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Spiritual and Material Rewards on the Christian-Muslim Frontier: Norman Crusaders in the Valley of the Ebro in the First Half of the Twelfth Century

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Spiritual and Material Rewards on the Christian-Muslim Frontier: Norman Crusaders in the Valley of the Ebro in the First Half of the Twelfth Century

Abstract

This article explores the involvement of the Norman nobility in the wars between Christians and Muslims in the Ebro Valley in the first half of the 12th Century. The work recognises how the participation of the this particular ethno-cultural group in the peninsula was renovated to a certain degree by the deeds and religious transformation that took place as result of the preaching and success of the crusade. Furthermore, by exploring the careers of Rotrou of Perche, Robert Burdet and Walter Guidvilla this piece demonstrates how their religiosity as well as the filial relations and traditional desire for wealth that characterise this group of warriors, made the Iberian theatre of conflict so attractive at this particular period. Also, this article, tries to show how their Iberians lay and clerical coreligionists perceived the usefulness of these Norman contingents in their conflict with the Almoravids.
MedievalisMo, 27, 2017, 353-376 · issN: 1131-8155 353
Spiritual and Material rewardS on the
ChriStian-MuSliM Frontier: norMan CruSaderS
in the Valley oF the ebro in the FirSt halF oF
the twelFth Century1
luCaS VillegaS-ariStizábal2
Queen’s University: Bader International Study Centre
United Kingdom
Abstract
This article explores the involvement of the Norman nobility in the wars between Christians and
Muslims in the Ebro Valley in the rst half of the 12th Century. The work recognises how the participation
of this particular ethno-cultural group in the peninsula was renovated to a certain degree by the deeds
and religious transformation that took place as a result of the preaching and success of the First Crusade.
Furthermore, by exploring the careers of Rotrou of Perche, Robert Burdet and Walter Guidvilla this
piece demonstrates how their religiosity as well as the lial relations and traditional desire for wealth
that characterise this group of warriors, made the Iberian theatre of conict so attractive at this particular
period. Also, this article, tries to show how their Iberians lay and clerical coreligionists perceived the
usefulness of these Norman contingents in their conict with the Almoravids.
Key words
Crusade; Reconquista; Normans; efs; Holy War; Aragon; Tarragona.
Resumen
Este artículo explora la contribución de la nobleza normanda (Francesa) en las guerras entre cristianos
y musulmanes en el valle del Ebro en la primera mitad del siglo XII. El trabajo reconoce como la
participación de este particular grupo étnico-cultural en la península fue renovada hasta cierto punto por
los hechos y la transformación que tuvo lugar a raíz de la predicación y el triunfo de la primera cruzada.
Además, al explorar carreras de Rotrou de Perche, Roberto Burdet y de Gualter Guidvilla, esta pieza
demuestra como su religiosidad al mismo tiempo que sus relaciones liales y la tradicional codicia que
caracterizó a estos guerreros, hizo que el teatro de conicto peninsular fuese tan atractivo para ellos en
este periodo. También, este artículo intenta mostrar como sus correligionarios ibéricos laicos y religiosos
percibían la utilidad de estos contingentes normandos en sus conictos contra los Almorávides.
1 I would like to offer my gratitude for their help and for allowing me access to their resources to the
Institute of Historical Research (London), /University of Nanzan Library (Nagoya, Japan),
the Biblioteca Pública de Tarragona, Archivo de la Corona de Aragón (Barcelona), Archivo General de
Navarra (Pamplona), el Archivo Nacional de España (Madrid), the ecclesiastical and municipal archives of
Vic, Barcelona, Tarragona, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Tudela, Calahorra and Huesca.
I would also like to show my gratitude for the help provided for the completion of this paper to my partner
Naho Shiba, and my friends Francisco García Fitz, Chris Lewis and Connor James Patrick Kelly.
2 Correo electrónico: l_villegas@bisc.queensu.ac.uk.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6018/medievalismo.27.310701
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Palabras clave
Cruzada; Reconquista; Normandos; feudos; Guerra Santa; Aragón; Tarragona.
Résumé
Cet article examine la participation de la noblesse normande aux guerres entre chrétiens et musulmans
dans la vallée de l’Ebre pendant la première moitié du XIIe siècle. On y démontre que l’implication de
ce groupe ethnoculturel dans la Péninsule a été relancée dans une certaine mesure par les événements
et les changements provoqués par la prédication de la première croisade et son succès. De plus, l’étude
des carrières de Rotrou du Perche, de Robert Burdet et de Walter Guidvilla, révèle que leur religiosité
ainsi que les relations liales et la cupidité propre à ces guerriers eurent pour conséquence de rendre
attractif à leur yeux leur participation active au conit péninsulaire à cette époque. De plus, cet article
tente de montrer comment leurs coreligionnaires ibériques, tant laïcs que clercs, ont perçu l’utilité de
ces contingents normands dans leur conit avec les Almoravides.
Mots clés
Croisade; Reconquista; Normands; efs; Guerre Sainte; Aragon; Tarragona.
The aftermath of the First Crusade to the Holy Land seems to have reinvigorated the
involvement of trans-Pyrenean contingents in the wars against Islamic Iberia.3 The
success of the crusading appeal at Clermont Ferrand by Pope Urban II had bolstered the
involvement of the European nobility in the wars against the enemies of the faith with
promises of remission of sins and a combination of the traditions of pilgrimage with
those of Holy War that had been forming for the previous centuries.4 The Normans on
the other hand had been involved in the wars against the enemies of the Church since
at least the mid-eleventh century when they became involved in the capture of Islamic
Sicily and the ephemeral conquest of Barbastro.5 However, with the successes achieved
3 Francisco garCía Fitz, “La Reconquista: Un estado de la cuestión”, Clio & Crimen, 6 (2009), pp. 142-215.
4 Joseph F. o’Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain, ed. Penn, Philadelphia, 2003, pp.
1-22; Norman houSley, Contesting the Crusades, ed. Blackwell, Oxford, 2006, pp. 90-91; Thomas aSbridge,
The Creation of the Principality of Antioch, ed. Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2000.
5 Pierre boiSSonade, “Cluny, la papauté et la première grande croisade internationale contre les sarrasins
d’Espagne: Barbastro (1064–1065), Revue des questions historiques, 60 (1932), pp. 257-301; Étienne de-
laruelle, “The Crusading Idea in the Cluniac Literature of the Eleventh Century”, Cluniac Monasticism in
the Central Middle Ages, Noreen hunt (ed.), ed. Macmillan, London, 1971, pp. 209-210; Carl erdMann, The
Origins of the Idea of Crusade, Marshall W. baldwin (trans.), ed. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1977,
pp. 288-289; Vicente Cantarino, The Spanish Reconquest: A Cluniac Holy War against Islam?” Islam and the
Medieval West, Khalil I. SeMaan (ed.), ed. Albany, 1980, pp. 88-89; o’Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade,
pp. 1-22; Carlos laliena Corbera, “Larga stipendia et optima prædia: Les nobles francos en Aragon au servisse
d’Alphonse le Batailleur”, Annales du Midi, 229 (2000), pp. 149-169; Jonathan riley-SMith, The Crusades,
A Short History, ed. Yale University Press, London, 2001, pp. 3-7; Marcus BULL, Knightly Piety and the
Lay Response to the First Crusade: The Limousin and Gascony, c. 970-c. 1130, ed. Oxford University Press,
Oxford, 1993, pp. 33-39; Marcus BULL, “Origins”, The Oxford History of the Crusades, Jonathan riley-SMith
(ed.), ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, pp. 15-34; Herbert E. J. Cowdrey, Pope Gregory VII 1073-
1085, ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998, p. 468; Paul oldField y Kathryn hurloCk, “Introduction”,
Crusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman World, Paul oldField (ed.) y Kathryn hurloCk (ed.), ed. Boydell,
Woodbridge, 2015, pp. 1-10; Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Norman and Anglo-Norman Interventions in the
Iberian Wars of Reconquest before and after the First Crusade”, Crusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman
World, Paul oldField (ed.) y Kathryn hurloCk (ed.), ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2015, pp. 103-121.
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by Robert Carthuse and Bohemond of Taranto in the Levant, the frontier seems to have
attracted a new wave of enthusiasm from this group who historically had not been shy from
adventurous desire for land and plunder from Scotland to Antioch, but now were being
promised spiritual rewards for their endeavours as well. Bohemond of Taranto and his
conquest of the city of Antioch during the First Crusade showed Normans the possibilities
for material and spiritual rewards that could be achieved under this new type of warring
pilgrimage.6 On the other hand, the gradual sacralisation of the Iberian theatre would
allow those whose resources were more limited to have access to some of these rewards.
In the early decades of the twelfth century, there were a few Norman crusaders who played
an important role in the wars of reconquest in Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia. They were
Rotrou of Perche and his followers: Sylvester of Saint-Calais, Reginald of Bailleul, Roger
of Falais, Walter de Guidvilla, Geoffrey of Argentan, Algrin of Sechrouvre, Robert of
Judas and Robert Burdet.7 Of these, the most signicant in the documentary and narrative
sources are Rotrou and Robert Burdet. Rotrou’s contribution in the Iberian Reconquista
soon after the capture of Zaragoza (1118) allowed him to acquire a lordship in Tudela
and to be involved in different crusading themed campaigns against the Almoravids.
Robert Burdet is remembered for his involvement in New Catalonia where he managed
to gain the title of prince under the suzerainty of the church of the spiritually important
city of Tarragona. Sylvester and Reginald, on the other hand, did not seem to acquire
much with regards to lands preferring to return home, according to Orderic Vitalis, which
illustrates the penitential aspects of their involvement.8 Some of the others such as Walter
de Guidvilla seem to have acquired some lands displaying that as in the Holy Land the
crusaders were equally eager to embark on this kind of expedition for enrichment of the
body as well as the soul.9 It is, therefore, the purpose of this article to review the careers of
these Normans in Iberia in order to illustrate how the Ebro frontier began to be perceived
as a legitimate theatre for the crusading movement from the earlier decades of the twelfth
century, not only for Iberians, Gascon and Occitan nobles but also for northern crusaders
whose traditions were very different from their southern counterparts.10
6 Emily Albu, “Antioch and the Normans”, Crusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman World, Paul oldField
(ed.) y Kathryn hurloCk (ed.), ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2015, pp. 159-176.
7 Derek loMax, The Reconquest of Spain, ed. Longman, London, 1978, pp. 80-82; Kathleen thoMpSon,
Power and Border Lordship in Medieval France: The County of Perche, 1000-1226, ed. Royal Historical
Society, London, 2002, p. 74; Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Norman and Anglo-Norman Participation in the
Iberian Reconquista c. 1018-1248”, PhD Thesis, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, 2007, pp. 101-145.
Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Norman and Anglo-Norman Interventions”, pp. 103-121.
8 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, Marjorie Chibnal (trad.), ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford,
1978, pp. 402-403.
9 Lawrence MCCrank, “Norman Crusader in the Catalan Reconquest: Robert Burdet and the Principality of
Tarragona”, Journal of Medieval History, 7:1 (1981), pp. 62-87; BULL, Knightly Piety, pp. 258-288; Aryeh
graboïS, “The Description of Jerusalem by William of Malmesbury”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 13 (1990), p. 5.
10 Carlos laliena, “Larga stipendia et optima prædia”, pp. 149-169; Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Revis-
iting the Anglo-Norman Crusaders’ Failed Attempt to Conquer Lisbon c. 1142”, Portuguese Studies, 29:1
(2013), pp. 7-20.
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The main narrative source for both Rotrou’s and Robert’s involvement in Iberia is
Orderic Vitalis’s Ecclesiastical History, which was completed by the Norman monk a
few years after the events. This chronicle has been most recently translated by Chibnal
in an Oxford edition.11 Furthermore, there are some narrative Iberian sources like the
fourteenth-century Chronicle of San Juan de la Peña and the sixteenth-century Los
Anales de la Corona de Aragon, which are slightly less precise because of their temporal
dislocation with the subject matter, but nonetheless can be used to cross reference some
of the events. Also, there is a great amount of documentary evidence surviving in the
archives of Spain and France which helps to conrm some of Orderic’s claims as well
as helping to further our understanding of these Normans’ participation in the Iberian
conict.12 The Norman involvement in the Iberian wars has been studied previously by
some French and Iberian historians such as Dozy, Bonnasie, Defourneux, Almaparte
and Laliena as part of the French intervention in the peninsular conict but they have
not been singled out in comparison to the Norman involvement in other theatres of war
in the period such as the British Isles, Sicily and the Levant.13
1. Origins of Rotrou of Perche
Rotrou of Perche’s position as a count on the frontier of Île de France and Normandy
is relatively well-documented. Also, his importance during the wars between Robert
Curthose and Henry I in Normandy has made him an attractive gure to historians of
the period. Kathleen Thompson has produced a full account of his Norman ventures on
her work on the county of Perche.14 Rotrou was the only surviving son of Geoffrey of
Montagne, viscount of Perche, and inherited the county from his father in 1099 while he
took part in the First Crusade.15 Rotrou’s engagement in the crusade probably occurred
as a result of Robert Curthose’s decision to take the cross in 1095.16 He might also have
been inspired by his father’s involvement in the Norman conquest of England. However,
11 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 397; Nick webber, The Evolution of the Norman Identity,
ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2005, pp. 142-147; Emily albu, The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda,
Myth and Subversion, ed. Boydell, Oxford, 2001, pp. 180-213.
12 Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Anglo-Norman Intervention in the Conquest and Settlement of Tortosa,
1148-1180”, Crusades, 8 (2009), docs. 1-19, 24.
13 boiSSonade, “Cluny, la papauté et la première grande croisade internationale contre les sarrasins d’Espagne:
Barbastro (1064-1065)”, pp. 257-301; Marcelin deFourneaux, Les français en Espagne aux XIe et XIIe
siècles, ed. Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 1949, pp. 145-200; laliena, “Larga stipendia et optima
prædia”, pp. 149-169;
14 Oliver de beaune, Visconde de Romanet, Géographie du Perche et chronologie de ses comtés, suivies de
pièces justicatives, formant le cartulaire de cette province, Montagne, 1902, pp. 48-51; thoMpSon, Power and
Border Lordship, pp. 54-85; Kathleen thoMSon, “The Formation of the County of Perche: The Rise and Fall
of the House of Gouet”, Family Trees and the Roots of Politics: The Prosopography of Britain and France
from the Tenth to Twelfth Century, K.S.B. Keats rohan (ed.), ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 1997, pp. 299-335.
15 Jonathan riley-SMith, The First Crusaders 1095-1131, ed. University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge,
1998, pp. 144-145.
16 Ibid.
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judging from his later ventures, it is likely that he had some religious inspiration for
taking part in such an innovative but expensive journey. Rotrou’s contribution in the
First Crusade is not as well documented as those of the more famous Normans like
Bohemond of Taranto, Tancred, and Robert Curthose.17 On the other hand, there are
some references to his gallantry in the sieges of Nicea and Antioch.18 In the Chanson
d’Antioch and the Chronicle of William of Tyre, Rotrou is mentioned as one of the
most heroic gures in the capture of Antioch and later as the commander of one of
the counterattacks which dislodged the Muslim coalition forces that unsuccessfully
tried to retake the city.19 It seems that Rotrou’s participation in the crusade enhanced
his personal prestige since he started to style himself as a count, a higher-ranking title
than that of his father.20
Soon after his return from the Holy Land, according to Orderic, Rotrou was involved in
an Iberian campaign against the Muslims in Aragon where he and his Norman followers
attempted to help Alfonso I the Battler. Unfortunately, there is no Iberian source that
corroborates Orderic’s claims.21 On the other hand, a letter that survives from St Anslem
of Canterbury (1103) does suggest that at least the then Bishop Diego Galmirez of Saint
James of Compostela had requested aid in the war against the Muslims in the peninsula.22
Archbishop Anslem who had not been particularly eager to encourage participation in
the First Crusade, was adamant that the Anglo-Norman knights were in no position to
help in the struggle against the enemies of the faith.23 Although the letter requested
aid for Galicia and not the Ebro Valley, it is evident that contacts did exist around the
time of the mentioned expedition.24 Therefore, the letter illustrates that soon after the
successes of the First Crusade in Palestine the Iberian rulers and prelates were eager
to attract foreign aid in their perceived sacred struggle against Islam.
17 Bernard S. baChraCh y David S. baChraCh, The Gesta Tancredi of Ralph of Caen: A History of the
Normans on the First Crusade, ed. Rutledge, Aldershot, 2005.
18 La chanson d’Antioche, Suzanne duparC-QuioC (ed.), ed. Librairie orientaliste Paul, Paris, 1978, lin.,
2023, 2816, 2929, 3506, 3622, 4695, 6131, 8990; Guillaume de tyr, Chronique, ed. R.B.C. huygenS, H.E.
Mayer y G. röSCh, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, Turnholt, 1986, pp. 138-139, 191-192, 329-333.
19 La chanson d’Antioche, lins. 2023, 2816, 2929, 3506, 3622, 4695, 6131, 8990; Guillaume de Tyr, Chro-
nique, pp. 138-9, 191-2, 329-33.
20 thoMpSon, Power and Border Lordship, p. 52.
21 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 397.
22 “Dolet quod Angli milites contra saracenos in eius auxilium mittere non possint, cum ipsum regnum
anglorum bellis commoveafur”. S. Anselmi Cantuariensis archiepiscopi opera Omnia, 6, ed. Francis S.
Schmitt, Thomas Nelson and Sons Press, Edinburgh, 1849, doc. 263.
23 Arish graboïS, “Anglo-Norman England and the Holy Land”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 7 (1984), p. 132;
Kathryn hurloCk, “Norman Inuence on Crusading from England and Wales”, Crusading and Pilgrimage
in the Norman World, Paul oldField (ed.) y Kathryn hurloCk (ed.), ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2015, p. 73.
24 Samu niSkaMen, “St Anslem Views on Crusade”, Medieval History Writing and Crusading Ideology,
Tuomas M. S. lehtonen (ed.), Kurt Villads JENSEN (ed.), Janne Malkki (ed.) y Katja ritari (ed.), ed. Finish
Literature Society, Helsinki, 2005, pp. 67-68.
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Rotrou’s crusading venture, according to Orderic’s version of the events, ended when
the Aragonese plotted against their Norman coreligionists.25 If the plot did exist and it
was not a creation of Cluniac gossip against Alfonso as Nelson has suggested, it could
be argued that it was a demonstration of the displeasure that the Aragonese nobility felt
towards their foreign allies’ involvement in their internal affairs. This sentiment was not
unlike the antagonism felt by members of the Castilian and Leonese nobility against the
Burgundian sons-in-law of Alfonso VI of Castile Leon.26 This is a theme that seems to have
been repeated throughout the history of foreign involvement in the Iberian wars against
Islam as Garcia Fitz and Novoa Portela have recently commented on their monograph.27
On the other hand, it is likely that the real justication for the short-lived venture was
probably the degeneration of the situation in Normandy as Nelson argues, or perhaps
Pedro I sent the Norman contingents back home without using their services for local
reasons. If this expedition took place between 1104 and 1105 as Nelson has suggested,
Pedro I of Aragon had a truce with the Taifa of Zaragoza. So it is likely that the
arrival of an eager group of Norman crusaders did not t with his immediate political
manoeuvres.28 This is perhaps the origin of the frustration perceived by some of the
crusaders who had hoped to ght in Spain but felt betrayed by the local Iberians’ desire
to maintain their truce with the Almoravids. If the Normans’ visit took place in 1105, it
might have coincided with the succession of the Navarro-Aragonese realm from Pedro I
to Alfonso I, making their situation inconvenient in those circumstances. Then Alfonso
I’s later minor conquests of Ejea 1105 and Tamarite 1107 might have helped to increase
the displeasure felt by the Normans for their inability to have a share of the spoils.29
There is an interesting similarity between Orderic’s story and an episode involving an
earlier Norman named Roger of Tosny who had gone to Iberia and returned as a result
of the treachery of the local Iberians.30 Roger of Tosny’s career in the Catalan counties
was narrated briey by Ademar of Chabannes and the Northern French Chronicle of
Saint Pierre Le Vif de Sens.31 In their narratives both chroniclers explained that the
Norman was involved in a series of wars against the Andalusi on behalf of the countess
of Barcelona. However, they both agreed that he returned to Normandy after being
25 Lynn nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche and the Aragonese Reconquest”, Traditio, 26 (1970), pp. 113-133;
laliena, “Larga stipendia et optima prædia”, p. 161.
26 Andrés barón Faraldo, “Magnates y nobiles en la curia del conde Raimundo de Borgoña, Totius gallecie
princeps (ca. 1091-1107)”, Estudios mindonenses, 27 (2011), pp. 531-547.
27 Francisco garCía Fitz y Feliciano noVoa portela, Cruzados en la reconquista, ed. Marcial Pons, Madrid,
2014, pp. 13-17.
28 nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche and the Aragonese Reconquest”, pp. 116-117.
29 Javier zabalo, “Tercera Parte: Navarra”, Historia de España, 6, dir. Manuel tuñón de lara, Editorial
Labor, Barcelona, 1980, p. 373.
30 Lucas VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Roger of Tosny’s Adventures in the County of Barcelona”, Nottingham
Medieval Studies, 52 (2008), pp. 4-16; garCía Fitz y noVoa portela, Cruzados, p. 57.
31 Georges ponS, “Adémar de Chabannes et l’Espagne”, Aquitaine-Espagne VIIIe-XIIIe siècle, Philippe
SénaC (ed.), ed. Centre d’étudies supérieures de civilisation médiévale, Poitiers, 2001, pp. 69-82; Medieval
History Writing and Crusading Ideology, Tuomas M. S. lehtonen (ed.), Kurt Villads JenSen (ed.), Janne
Malkki (ed.) Katja ritari (ed.), y Pascal bureSi (ed.), ed. Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki, 2005.
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ambushed by locals. Ademar blames the Muslims, while the Chronicle of Saint Pierre
Le Vif seems to accuse the local Christians.32 In any case these actions have a certain
similarity with Orderic’s version of the events of Rotrou’s rst misadventure in Iberia.
It is possible that this earlier occurrence either confused or inuenced Orderic’s views
on the failure in this particular venture. Also, the treachery of the local Iberians was not
unlike the one supposedly contrived against Roland in the famous epic poem.33 Moreover,
Linehan has noted that in the twelfth century some in Frankish lands believed the tales
of Charlemagne’s conquest of Iberia and the hypothetical inability or treachery of the
local Christians in keeping it under Christian rule.34
2. Origins of Robert Burdet
According to Orderic Vitalis, Robert Burdet was originally from the village of Cullei
(Rabodanges) in Normandy.35 From the name used by Orderic in his chronicle, one may
infer that Robert Burdet belonged to the branch of the family who stayed in Normandy
after the Norman conquest of England. Nevertheless, it is also possible that he may have
had Anglo-Norman connections since, as Orderic afrms, Robert’s rst wife Sybil was
a daughter of William le Chèvre, which the PASE Domesday identies as a landowner
in Devon by 1086.36 In his edition of Orderic’s chronicle, Le Prévost mentioned a link
between the Burdet family in Normandy, which as Chibnal has correctly asserted, was
still ourishing in the middle of the twelfth century and the branch of the same family
who arrived in England soon after the Norman conquest and settled in Leicestershire.37
According to Chibnal, the Burdets were vassals of the Grandmesnils in Normandy.38
Also, if Robert Burdet was indeed from Cullei as Orderic has claimed, there was a
noticeable feudal arrangement in this locality before his departure that perhaps inuenced
his later decision to accept the over-lordship of the church in his newly acquired frontier
efdom. As Haskins and Chibnal have noted, the village of Cullei had been granted as
a efdom to the Abbey of Saint-Évroult by Hugh de Grandmesnil at some point in the
mid-eleventh century and the arrangement was maintained until Orderic’s time.39 More
interestingly, a certain Samson of Cullei who is mentioned in several charters from the
reigns of William I and Henry I seems to have kept a close connection with the Abbey
32 VillegaS, “Roger of Tosny’s Adventures”, pp. 7-8.
33 Peter linehan, Spain 1157-1300, A Partible Inheritance, ed. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2008, p. 4.
34 linehan, Spain, p. 4; Carol SweetenhaM y Lind M. paterSon, The Chanson d’Antioche: An Old French
Account of the First Crusade, ed. Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000.
35 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 402.
36
PASE Domesday, William 48 (William Chevre): http://domesday.pase.ac.uk/Domesday?op=5&personkey=41297
37 Orderici VitaliS, Historiae ecclesiasticae libri tredecem, 5, Auguste le preVoSt (ed.), ed. Société de
l’histoire de France, Paris, 1855, p. 8.
38 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 402. no. 2.
39 Charles Homer haSkinS, Norman Institutions, ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1918, p. 11; Marjorie
Chibnal, “Military Service in Normandy before 1066”, Studies in Late Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman
Military Organisation and Warfare, M. J. StriCkland (ed.), ed. Boydell, London, 2000, pp. 31-37.
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where also Orderic Vitalis was based.40 However, the exact relation between the Burdet
family and the lords of Cullei is far from clear. Orderic himself does not say anything
about their relation except for his claim that Robert was from this locality. Yet, it seems
likely that he was related to this family in some way. Robert at least was acquainted
with the feudal arrangement of his home locality with the abbey.
In the chartulary of Burton Lazars, Leicestershire, there are a series of documents relating
to members of the Burdet family.41 Unfortunately, this collection does not make allusion
to any specic dates or other indications that would relate them to Robert or his close
relatives. There is, however, a Robert Burdet whom Crouch calls Robert I, who held efs
in the area from Hugh de Grandmesnil.42 Robert I could be an ancestor of the Robert in
question. This is probably the same Robert Burdet who is also mentioned as one of the
retainers of Ivo de Grandmesnil and appears as a witness in the foundation charter of
Kirby priory (1077).43 Certainly, this Robert Burdet is not the same one who went to Iberia
during the 1120’s. Crouch speculates that it was either one of his sons or grandsons.44
3. Origins of Walter of Guidvilla
Another Norman participant whose origins are more shadowy is Gualter or Walter de
Guidvilla. He might have been from the region of Eure in central Normandy, not too
far from Calvados, as documentary evidence in the area suggests.45 Furthermore, a
certain Huge of Guidvilla appears in Domesday Book as a tenant of the Grandmesnils
in Leicestershire and a family with this surname ourished in Yorkshire from the early
twelfth century as shown by Greenway.46 The connections between these two and the
Norman crusader are, however, far from certain. Laliena has suggested that Walter was
the brother of Robert Guidvilla who had efdoms in Northamptonshire and York and who
was a vassal of Nigel d’Aubigny.47 It is more likely, however, that Walter was a member
of a branch of the family with cross-channel connections but based in Normandy, since
this would more easily explain his attachment to Rotrou’s expedition. If this is so, it is
noticeable that as Robert Burdet’s family, the Guidvillas in Normandy were also vassals
of the Grandmesnils. Thus it is likely that Robert Burdet and Walter de Guidvilla were
40 Orderici VitaliS, Historiae ecclesiasticae, 5, pp. 193-194, 200-201.
41 Terry bourne y David MarCoMbe eds., The Burton Lazars Cartulary: A Medieval Leicestershire Estate,
ed. University of Nottingham, Nottingham, 1992, pp. 19, 21, 44-6, 67, 73.
42 William Farrer, Honors and Knights’ Fees, 2, ed. Spottiswoode, Ballntyne & co London, 1924, p. 329.
43 William dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, 1, London, 1815, p. 562; David CrouCh, “Normans and
Anglo-Normans: A Divided Aristocracy?”, England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, David bateS (ed.)
y Anne Curry (ed.), ed. Hambledon Press, London, 1994, p. 54.
44 David CrouCh, The Beaumont Twins: The Roots and Branches of Power in the Twelfth Century, ed.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008, pp. 127-128.
45 Diana E. greenway, Charters of the Honour of Mowbray, ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1972,
p. xxxiv note 1; laliena, “Larga stipendia et optima prædia”, pp. 161-165.
46 Ibid.
47 Ibid.
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acquainted with each other in Normandy. Ivo de Grandmesnil had participated in the First
Crusade, which might have given these vassals the idea of joining a crusading venture.
So it is possible that their families had members who had been involved as part of their
feudal obligations.48 Ivo’s infamous cowardice at the siege of Antioch might not have
been a deterrent for joining the better-reputed Rotrou in his new venture.49 On the other
hand, if Robert or Walter had been involved in the First Crusade as Ivo’s vassals, their
involvement in Iberia might have been seen as an opportunity to redeem their families’
reputation from any tarnishing that they might have suffered by their association. As noted
by Aird, the accusations of cowardice in the battleeld had an important repercussion on
the nobles’ ability to maintain their own authority. For example, Stephen of Blois had
to return to the Holy Land in order to salvage his family reputation after his perceived
cowardice at the Siege of Antioch.50
YORKSHIRE
KENT
ESSEX
LICOLNSHIRE
York
Canterbury
Lincoln
E N G L A N D
Dartmouth
SOMERSET
ENGLISH CHANNEL
NORTH
SEA
WALES
IRISH
SEA
Kirkby Priory
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
London
BERKSHIRE
SURREY
LEICESTERSHIRE
Burton Lazars
48 Jonathan riley-SMith, “Family Traditions and Participation in the Second Crusade”, The Second Crusade
and the Cistercians, Michael Gervers (ed.), ed. Palgrave, New York, 1992, pp. 101-109.
49 Ivo of Grandmesnil, according to Orderic VitaliS had disgraced his family by showing cowardice and
escaping the besieged city of Antioch by letting himself down some ropes from the walls of the city dur-
ing the First Crusade. Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 5, pp. 97-99; Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical
History, 6, p. 19.
50 William M. aird, “‘May others, whose names I do not know ed with them’: Norman Courage and
Cowardice on the First Crusade”, Crusading and Pilgrimage in the Norman World, Paul oldField (ed.) y
Kathryn hurloCk (ed.), ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2015, pp. 28-29.
DEVON
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EURE
Cullei (Rabodanges)
Caen
Bayeux
Avranches
C A L V A D O S
PERCHE
Abbey of
Saint-Évroult
River Orne
ENGLISH CHANNEL
Couches
Abbey
4. The Norman tradition of involvement in Iberia
This group was not the rst northern contingent to come to Iberia to ght; there was
already a ourishing tradition of Frankish inux into the peninsular campaigns by the
beginning of the twelfth century.51 Some calls to aid the Iberian kingdoms and counties
were made all across France to attract warriors to ght in the campaigns against
the Muslims since the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba.52 Although for most of the
eleventh century the Iberian monarchs had used the church connections to encourage
the involvement of the Franks in the Iberian struggle, the First Crusade to Palestine
placed the institution as the main power behind the promulgation of the Iberian conict
as a legitimate theatre for those interested in gaining remission of sins by ghting the
Muslims.53 Thanks to the momentum, which followed the success of the First Crusade
51 Jaime Ferreiro aleMparte, Arribadas de normandos y cruzados a las costas de la península ibérica, ed.
Sociedad española de estudios medievales, Madrid, 1999, pp. 17-232; Reinhart Pieter Anne dozy, Recherches
sur l’histoire et la littérature de l’Espagne pendant le moyen âge, 2, ed. Maisonneuve & Co., Paris, 1881, pp.
250-331; deFourneaux, Les français en Espagne aux XIe et XIIe siècles, pp. 145-200; boiSSonade, “Cluny, la
papauté et la première grande croisade internationale contre les sarrasins d’Espagne: Barbastro (1064-1065)”,
pp. 257-301; BULL, Knightly Piety and the Lay Response, pp. 72-80. Carlos laliena Corbera, “Tradiciones
familiares de guerra santa. Linajes aristocráticos y conquista feudal en los siglos XI y XII en Cataluña, Aragón
y Castilla”, Estudios en homenaje al profesor Emilio Cabrera, R. Córdoba de la llaVe (ed.), J. L. del pino
garCía (ed.) y M. CabreranChez (ed.), ed. Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, 2015, pp. 279-292.
52 loMax, The Reconquest of Spain, p. 49; garCía Fitz y noVoa portela, Cruzados, pp. 55-68.
53 Edward peterS (ed.), The First Crusade: “The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres” and Other Source
Materials, ed. Penn, Philadelphia, 1998, pp. 45-46; José goñi gaztaMbide, Historia de la bula de cruzada
en España, ed. Europeana, Vitoria, 1958; William purkiS, Crusading Spirituality in the Holy Land and
Iberia, c. 1095 - c. 1187, ed. Boydell, Woodbridge, 2008, pp. 73-76.
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to the Holy Land, more and more calls for crusading in Iberia were being made.54 The
Iberian frontier would have been equally attractive as the Holy Land as a result of its
proximity. So unlike the people who went to the First Crusade, the knights going to
Iberia did not need much wealth to nance their journey.
5. The clergy’s desire to attract Frankish involvement
Furthermore, Oleguer Archbishop of Tarragona and Bernard Archbishop of Toledo were
keen to attract foreign soldiers to aid in the wars of conquest of Al-Andalus.55 Oleguer
might have played an important role in Robert’s and Rotrou’s decision to go to Spain.
In 1116, Oleguer, bishop of Barcelona, was elected archbishop of the still deserted see
of Tarragona.56 A year later, Ramon Berenguer III, count of Barcelona, granted the lands
of Tarragona to the recently-elected archbishop.57
In the grant the count did not only give the city to the metropolitan, but also encouraged
the prelate to move to the urban centre.58 The city of Tarragona was taken by the count
of Barcelona in 1091, but the re-settlement of the region was not very successful.
Tarragona had become almost a no-man’s-land where settlers were afraid to live for fear
of Andalusi raids. Since its reconquest in 1091, the bishops of Osona had held the title
of archbishop, but had shown little interest in its physical restoration.59 Pope Paschal
II had issued a crusading bull for the physical restoration of the see in 1116 that might
have been used by the prelate to attract would-be-crusaders.60 There is some evidence
that Oleguer did attempt to repopulate the area before granting it to Robert. For example,
in October 1128, according to a document that exists as a copy in the chartulary of the
Cathedral of Vic, he donated the Church of St Saviour located in the suburbs of the city
to the bishop of Osona with its rights to gather alms.61 Moreover, Masnou has shown
quite convincingly that the bishop of Osona had been engaged rather whole-hardly,
onto the venture of repopulating the area in the second decade of the twelfth century
with only minor success. Bishop Ramon Gaufred of Osona was so invested in to the
venture that he apparently bankrupted his own diocese attempting to resettle the area in
order to fence off the disputed claims of jurisdiction over the dioceses of the Hispanic
March from the Archbishop of Narbonne.62 This suggests that at least there were some
54 garCía Fitz y noVoa portella, Cruzados, pp. 67-74.
55 loMax, The Reconquest of Spain, p. 61.
56 Enrique Flórez, España sagrada, 25, Madrid, 1773, pp. 116-117.
57 Ibid.
58 Ibid.
59 Lawrence MCCrank, “The Foundation of the Confraternity of Tarragona by Archbishop Oleguer
Bonestruga, 1126-1129”, Viator, 9 (1978), pp. 157-177.
60 Josep M. MaSnou, “Participació del bisbe de Vic en la repoblació́ de Tarragona”, Simpòsium: La re-
població del camp de Tarragona. Estat de la qüestió
́, Arxiu històric arxidiocesà de Tarragona, Tarragona,
June 18, 2015.
61 Arxiu Capitular de Vic, Cal 37, LD fol. 73.
62 MaSnou, “Participació del bisbe de Vic en la repoblació de Tarragona”.
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settlers already arriving in the area at the time of Robert’s appointment. On the other
hand, it is not certain that many were prepared to settle permanently in the region long
before that date, which might have encouraged Oleguer to go to France to the councils
of Toulouse (1118) and Rheims (1119), armed with Paschal’s bull, with the important
mission of recruiting soldiers to help defend his newly acquired principality.63
The count of Barcelona probably hoped that by granting Tarragona, the archbishop would
use his inuence to repopulate the city. Ramon Berenguer III seems to have had little
zeal for conquest throughout his reign with the exception of the ephemeral conquest of
the Balearic Islands in 1115.64 However, in his transitory conquest of Majorca, he used
Norman contingents from southern Italy, who had introduced him to the potential of
the Normans as allies against the Muslims.65 He might even have beneted from papal
support for this expedition creating a precedence for crusading endeavours in the area.66
The Norman contingents were also perhaps encouraged by Calixtus II’s Lateran Council
Crusading bull (1123) in which he compared the war in the east with the Iberian struggle
and gave its participants the same remission of sins as those heading for Jerusalem.67
Certainly, these comparisons between the wars in the east and those in Spain were not
completely alien to the peninsular clergy. Since the time of Alexander II and Gregory
VII, they had received support from the papacy to encourage Frankish involvement in
Spain.68 Moreover, Urban II and his successors were prepared to grant indulgences to
those getting involved in the Iberian campaigns against the Muslims as he had offered
to the participants of the First Crusade. Indeed, this ofcial encouragement from the
papacy helped to make the new archbishop keener to try to restore his see. Also, the
precarious position of the archiepiscopal see with its depopulated territories certainly
forced the new prelate to call for help on the northern side of the Pyrenees.69 This is
suggested in the charter of the donation of Tarragona to Robert by Oleguer where he
makes allusion to the aid supplied by Popes Galesius II and Calixtus II in securing
63 ManSi, 21, pp. 128-148; Juan teJada y raMiro (ed.), Colección de Cánones y de todos los concilios
de la iglesia española, 3:2, ed. Imprenta de Don Pedro Montero, Madrid, 1854, p. 249; “Chronique Sancti
Maxentii”, Chroniques des églises d’Anjou, Paul MarChegay (ed.) y Émile Mabile (ed.), ed. Libraire de la
société de historie de France, Paris, 1869, p. 427; Damian J. SMith, “The Abbot-Crusader Nicholas Breaks-
pear in Catalonia”, Adrian IV the English Pope, Brenda bolton (ed.) y Anne J. duggan (ed.), ed. Ashgate,
Aldershot, 2003, pp. 32-33.
64 Lorenzo VeronéS, La guerra de Mallorca en ocho libros, Jaume J. CaStello (trans.), ed. Bosch, Barce-
lona, 1996); David abulaFia, “The Norman Kingdom of Africa and the Norman Expeditions to Majorca and
the Muslim Mediterranean”, Anglo-Norman Studies, 7 (1984), pp. 26-49; garCía Fitz y noVoa portella,
Cruzados, pp. 79-80.
65 Ibid.
66 Carlricard brühl (ed.), Codex diplomaticus regni Siciliae: Roger II. Regis diplomata latina (Series 1),
2:1 ed. Köln, Würzburg, 1987, doc. 9.
67 Omnibus enim in hac expeditione constanter militabus eamdem peccatorum remissionem, quam Orien-
talis Ecclesiæ deffensoribus facimus, apostolica auctoritate et concessa nobis divinitus potestate, benigne
concedimus”. Enrique Florez, España Sagrada, 25, ed. Rafael lazCano, Madrid (dir.), 2007, p. 227.
68 bull, Knightly Piety, p. 81.
69 loMax, The Reconquest of Spain, p. 59.
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the possession of Tarragona.70 Perhaps Tarragona’s proximity to the well-armed and
prosperous Muslim city of Tortosa dissuaded the local Catalan nobles from maintaining
garrisoned castles, preferring to keep the area as a buffer zone.71
Although there is no complete record of Oleguer’s intervention at Rheims, Orderic
Vitalis does say that he was present and it is plausible that he addressed the council
about his problems in defending his archiepiscopal see and attempted to encourage his
French counterparts to assist him.72 This is something for which he might have had the
support of Calixtus II, who being related to many of the most powerful people in the
peninsula, was keen to promulgate the crusading movement in the area.73 It is likely
that Robert Burdet, Walter de Guidvilla and the others joined Rotrou’s army while
in Normandy and when the latter decided to travel to Spain to ght, the rest simply
followed. If Orderic’s account of Rotrou’s earlier expedition to the peninsula in the rst
decade of the twelfth century is to be believed, he knew the conditions and potential
for conquering land there.74 Rotrou’s earlier experience as a crusader made him keen to
join this new crusading venture like his contemporary and fellow veteran of the First
Crusade, Gaston de Bearn.75 The Ebro valley was rich in agricultural produce as it is
today and the prospect of holding lands there would have surely attracted the attention
of the Normans.76 For instance, Robert Burdet’s later career suggests that he had been
prepared to stay in these new territories while Rotrou, though eager to gain land, had
no interest in staying. Rotrou had experience holding efs as an absentee landlord in
England where he held his wife’s dowry.
6. Other reasons for the Norman interest in the Ebro Frontier
Apart from these, there is also some circumstantial evidence that helps to explain Rotrou’s
reasoning for joining the expedition. Rotrou was Alfonso I’s rst cousin through their
mothers and belonged to the well-connected Roucys.77 Interestingly, Count Eblous II
of Roucy who was Rotrou’s and Alfonso’s mutual maternal uncle had contemplated a
70 Archivo de la corona de Aragón, Cancillería, Registro No. 3, fol. 6. Pub. en José M. Font riuS (ed.),
Cartas de población y franquicia de Cataluña, 1, ed. CSIC, Barcelona, 1969, pp. 87-88.
71 Ramon MiraVall, Immigració Britànica a Tortosa, ed, Editorial Rafael Dalmau, Barcelona, 1972; Antoni
Virgili, “Angli cum multis aliis alienigenis: crusade settlers in Tortosa (second half of the twelfth century)”,
Journal of Medieval History, 35 (2009), pp. 297–300; VillegaS, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”, pp. 63-64.
72 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 275.
73 Calixtus II was the paternal uncle of Alfonso VII of Castile-Leon and Afonso Henriques I of Portugal.
Gerónimo zurita y CaStro, Anales de la corona de Aragón, 1, Antonio ubieto arteta (ed.) y Desamparados
pérez Soler (ed.), ed. Anubar, Valencia, 1972, p. 180; Richard A. FletCher, Reconquest and Crusade in
Spain”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 37 (1987), p. 43.
74 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, pp. 397-399.
75 laliena, “Larga stipendia et optima praedia”, pp. 151-155.
76 Joaquín VallVé, La división territorial de la España Musulmana, ed. CSIC, Madrid, 1986, pp. 302-305.
77 thoMpSon, Power and Border Lordship, pp. 59-60.
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crusading-like expedition into Iberia at the behest of Pope Gregory VII in the 1070’s.78 That
this expedition did not take place would not have mattered. This earlier planned venture
could have served as a prototype for later endeavours and would have helped to keep the
Iberian theatre as a legitimate area for involvement from Rotrou’s family’s point of view.79
Moreover, Beatrix of Roucy, Rotrou’s mother seems to have inuenced her son with her
devotion for the well-connected monastery of Cluny.80 The Cluniacs as many historians
have suggested were partially responsible for the proclamation of the benets of holy
war against the enemies of Christ in Iberia.81 With their connections to the Iberian
monarchs of Leon, they had acquired a substantial number of daughter religious houses
in the pilgrimage route to the Shrine of St James of Compostela, one of the most revered
pilgrimage sites in Europe.82 Their special relation with the Iberian theatre might have
placed them as important conduits of the idea of ghting in the western frontier for the
Norman nobility and more specically for Rotrou and his followers.
Rotrou might have had other circumstantial reasons for helping his cousin. In the White
Ship tragedy King Henry I was left without a male heir83 and Rotrou lost his wife and
two nephews.84 This personal tragedy might have encouraged him to go on crusade as
penance for his perceived sins.85 Thompson suggests that Rotrou might also have found
it politically convenient to be away from Normandy on a crusading venture as a public
display of his sorrow for the loss of his wife, who after all was Henry I’s daughter.86
In doing so he could avoid being drawn into the succession crisis that he perhaps
anticipated in the Anglo-Norman domains.
According to the evidence, Robert acquired his position in Tarragona while he was in
charge of Tudela. So when he set off for Aragon, he was not taking part because he had
been directly invited by the archbishop. Instead, he might have been inspired by the success
of earlier Normans, who had taken part in the Iberian wars and had been rewarded with
78 Herbert E. Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the Gregorian Reform, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1970, p.
221; José María laCarra de Miguel, Vida de Alfonso el batallador, ed. Guara, Zaragoza, 1971, pp. 15-17;
Malcolm barber, The Two Cities: Medieval Europe 1050-1320, ed. Routledge, London, 1993, p. 346; Lucas
VillegaS-ariStizábal, “Gregory VII and Eblous II of Roucy: Proto-Crusade in Iberia”, Medieval History
Journal, 21:1 (2018), forthcoming.
79 nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche and the Aragonese Reconquest”, pp. 130-134.
80 thoMpSon, Power and Border Lordship, pp. 60-62.
81 loMax, The Reconquest of Spain, pp. 56-58; Giles ConStable, “Ch. VII: Cluny and the First Crusade”,
in Cluny from the Tenth to the Twelfth Centuries, ed. Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000, pp. 186-187.
82 Otto K. werCkMeiSter, “Cluny III and the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela”, Gesta, 27:1/2 (1988),
pp. 103-112; Theresa Martin, “Recasting the Concept of the “Pilgrimage Church”: The Case of San Isidro
de Leon”, La Crónica, 32:2 (2008), p. 169.
83 Judith A. green, Henry I, King of England and Duke of Normandy, ed. Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, 2006, pp. 168-205.
84 thoMpSon, Power and Border Lordship, p. 71.
85 Ibid.; José Ángel leMa pueyo, Alfonso I el batallador, ed. Trea, Guijón, 2008, p. 189.
86 leMa, Alfonso I, p. 189.
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the spoils of battle or efs under the local Iberian rulers.87 So after taking some kind of
crusading vow, he might have decided to travel to Spain as part of the retinue of Rotrou,
a veteran of the First Crusade. This expedition would have seemed a perfect way to gain
remission of his sins and simultaneously increase his personal prestige and possessions.88
Furthermore, Orderic in his narrative of the deeds of the Normans in Iberia does say:
Rodbertus autem cognometo Burded comes Tarracono, aliique deles auditis rumoribus
de regis impugnatione, uelociter armati laxatis habenis aduolarunt, in nomime Iesu alte
uicferati sunt....et Christianorum Christi cruce signatos...’89 which does suggest that he
believed himself to be a crusader or at least Orderic saw him as such. This further suggests
that Robert did possess some religious motivation for his venture in Iberia even though,
unlike his fellow Normans, Sylvester of Saint-Calais and Reginald of Bailleul, he did not
return permanently to Normandy.
In the interim, Alfonso I (the Battler) of Aragon had been trying to attract knights from
across the Pyrenees, who would help increase his power to face the Almoravid threat.
By 1117 the Almoravids seem to have been able to reverse most of the Christian gains
for the previous hundred years and more importantly for his own political position, they
had captured the economically signicant city of Zaragoza.90 Although the Almoravids
had been in Spain since the last decades of the eleventh century, by this time they
had managed to unify almost the whole of Al-Andalus.91 The increasing power of the
Almoravids over Islamic Spain helped to produce crusading fever among many of the
nobles from Southern France who had originally contributed to the First Crusade. They
were being called to ght for Christianity again, but this time against a threat, which
was much closer to home.92 Gelasius II even promised remission of sins to those who
joined the Aragonese monarch in his crusade to take Zaragoza and to ght against the
Almoravid invaders who had conquered it from its native Muslim Taifa king in 1110.93
It is, however, unlikely that Rotrou took part in the conquest of Zaragoza in person,
since during this time it is more likely that he was ghting with his ally and overlord
Henry I of England against the Count of Flanders and the King of France.94 According
to Orderic Vitalis, in September 1119, Rotrou played a vital role in the reconciliation
between his nephew Richer de l’Aquile and King Henry I.95 Rotrou also appears as
the main signatory in a reconrmation charter for the Abbey of Arcisses in Normandy
87 Alberto Ferreiro, “The Siege of Barbastro, 1064-65: A Reassessment”, Journal of Medieval History,
9:1 (1983), pp. 129-144; VillegaS, “Roger of Tosny’s Adventures”, pp. 6-15.
88 bull, Knightly Piety and the Lay Response, p. 113.
89 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 410.
90 Joseph o’Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Iberia, ed. Penn, Philadelphia, 2003, pp.
36-38.
91 Richard FletCher, Moorish Spain, ed. University of California Press, London, 2004, pp. 105-107.
92 deFourneaux, Les français en Espagne, pp. 156-157; Clay StallS, Possessing the Land: Aragon’s
Expansion into Islam’s Ebro Frontier Under Alfonso the Battler, 1105-1134, ed. Brill, Laiden, 1995, p. 37.
93 Patrologia Latina, 163, col. 507 no. 110, col. 508.
94 green, Henry I, pp. 138-139.
95 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 250.
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in 1120.96 However, since Rotrou did receive some sectors of Zaragoza some years
after its conquest, he might have contributed in some way. Perhaps Robert and others
might have been sent in Rotrou’s name to get involved in this campaign. However,
in the earliest fueros of the city, neither Rotrou nor any other recognisable Norman is
mentioned among the witnesses, while Gascons and nobles of the Midi are.97
Thompson suggests that another Norman, Reginald Bailleul sheriff of Shropshire, might
have been involved after a dispute with Henry I in Normandy in 1119.98 However, there
is no surviving Aragonese document that could conrm her theory. There is a document
that Lacarra dated 1121, in which a certain Fobert appears as witness in Zaragoza.99 This
document only survives as a copy, so it is difcult to ascertain if this was a copying
mistake. Also, the surname is not given, so it is impossible to know for certain whether
Robert arrived in Aragon at an earlier date.
The fall of Zaragoza in 1118 and Tudela in 1119 to the Christian armies under Alfonso
the Battler would have been encouraging for knights hoping to gain fortune. Also,
the great Christian victory at Calamocha in June 1120 where Duke William IX of
Aquitaine helped the forces of the Aragonese monarch defeat the armies gathered by
the Almoravids to conquer the Ebro valley, might have inspired further contributions
from the Norman nobility.100 This victory certainly improved the reputation of Duke
William IX of Aquitaine who had taken part in the ill-fated crusade of 1101 to the Holy
Land.101 William’s achievement in Iberia would have been known across the Frankish
lands.102 The reference to the great loot would have encouraged Rotrou’s already pious
disposition for the nancial benets of such a venture. Rotrou and his Norman and
Frankish followers may have arrived around 1123, or perhaps a year or two earlier for
the Aragonese campaigns in the valley of the Ebro against Zaragoza and Tudela, but
more likely in the campaign against Lleida.103 However, there is no mention of them in
any of the contemporary sources referring to Alfonso I’s campaign in Andalusia. Even
Orderic, who was keen to exaggerate and give examples of Norman exploits, does not
conrm their participation in these expeditions. Although Rotrou is mentioned in the
Chronicle of San Juan de La Peña and later by Zurita as the person responsible for
the conquest of Tudela, Nelson has shown this to be inaccurate since the city fell in
1119.104 Also, Rotrou does not appear in the earliest Christian documents of Tudela.
96 Lucien Merlet, (ed.), Cartulaire de l’abbaye de la Sainte-Trinité de Tiron, 1, ed. Imprimerie Garnier,
Paris, 1883, pp. 53-55.
97 Tomás Muñoz y roMero (ed.), Colección de fueros municipales y cartas pueblas 1, ed. Imprenta Don
J. M. Alonso, Madrid, 1847, pp. 448-450.
98 thoMpSon, Power and Border Lordship, p. 74.
99 VillegaS, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”, doc. 4.
100 laCarra, Vida de Alfonso el batallador, p. 69.
101 Orderic VitaliS, “The Crusade of 1101”, Chronicles of the Crusades, ed. Elizabeth hallaM Bromley
Books, Godalming, 1997, p. 97.
102 La Chronique de Saint-Maixent, ed. Jean Verdon, Société d’édition les belles lettres, Paris, 1979, pp.
189-190; garCía Fitz y noVoa portella, Cruzados, p. 78.
103 VillegaS, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”, doc. 6.
104 nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche and the Aragonese Reconquest”, pp. 121-123.
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7. The Normans’ material rewards
In surviving records, Rotrou is rst mentioned in a twelfth-century copy of a charter dated
1121.105 In this document he appears as a signatory witness to a donation by Alfonso
I to Prior Bernard of the church of Saint Mary in Tudela. The dating of this charter
has been brought into question in the latest edition by Lema who believes that it was
not earlier than 1124 or 25.106 The rst undisputed mention of the Norman contingents
occurs in April 1123.107 Although in this charter Rotrou is named as Comes Retro in
Tudela, Robert is not mentioned as Alcaite. He is just named as one of the witnesses.108
This suggests that Robert was not appointed to the post at the same time as Rotrou
was granted the city by Alfonso. In this charter Rotrou gave some houses in Zaragoza
to a certain Sabino, one of his retainers, for his services.109 Although this grant does
not mention Robert as a milite, it does seem to conrm through the list of witnesses
that Robert was part of Rotrou’s retinue together with others who also seem to be from
France including Elrich d’Orleans and Walter de Gaul.11 0 Even though this charter is
the rst one to conrm Rotrou’s arrival, it suggests that he had gained possession of
the city perhaps in 1122. Sabino’s origins are far from certain since his surname is not
mentioned, but it is likely that he was also from Northern French birth.
Furthermore, in a document which is dated October 1124, Rotrou also appears, without
Robert being mentioned, as witness to a donation by Alfonso to one of his vassals in
Zaragoza.111 Subsequently, Robert is rst mentioned as alcaite of Tudela in a charter dated
April 22, 1125 which states in its nal lines: Equitaniensis comitis nomine Retrot, sub
iussu Adefonsi imperatoris est dominator Tutele. De manu comitis est alcaite in Tutela
Rotbert Bordet, et iusticia Duran Pexon’.112 This charter conrms Robert’s position as
ruler of Tudela and as Rotrou’s representative, who is in turn acknowledged as vassal of
Alfonso I who still holds his title of Emperor from his marriage to Urraca of Castile-Leon.
Orderic Vitalis informs us that Rotrou led an army made up of Franks and Gascons against
a fortress named Peña Cadiella (Benicadell).113 Although this expedition is not recorded
in any contemporary Iberian source, it is likely that as Lacarra and more recently Lema
105 José María laCarra de Miguel (ed.), Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista y la repoblación
del valle del Ebro, ed. Anubar, Zaragoza, 1982, doc. 80.
106 José Ángel leMa pueyo, Colección diplomática de Alfonso I de Aragón, ed. Euskoa, San Sebastián,
1990, doc. 161, nota *.
107 VillegaS, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”, doc. 6; StallS, Possessing the Land, pp. 127-128.
108 Arxiu de la Catedral de Tarragona, Perg. Núm. 4; José María laCarra de Miguel (ed.), “Documentos
para el estudio de la reconquista del valle del Ebro”, Estudios de la edad media de la corona de Aragón,
3, ed. CSIC, Zaragoza, 1948, doc. 125.
109 Archivo del Pilar, Arm. 9, caja 1, leg. 2, n. 4; Villegas, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”, doc. 7.
110 Ibid.
111 Archivo del Pilar, Arm. 1, caja 9, leg. 1, n. 6; Luis rubio, Los documentos del Pilar: Siglo XII, ed.
Fernando el Católico, Zaragoza, 1971, pp. 11-12.
112 Archivo de la Catedral de Tudela, Perg. Núm. 4; laCarra (ed.), “Documentos para el estudio de la
reconquista del valle del Ebro”, doc. 125.
113 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 401; leMa, Alfonso I, pp. 189-192.
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have pointed out it was launched against a hill protecting a passage between Valencia
and Alicante. Its strategic importance was obvious enough to have been planned by
Alfonso himself as a preamble to his great venture against Al-Andalus the following
year.114 Lacarra dated the raid to the winter of 1124 and 1125. According to documentary
evidence quoted by Lacarra, Galindo Sanchez, the leader of the confraternity of Balchite,
who Orderic names simply as Galindo, was back in Aragon in spring 1125.115 Galindo
seems to have gained a great standing among his comrades since Orderic applauses his
valour defending the fortress against a counter-offensive.116
Orderic claims that Rotrou returned to his domains with most of his retinue on 1125
and therefore, he was not involved in Alfonso’s expedition in Andalusia. Orderic says
that Alfonso’s reason for this venture was partly out of envy for Rotrou’s successes.117
Orderic Vitalis’s source of information was probably gathered from eyewitnesses.
Nelson has suggested that these may have been Sylvester of Saint-Calais and Reginald
of Ballieul-en-Gouffren, for Orderic mentions these two relatively unimportant noble
participants.118 Misunderstandings of these two may have coloured and helped Orderic
to over-emphasise the importance of Rotrou’s achievements in comparison to those of
the Aragonese monarch. Sylvester’s position in Uncastillo is noted in a document dated
March 1125, conrming his involvement in Iberia.119
In a charter dated February 28, 1126, Rotrou is established in possession of the Castle of
Tudela.120 Interestingly, towards the end of this text the scribe states that: “tempore quo
rex Adefonsus erat in host in Tudela trouis agonese multa gente pagana”.121 It seems
Robert had been left in situ at Tudela’s castle. It is, therefore, possible to infer that he
was somehow considered trustworthy enough by both Rotrou and Alfonso to be left in
charge of this vulnerable frontier town. This document also helps to conrm Orderic’s
claim that Rotrou was back in Normandy. Similarly to his fellow Norman Guy de Fresnel,
who had been left in charge of the strategic frontier castle of Harim in the borderlands of
Antioch by Tancred of Houteville in the aftermath of the First Crusade, Robert’s desire
for extra loot from an expedition as promising as Alfonso’s raid of Al-Andalus was
outweighed by his feudal and crusader obligations in defence of the city.122 Perhaps his
trustworthiness made him more appealing as a candidate for the protection of Tarragona.
114 Ibid.
115 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 400.
116 Ibid.
117 deFourneaux, Les français en Espagne, p. 162.
118 nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche”, p. 132.
119 leMa, Colección diplomática, doc. 149.
120 Sub ec comité Rotró in Tutela, sub quo Robert Bordet in castello”. Archivo de la catedral de Calahorra,
Número 17; laCarra, “Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista”, doc. 129.
121 Archivo de la Catedral de Calahorra, doc. núm. 17.
122 laCarra, Alfonso, pp. 83-7; garCía Fitz and noVoa portella, Cruzados, p. 78; StallS, Possessing
the Land, p. 51; Andrew Buck, “The Castle and Lordship of rim and the Frankish-Muslim Frontier of
Northern Syria in the Twelfth Century”, Al-Masq, 28:2 (2016), p. 115.
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In a charter published by Muñoz y Romero dated 1127, Alfonso the Battler gives the fueros
to Tudela and its neighbours, mentioning as usual both Rotrou and Robert.123 In this charter
Robert’s position as alcaite suggests that he was in charge of the castle and perhaps the
defence of the city. The document explains as follow: ‘Robert Bordet alchaite in illo castello
de Tudela’.124 Duran Pixon, as in earlier charters, is mentioned as justice. Walter de Guidvilla
is also mentioned in possession of the locality of Borota (Bureta). This shows how Rotrou’s
less well known followers were also rewarded with lands and possessions in Aragon.
In Walter’s case he is cited in further six charters dating from 1127 to 1131 possessing
lands and as a guarantor of royal donations.125 His rank seems to have grown enough to
be considered as one of the witnesses of the fueros of Zaragoza, Tudela, and Araciel.126
8. Rotrou’s return
Furthermore, it seems that by December 1128, Rotrou was back in Iberia since in a
document dated then (which only exists in a sixteenth-century copy), he was granted the
town and Castle of Corella by Alfonso, therefore making it unlikely that he was absent at
the time.127 Lema has pointed out that the donation was given as recompense for services
provided by the Norman to the Aragonese monarch. However, this is not clear in the charter
especially regarding the fact that Rotrou had not been in Iberia for three years.128 Also, in
the fueros granted to the Frankish settlers of the town of San Saturino of Pamplona dated
September 1129, Rotrou appears as a witness.129 Of course it was in 1129, when Robert
received the city and the area of Tarragona as an ecclesiastical efdom.
The last document in which Robert and Rotrou are mentioned in possession of Tudela
is dated November 1131.130 By the latter date, however, Robert was already prince of
Tarragona and was more likely living in the Catalan city or travelling back and fourth.131
The fact that Rotrou is mentioned as a vassal of Alfonso in all the charters also seems
to conrm Nelson’s theory that Rotrou did not hold the town under complete autonomy
from Alfonso, as it is claimed in the fourteenth-century Chronicle of San Juan de la
123 MuñoS, Colección de fueros municipales, 1, pp. 420-422.
124 Ibid.
125 Archivo Municipal de Tudela, Caj. I, n. 2; Archivo General de Navarra, Comptos, caj. I, n. 15 IV; Archivo
General de Navarra, Cartulario Real III, 203; Archivo Histórico Nacional, códices, cartulario del Temple,
595 B, fol. 1r; Archivo Municipal de Zaragoza, R.2; Archivo General de Navarra, códices, Cartulario Real
IV, fol. 18v.-19r; Archivo de la Catedral de Tudela, Conejares, Instrumentos, T. III, fol. 45; Archivo de la
Seo de Zaragoza, Cartulario pequeño, fol. 50.
126 Ibid.
127 Archivo Municipal de Corella, Privilegios, Leg. 1, fol. 14 (perdido); Archivo General de Navarra, Comptos,
caj. I, n. 15 IV; Florencio idoate, Catálogo documental de la ciudad de Corella, ed. Institución príncipe de
Viana, Pamplona, 1964, doc. 1.
128 leMa, Alfonso I, p. 228.
129 Ibid.
130 Archivo de la Catedral de Tudela, número 1059 A and 1060 B; laCarra, “Documentos para el estudio
de la reconquista”, doc. 165.
131 Ibid. docs. 125, 129, 165.
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Peña.132 Rotrou keeps appearing as lord of Tudela until 1134. With the death of Alfonso,
the count of Perche seems to have nally decided to quit his Iberian entanglements and
return home to Normandy.
9. Robert Burdet and Tarragona
The granting of property, special rights and freedoms was intended to attract settlers
from the older and more secure Christian territories to the newly-conquered cities and
lands on the frontiers of Christendom.133 Although the evidence suggests that Robert
had little to do with the running of the government of Tudela apart from being a witness
in all the charters, he may have learned Iberian ways for resettling.134 In addition, the
charters suggest that Robert was close to Rotrou of Perche, being given the charge of
this important outpost.135
Oleguer’s reasons for choosing Robert as prince of Tarragona are hard to pinpoint with
great certainty. It is likely that he preferred to choose a foreign knight over a local Catalan
to avoid raising local disputes. The Iberian cleric might have come to the conclusion on the
other hand that a landless Norman knight would be more easily controlled since he did not
have an important power-base nearby. Canon Blanch in his Arxiepiscopologi claims that
Oleguer chose Robert on the recommendation of his suffragan in Osona.136 The bishop of Vic
as it has been noted did possess the Church of Saint Saviour in the outskirts of Tarragona,
so he was obviously interested in the establishment of some security in the area.137
McCrank suggests in his article that Oleguer might have met Robert when he was in
Aragon c. 1122, conrming Alfonso’s short-lived Military Order of Balchite.138 However,
the historical record does not conrm beyond doubt that Robert was in Aragon by that
date. It is more likely that Ramon Berenguer III or Alfonso I or one of their vassals
suggested Rotrou for the post of prince of the city. Additionally, Rotrou in turn might
have recommended his lieutenant instead for the post, since he was probably planning to
return to his county of Perche. Alfonso I was certainly acquainted with the Norman as
the charters of Tudela imply.139 Moreover, the count of Barcelona might have met Robert
when Alfonso I unsuccessfully tried to conquer Lleida. Alfonso’s attempt to take the city
started in February 1123 and it is known that by April, Robert and Rotrou were already
in possession of Tudela.
132 nelSon, “Rotrou of Perche”, pp. 121-126.
133 Angus MaCkay, Spain in the Middle Ages, ed. St Martin’s Press, London, 1977, pp. 36-45; leMa, Alfonso
I, pp. 227-229.
134 laCarra, “Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista”, docs. 125, 129, 165; Stalls, Possessing the
Land, pp. 64-79.
135 MCCrank, “Norman Crusaders in the Catalan Reconquest”, p. 69.
136 Joseph blanCh, Arxiepiscopologi de la santa església metropolitana i primada de Tarragona, 1, ed.
Diputació de Tarragona, Tarragona, 1985, p. 82.
137 Arxiu Capitular de Vic, Cal. 37, LD fol. 73.
138 MCCrank, “Norman Crusaders in the Catalan Reconquest”, p. 69.
139 laCarra, “Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista”, docs. 125, 129, 165.
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Robert’s appointment as prince of Tarragona by Archbishop Oleguer in 1129 was
conrmed by a charter which gave him the title and secular powers to rule the city. This
charter survives in a fourteenth-century copy at the archive of the Crown of Aragon
in Barcelona. This document makes reference to the donation in which Count Ramon
Berenguer III had given Archbishop Oleguer full sovereignty.140 More importantly, it
claims that this donation had been accepted and ratied by the papacy, which suggests
that the territory of Tarragona had become a part of the patrimony of St Peter, reviving
Gregory VII’s claims of over-lordship of the conquered lands of Iberia.141
10. The title of “Prince”
In the charter which echoes the conditions of a coronation, the archbishop conferred on
Robert the title of prince under his suzerainty and the consent of the count of Barcelona.
Although the charter does not give any clear indication of any power relationship
between the Norman prince and the count of Barcelona, it does conrm that the land
had originally been granted by the latter. This acknowledgement left open the possibility
that he might still have some rights over the territory.142 There is a section which also
emphasises Robert’s responsibility as protector of the metropolitan centre. Perhaps
Robert’s role as alcaite in Tudela was what Oleguer intended while giving him a more
grand title to entice the Norman to stay in the more exposed frontier town. The prelate
was also emphasising the position of the new prince and making it clear that ultimate
sovereign power over the principality would still rest with himself.
Giving all the secular powers over land in the principality, the archbishop guaranteed
Robert and his heirs’ rights over the city, its people, lands, villages, mountains and sea.
Moreover, the document gave Robert the responsibility of upholding the laws as well as
legislating in accordance to local customs. It also maintains that all the laws would be
enacted and have to be agreed by both the archbishop and the prince.143 The document
certainly gave the Norman prince the ability to introduce some of his own Norman customs.
There is, however, no sign that he did. Yet in 1149 his legislative powers were limited by
Archbishop Bernard Tort who brought Tarragona under the same legal framework as the
county of Barcelona. This may suggest that Robert introduced laws that were disliked by
the count while the Tarragonese see had remained vacant after the death of Oleguer in 1137.
140 Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, Cancillería, Reg. 3, fol. 6; Font riuS, Cartas de población y franquicia
de Cataluña, 1, doc. 51.
141 Antoni Jordà Fernández, “Terminologia jurídica i dret comú a propòsit de Robert Bordet prínceps de
Tarragona”, El Temps sota control. Homenatge F. Xavier Ricomà Vendrell, ed. Diputació de Tarragona,
Tarragona, 1997, pp. 358-360; Erich CaSpar, Das register Gregors VII, ed. Weidmann , Berlin, 1923, pp.
8-12; Ephraim eMerton, The Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII, ed. Columbia University Press, New
York, 1990, pp. 4-7; Herbert E. J. Cowdrey (trans.), The Register of Pope Gregory VII, ed. Oxford University
Press, Oxford, 2002, pp. 5-9.
142 Ibid; blanCh, Arxiepiscopologi de Tarragona, pp. 82-83.
143 Jordà, “Terminologia jurídica i dret comú”, pp. 358-360.
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Archbishop Oleguer kept complete control over all the ecclesiastical institutions,
lands and rights.144 Robert guaranteed the freedom of the clergy and their families
from any secular persecution.145 This section was intended to pledge the autonomy
of the church within the state, in accordance with the Cluniac beliefs of church
independence, which were by the early twelfth century rmly established in Catalonia.
It was also logical for Oleguer to put these conditions in place from the beginning
of the foundation of the state since this was a common area of dispute between the
secular and ecclesiastical authorities as part of the rising power of the Church in the
aftermath of the Gregorian reform.
The title of princeps (prince) given to Robert by the archbishop is unusual in a Catalan
context of the early twelfth century (although not in other parts of western Europe),
but according to Jordà Fernández it is a good example of the introduction of Roman
Justinian law into Catalonia.146 It was probably intended to emphasise the fact that
the new secular protector of Tarragona was a vassal of Rome and therefore under the
jurisprudence of the Pope as inheritor of the power of the emperors, a claim that had
been used by Popes with regards to Iberia since the ponticate of Gregory VII.147 If
this is the case, it certainly shows an early adoption of Roman concepts in the legal
framework of Catalonia.148 Although the title is used throughout Robert’s rule over
Tarragona in the latter years of his life, he also appears as comes probably as the count
of Barcelona started to reclaim his over-lordship over the city. Moreover, in 1137 the
new count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer IV, started to use the title of Prince in Aragon
as part of his marriage alliance with Queen Patronilla, daughter of Ramiro II of that
kingdom. The union of the two most powerful realms of eastern Iberia certainly placed
more pressure on the independence of the Norman principality.149
According to Orderic Vitalis, after receiving the new efdom, Robert travelled to Rome
to get a conrmation and to convince Pope Honorius II to free him of any secular over-
lordship which might have been suggested under Oleguer’s donation. Then he went
on to Normandy to raise some of his countrymen to help him guard his new city from
the Muslim threat, while he left his valiant wife Sybil to defend the city.150 According
to Flórez and subsequent historians, this trip must have taken place in 1129, soon after
144 Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, Cancillería, Reg. No. 3, fol. 6; Font ed., Cartas de población, doc. 88.
145 Eloy benito ruano, “El principado de Tarragona”, Miscel·lània Ramon d’Abadal: estudis universitaris
catalans, ed. Estudis universitàries catalans, Barcelona, 1994, p. 110.
146 Jordà, “Terminologia jurídica i dret comú”, p. 357.
147 CaSpar, Das Register Gregors VII, pp. 8-12; eMerton, The Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII, pp.
4-7; Cowdrey, The Register of Pope Gregory VII, pp. 5-9; Herbert E. J. Cowdrey, The Cluniacs and the
Gregorian Reform, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1970, p. 221; Peter linehan, History and the Historians
of Medieval Spain, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993, p. 173.
148 Jordà, “Terminologia jurídica i dret comú”, p. 357.
149 José Ángel SeSMa Muñoz, “De la muerte de el batallador a la llegada de el primer rey de la corona de
Aragón”, Historia de España Menéndez Pidal: La reconquista y el proceso de diferenciación política, 9,
Miguel Ángel ladero QueSada (dir.), ed. Espasa, Madrid, 1998, pp. 678-679.
150 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, pp. 404-405.
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the Norman knight had accepted the donation.151 Sybil seems to exemplify the wives
of crusaders who went to the Holy Land, keeping charge of their husband’s lands
and properties in their absence. However, in Sybil’s case, it seems that the roles were
reversed since she stayed in the conquered land defending their new territories while
her husband returned to his homeland to recruit followers.152
Orderic is the only source for Robert’s visit to Rome and Normandy, therefore it is
difcult to corroborate his claims. However, there are no charters from 1130, in which he
appears as witness which could indicate his absence. Orderic was probably completing
his chronicle around the time when Robert visited Normandy, which perhaps indicates
that the Norman adventurer was one of the sources for his narrative. On the other hand,
Orderic does not tell us how successful Robert’s mission was. It is likely that Robert
might have convinced several knights since he was able to aid Alfonso I the Battler in
his campaign against Fraga (1135).153 Also, Robert managed to protect the city until
there were enough settlers in the area. The exact number of participants is uncertain due
to the lack of documentary evidence from the period between 1129-1146.154 However,
there are a number of donations, which according to Blanch, were made by Robert and
his second wife Agnes to several settlers of unknown origin.155
11. Conclusion
The Norman involvement in the Ebro frontier in the rst half of the twelfth century
shows how this theatre began to attract a number of crusaders from various areas of
Europe, soon after the successes in the East. The Normans and their Anglo-Norman
successors in England by the 1140’s were not only acquainted with the Iberian struggle
but were actively being encouraged to participate with promises of both temporal and
sacred rewards. It is noticeable that in the two sieges of Lisbon 1142156 and 1147157
as well as that of Tortosa 1148158 many Anglo-Normans were involved. It is unlikely
that they were unaware of the achievements of Rotrou and his followers two decades
earlier. Therefore, these earlier groups of Normans helped make the Iberian frontier a
legitimate area in the rapid development of the crusading theology of the rst half of the
151 Flórez, España sagrada, 25, p. 126; MCCrank, “Norman Crusaders in the Catalan Reconquest”, p. 69.
152 Joaquim Miret i SanS, “La familia de Robert Burdet”, Segundo congreso de historia de la corona de
Aragón: Actas y memorias, 1, ed. Talleres Tip. de J. Martínez, Huesca, 1922, p. 54.
153 Orderic VitaliS, Ecclesiastical History, 6, p. 410.
154 MCCrank, “Norman Crusaders in the Catalan Reconquest”, p. 70.
155 blanCh, Arxiepiscopologi, pp. 82-85.
156 VillegaS, “Revisiting the Anglo-Norman Crusaders”, pp. 7-20.
157 Nicholas JaSpert, “Capta est Dertosa clavis christanorum: Tortosa and the Crusades”, in. The Second
Crusade: Scope and Consequences, ed. Jonathan phillipS y Martin hoCh, Manchester University Press,
Manchester, 2001, pp. 90-110; Maria João branCo, “A conquista de Lisboa revisitada”, Arqueologia Me-
dieval, 7 (2001), pp. 217-234; garCía y portela, Cruzados, pp. 105-114.
158 SMith, “The Abbot-Crusader Nicholas Breakspear”, pp. 32-33; VillegaS, “Anglo-Norman Intervention”,
pp. 63-129; Virgili, “Angli cum multis aliis alienigenis”, pp. 297-312.
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twelfth century.159 The acquisition of lands for permanent settlement by Robert Burdet
and Walter de Guidvilla also showed successive waves of crusaders about the potential
for material rewards in the Iberian frontier. On the other hand, Rotrou and his followers
were the last group of Norman crusaders to travel to Iberia through the land route. With
the rise of the Latin States, it seems that most Norman and Anglo-Norman crusaders
who participated in the Iberian conict from 1142 onwards did so by sea, shifting to a
certain degree their interest towards the western side of the peninsula. However, this
did not stop them from getting involved in the Iberian Levant as was the case of the
crusade of Tortosa 1148 and perhaps the thirteen-century conquest of Valencia.
Barbastro
Corella Vic
Barcelona
Tarragona
Tortosa
Lleida
Zaragoza
Tudela
Huesca
Pamplona Jaca
Calahorra
Bayonne
River Ebro
River Noguera Ribogorzana
River Aragon
River Sagre
MEDITERRANEAN
SEA
ATLANTIC
OCEAN
Fraga
Ejea
Tamarite
Toulouse
Narbonne
BEARN
NAVARRE
ARAGON
COUNTY OF
BARCELONA
COUNTY OF
URGEL
PROVANCE
CASTILE
ALMORAVID
Al-ANDALUS
COUNTY OF
FOIX
COUNTY OF TOULOUSE
COUNTY OF
EMPURIES
COUNTY OF
ROUSSILLON
Girona
DUCHY OF
AQUITAINE
Burgos
Santander
Bilbao
San Sebastian
Araciel
Uncastillo
San Saturino
Areas of Norman
Borota
PRINCIPALITY OF
TARRAGONA
Fecha de recepción: 18 de agosto de 2016
Fecha de aceptación: 22 de noviembre de 2016
159 VillegaS, “Norman and Anglo-Norman Interventions in the Iberian Wars”, pp. 108-111.
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This article surveys the surviving material regarding Gregory VII and Eblous of Roucy’s expedition to Iberia c. 1073. This is an expedition that usually has been overlooked which provides a glimpse in to Gregory VII’s mindset with regard to the Iberian wars against the Muslims. This article assesses how Gregory attempted to use the current arguments for ‘Holy War’ to encourage Eblous and his followers to fight in the Christian–Muslim frontier. It also compares the papal plans with Eblous’ probable motives as they can be discerned from sources and the circumstantial evidence. Furthermore, it addresses whether Eblous went to Iberia to fight the Muslims since some of the accounts seem to contradict each other. It will also explore the significance of this episode in the development of Holy War as a preamble to the First Crusade, especially in comparison with the better-known siege of Barbastro of 1064. Lastly, it will also analyse how Eblous’ filial relations with the Aragonese rulers would help create family networks between the Burgundian and Norman nobility and the ruling houses of the Iberian Peninsula in the following decades, and the effect of these on the later involvement of Frankish contingents in the Iberian wars against the Muslims.
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In the summer of 1898 the entire Spanish fleet was destroyed in two successive engagements with the navy of the United States: the most comprehensive, catastrophic and humiliating naval defeats of modern history. Not only did these reverses shear Spain of the last shreds of transatlantic empire: they also inflicted a severe psychological blow to the Spanish nation at large. Already a stranger to most of the invigorating developments in economic, cultural and political life which had transformed western Europe in the course of the nineteenth century, Spain found that her backwardness and feebleness had now been devastatingly exposed to the gaze of the world. Spain had become a laughing-stock among the nations. What had gone wrong? The ‘Generation of ‘98’ was the name given to the group of intellectuals and public men who set themselves to ponder this question. They conceived of their task in large terms. It was not just a matter of diagnosing and treating present and local sickness—to employ the medical imagery of which they were so fond—but of taking account of the whole organism which was so visibly ailing; and this involved examining its early growth. An historical dimension was built into their deliberations from the outset. It is for this reason that 1898 is a significant date for the historian of medieval Spain.
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The third abbey church at Cluny is designed on a plan whose essential features are those of the mass-audience churches on the pilgrimage roads to Santiago, particularly Saint-Martin at Tours and Saint-Sernin at Toulouse. I am attempting to show that this adaptation was prompted by a Cluniac takeover attempt on the pilgrimage roads. In the years from 1082 to 1096, while Abbot Hugh had to deal with the uncertainties and ultimate cessation of gold contributions by King Alfonso VI of León and Castile to the abbey budget, he embarked on an effort to increase the international scope of money contributions by expanding the abbey's connections with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Cluny acquired the abbey of Saint-Martial at Limoges in 1063. Since 1082 Abbot Hugh pursued a protracted legal and political campaign to take control of Saint-Sernin at Toulouse and Sainte-Foy at Conques. However, Pope Urban II's decision at the council of Nimes in 1096 confirming the independence of both sanctuaries put a stop to this scheme. The change from the closed-off, staggered monks' choir of Cluny II to the open ambulatory choir of Cluny III amounted to a programmatic shift in the direction of making the monastic liturgy accessible to a lay audience. It suggests that the church was designed either in order to serve in some way as a starting sanctuary for rites connected with the send-off on the pilgrimage, or in order to attract a mass audience to the monastic office on its own terms. However, the mass appeal of the new abbey church apparently never materialized. Cluny's financial failure in the twelfth century contrasts markedly with the affluence of the great established pilgrimage sanctuaries.
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In 1064 a large army of foreign troops, especially Normans and Catalans, fought against the Muslims at the fortress city of Barbastro, located in Zaragoza. The siege of Barbastro is, for several reasons, one of the most controversial battles of the early reconquest in Spain. Some of the problems that historians of the crusades and the reconquest have struggled with are: the indulgence letter that Alexander II allegedly granted to the soldiers at Barbastro and whether this makes Barbastro the ‘First’ crusade preceding the one called by Pope Urban II. In addition, the extent of involvement by Pope Alexander and the Cluniacs in propagating the ‘crusade’ has been debated. Equally problematic has been the identification of the leader of the Christian soldiers. Candidates chosen for the enigmatic leader have been Duke William VIII of Aquitaine, William of Montreuil, and the Norman, Robert Crispin. A review of the secondary and primary sources reveals that many long-held conclusions are in need of re-evaluation. A complete reassessment of these and other related problems is the intent of this study.