A Companion to Medieval Ethiopia and Eritrea introduces readers to current research on major topics in the history and cultures of the Ethiopian-Eritrean region from the seventh century to the mid-sixteenth, with insights into foundational late-antique developments where appropriate. Multiconfessional in scope, it includes in its purview both the Christian kingdom and the Islamic and local-religious societies that have attracted increasing attention in recent decades, tracing their internal features, interrelations, and imbrication in broader networks stretching from Egypt and Yemen to Europe and India. Utilizing diverse source types and methodologies, its fifteen essays offer an up-to-date overview of the subject for students and nonspecialists, and are rich in material for researchers.
Maria R. Grasso’s monograph on the twelfth-century illustrated vita of Saint Amand, Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale MS 500, presents new information regarding its contents. The author’s discovery and analysis of a second almost complete set of preliminary drawings beneath another set of the same drawings demonstrates that important alterations were made prior to the execution of the cycle. Grasso’s discussion includes the probable reason for the change: the isolation of the terminating folio depicting the soul of Amand. This important devotional image is the focus of detailed analysis since the soul of Amand rests in the lap of a male figure she convincingly identifies as Christ, an extremely unusual placement for the soul of a saint, demonstrating the creativity of the artists.
The Epic of Sumanguru Kante contains the Bamana text and English translation of griot Abdoulaye Sako’s oral narrative of the life of Sumanguru, recorded in 1997 in Koulikoro (Mali), together with explanatory notes, a scholarly introduction, and sections on the Bamana language and musical accompaniment. Sumanguru is a familiar figure within Manding epic oral traditions about ancient Mali. But while these narratives generally focus on Sunjata Keita, Sako’s oral poem is rare in according Sumanguru the central role. In so doing he includes hitherto undocumented episodes relating to Sumanguru’s life and role as the ruler of Soso, the little known state said to have flourished in the western Sudan between the fall of ancient Ghana and rise of ancient Mali.
This book examines the relationship between medieval European mythologies of the non-Western world and the initial Portuguese and Spanish voyages of expansion and exploration to Africa, Asia and the Americas. From encounters with the Mongols and successor states, to the European contacts with Ethiopia, India and the Americas, as well as the concomitant Jewish notion of the Ten Lost Tribes, the volume views the Western search for distant, crusading allies through the lens of stories such as the apostolate of Saint Thomas and the stories surrounding the supposed priest-king Prester John. In doing so, Knobler weaves a broad history of early modern Iberian imperial expansion within the context of a history of cosmologies and mythologies.
Urban Autonomy in Medieval Islam Fukuzo Amabe offers the first in-depth study on autonomous cities in medieval Islam stretching from Aleppo and Damascus to Cordoba, Toledo and Valencia through Tunis during the late tenth to early twelfth centuries. Each city is treated separately to cull facts to prove its autonomy at least for a certain period. The Middle East was the first region to develop cities and then empires in ancient times. Furthermore, the Islamic world was the first to transform ancient political or farmer cities to economic and industrial ones consisting of notables and plebeians, followed by China, then parts of Western Europe.
Saladin, the Almohads and the Banū Ghāniya,
Amar Baadj gives us the first comprehensive, modern study of a fascinating but little-known episode in the history of the medieval Mediterranean. This is the story of the long struggle between the Almohad caliphs of the Maghrib, the Banū Ghāniya of Majorca, and the Ayyubids for dominance of North Africa.
The author makes use of important textual sources that have been ignored as well as new archaeological evidence to challenge some of the basic assumptions about the events in question. He also successfully places these events in their wider temporal and geographical context for the first time.