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Module

HIS3219 : Living Together: Christians, Muslims and Jews in Medieval Iberia

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Clarke
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

Medieval Iberia, meeting place of monotheisms, has attracted more than its fair share of extravagant claims over the years. At their most intemperate, assessments of Iberia have lauded it as a wonderland of inter-religious tolerance – sometimes expressed by the concept of convivencia, or ‘living together’ – or else lamented it as a war-torn warning that multiculturalism is always doomed to fail. Hyperbole aside, Iberia offers us the chance to see how medieval societies coped with religious and cultural difference in both war and peace. Social norms, legal frameworks, architectural styles and the rhetorics of political legitimacy are all testament to the patchwork of accommodation, repression and anxiety that was life in medieval Iberia, on both the Muslim and the Christian sides of the territorial divide.

This module will explore the experiences of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the peninsula as political, cultural and religious actors. The primary focus will be on moments of contact between these cultures, between 711 (the Muslim conquest of Iberia) and 1284 (the end of the reign of Alfonso X of Leon-Castile). We shall approach the period primarily through case studies of particular times, places and texts. One such case study is that of the so-called ‘spontaneous martyrs’ of Cordoba, a small group of ninth-century Christians who deliberately sought death at the hands of the Muslim authorities in al-Andalus; we shall use the martyrs to consider how processes of acculturation and assimilation affect social institutions, cultural belonging, and family life. The picture of monolithic clashing civilisations will be challenged and complicated throughout by attention to diversity and fluidity on both sides: ethnic and sectarian divisions among Muslims; the experiences of converts and the children of religiously-mixed marriages; and the mismatch between external and internal approaches to the conflict, in the shape of Frankish and North African incomers to Iberia.

Particular attention will be paid to lawcodes, chronicles, and poetry for evidence of the theory and practice of relations between dominant and subordinate religious groups, in both al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) and the Christian kingdoms of the northern peninsula.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes covered may include the following: conceptualisation and legitimisation of authority; communal and individual identities; multiculturalism; gender; law in theory and practice.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable