A History of Islamic Spain

A History of Islamic Spain

A History of Islamic Spain

A History of Islamic Spain

Excerpt

For many centuries Moorish Spain has stirred the imagination of Europe. Ballads gave glamour to the courageous stand of Roland in the pass of Roncesvalles, while legends surrounded the figure of the Cid and made him a great hero. Nor was it merely the struggle against the Moors which caught the imagination. The better-informed inhabitants of the rude Christian kingdoms and dukedoms of western Europe realised that south of the Pyrenees was a land of higher culture, where amid material luxury men enjoyed the delights of music and poetry; and they gradually took over what they could of this culture. With the romantic movement something of the old admiration was revived, and it is doubtless through the influence of Washington Irving that "Alhambra" has become a familiar word to many who know nothing of the fourteenth-century palace.

Even for the prosaic scientific historian, who speaks of Islamic Spain -- strictly, "Muslim" applies only to persons -- the subject is not without its fascination. Here an oriental culture has entered Europe and left behind magnificent architectural remains. It offers an important example of the close contact of diverse cultures, and one that has contributed to making the European and American historian what he is. The chief monuments of this culture are relatively easy to visit, and in most seasons the visit is delightful. Moreover the study of Islamic Spain gives answers to questions regarding the general nature of historical processes. Such questions will guide the treatment of the . . .

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