New Research Group: Early Medieval Iberia

 posted by | 14/06/2022

Dr Graham Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Late Antiquity and Joint Programme Leader for Classical Studies in the School of History and Heritage, has just published an article entitled ‘Towards a Trans-Regional Approach to Early Medieval Iberia’ in the journal History Compass, co-written with colleagues in his new research group, EarlyMedIberia, from universities across Spain and Portugal, as well as in the UK and US.

The past few decades have witnessed great change in the study of the early Middle Ages in the Northern Iberian Peninsula. Spanish and Portuguese historiographies have moved away from older grand narratives such as ‘Reconquest and Repopulation’, which traced a centuries-long process encompassing the ultimate victory of Christianity over Islam and the construction of distinct nations or national societies. The basic tenets of these and other essentialist approaches to a period traditionally seen as the cradle of Spain and Portugal have been questioned and now superseded by a clearer awareness of the territorial diversity characterising the 8th to 11th centuries. Yet the ballast of both nationalism and regionalism has obstructed meaningful comparison amongst the Iberian regions to date.

Drawing on the work of the research group EarlyMedIberia, this article argues for a new trans-regional approach to Northern Iberia, looking beyond political and geographical boundaries to consider the whole in a comparative light, and stressing the commonalities between regional and local societies. It does so by providing an overview of the extant charter material from before 1100 (indicating the principal editions) and by reviewing the major historiography.

This article is the first of many publications in production by the EarlyMedIberia research group, proposing a closer assessment of the differences and similarities amongst regional historiographies, based on a more nuanced understanding of how they have been moulded by the specificities of the charter corpus in each region, and arguing for a more integrated, contextualised, and rigorously comparative approach to the early Middle Ages in Northern Iberia.

For further information, please see:
Dr Barrett’s staff profile page (
The article itself – available in open access (
The Global and Transregional Studies Research Group (