the friend online
12 May 2006

Alora and the shining lemon trees - preview
I am continually shocked, enthralled, and overwhelmed by Spain, its history, its culture, its beauty, its paradoxes
  • In 1492 when its Jews were expelled, and its Moorish, Christian, Jewish culture received its final death knell, the rabbis placed a curse on the land
  • From the eight until the eleventh centuries, what is now most of Spain experienced the great convivencia, the living side by side of three great cultures under the mostly benign rule of Muslims from north Africa
  • This was characterized by great artistic and scientific interchange
  • After that time, with the rise of more extreme groups from north Africa, some of the great cultural interchange passed north to the encroaching Christian kingdoms
  • There is a lot of sentimental nonsense written about the convivencia
  • What passes for history is often modern liberal aspirations for our own societies, but there is no doubt that there was some sort of coming together of 'las tres culturas' way ahead of anything found in the oppressive Christian northern kingdoms of Europe
  • And in some ways Spain was indeed cursed after the expulsion of the Jews (or their forced conversions) and later of the Muslims
  • Economic decline, religious fanaticism, isolation from European development, and fear of otherness became part of Spanish life

  • Harvey Gillman

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