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El Cid: Political Necessity in Recoquista Spain

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Title: El Cid: Political Necessity in Recoquista Spain
Author: Hepburn, Mathew
Abstract: Contrary to the traditional image of twelfth and thirteenth century Iberia as a crusading ground, this essay will attempt to prove that the instances of cross-confessional alliance and inter-confessional warfare apparent within “The Lay of El Cid,” were emblematic of an era wherein Christendom had yet to escape the usefulness of Islam. Rivalries between fellow Christian kingdoms and Muslim principalities confused the greater aim of the Holy War and introduced a precedent for cross-confessional allegiances sworn between rulers of either faith. We see in the era of the twelfth and thirteenth century, the conflicting interests of political unity and religious domination. Ideologically the contrast between Muslim and Christian theology should have conflicted the two worlds entirely and provided a situation wherein the submission of one was necessary to the orthodoxy of the other. But, as is often the case, practicality and necessity combated the more aggressive claims of religious hegemony and provided a ground for occasional religious and political neutrality. “The Lay of El Cid,” though traditionally interpreted through a romantic or literary paradigm, is emblematic of those issues contemporary to thirteenth century Spain.
Date: 2010-12-15

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