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Simon Doubleday

The Lara Family

For much of the Middle Ages, the Lara family was among the most powerful aristocratic lineages in Spain. Protégés of the monarchy at the time of El Cid, their influence reached extraordinary heights during the struggle against the Moors. Hand-in-glove with successive kings, they gathered an impressive array of military and political positions across the Iberian Peninsula. But cooperation gave way to confrontation, as the family was pitted against the crown in a series of civil wars.

This book, the first modern study of the Laras, explores the causes of change in the dynamics of power, and narrates the dramatic story of the events that overtook the family. The Laras’ militant quest for territorial strength and the conflict with the monarchy led toward a fatal end, but anticipated a form of aristocratic power that long outlived the family. The noble elite would come to dominate Spanish society in the coming centuries, and the Lara family provides important lessons for students of the history of nobility, monarchy, and power in the medieval and early modern world.


  • “It is all too rare a pleasure to be able to review a book with unstinting praise and to recommend it without the slightest reservation. In a brief compass, the author surveys the history of what became one of the most powerful noble houses of the kingdom of Castile, from its emergence from obscurity in the reign of Alfonso VI (1072–1109) to its effective extinction in 1352… Although the book focuses on only one noble house, it also succeeds in providing a masterly sketch of the political dynamics of Castile in these centuries… This book is the first detailed modern study of the Lara family, which makes an important contribution to the wider question of relations between crown and nobility in Castile in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, and at the same time helps to render more accessible the wider political and economic history of the kingdom in the same period; it is also a pleasure to read.”

    Roger Collins
  • “This interesting published dissertation examines one of the most powerful aristocratic families of Castile during the central Middle Ages. The Laras developed their wealth, power, and territorial acquisitions in approximate parallel with a similar expansion of the monarchy in Leon and Castile, all owing a good deal to reconquest expansion against the Muslim south. Doubleday surveys this familial rise with a generation-by-generation account of the family’s accumulation of patrimonies and tenancies acquired by basking in the light of royal favoritism.”

    J. F. Powers
  • "serious students of Spanish history will find it informative and cogently argued"

    Publishers Weekly

  • Doubleday, Simon R. The Lara Family: Crown and Nobility in Medieval Spain. Cambridge, Mass.: 2001. vi + 198 pp. Print.

  • ISBN 10: 0674006062
  • ISBN 13: 9780674006065
  • English
  • $71.50
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