However, as the campaign grinds on and the players gain strength and influence, I am really going to start tripping over my terrific ignorance of the period. google and my university textbooks have not really helped much, the only good accounts of day to day life during this century either centre on the Vikings or the first crusade. The gaps in my knowledge are broad and far ranging, I'm going to kick off with a massive list of my most pressing questions, and if people are forthcoming, I'll have more. If anyone is really interested in the rpg side of things, I can elaborate and maybe scan the campaign maps.
what were the most common weapons of this period in Spain? I understand spears were the rule, axes and clubs common, and any blade longer then a large knife was fairly expensive, but were longswords used to any great extent? were curved swords used in this part of the world? literature on the first crusade some fifty years later has Muslims wielding stereotypical curved scimitars, but were such weapons used in Spain? how common were bows? Would your average lower class peasant own a bow and know how to shoot? How much of a person's weapon was part of their cultural identity?
how well did people from different religious backgrounds really get along? if you were living in a Christian kingdom, how happy would you have been to rub elbows with Muslims? How well did the much talked about religious tolerance of the Muslim states hold up after the fall of Al-Andalus in the face of hostile Christian princes? What was Christianity like in Spain during this period, and how much contact with the church in Rome was there? Were there still pagan religions present in Spain, and if so, how extensive were they?
the internet has no clear consensus on this. my university textbook has a single paragraph stating that during this period, European settlements gradually formed and expanded, and villages began to appear from the semi nomadic settlements that existed before. This may have been true further north, but Spain by this time has already been a Roman colony, a bunch of Romanesque Visigoth kingdoms, and a Muslim superstate. How settled was the place? Do we have massive tracts of unclaimed wilderness, or are there little clusters of people everywhere?
The Romans, and antiquity
what did people in Spain at the time think of the Romans? Rome as an empire fizzled out over five hundred years earlier, but I understand the Visigoth kingdoms that succeeded it in Spain considered themselves Roman, and Roman ruins as well as functional structures were everywhere at the time. Where did people see themselves fitting into the world and the history behind it?
how do they work in this part of the world? Did christian militant orders exist pre first crusade? How powerful was the christian church in iberia? did it exercise authority in politics? Were there muslim equivalents? were there jewish equivalents?
Finally what languages did the average person speak, read and write? how literate were people? Was there a lingua franca equivalent in Spain? Were the diverse language groups from before the Muslims arrived still intact? Were Latin, Greek and Arabic the only written languages? Were Christian monasteries doing their copying of ancient manuscripts thing in spain during this time? were there even christian monastic orders present? How big and extensive were Muslim centres of learning? who could attend them?
tldr: i really want to know what life was like in spain in 1031.