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Prieto Entrialgo, ed., Arabes in patria asturiensium (Marcos-Marín)

  • 22 Feb 2017 7:19 PM
    Message # 4627442
    Janna Bianchini (Administrator)

    Clara Elena Prieto Entrialgo, ed., Arabes in patria asturiensium, Serie Asturiensis regni territorium, Documentos y estudios sobre el período tardorromano y medieval en el Noroeste hispano 3 (Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, 2011), 348 pp., illustrations. ISBN 978-84-615-2630-7.

    Reviewed by Francisco A. Marcos-Marín

    University of Texas at San Antonio

    Between May 4 and 7, 2011, the University of Oviedo held a conference with the title later given to this volume. Eighteen communications are gathered in this volume. No classification of the papers is included or even intended, which drives the reader from one point to another, sometimes connected, sometimes independent. This reviewer will try to approximate related topics, a task which is not always clear. Three main themes define most of the content of the book: Late Latin or Visigothic institutions and their end; Islamochristiana including the life of Muhammad, the spread of Islam, and controversies; and art and architecture in the Hispanic Middle Ages.

    Narciso Santos Yanguas studies administration and territory in the late empire and the Visigothic kingdom to establish the situation found by the Moors at the conquest. The paper includes an analysis of primeval Christianity and, as frequently occurs in the volume, supporting photographs. Asturias is characterized as a balance between tradition (continuity of the Roman administration system) and innovation (Christianity and syncretism with pagan rites). The links with neighboring communities are also highlighted. The impact of the Muslim invasion in the construction of the institutional memory of the Lugo church is analyzed by Alfonso Sánchez Mairena from the perspective of how that memory was articulated and the example of the Alpha and Omega in the Tumbo Viejo of Lugo cathedral. Although he is conscious of the Berber contingent which occupied Galicia and Astorga, he does not connect them with invocations of saints, which he ascribes to Mozarabic immigration. A good opportunity of connecting Berbers with Late-Latin culture and Christianity in Africa is therefore missed. The collection of documents of Fruela Muños and Pedro Flaínez serves Alfonso García Leal to present the judicial system of early medieval Asturias in the frameworks of Roman, Germanic, and Arabic law systems. The corpus studied is valuable and representative of legal documents between the second half of the tenth and first half of the eleventh century.  The whole set offers a rather complete and interesting view of major and minor crimes and how they were put on trial and judged by the authors of the compilation. The legal foundation is Roman law, with Germanic complements and only the atiba as an Arabic procedure.

    Islamolatina opens the title of José María Martínez Gázquez’s paper on the Corpus Islamolatinum (1142–1143) and the islamo-judaic-christian controversy writings. He presents the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona’s project for the study of the perception of Islam in Christian Europe, Latin translations of the Quran, and controversy writings in Latin. This section continues with analysis of the genealogies of the Prophet Muhammad and their evolution in Latin literature, by Óscar de la Cruz Palma, of the same university.

    César García de Castro y Valdés writes on the state of the question in the historiographical controversy about the Umayyad impact on art and archaeology in the Hispanic Middle Ages and the role of Asturias; he concludes that Umayyad influence on early medieval Asturian material was limited and different from what happened in León.  The discussion continues in the paper by Artemio M. Martínez Tejera, dealing with the image of Christian architecture in the Kingdom of León as a reality beyond “mozarabism”. Departing from an “architecture of fusion” and the analysis of the reconstruction of the foundational stone of San Miguel de Escalada, dated November 913, he develops his analysis of “Islamic contributions” to those fusion buildings, without giving any consideration to African influence and the Berber presence in the territory. Although Noël Duval is quoted once, his publications are not included in the bibliography.

    Other papers are more difficult to classify. Three of them (by Pablo Folgueira Lombardero, Perfecto Rodríguez Fernández, and Marisa López Díaz and Luis Manuel Suárez) refer to the teaching curriculum on folklore or poetry of the Asturian Ibero-Romance variety. Enrique López Fernández studies the Santo Sudario (Holy Shroud) and how it came to Oviedo. Serafín Bodelón García discusses the evolution of the post-Visigothic Beati, the Chronicles, and De Natura Rerum. Around Bede and Saint Isidore of Seville the paper follows the path of manuscripts and libraries in Europe. Manuel Candelario Castilla refers to the Beati in his study of Visigothic Apocalypses and what he considers the metamorphosis of “Visigothism” due to the influence of Cluny. His detailed codicological analysis, including photographs, leads to the interpretation of images belonging to different iconographic types. The list of Beati and fragments with miniatures related to them, with their classification, is offered as an appendix. The role of the Bible in the composition and writing of history is analyzed by Michael Schultz Roberg in the framework of the Battle of Covadonga, where Pelayo defeated the Moors (called Arabs by the author). Pelayo would be the new Moses and the kingdom of Asturias the new Israel. Alfonso III would became God’s agent and his imperium would be supported by the divine plan of salvation. Ana María Carballeira Debasa contributes a paper on the concept of Galicia and the Galicians in medieval Arab authors. More interesting, for this reviewer, is the paper by David Peterson on acculturation, immigration, or invasion using Arabic onomastics in northwestern Spain. Without fully realizing the importance of Berbers as speakers of North African Latin and its variants (which could be called Afro-Romanic) at the beginning of the conquest, it emphasizes the fact that they could not speak Arabic. Arabic onomastics was a cultural issue, not necessarily related to a knowledge of the language. Epigraphy is represented by the study of María Concepción Fernandez López on the lauda or funeral stone of one Fragildo, from Tirimol, Lugo, dated 1012. The philological analysis highlights interesting poetic and theological aspects of the text, as well as the evolution of Late Latin and the continuity of some features in western Spanish Ibero-Romance. Each chapter of this valuable compilation includes its own bibliography, providing ample follow-up to the reader. The book is useful for sundry aspects of the study of the Middle Ages and, although concentrated on a small part of northwestern Spain, its conclusions embrace many other aspects of the connections between worlds in the medieval period.

    Francisco A. Marcos-Marín

    University of Texas at San Antonio  

    Last modified: 24 Feb 2017 8:16 AM | Janna Bianchini (Administrator)

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