Anniversary Post: Battle of Clavijo

Battle of Clavijo - Corrado Giaquinto (Detail)On this day in 834, the Battle of Clavijo didn’t take place. But for a very long time, people thought that it did. It was supposedly between the good Christians of Spain to expel the Muslims from the country. Over time, they realized that the battle never took place. But for centuries, people believed. It even included actual historical figures, like Emir of Córdoba. But ultimately, the truth came out. A big problem with it is that there was no mention of the battle for about three hundred years after it. It reminds me of something else regarding Christianity, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. You know: a really impressive event that everyone would have known about that supposedly included actual historical figures, but somehow is completely devoid of contemporaneous accounts? It’s just not coming to me…

Another interesting thing about the battle is that supposedly Saint James Matamoros showed up to fight back the Muslims. Matamoros was a legendary character and this is pretty much what he would always do: show up and kill Muslims. Further, he was thought to be the same person as James, son of Zebedee, one of Jesus’ apostles, and the first to be martyred (according to tradition). Those who know their Book of Revelation realize that when Jesus comes back, he is going to kick some major butt. I find it interesting that pretty much all religions are parochial in this way: God will come in and help our little group kill all our enemies. Given how undependable God is in this regard, it’s all kind of hard to take.

That’s what’s so great about the Battle of Clavijo. You don’t need to have wars where God helps you win. You can just make up wars where God helps you win. That has two major advantages. First, it makes God really dependable. Second, no war! That’s pretty great. The Iraq War could have been just a story. It would have great to teach a lesson about hubris and stupidity. Instead, we had an actual war and most people haven’t learned a damned thing.

But happy anniversary to the fake Battle of Clavijo!

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