Knights on the Frontier

The Moorish Guard of the Kings of Castile (1410-1467)


The kings of Castile maintained a personal cavalry guard through much of the fifteenth century, consisting of practicing Muslims and converts to Christianity. This privileged Muslim elite provides an interesting case-study to propose new theories about voluntary conversion from Christianity to Islam in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the ways of assimilation of such a group into the local and courtly environments where they lived thereafter. Other subjects involved are the transformation of royal armies from feudal companies to regimented, professional forces including a well-trained cavalry, which in Castile was formed partly by these knights. Their descendants had to endure the changing policies conveyed by Isabel and Fernando, which increased discriminatory habits towards converts in Castilian society.
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Biographical Note

Ana Echevarria, Ph.D. (1995) in History, University of Edinburgh, is Assistant Professor of Medieval History at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain. She has published on the relations between Christianity and Islam in the Iberian Peninsula, including The Fortress of Faith: The Attitude towards Muslims in Fifteenth-Century Spain (Brill, 1999).

Review Quotes

“...Ana Echevarría has written an excellent book that places the hitherto obscure history of the Guardia mora in the context of Christian-Muslim relations and Castilian military organization. Utilizing many unpublished records, the work is thoroughly researched. An extensive bibliography, a map, a genealogical table, and an index complete a most interesting volume.”
Joseph F. O’Callaghan (Fordham University) in The Catholic Historical Review, 2010 issue (vol. 96, no. 4)

Table of contents

Acknowledgements .. ix

Introduction .. xi
Chapter One: Christians, Mudejars and Granadans: three sides of one political reality .. 1
Chapter Two: The Moorish knights, from the Frontier to the Court .. 47
Chapter Three: The King’s “foreign” guard .. 97
Chapter Four: The conversion of the Moorish knights .. 139
Chapter Five: The dissolution of the Moorish guard .. 191

Documentary Appendix .. 211
Conclusion .. 329

Bibliography .. 333
Index .. 347


All those interested in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish History, Military History, and the history of conversion to Christianity.

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