Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Martyrs of Cordoba: Community and Family Conflict in an Age of Mass Conversion

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Martyrs of Cordoba: Community and Family Conflict in an Age of Mass Conversion

Article excerpt

The Martyrs of Cordoba: Community and Family Conflict in an Age of Mass Conversion. By Jessica A. Coope. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1995. Pp. xx, 113. $25.00.)

When Visigothic Spain fell to Muslim invaders in 711, the Iberian Christian population found itself absorbed into the Islamic empire as a subject community. Though protected from forced conversion, the Andalusian Christians were expected to maintain a low profile religiously, socially, and politically in the newly and incompletely Islamized al-Andalus. Over the course of the eighth and early ninth centuries, the numbers of Muslims in Spain increased due primarily to immigration but also as a result of increased conversion. During the same period, al-Andalus benefited greatly from its economic and cultural ties with the Muslim "heartland" in the eastern Mediterranean. In the face of the increasing numbers of Muslims and the growing strength and self-consciousness of Muslim culture in Spain, many Christians found themselves happily participating in Andalusian society in ways that seemed, from the perspective of some other Christians, to be compromising their cultural-religious identity as LatinChristians. The most famous historical result of these circumstances was the socalled "Cordoban Martyrs' Movement" of the 850's, when forty-eight Christians from in and around the capital city of Cordoba were executed either for denouncing Islam in public or-in the case of products of mixed marriages-for refusing to renounce their Christianity and embrace Islam.Virtually everything that we know about the victims of these executions comes from the apologetic treatises and passiones that were written on behalf of the martyrs by Eulogius and Paul Alvarus, who lived in Cordoba at the time. …

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