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THE GLORY OF CHRISTENDOM


POPESAWAYFROMROME
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survivors hurried back to Africa. It was the last time a substantial army from Morocco landed on Spanish soil.
The era in the enormously long war of the Reconquest that began with the coming of the Almoravids and their
African drums, under Yusuf ibn-Tashfin 250 years before, halted only by the magnificent stand of El Cid at
Valencia, had ended at last. Spain's internal dissensions would enable the last Moorish kingdom-Granada-to
last longer than anyone in Alfonso the Avenger's time thought possible; but the victory at Rio Salado ultimately
sealed its fate.'
Two years later Alfonso XI, aided by crusaders from Catalonia, Genoa, France, and England, laid siege
to the great Moorish fortress of Algeciras on a broad bay within sight of the Rock of Gibraltar. Pope Clement
VI gave moral
and material support. The siege was firmly maintained, continuing for no less than two full years, until the city
surrendered to Alfonso "the Avenger" on March 26, 1344 and a ten years' truce was granted to Granada on
payment of twice its earlier tribute. 1
On October 2, 1332 Philip VI of France had announced to an assembly of his nobles gathered in St.
Louis' glorious Sainte-Chapelle that he intended to lead a new crusade for the liberation of Jerusalem. A year
later he formally took the cross in a brilliant ceremony at the gates of the abbey of St. Germain in Paris. No
one outside France paid much attention, and even in France the continuing disputes with England and the
desire to save Scotland from the military prowess of Edward III's armies made the actual launching of a new
crusade seem unlikely. But Philip seems to have genuinely desired to go on crusade and to have been willing to
make real sacrifices to this end. Therefore it came as a shock to him when the realistic and hard-spoken Pope
Benedict XII curtly informed him in the week after Easter 1336 that poor recruitment and political troubles
within Christendom (of which the situation in Scotland was the worst) had made the crusade impossible. For
several months Philip VI still hoped that the Pope would change his mind. At length convinced that he would
not, Philip-now in no compromising mood-turned all his energies to the dispute with England. He took the
money he had collected for the crusade to finance a war against England, and demanded of Edward III the
extradition of his former close advisor and now bitter enemy Robert, who claimed to be Count of Artois. When
Edward would not send Robert to Philip VI and to death, the French King declared war on England in May
1337. The "Hundred Years War" had begun. Z
erek W. L.omax, The Reconquest of Spain (London, 1978), pp. 166-167; O'Callaghan, Medieval Spain, pp.
412-413; J. N. Hillgarth, The Spanish Kingdoms, 12501516 (Oxford, 1976),1,341-342.
81
Lomax, Reconquest of Spain, p. 167; Hillgarth, Spanish Kingdoms, I, 343-344. gZSumption, Hundred Years
War, pp. 132-137,155-156,166,170-174.
Ever since the Norman conquest of England there had been three great powers in Europe: the German and
Italian domains of the Holy Roman Emperor; France; and England. England and the Empire were natural
allies, because there was always strife between the Empire and France along the Alsatian and Belgian borders
which have been fought over for more than a thousand years, and there had been almost as much strife over the
English feudal possessions in France, while England and the Empire rarely came into conflict. Louis of
Bavaria still claimed to be Emperor; Pope Benedict XII was' maintaining Pope John XXII's policy of not
recognizing him as Emperor and excommunicating him because he would not abdicate. In the winter of 1337
Louis had offered to acknowledge that he had sinfully defied John XXII, give up his title of Emperor, revoke
all his imperial acts, promise never to visit Rome without the Pope's permission, and to found churches and
monasteries and make pilgrimages in reparation. But he still would not give up his title of "King of the
Germans," and every Holy Roman Emperor since Otto the Great had also been King of the Germans; so Pope
Benedict XII rejected his recantation as insufficient and the struggle between Pope and Emperor went on. 3
Edward III sought Louis' support in the war against France and got it, by the Treaty of Valenciennes in August;
this pushed Benedict XII willy-nilly into political alliance with France. When he sent two cardinal legates to
London in December to try to mediate an end to the war and they warned Edward of the sin involved in dealing
with an excommunicate whose royal claims had been disallowed by the Pope, they were publicly heckled in
the Painted Chamber at Westminster by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, the formidable John Stratford !^
Meanwhile Edward III was pondering the fundamental question of whether to claim the throne of
France through his mother, challenging the assumption of French jurists that not only could a woman not rule
France, but also that she could not transmit the royal title through her son. This assumption was in fact
groundless; no precedents for such an assertion existed before Philip VI took the French crown, neither in
France nor in any other monarchy in Europe. But no French king would ever voluntarily give up his title of
King of France, and French patriotism would assuredly support any King of France against any claim to the
French throne by an English king. To insist upon such a claim would commit England to constant war against
France-for twenty years, fifty, a hundred or even more. Yet Edward was now resolved no longer to do homage
to the French King for Gascony and Guyenne in the southwest, and under feudal law he had no right to refuse
it. He could only escape the
Cambridge Medieval History, VII, 128-129.
84
Sumption, Hundred Years War, pp. 211, 217-218. For Stratford's tumultuous career see Roy M. Haines,
Archbishop John Stratford; Political Revolutionary and Champion of the Liberties of the English Church (Toronto,
1986).