Santiago Matamoros : reconquista and identity in twelfth-century Iberia.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


Reconquista is a historically fraught term that emerged in the nationalist context of the 19th century and has largely been rejected by historians due to its highly problematic implications, especially those of unified identity and rightful ownership. However, a survey of twelfth-century Iberian texts, both religious and temporal, reveals a narrative of conquest which evidences a strikingly similar contemporary understanding both of Iberian identity and rightful ownership of the Iberian Peninsula. Through an analysis of these texts I hope to provide a window into twelfth-century Iberian notions of identity and, accordingly, the way in which reconquista might be re-imagined. My analysis will revolve primarily around the Codex Calixtinus, supported by readings of the Historia Silense, Primera crónica general, Poema de mio Cid, and Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris. I will first explore the ways in which history is constructed in these texts, particularly the narrative of Iberian apostasy and subsequent redemption, and how these constructions enable authors to make claims upon Saint James, and hence Iberia, in service of different interests. The second section is dedicated to an analysis of liturgical representations of Saint James and how they both foster unity of identity, centered around the figure of the Apostle, and reiterate and reinforce the narrative of conquest. Finally, all of these elements will be drawn together in a twelfth-century narrative of conquest that closely mirrors the contemporary notion of reconquista.