StoryGraph Saturday: The Ornament of the World

StoryGraph Saturday is a weekly thing where I randomly choose a book from my To Read pile on StoryGraph and show it off to both remind myself that it’s there and to show it to you in case you might find it interesting, too.

The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
by María Rosa Menocal
352 pages

From The StoryGraph:

Undoing the familiar notion of the Middle Ages as a period of religious persecution and intellectual stagnation, María Menocal now brings us a portrait of a medieval culture where literature, science, and tolerance flourished for 500 years. The story begins as a young prince in exile—the last heir to an Islamic dynasty—founds a new kingdom on the Iberian peninsula: al-Andalus. Combining the best of what Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures had to offer, al-Andalus and its successors influenced the rest of Europe in dramatic ways, from the death of liturgical Latin and the spread of secular poetry, to remarkable feats in architecture, science, and technology. The glory of the Andalusian kingdoms endured until the Renaissance, when Christian monarchs forcibly converted, executed, or expelled non-Catholics from Spain. In this wonderful book, we can finally explore the lost history whose legacy is still with us in countless ways.

My studies of history have focused primarily on Medieval to Tudor England, and as a result, my knowledge of other regions’ histories is often cursory at best. The Iberian peninsula is a place I have long wanted to learn more about, and The Ornament of the World sounds like a good book to start with.

4 thoughts on “StoryGraph Saturday: The Ornament of the World

  1. This is a bit of history I’m not very familiar with, but then again there’s a lot of history I’m not very familiar with. These sorts of books are a good way of slowly changing that.

  2. Have you explored much religious history during your timeframe of Medieval – Tutor England? This is the first place my mind went, “Oh, I didn’t know Kim was interested in religious history.” But then I realized this book must be set in your focused timeframe of history. Do you aspire to explore the same timeframe more globally?

  3. Religious history is pretty intertwined with general Medieval history, so in that way yes, I have been studying it. Have I studied religious philosophy and religious writings? Nope. I’m not particularly interested in that. I’m pretty interested in general history around the world, but the Medieval part is probably the one I’ll stick with most of all.

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