Medieval Spain Andres Quiceno, MD Based on “A Vanished World” By Chris Lowney
“ Jews, Christians and Muslims, as we know, come from different religions traditions, but have to many ties to each other. In fact, all the believers of all these three religions refer back to Abraham, for whom they have a profound respect, although in different ways, If there is not an amiable peace among these religions, how can harmony in society be found?” • Pope John Paul II
“If we think about, Christianity and Islam are sects of Judaism” • Hector Abad Fasciolince (Colombian writer)
Medieval Spain • In 711 C.E (Common Era) ten thousand North African Muslims invaded and conquered Iberia. • Spain become the first and only Muslim states establish in mainland Europe. • Before the Muslim invasion, Spain was controlled by the Visigoths who conducted the country into a “dark age” after been one of the most important Roman provinces. • Muslims introduced to Europe: cotton, figs, spinach and watermelon.
Medieval Spain • Muslims irrigation and aqueducts were more advanced than the European counterparts. • A Muslim chronicler described European hygiene as “… do not keep themselves clean and only wash once or twice a year in cold water. They do not wash their clothes once they have put them on until they fall apart to pieces on them.”
The Moors conquer Spain • Tariq ibn Ziyad invaded Spain on the fall of 711 C.E. • King Roderic, who was a Visigoth, was defeated in part because the poor support he had from the populations. • Despite that Visigoths did not invented anti-Semitism, they embraced in a very effective manner. • The Christian leadership took advantage of this and the bishop Julian of Toledo, himself partially descended of Jews said about Judaism “had to be cut off, since it was like the cancerous part of the body, before this harmful disease, could be passed on to the healthy parts.”
The Moors conquer Spain • The apostle James, Santiago in Spanish, despite probably never visited Spain became its patron. • He was the fist apostle to die, in Jerusalem about year 42 C.E. • The fact that James evangelized Spain is more a legend than a fact, there is not archeological evidence of his passing there and the sources that reports these travels are from the sixth and seventh century and in the best case are dubious.
“El Camino de Santiago” • Santiago is located in Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain close to Cape Finisterre that means “end of the earth”. • This became the second most important place of pilgrimage in Catholicism. • The legend of Santiago probably was created to keep national pride and slow the growth of the Muslim influence.
The Pope Who Learned Math • At the end of the first millennium, those whose lived that time thought that they were approaching the end of the world. (remember 2YK) • The pope at that point was Sylvester II, who many considered a “black magician” that learned a bag of diabolic tricks in Spain. • He was French and his name was Gerbert of Aurillac, he received his education at a Benedict Monastery in Spanish Pyrenees.
The Pope Who Learned Math • The monks at this monastery recognized the intellectual superiority of the neighboring al-Andalus (today’s Andalusia). • They did their best to learn from their neighbors and became on of the most important learning centers in Christendom. • At the time Gerbert’s was a student there, in this monastery was written what was probably the most important technological advance in medieval Europe.
The Pope Who Learned Math • Codex Vigilanus is the first documentation of the use and the “Arabic” numbers in western Europe; but his numerical system was in reality were developed by the Indian race. • The big advance of this numeric system is that “designate each and every degree of each order of numbers.” • This was an incredible advance compared with the Roman numeric system that lack this characteristic and makes them very impractical for even the most simple arithmetic calculations. • E.g.: in Indian-Arabic “ Super Bowl 334” • in Roman: “Super Bowl CCCXXXIV”
The Pope Who Learned Math • The genius of Pope Sylvester was recognized the advantage of this system and spread in western Europe. • He was a fine intellectual man, no only a mathematician, philosopher and theologian but also and inventor. • He is credited with the invention of the pendulum clock and the pipe organ. • It was his ability with the Hindu-Arabic numbers that created his reputation as a “black magician” and he found great resistance to implement the new numerical system.
The Pope Who Learnt Math • The word algorithm and algebra were also introduced by the Islamic civilization. • Algorithm is derived for al-Khwarizmi that wrote the first treaties in algebra and who probably learnt it from the Hindus. • The Britons Abelard of Bath and Robert of Chester learnt mathematics in Spain.
Paper • In the medieval time all records were kept in parchment. • But in the town of Jativa, in al-Andalus was establish the first paper manufactory. • Muslims in their expand to the East, learnt the numerical system from the Indians and learnt the manufacturing of paper from the Chinese prisoners and introduced to Europe for al-Andalus. • But with paper also born the “loving paper’ bureaucracy and Spain became the first state in using paper to preserve its records.
“A Jewish General in a Muslim Kingdom” • Samuel ha-Nagid (or Samuel ibn Nagrela). It was called “the David of his age”. • And probably the Spanish Jews were the greatest luminaries of Hebrew civilization since the Biblical times. • It is not very clear how Jewish believers arrived to Iberia. • They might arrived and lived before the Christians. • In the year 305 C.E the Bishop of Elvira forbid Christians in any house the shelter Jews and even proscribed them of eating in their company.
“A Jewish General in a Muslim Kingdom” • In the sixth century the Visigoths forbid the Jewish worship. • When Spain was conquered by the year 711 C.E. The Muslims trusted them over the Christians. • Samuel lived in Granada and the legend says that his eloquence called the attention of King Hubbus, the Muslim ruler. • He became a court officer and at the death of King Hubbus he became the King Badis new chief vizier.
“A Jewish General in a Muslim Kingdom” • Muslim chronicler Ibn Hayyan described him “He was a superior man, although God did not inform him of the right religion”. • For twenty years he was the commander of the Granada’s army, he commanded the expansion of Granada and the defeat of Sevilla (Seville) • He was also a gifted poet but he understood the tenuous position of the Jews in the Muslim Spain.
“A Jewish General in a Muslim Kingdom” • “A monarch will not favor you unless he hopes to be at easy while your labor and exert yourself in his service. You are caught in this tongs: with one hand he brings you into The Flames,- while protecting you from the fire which with hands he sets against you.”
“Jihad, Crusades, Cowboys and Sheep” • When the Crusades were order in 1011 by Pope Urban II, the Spanish Knights were forbidden to participate because they should focus in their “re-conquest” of Spain. • It is interesting the monk-warriors that conformed many of the military orders, the Knights of Templar, the Knights of St. James, shared many of the same characteristics of the Almoravid, Jihad fighters from North Africa, that participate in multiple campaigns in Spain. • Both groups were very disciplined, share religious vows and view their role as fighter as a divine duty.
“Jihad, Crusades, Cowboys and Sheep” • In reference with “the cowboys”, the Almoravid and the Knights of St. James settle today Castilla (The land of the castles) • This is a meseta with frigid winters and furnace-like summers, a territory very similar to the Argentina’s pampas or the Texas panhandle. • Traditional farming made little sense in this infertile terrain. • But sheep and cattle could settle in this kind of terrain. • In medieval Europe, a land not good for farming was not good for anything else.
“Jihad, Crusades, Cowboys and Sheep” • Sheep and cattle ranching became more important in Spain than anywhere in the medieval world. • This Spaniards inventing what become the ranching tradition. • The roundup the vast flocks in the Spring was called “rodeo” in an effort to drive the flocks from the southern meseta to summer pastures in the north. • Petty ranching disputes were resolved by consulting the distinctive brand burned in the animal’s hindquarter.
“Jihad, Crusades, Cowboys and Sheep” • After Columbus discovery, many of the “conquistadores” were from this region. • And many of them settled in the areas that were similar to their ancestral land and they established the “ranchos”. • The areas the share this “cowboy” traditions include: Texas with “vaqueros”, the plains of Colombia and Venezuela with “Llaneros” and the Argentina’s pampas with “gauchos”. • All of them can find their initial roots in Castilla, where a group of Jihad fighters and Knights settled about a thousand years ago.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • Moses Maimonides described as “the outstanding representative of Jewish rationalism for all time”. • He was born in Cordoba, his father was Rabbi Maimon ben Joseph. • He fled Spain to Egypt because the prosecution of the Almohad dynasty. • He became the personal physician of al-Fadil, the vizier of Saladin.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • After Saladin’s death, he was named the personal physician of his eldest son, Afdal Nur al-Din Ali. • As a court physician he was obligated to visit the Sultan every day and he was only able to see his other patients after. • Sultan al-Afdal and his court indulged in sybaritic pleasures and Maimonides’ Treatise in Cohabitation was the response of a request of the court for a “ regimen that is helpful in increasing sexual potential”.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • His medieval Viagra was “ a wondrous secret which no person has described: take one liter each of carrot oil, and radish oil, one quarter liter of mustard oil, combine it all and place therein one half liter of live saffron-colored ants placed in the sun for a week, then massaged on the member”. • He pioneered new approaches to diagnosis and treatment but he also synthesized the ancient authorities like Galen and Hippocrates. This wisdom was lost in the West but was preserved by the Islamic world.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • This is his description of pneumonia: “acute fever, sticking pain in the side, short rapid breaths, serrated pulse and cough, mostly with sputum”. • During the medieval times medicine in Europe regressed and no single original writer was produced over a thousand years. • But some light started to shed from the Muslim Spain to the rest of Europe. • Gerard of Cremona, arrived in Toledo and unlock the Greco-Arabic medicine to Italy.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • Hermman the Dalmatian settled in northeast Spain and did the first translation of the Quran into an European Language. • Plato of Tivoli translated and elaborated astronomical and mathematical tests in Barcelona. • Toledo was the most sophisticated scholarly center and had one of the more diverse ethnic and cultural mixes. • In Toledo, Gerard of Cremona provided Europe with the first translation of the Cannon of Medicine, written in eleventh century by the Persian doctor Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the West).
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • An interesting phenomenon is that all bright physicians of the medieval times were also philosophers. • Avicenna, Maimonides and a Spanish Muslin, Averroes. • One of the major contributions of Maimonides was his holistic approach to medicine, he promoted that a healthy life paid equal attention to body, environment and spirit alike. • Maimonides warned against the health risk of endemic to city living: “Comparing the air of cities to the air of deserts and forests is like comparing thick and turbid waters to light waters and if you cannot emigrate from the city, at least try to live on the outskirts”.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • But perhaps the most revolutionary contribution was to the Jewish thought. • The sacred tradition of Judaism is anchored in the Torah that means “Law”. • The Torah comprises the Hebrew’s Bible first five books. • The oral tradition was orally passed from generation to generation an eventually became the Talmud that means “teaching” or “learning” in the fifth and sixth centuries. • In Jewish tradition law is celebrated in a positive dimension.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • Maimonides sought to teach the Jews the Talmud. • In his Misneh Torah (Repetition of the Law) he tried to interpret the Jewish Law. • Maimonides believed that God created a rational world, with a rational law and gifted humans with intellectual prowess to decipher God’s ordered design of nature. • He believed that Genesis should be understood metaphorically, not literally. • He believed that revelation was reasonable and would not contradict what logic or science could discover independently.
“The Second Moses and the Medieval Medicine” • Maimonides taught us that faith need not fear reason. • He thought that the use of intellect did not affront the creator, but praises God. • But at the same time, he taught the limits of our intellectual capabilities. • This struggle to marry faith and reason has challenged Judaism, Christianity and Islam even today.
Sufism • Suf means “wool” • Sufism is rooted in Islam’s earliest history. • They believed in a life of meditation and self-sacrifice. • The Sufi ultimate aims to “die to self”. • Their disciples practiced meditation to obtain a transcendent experience. • This experiences are shared by Christians, Muslims and Jews. • Despite that Sufism was born in the east, it flourished in Spain.
Sufism • Ibn Arabi from Cordoba, spread this philosophy in Spain writing biographic portraits of the Muslim Spanish mystics. • He believed that God and creation needed each other. • He believed in ecumenism and one of his poems said: • “My heart has become capable of every form, it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, And a temple of idols and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba and the Tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran. I follow the religion of Love…”
The Kabbalah • Moses de Leon was born in 1240 C.E. • Kabbalists were looking to rescue Jewish spirituality from the rationalism of Maimonides. • Moses de Leon was influenced by Ibn Arabi and several of his writings share many of the thesis expressed in Sufism and are also found in the Christian medieval mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.
Alfonso the Learned King • Alfonso was called “ElSabio”, “The wise” or “the Learned”. • He was the King of Castile but he was more interested in obtain all the available astronomical knowledge available in the medieval world. • He included Muslim and Jewish scholars in his inner circle. • He wasn’t a very skill politician but his cultural agenda was implemented in a very effective way.
Alfonso the Learned King • Alfonso revolutionized arts, sciences and law. • He was the master of the first law code that was consulted across the globe. • Alfonso is commemorated at US supreme court as one the most influential world’s law givers. • This code of law was the first to be composed in a vernacular dialect, in Caitlin that is today’s Spanish. • He created the “Alfonsine tables” that were maps of the night sky, very helpful for centuries for sailors.