Ornament of the World, Maria Rosa Menocal

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One Response to “Ornament of the World, Maria Rosa Menocal”

  1. Elizabeth P. Says:

    Summary:
    As the title suggested, this book details a time between 600 and about 1400 A.D., when the three major religions of the medieval world coexisted in peace for the first and (arguably) only time in recorded history. It follows the lives of several religious figures, political leaders, monarchs, and nomads. It discusses the life and influence of one of the most religiously influential figures ever, the prophet Muhammad. The story is set primarily in Europe, specifically medieval Spain, but also discusses the travel of many across the deserts of Africa, seeking refuge from religiously motivated wars. As Spain became the Switzerland of these religious conflicts, it birthed a culture of tolerance and mass creativity. Religious documents and holy books were, for the first time in some cases, translated from their original languages to be made available to all. Art and peace thrived in this place of faith and community. The crusades eventually ended it all, when the European Christians came through Spain to reclaim the land for Christianity, but for a few glorious centuries a culture of complete tolerance existed between faiths many believed would never coexist harmoniously.

    Evaluation:
    This book is amazingly written. Not only is it a hugely interesting topic, but it is also written in an engaging way. It is written almost like a narrative, following the lives of many who would become influential in this event/period of time, slowly moving into the events that person was a part of, and then seamlessly moving on to another person or event. The author has written it to be educational as well as dictate an interesting story and compelling narrative. It really makes the reader stop and think about tolerance and compassion for those who do not share the same beliefs as others might.

    Rating: 5/5 stars. Amazing, compelling, educational. All that is needed to make an amazing history book.

    Recommendations:
    Reading Lolita in Tehran By Azar Nafisi

    Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life By Alison Weir

    A History of Medieval Spain By Joseph F. O’Callaghan

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