Week 13


From 711 to 1492, Spain was three different stories. Spanish history provides the most fascinating example we have anywhere of three cultures, Christians, Jews, Muslims, living side by side. The Christian part of the story was written in Castile. It was in this northern province that a new monarchy, the Kings of Castile, led the northern part of Spain in the resistance to the new Islamic invaders in the south (the Reconquista). Castile grows up and expands as the fight continues for 500 years. And the great cities of Castile in the north, Leon and Burgos, become the centers of the new Christian Spanish culture during the Reconquista.


The Chris Lowney book will provide you with a text for this whole quarter.

Chris Lowney,

A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain,

Oxford University Press (2006),

ISBN 0195311914


This is the best one-volume study of Christian-Islam relations in the Middle Ages and it is especially excellent on Spain. Disregard the bizarre user reviews on Amazon. Most of them seem to be motivated by contemporary politcal issues rather than Wheatcroft's excellent history.

Andrew Wheatcroft,

Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam,

Random House paperback, 2003,

ISBN 0812972392

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the roar of skyscrapers collapsing in New York and in the thunder of fusillades in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leading British historian hears echoes of battles fought centuries ago. This timely chronicle amplifies those echoes to show how much ancient animosities pervade the modern conflict between radical Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden and America. Impelling the Muslim and Christian combatants who crossed swords at Jerusalem and Granada, at Lepanto, Constantinople, and Missolonghi, these ancient hatreds inspired daring innovations in military weaponry and tactics, as well as astonishing enlargements in both faiths' religious demonology. Wheatcroft recounts the clashes of arms--jihad and crusade--in narrative taut and memorable. With rare sophistication, he also traces the perplexing ways religious orthodoxy now reinforced, now checked the political and economic impulses shaping Europe and the Levant. But readers will praise Wheatcroft most for his acute psychological analysis of how Muslim and Christian leaders alike imbued their followers with hostility toward those who adhered to alien creeds. It is this analysis that lends force to the concluding commentary on how President Bush has unwittingly tapped into a very old reservoir of religious enmity with his absolutist rhetoric calling for a "crusade" against the terrorist evil. As a work that interprets today's headlines within a very long chronology, this book will attract a large audience. Bryce Christensen Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.