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Arabic-Speaking Christians on the Medieval Frontier: The Mozarabs of Toledo

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2y May 26, 2019
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The Mozarabs of Toledo have long been considered as an emblematic community within medieval Iberia, somewhat paradoxically as both a testament to Christian continuity in the Peninsula, and as a symbol of Iberian cultural and religious plurality. They are best defined as a community of ‘arabicised’ Christians who played a unique social, economic and political role in Toledan life in the period after the conquest of the city by Alfonso VI of León-Castile in 1085. The Mozarabs were an inherently inter-cultural group: they were staunchly Christian, yet drew their cultural identity from Islamic al-Andalus, and engaged in religious practices that looked back to Visigothic (pre-Islamic) Iberia. This marked them out as particularly distinct from their Castilian and Frankish co-religionaries in Toledo: as a community with both Christian and Islamic cultural heritage they operated as a bridge between cultures and religious groups and allow us to observe the complex and conditional ways in which religious identity was negotiated on the Christian-Muslim frontier in the Iberian Peninsula. This paper explores the role of the Mozarabs in shaping Christian-Muslim interactions in medieval Toledo, and raises broader questions about the dominant prisms and assumptions that condition our understanding of inter-religious relations in the medieval period.

Helen Flatley, D.Phil Candidate, St Cross College, Oxford.

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Link to podcast episode: https://www.cmcsoxford.org.uk/our-events/seminar-arabic-speaking-christians-on-the-medieval-frontier-the-mozarabs-of-toledo-and-christian-muslim-relations-in-iberia?rq=MOZARABS

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