The Mediterranean and its hinterlands were the scene of intensive and transformative contact between cultures in the Middle Ages. From the seventh to the seventeenth century, the three civilizations into which the region came to be divided geographically – the Islamic Khalifate, the Byzantine Empire, and the Latin West – were busily redefining themselves vis-à-vis one another. Interspersed throughout the region were communities of minorities, such as Christians in Muslim lands, Muslims in Christian lands, heterodoxical sects, pagans, and, of course, Jews. One of the most potent vectors of interaction and influence between these communities in the medieval world was inter-religious conversion: the process whereby groups or individuals formally embraced a new religion. The chapters of this book explore this dynamic: what did it mean to convert to Christianity in seventh-century Ireland? What did it mean to embrace Islam in tenth-century Egypt? Are the two phenomena comparable on a social, cultural, and legal level? The chapters of the book also ask what we are able to learn from our sources, which, at times, provide a very culturally-charged and specific conversion rhetoric. Taken as a whole, the compositions in this volume set out to argue that inter-religious conversion was a process that was recognizable and comparable throughout its geographical and chronological purview.
Table of Contents
[Yaniv Fox and Yosi Yisraeli]
1. Conversion as a Historiographical Problem: The Case of Zoraya/Isabel de Solís
Part I: Regulating Conversion
2. Conversion on Trial: Toleration of Apostasy and the Trial of Three Converts to Judaism in the Dutch Republic, 1614-5
[Alexander van der Haven ]
3. Anxieties in Conflict: The Ratto of Anna del Monte
4. Normative Texts as Sources for Conversion to Christianity in Europe
5. Royal Policy and Conversion of Jews to Christianity in Thirteenth-Century Europe
Part II: Social Realities of Inter-Religious Conversion
6. The Donor and the Gravedigger: Converts to Judaism in the Cairo Geniza Documents
7. Conversion as an Aspect of Master-Slave Relationship in the Medieval Egyptian Jewish Community
8. Returning Apostates and Their Marital Partners in Medieval Ashkenaz
9. Conversion and Return to Judaism in High and Late Medieval Europe: Christian Perceptions and Portrayals
Part III: Narrating Conversion
10. Conversion from the Worst to the Best: The Relationship between Medieval Judaism, Islam, and Christianity
11. The Role of Preaching in the Conversion to Islam
[Linda G. Jones]
12. Between Tyranny and the Commonwealth: Political Discourses and the Framing of Violence against Conversos in the Gesta Hispaniensia of Alfonso de Palencia
13. Converting Bodies, Embodying Convers
Yaniv Fox is a senior lecturer of late antique and early medieval history at Bar-Ilan University (Israel), and a member of the I-CORE Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters.
Yosi Yisraeli is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Conversion and Inter-Religious Encounters at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Bar-Ilan University.