War of Barbastro (also known as the Siege
of Barbastro) was an international expedition, sanctioned
by Pope Alexander II, to take the
Spanish city of Barbastro from the Moors.
army composed of elements from all over Western Europe
took part in the successful
siege of the city (1063
). The war was part of
, but in its
international and papal character it presaged the Crusades
of the next two centuries.
Alexander II first preached the Reconquista in 1063 as a "Christian
emergency." It was also preached in Burgundy
, probably with the permission of
participation of Hugh of Cluny
the abbot's brother, Thomas de
, led the army. Certainly zeal for the crusade spread
elsewhere in France, for
Amatus of Montecassino notes
that "grant chevalerie de Francoiz et de Borguegnons et d'autre
gent" were present at the siege. Thus, a large army,
primarily of Frenchmen and Burgundians, along with a papal
contingent, mostly of Italo-Normans,
and local Spanish armies, Catalan and Aragonese, was present at the siege when it began in
The leader of the papal contingent was a Norman by the
name of William of Montreuil
The leader of the Spaniards was Sancho
, King of Aragon
realm was greatly threatened by the Moors to the south.
largest component, the Aquitainian, was led by the Duke Guy Geoffrey.
makeup of this grand army has been subject to much dispute, that it
was largely a force of knights of Frankish extraction is generally
of Aquitaine led the army through the Pyrenees at Somport.
joined the Catalan army at Gerona
. The entire army then marched past Graus, which had
resisted assault twice before, and moved against Barbastro, then
part of the taifa of Lleida ruled by
which received no reinforcements from Lleida and had its water
supply cut off, was besieged and quickly fell. The crusaders
plundered and sacked it without mercy. It has been said that 50,000
Moslems were killed.
The crusaders made off with a lot of booty. Records indicate the
capture of a good many Saracen girls and Saracen treasures.
Armengol III of Urgel
given the lordship of the city. In 1065
, in a
counterattack, the Moors easily retook the city and undid all the
crusaders' work, massacring the small garrison.
Thibaut, the Burgundian leader, died, possible of wounds received
on campaign, while returning to France after the loss of the city
The War of Barbastro has been seen as a proto-Crusade, giving
impetus to the Crusading movement in France.
Historian Reinhart Dozy
first began a
study of the War in the mid-nineteenth century based on a the
scarce primary sources, mainly Amatus and Ibn
. Dozy first suggested the participation of a papal
element based on Ibn Hayyan's reference to the "chivalry of Rome."
hisoriography has stressed the Cluniac element in
the War, primarily the result of Ferdinand I of León's recent
attempts to introduce the Cluniac
reform to Spain and inspired by the death of Ramiro I of Aragon following the failed
This interpretation has been attacked in more recent decades,
especially the papal connection and Italian involvement. It has
been alleged that Alexander was preoccupied with the Antipope Cadalus
at the time and did not
preach a plenary indulgence
warriors of the Reconquista until the 1073
campaign of Ebles II of Roucy
has thus been alleged that it was not William of Montreuil, but Guy
Geoffrey, who was the "Roman" leader implied by Ibn Hayyan.
- Bishko, p 62.
- Ibid, meaning "grand chivalry of the French and Burgundians and
- Ibid. He calls him the "Christian generalissimo," implying
headship over the whole enterprise.
- Chaytor, p 137.
- Ibid. Bishko.