidnappings,wherean amorousnightwouldabducta willing womanrom her homeand spend henightouton thefrontier.Thesekidnappings id not holdthe oflicial status f a baraganaarrangemenlofamilies elentedandet theyoungcouplewed.nsomereturns o the ssueof stability.f theyoungknight actuallyvolunteeredoenternto matrimony,no matterhow dubious,who should ry to deny him?However, his unspoken raditionalsomadeprovingcharges f rapeincredibly difficult.Becausehe ultimategoalofReconquistaaso take back berian andsfrom the Moors" he most heinous rime aChristiancould commit was oengagen sexualelationswith a Muslim. Islamic womenwere executedorhaving sexwith Christians, ndChristianwomenwith Muslims.Evenprostitutesad o staywith menoftheirownreligion. Men weregenerallygivena warning-theremovalofahand, or example*but they werealsoputtodeathafter rspeatedransgressions.But even heseharsh awscouldbe mediated n the nameofReconquista.Becausehe need o secureenuousChristianbloodlineswasof paramountinterest, ndwith Christianwomensoscarce nthe frontier,provisionsweremade ormixed-racehildren.faChristianman athered baby onaMuslimslave,andhenhat babywas baptized,hemancould namehechild ashisheir-anything to continueatleastnominalcontrol overacquiredands.The otherclass o suffer underheseustomswereknownascovigeras:illegal matchmakers. n occasion,mandevelopedfancy oramarriedwoman.Hesoughta convigera omakecontactwiththewoman andaidinhisseduction.hematchmakerwould act asago-betweenopresentgiftsandsecretotes,and wouldarrangeplaceortheirtryst.TheastthingheseChristian ommunitieswantedwasodestabilizemarriagesthroughanangbdadultery.Unstablemarriagemeantdivorce.Divorcemeantaknight's return o itinerancyanciunpredictability.s such,convigeras,f caughtand convicted,weresentencedodeath.Sexualelationswith Jewswerenot banned.After all,suchabanwould do nothing o furtherReconquista.n fact many aspectshis, thegoldenageof JewishcultweinSpain,wereelativelybeneficialoJewsn lberia. Forexample.whenChristiankings began o makesubstantialerritorialadvancementsuring he I lth century, hey employed ewsas spies.Christians idnotbecome piesbecausetwas hought obe mmoral.Morethan 2,000Jews,orroughly Vs of thepopulation,ivedin Toledo under
Continued onpageIE
;;cofirfilDritieswere ueroswere uost enient,a coupleneeded nlyto declare heirAlfonsoVIII of Castile,and Jewswere awardedfstateof marriage-nopriest,nobanns,andnowitnessesequired.Again, this{juderias.or Jewish-conholledstatesn the north of
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,.rPage7www.TheMedievalChronicle.com.January/ February 2010
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