Battle of Jerez

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Battle of Jerez
Part of the Reconquista
Date 1231
Location Spain
Result Castilian Victory
Belligerents
Estandarte del Reino de Castilla.png Castile Moors
Commanders and leaders
Álvaro Pérez de Castro[1][2]
infante Alfonso (ambiguous; see text)
Ibn Hud
Strength
1,000 knights[2]
2,500 infantry[2]
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The Battle of Jerez was fought in 1231 between the forces of Ferdinand III, king of Castile and León, and the Moors. It took place near the modern city of Jerez de la Frontera, in southern Spain. The Moors were led by Ibn Hud, the de facto successor of the Almohads. The Castilians were victorious.

In April 1231, Ferdinand ordered an expedition of algaras (mounted scouts/raiders) which departed from Andújar towards Córdoba, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. They raided Palma del Río, killing many inhabitants. Thereafter they proceeded as far as Seville which they bypassed heading towards Jerez and Vejer camping near the Guadalete river. In all likelihood this troop was intended to distract Ibn Hud from the frontier, and in this it succeeded beyond expectations as not only Ibn Hud chased after them, but in battle his troops were routed and suffered heavy losses, allowing the Christians to depart loaded with loot. On a strategic level, the raid was also successful in that it allowed the unimpeded capture of Quesada by an army of Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, also ordered in April by Ferdinand.[3]

It is not exactly clear who led the Castilians in this raid turned battle. It is undisputed that Álvaro Pérez de Castro was present. The reference to infante Alfonso in the Christian chronicle has been interpreted however to mean either Alfonso de Molina, the king's brother, or the king's son, the future Alfonso X. The Primera Crónica General (1906) interpreted it as Molina,[4] and so did historian Derek William Lomax (1978),[1] however historian Gonzalo Martínez Diez (2000) concludes it was the king's son because of a passage that describes the infante as being very young ("muy moço") and under the protection of Álvaro Pérez de Castro who led the troops ("para guardar el infante y por cabdillo de la hueste").[2] Spanish historian Julio González (1946) was aware of both interpretations, but thought it was highly improbable that Ferdinand's son was involved in a military action at such a young age.[3] A 2003 biography of Alfonso X also places him alongside Álvaro Pérez de Castro in the raiding campaign of 1231, including this battle.[5]

In his chronicle, Alfonso X referred to the operation as a cavalgada.[2][5] Alfonso X described its impact as follows: "It is fitting that you who are hearing this story know that the thing in the world that most broke the Moors, why they had to lose Andalusia and the Christians gain it from them, was this battle of Jerez. That is how the Moors were shattered. They could never again muster the daring nor the effort which they had previously against the Christians, such was the level of the shock and fear they experienced on that occasion."[2]

Gonzalo Martínez Diez concludes that the defeat certainly weakened Ibn Hud's power base, for in April 1232 a challenger arose in the person of Mohammed ibn Nasr, who proclaimed himself emir in Arjona, and would eventually become the first Nasrid ruler of Granada.[2] According to Julio González, Ibn Hud was perhaps more concerned with eliminating the remnants of the Almohads, as he took Gibraltar from them in October 1231, finally driving them out of the peninsula, and later laid siege to Ceuta in 1232.[3] Ibn Hud's reign started to fall apart only a year later, between October 1232 and October 1233 suffering both internal and external setbacks: a rebellion in Seville sought alliance with ibn Nasr, the Christians took Úbeda, and the Almohads secured Ceuta.[6] Another measure of the unraveling of Ibn Hud's power is that a later raid against Cádiz went unopposed, and the city was ferociously sacked by Christian mercenaries in 1234-1235 (Hijri year 632).[7]

The battle was later glorified in the writings of the 19th century Spanish romantic writer Adolfo de Castro.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Derek W. Lomax (1978). The reconquest of Spain. Longman. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-582-50209-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Gonzalo Martínez Diez (2000). "La conquista de Andujar: su integración en la Corona de Castilla". Boletín del Instituto de Estudios Giennenses (176): 634–636. ISSN 0561-3590. 
  3. ^ a b c Julio González (2006) [First published in 1946 in De Hispania no. XXV]. Las conquistas de Fernando III en Andalucía. Editorial MAXTOR. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-84-9761-277-7. 
  4. ^ Fragment from Christians and Moors in Spain, edited by Colin Smith (Aris & Phillips: 1989-92)
  5. ^ a b H. Salvador Martínez, with English translation by Odile Cisneros (2010) [Spanish edition: 2003]. Alfonso X, the Learned: a biography. BRILL. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-90-04-18147-2. 
  6. ^ Julio González (2006) [First published in 1946 in De Hispania no. XXV]. Las conquistas de Fernando III en Andalucía. Editorial MAXTOR. p. 68. ISBN 978-84-9761-277-7. 
  7. ^ a b Rafael Sánchez Saus (2005). "Cádiz en la época Medieval". In Ramiro Dominguez et al. Historia de Cádiz. Silex Ediciones. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-84-7737-154-0.