A Resource List for SCAdian Iberians
By Craig Levin [Pedro de Alcazar]
Greetings to all those reading this page!
Spain, Portugal, and their colonies are among the unexplored frontiers of the SCA. Part of the problem is the language barrier. Although the SCA was founded in California, where Spanish is effectively the second language, the SCA largely draws from an Anglophone population, at least in America.
This resource list is an attempt to counter the myth that nothing exists for the English-only SCAdian who wants to have a good Iberian persona. All of the books and websites listed here are English. Most of the books are not hard to find; I found them at chain bookshops like Border's, in used bookshops, or displayed for sale by SCAdian merchants like Page After Page. Also, many can be found in college and public libraries and can be fetched by interlibrary loan. Name resources are located at the websites of the Academy of Saint Gabriel and the Laurel Queen of Arms' Education Page.
No matter what sort of Iberian you want to be, from Visigothic warrior to Moorish poet to Castilian grandee, you're going to want a good overall history of the Iberian Peninsula in order to see the big picture. Also, their bibliographies are great jumping-off points for your particular interests. I particularly recommend JF O'Callaghan's _A History of Medieval Spain_ and BF Reilly's _The Medieval Spains_. I also own SG Payne's _A History of Spain and Portugal_; it's a lot like O'Callaghan's book. AH de Oliveira Marques' _History of Portugal_ provides a Portuguese summary history. I also suggest JA Crow's _Spain: The Root and the Flower_ for a look at the Castilian side. If you can find it, I suggest getting a copy of OR Constable's _Medieval Iberia_, which is an anthology of primary sources in translation.
Iberian mediaeval history is generally considered as having several turning points. As I have something of a Portuguese bias, I am defining the Early Middle Ages here as from the fifth century until the eighth century (the invasion of the Moors). I am defining the High Middle Ages from the ninth century until the thirteenth century (when the last Moorish principality in the modern borders of Portugal was conquered). I am defining the Late Middle Ages/Renaissance from the fourteenth century until the sixteenth century (when the Portuguese royal line died out and the Hapsburg kings of Spain snatched the reins of power, not to be shook off until the seventeenth century).
Early medieval Hispania and Lusitania were still cultured places, despite the decay of Roman power. The Visigoths and Swabians who became the real government had lived on the Roman frontier for years, and admired Roman culture. This is the age of Saint Isidore of Seville, whose _Etymologies_ was one of the first European encyclopaedias. KB Wolf has translated portions of chronicles of this time in _Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain_. Collin's _Early Medieval Spain: Unity in Diversity, 400-1000_ is a fine secondary source to start from. In the realm of artwork, I suggest _The Art of Medieval Spain_, edited by JP O'Neill. However, with the coming of the Moors, the Visigothic hold on all but the northern mountains of the Iberian Peninsula was broken.
The period I have lumped together as the High Middle Ages is, essentially, the story of the rise and fall of al-Andalus, the Moorish term for the Iberian Peninsula, and the rise of the Christian principalities that later became modern Spain and Portugal. It is is the age of El Cid, the great hero of Castille. It is also the age of the Convivencia, when Moors, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony. A great deal of Europe's heritage from classical antiquity came from Iberians in this period translating the books of the ancients into Latin from Arabic, into which they had been translated centuries before. Also, Moorish and Jewish discoveries in science, medicine, and philosophy went north to France, planting the seeds of scholarship in Latin Christian soil.
Histories of al-Andalus are fairly popular these days. However, there are several accounts, like E. Bendiner's _The Rise and Fall of Paradise_, that exaggerate the contrast between intolerant Christians, tolerant Moors, and learned Jews. I suggest more balanced works like R. Fletcher's _Moorish Spain_ or H. Kennedy's _Muslim Spain and Portugal_. I also recommend the websites of Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, Chaiya bat Avraham Toledano, and Zadok ben Shlomo ibn Alfakhar.
On the Christian side, the literature surrounding Ruy Diaz de Bivar, the Cid Campeador, is impressive. WS Merwin's translation with facing Old Castilian of _The Poem of the Cid_ is the standard translation in the English speaking world. Menendez-Pidal's _The Cid and His Spain_ is the classic examination of Christian Iberia in this time frame, although if you can't find it, Fletcher's _Quest for El Cid_ is good, too. Also, from this point forward, MacKay's _Spain in the Middle Ages_, the companion to Collins' book mentioned above, picks up the story.
Finally, for people with personae of any religion, there's _Convivencia_, edited by Mann, Glick, and Dodds. This collection of essays about all three religious communities and their works of art is a valuable addition to anyone's library.
The Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, for the Iberian Peninsula, was a time of great upheaval. This is the period after the Moors of the Algarve were conquered, and when they and the Jews were expelled from all the Iberian kingdoms. Those who refused to leave went underground and became Moriscos and Marranos, living dual lives in fear and following hidden faiths. This was also a period of civil war, when the Aviz dynasty rose to power in Portugal, and the Trastamaras rose to power in Castille and later in Aragon.
This was also the Age of Exploration, when the Iberian cultural sphere of influence suddenly grew from the peninsula to encompass at first the nearby islands like the Balearics and the Canaries, to huge swathes of the New World, Africa, and the Indies. Iberian writers were at the forefront of European popularity, first with the revival of the chivalrous romance, and then with its antithesis, the picaresque tale. Iberian dramatists created dark tales of honor and revenge, while poets made sweet pastoral verses.
Since this is the age of Cervantes, I urge that one read his _Exemplary Stories_ and _Don Quixote_. These, along with picaresque tales like _The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes_, which has been translated by RS Rudder, provide pictures of Renaissance Iberia "drawn from life," as it were. Here, too, we see cookbooks, like Gitlitz and Davidson's _A Drizzle of Honey_, which, though it is about Marranos, also has a lot to say about Gentile culinary practices. In matters of dress, we are fortunate that Juan de Alcega's _Tailor's Pattern Book_ and Weiditz's _Authentic Everyday Dress of the Renaissance_ are in print. Also, Defourneaux's _Daily Life in Spain in the Golden Age_ and AH de Oliveira Marques' _Daily Life in Portugal in the Late Middle Ages_ will help you flesh out corners of your persona and his or her world that you might never have known existed (did you ever wonder what residents of Madrid ate as fast food in the Renaissance?)
Although the Age of Exploration had its contributors from England, France, and the Low Countries, the bulk of them came from the Iberian Peninsula. There are several fairly good introductions to the Age of Exploration. I recommend JR Hale's _Renaissance Exploration_, JH Parry's _The Age of Reconnaissance_, and LB Wright's _Gold, Glory_ and the Gospel_ as introductions to this period from that angle. Once those have been read, try SE Morison's _Admiral of the Ocean Sea_, the canonical biography of Columbus, Subrahmanyan's _The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama_, or Fernandez- Armesto's _Before Columbus_, a study of almost all the exploration going on before 1492. Those people who want an overseas Iberian persona (for example, someone from the New World or Macau) might find these books to be useful: TB Duncan's _Atlantic Islands_, J. Lockhart's _Spanish Peru, 1532-1560_, or AJR Russell-Wood's _The Portuguese Empire, 1415-1808_. Naturally, if you want the view from Ground Zero on Portuguese exploration, there's Camoen's _Lusiads_.
On the political and economic fronts, there's MacKay's book mentioned above, as well as JH Elliott's _Imperial Spain: 1469-1716_. Braudel's _The Mediterranean_ ties in the Iberian economies with the economies of the rest of the Mediterranean coast, and is a brilliant read besides. Some books on more specific events and people include JJ MacDonald's _Don Fernando de Antequera_, the biography of one of the last kings of independent Aragon, and a brilliant commander to boot, and Mattingly's _The Armada_.
The history of the Inquisition and the Marranos ranks second only to the Holocaust in Jewish history as the tale of the destruction of a vital segment of Jewry. The best modern historian of the Inquisition is B Netanyahu, the father of the former Israeli prime minister. I own only two of his many works, _The Origins of the Inquisition_ and _Toward the Inquisition_. C Roth's _A History of the Marranos_ is also an excellent book; among other things, it gives an overview of Marrano religious beliefs. Gitlitz and Davidson's book mentioned above is also useful.
Because my persona is an aristocrat, I have done some collecting in the area of courtly literature. In addition to collecting standard pan-European studies of chivalry like Keen's _Chivalry_ and Barber's _The Knight and Chivalry_, I also suggest looking for Prestage's _Chivalry_, because he was a specialist in Portuguese literature. Seward's _Monks of War_ has a section on the Spanish and Portuguese orders of chivalry. The Portuguese knightly orders have a website. Also, the Order of Christ, Henry the Navigator's order, has its own webpage as well.
The Iberian versions of the Arthuriad are fascinating, but, as far as I know, have never been translated. However, WJ Entwistle's _The Arthurian Legend in the Literatures of the Spanish Peninsula_ provides some of them in abstract. In order to follow him, though, I suggest becoming familiar with these Arthurian authors: Sir Thomas Mallory, Chretien de Troyes, and Geoffrey of Monmouth.
The Iberians produced a great deal of chivalric literature on their own, in addition to importing the Arthuriad. Spence's _Spain_, Hannay's _The Later Renaissance_, and Thomas' _Spanish and Portuguese Romances of Chivalry_ examine and give in abstract a fraction of them. Also, two anthologies of fantasy, Wilkins' _Treasury of Fantasy_ and Moncrieff's _Romance and Legend of Chivalry_ contain snippets from the Iberian chivalric corpus. Two great works of Iberian chivalric literature exist in translation: GD de Gamez's _The Unconquered Knight_, the biography of Don Pero Nin~o, a Castilian knight of the fifteenth century, and Martorell and de Galba's _Tirant lo Blanc_, a Catalan romance of the same vintage. Also, BH Fowler translated some Portuguese poems of courtly love in _Songs of a Friend_.
To conclude, there's quite a lot out there if one only looks. Since my persona, Pedro de Alcazar, is a Renaissance Portuguese, my library is distinctly slanted towards that time and place. I welcome comments and suggestions on how this resource list may be improved.