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Leadership Culture in Medieval Europe: an Iberian Perspective
Current Research Project by Dr. Simon Barton
Professor of History

Standard accounts of medieval European warfare have plenty to say about armies, weapons, and sieges, but leadership as a concept is usually rather narrowly defined in the context of campaign strategy and battlefield tactics. What historians have not explored to any significant extent is the manner in which the human and interpersonal aspects of leadership were understood and imagined. In other words, what did medieval writers think that good (or bad) leadership was? This research initiative examines some of the models of military leadership that were promoted in the Iberian Peninsula during the thirteenth century. The Castilian Siete Partidas (c.1265), which contains one of the most extensive treatments of the nature and responsibilities of military leadership to have been composed anywhere in the Latin West during the Central Middle Ages, will receive particular scrutiny. This research has the potential to shed light on the dynamics of leadership as a culturally specific construct, particularly with regard to power, hierarchy, group relations, gender, and emotions.