Lo Llibre dels Feyts -The Book of Deeds
Chapter 2: The Last Years of Ramón Berenguer the Older
The Glory of the ternasco al chilindrón -1- and other dangerous campaign.
1066 was, without a single doubt, the turning point of the rise to power of the count of Barcelona. As it has been suggestesd previously, the count experiencied an odd change in his behaviour that had an inmediate effect upon his political actions. After many years of wars against the muslim enemy, Ramón Berenguer takes, unexpectedly, a defensive attitude which cannot be fully explained.
The county of Barcelona in 1066 and its happy neighbours and vassals.
Suddenly, luck strikes in his favour. While the count of Barcelona manages to bring peace to his lands, his neighbours begin to fight fiercely one against each other. Of course, Ramón Berenguer -and his heir, as we shall see- takes fully advantage of it. While the different kingdoms and sheikdoms are devastated by the war and the plague, the little Catalan country enjoys a happy time of prosperity and peace. The treasure is filled by the commercial deals and the cities grown and develop.
Meanwhile, in Castille things begin to get really funny. Sancho II of Castille betrays his sister Urraca and grabs his county of Soria. Alfonso VI of Leon, filled sudenly with brotherly love towards her sister, allies himself with Navarra in what was called the treaty of Torroja. Sancho, who feels himself threatened by this move, attacks Navarra in March, 1067. This mistake, of course, is not wasted, as Alfonso takes it as a casus belli to wage war against his brother. Thus a long war began, interrupted several times, as, for instance, when Alfonso, who had laid siege to Burgos, had to rush to defend Salamanca from the moors.
Thus the war would go on and on and on, till Alfonso defeated Sancho in 1071. Alfonso, new king of Castille, kept his brother, as Duke of Castille, by his side, but just to thrown him, with their sister Urraca, into obscurity and oblivion, in such a sad way that no one shed a tear for the early death of Sancho in 1073, without a heir, by the way. From that moment on, Alfonso would try to defeat the infidel enemies. However, the musulman sheik of Toledo was unaware of this -so, he can be forgotten for this silly mistake- and defeated him at Salamanca in 1075.
It must be mentioned that Alfonso thought he could defeat Toledo as, since 1068, the sheik of Toleado was in war with Valencia. A war, it must be mentioned, that gave time to Barcelona to prepare for war, while waiting for a mistake. And the mistake came in 1071 when, hardly finished the war with Toledo, the young sheik of Valencia declared war to Aragon, taking by surprise the reduced forces of the Christian king, who, despite of his brave courage, couldn't avoid defeat and retreated into France.
Luckily for Ramon, the musulman offensive kept its pace towards the northern counties, conquering briefly Jaca in 1072 and crossing the Pyrinees towards Tolouse. It's the chance that Ramón Berenguer had been waiting for...
The Catalan armies gather and, knowing that Zaragoza and Jaca are virtually unprotected, moves cautiosly, while waiting the confrontation that is inminent in the northern lands. Would it be a second Poitiers or a new Guadalete? However, the young Aragonese king tries to recover his lands, and thus obliges Ramón to act. In the same moment that he knows that the musulman army has been annihilated in front of Tolouse, Ramón Berenguer waiting for the kill, attacks and conquers Zaragoza, while the king of Navarra does the same with Calatayud -2-.
After this warlike times, pace settles and the count of Barcelona begins too watch what is going on at the other side of the Pyrinees. He sees the rise and the fall of the proud noblemen of those lands but, of course, keeping an eye at what is going on in the Musulman lands. And when everything seems to be ready to try to gain some influence upon Tolouse and the other counties, suddenly the Moor sheikdomspower suffers another civil war.
Sigh... he has to rush again. Thus Ramón gather his host again and, while the main armies are busy bleeding themselves white far, far away, Ramón send his sond Pere Ramón to conquer Tarragona while he makes a probing attack to the Ballearic islands. The old Roman city is taken in August, 1075, after some unavoidable bloodshed and the heir of Barcelona returns to his father to claim for his victory, not only at Tarragona, but also at Albarracín -3-.
This victories weren't without danger, of course, as the Muslim armies replied in 1076, when the sheik of Valencia declared war to the Catalan count. The situation, however, was saved, unexpectedly, by Castille, who declared war to Toledo, while Cadiz did the same to Sevilla -only to be defeated and conquered by the latter...-. So, Valencia found itself without allies and with his army annhilated by the tremendous charge of the few but corageous Catalan knights, who pursued them till the very gates of Valencia. And, as they were there and as to return home empty handed would have been pretty silly, Ramón began the siege of Valencia, who lasted until 1077. Thus, the Conquest of Mallorca had to be postponed, again, this time until 1082. Meanwhile, Ramón conquered Dènia and Murcia, but failed to go ahead at Almansa. Just death could stop the conquering whises of Ramón Berenguer, who died in 1080. This enterprise, along with the Majorca question, was placed on the shoulders of his son, Pere -4-.
Ramón Berenguer I, the Older, Count of Barcelona, Girona (1035-1080) and Osona (1054-1080).
-1-Typical food from Aragon, sinfully delicious
-2-In some uncanny way, the king of Aragon (hi, Frodo) managed to recover Jaca. Damn it...
-3-Ok, see... I wanted to do a limited campaign, you know (to conquer Tarragona) but I saw that the Navarrese army was prepared to conquer the neighbouring lands, so... well...
-4-Pere, aka now as the "Ardoroso" (poetically speaking, the "Lover of Lovers"), more inclined to make love than war. And, damned by his soul, his heir resembled to him in this particular affair. No, I couldn't get a Cid, a Terminator, an Alexander, but no, I had to get a Don Juan!!!! And not a single one, no, I had to find two!!!!