A Sea of Conflict? Christian Muslim Encounters c.1100-c.1300

Module code: HS3775

In this module we approach the history of the medieval Mediterranean from a cultural and religious perspective. Through the lens of travel, trade, pilgrimage, and crusade activity from the late eleventh to the early fourteenth century, this module will examine the ways in which different empires, cultures, and religious communities interacted in this diverse but highly connected space. The module offers you first a general introduction to the context of the medieval European encounter with the Islamic world, as well as a brief historical outline of the political context of the Christian-Muslim interactions in the region.

By means of thematic case studies, you will then discuss a variety of cross-cultural contacts, focusing on:

  • The crusades and ideas of Holy War and Jihad
  • Capital cities like Rome, Constantinople, Cairo and Baghdad, and holy places like Jerusalem and Mekkah through the descriptions of contemporary authors
  • The genre of pilgrimage and travel writing
  • Art and architecture
  • Trade routes connecting Africa and the Silk Road
  • The sharing of sacred space
  • Exchanges of medical and scientific knowledge
  • Migration and mission

While our main focus is on the Eastern Mediterranean and Christian-Islamic encounters, we will also dip into the history of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus), the Mediterranean Jewish communities, and the contacts with the Mongols. With each of the topics we will reflect on the impact on today’s world, from popular culture and Netflix, to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the Arab Spring, and issues of migration in the Mediterranean.