For much of the history of medieval Spain, the Christian territories were divided between multiple realms rather than being united as one. Yet some rulers did make a pretence to being a unifying monarch figure. One prominent example is Alfonso VII, who took up the title of "emperor" (Latin: imperator) during his reign as king of León (centred on northwest Iberia) in the period 1126-1157 CE. Many of his policies during his reign can also be seen as pushing in the direction of unification and an empire of Spain, though in general this goal was not realised. Most notably during his reign, Portugal emerged as an independent Christian realm- a legacy still continuing today with the division of Iberia between Spain and Portugal.
We are fortunate to have a detailed account of Alfonso VII's reign written in Latin by an anonymous author, presented in three parts. The first two parts (dubbed the Chronicle of the Emperor Alfonso) are in a generally simple chronicle prose style with a tendency to repetition of phrases, along with the use of some language and expressions derived from the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. The third part, focusing specifically on Alfonso VII's expedition against Muslim-held Almeria in southern Spain in 1147 CE, is written as a poem, which the author tells us is a deliberate choice of style to avoid tedium. The poem is dubbed the Prefatio de Almaria.
It has been suggested that work's redaction can be dated to 1147-1149 CE, with the terminus post quem deriving from the fact that the author always seems to speak of Alfonso VII's wife Berengaria as though she is still alive, and she died in 1149 CE. In addition, the author mentions deriving information from "those who have borne witness" (Latin: viderunt, literally "seen"), and thus if the dating should be wrong, it can at least be said that the author was contemporaneous with Alfonso VII's reign or writing shortly after it.
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