AN APPRECIATION OF THE
WAR FOR GRANADA (1481-92)

A CRITICAL LINK TO WESTERN MILITARY HISTORY


This webpage is based upon a presentation made to the 32nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 8-11, 1997; Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University; Kalamazoo, Michigan, at a session relating to medieval military technology and co-sponsored by De re militari and American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS). The paper was given by Albert D. McJoynt, who edited William H. Prescott's narrative history on the war in, The Art of War in Spain, the Conquest of Granada (1481–1492), (London, Greenhill Books, 1995).


I.  Introduction.

Impetus for this paper grew from my recent experience in preparing the publication of William H. Prescott's narrative history of the War for Granada, which took place at the end of the fifteenth century. Prescott's text was taken from his monumental The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic, first published in 1837. Though dated in literary style and containing some minor errors (most of which could not have been known to a nineteenth-century scholar) Prescott's well documented narrative description has withstood remarkably well the test of time. It remains the most valuable account in the English language for studying the military aspects of the war. [1]

In the course of my work I was puzzled that this ten-year war which had such dramatic impact on the course of Western civilization received so little attention in many works that purported to address Western military history. This audience certainly does not need to be sold on the importance of the Catholic Sovereigns' conquest in terms of the nearly 800-year Christian Reconquista of the Iberian peninsula and in setting the course for empire. What I hope to argue is recognition of the war's influence on the development of Western European warfare, and to allude to why such recognition remains important in military studies.
The sparse treatment of the War for Granada in modern English texts can be attested with only a casual examination of several encyclopedias, summaries and timeline reference material on medieval warfare published during the last decade or so. One will find, only brief mention of the 1481–92 Granadan war, or no mention of it at all. As recently as last year [1996], a distinguished university press published an atlas of warfare in the Middle Ages that excluded the war in its main text and maps. English works on the broader history of medieval Spain certainly address the war, but rightly can only give the final conquest of Granada summary treatment in the broader context of the Reconquista and the numerous dynastic struggles in the medieval Iberian Peninsula. To appreciate the War for Granada's part in Western warfare, one has also to look outside of Spain, and to examine military trends prior and after the war. Like so many other areas of study, military events are better understood when viewed in context of broad trends.
As might be expected, Spanish authors have kept the memory of the War for Granada alive; though it was overshadowed for some time by the military prowess of sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Spanish military. A strong, resurgent interest in the 1481–92 war seems to have begun within Spain around the 1940s as reflected in the works of Jorge Vigón, Juan de Mata Carriazo, and Miguel Angel Ladero Quesada, to name but a few. Concurrently, Luis Seco de Lucena Paredes and the French author Rachel Arié added immensely to Western scholars' knowledge of the Muslims in the war. A factor that limited even Prescott's work. [2]
The strange omission of the War for Granada from many twentieth-century military histories in English, may be partly attributed to nationalistic attitudes, and the unusual reliance many American military writers have on English works when addressing pre-modern warfare. More specifically, I would suggest, the problem can be traced to the war being essentially omitted in two popular, multi volume surveys of Western military history: one by the early twentieth-century Englishman Sir Charles Oman and the other by the late nineteenth-century German Hans Delbrück. These works have strongly influenced the structure, if not always the views, contained in many recent studies of Western warfare that embrace the medieval era. [3]
It must be noted that a later English military historian, J.F.C. Fuller's popular The Decisive Battles of the Western World, 480 BC–1757 has chapters that address the Reconquista and the Conquest of Granada — the latter centering on the siege of Málaga (1487) and then of Granada (1492). [4] Fuller notes the early adoption of the handgun as a 'true infantry weapon' toward the end of the fifteenth century. He admits that gunpowder changed warfare by the close of the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), and not after. Interestingly, Fuller's notations show that he relied heavily upon Prescott's narrative as his source. Of course, there are some fine journal articles and scholarly dissertations dealing with the war, but as such, they go unnoticed by many authors of military history.
Sometimes the approaches to reviewing military history are too narrowly focused and compartmentalized. The examination dwells upon one weapon and tactical scheme, or one nation's developments without assessing broader contemporary trends. In this vein, we might find it valuable to review some of the military aspects of the War for Granada in the context of Western warfare developments in the late fifteenth century.

II.  Late Fifteenth-Century Western Warfare.

Some significant developments occurred in Western warfare by the middle of the fifteenth century. Though some of these would not be manifest fully until the very end of that century and early in the sixteenth, as part of the 'Great Wars' in Italy. The result would be recognized by most all Western historians as a new era of warfare, often labeled 'early modern'.

Generally, the main tactical, weaponry, and organizational changes that transformed European warfare from its feudal customs to the more professional, sovereign-owned armies of late fifteenth-century France and Spain are acknowledged in general military histories. However, the fact that many of the trends were set in motion by the middle of the century is not always so well recognized. Many military books and articles distort the understanding of warfare evolution by expressing a limited awareness of the full scope of developments in fifteenth-century European warfare. Such literary works often express a desire to declare a 'revolution' in warfare due to some particular battlefield event or technological factor. In fact, warfare trends of the fifteenth, or any other, century were interwoven in various engagements. While a single factor's influence on the outcome of particular battles, campaigns and wars can often be clearly identified, it is dangerous to single out a weapon or tactical scheme as a decisive trend. So many factors interacted in military operations that few could ever be declared decisive in themselves. [5]

a.  Influence of the Hundred Years' War.

To illustrate the point, let us examine the more generally known factors associated with the Hundred Years' War, which is well — if not thoroughly — cited in English language military histories. The English celebrated victories of Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt were as much a product of the poor French field commanders as of the longbow and dismounted men-at-arms. There was the era of du Guesclin's French guerrilla-like operations which minimized the tactical scheme of the English longbow. Then, of course there were the French guns at Formigny (1450) that rather well marked the end of the longbow's special advantage on the continent. The appearance of guns, even the initial occurrence of their effectiveness on the battlefields, did not immediately change combat. Their effective employment had to be discovered, understood and learned by a body of warriors. Nor will we see the end of the need for heavy cavalry for sometime to come. It was needed, when properly employed, well into the following century. [6]

The latter part of the Hundred Years' War is also a good place to start for an appreciation of the War for Granada in the overall picture of late medieval warfare. Prior to mid fifteenth century, European warfare was characterized by the dominant strength of castle-strongholds. The mountain city alcázars in the Granadan kingdom, like the major towns in France could be reduced only at great sacrifice to an opponent. Enormous costs were involved in conducting several months of investment required in siege operations. There were exceptions, when treachery or tactical stealth could win the prize. Faced with this obstacle, most Western military operations resorted to raids (chevauchée in France, cavalgada in Spain). Many lesser nobles and captains of mercenary bands enriched themselves by such activities, but kings who sought to conquer learned of the military futility of such operations. At times, monarchs sought to have such operations support their overall strategy in conquering a city fortress. However, it was evident that this free-raiding warfare fostered the perpetuation of active armed contingents that could, as well, act independent of the king.

b.  Gunpowder weapons – artillery.

About the mid fifteenth century, we can see an alternative for the kings desiring conquest. Gunpowder weapons were beginning to make castle-strongholds more vulnerable to well armed and managed sieges. The serious histories that address the last phase of the Hundred Years' War and the War for Granada clearly attest to the importance of the artillery trains of the French Charles VII and of Ferdinand the Catholic. While many works exist that support this in the Hundred Years' War, Weston F. Cook, Jr. has forcefully stated the case in his Journal of Military History article "The Cannon Conquest of Nasrid Spain and the End of the Reconquista." [7]

Gunpowder artillery was as old to the Iberian Peninsula as anywhere in Europe. Both Muslims and Christians had been using such artillery (along with the usual array of medieval war machines) in sieges as well as making a few awkward attempts to use guns in field battles. [8] However, before 1481 there had not been a major military venture undertaken in Spain that was primarily dependent upon a large artillery organization. The Catholic Sovereigns sparked an aggressive artillery manufacturing infrastructure with the arrival, in 1484, of French master technicians at Córdoba and Ecija. [9]
Acquiring an artillery establishment for conquest necessitated harnessing financial and material resources, and the promotion of talented leaders to establish this emerging 'high tech' military capability. The gun tubes and gunpowder were expensive items whether bought or manufactured, and they needed to be acquired in mass in order to be effective. Sovereigns had some advantage over the lesser nobles, as they had access to a potentially broader tax base. A responsive tax system and financial control for this very early form of an 'industrial based' weapons system also had to be established. Behind the remarkable military reconquests of French Normandy and Guyenne (1450–1453), there are the talented financial entrepreneur and state treasurer Jacques Cœur and the master gunner Jean Bureau. Likewise, in the reign of the Catholic Sovereigns there was the creative use of the taxes to support the Santa Hermandad for more that just maintaining the special state militia. Also the Sovereigns were able to tap into the Church collections in order to support the crusade against the Muslims. The Catholic Sovereigns had their master of the artillery in Francisco Ramírez de Madrid, who acquired recognition in the contemporary chronicles on par with that of the grandees.
Bureau and Ramírez are special symbols of the military situation in the last half of the fifteenth century. Neither were from noble families nor men-at-arms in the normal sense. Nevertheless, they both would direct many successful military siege operations and be ennobled by their respective, grateful sovereigns. The labels of 'master gunner' in historical accounts belies their real duties as 'generals of the royal artillery' (their later titles did eventually reflect ennoblement). [10] These early commanders of gunpowder artillery forces were master logisticians, engineers, and supervisors of skilled technicians that ensured the effective application of a new technology.

c.  The handgun.

Gunpowder weaponry links between the last battles of the Hundred Years' War and the War for Granada extend to more than just siege cannon. The hand-held 'cannon', or gun was around as early as were the larger pieces. With the exception of the Hussite Wars (1419–34), the handgun's impact was so insignificant on combat outcomes that they received slight notice by the chroniclers. The first accounts are of purchases of such weapons and not of how they were employed. The descriptions of battles suggest that handgunners were employed mainly as a complement to crossbowmen. In field engagements, they were skirmishers, with the role to harass an enemy's formation. During sieges, they provided supressive fire against, or from, the fortification. It is difficult to perceive how the poor rate of fire, vulnerability to weather, and all around dangers and awkwardness in the use of gunpowder would favor the handgun to the straight, long, or crossbow of the time. The need to have a continuously lit match seriously limited the early handgun's use in tactical maneuvering.

Less noticed by the traditional military historian are some of the non tactical factors that influence the acquisition of weapons — this remains true today. The Catholic Sovereigns were expanding their army. They needed more infantry to provide fire support and to perform other functions for the siege operations. Tasks one does not ask the man-at-arms and noblemen to perform. Infantry fire support is the speciality of missile weapons like bows and handguns. The Spanish (Christian and Muslim) were known for their fine crossbowmen, and these served as the main infantry missile arm for most of the war. Crossbows outperformed the regular bow, except the crossbow's rate of fire was slower. [11] The English longbow had the best reputation, but we know of only a small group of archers who accompanied a volunteer English knight in the war.
Near the end of the War for Granada there was a discernible increase in the proportion of hand-held gunpowder weapons in the Castilian army. [12] The most obvious explanation is that crossbows, the traditional missile weapon for the infantries of the Iberian Peninsula were expensive to have made. The simple handgun, or espingarda, was not in comparison. Also the handgun benefited from being compatible with the gunpowder logistics of the siege cannon. On the tactical plus side, the handgun of the mid-fifteenth century appeared to have more effective range than the longbow and every bit as much penetrating power of the crossbow.
The Spanish espingarda, was equivalent to the French arquebus and Italian escopeta at the end of the fifteenth century. It was distinctive for its ‘matchlock' device which allowed the gunner to concentrate on aiming as he moved a lever which mechanically aligned the lighted match to the touchhole in the bore of the gun. This very crude, but simple weapon appears to have first influenced the outcome of the last battle of the Hundred Years' War at Castillon (1453). Its presence is mentioned in the Burgundian-Swiss wars (1474–77) and the Wars of the Roses (1455–85). In both, handguns are not employed with any effective tactical scheme. [13]
Like with all versions of the arquebus, the espingarda continuously underwent evolution in design. Quesada identifies two general types of espingarda. Those with early simple serpentine-lever triggering devices, the llanas (plain) type. The other version, de llave (with gun-lock), was a more advanced matchlock. [14] The handgun had, by 1481, passed beyond the awkward, hand-held, match-lighting phase. The contemporary carvings on the choir stalls of the Cathedral of Toledo show many espingarderos shooting alongside the crossbowmen. In these carvings, the espingardas are being fired and aimed from the shoulder by the Castilian infantrymen.
In the War for Granada, handguns were used by both Spanish Muslims and Christians. The two sides used them as fire support weapons in sieges to clear the defenders from the walls. In defensive positions, they were directed toward the attackers. The Muslims found them particularly suitable in mountain ambushes. Like the crossbow, the early espingardas were a useful harassment weapon. No scheme of controlled fire was adopted for it. To compensate for its slow rate-of-fire (powder and shot had to be rammed down the barrel for each firing); it was best employed in large numbers. It thus provided reasonable fire support alongside artillery to suppress opposing fire on the artillerymen or to discourage repair of walls.
The War for Granada was definitely the launching-pad for the Spanish army's preference for firearms. The Catholic Sovereigns armed a large portion of their new levies of untrained infantrymen with espingardas. Ferdinand established quotas for towns to furnish armed espingarderos for the Santa Hermandad and militia forces. As the war progressed, Castilian infantrymen acquired a familiarity and a confidence in the use of firearms. The incentive was there to make the best of the weapon. There were obvious improvements that could be made. The Italians may have led in advancing the design improvements and craftsmanship of firearms, and the Germans and the Flemish were possibly the leading manufacturers of guns in this era. However, in the Italian Wars, which were soon to follow the conquest of Granada, it was the Spanish who demonstrated dominant proficiency in their employment. [15]
In the following century, Spanish determination would develop the handgun on a par with, and even surpassing, the crossbow as an effective infantry missile weapon. The longbow would continue to receive acclaim, by contemporaries and later historians, as excelling over contending infantry missile weapons, but the weapon's ever diminishing role on the European battlefields was evident even before the end of the fifteenth century. The English longbow was expensive to manufacture and was impossible to support with the requisite skilled archers in the numbers required for the new continental European wars.

d.  Formation of a standing army.

Another link between the late Hundred Years' War and the War for Granada was the similar changes to the traditional military structure. Since the fourteenth century, feudal military levies were increasingly being replaced by professional combatants who participated in sustained campaigns as mercenaries, or as regularly paid warriors of a dynastic kingdom or small city-state. France, under Charles VII, went further than most in establishing a standing army, supported by a state tax system and with direct allegiance to the sovereign. This was done, in part by a series of royal decrees that bound professional men-at-arms to the sovereign as their source of income. The Catholic Sovereigns adopted similar ordinances during the War for Granada. Through taxes, the French and Spanish Catholic sovereigns provided a regular income. Except for the more roguish warriors, it offered a better future than the continuous hardships and risks of raiding. In turn, the system allowed the sovereigns more control over the configuration of their forces and appointment of commanders.

Another fallout of the arrangement was greater standardization of the military components of the total army. It is doubtful that the full benefits of standardization brought to military operations was fully appreciated at the time. The incentive appears to have been more to facilitate centralized management and budgeting. The Spanish historian Ladero-Quesada's research concludes that the Catholic Sovereigns effectively had a standing army by the last half of the War for Granada, and provides an array of statistical data that could be studied further. [16]
A valuable examination of the restructuring that occurred in the late medieval Christian Spanish armies is found in Paul J. Stewart Jr.'s dissertation, The Army of the Catholic Kings: Spanish Military Organization and Administration in the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, 1474–1516. [17] To my knowledge, this is the best available work in English that illustrates the organizational interest that Ferdinand developed during the War for Granada and then carried through to the more dramatic restructuring that enabled the Spanish armies to dominate in the later Italian Wars.

e.   Significant peripheral developments.

There were also other important events which had peripheral impact on Western Europe military trends. The Hussite Wars (1419—1434), in which gunpowder weapons played a very important part, may have indirectly promoted the spread of these weapons in Eastern Europe and Germany. The late fifteenth-century Ottoman—Turkish wars with Eastern European states introduced one form of light cavalry (eventually called stradiots) to some Europeans, but these were not really different to the jinetes that were long employed in Spain. The Ottomans did impress the European world with their artillery (particularly in the size of some of the guns) in the 1453 Siege of Constantinople. However, the size of the artillery pieces belied the fact that the Ottomans were actually behind in the real gunpowder artillery technology concurrently progressing in Western Europe. The Burgundian army the 'rash' duke Charles left abundant documentation attesting to its elaborate organization that attracts the attention of scholars. Burgundian wars in the late fifteenth century reflected a continuation of military evolution being undertaken in France during the last part of Charles VII's reign and that of his son, Louis XI. Nevertheless, for all his colorful posturing, duke Charles did not know how to capitalize on the significant trends set in motion from the Hundred Years' War — Ferdinand the Catholic did.

III.  An Army Honed.

a.  Spanish veterans obtain experience.

The influence of the Granada war was deeper that just its affect upon the Catholic King and overall military commander of the Spanish Christians. The long war prepared invaluable veterans. One of its middle ranked commanders, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, distinguished himself in several campaigns. Later, as Captain-General of the Spanish army, he becomes the military genius behind many brilliant victories in the early phases (1495–96 and 1500–04) of the Great Italian Wars. This won him the sobriquet of el Gran Capitán, and most military historians include him among the 'great captains'. Gonzalo is representative of the warrior inheritance of the War for Granada. The Castilian (mostly, though there were Argonese and allies from many countries) soldiers became experienced combatants, and learned to adapt to flexible tactical situations. They did not perceive that they won their victories due to some singular weapon or field deployment. The Castilian soldiers were accustomed to some of the most arduous forms of warfare — sieges — and had faced a skilled and determined enemy that fought with a variety of wily schemes as muslim Spain struggled for its survival.

b.  Spanish infantry.

Any review of the War for Granada in context with Western military warfare must examine the impressive Castilian and Aragonese infantry. Generally, the infantry arm does not receive much attention by medieval chroniclers. However, military historians have given considerable attention to the fourteenth and fifteenth-century emergence of Flemish pole-armed militias, Swiss pikemen, and English longbowmen. The pole-armed foot soldier was always part of a medieval army, sometimes playing important roles in many battles. At the famous battles of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and Bouvines (1214) the infantry contributed in no small measure to the Christian Spanish and French victories, but accounts of the battles focus on the feats of the mounted men-at-arms. As simple men, the foot contingents did not receive recognition in many of the contemporary chronicles designed to praise the noble leaders and noble-dominated cavalry forces.

Major medieval armies were led by mounted, armor-wearing nobles whose primary role in society was to fight. These men-at-arms spent money and time to establish themselves in their roll. As true professionals they looked down upon the lesser equipped and more poorly trained spear or pole-armed foot soldiers. As a rule, their derisive view of ragtag assemblies of armed groups was correct. Armed mobs could disrupt military operations if not managed skillfully; and few commanders were creative enough to use them well. However, not all armed foot soldiers were merely armed mobs, a fact which many a knightly force failed to appreciate at its own distress.
Western medieval warfare produced two principal infantry tactical schemes, each associated with different weapon systems. First, the Swiss pikemen can be characterized tactically as a well disciplined phalanx formation. Second, the English longbowmen were a tactical array that could deliver devastating missile fire at an attacking opponent. Such infantry configurations stood out distinctively from the normal feudal infantries of lightly armed forces which fought with various pole arms, spears, and swords. Both formations were deadly in positional defense and when attacked frontally. The Swiss pikemen also developed the ability to move while maintaining their tight hedgehog-like formation. They did not have to wait for an enemy to attack, nor to remain in position and endure bombarded by missile fire.
Other European states attempted to imitate these infantry tactical systems. No other state had the human assets to replicate the English longbow archer, who was a product of years of development. They were employed by some states as mercenaries, but not always with the tactical competence of the English commanders. Maximilian I of Austria was able to form from his Flemish and German provinces a pole and pike armed force modeled after the Swiss. These later acquired the name ‘landsknechts' sometime between 1486 and 1495. They performed well, except when they went against the real thing and suffered terribly against the Swiss at the Battle of Dornach (22 July 1499).
There were other noteworthy infantries of the medieval era that were not associated with a specific tactical scheme, but were formidable and earned commendable reputations. The Iberian Peninsula produced the famous almògavers and the Catalan Company of the early fourteenth century. In spite of the Christian Spanish noblemen's close affiliation with the traditions of West European men-at-arms, the Spanish knights did not have the extreme disdain for the common foot soldier as did their French counterparts.
The infantry had a particular value in the general War for Granada in that it was largely a war of sieges. Much of the fighting was scaling walls and engaging the enemy in hand to hand combat with sword and small hand-held shield (buckler). In such engagements the knights often fought on foot and among the infantry. Again, one can see the special circumstances of the Granadan war as a cauldron for the Spanish forces' dominance in close-combat exhibited in the later Italian Wars.
The fifteenth-century infantry with a future was not the Swiss pike or the English longbow, but the Spanish infantry, because it had become an aggressive and flexible force. Free of being linked to a particular technique and weapon of combat, the Spanish infantry was in an excellent position to embrace the individual missile weapon system of the future, the handgun. The Spanish infantry would be known for being the first real gunpowder infantry — Hussites remaining a special exception — in the mainstream of European warfare.

IV.  Summary.

We should see the War for Granada as far more than just a dramatic story — which it surely was. The war involved a special environment that brought together the emerging capabilities of gunpowder weapons and the permanent structure of early modern state war-fighting institutions. The war did not mark the birth of any trends, but it was a discernible link between what went before to what happened later. The story of the first modern army is not completely told in the War for Granada, much evolved later, but it was the catalyst.

This review has not added to the 'bottom line' significance of J.F.C. Fuller's observations that were cited earlier in this paper. However, it hopefully reinforced the awareness of how the War for Granada contributed to developing Western gunpowder infantry armies and to the structuring of a centralized state military establishment. What is intriguing, when viewing the war in the broader context of Western warfare, is Ferdinand the Catholic's role. It would appear that he, and not the French Charles VIII, provided the link from the French military trends of Charles VII and Louis XI. It was Ferdinand the Catholic's Spanish army, more than the French or any of the many other military systems represented in the struggle, that brought the basis of a modern army to the Great Italian Wars.
The examination of this transformation of the Catholic Sovereigns' army has much to teach us on the evolution of military systems during an era of great political and technological change. The example of the War for Granada suggests that theories about specific weapons or tactical schemes may not be the driving forces in the structuring of armed forces. Inspection of the War for Granada exhorts adaptability. It also illustrates that victories are not mere products of socio-economic patterns, and reminds us that leaders' decisions do have an impact.


ENDNOTES

1. Prescott, William H. History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic, 3 vols, (Boston, Stationers, 1837); published many times in English and in several languages during the nineteenth century. The fifteenth edition published by J.B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1892, appears to be the last one with the author's final revisions and all his notes. Only abridged versions have been published in the twentieth century. Washington Irving's Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, first published in 1892) is probably the most popular account of the war, the research and analysis reflected in Prescott's work better serve the student of military history. [back to text]

2. A more developed assessment of the historians, form the medieval chroniclers can be found in the last part of Prescott, William H. The Art of War in Spain, the Conquest of Granada (1481–1492), (London, Greenhill Books, 1995). This work contains the text and notes of six chapters from Prescott's History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, with an extensive introduction and added notes by the editor. Some works of Spanish writers mentioned in this paragraph, but not cited in other notes of this paper, are: Vigón Suero-Díaz, Jorge. El Ejército de los Reyes Católicos (Madrid, Editoral Nacional, 1968); Mata Carriazo, Jean de. La España de los Reyes Católicos, vol. 17, Historia de España, ed. R Menéndez Pidal (Madrid, Espasa Calpe, 1969); Seco de Lucena Paredes, Luis. The Book of the Alhambra, A History of the Sultans of Granada (León, Editorial, 1990). [back to text]

3. Oman, Charles W.C. A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (London, Greenhill Books, 1991), originally published 1924. Volume Two covers up to 1278, and essentially ends the medieval period with the English inter dynastic struggle, the War of the Roses. Oman's A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century, (London, Greenhill Books, 1989), originally published 1937, casually references some late fifteenth-century battles on Iberian Peninsula, but shows a lack of understanding of them. Delbrück, Hans. History of the Art of War Within the Framework of Political History, Volume III: Medieval Warfare, translated from German by Walter J. Renfroe, Jr. (Westport, Conn. Greenwood Press, 1982). Since the 1997 presentation of this paper an excellent, highly illustrated, booklet on the war has been published: Written by David Nicolle, PhD, titled GRANADA 1492, The Twilight of Moorish Spain [The Fall of GRANADA 1481-1492] (Osprey Military Campaign Series, 1998. [back to text]

4. Fuller, J.F.C. The Decisive Battles of the Western World, 480 B.C.–1757, vol 1 (London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1954). [back to text]

5. I do not dismiss the contribution of compartmental studies (those dealing with a particular society or function) that often dig up valuable observations and evidence. However, they are a weak basis for forming conclusions as to trends in the broader environment of human history. [back to text]

6. In fact, if we substitute the horse cavalry with twentieth-century vehicles, there still has not been an end in warfare for the value of a heavy (armor protected), compact, mobile formations on the battlefield. [back to text]

7. See The Journal of Military History, January 1993. I believe Cook's article "The Cannon Conquest of Nasrid Spain and the End of the Reconquista" is based upon a paper he had given earlier to this forum. [back to text]

8. The earliest use of gunpowder in Spain may have been by the Muslims at Alicante in 1331. However, it is agreed that Muslims and the Castilian King Alfonso XI used such weapons at Algeciras in 1342. See Hoffmeyer, Ada Bruhn. Arms and Armour in Spain: A Short Survey, 2 vols. (Madrid, Patronato Menendez y Pelayo, 1972–82), p.217. She was director of Estudios Sobre Armas Antiguas Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. Arié, Rachel. L'Espagne musulmane au temps des Nasrides (1231–1492) (Paris, Editions E. de Boccard, 1973), p.261.

J.R. Partington's A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder (Cambridge, W. Heffer, 1960) provides one of the more objective English text reviews of early gunpowder weapons in Spain. [back to text]

9. Ladero Quesada, Miguel. Castilla y la conquista reino de granada, (Valadolid, Editotial Gredos, 1967), p.123. [back to text]

10. Jean Bureau appears not to have technically held the title of 'master of artillery'. His brother, Gaspard, seems to have been given that title, while Jean commanded a more senior position in overall direction of artillery/siege operations. [back to text]

11. Payne-Gallwey, Ralph. The Crossbow: Medieval and Modern, Military and Sporting. Its Construction, History & Management, (London, Holland Press, 1995) p.32. The crossbowman launched a bolt in just less than a minute. An English longbowmen shot six arrows in a minute. [back to text]

12, Ladero Quesada, Miguel. Castilla y la conquista reino de granada, (Valadolid, Editotial Gredos, 1967), Quesada's work contains data from different municipal pay records to troops for various military expeditions from 1482 to 1490. The data is not presented in a uniform format and is not complete. However, what is presented for specific expeditions reflects espingarderos [handgunners] to ballesteros [crossbowmen] ratios of 1/6 in 1483 to nearly 1/4 in 1489. [back to text]

13. Burgundian and German mercenary handgunners were employed in some engagements of the English Wars of the Roses. Burgundians and Swiss employed handgunners mainly as skirmishers in their wars. The French, while proceeding with a vigorous development of their artillery after the Hundred Years' War, did not actively pursue development of the handgun as a significant part of their infantry. One possible reason may be the extreme aversion to the weapon held by the military commanders, who were still knights and expressed a strong, lingering sense of chivalry that continued well into the late phases of the Great Italian Wars. This attitude may also thwarted French efforts to develop a strong infantry of their own, for they made use of mercenary Germans and Swiss as their principal foot soldiers. [back to text]

14. Ladero Quesada, Miguel. Castilla y la conquista reino de granada, (Valadolid, Editotial Gredos, 1967), p.128. [back to text]

15. Charles Oman and F.L. Taylor express surprise at the Spanish army's positive response to firearms. In A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century, Oman comments, ‘For causes which it is impossible to discover, the Spaniards had taken to the smaller firearms much earlier than the French or the English or the Italians', (p.52). On p.67 of the same work, Oman emphasizes that the Swiss never employed their firearms with noticeable effectiveness as the Spanish did. In The Art of War in Italy, 1494—1529 (London, Greenhill, 1993), Taylor observes, ‘Already before 1494 the Spanish army had shown an exceptional appreciation of the importance of small-arms' (p.42). Taylor recognizes both the strong proportion of arquebusiers in the Spanish forces and their aggressive, un-Swiss tactical employment with such weapons, but somehow he declares that they are only ‘developing' from a Swiss pattern (p.44). It is as if he cannot explain any other reason for the Spanish battlefield competence in the early part of the Italian Wars. But, as mentioned elsewhere, the works of neither writer really cover the War for Granada. [back to text]

16. Ladero Quesada, Miguel Angel. Castilla y la Conquista del Reino de Granada (Madrid, Editorial Gredos, 1967). [back to text]

17. PhD dissertation (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1961). [back to text]

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Page posted 27 April 2007; revised 15 May 2010.