The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon
The 'Book of Deeds' is the first known autobiography by a Christian king. Its author was James I of Aragon (1213-76), known as 'The Conqueror', one of the great political figures of 13th-century Europe and a successful crusader. In his 'Deeds', James describes the turbulent years of his minority, the thrilling capture of Majorca, the methodical conquest of the kingdom of Valencia, the reconquest of the kingdom of Murcia after Castile had failed to hold it, and many of the important events of his reign. While crusade and conquest of Spanish territory from the Muslims and Christian-Muslim relations on the frontier are central features of the account, the 'Deeds' are also a treasure trove of information on the image, power and purpose of monarchy, loyalty and bad faith in the feudal order, the growth of national sentiment, and medieval military tactics. At the same time, the book presents a unique insight into the mind of a medieval ruler, the supreme example we possess of the fears and ambitions of a man at the very centre of events.