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In reviewing the end of the grand Islamic influence in Spain we have wandered somewhat afar from the topic of the Extremadura. However, there is one more piece of Extremaduran history that is tightly linked to the reforms of the Cluny and the mixing of politics and religion.

Between 1160 A.D. and 1180 A.D. monastic societies of Christian Knights defended against the frontiers of Islam in al Andalus.

 

The Military Orders

 

” . . . three societies of armed monastics were the Calatrava, the Alcantara and the Santiago. For almost one hundred years they fought on the southern borders of Castile, Extremadura and Portugal in which time they also became wealthy landlords.”

[“The Making of Medieval Spain”, Gabriel Jackson, 1972, Page 76]

 

“These {Christian} military orders which ruled the immense estates {in Extremadura} were, in effect, – – – independent principalities.”

[Jackson, page 93]

 

“{- -this ranching economy continued to exist in the Extremadura during the thirteenth-century} Badajoz was dominated by the Christian military orders on their immense estates devoted to raising cattle and sheep.”

[Jackson, page 95-96].

 

“The discovery of the New World coincided with the decline of Aragonese —

prowess- – {however} Extremadura {wide and windswept} was dominated by sheep raising interests {based on the old triumvirate of soldier priest and farmer}.’

[Jackson, page 126].

Jacksons Book

 

The above quotes prefix a time period of complete control of the market and territory by these land barons whose ancestors were members of the Christian monastic military orders. This control, especially true for the Merino sheep herding barons, was subsidized by the Spanish government at the expense of the agricultural farmers.

 

“A giant {monopoly} developed, the Mesta, – – only gentlemen were

allowed to join – – it won special privileges from Spanish kings and flourished – – from about 1300 to 1800.”

[“Iberia”, James A. Michener, 1968, page 284]

 

“The Mesta – – ravaged the land – -irreparable damage of two kinds had been done – – the land was depleted – – and ordinary agricultural processes {which central Europeans had mastered} through the centuries were not known {in Spain}.”

[Michener, 1968, page 285]

 

Michners Book

A great exodus of these hardy and hard working farm people occurred and crop farming in Spain suffered dearly. Sugar cane plantations sprung up throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

 

Tomorrow: Meanwhile; back in Cordoba

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