Reviewed by Robert Bovington

Half a century ago, in my school history lessons, I received a very blinkered history of Spain. It consisted almost entirely of the Spanish Armada, Christopher Columbus’ Discovery of America, the Inquisition, the Battle of Trafalgar, Catherine of Aragon and something about Francis Drake singeing the King of Spain’s beard at Cádiz. So, most of it was around the time of Ferdinand and Isabella and, yet, we children learnt nothing of the Moors occupation of Spain, let alone the conquest of Granada. Over the years, I have read a number of history books and all appeared to give a one-sided view of the ‘Reconquista’. Washington Irving’s “Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada” is a welcome departure from the norm.

Not only, in my opinion, is the book a jolly good read, but it appears to be a comprehensive history of the series of events and military campaigns that led to the expulsion of the Moors after 700 years on the Iberian Peninsula.

Washington Irving was something of a hispanophile and yet this book provides the reader with a somewhat balanced account of events. At times, he shows sympathy for the Moors – so much so, that he calls attention to the barbarity of the Christians and the prejudices and ignorance of the Spanish Court. He does this in the guise of “Fray Antonio Agapida”, a fictitious character who represents the monkish zealots of the period.

This is no work of fiction, however, though it reads like one. Irving carried out much research during his time in Granada and Seville including visiting the towns and villages that formed the backdrop for the events of this delightful book.

Robert Bovington

March 2011


About Robert Bovington

Robert Bovington is an English writer of travel books. These include “Spanish Matters” and “Spanish Impressions” Robert Bovington was born in Brighton, East Sussex, the son of Leonard and Audrey Bovington. He is the first-born and has eight siblings – six brothers and two sisters. Having worked for many years in both the telecommunications industry and the teaching profession, Robert wanted to take on new challenges. He and Diane decided to relocate to Spain and, in 2003, the couple moved to Roquetas de Mar in sunny Andalucía. However, lazing on the beach was not Robert's idea of fun - he wanted to explore his new homeland. It didn't stop there! He was so impressed with Spain, its countryside, its historic cities and its culture that it inspired him to write about his experiences. Robert Bovington has been married to Diane for over thirty years. They have no children. However, Robert’s short marriage to Helene resulted in twin daughters Carole and Sheila. The author is also a grandfather and great grandfather. Robert met Diane when both belonged to the Crescent Operatic Society. Music is one of the author’s great passions. At primary school he sang in a choir in a concert of Bach and Handel. Another of his interests is football and for many years he supported Brighton & Hove Albion home and away. His favourite premiership team is Arsenal. Other interests include information technology, writing and ten-pin bowling.
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