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Author: Edward L. Holt

Abstract

This article examines the construction of the memory of Fernando III of Castile-León in Arabic-Islamic texts in order to explore the cross-cultural geopolitics of the western Mediterranean. It argues that historiographical attempts to define righteous authority transcended religious affiliation among military and political elites. In support of this claim, this article first provides a macro-historical survey of Arabic-Islamic texts to ascertain common sociocultural features used in describing Iberian kings. While stereotypes of Christian monarchs exist, Muslim depictions of individuals had a broad spectrum of associations. Second, the focused example of the memory of Fernando III demonstrates how Muslim authors were strategic in deciding whether to describe Christian monarchs or remain silent about them, to praise them or criticize/vilify them. Ultimately, in contrast to Western traditions of intensely scrutinizing the conquest narratives in Christian chronicles, which has led to a polarized view opposing Muslim and Christian rhetoric, the Arabic-Islamic sources depict Fernando III within the framework of the collapse of the Almohad state as one ruler among many, thus reflecting a broader sense of Maghrebi geopolitics as a larger struggle to define righteous authority.

In: Medieval Encounters

Jane Gerber, Cities of Splendour in the Shaping of Sephardi History. London: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2020. 322 pp. ISBN: 9781904113300

It is to Jane Gerber, professor emerita at the CUNY Graduate Center, that we owe a sweeping history of Iberian and Sephardic Jewry, from the Middle Ages into the modern era, published in the year of the quincentenary of the expulsion from Spain in 1992. There hasn’t really been a similar comprehensive overview of the Sephardic experience since then, and I for one have frequently used Gerber’s The Jews of

In: Medieval Encounters
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In: Medieval Encounters

Hugh Goddard, A History of Christian-Muslim Relations, 2nd edition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020. 240 pp., ISBN: 9781474466806

The study of Christian-Muslim relations is flourishing, so a revised edition of Goddard’s classic survey should be very welcome. Goddard himself remarks in this volume’s “Preface to the Second Edition”: “It has been very stimulating to have the opportunity to review all the developments of the field over the past twenty years” (vii). How regrettable, then, that apart from new material about recent events, none of those scholarly developments have been incorporated into this present edition, as the

In: Medieval Encounters

Abstract

An anti-Jewish short narrative, here labelled the “Jew in the Latrine,” was very popular in the Middle Ages and early modern period, appearing in a range of genres in Latin and the vernacular. A Jew falls into a sewer on the Sabbath day and, fearing desecration, neither extracts himself nor permits his extraction from the muck. Vexed over Jewish Sabbath prohibitions, a Christian authority compels the Jew also to remain in the sewer over the Christian Sabbath. This anecdote was intended both to reinforce the trope identifying Jews with filth and excrement, and to ridicule the place of the Law within Judaism itself. Exemplars of the “Jew in the Latrine” within the German cultural region, though bountiful, are researched sketchily. This paper aims to provide the first systematic assessment of these. Important findings are the crucial role played in the transmission of the tale by the circle of the Reformer Philip Melanchthon, and the omnipresence of the city of Magdeburg and the intervention of its archbishops in adjudicating the case of the “Jew in the Latrine.”

In: Medieval Encounters

Abstract

Studies of Ibn Faḍlān’s tenth-century Risāla, a travel account detailing his journey from Baghdad to the banks of the Volga River, typically rely on thirteenth-century witnesses to the original travelogue. These are our earliest and fullest versions of the text, but are not the only extant records of Ibn Faḍlān’s journey. Due to both its late dating and its spurious interpolations, the partial preservation of the Risāla in Amīn Rāzī’s sixteenth-century geographical work, Haft Iqlīm, is frequently overlooked. This article reconsiders attitudes to Amīn Rāzī’s work, focusing on his claim that Rūs women used oval brooches to restrict the growth of their breasts. Approaching this claim using classical, Arabic, and Persian analogues of breast restriction, cauterization, Amazons, and Islands of Women, and tracing geographical and literary dissemination, Amīn Rāzī’s “rationalization” of Rūs women’s costume will be reframed as the plausible conclusion of a number of robust and longstanding geographical traditions.

In: Medieval Encounters

Marina Rustow. The Lost Archive: Traces of a Caliphate in a Cairo Synagogue. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020. xvii–598 pages. ISBN 9780691156477

Since their discovery at the end of the nineteenth century, the documents and manuscripts from the Cairo Geniza have attracted numerous scholars who continue to dig through its hundreds of thousands of fragments. Geniza studies, as they are rightly called now, have produced hundreds of books and articles mainly dealing with the core of the collection, which is now divided between several places around the world: texts in Hebrew (and sometimes in Judaeo-Arabic, i.e.,

In: Medieval Encounters

Joseph Schack and Hannah Weaver, eds. Recreating the Medieval Globe: Acts of Recycling, Revision and Relocation. Leeds: Arc Humanities Press, 2020. 181 pages. ISBN 9781641894258

This edited volume is the result of a symposium organised at Harvard University, the proceedings of which were published in a special issue of The Medieval Globe (volume 6, no. 1, 2020), of which this is the book version. Recreating the Medieval Globe focuses on practices of reuse by historical actors throughout the Middle Ages (and of medieval objects in later times), from a very broad perspective.

In: Medieval Encounters
Author: Linda G. Jones

Daniella Talmon-Heller. Sacred Place and Sacred Time in the Medieval Islamic Middle East. A Historical Perspective. Edinburgh Studies in Classical Islamic History and Culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020. Pp. x, 279. ISBN: 9781474460965

This book explores Muslim ideological constructions of sacred space and time in the medieval Islamic Middle East. The author combines a historical approach that engages with History of Religions theories in her analysis of the veneration of the shrines purported to contain the head of the Prophet Muhammad’s martyred grandson al-Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī and Islamic lore and rites surrounding the sacred month

In: Medieval Encounters
In: Tradition und Transformation in der Māturīdiyya des 6./12. Jahrhunderts