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'Otherness’ in Space and Architecture

Jews, Muslims and Christians in Western European Art (1200-1650)

Maria Portmann

This conference proceeding (Sessions on "Otherness in Space and Architecture", International Medieval Conference, Leeds, 2017 and 2018) is a compilation of articles written by both young and senior scholars, who are working on the question of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in Christian, Jewish and Islamic cultures. The articles examine how material, ‘oriental’ objects and knowledge originating in non-Western communities helped building and strengthening the identity of Iberia’s, southern France and northern Italian nobility and its lineages. It is shown how, in the perception of Christians, the public image of Jews and Moslems became constructed as that of adversaries, while their cultural knowledge, at the same time, would be integrated into Christian culture in a paradox manner, in which the ‘self’ necessarily depends on the ‘other’ and how visual tensions in art and space have been used as symbols of power.

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8. Ephemeral Art and Otherness: The Image of the Muslim in Valencian Festivities and Triumphal Entries in the 16th and 17th Centuries: (Borja Franco Llopis)


Borja Franco Llopis

Valencia was a city key to the Habsburg Dynasty’s Mediterranean policy. It boasted a port facilitating great commercial activity by connecting the city to the main Mediterranean ports, and was also a thriving intellectual and artistic centre.361 However, if something truly characterized the city it was the problematic dynamics there stemming from its great number of Moriscos: Muslims forced to convert to Christianity after the Revolt of the Brotherhoods in the 1520s. These Moriscos were considered a serious impediment to political and religious stability, not only in this area, but across the entire Iberian Peninsula. In the view of many civil authorities, and also certain ecclesiastical leaders, they were considered potential allies of the Turks, and there was fear that they might come to constitute a dreaded “Fifth Column”, fighting on behalf of the Ottoman Empire as it would eventually lay siege to the Spanish coast, alongside the Barbary pirates themselves.362 Not surprisingly, a whole series of evangelical campaigns, ranging from assimilation to repression, were soon undertaken, with a view to solving the problem and bringing about the genuine integration and conversion of the Moriscos into Spanish society.363 These two attitudes and approaches, the ←149 | 150→more peaceful one vs. the tendency to expel the group, were two sides of the same coin, as indicated by Perceval:

they both had the same objective: the extinction of the “other”, who was either to be converted into a new being, or be expelled from the...

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