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Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval SpainReconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain

Joseph F. O'Callaghan

Narrated by Tim Lundeen

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Pennsylvania Press

Drawing from both Christian and Islamic sources, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain demonstrates that the clash of arms between Christians and Muslims in the Iberian peninsula that began in the early eighth century was transformed into a crusade by the papacy during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Successive popes accorded to Christian warriors willing to participate in the peninsular wars against Islam the same crusading benefits offered to those going to the Holy Land. Joseph F. O'Callaghan clearly demonstrates that any study of the history of the crusades must take a broader view of the Mediterranean to include medieval Spain.

Following a chronological overview of crusading in the Iberian peninsula from the late eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth century, O'Callaghan proceeds to the study of warfare, military finance, and the liturgy of reconquest and crusading. He concludes his book with a consideration of the later stages of reconquest and crusade up to and including the fall of Granada in 1492, while noting that the spiritual benefits of crusading bulls were still offered to the Spanish until the Second Vatican Council of 1963.

Although the conflict described in this book occurred more than eight hundred years ago, recent events remind the world that the intensity of belief, rhetoric, and action that gave birth to crusade, holy war, and jihad remains a powerful force in the twenty-first century.

Joseph F. O'Callaghan is Professor Emeritus of History at Fordham University. He is the author of many books on Spanish history.


“On the one hand, a masterful synthesis of work done in both crusade and reconquest history and, on the other, a fresh look at the intersection between the two fields, this engaging book tackles the contentious issue of categorizing the Christian military campaigns against Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula.”


“This is a welcome book. It explains the development of crusading in almost all of its aspects in medieval Iberia as well as situates the Iberian crusades within the context of those to the Holy Land. Indeed, Joseph O'Callaghan demonstrates that the crusades in Iberia and to the Middle East evolved in tandem, and that understanding one movement is requisite for understanding the other.”

The Medieval Review

“A survey of royal military activity in Spain from the late eleventh through the mid-thirteenth centuries.... The author scrutinizes the ecclesiastical sources of the period to establish the interconnection of papal and Iberian royal plans for warring against the Muslim opposition, ... arguing for an expanded concept of the Crusades that would include the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.... Highly recommended.”


“With this study, it becomes difficult to doubt that a broad array of medieval people viewed the conflict against Muslims in Iberia in religious terms and that these wars were appropriately sanctioned by the papacy as crusades.”

Catholic Historical Review

“O'Callaghan's book is the first to place the Reconquista within the context of papal support for military action against Islam.”

Religious Studies Review

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