The response to the Cordoba piece has been quite gratifying, if a bit overwhelming. But as a result, my inbox is currently flooded with mail–mostly friendly mail, mind you, but flooded still–so some of you may not get a response for some time.* For those who wrote asking for recommendations of books to read to familiarize yourself with medieval Spanish history, here are a few** recommended to me by people who know a lot more about it than I do to tide you over:
For a general survey, see:
A History of Medieval Spain, by Joseph O’Callaghan
The Medieval Spains (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks), by Bernard F. Reilly
For a bit of cultural history, either of Maria Rosa Menocal’s books will do:
The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, or
The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture, written with Jerrilynn D. Dodds and Abigail Krasner Balbale.
For the Arab conquest itself:
The Arab Conquest of Spain: 710-797 (A History of Spain), by Roger Collins
And for the book most conservative respondents have referenced in emails to me:
Moorish Spain, by Richard Fletcher***
Feel free to add a few more book recommendations of your own in the comments section, but remember, the requests are usually for accessible single-volume histories.
*Though, really, most people who email me know that you might not get a response back for some time even under the best of conditions. I’m a bad email correspondent.
**All these links will filter through my Amazon Associates account, which will, no doubt, pay me some dividend around the year 2026.
***Who for some reason they all call “the late Richard Fletcher” in their emails to me. This is accurate I suppose, since he is dead, but a weird verbal tic nonetheless. Whether scholars are dead or alive isn’t usually the first thing I think of when recommending their books. For the record, Roger Collins is alive and well and writing about the papacy lately; Maria Menocal is alive and always quite friendly when I run into her; Joseph F. O’Callaghan seems to be alive but emeritus, and you can judge for yourself whether that counts as late; and Bernard F. Reilly is alive, emeritus, and writing the occasional medieval novel.