Mapping a New View of the Medieval World

Classic KMMS world map, with South on top, “Ṣūrat al-Arḍ” (Picture of the World), from an abbreviated copy of al-Iṣṭakhrī’s “Kitāb al-masālik wa-al-mamālik” (Book of Routes and Realms). 589/1193. Mediterranean. Gouache and ink on paper. Diameter 37.5 cm. Courtesy: Leiden University Libraries. Cod. Or. 3101, fols. 4b–5a.

Maps do more than show us the way and identify major landmarks – rivers, towns, roads and hills. For centuries, they also offered a perspective on how societies viewed themselves in comparison to the rest of the world.

Charlemagne’s Denarius, Constantine’s Edicule, and the Vera Crux

Charlemagne as emperor on this coin - Photo PHGCOM

In 806 a much-discussed silver denarius bearing the likeness of Charlemagne was issued. This is called the “temple-type” coin due to the (as yet unidentified) architectural structure illustrated on the reverse side, and which is explicitly labeled as representing the epitome of “Christian Religion.”

A Created Enemy: ‘Barbarians’ in spite of Religious Conversion. Visigoths and Byzantines in 6th-Century Iberia

Capital from the Visigothic church of San Pedro de la Nave.

This study approaches the concept of resistance as a tool for historical analysis during Roman Late Antiquity, especially with respect to the identity construction and the creation of physical or mental borders between Byzantines and Barbarians.

Real and imaginary journeys in the later Middle Ages

Marco Polo - medieval travel

For a proper understanding of the actions of men in the past it is necessary to have some idea of how they conceived the world and their place in it, yet for the medieval period there is a serious inbalance in the sources.

Venetian Trading Networks in the Medieval Mediterranean

Venetians

To understand the system of business relations within the commercial network of the Republic of Venice, this article adopts a network analysis that differs from a standard narrative based on a privileged subset of actors or relations. It allows us to examine the socially mixed group of entrepreneurs, brokers, and shippers at the heart of Venice’s economic system.

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

Picture of Medieval Jews

In the sessions of our section over the past decade, I introduced a significant distinction between two rabbinic attitudes in the Mediterranean countries during the Middle Ages of 12th and 13th centuries as to their view of Christianity.

The Red Sea and the Port of Clysma. A Possible Gate of Justinian’s Plague

Plague of Justinian

The aim of this study is to present the sea and land commercial routes of the Byzantine Egypt and their role in the dissemination of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis from the Red Sea to Mediterranean ports. The Mediterranean port of Pelusium was considered as the starting point of the first plague pandemic…

10th century find points to medieval sea routes around Ibiza

balearic islands

A bronze candelabra discovered by a diver in Ibiza in the 1970s is offering clues to the maritime history of this region.

Maurice, Son of Theodoric: Welsh Kings and the Mediterranean World AD 550-650

Emperor Maurice

Among the many petty rulers of early medieval Wales was a king whose name can be rendered Maurice, son of Theodoric.

An abbot between two cultures: Maiolus of Cluny considers the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet

Majolus of Cluny

In July 972, Muslim raiders from the citadel of Fraxinetum (modern La Garde-Freinet) abducted Abbot Maiolus of Cluny and his entourage as they crossed the Great Saint Bernard Pass ( Mons Iovis ) in the western Alps.

Marvels and Allies in the East. India as Heterotopia of Latin Europe in the 12th Century

Medieval India

It has long been said that Latin Europe lost its connection to the East, specifically to Asia, in the early Middle Ages. But this is only part of the truth. From late Antiquity on, there were Christians in many places between the Mediterranean Sea and China.

Land and Sea Communications, Fourth–Fifteenth Centuries

cog

The principle that the active and coordinated collaboration of nature and man is an essential requirement for the creation of a network of communications is of fundamen- tal importance.

Traveler’s Tips from the 14th Century: The Detours of Ibn Battuta

Traveler's Tips from the 14th Century: The Detours of Ibn Battuta

What advice can Ibn Battuta provide the globe-trotting public of the 21st century?

Western Turks and Byzantine gold coins found in China

Solidus-Justin II

In general, before the 1980′s, most scholars treated these finds as evidences for the frequent connection between Byzantine and China, which could be further associated with the seven-times visits of Fulin (Rum) emissaries recorded in Tang literature. However, after the 1980′s, more and more researchers tended to take these gold coins as a result of prosperous international trade along silk road.

Catalonia’s Mediterranean Expansion: An Instance of Colonialism?

17th century map of Catalonia

It is apparent that not all historians agree on what Catalonian expansion means, and what expansion meant to Catalonia.

‘Defending the Christian Faith with Our Blood’. The Battle of Lepanto (1571) and the Venetian Eastern Adriatic: Impact of a Global Conflict on the Mediterranean Periphery

The Battle of Lepanto 1571

The battle of Lepanto, which took place on the 7th of October 1571, was the greatest naval battle of oar driven vessels in the history of the Mediterranean1. It was then that the mighty Ottoman navy suffered its first and utter defeat in a direct confrontation with Christian forces, joined in the Holy League. Its purpose was to help Venice in the defence of Cyprus, stormed by the Ottoman troops in July of 1570, but to no avail, as on the 3rd of August 1571 the island was taken by the Ottomans.

The European Reconquest of North Africa

Africa - medieval map

The chief structural features of Africa Minor are simple. The territory consists of a long strip of land bounded on the north by the Mediterranean,on the south by the Sahara, on the east by the Gulf of Tripoli and the Libyan Desert, on the west by the Atlantic.

Danger from the high seas: Pirates shaped the history of the Mediterranean for 3000 years

pirates

Eye patch, peg leg and hook arm – these are the attributes commonly connoted with pirates. What many might not know is that pirates had been painting the waters of the Mediterranean red for almost 3,000 years.

Why There May Have Been Contacts between Slovenes and Jews before 1000 A.D.

Picture of Medieval Jews

The first documented evidence of a Jewish presence in Slovenia dates from the 13th century, when Yiddish- and Italian-speaking Jews migrated south from Austria to Maribor and Celje, and east from Italy into Ljubljana. This is a good three centuries after the first mention of Jews in the Austrian lands.

Medieval enchantment techniques: St Christopher and the Siren

St. Christopher

The traditional image of St Christopher, which was particularly frequent in the Middle Ages, portrays him crossing the waters of a river while he is carrying the child Jesus on his shoulder.

The Trebuchet

Byzantine Trebuchet - 11th century

Recent reconstructions and computer simulations reveal the operating principles of the most powerful weapon of its time

Early Islamic Maritime Technology

Arabic ship

This paper examines the extent to which the events of the 7th century were actually responsible for alterations to the maritime technology and associated practices of the Mediterranean during the early Islamic period.

Dark Age Migrations and Subjective Ethnicity: The Example of the Lombards

The Dark Ages

This study is an attempt to clarify the functions and structure of the Volker- wanderungen. Peoples or warrior-bands? The basic problem is that small warrior bands as well as big migrations of peoples are characterized in the same way by the classical and early medieval writers: they used tribal names.

‘You say that the Messiah has come.’:The Ceuta Disputation (1179) and its place in the Christian anti-Jewish polemics of the high middle ages

Image of a Jewish cantor reading the Passover story in al-Andalus, from a 14th century Spanish Haggadah

Disputation could be the result of the Christian protagonist’s meeting with the North AfricanJew face-to-face and discovering that the Messianic promise was a subject of considerableinterest for his opponent. More importantly, regardless of whether the discussion in Ceuta hador had not taken place, the new Christian attitude towards anti-Jewish polemics expressed inthe Disputation’s text was most likely inspired by real-life discussions between Jews andChristians.
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2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Jewish and Christian relations; Mediterranean trade in the middle ages; Ceuta; Genoa;Scriptural exegesis, Almohads
The Messiah came in the twelfth century. This time he did not arrive in themanner anticipated by the prophets of the Bible. Rather, his arrival occurred in theworld of polemics, where he suddenly emerged from relative obscurity to becomethe central topic of the continuing religious debate between Jews and Christians

The Fatimid and Kalbite Governors in Sicily : 909-1044

Simeon_sending_envoys_to_the_Fatimids

This is the second part of my investigation on the Muslim governors (or rulers) in Sicily.

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