- Crusade and colonisation: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Aragon (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 9, Number 2, December 1991
- p. pp. 169-170
- View Citation
Reviews 169 art and nature are manipulated to play upon the senses of the visitor as one moves through the garden, and especially the incredible impact of the endlessly varied uses made of water, shooting in a plume from the Fountain of the Dragons, gushing from the breasts of sphinx-like creatures, streaming down stepped channels in handrails to flow into the mouths of frogs and sea monsters. These sections are some of the high points of this excellent book. Louise Marshall Department of Fine Arts University of Sydney Lourie, Elena, Crusade and colonisation: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in medieval Aragon, Aldershot, Variorum, 1990; cloth; pp. xi, 334; R.R.P.£42.50. Elena Lourie, of the University of the Negev at Beersheva, is one of the bestknown scholars of the Iberian peninsular in the Middle Ages. Shefirstcame to prominence with her important article in Past and Present (1966): 'A society organized for war: medieval Spain' (here no. I). Since then she has published an important series of studies of Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearics which have established for her a reputation greater than the limited number of her articles would suggest. Another ten of them are reprinted heretogetherwith a large new study 'Anatomy of ambivalence: Muslims under the Crown of Aragon in the late thirteenth century' (here no. VII). 'A society organized for war' is a classic which explored thefluidsocioeconomic structures of Christian society on the Muslim-Christian frontier and pointed to the unique role of the caballeros villanos. It is followed in this collection by another important study, 'The confraternity of Belchite, the ribat, and the Temple' (Viator, 1982), which provides an important conective to the prevailing orthodoxy that the Military Orders arose fully formed from the adaptation of Western monasticism to the needs of Crusading and frontier defence. In his will of 1131 Alfonso I of Aragon took the seemingly bizarre step of bequeathing his realms to the Hospital, the Temple, and the Holy Sepulchre. This was an illegal will. In an article in Speculum (1975) (here no. Ill) Lourie argued that the purpose of the will was, in devious ways, to neutralize the Papacy, block the claims of Alfonso VII of Castile to the throne, and give Alfonso I's brother Ramiro (an abbot and bishop elect but apparently not in clerical orders) time to accede to the throne by demand of the nobles and to produce an heir. This was a controversial thesis which inspired a refutation by Alan Forey in Durham University Journal (1980). Lourie defended her thesis and sharpened her argument in an article in 1984-5 (loc. cit—here no IV). 170 Reviews The rest of this volume is comprised of articles concerning Muslims and Jews under Aragonese rule. The articles range from a minor note on Jewish communities mourning the death of Alfonso III by preparing and displaying a bier bearing a representation of the dead king (no. IX), to an analysis of a case of ritual murder, a boy found dead under a butcher's stall in the Jewish quarter in 1301, w h o was almost certainly 'planted' by a Christian (no. X), to 'Free Muslims in the Balearics under Christian rule in the thirteenth century' (no. VI), 'Mafiosi and malsines: violence, fear and faction in the Jewish al jamas of Valencia in the fourteenth century' (no. XII), and to an intriguing short piece on Abraham el Jenet a Jewish mercenary soldier and member of the royal household in the service of Aragon (no. VIU). W e should conclude with the new study published here: 'Anatomy of ambivalence'. This is not an integrated study but rather a composite of various small studies which have apparently been exercising Lourie in recent years. These range from the 'Denial of Mudejar status to the conquered Minorcan population' through a variety of topics to 'Social stratification within the aljamas' and to 'The double vulnerability of Muslim women'. The last is a particularly touching and telling comment on contemporary double standards among males of all religious communities. The various studies are held together by the thread of a theme of ambivalence: Muslims were necessary socially and economically and therefore needed recognition and protection...