Historians of the medieval military orders have often debated precisely where to locate them along the conceptual spectrum that separated knights from monks. In this insightful new monograph, Sam Zeno Conedera, SJ makes an important contribution to this ongoing discussion through a nuanced study of the three most prominent military orders in the Iberian Peninsula from the mid‐twelfth century to the early fourteenth: namely, the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcántara. Rejecting the utility of the common label “warrior monks,” Conedera argues that the brethren of these and other orders (such as the Templars and Hospitallers) can be more profitably understood as “ecclesiastical knights.” While the distinction may seem a subtle one, Conedera's analysis of the Iberian orders' spirituality and activities has shown that it is far from meaningless. Drawing on his detailed research into archival documents and printed sources, as well as a thorough acquaintance with the relevant scholarship, Conedera demonstrates convincingly that, in the case of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcántara, “the military side predominated over the monastic both in practice and in theory” (p. 6).
- military orders
- medieval history