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The Castles of Mallorca

Fortification and state-formation during the Islamic period

Martin S. Goffriller
Publication Year:
204 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 108 plates, 71 figures
BAR number:


This research presents a study in the dynamics of territorial control of the island of Mallorca from ca. 902-1300 AD, with the aim of providing the first holistic and systematic study of the known Islamic fortresses of this island and determining the reasons which account for the lack of the so-called hisn/qarya complex there. The scientific focus of this project explores the effects that island contexts may have had on the identity-forming processes of their population and how these in turn affect the socio-political makeup of these ‘bounded’ polities. More specifically, in the case of Mallorca the core of this study is devoted to the relation between the hinterland fortifications of the Islamic period and the island’s capital city Madīna Mayūrqa, concluding that due to the relative isolation of Mallorca’s segmentary communities from their mainland analogues they evolved a distinctive meta-identity which gradually supplanted their traditional tribal allegiances and redefined their relation with the state and political authority in general. Discussed at length are also the mechanisms of territorial and administrative integration of Islamic Mayūrqa into the feudal structures of the Kingdom of Aragon in the aftermath of the Catalan conquest of 1229.

Martin S. Goffriller is an architectural historian and archaeologist with a focus on fortification and state formation in the medieval period. His specialism on tribal societies has led his research into globally diverse regions such as the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Since 2018 he has been based at the China University of Technology (Xuzhou), where he heads a long-term research project focused on Silk Road archaeology and state formation in Central Asia.

‘This book is a remarkable contribution to the field of medieval fortifications (…). Goffriller goes beyond the descriptive sphere, interpreting the conceptual value and socio-political role of these fortifications within the settled and cultural landscape of Mallorca.’ Matteo Giole Randazzo, Medieval Archaeology, Vol 65.2 (2022)

‘This is an important and original contribution to a topic that has otherwise been published only in fragments within book chapters and journal articles. It contains a substantial amount of original fieldwork and spatial analysis.’ Dr Aleks Pluskowski, University of Reading

‘This work is highly original. As the author states, research on Islamic castles on Mallorca is minimal, and although there are parallel studies on mainland Iberia, the specific history of the Balearic Islands requires particular research that this study starts. This is an ambitious work, and it provides a baseline of suggestions and hypothesis that can become the bases of future works on the subject.’ Dr Jose C. Carvajal Lopez, University of Leicester

Introduction (S3024_Goffriller_9781407357607-Introduction.pdf, 357 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (S3024_Goffriller_9781407357607-ToC.pdf, 284 Kb) [Download]