Iberian Battles The Battle of Ourique

May 2019
11
Portugal
#1
The Battle of Ourique was a Great victory on the part of Iberian troops under the command of Prince/Count Afonso Henriques (the son of Henry of The House of Burgundy and Tareja of the christian kingdoms) against the moors. I just want to open my 1st thread and hope this opens much discussion and interest in the times of the Reconquista.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,192
Portugal
#2
The Battle of Ourique was a Great victory on the part of Iberian troops under the command of Prince/Count Afonso Henriques (the son of Henry of The House of Burgundy and Tareja of the christian kingdoms) against the moors. I just want to open my 1st thread and hope this opens much discussion and interest in the times of the Reconquista.
Olá Iberian / Hello Iberian and Welcome to Historum!

It is good to see here another fellow countryman here interested in Medieval history.

The Battle of Ourique in 1139 is fascinating, our main problem is the lack of details in the sources and we don’t even know where the battle took place.

We have four references to the battle in the Christian sources: The “Chronica Gothrum” (written before 1162), the “Vita Sancti Theotonii” (written by someone that saw the dead of the saint in 1162), the “Chronicon Conimbricense” (still from the 12th century) and the “Chronicon Lamecense” based on the previous. But all these sources are quite short in their references and don’t allow us to understand much of the battle.

Then we don’t know where the battle was, or should we call it a “fossado” and not a battle? The frontier at the time was in Leiria, white the actual Ourique is deep in the South of Alentejo, and is traditionally identified with the site of the battle, but new proposals appoint to a site near Leiria: https://estudogeral.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/31282/1/A Batalha de Ourique foi perto de Leiria.pdf

Then we really don’t know what where Afonso’s forces or what Muslim kings he battled. And if I am not mistaken the Arabic sources are mostly silent about it (but I would have to check this!)

Anyway the “Chronica Gothrum” is available online at arqnet in a Portuguese translation, this is the relevant part:

“Era de 1177 [1139]: A 25 de Julho na festa de S. Tiago Apóstolo, no undécimo ano do seu reinado, o mesmo rei D. Afonso travou uma grande batalha com o rei dos Sarracenos, de nome Esmar, num lugar que se chama Ourique. Efectivamente aquele rei dos Sarracenos, conhecendo a coragem e a audácia do rei D. Afonso, e vendo que ele frequentemente entrava na terra dos Sarracenos fazendo grandes depredações e vexava grandemente os seus domínios, quis; se fazê-lo pudesse, travar batalha com ele e encontrá-lo incauto e despercebido em qualquer parte. Por isso uma vez, quando o rei D. Afonso com o seu exército entrava por terra dos Sarracenos e estava no coração das suas terras, o rei sarraceno Esmar, tendo congregado grande número de Mouros de além-mar, que trouxera consigo e daqueles que moravam aquém-mar, no termo de Sevilha, de Badajoz, de Elvas, de Évora, de Beja e de todos os castelos até Santarém, veio ao encontro dele para o atacar, confiando no seu valor e no grande número do seu exército, pois mais numerosos era ainda pela presença aí das mulheres que combatiam à laia de amazonas, como depois se provou por aquelas que no fim se encontraram mortas. Como o rei D. Afonso estivesse com alguns dos seus acampado num promontório foi cercado e bloqueado de todos os lados pelos Sarracenos de manhã até à noite. Como estes quisessem atacar e invadir o acampamento dos cristãos, alguns soldados escolhidos destes investiram com eles (Sarracenos), combatendo valorosamente, expulsaram-nos do acampamento, fizeram neles grande carnificina e separaram-nos. Como o rei Esmar visse isto, isto é, o valor dos Cristãos, e porque estes estavam preparados mais para vencer ou morrer do que para fugir, ele próprio se pôs em fuga e todos os que estavam com ele, e toda aquela multidão de infiéis foi aniquilada e dispersa quer pela matança quer pela fuga. Também o rei deles fugiu vencido, tendo sido preso ali um seu sobrinho e neto do rei Ali, de nome Omar Atagor.

Com muitos homens mortos também da sua parte, D. Afonso, com a ajuda da graça de Deus, alcançou um grande triunfo dos seus inimigos, e, desde aquela ocasião, a força e a audácia dos Sarracenos enfraqueceu muitíssimo.” /

Google translation:

“It was 1177 [1139]: On 25 July at the feast of St. James the Apostle, in the eleventh year of his reign, King Afonso himself waged a great battle with the King of the Saracens, named Esmar, in a place His name is Ourique. In fact, the King of the Saracens, knowing the courage and audacity of King Afonso, and seeing that he often entered the land of the Saracens, made great depredations and greatly vexed his dominions; if you could do it, fight it with him and find him unsuspecting and unnoticed anywhere. So once, when King Afonso and his army entered the land of the Saracens and were in the heart of their lands, the Saracen king Esmar, having gathered a large number of Moors from overseas, whom he had brought with him and those who at the end of Seville, Badajoz, Elvas, Évora, Beja, and all the castles to Santarém, came to meet him to attack him, relying on his valor and the great number of his army, for more numerous were the presence there of the women who fought the laia of the Amazons, as was later proved by those who in the end were found dead. As King Afonso was with some of his campers on a promontory he was surrounded and blocked from all sides by the Saracens from morning till night. As they wanted to attack and invade the camp of the Christians, some of their chosen soldiers invested with them (Sarracenos), fighting valiantly, expelled them from the camp, made in them a great carnage and separated them. As King Esmar saw this, that is, the value of Christians, and because they were prepared more to conquer or die than to flee, he himself fled and all who were with him, and all that multitude of unbelievers was annihilated and dispersed either by killing or by flight. Also their king fled defeated, and there was arrested there his nephew and grandson of the king Ali, of name Omar Atagor.

With many men also killed on their side, King Afonso, with the help of the grace of God, achieved a great triumph of his enemies, and since that time the strength and audacity of the Saracens has greatly weakened.”

From: O Portal da História - Historiografia

Anyway I am glad that you opened this thread about Ourique!
 
May 2019
11
Portugal
#3
Olá Iberian / Hello Iberian and Welcome to Historum!

It is good to see here another fellow countryman here interested in Medieval history.

The Battle of Ourique in 1139 is fascinating, our main problem is the lack of details in the sources and we don’t even know where the battle took place.

We have four references to the battle in the Christian sources: The “Chronica Gothrum” (written before 1162), the “Vita Sancti Theotonii” (written by someone that saw the dead of the saint in 1162), the “Chronicon Conimbricense” (still from the 12th century) and the “Chronicon Lamecense” based on the previous. But all these sources are quite short in their references and don’t allow us to understand much of the battle.

Then we don’t know where the battle was, or should we call it a “fossado” and not a battle? The frontier at the time was in Leiria, white the actual Ourique is deep in the South of Alentejo, and is traditionally identified with the site of the battle, but new proposals appoint to a site near Leiria: https://estudogeral.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/31282/1/A Batalha de Ourique foi perto de Leiria.pdf

Then we really don’t know what where Afonso’s forces or what Muslim kings he battled. And if I am not mistaken the Arabic sources are mostly silent about it (but I would have to check this!)

Anyway the “Chronica Gothrum” is available online at arqnet in a Portuguese translation, this is the relevant part:

“Era de 1177 [1139]: A 25 de Julho na festa de S. Tiago Apóstolo, no undécimo ano do seu reinado, o mesmo rei D. Afonso travou uma grande batalha com o rei dos Sarracenos, de nome Esmar, num lugar que se chama Ourique. Efectivamente aquele rei dos Sarracenos, conhecendo a coragem e a audácia do rei D. Afonso, e vendo que ele frequentemente entrava na terra dos Sarracenos fazendo grandes depredações e vexava grandemente os seus domínios, quis; se fazê-lo pudesse, travar batalha com ele e encontrá-lo incauto e despercebido em qualquer parte. Por isso uma vez, quando o rei D. Afonso com o seu exército entrava por terra dos Sarracenos e estava no coração das suas terras, o rei sarraceno Esmar, tendo congregado grande número de Mouros de além-mar, que trouxera consigo e daqueles que moravam aquém-mar, no termo de Sevilha, de Badajoz, de Elvas, de Évora, de Beja e de todos os castelos até Santarém, veio ao encontro dele para o atacar, confiando no seu valor e no grande número do seu exército, pois mais numerosos era ainda pela presença aí das mulheres que combatiam à laia de amazonas, como depois se provou por aquelas que no fim se encontraram mortas. Como o rei D. Afonso estivesse com alguns dos seus acampado num promontório foi cercado e bloqueado de todos os lados pelos Sarracenos de manhã até à noite. Como estes quisessem atacar e invadir o acampamento dos cristãos, alguns soldados escolhidos destes investiram com eles (Sarracenos), combatendo valorosamente, expulsaram-nos do acampamento, fizeram neles grande carnificina e separaram-nos. Como o rei Esmar visse isto, isto é, o valor dos Cristãos, e porque estes estavam preparados mais para vencer ou morrer do que para fugir, ele próprio se pôs em fuga e todos os que estavam com ele, e toda aquela multidão de infiéis foi aniquilada e dispersa quer pela matança quer pela fuga. Também o rei deles fugiu vencido, tendo sido preso ali um seu sobrinho e neto do rei Ali, de nome Omar Atagor.

Com muitos homens mortos também da sua parte, D. Afonso, com a ajuda da graça de Deus, alcançou um grande triunfo dos seus inimigos, e, desde aquela ocasião, a força e a audácia dos Sarracenos enfraqueceu muitíssimo.” /

Google translation:

“It was 1177 [1139]: On 25 July at the feast of St. James the Apostle, in the eleventh year of his reign, King Afonso himself waged a great battle with the King of the Saracens, named Esmar, in a place His name is Ourique. In fact, the King of the Saracens, knowing the courage and audacity of King Afonso, and seeing that he often entered the land of the Saracens, made great depredations and greatly vexed his dominions; if you could do it, fight it with him and find him unsuspecting and unnoticed anywhere. So once, when King Afonso and his army entered the land of the Saracens and were in the heart of their lands, the Saracen king Esmar, having gathered a large number of Moors from overseas, whom he had brought with him and those who at the end of Seville, Badajoz, Elvas, Évora, Beja, and all the castles to Santarém, came to meet him to attack him, relying on his valor and the great number of his army, for more numerous were the presence there of the women who fought the laia of the Amazons, as was later proved by those who in the end were found dead. As King Afonso was with some of his campers on a promontory he was surrounded and blocked from all sides by the Saracens from morning till night. As they wanted to attack and invade the camp of the Christians, some of their chosen soldiers invested with them (Sarracenos), fighting valiantly, expelled them from the camp, made in them a great carnage and separated them. As King Esmar saw this, that is, the value of Christians, and because they were prepared more to conquer or die than to flee, he himself fled and all who were with him, and all that multitude of unbelievers was annihilated and dispersed either by killing or by flight. Also their king fled defeated, and there was arrested there his nephew and grandson of the king Ali, of name Omar Atagor.

With many men also killed on their side, King Afonso, with the help of the grace of God, achieved a great triumph of his enemies, and since that time the strength and audacity of the Saracens has greatly weakened.”

From: O Portal da História - Historiografia

Anyway I am glad that you opened this thread about Ourique!
 
May 2019
11
Portugal
#4
Thanks Tulius medieval history is quite interesting and i will try to make a few threads related with iberian wars.
We in Iberia had our moments of Glory and it is amazing if we can share with the world these moments.
 
Nov 2010
7,515
Cornwall
#5
Welcome

Be a little bit careful with poetic words like 'Moors'. and 'Saracens' The battle you describe above, which I must confess I'd forgotten (though it may be in one of two trilogies I have - Jose Javier Esparza's or Agustin Segura's) was at one of those vacuums in history and also clearly at a very emotive time in the development of Portugal, with 'miracles' etc. I've just read the Wiki summary in castellano

The Almoravid Empire of North Africa was collapsing under the Almohad uprising. Nominally in control of muslim Spain, yet there was no longer a good effective central defence. In fact in 1139 the heir Tashufin ben Ali ben Yusuf left Al Andalus, formalising the break up and collapse in 'Spain'. So what we have left are some garrison remnants and some local militias, although local military forces were fatally weakened under the central control of the latter Caliphate/Almanzor 100 years earlier. I doubt very much it was the large affair the legend tells. Just that, for once, at this time, some resistance was put up to the continuous Christian raids

Later the Almohad armies would take control of Al Andalus and that was a major resurgance in muslim power.

Your fellow countryman Latino gets very excited about Portuguese history (and why not?) - but he can't really get to grips with the fact that prior to the invasions of the Almoravids and Almohads, the population of Iberia including what 400 years later became Portugal was muslim and 'local' - including the original hispano-roman-gothic population. It was mainly about land and goods, the religion bit was inserted by certain 'writers' with an agenda

Enjoy!
 
Nov 2010
7,515
Cornwall
#7
Yeah I was a bit energetic about the topic. The muslims were very strong and it took centuries to defeat them.
I think the point is that 'the muslims' were not really an entity. Just like the Christian kingdoms that emerged, muslim ststaes and factions spent a lot of time fighting each other and allying with states of the other religion
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,192
Portugal
#8
I think the point is that 'the muslims' were not really an entity. Just like the Christian kingdoms that emerged, muslim ststaes and factions spent a lot of time fighting each other and allying with states of the other religion
Indeed and in that line the comment in the “Life of Saint Theotonius” that five Muslim kings were defeated may have some accuracy.

A side note, I recall that I was on the 7th grade and in the history class we were talking about the conquest of Lisbon to the Muslims, and I asked to my teacher something like:

“Who where those Muslims?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that when we talk about the Christian kingdoms we talk about Portugal, Leon, Castile… but when we talk about the Muslims, we just say the Muslims. Didn’t they had several kingdoms?”

I just recall that the teacher was a bit embarrassed and he really didn’t answered to me.
 
Nov 2010
7,515
Cornwall
#9
Indeed and in that line the comment in the “Life of Saint Theotonius” that five Muslim kings were defeated may have some accuracy.

A side note, I recall that I was on the 7th grade and in the history class we were talking about the conquest of Lisbon to the Muslims, and I asked to my teacher something like:

“Who where those Muslims?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that when we talk about the Christian kingdoms we talk about Portugal, Leon, Castile… but when we talk about the Muslims, we just say the Muslims. Didn’t they had several kingdoms?”

I just recall that the teacher was a bit embarrassed and he really didn’t answered to me.
Yes he clearly had no idea.

The 5 'muslim king' bit is reminiscent of this writing style that often comes up in this region. It means the reyezuelos of 5 towns, such as Mertola, Silves, Baja, Faro, Huelva, Saltes, Niebla etc etc. When forces get together like this it doesn't mean any of them has too many troops - I remember reading that by the time prior to it's conquest the once-mighty Cordoba could only raise about 150 'lances'.

It's not entirely clear how many Andalusian troops turned up from the taifas to support the Almoravids
 

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