Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain


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New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Returning user. Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? Enter your email address below and we will send you your username. Roland is depicted as the hero in an epic struggle between Christians and Muslims. This project retraced the building of the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus in the s. The Damascus mosque too had begun as a cathedral near the ruins of a Roman temple.

The cathedral had once been a shared house of worship: Muslims praying in one half, and Christians in another. The Umayyads then bought the Christian half, demolished the old structure, and built the still-standing Damascus Mosque, stunning in its Byzantine -inspired architecture and mosaics. He built a new Rusafa, in memory of the country palace he had left behind. Here, he composed a little poem, in which he bared his soul 4 :. Language and Vibrancy. But Arabic was also the language of administration, trade, and increasingly the language of learning.

From al-Andalus to China, Arabic held sway, in the religious and secular settings. The dominance of Arabic led Paul Alvarus of Cordoba to complain 5 :. Christians love to read the poems and romances of the Arabs; they study the Arab theologians and philosophers, not to refute them but to form a correct and elegant Arabic … Who now reads the Latin commentaries on the Holy Scriptures, or who studies the Gospels , prophets or apostles?

Alas… young Christians read and study with enthusiasm Arab books, they gather immense libraries at great expense; they despise Christian literature as unworthy of attention. It echoes the struggle of communities to retain languages, cultures, traditions, and values and to transmit them to succeeding generations in the face of the barrage of a dominant language, media, and pop culture. Certainly for the young, Andalusi culture was vibrant and growing, unlike the stodgy and now diminished culture of the Church.

Rather, they were embracing the secular aspects of Arabic culture. Latin, with its narrow range of religious texts, could not compete with such a wealth of literature, culture, and learning. Even the Christian liturgy and Christian religious texts were soon available in Arabic. Pluralism and Martyrdom. But in the ninth century CE most Cordobans had a dim view of these hotheads.

This was not modern pluralism within a secular state, for non-Muslims paid a special tax which Muslims did not pay, and had to observe restrictive regulations particularly regarding the public display of religious rituals. But in the ninth century CE, perhaps well into the nineteenth to say nothing of some parts of the world even today, these policies were indeed progressive.

This policy led, in al-Andalus, as also in Fatimid Egypt, to the appointment of qualified non-Muslims to high political offices. The Sack of Cordoba. Retaining the aesthetics of the old mosque, he added new elegantly decorated separate spaces for royal prayer. These opulent royal spaces, as indeed the palace city of Madinat al-Zahra, mark the increasing distance between the community and its ruler, foreshadowing the coming demise.

In this way the compiler brings the Arthurian supernatural wife motif, one also present in Zifar , into line with the values of the Islamic textual community, by giving the supernatural a Quranic point of reference. She then reveals that she appeared to Ziyad in the form of a gazelle and enchanted him so that he would follow her to her hidden castle. It certainly is curious that the same two motifs, the only fantastic motifs in all of Zifar , whose source is contested by critics and still an open question, should appear in an Arabic manuscript from the same region written some 70 years prior to the composition of Zifar.

Depending on how we read this evidence, it could lend credence to a number of different theories about Zifar. On the one hand, if we belive the motifs are Celtic in origin, we should suppose their transmission to Ziyad through Arthurian tradition to Ziyad and thence to Zifar. This would ironically corroborate both the argument that Zifar relied on Arabic sources, and the argument for the Arthurian-Celtic sources of the fantastic episodes in Zifar.

Authors introduced new tales, adapted other tales from other traditions, and dressed them in the fictional trappings of the popular storytelling tradition of the Arab world that then produced both the Nights and the Nights. What if the author of Zifar had done likewise, relying not on Andalusi manuscripts of learned Arabic texts but rather of stories told and retold within the context of the Nights tradition? The apparent Arabization of names and place names that has led critics to suppose an Arabic origin for Zifar may well be instead a reflection of a shared storytelling culture by which Castilian authors adapt material learned from storytellers in their written works, conserving and at times Hispanizing or straight out corrupting personal and place names, simply because that was how the Castilian author heard them.

Arabic texts of the time also reflect a shared culture of storytelling. As we have seen, place names of faraway, exotic locations such as China vacillate between Romanized and Arabized versions Ott Like the author of Zifar , the compiler of Nights was drawing on a live, multilingual storytelling performance tradition in which performers told tales alternately in Andalusi Arabic or in Castilian, and likely at times some combination of both. This suggests a world of code-switching storytellers who moved effortlessly from Arabic to Castilian and back again.

Only when viewed through the lens of the literary manuscript does this culture appear as two separate cultures, who communicate with difficulty through translation and adaptation. The evidence Ziyad presents is compelling on two counts. We must choose one of the following: did the Arthurian material pass from the French to Ziyad and thence to Zifar?

This would be a delicious but perfectly Iberian irony for the Zifar to have received Arthurian material from an Andalusi text. Or alternatively, did both Ziyad and Zifar take the material directly from the French? Or, a third and in my opinion more likely alternative: that the Arthurian material entered the Iberian oral narrative practice, where both Ziyad and Zifar collected it. Ziyad and Nights both attest to a corpus of Andalusi written popular literature giving voice to a specifically Iberian or at least Maghrebi experience vis-a-vis the Muslim East.

Our findings are necessarily tentative, based as they are on translations, until these editions come to light. What we can state, however, is the following: Ziyad provides us with new, earlier examples of the penetration of Arthurian themes and motifs in the Iberian Peninsula that predate both the Castilian translations of the Arthurian romances as well as their adaptation in Caballero Zifar. These versions circulated in a multi-lingual, multi-confessional Iberian narrative practice that included both oral and written performances.

All of the above changes our understanding of Caballero Zifar and potentially many other early works of Castilian prose fiction as part of a literary polysystem with an oral component that is underrepresented in the sources yet important for understanding the development of literary narrative in Iberia. Historically, the study of the literature of medieval Iberia has been characterized by disciplinary territoriality and impaired by ideological positions tied to national literature approaches that have, in my opinion, impoverished the field. As is the case with other territories where one dialect of a related group became an official national language, the field has been Castilian-centric.

Introduction

In the 20th-century US, the field was essentially founded dominated first by European-trained Romance philologists, many fleeing Hitler or Franco. Eventually, as Hispanic studies became more and more a reflection of increasing US interest in Latin America, medieval Spanish studies became less a sector of Romance Philology or of Western European philology in general and more the back story to the current drama of the Latin American Boom novel, the literature of the Mexican Revolution, and the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

For many US students of Hispanic literature the medieval survey course is little more than a bitter bill one must swallow. In recent years, as US Latino studies has gathered momentum, the study of medieval literature has been further marginalized as the curriculum has expanded and student interest further shifted forward in time, across the Atlantic, and increasingly, on the US-Mexico border.

The rise of Latin American studies has, paradoxically, been a benefit to medievalists in that the massive proliferation of undergraduate and Masters degree programs in Spanish at US universities has provided medievalists with a steady flow of reluctant students who are required to study at least one course of premodern literature to graduate. An additional benefit has been that the dominance of Latin American studies has forced medievalists to come out of their caves blinking into the sunlight. Now surrounded by colleagues whose ideological and methodological approaches differed radically from those of the medievalists who trained them, medieval Hispanists began to come to grips with the politicization of literary studies, the corpus of critical theory that had become the currency of the realm, and the pressing need to demonstrate the relevance of their studies to a student body who has neither consciousness of nor faith in the idea of literary history.

One of the exiles who came to the US during the Franco period had a massive impact on the field of medieval letters. While he did not go as far as displacing Castile from the center of Spanish studies, he opened the field to Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Hebrew studies. One effect of this intervention was to privilege the literary voices of non-Christian residents of Christian Iberia. A boost for Portuguese Source: Wikipedia.

It must be noted, that however much the Hebrew and Arabic literary production of medieval Iberia has been marginalized within Hispanic studies, Portuguese and Catalan to say nothing of Latin have been equally if not more overshadowed by Castilian. The rise of Hispanic and Latino studies in the US has been a bilingual enterprise carried out nearly exclusively in Spanish and English.

This leaves not just Hebrew and Arabic out in the cold, but all the other languages of literary production in medieval Iberia as well: Latin, Catalan, Aragonese, Galician-Portuguese, etc. Portuguese has had a considerable boost both by the Portuguese emigree community in the US, and more recently by increasing interest in the Brazilian economy and vernacular art forms, but Catalan remains the red-headed stepchild of medieval Hispanic studies.

A decent level of support is available from the Generalitat de Catalunya, but interest even among graduate students of medieval Hispanic literatures is relatively low. The post-Franco Catalan revival has attracted a good deal of scholarly attention among modernists, but Catalan lags far behind Castilian in terms of graduate student interest. Finally Latin, the administrative, liturgical, and creative language of Christian Iberian kingdoms prior to the rise of the literary vernaculars, produced a massive literary corpus that Hispanists have studied but are hard pressed to teach due to a lack of critical translations and the fact that Iberian Latin works are not typically included on PhD reading lists in Hispanic Studies.

Samuel G. Armistead Source: eSefarad. Castro threw down the multicultural gauntlet. It was a real challenge to the field, a call to arms. His approach was most popular in the US, where he taught, and far less so in Spain, where the patirarchal and endogamous pattern of graduate education and hiring practices still held sway. His multicultural thesis resonated with the brewing US multiculturalism that exploded in the wake of the Vietnam War. The late Samuel Armistead Emeritus at UC Davis dedicated a lifetime to the study of the culture of medieval Iberia and its transformations in the culture of the Sephardic Jews.


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In Spain, where the question of the national Semitic legacy is neatly mapped to the political faults of the Spanish Civil War, and therefore painfully relevant, this academic debate spills over into the areas of popular history and public policy. Let them read Hanagid Source: eyeonspain. The question of medieval Spain in Hebrew studies is plagued by a secondary nationalism by which a Judeo-centric focus has tended to minimize the Arabic and Romance contexts of Hebrew literary production in al-Andalus and Christian Iberia.

As with the case of the Castilian poets of the middle ages, the canonical Hebrew poets of al-Andalus have become the classics of Hebrew or Jewish literature, and as such are vehicles for all sorts of ideological programs that condition the study of and estimation of their work. Andalusi and Andalusi Hebrew literature is not typically considered as Spanish Literature, and Spanish school children do not learn the verses of Ibn Zaydun and Samuel Hanagid Naghrela in translation alongside those of Gonzalo de Berceo and Juan Ruiz.

Spanish universities do in fact teach Hebrew and Arabic and produce a steady stream of academic specialists in Hebrew and Arabic literature of the Peninsula, but only recently do we see studies incorporating primary poetic texts in both Hebrew and Arabic. In the US, for example, Judaic studies is supported by Jewish funders whose ideology tends toward the conservative, the Zionist, and consequently toward the marginalization of Arabic as a Jewish language of expression. To wit, the recent book by Jonathan Decter of Brandeis University on Hebrew literature in transition between al-Andalus and Christian Europe is a solid effort to situate Hebrew literature in the context of Romance literatures, but ultimately the author, whose training in Arabic and Hebrew is formidable, is less familiar with the Romance traditions of the Peninsula.

This underscores the need for collaborative work, which unfortunately at least in the US academy does not pass muster for purposes of tenure and promotion. This is another way in which the professional norms of the academy can frustrate pan-European or pan-Mediterranean scholarship. Among Israeli scholars one can observe a dynamic similar to that which obtains in Spain: disciplinary culture discourages comparative work, from the moment one begins their doctoral work forward.

The way forward Source: urbanlivingokc. The question remains as to how to reverse or diffuse this trend. Individuals such as those mentioned above can endeavor on their own accounts to learn the necessary languages and seek out the necessary training, but once employed by departments of national or modern languages, the institutional environment encourages more traditional work in terms of linguistic and methodological approach. Many thanks to Profs. This lecture is dedicated to the memories of two recently deceased teachers and colleagues, Prof.

Samuel Armistead and Prof. Tonight I am going to talk about the role of literature in cultural exchange in one interesting —but not unique— cultural moment in a part of the world that was at once of the cultural capitals of the Islamic world and a very important religious center of Western Christianity. Tonight I would like to take you back before all of this, to a time when Europe had yet to set its sights on the New World, before modern nation states and national languages and national cultures.

Like much of the world, the lands that are now Spain and Portugal were always a crossroads of different ethnic and linguistic groups. The people who are now known as the Basques migrated there during the mists of prehistory. The Romans pacified the Peninsula during the third to second centuries BCE, giving it the name Hispania, and its Romance languages, several of which are still spoken today. Visigoths came over the Pyrenees after the disintegration of Roman political power and installed themselves in Toledo, where they ruled over Hispania for over two centuries.

From , there would be Muslim kings parts of the Peninsula until Boabdil, King of Granada, lays his arms at the feet of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel the Catholic in From a European perspective, this period of Muslim political dominance is what most distinguishes the history and culture of the Iberian Peninsula. Al-Andalus was a unique case in Western European history. Nowhere else in Western Europe was Islam the state religion and Arabic the state language for significant periods of time. Consequently, there is nowhere else in Western Europe, until very recently, where Muslims, Jews, and Christians, lived and worked together under a political system that espoused —but did not always adhere to— a doctrine of religious tolerance.

This is a unique fact in the history of Western Europe. The only other case is that of Islamic Sicily, which was a far shorter time period and which left a very interesting, but ultimately shallower historical footprint. I want to be very clear that I am not talking about a Golden Age of Tolerance here.

Laws are one thing and people are another. We do not always respect doctrine. There was sectarian violence in al-Andalus, and the protections granted to Christian and Jewish religious minorities were a far cry from what we would expect in a modern democracy. They were not considered the equals of their Muslim counterparts. They paid a poll tax and were barred from occupying certain positions in government. However, they enjoyed the right to practice their religions, to organize and govern their own affairs autonomously, provided they did not offend Islam or Muslims in doing so.

This legacy of tolerance, while no utopia, was a significant historical fact and that made the examples I am about to discuss possible, at a time when religious minorities elsewhere in Western Europe fared considerably worse on the whole. The Andalusi capital, Cordoba, in the tenth century boasted lit streets, public baths, and vast libraries when Germany and France were in the depths of what we like to call the Dark Ages.

To be sure, this was not the daily reality of all Andalusis, but when we talk about al-Andalus we should think of fifteenth-century Florence in terms of wealth and cultural refinement. The city of Cordova in the tenth century was home to the court of the Umayyad Caliphs and the most populous, most technologically advanced, and wealthiest city in Western Europe.

It was also a city where Classical Arabic was the official language of government and of state religion, of the literary establishment and of high culture. But it was not the only language spoken or written by Andalusis. Jews prayed and wrote in Hebrew in addition to Classical Arabic. So the linguistic reality in al-Andalus at this time is one of widespread bilingualism both in spoken and in written language.

Kingdom of Asturias

Andalusi poet singing, from Bayad wa-Riyad , 13th century, one of three surviving illustrated manuscripts from al-Andalus. Our first example is drawn the poetry of the court, and represents a striking innovation in the kind of songs that Andalusi poets recited and sang.


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  6. Poetry was political propaganda, it was a means to celebrate or revile public figures, it was a way to celebrate a victory or commemorate an important event. Poets created political and social capital in the images and catchy but authoritative phrases they coined. People repeated and recited the most memorable lines in daily discussion and in public and private gatherings. More than just a rarefied art form that one studied in school or that a select group of elite read quietly to themselves, poetry was more like a high-profile medium that traveled from mouth to mouth rather than from smartphone to smartphone.

    Until the tenth century, when a poet performed a composition at court he recited it in a singsong voice, in metered monorrhyme lines; that is, every line in the poem ended in the same syllable. There may have been some musical accompaniment but poems were not sung to a melody, they were declaimed, recited. According to tradition, in the middle of the tenth century, a blind poet named Muqaddam from the town of Cabra near Cordova, made a simple yet radical innovation in Classical Arabic poetry: he wrote poems that were meant to be sung , even danced to.

    This was nothing short of revolutionary, a shocking innovation in Arabic poetic tradition. The effect was something like hearing a Shakespeare sonnet sung to the tune of a Shakira tune, and then hearing a verse from the Shakira tune at the end, at which point you realize that the sonnet has not just the same tune, but the same theme, and rhymes with the popular song.

    His song ma li-l-muwallah is a festive bachanal set to popular music. This recording is a modern reconstruction by the Altramar Medieval Music Ensemble from their album titled Iberian Garden. Singers in the Arab world still sing muwashshahat in Classical Arabic, most notably the iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.

    The classical Andalusi musical style still has large audiences in the cities of North Africa, many of which have their own Andalusi orchestras such as this one pictured in Tangiers, Morocco. Nonetheless, the Andalusi muwashshah was an innovation built on cultural exchange, on crossing boundaries.

    By brining colloquial Arabic and Andalusi Romance language and popular melodies into the arts of the court, the poets of al-Andalus transformed both the popular lyrics they used as the basis for their learned compositions as well as the idea of what it meant to perform poetry at court. Jewish Andalusi poets carried this exchange a step further by adapting the new poetry into Hebrew. This, too represented a bold innovation in Hebrew poetic tradition on more than one count.

    First, it opened up Hebrew poetry to a vast range of ideas, imagery, thematic material, and technique that were previously the province of Arabic. They wrote Hebrew poetry using the language of the Hebrew Bible describing the themes and images of the Classical Arabic poetic tradition. The beloveds described in terms of gazelles or fawns, the lush descriptions of gardens, the metaphors drawn from desert life of the pre-Islamic Arabic poets all of this they recast in biblical Hebrew, sometimes in entire phrases lifted directly from the prophets, the psalms, the narratives of genesis and kings, and especially the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon.

    These were also set to Andalusi classical arrangements, and to this day there are artists such as Rabbi Haim Louk who continue to interpret the Andalusi Sephardic tradition. Here is a short clip from his recent arrangement of a piyyut or devotional poem by the eleventh century poet Solomon ibn Gabirol.

    Rabbi Louk has set the poem to the tune of a very popular qasida made popular by the Moroccan singer Abdesedek Chekara, who lived in the twentieth century. Soon after the time of the poets Moses ibn Ezra and Ibn Zuhr, the balance of power on the Iberian Peninsula began to tilt in the direction of the Christian states in the north. Some fifty years later the Caliphate disintegrated, leaving in its wake a collection of petty Muslim kingdoms that competed with each other and with the Christian states to the north for dominance. The Christian kings of Leon and Castile pressed their advantage and by they had conquered Toledo, the former capital of the Visigothic kingdom.

    However, it would be another century and a half before the tide turned decisively in favor of the Christians. Historians view battle of Navas de Tolosa in the key date after which at least retroactively the writing was on the wall for al-Andalus. Alfonso X portrayed in a manuscript of his Cantigas de Santa Maria.

    Not coincidentally it was around this same time that Christians in Western Europe began to compose serious literary works in the various Romance languages they spoke, carving out space once occupied by their classical language, Latin. This was happening in neighboring countries as well, where increased commerce and the proliferation of universities spurred literary innovations that eventually gave Western Europe its Chaucers and Dantes. In Spain, however, Christian authors worked in the shadow of the considerable intellectual legacy of al-Andalus long after the balance of power on the Peninsula had turned in their favor.

    You can still see his legacy in the city seal of LA. However, he was even more famous for having conquered the two most important cities in the south of the Peninsula, Cordova and Seville, in the middle of the thirteenth century. After Ferdinand completed his considerable military conquests, all that was left of the great al-Andalus was the small Kingdom of Granada in the south, which was reduced to the status of client state to Castile and Leon, and remained a harassed tributary state until its eventual defeat in by the Catholic Monarchs Isabel the Catholic and Fernando of Aragon. Alfonso was the architect of a massive literary project that accomplished two important goals.

    The first was to establish and exalt Castilian as a literary language, displacing Latin as the most prestigious, most important language of learning at court. He commissioned an impressive corpus of works on law, science, official history, and philosophy, and statecraft that, in the space of a single generation, established Castilian as a prestigious literary language when Italian and French were just getting off the ground as such. One of the ways Alfonso accomplished this was through translations of Arabic works directly into Castilian.

    Alfonso employed a team of scholars who translated scores of crucial works of science, philosophy, and wisdom literature into Castilian from Arabic. This was only a part of the Castilian vogue for all things Andalusi. The victorious Christian court consumed Andalusi textiles, music, architecture, and material culture with an enthusiasm rivaled only by its hunger for Andalusi learning.

    This transfer of Andalusi intellectual culture to the Castilian court was a forerunner of the European Renaissance, a flowering of Greek science and learning delivered by the conduit of Andalusi civilization. He never achieved this honor, but what he did do was make available in the vernacular language of the court, a massive library of high-tech and cutting edge works of mathematics, astronomy, natural sciences, philosophy, and most important for our discussion this evening, literature.

    Castilian translation of Calila e Dimna. This way of telling stories, these stories within stories, came to Arabic from Indian tradition and dates back to at least the first century CE. In many of the exemplary tales contained in the book, the main characters are discussing a political problem faced by the Lion king, and Kalila or Dimna offer advice in the form of a story that illustrates the way to control the situation.

    This model of telling stories introduced to the nascent vernacular literature by Alfonso the tenth, became a vogue in Europe and were widely and successfully imitated. Giovanni Boccaccio borrowed the idea for his Decameron , a collection of tales told to each other not by advisors and kings but to a group of Florentine courtiers fleeing an outbreak of plague in the countryside. Geoffrey Chaucer followed suit in his Canterbury Tales, his collection of stories told by a group of pilgrims traveling from London to Canterbury.

    Both of these examples leave the courtly setting and political context behind but in both cases the stories are a bulwark against some danger, not the intrigue and political hijinx of the royal court but the lurking danger of plague, or the perils of the medieval English highways. This tradition of appropriating Andalusi learning and material culture became the prestige model for courtly culture in Castile.

    For centuries, Castilian nobles were avid consumers of Andalusi textiles, architecture, ceramics, food, and music. This phenomenon was difficult to characterize. Were these Castilians simply cynically aping and appropriating the culture of the civilization they had essentially defeated and with whom they were sporadically at war for as long as they could remember? Or was Andalusi culture part of Castilian culture? Politically it was clear that Castile was a Christian kingdom, but it was one that counted many thousands of Andalusi Muslims, Jews and Christians in its population. Some cities remained essentially Andalusi in their cultural life for centuries after being conquered by Christian armies.

    In Toledo, for example, Arabic was used as one of the classical languages of the Mozarabic Christian community, the descendents of the Christian community of Andalusi Toledo. Though that city was, as we have mentioned, conquered by Castile in CE, Mozarabic scribes continue to file land deeds and other documents written in Arabic for over three centuries.

    In the Crown of Aragon, the city of Valencia, conquered by Aragon in the early thirteenth century, continued to be a center of Andalusi culture and a vibrant Arabic-speaking community for over two hundred years. Politics and religion aside, it was sometimes difficult to say where al-Andalus ended and Castile began. Juan Manuel was, after the king, the most powerful man in Castile. He was governor of the border state of Murcia, and had extensive diplomatic experience dealing with the kingdom of Granada.

    The structure of this collection of tales tells us the story of the continuing assimilation of Andalusi learning in the court of Castile and what intellectual and cultural fruits this process bore. His advisor Patronio responds to specific questions about real-life political predicaments posed to him by the Count.

    Don Juan Manuel takes the structure of Kalila wa-Dimna as a starting point, but transforms the animal fables and out-of-time-and-place anecdotes of the Arabic work into relatively realistic stories set in places like Cordova and Toledo. He gives his characters Castilian or Andalusi names and sometimes includes tales about historical figures from the region. He weaves together material drawn from folklore, from official histories, historical anecdotes, Latin manuals of materials for sermons written by Dominican friars, and tales from local oral tradition.

    Many of the stories in Conde Lucanor are also found elsewhere in other Latin or Arabic versions. In one famous case, he includes the tale of a wise magician and a foolish Churchman that is found in only one other source: a Hebrew book written in Castile in during the time of Alfonso X. This tale and its transformations from Castilian folktale to the Hebrew literary work of Ibn Sahula to the Conde Lucanor of Juan Manuel provides us with another example of how literary materials and traditions move between religious and linguistic groups in medieval Iberia. Like the Conde Lucanor , the Book of the Knight Zifar is the result of the second generation of the appropriation of Andalusi learning, the incorporation of Andalusi wisdom literature into the Arthurian Chivalric Romance.

    Zifar is an exceptional knight who bears a most inconvenient curse that causes his horse to die every ten days. He is separated from his wife and children, is shipwrecked, falls in love with various women, and finally becomes king and is reunited with his family. Some have argued that the book was itself translated from Arabic as part of the massive translation project of Alfonso the tenth. Many of the characters have names that may well be derived from Arabic words. The conceit of translation from Arabic is an allegory for the transmission of learning from al-Andalus to Castile, a confirmation of the prestige of the Andalusi intellectual legacy, but not an actual exploitation of it.

    Here the exchange of learning from al-Andalus to Castile is framed not in terms of a manual of political dominance but in a fantasy of Christian morality and knightly excellence, with a sprinkling of statecraft similar to that found in Kalila wa-Dimna and Conde Lucanor. It is an allegory of the development of Castilian courtly culture in the wake of the Christian conquest of al-Andalus.

    Thus we see that in the thirteenth century as in the twenty-first, novels and politically flavored fiction have as much to do with current events as they do with art and storytelling. The winners tell story of what the intellectual culture of the Castilian court becomes, after enjoying the intellectual spoils of war, the Andalusi legacy of learning and science. My last two examples this evening come to us from the minority cultures of Christian Iberia, and demonstrate a different type of literary cultural exchange.

    They are not about how the triumphant majority exploits and incorporates the learning of the vanquished, but rather how a minority culture makes use of the literary languages and building blocks of the dominant culture. I wish to demonstrate how the Muslim and Jewish subjects of these Christian monarchs made sense of the world in which they found themselves living, one in which they were not guaranteed the same institutional protections afforded to religious minorities in al-Andalus. While some Christian Iberian monarchs practiced certain forms of religious tolerance at certain times, there was no Catholic doctrine of tolerance to serve as a guide for political action.

    After the Christian conquest of al-Andalus, the fortunes of the Muslim populations of areas like Valencia and Murcia took a sharp turn for the worse. Rather than live under Christian rule as a religious minority, the ruling elites fled to Granada or North Africa, and the great majority of Muslims living under Christian rule were either tenant farmers or artisans. While most communities enjoyed the right to continue practicing Islam into the sixteenth century, there was a severe brain drain that cut the legs out from underneath institutional Islamic life in Christian Iberia, and began a long process of cultural deprivation that would become extreme in the years following the conquest of Granada.

    We all know about the first voyage of Columbus, but it was also the year of the defeat of Granada, when the triumphant Catholic Monarchs Isabella the Catholic of Castile and Leon and Ferdinand of Aragon took possession of the Alhambra, thus ending the existence of Islamic political power in Western Europe. This military defeat by no means signaled the end of Islamic life in Christian Iberia. Their highnesses and their successors will allow [all the people of Granada] great or small, to live in their own religion, and not permit that their mosques be taken from them, nor their minarets nor their muezzins.

    Constable However, a decade after the fall of Granada the pious and severe Isabel had a change of heart, and reneged on the terms set out in the Capitulations. This disastrous moment did not in any way, however, mark the end of Islam in Spain. Rather, it marked the beginning of a new phase of clandestine or crypto-Islam, a transformation of traditional Islamic life to the new straitened circumstances.

    The brain drain that resulted from the near total exile of Islamic elites from the peninsula meant that it became very difficult to receive formal instruction in Islamic religion, law, and even in the classical Arabic language. Although some crypto-Muslims in places such as Granada and Valencia continued to speak colloquial Andalusi Arabic, the new prohibitions eventually ensured that almost none had any real proficiency in Classical Arabic, and even fewer were able to compose original texts in the language.

    By the middle of the sixteenth century, just as the struggles between Catholics and Protestants were reaching a fever pitch on the European continent, Islam went underground in Spain. The end of publicly organized Islamic life during the period did not mean the end of Islamic cultural practice or even of Islamic literature in Spain, however.

    Spanish Muslims continued to smuggle books from Granada and North Africa into Christian realms, but given the near total death of Classical Arabic studies, the distribution and consumption of Islamic texts underwent a curious transformation. Moriscos began to adapt classical texts on Islamic topics into Spanish, the only language that most Spanish Muslims were able to understand. So was born Aljamiado literature, written in Spanish using Arabic letters. This was a term that had been applied throughout Islamic history to the vernacular languages of non-Arab Muslims, such as Farsi or Tamazigh Berber.

    Like many writing systems, the Arabic alphabet had been adapted to write several languages of Muslim communities such as Farsi, Urdu, and even Uigur. Aljamiado literature was the only example of Muslims using the Arabic Alphabet to write in a Romance language. Authors composed a wide variety of Aljamiado texts. But there is also an imaginative literature that includes exemplary tales, translations of the accounts of the epic battles of Islamic expansion, and even an Islamicized version of a popular romance novel, the Amores de Paris y Viana , the Romance of Paris and Viana.

    There are versions recorded in French, Italian, Russian, and several other languages. It is the tale of the Maiden of the Severed Hands. There is even a wicked mother-in-law, here standing in for the wicked stepmother made famous by Cinderella. And yet, this at the same time a perfectly Islamic folk tale.

    The author has pressed the tale of the maiden of the severed hands into service as a primer for Islam. The entire point of the story is to demonstrate the powers of Islamic faith and daily prayer. This version was written in Tunis by a Morisco who had arrived there after the expulsion from Spain in Our anonymous author wrote this text in Roman characters, a testimony to the extent to which many Moriscos had been almost completely Hispanized and were full participants in the vernacular culture shared by Christians and Muslims.

    This damsel Arcayona followed the religion and idolatry of her father, and had a beautifully fashioned silver idol that she worshipped. And, one day, while this damsel was praying to her idol, she sneezed. When she invoked the name of her idol an angel appeared, in shape of a beatiful dove, on top of the head of the idol.

    The dove spoke to her in clear and measured speech:. You must not continue to do that, but rather say alandulilah arabin allamin.


    1. In The Bin.
    2. Peter pens epic tale | East Lothian Courier.
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    4. What in a secular European folk tale would be attributed to magic is here attributed to the power of God. The enchanted dove is in fact an angel who elsewhere in the story teaches Carcayona the shahada , the Muslim credo or affirmation of faith, demonstrating the power of faith to carry one through difficult times; a fitting lesson for a religious minority that suffered terrible persecution in Spain and an uncertain future in North Africa. This remarkable literary hybrid demonstrates very clearly that coexistence and cultural sharing is not always an expression of a positive experience or of a tolerant and peaceful society, but that adversity also breeds innovation across traditions.

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      Hopefully these examples can teach us lessons about how different traditions can coexist fruitfully. The same year in which Granada fell to the Catholic monarchs was also the year in which they decided to expel the Jews from their kingdoms. Like the decision to put and end or at least try to put an end to Islam, this catastrophic event gave rise to some significant cultural formations that, like the phenomenon of Aljamiado literature, demonstrate great adaptability and resilience.

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      I am speaking here of the culture and language of the Sepharadim, the exiled Spanish Jews, who, once settled in their new homes in North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, or elsewhere, continued to speak Spanish, sing the ballads they had learned growing up in Spain, and wrote in Judeo-Spanish to the present day. Hebrew for them was a classical language that was used for prayer, religious study, legal records, correspondence, and was occasionally pressed into service with other Jews as an international lingua franca much the way that Latin was sometimes used among literate Christians.

      However, there were no toddlers speaking Hebrew in Spain, and Spanish Jews, like their Christian and many of their Muslim counterparts, grew up speaking Spanish or Portuguese or Catalan, singing the same traditional songs, and telling the same stories as their Christian neighbors.

      Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain
      Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain
      Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain
      Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain
      Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain Song of the Eight Winds: Reconquista - An Epic Tale of Medieval Spain

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