William Chester Jordan transforms our understanding of medieval Christian-Muslim relations by telling the stories of the Muslims who came to France to live as Christians. Under what circumstances did they willingly convert? How successfully did they assimilate into French society? What forms of resistance did they employ? In examining questions like these, Jordan weaves a richly detailed portrait of a dazzling yet violent age whose lessons still resonate today.
Until now, scholars have dismissed historical accounts of the king’s peaceful conversion of Muslims as hagiographical and therefore untrustworthy. Jordan takes these narratives seriously—and uncovers archival evidence to back them up. He brings his findings marvelously to life in this succinct and compelling book, setting them in the context of the Seventh Crusade and the universalizing Catholic impulse to convert the world.
Geoffrey Hindley instructively unravels the story of the Christian military expeditions that have perturbed European history, troubled Christian consciences and embittered Muslim attitudes towards the West. He offers a lively record of the Crusades, from the Middle East to the pagan Baltic, and fascinating portraits of the major personalities, from Godfrey of Bouillon, the first Latin ruler of Jerusalem, to Etienne, the visionary French peasant boy who inspired the tragic Children's Crusade. Addressing questions rarely considered, Hindley sheds new light on pressing issues surrounding religious division and shows how the Crusades have helped to shape the modern world and relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day.
Toward the end of the twelfth century, a small book titled the Bahir (Light) appeared in Provence. The first document of Judaism's emerging kabbalistic movement, it introduced a completely new view of God, one that included a divine potency that was essentially female. This female divinity was portrayed both as a mediator between Jews and God and as part of the Godhead itself. Examining Judaic history from the biblical Wisdom tradition to the Middle Ages, Schäfer finds some precedents for the Kabbalah's feminine divinity. But he cannot account for her forceful appearance in twelfth-century southern France without reference to the immediate Christian environment, particularly the flourishing veneration of the Virgin Mary. Indeed, twelfth-century Jews and Christians were simultaneously rediscovering the feminine as an aspect of the Godhead after having abandoned it in favor of either an abstract, disembodied God or an exclusively male one.
In proposing that the medieval cult of Mary--rather than eastern Gnosticism--is the appropriate framework for understanding the feminine elements in Jewish mysticism, Mirror of His Beauty represents a sea change in Kabbalah and Jewish-Christian cultural studies. It shifts our attention from the Byzantine East to the Latin Christian West. And in contrast to histories that treat the development of Judaism and Christianity in isolation, it leads us to a fuller understanding of Jews and Christians living in proximity, aware of each other.
This revised and updated edition provides sympathetic descriptions of the various traditions, explaining how they work “from the inside,” which is a big reason why this cherished classic has sold more than two million copies since it first appeared in 1958.
Greene also notes that the Ottoman conquest of Crete represented not only the extension of Muslim rule to an island that once belonged to a Christian power, but also the strengthening of Eastern Orthodoxy at the expense of Latin Christianity, and ultimately the Orthodox reconquest of the eastern Mediterranean. Greene concludes that despite their religious differences, both the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire represented the ancien régime in the Mediterranean, which accounts for numerous similarities between Venetian and Ottoman Crete. The true push for change in the region would come later from Northern Europe.
Jordan begins with a description of medieval northern Europe at its demographic peak around 1300, by which time the region had achieved a sophisticated level of economic integration. He then looks at problems that, when combined with years of inundating rains and brutal winters, gnawed away at economic stability. From animal diseases and harvest failures to volatile prices, class antagonism, and distribution breakdowns brought on by constant war, northern Europeans felt helplessly besieged by acts of an angry God--although a cessation of war and a more equitable distribution of resources might have lessened the severity of the food shortages.
Throughout Jordan interweaves vivid historical detail with a sharp analysis of why certain responses to the famine failed. He ultimately shows that while the northern European economy did recover quickly, the Great Famine ushered in a period of social instability that had serious repercussions for generations to come.