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Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain   You are logged in as Guest
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BarkellWH

Posts: 2789
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of... 

An interesting new book has been published entitled, "Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain," by Brian Catlos, a historian at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Several years ago on the Foro we had a lively discussion of Al Andalus and Islamic Spain. To scholars of Islamic Spain the historiography has rested on shifting ground and the various elements that might support one or the other version of Spain's national identity. Robert Irwin, a British scholar of Arabic and Muslim history (who proudly calls himself an "Orientalist," a term that is in disfavor in our hypersensitive world) lists two early examples of these shifts in historiography. In 1943, Claudio Sanchez Albornoz published, "Espana y el Islam," in which, according to Irwin, "the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula was presented as a disaster." In 1948, the historian Americo Castro published, "Espana en su Historia: Cristianos, Moros, y Judios," in which he emphasizes the enormous contributions of Arabs, Berbers, and Jews to Spanish history and culture.

More recently the debate over the contribution of Islam to Spanish history and culture has continued with, "The Ornament of the World," by Maria Rosa Menocal, a scholar of medieval history and culture. Menocal celebrates the contributions of the Moors and Jews to Spanish history and culture. She correctly writes that Christians and Jews were treated far more leniently as "People of the Book," in Al Andalus and Islamic Spain than the Jews were treated by Christian authorities in the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, Menocal glides over the fact that Christians and Jews (known collectively as Dhimmi) were second-class citizens under Islam. There were many restrictions placed on them. Another recent book, "The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews Under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain," by Dario Fernandez-Morera, states that Muslim Spain "was marked by religious and therefore cultural repression in all areas of life."

The latest entry in this mix, "Kingdoms of Faith," by Catlos, navigates between these two versions of Islamic Spain and presents a more balanced viewpoint. Catlos spends much time on the cultural aspects of Islamic Spain, as well as the political. The Caliphate of Cordoba, the zenith of Al Andalus and Islamic Spain, began to fall apart, not so much because of the Christian Reconquista; rather, by Berber regiments competing for supremacy and loot. First the Almoravids and later the Almohads, both Berbers from North Africa, imposed a much stricter version of Islam on Al Andalus, including pogroms against Christians and Jews. Finally, Granada fell to the Christian Reconquista in 1492, and in 1609 the Moriscos (ostensibly Muslim converts to Chrsitianity) were expelled. Many Sephardic Jews were expelled and ended up in the Ottoman Empire.

This is a very good book if you have an interest in Al Andalus and Islamic Spain. Highly recommended.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 2 2019 16:40:42
 
gerundino63

Posts: 1399
Joined: Jul. 11 2003
From: The Netherlands

RE: Kingdoms of Faith: A New Histor... (in reply to BarkellWH

Thanks Bill,

Very interesting book, and thanks for the extended review!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 2 2019 23:12:09
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2541
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Kingdoms of Faith: A New Histor... (in reply to BarkellWH

Thanks, Bill. I've ordered the book.

According to the Amazon reviews the book ends with the "expulsion" of the moriscos, thus excluding an important period in the musical evolution which eventually resulted in flamenco.

I've been reading, at the rate of a few pages per day, "La llave de la musica flamenca" by the brothers Antonio y David Hurtado Torres. Having been interested in flamenco for at least 65 years, theirs is the first book on the subject I have come across written by trained musicologists.

The Hurtados give a brief history of Spain from the tenth century, focusing on elements germane to the lengthy musical evolution which eventually led to flamenco.

They quote a 1610 report by the Consejo de Estado, "Hay presunción que muchos que andan como gitanos son moriscos." A page precedes, and several pages follow detailing the melding of morisco culture into that of the gitanos. The "arabic" content of flamenco thus dates back far into the musical history of the pre-flamenco era.

In the census immediately following the "expulsion" of the moriscos, there was a sharp increase in the recorded number of "gitanos."

No doubt many moriscos actually left. Some later returned. But many hunkered down in place, adopting gitano identity as a defense against even harsher repression.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2019 0:20:38
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2541
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Kingdoms of Faith: A New Histor... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

I finished "Kingdoms of Faith" a few days ago. I learned a lot. Thanks again Bill, for the reference.

For example I didn't know that Abd-al-Rachman I, the ancestor of the great Caliph of Cordoba was a princely refugee from the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus, nor that Rodrigo Diaz "El Cid," portrayed as the chivalric hero of the reconquista, was actually a mercenary who fought for both Christian and Muslim masters.

But the interesting take away for me was that religion was not a barrier to frequent alliances between Christians and Muslims in the almost continuous warfare that followed upon the collapse of the Cordoba caliphate. This runs counter to the narrative of steady Christian "reconquest" against Muslim kingdoms throughout that era.

Yes, Christian Castile-Leon came to dominate the Iberian peninsula, especially after the marriage of "los Reyes Católicos" Fernando and Isabela united it with the Crown of Aragon, but there were many alliances of both kingdoms with Muslim monarchs, and the acceptance of Muslim feudal clients without requiring a religious conversion.

The book covers the events after the fall of Granada in 1492 that eventually led to the expulsion of the moriscos in the early 17th century, but there's no mention of some of the moriscos assuming gitano identity in order to stay.

In the book there is lots of detail of a very complex period, but I found it an interesting read.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2019 20:02:05
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2789
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Kingdoms of Faith: A New Histor... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

But the interesting take away for me was that religion was not a barrier to frequent alliances between Christians and Muslims in the almost continuous warfare that followed upon the collapse of the Cordoba caliphate. This runs counter to the narrative of steady Christian "reconquest" against Muslim kingdoms throughout that era.


Glad you enjoyed it, Richard. I, too, was taken by the various alliances between Christians and Muslims when they saw it in their interest to come together. Something similar happened in the Near East at the time of the Crusades. The Crusaders arrived to a politically fragmented Near East that had broken up into states ruled by officers of the former suzerain, the Turkish Seljuq Empire, some of whom were vying for supremacy. As an example, for a time the Muslim ruler of Damascus allied himself with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem against other Muslim states. Not to carry this analogy too far, but it sort of reminds me of the US and Britain allying with the Soviet Union against the common enemy of Nazi Germany. ("The enemy of my enemy....")

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2019 23:00:13

Piwin

Posts: 2158
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Kingdoms of Faith: A New Histor... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Spoiler alert!!! I'm still on part 1 (chapter 3 "The Falcon of the Quraysh")!


_____________________________

"When I'm dead, I'm going to forget everything – and I advise you to do the same."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Apr. 5 2019 23:06:20
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