The Aristocracy in Twelfth-Century Leon and Castile.By Simon Barton (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press (known colloquially as CUP) is a publisher given a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1534, and one of the two privileged presses (the other being Oxford University Press). , 1997. xvi plus 366pp. $69.95).
Until recently, the study of the medieval Spanish kingdoms has been characterized by a lack of attention to the wider European and Mediterranean contexts. In part, this arose from the cultural isolation experienced during the decades of the Franco regime. Spanish historians did not often travel and study abroad, and, outside of Spain, a distaste for Franco caused many historians to neglect Spanish history. Consequently, but with notable exceptions, historians of Spain often have not made use of comparative material from outside the peninsula, and historians of other parts of Europe often have seemed unaware of Iberian developments. Even before the end of the Franco regime, this began to change, and the pace has accelerated since Franco's death in 1975. Even so, much still needs to be done in order to integrate the history of Spain's medieval kingdoms into the wider European context. It is a pleasure to note a new book whose author has placed his study squarely within a comparative context.
Simon Barton, of the University of Exeter, is fully aware of the wide range of studies of the aristocracy aristocracy (ăr'ĭstŏk`rəsē) [Gr.,=rule by the best], in political science, government by a social elite. In the West the political concept of aristocracy derives from Plato's formulation in the Republic. by scholars of various European regions and he applies their work to his Leonese and Castilian primary data. Unfortunately, the primary sources are not as complete as one would like, nor are the secondary studies done by Spanish historians. The aristocratic families of the twelfth century had limited legacies; most were gone by the late Middle Ages, replaced by new lines. In these circumstances, their archives have mainly disappeared. Studies of the aristocracy in the Spanish Middle Ages concentrate on the late Middle Ages. Studies of the twelfth century tend to concentrate on the monasteries and other ecclesiastical establishments which have preserved their archives. Barton set himself a difficult task in this book, and generally he has succeeded in overcoming the shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
He begins with a short and careful survey of Leon and Castile in the twelfth century, stressing their political history and their relations with their neighboring neigh·bor
1. One who lives near or next to another.
2. A person, place, or thing adjacent to or located near another.
3. A fellow human.
4. Used as a form of familiar address.
v. Muslim states and rulers. Most of the book consists of a series of topical chapters. The most suggestive one treats "Class, family, and household." Here Barton deals with definitions of class and the structure of kinship kinship, relationship by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) between persons; also, in anthropology and sociology, a system of rules, based on such relationships, governing descent, inheritance, marriage, extramarital sexual relations, and sometimes , and he offers a series of images of typical nobles at the significant stages of their life: childhood, adulthood, marriage, and old age. His chapter on "The lineaments of power" could more accurately be called "Land and authority," for he details the economic and social power that the aristocrats wielded as a result of their possession of land and their authority over the people living on it. He next offers a chapter on the relations between the monarchs and the nobles, particularly emphasizing the advisory role of the aristocrats in the royal court during its constant peregrinations. His account of the relations of monarchs and the aristocrats stresses the honors and grants that kings and queens bestowed on favored nobles, and the confiscation confiscation
In law, the act of seizing property without compensation and submitting it to the public treasury. Illegal items such as narcotics or firearms, or profits from the sale of illegal items, may be confiscated by the police. Additionally, government action (e.g. and exile that could befall be·fall
v. be·fell , be·fall·en , be·fall·ing, be·falls
To come to pass; happen.
To happen to. See Synonyms at happen. those nobles who lost that favor. A discussion of aristocrats as elite warriors occupies a special chapter that covers both their activity as knights in battle and their role as controllers of castles, which in the twelfth century were near their height as military machines and often determined military and social control in local areas. Finally, Barton treats the relations of the aristocrats and the church, at a time when proprietary churches and lay patronage were still common. In addition to the detailed footnotes, the scholarly apparatus occupies the last third of the book. There is an extensive bibliography, brief biographical sketches of the counts of twelfth-century Leon and Castile, a series of genealogies, and a selection of charters.
The book is an excellent study of a topic that should be better known to scholars. Indeed, it can serve as a model for monographs on topics in medieval Spanish history, for Barton bases his conclusions on the primary sources and places them in the context of both Spanish and European historiography historiography
Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. . Inevitably, in a major work covering as wide a ground as this one, points of criticism arise. Barton chose to sidestep side·step
v. side·stepped, side·step·ping, side·steps
1. To step aside: sidestepped to make way for the runner.
2. the debates swirling about definitions and applications of feudalism feudalism (fy`dəlĭzəm), form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. ; he could have strengthened his presentation if he had entered the battles. Throughout the book, he stresses examples from Galicia and adjacent areas in the northwest, while slighting areas to the south and the east. These are minor quibbles. The Aristocracy in twelfth-century Leon and Castile is a welcome addition to the small but growing shelf of books on medieval Iberian topics that can be read with profit by all medieval historians and by others interested in medieval social development.
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