Siege war

The Gesta Berengari (Facts by Berenguel) gives us a glimpse of how the castle worked during the war. Thus, in the tug-of-war between the archbishop and the citizens we learn that that war mainly consisted in besieging fortified enclaves, whether they were towns or villages, fortresses or towers.

War at that time usually avoided open-field battles, which were not the usual way of settling disputes. In the conflict of Santiago in 1317, sometimes it was the archbishop who besieged the city, sometimes it was the locals who laid siege to his castle. The strategic location of A Rocha made it possible to send troops up the Sarela valley towards the eastern flank or down the Sar valley towards the western flank of the city. The 1317 revolt made apparent the role of the fortress as an element to control the city and how it could bring under control its main accesses.


Another key element was negotiation. Both Berenguel and his adversaries agreed to it in a number of occasions with little success. Sometimes negotiations involved deceit as a weapon, as the objective was to capture the adversary. They final event of the 1317 uprising, when Alonso Suárez de Deza and other leaders of the uprising were executed, is an instance of such deceitful negotiations.

After this episode, Rocha Forte starts its golden age as a castle, playing its role as the main stronghold in Terra de Santiago, the outward representation of the cathedral-fortress. It was there that the troops of the archbishop would gather before marching to the front throughout the 14th century. Its role became much more relevant during the Castile Civil War, a conflict associated to the murder of Archbishop Sueiro Gómez de Toledo.

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