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Conversion, Overlapping Religiosities, Polemics, Interaction: Early Modern Iberia and Beyond

GoTriple's project summary

In an early sixteenth-century treatise Martín de Figuerola, a convert from Islam who sought to convince the Muslims of Valencia and Aragon to join him, reports a story he claims to have heard from the Muslim judge of Cocentaina (Valencia). The latter had told him that, in marriage contracts between local Muslims, it was customary for women to demand that their husbands take them to the capital city of Valencia for the springtime festivities of Corpus Christi and those of the Virgin Mary in August. Simply put, the purpose of this project is to unravel the complex interplay of all the ingredients that this apparently trivial yet fascinating anecdote encapsulates. It will bring under close analysis the existence in sixteenth-century Iberia of cross-currents common to different religious groups, areas of local religiosity in which different religions overlapped, and vague or hybrid sorts of religiosity which indicate the blurring of clear ascriptions, categories, and borders. At the same time, it will also scrutinize the efforts made by different social actors (and generations of scholars after them) to establish clear, essential differentiations, to define neat categories and ascriptions, and thus to separate, reject, and stigmatize individuals and groups. The project will study adversarial relationships reconceived as dependencies, against a complex backdrop of dramatic religious change: shortly before Martín de Figuerola’s text was written, Iberia's Jews had been expelled, and a few years later its Muslims would be forced to convert to Christianity, only to be expelled in their turn a century later. The multi-faceted analysis of these phenomena will involve unearthing new archival material, most notably Inquisition trials, as well as numerous sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts (both manuscripts and early modern editions) ranging from new translations of the Qur’an and other Jewish and Islamic classics, to a rich polemical literature.

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