Medieval Spain: Further Reading

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.

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  • Alex

    Nice blog. Of related interest to this entire debate is the very short book by fellow medievalist Bruce Holsinger, "Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror."
    Dead or alive, I do think Fletcher's "Moorish Spain" is still the best introduction to the period. Certainly it is the most accessible by a historian, although it does not make use of the latest research (it was written twenty years ago). I am myself writing a short history of Muslim Spain to be published by I.B. Tauris Press as part of the new "Short History" series. But it won't be out before 2012.

  • Wacky Hermit

    I adore medieval Spain! I've added several of the book recommendations to my wish list. Thanks for those, and if you have any more recommendations for the late medieval period in Spain or Portugal, I'd love to have them!

  • tenthmedieval

    Fletcher's good. I'd go so far as to say that everything Fletcher wrote was good. I think you have the main books covered here, though one might also mention Hugh Kennedy's Muslim Spain and Portugal: a political history and, for those with good libraries or huge budgets, Salma K. Jayyusi (ed.), The Legacy of Muslim Spain, which has an article in it on just about everything and some of which is visible on Google Books. There's also a couple of volumes on early al-Andalus that collect a lot of Spanish scholarship in translation, called The Formation of al-Andalus, but they may be a bit specific for your readership? I don't know, your readership is kind of omnivorous…

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