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Juan de Segovia and the Fight for Peace

Christians and Muslims in the Fifteenth Century

Anne Marie Wolf

Publication Year: 2014

Juan de Segovia (d. 1458), theologian, translator of the Qur'an, and lifelong advocate for the forging of peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims, was one of Europe's leading intellectuals. Today, however, few scholars are familiar with this important fifteenth-century figure. In this well-documented study, Anne Marie Wolf presents a clear, chronological narrative that follows the thought and career of Segovia, who taught at the University of Salamanca, represented the university at the Council of Basel (1431–1449), and spent his final years arguing vigorously that Europe should eschew war with the ascendant Ottoman Turks and instead strive to convert them peacefully to Christianity. What could make a prominent thinker, especially one who moved in circles of power, depart so markedly from the dominant views of his day and advance arguments that he knew would subject him to criticism and even ridicule? Although some historians have suggested that the multifaith heritage of his native Spain accounts for his unconventional belief that peaceful dialogue with Muslims was possible, Wolf argues that other aspects of his life and thought were equally important, especially his approach to the Bible and his experience at the Council of Basel, where his defense of conciliarism in the face of opposition contributed to his ability to defend an unpopular position and where his insistence on conversion through peaceful means was bolstered by discussions about the proper way to deal with the Hussites. Ultimately Wolf demonstrates that Segovia's thought on Islam and the proper Christian stance toward the Muslim world was consistent with his approach to other endeavors and with cultural and intellectual movements at play throughout his career.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Completing this project has put me in a reflective mode, awed at the way life’s disparate threads meet. Although this endeavor began as a dissertation at the University of Minnesota, my interest in Spain had its roots in my superb Spanish...

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pp. 1-12

At the end of a research year in Spain in 2000 – 2001, which produced the bulk of the research for this book, I spent some time in the archives in Rome and then Turin. While in Turin, I discovered that a trip to Chambery’s archive...

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Chapter One: The Years at the University of Salamanca

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pp. 13-60

Medieval universities had their origin in the cathedral schools, or studia, of the central Middle Ages, and in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries official documents still referred to them by this term. Whereas the earlier universities...

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Chapter Two: Contact, Conversations, and Conversion

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pp. 61-94

In his old age, Juan de Segovia held a view of Muslims that was remarkably sympathetic and counted a prominent Muslim scholar, Yça Gidelli, among his correspondents. Although he wanted Muslims to be converted, he was adamant that...

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Chapter Three: The Basel Years

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pp. 95-128

Juan Alfonso de Segovia did not merely attend the Council of Basel: he was one of its most active members. Respected at Salamanca already, at Basel he earned an international reputation and became one of Europe’s leading intellectuals. He served...

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Chapter Four: Converting Fellow Christians

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pp. 129-174

The next two chapters examine Juan de Segovia’s main preoccupation after Basel, in the final years of his life. During this time, he concerned himself with polemic on two fronts. One line of argument was directed against European...

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Chapter Five: Converting Muslims

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pp. 175-222

Juan de Segovia was not content merely to reject war and other solutions to the Turkish problem. He offered a solution of his own, which involved persuading Muslims of the wrongness of their beliefs and telling them the truth about Christianity...

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pp. 223-231

It is humbling to observe that Juan de Segovia, who was one of Europe’s finest intellects and who had personally known and addressed popes, kings, and emperors, had so little impact after death on the goals most important to him...

Appendix 1: Excerpt from Juan de Segovia, Repetitio de fide catholica

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pp. 232-237

Appendix 2: Excerpt from Juan de Segovia, De mittendo gladio divini Spiritus in corda sarracenorum

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pp. 238-251

Appendix 3: Excerpt from Juan de Segovia, Letter to Nicholas of Cusa, December 2, 1454

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pp. 252-261


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pp. 262-348


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pp. 349-366


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pp. 367-375

About the Author, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780268096700
E-ISBN-10: 0268096708
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268044251
Print-ISBN-10: 0268044252

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: NA
Publication Year: 2014