The Almohade Emir, Abu Jacob Yusuf, sent a great army to recapture the city. On March 10th, 1173, the troops under general Abu Hafs attacked the walls of Cáceres.
The city had been lost, but the last knights refused to surrender. They retreated to a tower where they continued to fight until they were all killed. They were beheaded, and their heads were displayed as trophies and a warning to the Christians. This tower is known as the Tower of Bujaco (a derivation of the name of the Emir). In remembrance of this terrible event, every 10th of March, the Order celebrates the festival of the martyred knights with a mass in their honor.
Their link to Castilla and the confrontation with the monarch of León did not stop the Order of Santiago from completing their founding objective. In 1184, the knights helped king Fernando II of León to recapture Cáceres, but it was again lost in 1196. Cáceres became a real obsession for the king and the Order. It was important to the king because it was positioned along the border and served as protection for his kingdom. It was so important for the knights because the it was where they were founded and where their 40 comrades were killed. There was an unsuccessful attempt to take the city in which the knights of Santiago pleaded with the king for the ownership of the city owned by the Almohades. In 1218, the king and the knights of Santiago again besieged the city, but they were forced to abandon the attack. The attacked again in 1222 and 1223. According to legend, the city was taken on the eve of April 23rd, 1229. This is why Saint George is the patron of the city, and since then, there have always been large festivals celebrating the re-taking of the city.
The headquarters of the Order in León was the Monastery of San Marcos (where the first master would be buried). The Castillian headquarters of the Order was in Uclés. The main headquarters became Uclés with the union of the two kingdoms under the rule of Ferdinand III.
Text by Ignacio Suárez-Zuloaga and illustrations by Ximena Maier