This study aims to interpret the visual qualities of the Assumption Chapel, located in the Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria La Real de Las Huelgas, Burgos. Rejecting the “mudejar” paradigm often used to explain the chapel’s connections to Andalusi architecture, the article instead considers its relationships to a group of twelfth- and thirteenth-century domed churches in Iberia and the French Pyrenees, as well as to Las Huelgas’s adjacent, late-Romanesque cloister. In so doing, it situates the Assumption Chapel in a broader context of monuments related to penitence and crusade in the Holy Land and Iberia. It also considers the chapel’s form and function in the light of Las Huelgas’s ritual topography. Most broadly, this study shows how seemingly incongruent visual languages—in this case Romanesque and Andalusi—can comprise a coherent program of imagery.
This article analyzes Melekh Artus (King Arthur), a unique Hebrew translation of sections from the old French prose Merlin and mort Artu in the Lancelot-Grail cycle. Written in a single fragment from 1279 in northern Italy, this translation proves close Jewish engagement with old French texts. Through satirical biblical references and subtle critique of his material, the author reframes the Arthurian narrative to promote universal morals. Rather than Judaize the Arthurian canon and its Christian characters, he validates them as viable models for his Jewish audience.
Jewish-Christian intellectual relations in late medieval Spain are discussed in light of a curious fragment in Hebrew script from the Vatican Library. The fragment contains an unknown translation from Latin to Catalan (in Hebrew characters) of the work of the Catalan Franciscan monk Petrus Thomae, De distinctione predicamentorum. This translation is also compared with Thomae’s Tractatus brevis de modis distinctionum as it demonstrates an intermediate version between these two works by Petrus Thomae, though it resembles the first more closely. These traces invite a discussion on the existence of “Jewish Scotism” among the Jews of Catalonia, and after the expulsion, among their descendants, who probably made their way to Italy. The text is among the latest evidence of the use of Catalan in Hebrew characters on the cusp of the sixteenth century.