cover image Arabs in Europe

Arabs in Europe

Rizzoli, Crespi, Gabriele Crespi. Rizzoli International Publications, $75 (334pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0707-9

When Arab soldiers crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to enter Spain in A.D. 711, Spanish Jews offered the invaders wholehearted support. The Muslim conquerors were tolerant, allowing subjects to follow their own faiths. Christian communities flourished in Seville and Cordoba. This eye-opening chronicle of Arab conquest argues that Western historians have overplayed the importance of the Christian Crusades in bringing science and philosophy to Europe while downplaying the role of Muslim Spain. From the Arabs, Europeans learned how to use astronomical instruments; translations from Arabic into Latin made possible advances in Islamic science, medicine and mathematics and introduced previously unavailable works by Plato, Galen and Aristotle. The popular rhymes of 12th century poet Ibn Quzman seem to have inspired the troubadours. Among the scores of color illustrations here are interior photographs of the Alhambra and Alcazar, dazzling arabesques and little-known Muslim architecture in Sicily. (September 5)