Medieval Spain Tolerance Comparison

Topics: Middle Ages, Judaism, Jews, Persian Jews, Islam, Israel / Pages: 6 (1336 words) / Published: Oct 29th, 2007
According to Maria Menocal 's Ornament of the World, medieval Spain was a haven from the religious intolerance and dark ages that Europe had succumbed to. When compared to scholarship by Thomas Glick and David Niremburg, the medieval Spain presented in Maria Menocal 's Ornament of the World is very narrow and overly positive, as it does not show the intolerance between Jews, Muslims and Christians, the conflict within the religious groups or how the tension increased when Christians gained power from the Muslims.

Rights in Al-Andalus were based on the "dhimmi" principle that Muslims, Christians and Jews were all considered people of the book and thus had religious freedom and peaceful relations were encouraged 1. However, there is evidence of much conflict between these factions with regards to meat markets, money lending, and sexual exploits that often led to hatred or even violence 2. One major source of conflict within the meat markets was due to the dietary restrictions of Jews and Muslims as opposed to those of Christians. Jews and Muslims had similar dietary laws, although animals butchered by Jewish tradition were acceptable to Muslims, those butchered by Muslims did not meet Jewish standards 3. Furthermore, parts of an animal, that could not be eaten by those of the Jewish religion, were sold at discounted prices to Muslims and Christians causing resentment, and even a Papal bull from Pope Benedict XIII stating excommunication for those who purchase meat from Jews 4.

Jews also suffered in their roles of community moneylenders. There was much inter-religious money borrowing, and Jews were often appointed tax collectors and were most associated with usury despite the other faith 's use of interest and financing 5. Restrictions were put in place that would not allow Christians to accumulate too much debt, however; there were no such barriers for Muslims and many times money conflicts were dealt with by violence. Property destruction, unlawful



Bibliography: Thomas F. Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages, (Lieden, Brill, 2005) Maria Rosa Menocal, The Ornament of the World (New York, New York, Little Brown and Company/ Bay Back Books, 2002) David Nirenburg, Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages, (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1996)

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