Military Review

Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 7. Knights of Spain: Leon, Castile and Portugal

Don Pedro's shield spear pierced,
It came out, but it did not penetrate into the flesh,

His shaft broke in two places.
Bermudes did not swing, did not fall off the saddle,
He gave a blow for the blow that he took.
The spear pleased the thorn of the shield,
Immediately stuck in a shield to half,
In the triple armor, two rows struck,
And in the third one it was stuck, from the heart,
Only because Fernando survived.
Shirt, camisole and steel rings
They pressed into the meat on his palm ...
(Song about Side. Translated by Yu. Korneev.)

One of the most serious problems facing Spain in the face of the Muslim threat was feudal fragmentation. She and in other lands brought a lot of problems. But here, in Spain, one half of which belonged to Christians, and the second to Muslims, it had a special meaning. By 1030, the position of Christian Spain was as follows: it consisted of two kingdoms, Leon and Navarre, and also two counties - Barcelona and Castile. The territories that later became the kingdom of Portugal and Aragon were either part of the former or still belonged to the Muslims.

The Monument to the Force Compador by Anna Hattington in Buenos Aires.

The Kingdom of Castile and Leon became the third and final political union of Leon and Castile, which took place in 1230 year. And it could have happened before, especially since both kingdoms had already united twice, but ... each time they passed on to the sons of the deceased monarch! So, from 1037 to 1065, they were ruled by Ferdinand I of Leon, who divided his possessions among his sons. Under King Alfonso VII, they were united again. But ... in 1157, Alfonso VII died, and the kingdom fell apart again, divided between his sons: Ferdinand II got Leon, and Sancho III received Castile. Thus, the state, striving to unite, because of feudal prejudices and nepotism, was again divided every time, and this happened in the face of the constant threat from the Moors!

Christian (left) and Arab warriors in Spain, XII century. Fig. Angus McBride

As a result, the Reconquista of Islamic territory went very slowly, increasing only periodically. Only after the battle of 16 on July 1212 between the combined forces of Castile, Aragon, Navarre and Portugal and the army of the Spanish Moors of the Almohad dynasty at Las Navas de Tolosa, which the Christians won, did the situation finally change in their favor. Over the next fifty years, Muslims lost everything except the Emirate of Granada. Nevertheless, for more than two centuries, the Castilians were primarily concerned with clarifying relations with neighboring Christian states within Iberia, as well as with participation in the Anglo-French Hundred Years War. It is interesting to note that the crusaders, participants of the crusade declared by the Pope, and those who arrived in Spain from different European countries were to take part in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. But they literally on the eve of the battle left the camp of the Spaniards, according to one version "because of the heat", on the other - "devoured by the devil and envy." In other words, the war on the peninsula went on for so long precisely because the expulsion of the Moors was by no means its primary task. In fact, it was an ordinary feudal war, that is, the seizure of land and mining in a somewhat heightened form due to its national and religious components.

Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 7. Knights of Spain: Leon, Castile and Portugal

A sword in the sheath, a dagger and a helmet from Iran of the Arab conquest of the 7th century. Length 100,3, see. (Metropolitan Museum, New York)

However, the Arab conquest of Spain, as such, can only be talked about with a stretch. The Arabs themselves represented only the elite of the conquerors, and so, in general, all the people of Africa were represented there, as well as the local population, who obeyed the conquerors and also supplied them to the soldiers in the future.

Spanish Knights 1197 g. Illustration from the Navarre Illustrated Bible, Pamplona, ​​Spain. (Amiens Metropol Library)

As for military affairs, the Castilian Reconquista had a number of interesting features that distinguished it from what was happening at the same time on the lands of France itself. It all began with the increasing role of the heavily armed cavalry, which began in the IX century. However, the light cavalry in numbers remained completely unthinkable here in the same Northern France. Of course, the typical Western European form of mail was also used here, but it was used only by a minority of horsemen. There is also a possibility that some Castilian lightly armed riders were archers and could shoot a bow from a horse. City militias also constituted a significant part of the armies of the Spanish kingdoms, and not only infantry, but also cavalry.

El Cid (Sid Compador) and his warriors 1050-1075 Fig. Angus McBride

The next stage in the military development of military Castile eliminated all these archaic remnants. It is characterized by the adoption of the French style. weapons, armor and combat techniques. Already in the XIII century, the armor of the Spanish and French knights become almost indistinguishable. Horses are also covered with blankets, riders wear surcoats, and their emblems are depicted on shields and even on helmets. It should be emphasized here that in such weapons the warriors were very hot. Therefore, the Spanish commanders to a greater extent than the commanders of England and France, had to pay attention to the time of their military actions and not arrange them in the strongest heat.

Spanish knights on horses in blankets. Pamplona Illustrated Bible and the Life of Saints, 1200 (University Library of Augsburg)

Interestingly, we have reached the press of that time, in which there are Catalan graphs in striped surcoats, with striped shields, and their horses are dressed in striped blankets. That is, this very old symbol and the “passport” of the Catalan nobility became a very long time ago.

Spanish crusader fighting Moor, 1200-1300, Barcelona, ​​Spain. (Manuscript from the Library de San Lorenzo de Escori)

Armored infantry and wide use of the crossbow were another local feature. If in the same France the infantry, as such, was a servant of the seigneur, and even mercenaries, in Spain, where the townspeople constantly had to repel the incursions of the Moors, then the battle with the local feudal lords began to play an important role . Accordingly, the Spanish kings were easier to manage their troops, because, of course, “feudal freemen” dominated them, but they already had troops that strictly obeyed their orders, and ... the orders of their commanders.

Spanish knights wearing tophelm helmets with a rivet crosshair reinforcement. "Illustration from the Manuscript of the Song of St. Mary", 1284 (Royal Library of the Escorial, Madrid)

The illustration is of the same edition. Christian knights pursue the fleeing Moors.

It was in Spain that in the middle of the 14th century cavalry appeared, armed with crossbows, that is, an important step was made in the use of throwing weapons on the battlefield. Fig. Angus McBride

However, the Castilian military organization and its tactical methods were considered old-fashioned by the French and the British. Apparently, this was due to the fact that the wars with the Moors on the Iberian Peninsula were viewed by them as something quite insignificant compared to their own confrontation. For example, the use in the Spanish troops of the slingers was generally regarded as an anachronism, while in fights with the lightly armed Berber cavalry, the sling was quite high.

Sling - a scourge in the hands of Spanish slingers. Illustration 1050-1100 "The Bible of the Sort", Catalonia, Spain. (National Library, Madrid)

The source base for the study of military affairs on the Iberian Peninsula is primarily miniatures in a number of very important illustrated manuscripts. Despite the fact that Andalusian manuscripts are extremely rare, nevertheless they are, and they have a characteristic artistic style. On them we see the warriors of the Iberian Peninsula, both Christians and Muslims, so in general, miniatures in manuscripts are quite enough. There are also effigies, although many of them have suffered from a series of revolutions and civil wars. There are literary monuments, for example, the famous "Song of Side". The work was known from the end of the XII - beginning of the XIII century. A copy of the manuscript of 1207 has survived, though in poor condition. Unfortunately, the translation of the poem from Spanish into Russian was completely illiterate. Although it is believed that to historical to the truth, it is close to a much greater extent than other similar works of the heroic epic, and gives a completely true picture of the events that took place in Spain at that time. So, Sid wears a sword in it, although what kind of sword in the XIII century? The given epigraph is also very indicative. "Shield with a spike" - in fact, this is a shield with a pointed umber. On the other hand, it also contains valuable information that the spears of knights in an equestrian battle struck shields if they didn’t hit the umbon, and that chain knights could have triple knitted ones, that is, they connected six rings at once, i.e. three and three. True, such chain mail had to be very heavy. So it’s possible that this is a purely artistic exaggeration.

A very interesting "picture" depicting Spanish horse archers. They use horses to move, but dismount to shoot at the enemy. Miniature from the “Floral History of the Land of the East”, 1300-1325 Catalonia, Spain. (National Library, Madrid).

As for Portugal, at the beginning of the 11th century it was part of the kingdom of León, and culturally and militarily had much in common with Galicia in the north. Moreover, they were united by the fact that both of these areas were largely free of military influence from France. By the 12th century, the Portuguese autonomization process was actually completed, so that in 1143, Portugal gained the status of a kingdom, after which its military efforts were focused on protecting the eastern border with Castile and ensuring independence. The emergence of Portugal interest in the expansion of the sea refers to the XIV century, but the distant voyages of the Portuguese at that time have not yet taken.

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. Artist Francisco Van Halen (Prado Museum, Madrid)

The role of the cavalry has increased as the Christian attack on Islamic Andalusia developed, especially since the main form of war was the raids of cavalry units on enemy territory with the aim of seizing booty and prisoners, as the “Song of Sid” tells about it. But since most of the country consists of rocky mountains and valleys, it was quite difficult for cavalry, especially heavily armed, to act here. Contacts with the British led to the fact that here the XIV century also spread a long yew bow, replacing in the Christian troops compound bows, used by the Arabs. It was then that the Knights from England and France began to arrive in Spain in large numbers, which brought with them the experience of the battles of the Hundred Years War. Prior to this, the Spanish military art placed the main emphasis on the defense and siege of castles and fortresses and ambush and raids while simultaneously evading large-scale battles involving a large number of soldiers. The French historian Jean Frouassard, drawing on the experience of veterans participating in the Hundred Years War, wrote about Spanish soldiers like this:
It is true that they look good, sitting on a horse, throwing off spurs for gain, and fight well at the first onslaught; but as soon as they throw two or three darts and strike with their spears, without leading the enemy into confusion, they raise the alarm, turn the horses around and flee as far as they can.

Monument to Sid in Burgos

A similar tactic was characteristic of the new kind of troops at that time - Khinets, light cavalry, who had light armor, a saddle with a low rear bow, and short stirrups, as well as Andalusian mobile horses, which allowed them to fight on equal terms with the cavalry of the Muslims, who used the Berber North African horses The armament of Khinet was two or three darts and a light spear, which he also used as a throwing. Moreover, one of the sources describes that during the siege of Lisbon, one such dart, thrown by the Khinet, broke through the knight's plate armor, his chainmail, quilted gambeson, and came out of his back. At first, the Khinet used only adarg shields borrowed from the Arabs, but by the end of the 14th century, typical European quilted akatons also began to be worn.

Использованная литература:
1. Nicolle, D. Arms and Armor of the Crusading Era, 1050 - 1350. UK L .: Greenhill Books. Vol.1.
2. Nicolle, D. Armies of the Muslim Conquest. L .: Osprey Publishing (Men-at-Arms # XXNX), 255.
3. Verbruggen during the Middle Ages from the Eight Century to 1340. Amsterdam - NY Oxford, 1977.
4. Nicolle, D. El Cid and the Reconquista 1050-1492. L .: Osprey Publishing (Men-at-Arms # 200), 1988.
5. "Song of Side", various publications.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Spain: Aragon, Navarre and Catalonia (part 6)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. CH 5. Knights of France. Central and southern areas
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Ireland (part 4)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Scotland (part 3)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knighthood and knights of England and Wales. Part of 2
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knighthood and knights of northern France. Part of 1

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  1. 2329 Carpenter
    2329 Carpenter 25 March 2019 05: 48
    Wonderful work, Vyacheslav!
    Atmospheric. Informative.
    Samara University should be proud of its former graduate student!
    1. kalibr
      25 March 2019 07: 10
      Thanks! Just a long time doing this topic. Quantity turned into quality ...
      1. Ptolemy Lag
        Ptolemy Lag 25 March 2019 10: 41
        Do not want to summarize all written material in a book?
        1. kalibr
          25 March 2019 13: 23
          Of course! That is precisely the idea that stands. Each such article is essentially a chapter. 40 articles are planned, with a minimum of 400000 characters, so the book will turn out unambiguously. What will be called, what kind of time frame ... I don’t know yet.
  2. Korsar4
    Korsar4 25 March 2019 06: 23
    Interesting. Only the combination of “feudal prejudices” - as from some ancient agitation.
    1. kalibr
      25 March 2019 07: 09
      Look what you are! But the "old dog" is difficult to learn new tricks ...
      1. Korsar4
        Korsar4 25 March 2019 07: 11
        The feudal lords would not have understood.

        Faust recalls:

        “And the fact that they call the spirit of the time -
        There is a spirit of professors and their concepts ... "

        Rezanulo - reacted.
  3. abrakadabre
    abrakadabre 25 March 2019 07: 54
    and that the chain mail of the knights could have been triple knitted, that is, six rings were connected at once, that is, three with three.
    The only thing worth correcting is that double-triple chain mail is not a chain mail of a denser knit, although there have been such ones. This is dressing another shortened chain mail over the main hauberk. Such chain mail appears in the sources as a hauberjon - that is, a small hauberk. Wearing a hauberjon over a hauberk was repeatedly recorded throughout Europe in sources for the period before the appearance of the first surko plate reinforcements. In the same crusades there is mention of this.
    The same can be seen from the passage in the epigraph:
    In the triple armor, two rows struck,
    And in the third one it was stuck, from the heart,
    Only because Fernando survived.
    The spear pierced through the layers and got stuck in the last one. At the same time, pressing the flexible chain mail with the underlying clothing inside the body without breaking. With one chain mail of a denser knit, this would not have happened. Although more durable, there is only one layer. In addition, the denser and less flexible chain mail can only be pressed "into the palm of the meat" by crushing the chest over a large area.
    1. kalibr
      25 March 2019 08: 41
      All this is the description of such armor and very detailed. Then it will be ...
  4. igordok
    igordok 25 March 2019 08: 48
    Interested in slings in the figure. With leverage - rare. The reset method is the same as in throwing machines.

  5. Albatroz
    Albatroz 25 March 2019 10: 52
    Spanish knights like best
    Like the author, his related articles
  6. sivuch
    sivuch 25 March 2019 11: 30
    it’s quite amusing that the British sing their archers, modestly silent that the yew for bows was purchased in Spain. As a result, under Navarett, the English showered arrows of the Castilian knights and hinets, and there was nothing to answer.
  7. kalibr
    25 March 2019 12: 00
    Quote: sivuch
    As a result, when Navaretta, the British showered the arrows of the Castilian knights and hinets with rain, and there was nothing to answer.

    About it will be!
  8. Trilobite Master
    Trilobite Master 25 March 2019 13: 01
    Ah, Vyacheslav Olegovich, what kind of work on the Spanish knighthood, especially with the mention of El Cid, without mentioning such iconic weapons as Tizona and Colada? smile
    Do not misunderstand me, just seeing a photo of this monster from Burgos with a sword, with which only Svyatogor the hero could handle a beard like Davy Jones from the pirates of the Caribbean, wanted some kind of Spanish elegance ...


    The hilt of the swords is, of course, of a later time, but the blades themselves refer to the period in question, and as for Tizona, her actual belonging to Cid is practically not disputed.
    1. kalibr
      25 March 2019 13: 24
      Thanks! A very good addition.
    2. tanit
      tanit 25 March 2019 19: 06
      Colada's blade is also a "remake" of the 13th century. And Sid
      could not belong, alas.
      1. tanit
        tanit 25 March 2019 19: 09
        Challenged and proven. But Tizen is the eleventh century. Undoubtedly.
  9. Nagaibak
    Nagaibak 25 March 2019 14: 18
    Thanks to the author for covering interesting topics. Everything is always informative. Keep it up.)))
  10. NF68
    NF68 25 March 2019 15: 23
    Interesting article.
  11. Decimam
    Decimam 25 March 2019 15: 57
    Simply put, the war on the peninsula lasted so long precisely because the expulsion of the Moors was by no means its primary task. In fact, it was an ordinary feudal war, that is, the seizure of land and production in a somewhat exacerbated version due to its national and religious components.
    I see in this phrase one very interesting point.
    "Knights and chivalry of three centuries" describes the cycle. But the historical background of the existence of this very chivalry in the cycle is sometimes insufficiently presented.
    In terms of this, before the sixth part, or better before the fifth, it would be very good to place an article on the topic "Al-Andalus", i.e. to give an idea of ​​what the territories of the Iberian Peninsula and the south of France were under the rule of Muslims in cultural and religious terms. This would give a lot for understanding such a process as the Reconquista, i.e. precisely why the "expulsion of the Moors" was not the primary task of the glorious Spanish chivalry described in the cycle.

    A Jew and a Muslim play chess. Illustration from the book El Libro de los juegos (Book of Games), written on the order of the Catholic king of Castile Alfonso X between 1252 and 1284.
  12. kalibr
    25 March 2019 16: 34
    Quote: Decimam
    But here the historical background of the existence of this very knighthood in the cycle is sometimes presented insufficiently.

    One cannot but agree with this. But the reason is that the chronological scope of the study is 100% unclear. This is not included in the stated framework. I would have had to go to an "earlier" time ...
  13. tanit
    tanit 25 March 2019 19: 14
    And who is this certain CIL in the first photo in the article? It seemed to be CiD, and then also as Sid is mentioned.
    1. Trilobite Master
      Trilobite Master 25 March 2019 22: 13
      Quote: tanit
      And who is this someone LL

      A typo, of course. Sid Compador, he is Rodriigo Dias de Vivar. smile
  14. viking
    viking 25 March 2019 23: 30
    Thanks, good review. just a couple of comments:
    Spanish knights in helmets "tophelm" - it will be correct "tophelm" = (pot + helmet)
    And there were no Arabs; Arabs were already blown away by that time, there were Berbers (this is Gumilev’s)
  15. BTR
    BTR 31 March 2019 01: 27
    "So, Sid wears a sword in it, although what kind of sword in the XIII century?"
    The word sword (Espada) from Spanish translates as a sword