Author(s): Dario Fernandez-Morera
Scholars, journalists, and even politicians uphold Muslim-ruled medieval Spain—“al-Andalus”—as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.
There is only one problem with this widely accepted account: it is a myth.
In this groundbreaking book, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera tells the full story of Islamic Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise shines light on hidden history by drawing on an abundance of primary sources that scholars have ignored, as well as archaeological evidence only recently unearthed.
This supposed beacon of peaceful coexistence began, of course, with the Islamic Caliphate’s conquest of Spain. Far from a land of religious tolerance, Islamic Spain was marked by religious and therefore cultural repression in all areas of life and the marginalization of Christians and other groups—all this in the service of social control by autocratic rulers and a class of religious authorities.
The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise provides a desperately needed reassessment of medieval Spain. As professors, politicians, and pundits continue to celebrate Islamic Spain for its “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” Fernández-Morera sets the historical record straight—showing that a politically useful myth is a myth nonetheless.
Dario Fernandez Morera is associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University. A former member of the National Council on the Humanities , he holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD from Harvard University.