Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Allen Fromherz

Second Advisor

Dr. Ghulam Nadri

Third Advisor

Dr. Ian Fletcher

Abstract

At the height of the Reconquista c. 1340 CE, Christian King Alfonso XI of Castile-León constructed a new throne room to commemorate his victory over Muslim forces from neighboring Granada and North Africa. The throne room called the Sala de la Justicia (Hall of Justice) was built almost entirely in the Mudéjar style, a style that looked Islamic in nature and included inscriptions in Arabic, several referencing the Qur’an, but predominantly intended for non-Muslims. The construction of this throne room in the Alcazar of Seville, a palace built by the Muslims and later used as the royal residence for the conquering Christians, has puzzled scholars due to its clearly Islamicate design being used in a new construction by a Christian ruler against a backdrop of the Crusades and the Reconquista in Spain. Raising further questions was the construction of the Alcazar’s Mudéjar palace by Alfonso XI’s son Pedro I between 1364-1366 CE. This new construction mirrored designs in the neighboring Alhambra of Granada, a territory still controlled by Muslims, which even employed some of the same artisans. Attempts to interpret the Mudéjar designs utilized by Christians was further exacerbated by the same design style appearing in new buildings and additions by non-ruling Christians, Muslims, and Jews across al-Andalus, among them residential and religious buildings including churches and synagogues. This project re-examines these constructions through the lens of a cultural history reveal a shared culture and visual language that existed between the Castilian Christians, their Muslim antagonists and the minority populations of Christians, Muslims, and Jews living in al-Andalus over the course of several hundred years, reaching its apex in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Participation in this shared culture by members of the three confessional communities was enabled because it existed separately from any specific political or religious affiliations which would otherwise be prohibitive. In this proposed re-interpretation, a cosmopolitan Islamicate culture coexisted among residents in al-Andalus, including ruling Christians, minority Muslim or Jewish subjects, and neighboring political and religious antagonists. Ultimately, it is this shared Islamicate culture that best explains the Christian constructions in the Alcazar of Seville.

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