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 Post subject: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-02-29 04:51am
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I have kicked off an rpg with some friends set in the upper parts of Spain sometime around 1031, right after the breakup of the Muslim state of Al-Andalus that ruled nearly all of Spain. this bit of history is extremely interesting, with everyone trying to grab as much land off their neighbours as they can, Christian prince on Christian prince on Muslim caliph. So far my players are loving it.

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.

weapons -
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?

Religion -
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?

Settlements
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?

Militant Orders
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?

language
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.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-02-29 12:06pm
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You will not find much without digging deep. It's one of those cultural things, the spanish have not put in much research into this era. Visiting their museums they usually skipped from the 4th to the 14th cen.
I'll post some links when my daughter isn't sleeping on my othr arm.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-02-29 02:22pm
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Eh I'll copy paste since i can do that with one arm.

http://libro.uca.edu/ics/ics1.htm
http://books.google.se/books?id=ZVsUd9sBqFcC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of ... amic_world
http://geography.about.com/library/weekly/aa011201c.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosq ... C3%B3rdoba

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-02-29 06:59pm
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thanks for the links, they are all great, ill have to stick that book on my ereader and digest it over the next few days. im blown away by cordova being listed as the most populous city in the world in the year 1000. if wikipedia is to be beleived, the population is lower today then it was then. and yeah, im really hitting a wall with the aparent spanish denial of this whole period, the low hanging fruit is all about how great spanish heroes like el cid slaughtered the invading moorish hordes and drove them back into the sea. that just does not cut it when your talking about a whole seven hundred years of history. the more i read the more i want to know.

did find these documentaries. one BBC and one PBS, both were pretty decent and gave me some more places to look.





the pbs documentary has lots of people in costumes waving curved swords around, although it does not offer any justification for this. most things i have read are delightfully vague on what precisely soldiers on each side used to kill each other. so far i understand most everyone used spears and round shields, there were knights on the christian side who probably wore mail surcoats, and some muslim groups imported finely made indian swords. im reading up on some of the battles, but as you have said, i think im going to have to really dig to get anywhere further.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-01 03:49pm
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If you can wait a bit, I'll contact my father and try to get him to point me to some relevant sources.

He is a PhD in history and though his specialty is late antiquity, we have a pretty damn huge reference library. I should be able to cast some light in this. First, however, I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

Quote:
weapons -
what were the most common weapons of this period in Spain?


For this, the catalogue of the Spanish Army Museum should be helpful.

However, there is an additional source of potential interest. The Lay of the Cid is a 13th century transcription of bardic tales about the adventures/campaigns of a famous 11th century Christian warlord that gives surprising details at times. For relevant examples:

XXIX In Alcocer the burghers to the Cid their tribute paid
And all the dwellers in Terrer and Teca furthermore.
And the townsmen of Calatayud, know well, it irked them sore.
Full fifteen weeks he tarried there, but the town yielded not.
And when he saw it forthwith the Cid devised a plot.
Save one left pitched behind him, he struck his every tent.
Then with his ensign lifted, down the Jalon he went,
With mail-shirts on and girded swords, as a wise man should him bear.
To draw forth to his ambush the men of Alcocer.

LVII "Ha! lay aside your booty now every cavalier, And take in hand your weapons, and get n your battle-gear. Count don Remond against us will deliver battle strong; Great bands of Moors and Christians he brings with him along. He will not for any reason without fighting let us go. Here let us have the battle since they pursue us so. So get you on your armour and girth the horses tight. Down the hill they come in hosen and their saddles are but light, And loose their girths. Each man of us has a Galician selle, And moreover with the jackboots are our hosen covered well. We should beat them though we numbered but fivescore cavaliers. Before they reach the level, let us front them with the spears. For each you strike three saddles thereby shall empty go. Who was the man he hunted, Remond Berenguer shall know This day in Tevar's pine grove, who would take from me my prey."


Quote:
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?


Some existed, certainly.

For a relevant example, the Cid's own Tizona which is a big fucking sword by any sane standard.

Quote:
were curved swords used in this part of the world?


I know that some existed, but I've seen quite a few examples of Islamic swords with blades straight as an arrow.

Quote:
how common were bows?


No clue. I don't recall anything about archery traditions in Spain, period.

Quote:
Would your average lower class peasant own a bow and know how to shoot?


See above.

Quote:
how well did people from different religious backgrounds really get along?


In average, not much worse than people of the same religious background. Muslim mercenaries worked for Christian warlords (such as the Cid). Christian soldiers worked for Muslim kings. Christian kings allied with powerful Muslim taifas against other Christian kingdoms and the reverse was also true. When given the opportunity, any given faction was willing to raid the living hell out of the other, but there was no real crusading heat in the effort except for some rather specific points in history.

Quote:
if you were living in a Christian kingdom, how happy would you have been to rub elbows with Muslims?


Until the very end, there were large Christian populations in Muslim kingdoms and large Muslim populations in Christian Kingdoms.

Quote:
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?


Except for limited periods, it mostly held. The religious tax paid by jews and christians was a major source of income that the Muslims were reluctant to lose.

Quote:
What was Christianity like in Spain during this period, and how much contact with the church in Rome was there?


Dunno the extent of papal influence during this specific period.

Quote:
Were there still pagan religions present in Spain, and if so, how extensive were they?


Not to the best of my knowledge, beyond some local superstitions and myths. Nothing major, in any case.

Quote:
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?


I see that you already have some information about this, but generally Al-Andalus was strongly urban for the time and had a big fucking city and several very large townships with populations past the ten thousand mark (which was a lot for the time). I can get more detail about this easily enough if you want.

Quote:
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?

Militant Orders
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?


I'll look into this and see what I can find.

Quote:
language
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?


Not too well informed about this, either, but the background of the Toledo School of Translators seems very relevant.



Reference webpages for fanfic writers.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-01 07:40pm
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I think that you should probably take Murazor's view over mine but I will anyway put in a few things where we differ.
Murazor wrote:
Quote:
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?
Some existed, certainly.
For a relevant example, the Cid's own Tizona which is a big fucking sword by any sane standard.
Shortswords yes, longswords no. (Depending on your definition of longsword of course). Only christian nobles some 50-100 years later would bring in lots of longswords. For instance the normans when they show up.
So something like that would very rare indeed. Also that Tizona is most probably fake since the museum has resisted impartial testing.
Murazor wrote:
Quote:
were curved swords used in this part of the world?
I know that some existed, but I've seen quite a few examples of Islamic swords with blades straight as an arrow.
Curved blades were usually exclusively cavalry. So any urbanite muslim lord in alAndalus would have a more straightish blade.
However for an RPG you can't go wrong with a stereotype...
Quote:
Would your average lower class peasant own a bow and know how to shoot?
Never. The closest you would come is that vagabonds and thieves would know how to use slings. Peasants toiling the land wouldn't know any ranged weapons at all except for throwing stones, and there are lots of handy stones all over spain.
Murazor wrote:
Quote:
how well did people from different religious backgrounds really get along?
In average, not much worse than people of the same religious background.
Here I'd disagree. The above is only true if you live under muslim rule, if you live under christian rule the tale is a bit different. Instead your players are in the midst of the transformation from a truly multicultural heritage, to a much more cynical and also intolerant one.
Its in this exact era of the 11 cen that the idea of religious persecution starts in spain. Mainly due to papal influence on "spains" neighbours. There is an influx of foreigners with a clear christian agenda that is openly anti-islamic. This means that almost all of the muslim lords have had to "watch" their christian subjects more closely etc. So a downword spiral of mistrust and intolerance.
So for the sake of RPG drama you should really play this out to the max. The society that the players grew up in was one of tolerance, but now that is falling apart. If they meet christian mercenaries from the north then, you should definately play them as intolerant of muslims and jews.
However it is also at this very same time that the rulers of Leon and Castille realise they can no longer mistreat jews. Instead by giving them favored treatment they can enlist jews vs their muslim enemies.
This means that you are distilling some 2-300 years into your campain but the historical trend is clear. This is the end of the golden age for jews in Spain, henceforth they will always be second class citizens.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age ... e_in_Spain
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1066_Granada_massacre
In context, this is the guy influencing things now
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_IX
this is the guy coming up
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Leo_IX
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_X
Quote:
if you were living in a Christian kingdom, how happy would you have been to rub elbows with Muslims?
See above. Ordinarily you wouldn't care, your father and his father before him wouldn't care. But there are some new guys in town that preach the good word of the bible and he is calling them scum..
Lots of people don't care unless given a reason, but those with an interest in things start to sprout bad seeds. Like a competitor to a muslim would definately start listening to the foreign influence.
Quote:
What was Christianity like in Spain during this period, and how much contact with the church in Rome was there?
Culturally it was quite different. Too many influences etc, lots of mosques had a christian section which led to diffusion.
However starting about a century ago - the outside christian world has taken an interest in the peninsula so that catholic influence is definately there, leading to lots of emberrassing moments when the foreign priest explain that no that is not a "christian" tradition its mulsim/jewish.
Quote:
Were there still pagan religions present in Spain, and if so, how extensive were they?
Gone. they are not mentioned by any of the contemporaries that I know of.
The closest you will get is norsemen influence in western spain, but that is almost gone by now.
Quote:
Do we have massive tracts of unclaimed wilderness, or are there little clusters of people everywhere?
No "wilderness" at all. Everywhere is settled. But lots of regions that are very hard to reach. example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronda
To go somewhere where there is no people you need to go up in the mountains, and you wouldn't normally survive that without massive provision, which obviously is hard to get into the mountains.
Quote:
what did people in Spain at the time think of the Romans?
the goths were the final caretakers of the roman empire, see Theodric the great etc.
IIRC spain had functional roman aqueducts for longer than anywhere else. etc
The christians in spain at the time see themselves as a roman legacy and proud of it.
Quote:
Were Christian monasteries doing their copying of ancient manuscripts thing in spain during this time? were there even christian monastic orders present?
Nope, nope, nope. yes there were some but not like how you think medieval monestaries, those had just started out in Leon. So skip that. Also from a modern perspective the christians are very much the barbarians compared to the mulsims. So you should play on that. Several spanish museums mention that during the reconquista christians burned more books than there existed in christendom.
A normally stocked muslim higher lord's library usually outmatch cathedrals at this time. A guesstimate would be a muslim library would have 500-1000 books, a christian equivalent one 10-50.
Quote:
How big and extensive were Muslim centres of learning? who could attend them?
Huge and anyone.
Christian merchants from all over europe were sent to muslim universities. Its where europe picks up things like math and indian numbers etc. Accumulative interest for instance.
The lingua franca would definately be arabic, there are lots of complaints from foreign christians that its easy to mistake a christian for a saraceen.
However lots of muslim lords know latin, to the dismay of catholic priests who fails time and again trying to lecture them on scripture - where the muslim usually know the christian version better than the christians themselves.
see this as an example of a christian becoming fameous for learning arabic and thus getting credit for spreading what the spanish arabs had known for centuries by then
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Scot
or another fameous person, you have probably heard of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_Fibonacci

in context
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_co ... val_Europe

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-01 09:10pm
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Spoonist wrote:
No "wilderness" at all. Everywhere is settled. But lots of regions that are very hard to reach.


Well, depending on the specific definition of wilderness, there were extremely empty areas. Sierra Morena, for a relevant example, was very sparsely populated well into the nineteenth century (which made the area a popular destination for bandits and fugitives of many stripes).

Quote:
IIRC spain had functional roman aqueducts for longer than anywhere else. etc


I am pretty sure that the aqueduct of Segovia was still in working condition at this point. At least one of Merida's three aqueducts worked, too.

Quote:
The christians in spain at the time see themselves as a roman legacy and proud of it.


Relevant: The dating system used in Christian Spain until the 14th century was the Hispanic Era or Caesar Era, which had a basis in the final romanization of Iberia. Most folks wouldn't actually know who the hell the Romans were, of course, but there would be an awareness among the educated few.

Quote:
Also from a modern perspective the christians are very much the barbarians compared to the mulsims. So you should play on that. Several spanish museums mention that during the reconquista christians burned more books than there existed in christendom.
A normally stocked muslim higher lord's library usually outmatch cathedrals at this time. A guesstimate would be a muslim library would have 500-1000 books, a christian equivalent one 10-50.


Relevant: Al-Hakam II (one of the caliphs of Cordoba, died some fifty years before the time period indicated in the thread title) is reputed to have had an absolutely huge library containing upwards of a hundred thousand manuscripts. Which is fucking nuts, considering the time period.



Reference webpages for fanfic writers.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-04 06:37am
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thanks for the responses, murazor and spoonist. allready incorporated most of it. still going to keep reading up on this period, knowing just what i have gained here and from following the trail you two have laid down for me has really thrown my idea of how medieval europe fitted into the world. this period fascinates the more i learn of it.

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-04 07:40am
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Regarding historic (use of) weapons, I recommend these guys: http://www.swordforum.com/forums/ This forum is full of very knowledgable guys, some of which even were the ones who did the original research in the first place.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-04 08:05am
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Murazor wrote:

Quote:
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?


Some existed, certainly.

For a relevant example, the Cid's own Tizona which is a big fucking sword by any sane standard.

wat? :wtf: It's 103cm long and weighs 1.1kg. That's not especially big, not even in the early middle ages.
edit: Though, to clarify: I am not saying that it's common. But not insane. It's reasonably plausible for a high lord to have such a sword.


Murazor wrote:
Quote:
were curved swords used in this part of the world?

I know that some existed, but I've seen quite a few examples of Islamic swords with blades straight as an arrow.

As Spoonist already said, curved swords were mostly a cavalry weapon. It should be noted, though, that often only the front edge of the sword was significantly curved and even that not as much as depictions (especially modern ones) would have us believe.
Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to find a good picture of one, because almost all "scimitars" on can buy today are fantasy wank or are highly stylized ceremonial blades that would not be used in war.
Image



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: moorish spain in 1031 - giant list of questions PostPosted: 2012-03-06 06:10pm
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I did take a class on the Spanish Inquisition during my undergrad. I can tell you that most of the really serious religious hate-on didn't get going until after the Reconquista was complete. As someone earlier in the thread said, Muslim mercs could work for a Christian noble and it wasn't abnormal. Jews had a good deal of freedom and social mobility as well.



"I'm sorry, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that your inability to use the brain evolution granted you is any of my fucking concern."
"You. Stupid. Shit." Victor desperately wished he knew enough Japanese to curse properly. "Davions take alot of killing." -Grave Covenant
Founder of the Cult of Weber

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