Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo [Jiménez De Rada] and the Muslims and Jews of Medieval Spain

By Burns, Robert I. | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo [Jiménez De Rada] and the Muslims and Jews of Medieval Spain


Burns, Robert I., The Catholic Historical Review


Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo [Jiménez de Rada] and the Muslims and Jews of Medieval Spain. By Lucy K. Pick. [History, Languages, and Cultures of the Spanish and Portuguese Worlds.] (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2004. Pp. xx, 239; 8 black-and-white figures. $65.00.)

Bold and original, this is not a biography of the great polymath primate Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada of Toledo (1170P-1247), but an exploration of the program that constituted his inner vision and outer enterprises, as these worlds progressed in tension. The component facets of his achievements did not stand independently but converged to create a unity in plurality. His crusading and textual contacts with Islam, his expansionist settlement policy, his tools as an historian and exegete, his patronage of scholarship and Arabic translation, and his polemics against Jews and Muslims-each activity interacted with the others toward a unified field.

With a mystical core in the divine unity, he saw himself and not the Spanish kings as heir to a primate-managed Visigothic Spain. The Castilian orientation usually posited by historians for his career was absolutely subordinated to the larger claims of his real political theology.

Central to Lucy Pick's concerns is Rodrigo's place for Jews and Muslims within Christendom, a balance of his theories with practical local interactions, the two forming an intertwined discourse. Both are particularly on display in his Dialogus librt uite and in the popularized presentation of that same vision in the didactic drama the Auto de los Reyes Magos. Pick argues persuasively that the much-discussed Auto, central in Spanish literature, corresponds closely in content with its counterpart the Dialogus, the latter inspiring the Auto. She concludes indeed that Rodrigo "commissioned the Auto and dictated its form and content." The link between the two works "broadens our understanding of the goals and significance of polemic within the larger sphere of relations between Christians and those of other faiths. …

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