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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3001 Conquest, Convivencia and Conflict: Christian and Muslim Spain, 711-1212

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Jonathan Jarrett
Email: TBC

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

In 711 the last king of Visigothic Spain, Roderick, was defeated in battle by an invading army of Muslims arrived from Africa. The rule they established would last until 1492, when Granada was finally recaptured, but historians now see the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, in 1212, as the point after which a return of Christian dominance was assured. In between these dates much of the Iberian peninsula became a Muslim country, for a while with its own caliph. Unlike more recent instances, the Caliphate of Córdoba is famous for its tolerance of non-Muslims, but there is as much cliché here as in Charlton Heston’s portrayal of El Cid, supposed champion of a supposed 'Reconquista'. Using a variety of sources, with all texts in English translation, this module looks beneath the clichés to explore questions of conversion, acculturation and, most of all, opposition, from the Christian polities of the north that escaped Muslim rule and eventually replaced it.


To give students a working acquaintance with the history of the Iberian Peninsula from the arrival of its Muslim conquerors until their irreversible defeat at the Battle of las Navas de Tolosa and the latest understanding of them as processes and social developments as well as political history; to provide the ability to give a critique of modern uses of the period to either demonise or idealise medieval Islam and its impact in Europe; to refine and expand students' skills and experience with the critical study of primary sources; and to build on and refine students' skills in debating issues, constructing and presenting arguments in both written and oral form.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students should be able to:
a) demonstrate that they can express opinion and develop and present an argument in both oral and written expression;
b) identify and discuss a wide range of primary sources and problems associated with them;
c) analyse the debates and methods of historians working on medieval Iberia, understanding how their arguments are constructed based on the primary sources they use and their theoretical and ideological frameworks;
d) evaluate the processes and social dynamics active in the rise and fall of Muslim versus Christian power and religion in the Iberian Peninsula.


The module will be taught in twenty-two two hour seminars, which will be usually be tripartite, consisting of a student presentation on the week's topic, open discussion, and group-work close-reading a designated primary source extract in translation. This format will be varied on occasions as necessary, and there will also be four one-hour workshops on such topics as how to do gobbet questions, essay technique and topics, and potentially a closing debate. The weekly topics (and primary sources where appropriate) will be as follows:
1. Introduction. The Córdoba Center and its Meanings: owning Spain's Muslim past.
2. Visigothic Spain and its Fall. Seminar text: the Book of Judges.
3. The Rise of Islam from East to West. Seminar text: the Qu’ran on Jīhād.
4. From 711 to Poitiers. Seminar text: the Chronicle of Moissac.
5. The Northern Resistance and its legends. Seminar text: the Chronicle of Albelda.
Workshop 1: source gobbet questions and how to answer them.
6. Berbers and Fitna. Seminar text: the Chronicle of 754.
7. The flight of the Umayyads. Seminar text: Ibn al-Qutīya.
8. The Frankish intervention. Seminar text: Ermold the Black.
9. The Third King of Spain? Seminar text: al-‘Udrī.
10. Reconquista Part 0: Alfonso III and his Chroniclers. Seminar text: Chronicle of Alfonso III.
Dissertation tutorials
11. Convivencia, Conversion and Caliphs. Seminar based around a portfolio of architectural photographs and the Palatine Annals of the Caliph an-Nasir.
12. Gold, slaves and trade: the economy and its control. Seminar based on course-pack of numismatic material.
13. Peak and collapse of al-Andalus. Seminar text: Ibn Idharī.
14. The transformation of the Year 1000 and the Iberian Peninsula. Seminar based on source-pack of translated charters.
15. 'Party kings' and parias. Seminar text: the Historia Silense.
16. Peopling the Frontier. Seminar text: the Fuero de Sepúlveda.
Dissertation tutorials
17. The Crown of Catalonia-Aragón: pacts and Provence. In-class practice gobbets paper.
18. The Legend of el Cid. Seminar text: the Historia Roderici.
19. The Berbers strike back: the Almoravid takeover. Seminar text: Ibn Buluggīn.
20. The Creation of Portugal. Seminar text: On the Capture of Lisbon.
21. Reconquer and Repeat: the road to las Navas de Tolosa. Seminar text: the Book of Deeds of King James III.
Workshop 4: was there a Reconquista?
22. Granada and aftermath. Seminar based around archaeological account of Alhambra and Tales of the Alhambra.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Undertaking set reading and self-directed reading around the topic; researching, preparing, and writing presentations and assignments; exam preparation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on presentations; one-to-one essay feedback, one-to-one meetings as part of personal tutoring and dissertation supervision; observation in class.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Source AnalysisGobbets paper10.00
Essay1 x 4,000-word essay, due by 12 noon Monday of exam week 2, semester 140.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:07


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