American Academy of
Research Historians of
Medieval Spain


All the news that's fit to print.
  • 18 Jan 2022 8:48 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    In Memory of Bernie Reilly

    The death of Bernie Reilly is a grave loss for all of us who study the history of medieval Spain. He was such a great good friend. About sixty years ago I met him in the midst of a large crowd of people at an AHA conference. At a time when so many medievalists were focused on the history of France and England, I remember how delighted I was to discover that there was someone else in this entire United States who was interested in medieval Spanish history.

    About the same time, I encountered Father Robert Burns and Jim Powers who were also directing attention to this long-neglected field. I remember that someone remarked that we were the Irish mafia of medieval Spanish studies. Gathering one day in a dormitory room at Kalamazoo under the leadership of Father Burns, we organized the Academy of American Research Historians of Medieval Spain. Father Burns insisted on calling it an Academy so that the name would appear in the AHA program at the beginning of the list of associated societies. Bernie graciously agreed to serve as Secretary and later assumed the additional responsibility of Treasurer. In taking on those tasks, he had a major role in successfully launching this new organization.

    Aside from his organizational skills, Bernie was a masterful scholar. His studies of the reigns of Queen Urraca, Alfonso VI, and Alfonso VII attest to his attention to detail and his capacity to make sound judgments and interpretations. His careful examination of every charter to determine its integrity and authenticity at a time when forgery was common is the hallmark of his work. Bernie dedicated The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157, an admirable overview of a remarkable century, “to my children who completed my education.” That wry remark was no doubt true, but I think we may add that Bernie enhanced the education of every one of us who has tried to understand the complexities of medieval Spain. May his spirit be always with us.

    Joseph F. O'Callaghan

  • 18 Jan 2022 8:41 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    Bernard Francis Reilly, 1925–2021  

     Bernard F. Reilly, who passed away on December 11, 2021, at the age of ninety-six, was a pioneering scholar in the modern field of medieval Spanish history, and a formative figure in the early history of the Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS).

     Born in Audubon, New Jersey, on June 8, 1925, Reilly was a World War II veteran (served 1944-46) who rose to the rank of corporal during the war in the Philippines and later participated in the US occupation forces in Japan. He later remarked that the U.S. bombing of the Japanese mainland, and the nuclear holocausts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had made him a pacifist. During the Vietnam War he worked with a group of parishioners at St. Philomena’s church in Lansdowne, PA, to provide counseling to young men on ways in which they could avoid the draft as conscientious objectors.


    Having received his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University (1950), and his Master’s in History from the University of Pennsylvania (1955), Reilly returned to his first alma mater to become an instructor of History at Villanova. He remained on the faculty from 1955 until 1992, becoming promoted to the rank of Full Professor, teaching widely on the High Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. In 1966, he completed his doctoral thesis at Bryn Mawr, “The Nature of Church Reform at Santiago de Compostela during the Episcopate of Don Diego Gelmírez, 1100-1140 A.D.”

    His scholarly output was formidable: he was author of many works that remain essential both for experts in the field and for the classroom, helping to forge our understanding of the rise of Christian Spain and the genesis and consolidation of the kingdom of Leon-Castile in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. His scholarly monographs include The Kingdom of Leon-Castilla under Queen Urraca 1109-1126 (Princeton University Press, 1982); The Kingdom of Leon-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, 1065-1109 (Princeton University Press, 1988); The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157 (Blackwell, 1992); The Medieval Spains (Cambridge University Press, 1993); and The Kingdom of Leon-Castilla under King Alfonso VII 1126-1157 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998). He was also the editor of a volume of essays entitled Santiago, Saint-Denis, and Saint Peter: The reception of the Roman liturgy in León-Castile in 1080 (Fordham University Press, 1985). His son, Bernard F. Reilly, Jr. – one of eight children – reports that he had been the first faculty member at Villanova to compose a scholarly book on the computer. Several of his books have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese.

    Reilly’s final project, a study of León-Castile under King Fernando I and Queen Sancha, is to be co-written by Simon R. Doubleday and is forthcoming with the University of Pennsylvania Press. It was his conviction—one that will underlie this volume—that, as he expressed in a private letter, Fernando was “a traditional king of the Asturian line”, preoccupied with the Iberian northwest rather more than with the meseta, and that “the supposed turn to Cluny, and the French interest, proves to have been much overdone… The affairs of Castile are important but peripheral”. In contrast, Galicia and especially Portugal were, in Reilly’s view, surprisingly central.  

    Collectively, Reilly’s meticulous scholarship has proven profoundly important for several scholarly generations and will continue to be so. He was awarded the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America for the best first book in the area of medieval studies, and remains the only scholar to have won the American Historical Association’s Premio del Rey award twice: he was the inaugural recipient in 1990 for The Kingdom of Leon-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, and enjoyed similar success with the successor volume, The Kingdom of Leon-Castilla under King Alfonso VII 1126-1157, for which he received the same prize in the year 2000. Over the course of his career, he was the recipient of Fellowships and Research grants from the Fulbright Foundation (1982), the American Philosophical Society (1979), and the American Council of Learned Societies (1969). He was named Academic Correspondent of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Toledo (1981), Honorary Fellow of the Hispanic Society of America (2003), to which he has bequeathed his personal papers before his death, and a Corresponding Member of the Academia Portuguesa da História (2004). 


    Reilly’s major book projects were complemented by articles in Speculum, Medieval Studies, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, Viator, and the Catholic Historical Review, as well as the relatively new Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, and by many book chapters; he contributed no fewer than 33 articles to Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia.  In addition to his scholarly output, Reilly was also the author of three historical novels, all set in medieval Iberia: Treasure of the Vanquished: A Novel of Visigothic Spain (Combined Books, 1994); Secret of Santiago: A Novel of Medieval Spain (Combined Books, 1997); and Journey to Compostela: A Novel of Medieval Pilgrimage (Combined Books, 2001).


    As president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter at Villanova University, Reilly represented faculty interests in collective bargaining with the University; he also headed the Pennsylvania Division of the American Association of University Professors (1969-72) and was also a Member of the Executive Committee of the National Council of the American Association of University Professors (1971-73). He also served as president of the American Catholic Historical Association.

    Reilly’s role in the formation and early years of AARHMS, founded in 1974, is worthy of particular note. While Father R.I. Burns served as the organization’s first president, Reilly served as its first “Acting-Secretary”, assuming responsibility—among other tasks—for the composition of the AARHMS newsletters (early examples of which are accessible on the website). He performed this unglamorous task with wry elan. “If the preferred focus of this Academy in the decently detailed document”, he wrote in the October 1977 newsletter, “it ought perhaps to provide for the employment of future generations of scholars by the modest production of further documentation. Accordingly, we may report that as of this date, some fifty-eight of members have paid dues for 1977….”. The position soon morphed into that of Secretary-Treasurer, a position that he held from 1976-82 – a period that encompassed the 900th anniversary of the official adoption of the Roman rite in León-Castile in 1080.   

    Following the presidency of Joseph O’Callaghan, Reilly was elected president of AARHMS in 1982 (taking office in 1983) and re-elected to that position two years later, serving until 1987. “In those days,” James Brodman recalls, “AARHMS was not terribly formal. It was a place for those of us interested in medieval Iberia to gather, to eat dinner together (we could all fit around a table), to listen to each other's papers and generally encourage each other at a time our field was on the fringes.” Reilly himself appears to have relished the friendly academic sociability that AARHMS provided. Reflecting on its tenth anniversary, still in his capacity as newsletter editor, he wrote: “It is pleasant to recall those whom the Academy has been able to assist to their first serious scholarly exposure… One thinks fondly of the camaraderie, the banter, the leisurely meals, and the occasional libation which smoothed away the frazzle of strange rooms, large crowds, late planes, and absolutely incomprehensible points of view”.  

    A great many scholars will remember Prof. Reilly and his work with equal fondness. His acuity, and unmatched familiarity with the archives, will be missed by every medieval Iberian historian.

    Simon R. Doubleday, Hofstra University

  • 03 Jun 2021 2:04 PM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    Dear AARHMS members,

    After three memorable years of serving as President of the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain, I am stepping down effective May 31. I will continue to serve on the Executive Council in the role of Past President until 2024. 

    I am delighted to announce that Dr. Thomas Barton (University of San Diego) has been elected President of AARHMS for the three-year term, 2021-2024.

    As AARHMS members know well, Prof. Barton is a highly accomplished scholar whose research focuses on the relationship between different ethno-religious communities within Iberia and the Western Mediterranean during the medieval period.  His first book, Contested Treasure: Jews and Authority in the Crown of Aragon (Penn State, 2015), explores how different non-royal Christian authorities sought to challenge the crown's claim that Jews (and Muslims) were its exclusive regalian preserve. It won two prestigious book awards: the 2017 Jordan Schnitzer Award from the Association for Jewish Studies, and the 2016 Best First Book Award from the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies.  His second book, Victory’s Shadow: Conquest and Governance in Medieval (Cornell University Press, 2019), which examines Christian-Muslim interaction along the lower Ebro River valley between the eleventh and later thirteenth centuries, also won a major book award: the 2020 Premio del Rey Prize from the American Historical Association. Dr. Barton edited three volumes of collected essays: Boundaries in the Medieval and Wider World: Essays in Honour of Paul Freedman (2017), Iberia, the Mediterranean, and the Larger World in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods (special volume of Pedralbes published by the Universitat de Barcelona2020and Constructing Iberian Identities, 1000-1700 (forthcoming from Brepols Press).


    I would like to congratulate both Dr. Barton and Dr. Miguel Gomez (University of Dayton), who has been re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer of AARHMS, as well as to thank all the members of the Executive Council for their dedication and service.   


    As always, we welcome your ideas and initiatives, and hope that you will continue supporting AARHMS as it enters a new chapter in its history.

    Maya Soifer Irish

  • 17 Apr 2021 6:23 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    As specified in our bylaws, the time has come once again to elect a president and secretary-treasurer for AARHMS. Please send nominations or self-nominations via email to the current secretary-treasurer, Miguel Gomez, mgomez1 AT dayton DOT edu. The Deadline for Submissions is 31 April 2021.

    The description of official duties for both posts are below.

    Duties of the President shall include but need not be limited to the following:

    i. represent the Academy faithfully;

    ii. work directly with the Secretary-Treasurer in matters related to the Academy;

    iii. appoint individuals to serve as conference organizer, communications officer,

    book review editor, at-large members of the Executive Council, and any other

    such role required for the Academy’s proper functioning;

    iv. report yearly to the membership on the activities of the Executive Council;

    v. serve on the Executive Council for one term after serving as President.

    Duties of the Secretary-Treasurer shall include but need not be limited to the


    i. oversee the maintenance of the membership records;

    ii. determine the times for sending notices and reminders of dues payments;

    iii. under the direction of the Executive Council, establish and oversee the

    internal financial procedures of the Academy in accord with best financial


    iv. collect and record contributions and thank the donors;

    v. keep the financial records of the Academy, receiving and depositing dues and

    other income and disbursing funds as directed by the Executive Council;

    vi. make the financial records of the Academy available for an annual audit or

    review as determined by the Executive Council;

    vii. keep current the Academy’s listing in various directories and guides to grants

    and prizes;

    viii. in consultation with the President, organize meetings of the Executive Council

    and keep the minutes;

    ix. assist the President in the preparation of an annual report to the membership

  • 16 Dec 2020 9:18 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)
    The Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies solicits submissions for the annual Charles Julian Bishko Memorial Prize for the best article or book chapter published in 2020 in the field of medieval Iberian history by a North American scholar.  This year’s prize, which carries an honorarium of $250, will be announced at the 2021 annual meeting of ASPHS, which will be held virtually April 23-25, 2021.

    Initiated in 2003, the Bishko Prize honors Professor Charles Julian Bishko, the distinguished historian of medieval Iberia who taught for 39 years at the University of Virginia.

    Articles or book chapters may be written in Castilian, English, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese or French.  Authors must be current members of the ASPHS.

    Authors should submit one copy of the article or book chapter and a short (two-page) CV in PDF form to committee chair Andrew Devereux, using the following email address:

    The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2020.

    The 2020 winner was Pamela Patton, for her article “Demons and Diversity in León,” Medieval Encounters 25, no. 1-2 (2019): 150-179.

  • 16 Sep 2020 8:57 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    Ninth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies
    June 21-23, 2021
    Saint Louis University
    Saint Louis, Missouri

    The Ninth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies (June 21-23, 2021) is a convenient summer venue in North America for scholars to present papers, organize sessions, participate in roundtables, and engage in interdisciplinary discussion. The goal of the Symposium is to promote serious scholarly investigation into all topics and in all disciplines of medieval and early modern studies.

    The plenary speakers for this year will be David Abulafia, of Cambridge University, and Barbara Rosenwein, of Loyal University, Chicago.

    The Symposium is held annually on the beautiful midtown campus of Saint Louis University. On campus housing options include affordable, air-conditioned apartments as well as a luxurious boutique hotel. Inexpensive meal plans are also available, although there is a wealth of restaurants, bars, and cultural venues within easy walking distance of campus.

    While attending the Symposium participants are free to use the Vatican Film Library, the Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection, and the general collection at Saint Louis University's Pius XII Memorial Library.

    Ninth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies invites proposals for papers, complete sessions, and roundtables. Any topics regarding the scholarly investigation of the medieval and early modern world are welcome. Papers are normally twenty minutes each and sessions are scheduled for ninety minutes. Scholarly organizations are especially encouraged to sponsor proposals for complete sessions.

    For more information go to:

  • 27 Dec 2019 2:32 PM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    An annnouncement for members from Michelle Partida-Armstrong for ASPHS about the Charles Julian Bishko Prize:

    Dear Fellow Iberianists,

    I'd like to bring to your attention the Charles Julian Bishko article prize, supported by the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, for the best article published in 2019 in the field of medieval Iberian history by a North American scholar. As chair of the prize committee, I'd like to reach out to as many scholars as possible to consider submitting an article.

    This year’s prize, which carries an honorarium of $250, will be announced at the 2020 annual meeting of ASPHS in Toronto (April 22-25, 2020).

    The submission deadline is January 15, 2020.

    Articles may be written in Castilian, English, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese or French.

    Authors must be current members of the ASPHS. Authors should submit one copy of the article and a short (2-page) CV in PDF form to the chair of the committee and the committee members via email by 15 January, 2020.  For those who are not current members, membership is $50 for one year or $25 for non full-time faculty. Please direct your queries to me (, and send your submission to all committee members: Núria Silleras-Fernández ( and Tom Barton (

    Happy holidays to everyone,


  • 20 Nov 2019 11:57 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    The American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS) welcomes applications for the Simon Barton Memorial Junior Scholar Travel Grants. In 2020, AARHMS will offer up to three grants of $500 each in support of travel for research or conference presentations in the field of medieval Iberian history. These grants are offered in memory of Simon Barton, a historian of medieval Iberia whose research was surpassed in quality only by the depth of his commitment to mentoring young scholars. It is AARHMS's hope that these small grants will make a big difference for the devoted young scholars who are striving to achieve great things.

    Qualifications and Scope: The grant program is open to US citizens or permanent residents wishing to travel abroad for research or conference presentation, and to non-US citizens who wish to travel to the US for one of these purposes. All applicants must be active members of AARHMS, and must either be enrolled in doctoral programs or have received their doctorate within the previous five years.

    Application Process:  Applicants must send a current CV, a letter of application explaining how they intend to use the grant, a brief external letter of endorsement, and a simple proposed budget. Applicants for a conference travel grant must also provide proof of their acceptance on an academic conference panel. All applications must be submitted as PDF files, via email, to the Secretary of AARHMS, at  Please submit any questions to the same email address. Applications must be submitted by February 1, 2020.

    Conditions: The names of successful applicants will be announced by March 1, 2020. Grants will be directly payable to the awardees, who will be asked to write a reflection on their travel and experiences for the AARHMS website blog. All publications resulting from research or conference presentations supported by the grant must acknowledge the support of AARHMS.

  • 02 Sep 2019 10:08 AM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)

    Organizer: Erica Buchberger, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

    Sponsors: American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS) and Texas Medieval Association (TEMA)

    It has long been recognized that the "border" between Christian and Muslim Iberia was not a tidy line of us and them with a no-man's land in between; it was a fluid border region of shifting alliances, diverse layers of identity, and code-switching, much like the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  The myth of a clear-cut division between Christians and Muslims was built through various stages of narrative and artistic construction for specific purposes in specific eras.

    Papers are welcome on any aspect of borders and borderlands in medieval Iberia. This may include (but is not limited to) how medieval people experienced these borders, how they aimed to construct or reinforce them, and how modern impressions of medieval Iberia get it wrong (or right).


    Papers will be 15-20 minutes in length. Participants will need to pay a registration fee to attend the conference, and may only present one paper (round tables do not count toward this limit). Please email a working title and short abstract to by September 20, 2019.

  • 17 Jul 2019 1:06 PM | Kyle C Lincoln (Administrator)
    CFP: Kalamazoo 2020

    The Sneak Preview of the Kalamazoo CFPs has already come out, so it's time to start organizing panels for AARHMS's 2020 ICMS programming!

    Bridging the Divide: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Medieval Iberian Studies

    Scholarship on medieval Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula intersects far less often than it should.  Particularly conspicuous is the disciplinary divide between the study of Jewish and Muslim communities and cultures, on the one hand, and Christian communities and cultures, on the other, in medieval Iberia.  Scholars in different sub-fields often work on similar topics, but do not always engage in a conversation with each other. This session aims to bring together scholars interested in bridging this disciplinary gap. We welcome topics of common interest to Iberianists, including (but not limited to) law and legal discourse; development of state and bureaucracy in Muslim and Christian kingdoms; empire and imperial ideology in Al-Andalus and Christian Iberia; ideas of jihad, crusade, and martyrdom; shared visual and literary cultures between the three faiths; women and gender roles in different religious groups; conversions to another faith; and piety and charity among Iberian Muslims, Jews, and Christians.


    Race Before Raza in Medieval Iberian Studies I-II

    (co-sponsored with TEMA)

    Modern assumptions about race and identity have shaped scholarship on the Middle Ages since such work began. Few fields of study make this more evident than medieval Iberia, where centuries of interaction among diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural communities offer up a canvas for the projection of modern paradigms and ideologies. Although such models can provide a fresh lens through which to consider problems obscured by time and cultural distance, when employed carelessly or unconsciously they can badly distort our image of the medieval Iberian past. Our interdisciplinary sessions invites papers exploring how post-medieval discourse about race and identity has intersected—or could intersect—with modern understanding of the history and culture of the medieval Iberian peninsula. Submissions might consider the efficacy of applying modern concepts and terms to the study of medieval problems; the impact of unconscious or unspoken bias in evaluating medieval evidence; promising methodological strategies in study of the past; and the uses and misuses of medieval Iberian history in modern public and political discourse on race and identity. Both illustrative case studies and scholarly position papers will be considered.

    Bishops at the Borders

    (co-sponsored with Episcopus) 

    A recent book review in Speculum noted that it was cool to study bishops again, and the importance of Medieval Iberia as a culturally-diverse space has commanded considerable attention in scholarly and public discussions. The intersection of these two recent scholarly trends presents an obvious and attractive overlap between the fields, creating lasting connections and conversations between both organizations’ interest groups. The differences between the kingdoms in Iberia, the subject of AARHMS scholarship, provide both similarity and contrast between the source bases while the focus of Episcopus on the role of bishops and the secular clergy provides a wider conversation in which Iberianists can participate.

    Interested persons should contact the Conference Organizer.

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