Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa 1212 AD - The Reconquista (718-1492 AD)

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa 1212 AD - The Reconquista (718-1492 AD)

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The battle of Las Navas de Tolosa was a major  battle fought in medieval Spain in the year   1212 AD between an alliance of Hispanic  Christians and the Muslim Almohad caliphate   during the Reconquista. at the turn of the  millennium the land of Iberia called Hispania   by the romans was part of the roman empire  when the western empire collapsed in 476   the land was then invaded and occupied by an Arian  Christian Germanic tribe known as the Visigoths   establishing the vici gothic kingdom the  Visigothic kingdom would last around 200 years   until in 7 11 when the rapidly expanding  Muslim Umayyad caliphate launched an invasion   of Hispania the Muslim commander Tariq  Ibn Ziyad with a Moorish army of Arabs   and Berbers defeated the vici gothic  king Roderic at the battle of Guadalete.   the Visigothic kingdom rapidly collapsed and the  Umayyads swiftly conquered the entire peninsula   in just seven years now under the yoke  of Islamic rule many Christian refugees   began fleeing to mountainous regions in the north   one mountainous region Asturias clinging  to the northern coast of Hispania   continued to resist and took up arms  against the moors led by Hispano-Gothic   nobleman Pelagius of Asturias they crushed a  Moorish army at the battle of Covadonga in 718.

This marked the beginning of an era known to  history as the Reconquista or the reconquest   in which Christians struggled  to regain the lost territory   during the Reconquista Christian and Muslim forces  would clash over control of the Iberian peninsula   for 800 years the forces of Islam were unable  to pacify the isolated kingdom of Asturias   as they were handicapped by  the steep mountainous terrain   they opted for a policy of containment instead  bypassing asterisk the moors continued north   invading southern France they were defeated at the  battle of Toulouse and Aquitaine in 721 and again   in 732 by the franks led by Charles Martel the  grandfather of Charlemagne at the famous battle   of tours the latter battle was significant as it  marked the northernmost point of Islamic expansion   and it halted the northern expansion of  the Muslim empire after this the Umayyads   realized they were overextended and so they  retreated back across the Pyrenees mountains   to consolidate their gains in Hispania the land  of Hispania was known to the moors as Al-Andalus   it was made a province of the  massive Muslim Umayyad empire   which now stretched from Iberia and the Atlantic  to Persia and the edge of the Indian subcontinent The city of Cordoba was declared  as the capital of the new province   and emirates was established many  churches were converted to mosques   and Christians and Jews were obligated  to pay the jizya attacks for non-Muslims   the slave trade also flourished under the  moors in which many Christian European slaves   were taken from the newly conquered territories  by Muslim masters as part of the Arab Slave Trade. One weakness of the moors and Al-Andalus was  ethnic tension between Arabs and Berbers.   the Berbers were indigenous inhabitants of north  Africa who only recently converted to Islam   and were considered second-class citizens compared  to the Arabs this internal conflict would persist   and prove to jeopardize Umayyad unity. by 756  the Umayyad dynasty was overthrown replaced by  

the Abbasids and the land of Al-Andalus formed an  independent Muslim state the emirates of Cordoba   by 929 it became powerful enough to  declare itself a caliphate by now   the Christians had retaken Galicia,  Leon, Pamplona and, Barcelona.   the Frankish Carolingian empire crashed  the Pyrenes and created the Spanish march   creating a critical buffer zone between  Muslim Al-Andalus and Christian Europe   the Spanish march also created an important  avenue for European settlers to begin flowing   in as Christians began to start repopulating the  peninsula eventually the kingdom of Navarre was   founded around the city of Pamplona. Galicia  would become part of the kingdom of Leon.   Asturias and north central Hispania would  become the kingdom of castile, and the   Spanish march as well as the city of Barcelona  would eventually become the kingdom of Aragon. The 11th century marked a period of internal  strife for the moors the caliphate descended   into civil war and split up into several small  taifas or tribes in addition to the weakened   state of Al-Andalus the Christian kingdoms of  Hispania somewhat struggled to unite as well   and there was infighting between the Christians  also the land was divided between many Christian   and Muslim factions during this time with  neither side totally united against the other. by the early 12th century Muslim  Al-Andalus had been united once more   by a dynasty of Muslim Berbers from  morocco known as the Almoravids. in 1139 the kingdom of Portugal  gained independence from Leon   and with the help of crusaders from the  second crusade they recaptured Lisbon in 1147.

also in 1147 the Almoravid dynasty was overthrown  and Marrakesh by a zealous fanatical group of   Muslims known as the Almohads. by 1172 all  of Muslim Iberia and the Maghreb was under   Almohad rule meanwhile in the north the kingdom  of castile led by king Alfonso viii launched a   campaign against the Almohads. he was defeated at  the disastrous battle of Alarcos in 1195 and the   Almohads then captured several important cities  including Trujillo, Plascencia and Talavera. following this defeat king Alfonso  was determined for redemption   his goal was ultimately to unite the  Christian kingdoms of Iberia against   the Almohads and in 1209 he ordered his men to  resume raiding the Andalusian lands to the south.   in response in 1211 the Almohad caliph Muhammad  al-Nasir crossed the strait of Gibraltar with a   massive army seventy thousand strong and invaded  Christian territory capturing Salvaterra castle.   the Muslim army threatened the  Hispanic Christian kingdoms   so greatly that Pope Innocent  III decided to call a crusade.

The pope called on the  Christian kingdoms of Europe   to take up arms against the  "enemies of the cross of the lord   who not only aspire to the destruction of the  Spains but also to threaten to vent their rage   on Christ's faithful in other lands and if they  can which god forbid oppress the Christian name. knights from all over western Europe answered  the call and began traveling to Hispania   by the spring of 1212 an army of 40 000  crusaders had gathered at the city of Toledo. this army was led by the  Castilian king Alfonso viii   who was eager to avenge his  prior defeat at Alarcos. Alfonzo was joined by his allies Pedro ii  the king of Aragon and the count of Barcelona   as well as Sancho the seventh the king of Navarre. crusading orders such as the knights  templar the knights Hospitaller as well   as the knights of Santiago and the order  of Calatrava also accompanied the army.

the army was also joined by crusaders  from many other territories including   the kingdom of France the viscount of Narbonne  the kingdom of Portugal and the kingdom of Leon. on June 20th the crusader  army left Toledo and marched   south taking the cities of Calatrava and Alarcos  and continuing on to the paths of despenaperros   meanwhile the Islamic forces led by caliph  al-Nassir set out north from Seville and   arrived at the town of las Navas de Tolosa  by July 13th blocking the mountain pass. now in a favorable position al-Nasir intended  to simply wait and guard the pass he knew that   the Christians would eventually run out  of supplies and be forced to withdraw or   choose to attack through the narrow mountain pass  the latter option would have put the Christians at   a serious disadvantage as this was the very  same path where Alfonzo had been defeated   at the battle of Alarcos decades prior  and so both sides were hesitant to attack   king Alfonzo as he pondered his next move  was then approached by a young shepherd   the shepherd told him of a secret pass  which was not monitored by the moors   known as the Puerto del Muradal which would  enable the crusaders to launch a surprise   attack on the Moorish camp convinced the  crusaders then traversed the mountain pass   guided by the shepherd and  marched on Las Navas de Tolosa. after successfully crossing the crusader army  made battle preparations on the eve of the battle   the Castilian archbishop Rodrigo gathered the  men to confess their sins and receive communion   Pedro ii of Aragon took up the left  flank, Sancho the seventh of Navarre   was positioned on the right flank the Castilian  king himself Alphonso viii commanded the center. each section of the army had  placed their heavy cavalry   in the front with their infantry placed behind.

the Almohads positioned their army on a hill with  light infantry in the front and cavalry behind   they heavily outnumbered the Christians by a  ratio of two to one the caliph himself al-Nasir   commanded the Muslim army from the rear on top  of a hill surrounded by his elite black guard. on July 16 12 12 AD,   king Alfonzo ordered his army to attack and the  crusader cavalry smashed into the Moorish lines. the initial cavalry charge by the crusaders was  very effective and the Almohads were pushed back   however as the secondary lines joined the  battle the line began to stabilize and the   moors held firm as the exhausting fight dragged  on the Christians were starting to waver now at   this critical moment king Sancho the seventh  of Navarre noticed a gap forming in the line   the Navarrese king boldly charged through  the gap charging directly at the caliph. the Navarrese force led by their king Sancho  the seventh broke through the caliph's bodyguard   who was slaughtered by the Basque and Spanish  knights and the caliph was forced to flee   and barely escaped with his life seeing their  leader flee the field of battle morale collapsed   and the rest of the Moorish army were routed  this was a glorious victory for Christendom   and the Reconquista the victorious crusaders  seized many prizes of war from the Muslim camp   including the caliph standard and tent which  were delivered to Pope Innocent III as trophies   according to legend the caliph's tent was  covered with chains which the knights had to cut   in order to attack him it is believed that because  of this the new coat of arms of navarre became   golden chains on a red background replacing  the old black eagle on a gold background. the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa  was a disastrous defeat for the moors   what remained of the Almohad army fled to  Marrakesh where the caliph Muhammad al-Nasir   died shortly afterwards this crushing defeat of  the Almohads significantly hastened their decline   it was a major turning point in the Reconquista  that gave the Hispanic Christian kingdoms a   renewed sense of momentum shortly after the  battle the Castilians took Baeza and Ubeda   major fortified cities near the battlefield  and gateways to invade Andalusia   Alfonzo the eight's grandson Ferdinand iii of  castile took Cordoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248   while James the first of Aragon conquered Valencia  in 1238. by 1292 Grenada, Almiera and Malaga  

were the only major Muslim cities remaining in  the Iberian peninsula these cities made up the   emirate of Granada which became a vassal state  of the crown of castile until it was finally   taken by the catholic monarchs Ferdinand ii of  Aragon and Isabella the first of castile in 1492. the Reconquista had a profound effect on  the history of Europe and the world the   Spaniards and Portuguese had come a long way  from second-class citizens under Islamic rule   the Christians had now reclaimed their land  in full for Christendom this experience   cultivated a warrior spirit in the  hearts of every Portuguese and Spaniard   and they were now poised to expand all over  the world and destined to build empires. by 1516 Castillon navarre and the crown of Aragon  were united into a single kingdom the kingdom of   Spain laying the foundation for the modern nation  of Spain and ultimately the Spanish empire. and in 1492 the very same year the  Reconquista was officially completed   Christopher Columbus would embark on  his famous journey to the new world   beginning a new era known to  history as the Age of Discovery.

2021-01-08 19:01

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