July 16 – Alfonso VIII of Castile crushes the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa
Only the Orders maintained any pressure against the Moslem invaders. The Calatravans, who had lost their garrison at Calatrava, built another one inside the Moslem lines at Salvatierra, complete with a tall bell tower. This infuriated the Moslems, who despised the Christian practice of ringing bells. Finally, raids from Salvatierra and larger incursions by Alfonso VIII and Pedro II of Aragon provoked the Moors to resume hostilities.
Three kings, Alfonso VIII of Castile, Pedro II of Aragon, and Sancho VII of Navarre, heretofore an enemy of the Castilians, led a force of 10,000 knights and 60,000 infantry into the plain near Las Navas de Tolosa to confront an army of perhaps twice that size made up of Berbers, African Negroes, and Andalusians. After two days during which each side evaluated the other’s intentions, the Christians launched a fierce frontal attack that was absorbed by the Moors, who then counter-attacked with more success.
With the battle slowly going against him, Alfonso rallied the Knights of Calatrava and Santiago and charged furiously. The sight of the King flying into the Moslems with his lance lowered and accompanied by a canon carrying the banner of Our Lady inspired the entire front to sweep forward. Moslem resistance collapsed and the battle turned into a rout. The estimate of the Moors lying dead on the battlefield that day ranged as high as 150,000.
Jeremias Wells, History of Western Civilization (n.p., n.d), pp. 249-250.