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The Cross and the Crescent: a review

by Migeru Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 02:41:14 AM EST

Richard Fletcher (2004) The Cross and The Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Muhammad to the Reformation, Viking Penguin, ISBN 0-670-03271-9, $22.95

In December of 2002, in what seems like a different life altogether, I found myself in the gift shop of Granada's Alhambra and I ended up buying myself a copy of Richard Fletcher's delicious little book Moorish Spain. I never added to the Wikipedia my newly gained insight into Al-Andalus, as I originally intended, but I liked the book so much that I couldn't resist the urge, on seeing another book by the same author in a Notting Hill discount bookstore, to buy it, read it, and now write an ET diary about it [for no human activity is truly complete if it is not chronicled here].


In 161 pages of large print in a small format [not counting ancillary material such as indices, notes, or references), the late British historian Richard Fletcher (March 2005 obituary) reviews the relationship between the two civilizations, Christian and Muslim, over the first millennium of existance of the latter. The conclusion I draw from this very instructive book is this: the present attitudes between the West and the Muslim world are very similar to what they have always been, namely: the West sees Islam as a false religion, and Muslims as violent thugs, while at the same time being caught in Orientalist fascination of their culture; the Muslim world is, by and large, indifferent to the West [to its great peril, as we have seen after about 1800] if not dismissive of it and considering that Mohammed's revelation supersedes Christianity. From the Epilogue:

Christian-Muslim relations took the form that they did because attitudes could not have been other than what they were. Christians first encountered Muslims as conquerors: it is readily intelligible that they should have perceived Islam as inherently martial. Given the intellectual and religious climate of the age, the only manner in which Christians could explain Islam is a fashion convincing to themselves was as an aberrant form of Christianity. There you have the two essential ingredients of the Christian image of Islam: Muhammad as a pseudo-prophet, impostor, heretic; his followers as men of blood and violence. Other elements would be added, for instande accusations of self-indulgence and sexual licence, but these two would always be the principal ones. They were already present in what seems to be the earliest record of Christian reaction to Islam, the Doctrina Jacobi quoted in Chapter I, composed perhaps as early as 640 or so. The resultant image has proved quite remarkably long-lasting.

Muslims were from the first imbued with the supreme self-confidence born of the conviction that they had been chosen to receive God's last and most complete revelation; necessarily, therefore, they looked upon Christians with scorn. In addition, Dar al-Islam occupied, by God's mercy and providence, a more favoured portion of the earth's surface than did Christendom. Seen from Baghdad in, say, the year 900, the Christian world was a jumble of confused sects and petty monarchies squirming about in an unappealing environment. The Islamic community had no rival in its wealth, its technology, its learning and its culture as well as in its faith. A lofty disdain was the only intelligible attitude for Muslims to adopt towards Christians.

Attitudes laid down like rocks long ago continue to shape their moral environment for many centuries thereafter. There is a geology of human relationships which it is unwise to neglect.

There you have it. The firebrand accusations of conservative Christian preachers that "Islam is a false religion and Mohammed was a terrorist" after 9/11 and the resentment in Islamist manifestos at the exploitation by the West of the oil wealth that, by the mercy and providence of God, had been put under Muslim soil. It's all been there since the 7th century.

With the conclusion out of the way, let's take a quick tour of the book's five chapters.

1. Ishmael's Children is a quick summary of the birth and expansion of Islam, but to me very novel in that it puts the emphasis on the mutual attitudes between the existing peoples and cultures and the expanding Muslim empire. However, I want to highlight what the attitude of the Byzantine empire towards Arabs was before the birth of Mohammed, because those attitudes are with us still today and have nothing to do with Islam:

The Arabs were the semi-nomadic tribespeople, sharing a common language and culture, who clustered along the frontiers of the two major imperial powers on the fringes of the Syrian Desert and were scattered in the habitable zones of the Arabian Peninsula proper.
...
The settled peoples of the two empires had that disdain for the Arabs that so frequently marks the attitude of the sedentary towards the nomad. Enmity between pastoralists and cultivators, the desert and the sown, goes back to Abel and Cain. Ammianus Marcellinus, last of the great Latin historians of antiquity. writing towards the end of the fourth century, is representative. He considered the Arabs a destructive people, who would swoop down like birds of prey to seize whatever they could find
...
Christian writers such as Ammianus' contemporary St Jerome, a near neighbour of the Arabs during his long residence at Bethlehem between 386 and 420, agreed with him. And these Christian authorities knew how to explain these peculiar people. It was all there in what the Bible had to say about Ishmael, whose birth and destiny are described in genesis 16. Ishmael would be 'a wild man, his hand against every man's, and every man's hand against his; and he shall live at odds with all his kinsmen'.
Whoa, dude, from yesterday's dirt comes today's mud.

2. An Elephant for Charlemagne draws its title from the gift that the Abbasid Caliph Harun ar-Rashid gave to Charlemagne on the occasion of his crowning as Emperor. This is a chapter on the building of the Islamic empire, the role the existing Christian and Persian state structures and literate public servants played in the Umayyad Caliphate, and how the Abbasid Caliphate sought (and achieved) an entirely Muslim identity, symbolized in the capital moving from Damascus to the purpose-built Baghdad.

3. Crossing Frontiers examines the interaction between the two civilizations after Muslim expansion came to a halt. The first part of the chapter centers on the two frontier regions, Spain and Turkey, and two characters: a presumably fictional Basil, the two-blooded border soldier (Digenes Akrites is the title of the Greek epic poem about his exploits) in Turkey in the 9th century; and Rodrigo Díaz, El Cid, in 11th Century Spain. Both men are taken as representative of the relatively relaxed attitude to political (and even religious) allegiances that existed in the border regions, while both heartlands remained by and large ignorant of each other. The latter part of the chapter deals with the crusades, including the strange [for they never actually met in person] friendship between Richard the Lionheart and Saladdin.

4. Commerce, Coexistence and Scholarship deals with the Italian trading colonies in the Eastern mediterranean, what the life of religious minorities was like on either side, and also the first scholarly approaches to "the other", which were almost invariably bigoted polemics with no attempt at understanding.

5. Sieving the Koran is the English title of Nicholas of Cusa's Cribratio Alcoranis, commissioned by Pope Pius II in hopes of getting a great work with which to stir up crusading spirit but that turned out to be "dedicated to the proposition that if the Koran is intensively studied in the proper spirit ('sieved') it will be found to be compatible with the teachings of Christianity as found in the New Testament". This is indicative of the early Renaissance spirit of religious tolerance that would go up in flames with the zealotry of the Reformation and Counter-reformation. The chapter also deals with the latest crusades (of Nikopolis and Granada), and very summarily with the developments of the 16th century, when Europe stops looking towards the near East to embark instead in the exploration of the oceans and the New World, and on the scientific revolution.

All in all, a very instructive book, very necessary after 9/11 (and timely: it was planned in 1998-2000 and written in 2001) and which really warrants reading and, for myself, re-reading.

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A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 02:42:04 AM EST
Good, we're not giving you any mojo then =)
by Navaros (pshipkov@@gmail.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that wasn't a 4.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mine was neither a 4 and also did not like it :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the beginning of the end of the state.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was also a good reason for my non 4.. spain desmembrandose and you here so happy writting about moors and christians.. no wonder our country is going to hell. :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:56:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait until you read my diary on The Expulsion of the European Muslims.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 06:07:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my country is going to hell according only to the PP, and yours is according only to ERC, so I think all is well.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 06:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have even not recommended it!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:47:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, I knew I could count on you.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was not a mouse click.
by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh la Alhambra, I visited it on a detour from the Universal Exposition in Sevilla. What a place!

An interesting thing about Islam in those days, is that it tolerated one's belonging to another religion, which Christianity didn't do. Well, tolerated may be a strong word, after all there were a lot of discriminatory measures meant to remind other religions that they were inferior. Such as the voice of a Muslim weighing the voice of two Jews/Christians in court. But at least they didn't burn you or gouge your eyes out if you kept a low profile and didn't trouble public order with your paganism.

by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:54:27 AM EST
Great review, Migeru. I must read this book.

I'd heard of Richard Fletcher but didn't know much about him. His obituary is worth reading.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:26:09 AM EST
Thanks, I suppose that means the review served its purpose. As a good ETer, you must buy it from Amazon by using the affiliate link on the left, and so ease the financial burden that running this joint puts on our Dear Caliph.

Interesting that his obituary completely misses this book.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:42:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
lol. Whose left?

Oh, OK. While I am here the link is there. Hmmm. Curiously funny. :)

Thanks for the review. The book has been gloriously added to my list of must-read titles.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government -- Edward Abbey

by serik berik (serik[dot]berik on Gmail) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ignore the adverbs. Don't know what happened there.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government -- Edward Abbey
by serik berik (serik[dot]berik on Gmail) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Completely off-topic; has anyone seen Inside Man? I'm departing to watch it in a few minutes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:48:26 AM EST
I demand a movie review.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 04:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was curious what Spike Lee has to do with a heist movie, I mean how can a heist movie be turned from entertainment to art, but he pulled it off. Underneath and around the triple-twist heist story, you get a critical view at post-911 America and New York (making the film kind of a sequel to 25th Hour). Sometimes it is a very direct plot element, sometimes a background you probably won't even notice consciously, sometimes it's allegoric. Lee gets the most out of the flash-forward interviews with the ex-hostages, something central to the plot of the film (so I can't tell more without spoilers).

Although the plot is complex, there were some gaping holes for me - I didn't get how the bank robbers learnt what they came for (wasn't it a secret known only by a single man?), probably missed the role of the fifth bank robber (older man) we see identified as such only at the end, or why the chief bank robber addresses the audience at the beginning the way he does. But I fear this wasn't Lee's fault but me not getting some artistic concept or plot element. (Maybe I'll watch it a second time to find out...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 05:41:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very entertaining. I say, lacks character development. Is somewhat overplotted. (This word I found on a forum, but totally agree.) Overall, a nice way to spend 3 leva. :)

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government -- Edward Abbey
by serik berik (serik[dot]berik on Gmail) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:44:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, just ordered the book on Amazon.
by wchurchill on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:13:12 AM EST
I'm going to see if I can get a sales bonus from Fletcher's estate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 05:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the more general history of Islam, I'm hearing good things about No God but God by Reza Aslan (UCSB). It's on my purchase list but if anyone here has already read it, let me know.
by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 06:41:42 AM EST
Good thing you asked...

Reza Aslan on Islam by Metatone on Jan 23rd, 2006.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 06:45:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh uh no, not reading notes, I'm looking for criticism.

But thanks anyway, I missed that one. I was in the US at that time.
by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Half way through it at the moment. It's a refreshing read in that it feels like an enlightenment viewpoint, ie written for westerners to get a feel for the political currents that flowed through and shaped islam.

Tho' I'm glad I read "The Trouble with Islam" by Irshad Manji first.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:45:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I too found Fletcher's Moorish Spain fascinating and delicious.

One fact from that book that I found of interest was the cycle of successive waves of expansion in Iberia.

There would first be the rise of a militant power in Morocco, invasion and conquest, then settlement, building and rise of a sedentary regime.

A few decades would pass and another militant group would rise in the mountains of Morocco that considered the established regime in Iberia as apostate. A new cycle would begin.

I will add the new book to my growing list.

BTW I love browsing round bookshops in England. Foyles in London, Heffer's in Cambridge and of course the Cambridge University Press shop. I can nearly always find a few books that need buying.

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:41:37 AM EST
I went to buy myself a new notebook today and ended up with four more books to go on my reading list ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We need a Global War on Books to shift the blame for our addiction on others.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'll do a reading list open thread later on so we can show off how wonderfully intellectual we are and compete politely on the highbrowness of our reading lists. I might serve cucumber sandwiches with the crusts off.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:49:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And peeled grapes, please.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:51:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
None of that foreign food.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid I don't have much of a reading list. I try to constrain myself to buying only one book at a time, because I got sick of buying books by weight and never getting around to reading any. I like receiving books as gifts, but they seldom get read, either. However, my discretionary spending ability has recently increased posing a severe threat to my asceticism.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 07:55:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to do that. Then I developed a small amount of discretionary income and it all went bad. I have about 40 now ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:02:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
B also wants to move to a dwelling with more storage space... The horror, the horror!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:03:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. Same here - the 2-bed terrace doesn't have space for a study and a tack room.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the same problem, though I still end up buying more than one book at a time.  (I finally finished Rifkin's The European Dream, after picking it up and putting it down for months.)  Fortunately, the last two books I've bought -- PostWar and Mao -- are each about 850 pages long, and cover material that I had been wanting to cover, so they've kept me busy.  I still need to get around to Kos's book, one of these days.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:15:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What did you think of the Rifkin book?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:17:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Overall, I thought it was very interesting.  He's clearly cheering for the "EU as Federal Government" side.  I think I am, as well, but more than anything I'm enjoying the EU as a serious experiment in supranational politics -- probably the first of many.

There's a great deal of emphasis on the "network economy" (as opposed to the market economy).  His example of the difference is Amazon vs. Napster.  Amazon is a traditional "buyer and seller" relationship, whereas, with Napster, you pay a monthly fee and receive access to the entire music industry's library.  It's a very subtle difference, and, in the end, not really a difference, in my opinion (the only difference is in the structure of the transaction): It's paying for access to information rather than physically buying a product and having it shipped to you.  That's apparently what he meant by "network economy".

For me, the economic topics are obviously the most interesting.  He briefly covers the history and cultural issues surrounding feudalism, feudalism's fall to capitalism, and capitalism's mixing with socialism (the famous "mixed-market economy"), and so on, which I enjoyed.  There's a long passage on the different ways Americans and Europeans have always viewed the market economy -- that it sort of instantly fit into the American mind, but only partly fit in the European counterpart.

Anyway, he covers the entire range of issues that frequently come up -- the Britain vs. Everybody fights (which, I swear, I get the sense that Britons love it), the immigration issue, unemployment, etc. -- which is helpful to those of us who don't know a lot about European politics, but it's not the truly worthwhile portion of the book.  The chapters and passages on the EU's role in human rights are the true strength, and the truly exciting portion.

With a title like The European Dream, it's obviously going to contrast with "The American Dream".  Rifkin's take is that the Era of the Nation-State is coming to a close (which I agree with, though I don't think it will happen in my lifetime), and that America represents sort of the pinnacle of the nation-state.  But, leaving the Nation-State Era, Europe is poised to be the world leader in politics and economics, once again.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I think about the EU superstate the less I like the "EU as a Federal Government". It's going to be its own new thing, neither Federal, nor Confederal, nor Supranational.

If only we could get a Constitution...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:56:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you're right.  I was just using a very general description in thinking about one portion of the EU's direction.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:58:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neut/Colman/Migeru and I am a Bookworm.

Shall we start a new chapter of Bookworms Anonymous?

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 08:50:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to need to join to then.  I realized that when I was forced to sell off 2 suitcases worth of books to fit into my space in the brother's hours that I had a serious reading habit.  So I downsized to a modest set of bookshelves and have the rest in storage at my mother's place.  When she moves.....

Then again, if I end up postponing grad school, as is looking more likely, and by the house I've beel looking at, I'll be able to have my own study/libary/office. And I'll be able to liberate my books from the puppy who's grown fond of the taste of acid-free paper.  A true son of a bitch, that dog.  when not shitting on the floor (7 AM wakeup call), fighting with his sister (now), trying to chew the electrical cords (I'll be back in a moment) is eating my books.  Little son of a bitch, he is.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 11:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't you find a way to go to grad school in Spain? C'mon, a dissertation on the Basque peace process, man(frommiddletown)!

Have I mentioned that I left 20 boxes of books in a friend's garage when I moved to London?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 12:18:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My application to one of he local school's was denied.  They only want students who already have master's degrees.  Spain is far from family, and since I'm finally making good money, I'm not eligble for finacial assistance.  Have I told you how the Complutnese's website is nearly incomprehensible.  

As for a disseration on the Basque peace process, hopefully that will be less deeply weird that the drunk conversation with the ETA sympathizer in the bathroom at the Basque bar in the city center in Pamplona.  Funny how people warm to you as an American when you tell them that you didn't vote for that cabron Bush.

Back to the seriousness. I'm  thinking about trying to save back enough cash to self fund, and have a nest egg if something (unexpected, like not being able to come home becuse they locked the borders down for martial law) happens.  Since my tastes are ascetic that's a possibility.  If I stay in my current job with no wife or children to hold me back, I could save quite a bit.  And there's the possilbity I could go part time to school, and get a master in International Relations at a private university here in Indianapolis.

I realize that transitioning now to being a professor would mean less money than I make now after many years of expensive, and hard work.  Going part time might make that happen easier, and with a nest egg so I don't have to return to poverty, like I lived growing up (hence the financial insecurity, and ascetic ethic.

Then again, there's the part of me that wants to get out of my current field (healthcare) into renewable energy, which I think is set for a boom in this country like Gamesa did in Spain in the last 5 years.  All choices involve risk, and my natural fear of comittment leads to indecison.  Glorious indecision.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 12:46:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On book woth reading is also Amin Maalouf's "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes"

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 06:57:00 AM EST
You probably know from that book, as I learned from Fletche's, that all through the middle ages, muslims called the Crusaders "Franks".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 09:38:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, mainly because the first crusade was launched by the Pope Urban II at the Clermont Council in 1095.

Also, the main body of the crusaders was provided by the French, led by Hugues de Vermandois (brother of the King), Baudoin de Boulogne, Robert de Normandie, Godefroi de Bouillon, Raimond de Saint-Gilles (Earl of Toulouse) and Robert de Flandres, let alone the Normans who, coming from France, had conquered Sicily and Malta just a few years ago...


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 10:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another interesting book about Moorish Spain is Herbert Le Porrier's "The Doctor of Cordova", which tells the story of Moshe ben Maimon (a.k.a. Maimonides), great doctor, philosopher and jewish theologian of the 12th century, and friend of Averroes, the great muslim philosopher. Moshe ben Maimon ended as the personal doctor of Salah Al-Din (Saladin)...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 11:04:25 AM EST
Maimonides being Jewish. There is huge number of Christians and Jews who attained high positions in Islamic government during the time period covered by Fletcher's book.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 01:26:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At that time, the Arab world was the most open civilisation in the world. It was the time of the great scientists and philosophers Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Thanks to these (and many others) Arab philosophers, who studied and discussed the works of the Greek philosophers during the middle ages, the Greek philosophy was transmitted to Europe where it had been almost forgotten.

It was also the time of Omar Khayyam, the great poet who celebrated wine and love. look at his quatrains, The Rubaiyat


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sat Apr 1st, 2006 at 02:53:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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