Siege of Coria (1142)

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Siege of Coria
Part of the Reconquista
A gate at Coria dating from the Muslim period (original construction Roman)
DateMay–June 1142
Result Christian victory
Kingdom of LeónCastile Almoravid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Alfonso VII of León and Castile unknown

The second Siege of Coria by the Emperor Alfonso VII of León was begun in early May 1142 and ended with the taking of the town in June. Coria had previously been reconquered in 1079 by Alfonso VI. It was lost to the Almoravids sometime not long after Alfonso's death in 1109. Alfonso VII had vainly besieged it in July 1138, in which action his general Rodrigo Martínez was killed.[1] The successful siege of 1142 was "the prelude to a frenetic bout of military activity during the latter part of the reign of Alfonso VII [during which] the emperor is known to have led in person at least eight military expeditions into al-Andalus."[2]

The main source for the siege is the second book of the contemporary Chronica Adefonsi imperatoris, which dates the siege to "two years and six months after the capture of Oreja".[3] The initial response to the arrival of Alfonso's army by the inhabitants of Coria, both the Almoravids (from northern Africa) and the local Muslims, was to fortify the gates against entry or exit with a "strong supporting wall".[4] While siege engines had been used four years earlier, in 1142 they were more effectual:

[Alfonso] commanded his engineers to build a wooden tower which projected above the walls of the city, and siege engines, catapults and mantlets with which they began to undermine the walls of the city and to destroy the towers.[5]

Famine rapidly set in. The siege was still underway on 6 June, when, from his camp, Alfonso granted the village of Fradejas to the Diocese of Zamora.[1] The charter of this grant attests that Ponce Giraldo de Cabrera, possibly already lord of nearby Salamanca and recently created prince of Zamora, and Ponce de Minerva were present at the siege.[6] With deaths from starvation on the rise, the Almoravids offered Alfonso terms: if in a period of thirty days they could not gain external aid, they would surrender the city with all of their captives and riches.[7] Letters were sent to the kings of al-Andalus, but as none could lend any aid, the garrison surrendered peacefully.

After the siege a bishop, Íñigo Navarro, was appointed to the refounded Diocese of Coria. Alfonso then marched north to Salamanca, where the Abbot Peter the Venerable was awaiting him.[8]


  1. ^ a b Simon Barton, "Two Catalan Magnates in the Courts of the Kings of León–Castile: The Careers of Ponce de Cabrera and Ponce de Minerva Re-examined", Journal of Medieval History 18:3 (1992) 241.
  2. ^ Barton, "Two Catalans", 245.
  3. ^ Written in medieval Latin, probably by Bishop Arnold of Astorga, the Chronica is an account of the reign of Alfonso VII. The second book details several of the major campaigns of Reconquista from this time. The siege of Coria of 1142 is the subject of §§64–66 (the sections are numbered from one [1] for each book). The edition of the Chronica used throughout is G. E. Lipskey, The Chronicle of Alfonso the Emperor, PhD thesis (Northwestern University, 1972), who numbers all the sections of both books consecutively (book II beginning with §96).
  4. ^ Chronica, II, §64.
  5. ^ Chronica, II, §64: “Iussit artificibus suis facere quandam turrem ligneam, que eminebat super omnes muros ciuitatis, et machinas et balistas et uineas, cum quibus ceperunt subfodere muros ciuitatis et destruere turres”, quoted and translated in Barton, The Aristocracy in Twelfth-century León and Castile (Cambridge: 1997), 164. Compare the translation of Lipskey, 135–36: "He set up his camp around the city and ordered his engineers to construct a wooden tower which would surmount the walls of the city. Then they began to undermine the walls and to destroy the towers with war machines and mantlets."
  6. ^ Barton, "Two Catalans", 241 and 251.
  7. ^ Chronica, II, §65.
  8. ^ Peter in his Prologus in Libro contra sectam siue haeresim Saracenorum explicitly places this in 1142, but elsewhere he writes “with Don Alfonso the victorious emperor of the Spains I had a colloquy” (cum domno Adefonso uictorioso Hispaniarum imperatore colloquium habui), evidently referring to a meeting circa 29 July in Salamanca after the victorious siege of Coria. Cf. Charles Julian Bishko, "The Cluniac Priories of Galicia and Portugal: Their Acquisition and Administration, 1075–c. 1230", Studia Monastica 7 (1965) 305–58, reprinted in Spanish and Portuguese Monastic History, 600–1300 (London: Variorum Reprints, 1983), chapter 11, with the same pagination.