The Filthy Animal and Saint Bernard of Clairvau: Re-assessing the Case for Letter 308 and the Conquest of Lisbon, 1147

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Abstract

This article addresses the long-standing problem of the authenticity of Saint Bernard’s “Letter 308”, purportedly sent by the Abbot of Clairvaux to King Afonso Henriques of Portugal in response to his request for Bernard’s aid in recruiting northern European crusaders for an attack on Muslim-held Lisbon–an enterprise that took place in 1147, resulted in the conquest of the city by the Portuguese, and essentially guaranteed the autonomous survival of the kingdom. Since the letter concerns one of the most discussed topics in Portuguese medieval history, namely the extent of Bernard’s involvement in the determinative years of the independent kingdom, this article scrutinises the arguments surrounding it in an attempt to untangle the disparate and often disjointed responses it has produced since its first appearance in 1602, and examines facets hitherto unheeded by those who have denounced it as a forgery, to discover if Letter 308 should now be accepted as genuine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAl-Masaq
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Afonso Henriques
  • Alfonso VII
  • Bernardo de Brito
  • Conquest of Lisbon
  • Crusades
  • Eugenius III
  • Forgery of Letter 308
  • Pedro Afonso
  • Portuguese Reconquista
  • Saint Bernard
  • Second Crusade
  • Templars

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