front cover of Conflict and Coexistence
Conflict and Coexistence
Archbishop Rodrigo and the Muslims and Jews of Medieval Spain
Lucy K. Pick
University of Michigan Press, 2004
"An outstanding contribution not only to Spanish but to European history at large. Pick's book is the first to clarify the unity of purpose that drove Archbishop Rodrigo, a major figure not only as a historian and controversialist, but as a churchman whose military campaigns advanced the conquest of Muslim Spain and shifted the whole balance of power in the Iberian peninsula."
---J. N. Hillgarth, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

"By focusing on the diversified activities of the talented mid-thirteenth-century archbishop of Toledo, Lucy Pick brilliantly illuminates the complex relations between the Christian conquerors of Spain and the conquered Muslim and Jewish populations. Students of medieval Spain, of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, of medieval Muslims and Islam, and of medieval Jews and Judaism will benefit from this excellent study."
---Robert Chazan, New York University.

In Conflict and Coexistence, Lucy Pick sets out to explain how Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived alongside one another in medieval Spain. By examining the life and works of Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, the Archbishop of Toledo (1209-47), Pick explains that the perceived threat of the non-Christian presence was managed through the subordination of Muslims and Jews.

Rodrigo stood at the center of a transformative period of history in the Iberian peninsula. During his long and varied career as archbishop, he acted as scholar, warrior, builder, and political leader. The wave of victories he helped initiate were instrumental in turning back the tide of Muslim attacks on Christian Spain and restarting the process of Christian territorial conquest. However, Toledo was still a multiethnic city in which Christians lived side by side with Jews and Muslims. As archbishop, he was faced with the considerable challenge of maintaining peace and prosperity in a city where religious passions and intolerance were a constant threat to stability.

This work seeks to examine Rodrigo's relations with the Muslims and Jews of his community both as he idealized them on paper and as he worked through them in real life. Though Rodrigo wrote an anti-Jewish polemic, and set out to conquer Muslim-held lands, he also used scholarly patronage and literary creation to combat internal and external, Christian and non-Christian threats alike. His intended and actual consequences of these varied techniques were to allow Christians, Muslims, and Jews to live together under Christian authority. Rodrigo was bound by practical necessity to find a means of accommodating these groups that was both effective and theologically satisfactory. Throughout this influential work, Pick examines the various aspects of Rodrigo's life and career that led to his policies and the consequences that his work and beliefs brought about in medieval Spain.

This book will be of interest to anyone who studies the history, religion, and literature of medieval Spain, to those interested in the transmission of learning from the Muslim to the Christian world, and to those who study intellectual life and development in medieval Europe.

front cover of The Friars and their Influence in Medieval Spain
The Friars and their Influence in Medieval Spain
Edited by Francisco Garcia-Serrano
Amsterdam University Press, 2018
The mendicant friars, especially the Dominicans and the Franciscans, made an enormous impact in thirteenth-century Spain influencing almost every aspect of society. In a revolutionary break from the Church’s past, these religious orders were deeply involved in earthly matters while preaching the Gospel to the laity and producing many of the greatest scholars of the time. Furthermore, the friars reshaped the hierarchy of the Church, often taking up significant positions in the episcopate. They were prominent in the establishment of the Inquisition in Aragon and at the same time they played a major part in interfaith relations between Jews, Muslims and Christians. In addition, they were key contributors in the transformation of urban life, becoming an essential part of the fabric of late medieval cities, while influencing policies of monarchs such as James I of Aragon and Ferdinand III of Castile.Their missions in the towns and their educational role, as well as their robust associations with the papacy and the crown, often raised criticism and lead to internal tensions and conflict with other clergymen and secular society. They were to be both widely admired and the subjects of biting literary satire.As this collection demonstrates, the story of medieval Spain cannot possibly be fully told without mention of the critical role of the friars.

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Kabbalistic Revolution
Reimagining Judaism in Medieval Spain
Lachter, Hartley
Rutgers University Press, 2014
The set of Jewish mystical teachings known as Kabbalah are often imagined as timeless texts, teachings that have been passed down through the millennia. Yet, as this groundbreaking new study shows, Kabbalah flourished in a specific time and place, emerging in response to the social prejudices that Jews faced.

Hartley Lachter, a scholar of religion studies, transports us to medieval Spain, a place where anti-Semitic propaganda was on the rise and Jewish political power was on the wane. Kabbalistic Revolution proposes that, given this context, Kabbalah must be understood as a radically empowering political discourse.  While the era’s Christian preachers claimed that Jews were blind to the true meaning of scripture and had been abandoned by God, the Kabbalists countered with a doctrine that granted Jews a uniquely privileged relationship with God. Lachter demonstrates how Kabbalah envisioned this increasingly marginalized group at the center of the universe, their mystical practices serving to maintain the harmony of the divine world. 

For students of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalistic Revolution provides a new approach to the development of medieval Kabbalah. Yet the book’s central questions should appeal to anyone with an interest in the relationships between religious discourses, political struggles, and ethnic pride. 

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The Lara Family
Crown and Nobility in Medieval Spain
Simon R. Doubleday
Harvard University Press, 2001

For much of the Middle Ages, the Lara family was among the most powerful aristocratic lineages in Spain. Protégés of the monarchy at the time of El Cid, their influence reached extraordinary heights during the struggle against the Moors. Hand-in-glove with successive kings, they gathered an impressive array of military and political positions across the Iberian Peninsula. But cooperation gave way to confrontation, as the family was pitted against the crown in a series of civil wars.

This book, the first modern study of the Laras, explores the causes of change in the dynamics of power, and narrates the dramatic story of the events that overtook the family. The Laras' militant quest for territorial strength and the conflict with the monarchy led toward a fatal end, but anticipated a form of aristocratic power that long outlived the family. The noble elite would come to dominate Spanish society in the coming centuries, and the Lara family provides important lessons for students of the history of nobility, monarchy, and power in the medieval and early modern world.


front cover of Visions of the End in Medieval Spain
Visions of the End in Medieval Spain
Catalogue of Illustrated Beatus Commentaries on the Apocalypse and Study of the Geneva Beatus
John Williams
Amsterdam University Press, 2016
This is the first study to bring together all twenty-nine extant copies of the medieval Commentary on the Apocalypse, which was originally written by Spanish monk Beatus of Liébana. John Williams, a renowned expert on the Commentary, shares a lifetime of study and offers new insights on these strikingly illustrated manuscripts. As he shows, the Commentary responded to differing monastic needs within the shifting context of the Middle Ages. Of special interest is a discussion of the recently discovered Geneva copy: one of only three commentaries to be written outside of the Iberian Peninsula, this manuscript shows both close affinities to the Spanish model and fascinating deviations from it in terms of its script and style of illustrations.

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