- Guerra en Šarq Al’andalus: Las batallas cidianas de Morella (1084) y Cuarte (1094)
Although Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (c. 1043-1095), or El Cid, was a real historical figure, much about him remains shrouded in mystery. By carefully reconstructing two of his most famous battles, this study not only makes evident the military skills of this legendary hero but also situates his importance in late eleventh century politics within a broader historical framework.
The volume consists of two parts, each written by a different scholar. In spite of this, the book remains consistent throughout in terms of theme, research method, and conclusions. In the first part, Alfonso Boix Jovaní deals with the battle of Morella, fought in 1084 when the Cid was serving the Muslim ruler of Saragossa, Almutaman. The battle was preceded by a campaign by the Cid in eastern Spain, followed by the attack on the castle of Morella that was its centerpiece, and the subsequent rebuilding of a fortress nearby for tactical purposes. These actions prompted a counterattack by the King of Aragon and Almundir, the brother of Almutaman and lord of Lerida-Tortosa.
Scholars have struggled for some time to make sense of this campaign, a process made difficult by the failure to identify the location of the fortress rebuilt by the Cid, which, according to a later Latin source, bore the name of Alolala. After a thorough and detailed analysis of the philological, geographical, archaeological, and military evidence, Boix confidently places the fortress north of Morella, near the town of la Pobleta d'Alcolea. Being sure of the fortress's location is important, Boix argues, because its site demonstrates that it was not simply a location for carrying out raids, but part of a strategic plan by the Cid and the king of Saragossa to launch a sustained campaign against the Kingdom of Tortosa and its coastal areas in eastern Spain. The battle of Morella, then, can be seen as a crucial step in this strategy.
Alberto Montaner Frutos's study offers a thorough reconstruction of the famous battle of Cuarte in 1094, where the Cid, as lord of Valencia, defended the city against the Almoravids, Berber Muslim invaders from North Africa, and the Andalusians. His reconstruction was accomplished by sifting through a number of different sources, often containing conflicting versions of what happened. The author sheds light on the preliminary logistics of the battle, but, interestingly, goes beyond the siege and the subsequent frontal and lateral counterattacks led by the Cid, to subtly argue that this tactic was, in fact, part of an effective psychological campaign of deception intended to convince the Muslim besiegers that a relief column from Castile had arrived to help him. [End Page 556]
The last sections of the book consist of an evaluation of the different medieval sources that deal with the battle, pointing out how they describe division among Iberian Muslims with respect to the Almoravid invaders, with some favoring them and some seeing them as a menace. Montaner closes his study with a detailed evaluation of the geopolitical and historical importance of the battle of Cuarte. It stopped the advance into Iberia of the Almoravids, he concludes, but also reinforced the Cid's reputation as a great warrior and added to the myth that already surrounded him.
Although it was written by two separate authors, this book offers a consistent study of two of the most important battles in the life of the Cid. Both authors use sound philological, historical, and geographical tools to give readers a scholarly volume that brings to life in rigorous fashion not only the military tactics used in these two crucial battles, but also the underlying geopolitical, historical, and ideological motives that caused them to occur. Their uncovering of the different agendas in the primary sources that narrate the events, and their exhaustive overview and...