The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
How the West [of Europe] Was Won
Plumbing the depths of my ignorance on myriad matters does not, as regular readers will know, generally require a very long plumb-line.
Thus I had no idea of the existence of the battle which finally saw the beginning of the end of the paynim occupation of Western Europe: the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, on July 16 1212.
(There is, so far as I can recall, no battle in English  medieval history like it: once conquered by the Normans, we were in the happy position of never being occupied by a foreign power again. The flashy Agincourt was ten times worse than useless, leading to a crushing commitment in France which was patently long doomed to failure.)
Turf was at long last winning out. The duration of the Moslem incursion into Europe is testimony to the massive disparity in power and capabilities between the invaders of the 8th century and the rag, tag and bobtail they encountered.
In the two decades or so preceding Navas de Tolosa, turf was having a much easier time of it at the other end of the Mediterranean, with the failure of the Third Crusade (with Richard the Lion-Heart in attendence) and the farce of the Fourth (when Christian Constantinople was sacked!), leaving the Christian kingdoms of the Holy Land barely hanging onto life.
My interest in all of this was piqued by a fascinating-looking thesis (which I have barely sampled - caveat lector) Guerra e Ideología en la España Medieval by Martin Alvira Cabrer . The guy thankfully plays it straight, so far as I can see: no dutch angles, no fancy-pants, MLA-style derridising (January 7 2004 - follow the links to
Apertures and Orifices in Chaucerand much worse).
I have a good feeling about this work - getting round to reading all 1400 pages is a tricker business altogether!
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