Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Berman, Constance H.
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
This dissertation plots the myriad connections between Southern France and the multicultural Iberian Peninsula during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, the people to people contacts which effectively connected Southern France with the Islamic world. The example of courtly culture demonstrates the pattern of informal cultural absorption that resulted from these contacts, as aspects of Andalusian courtly culture were adopted and adapted to Occitan court settings, fitting within a pattern of Pan-Mediterranean courtly culture. This courtly culture absorption was a result of the long-term and broad-based people to people connections and acculturation between Occcitania and the multi-cultural Iberian world.
First, using charter evidence, the interaction between the two Iberias, one Islamic and Arabic, the other Christian and Latin, is traced through the people, institutions, and infrastructure that passed from one Iberia to the other. By the early twelfth century, major Islamic medinas with large Arabic-speaking populations had been incorporated into the Christian kingdoms. In the close confines of these medina/urbs,day-to-day life brought different religious and ethnic groups together. Properties bought, sold, and exchanged involved people of different faiths and backgrounds. Women, like the nuns at Sigena outside Huesca, or the Islamic and Jewish brides of French settlers, often had a unique role to play intercultural interaction.
On the other side of the Pyrenees, several types of cross border relationships occurred: family ties through marriages and alliances, institutional ties through monastic and church affiliation, and travel ties through legates, bishop and abbot appointments, and pilgrimage. Roads to the Spanish shrine of Saint-James of Compostela blanketed southern France, bringing pilgrims to stops along the way at Sainte-Foy de Conques, Saint-Sernin de Toulouse, the Cathedral of Bayonne, and La-Sauve-Majeure. The archival and published charters of these towns and monasteries of Occitania show how these relationships created the means for acculturation, interaction and communication between Occitan and Iberia. As a consequence of these trans-Pyrenean relationships, people with Iberian, Arabic-language origins, interacted with Occitan peoples bringing greater awareness of the intellectual and material culture of Iberia with its cosmopolitan sensibilities.
My dissertation demonstrates the cultural reverberations resulting from cross-cultural contact. While most agree that there was some Arabic influence on medieval Europe, it is generally limited to instances where there is a clear paper trail, such as translated scientific, medical and philosophical texts. There is still significant scholarly resistance to the idea of a more generalized cultural influence due to the theory that connections between Arabic-speaking populations and Europeans were limited and inhibited by language and cultural barriers. we accept that people absorb cultural influence in many ways, including orally, visually, and in what are termed 'low culture' registers, often imperfectly understanding what they scavenge, contact and communication become key to understanding acculaturation. My methodology, using names, ethnicity, and information on captured in charters to identify cross-cultural interaction and evidence of cultural influence, focuses on the pathway from the Arabophone world to Occitania. Since charter evidence shows that cross-cultural interaction was long-term, rapidly increasing over the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and broad-based, involving many areas of Occitania and many types of people. acculturation would be the expected outcome.
Acculturation, Andalusia, Iberia, Southern France
viii, 265 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 248-258).
Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Ellen Church
Church, Rebecca Ellen. "Crossing the Pyrenees: paths of cultural interaction and transmission in the central Middle Ages." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.