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Cordoba Caliphate: Ornament of the World
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Course description by AllLearn (an on-line joint venture of Yale, Oxford and Stanford Universities).  This is an indication of a current scholar's opinion on the period of Moorish rule in Spain.

The Ornament of the World was the Caliphate of Cordoba, the most civilized place on earth in its own time, and the source of much cultural and social well-being even hundreds of years after its demise. Founded by the survivor of the mid-8th century massacre of the Umayyads of Damascus (the Caliphs of the vast Islamic empire at that point), al-Andalus, as it was called in Arabic, flourished and declined, and existed in very different guises over the nearly seven centuries during which Islam was a central part of European culture.
For everyone who believes that the Middle Ages of Europe were a dark and unenlightened moment in our history, as well as a monochromatically Latin and Christian culture, there are many revelations here. This course will study this long and mostly ill-understood period in systematic chronological order, and focusing on the legacy of medieval Spain's vibrant heterogeneous culture, both inside and out of the peninsula. Students will receive a wide-ranging introduction to the medieval Europe they were probably never taught much aboutthe universe in which the three monotheistic religions created a common culture, often the avant-garde in such central areas such as poetry and philosophy, and frequently transforming much of the rest of Europe in its wake.

This course will also appeal to all those who believe that cultural history should help shape our visions of what might be possible in our times, and that both the promises and dangers revealed by the past need to serve us in the present. The present moment in our own history is an excellent moment in which to consider the exceptional historical moment during which Islam set the tone for a culture of tolerance that was eventually shared by both of the protected Peoples of the Book: the Jews, who flourished to such an extent that this periodwith its revolutionary poets and its extraordinary philosopherswas eventually dubbed the Golden Age by the awed German Jews of the 19th century; and the Christians, who became the great patrons of translations from Arabic and for several centuries absorbed one of the primary lesson of the culture of tolerance, namely that it was the source of economic and cultural well-being for all.
Among the course readings are:
Menocal, María Rosa (the course's author). The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
Franzen, Cola, trans. Poems of Arab Andalusia. City Light Books, 1990.

Course outline:

Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: The Mediterranean after the Fall of Rome and the Coming of Islam
Week 3: Abd al-Rahman's Creation: The Emirate and the Caliphate
Week 4: After the Fall: The Vigor of the City States
Week 5: Andalusian Culture beyond the Peninsula
Week 6:

The Long Last Years

Week 7:



Last updated September 7, 2002.  The AllLearn webpage is: