The Order of Santiago: The History of the Catholic Military Order Sworn to Defend the Iberian Peninsula is a book that describes this medieval crusader Order from its initial necessity to its current present form. The first part of this book is a mere primer of the crusades. I think it does an excellent job depicting this incredibly complex topic in short easy to understand manner, and more importantly it does a good job describing the concept of religious knighthood, and how eventually the crusades occurring in the holy land affect those in the Iberian Peninsula. It describes the differences between the Order of Santiago to other Iberian religious military Orders, as well as to the ones that originated in the holy land.
While I think this is a great book, I was slightly disappointed it didn’t covered the topics in great detail. The Order Santiago played a massive role in the reconquista, so I would’ve love to read about the role the Order had in the vast amounts of military campaigns that it was a part of, instead of brief high level overview.
Another example I would’ve love reading more about the Order’s different Grand Masters, as well of the deeds of its famous knights. This goes in part with the role the Order had in the conquest of the Americas, which it’s hardly mentioned. For example how some native chieftains were knighted and those knights played a massive role in the wars of conquest.
I know such thing most likely require years of research, this book felt more like a college thesis paper. A very good paper (with lots of great potential).
To my surprise, what I’ll remember more about this book is not necessarily related the Order of Santiago, but learning of the role Byzantine nobles had during the Umayyad Caliphate conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom.