Kingdoms of Faith
A New History of Islamic Spain
A magisterial, myth-dispelling history of Islamic Spain, from the founding of Islam to the final expulsion of Spain’s Muslims in the seventeenth century.
Prior accounts have portrayed Islamic Spain either as a paradise of enlightened tolerance, or as the site where civilisations clashed. Award-winning historian Brian A. Catlos taps a wide array of original sources to paint a more complex picture, showing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews together built a sophisticated civilisation that transformed the Western world, even as they waged relentless war against each other and amongst themselves. Religion was often the language of conflict, but seldom its cause—a lesson we would do well to learn in our own time.
Kingdoms of Faith rewrites Spain’s Islamic past from the ground up, evoking the cultural splendour of al-Andalus and the many forces that shaped it.
Brian A. Catlos is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His books have won the American Historical Association's Premio del Rey Award, the John E. Fagg Prize, and the Medieval Academy of America’s Charles Homer Haskins Medal. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain and Boulder, Colorado.
‘A rich narrative account of al-Andalus . . . a reminder that Islam in Europe is set in stone — in marble and mortar — and it cannot be chiselled away.’ — Financial Times
‘Catlos has produced a substantial new synthesis . . . a gripping, colourful and humane account of a period that ought to be better known.’ — History Today
‘The ambition of Brian Catlos in this excellent new account is to provide not just a thoroughly up-to-date history but one that resists the narrative tug of both Right and Left. . . . he has forged a tight synthesis of the latest research in a fresh portrait of nearly a millennium of history.’ — Times Literary Supplement
‘A lively, engaging history.’ — Library Journal
‘A richly layered tapestry . . . Catlos knows how to tell a story.’ — Asian Review of Books
‘A sweeping narrative of lost possibilities now achingly, exigently relevant to Europe’s contemporary aspirations. I wish this invaluable and impressive book every success.’ — David Levering Lewis, author of God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
‘Spirited, probing and original, this is a key history of Muslim Spain. Its unique perspective illuminates the vexed issue of religious, political and cultural interaction between Christians, Jews and Muslims, revealing its vital importance to the history of modern Europe.’ — Elizabeth Drayson, University of Cambridge, author of The Moor’s Last Stand
‘A lively account of medieval Spain and Portugal which steers away from the usual stereotypes to offer us a more nuanced account of relations and interactions between communities and faith groups.’ — Hugh Kennedy, Professor of Arabic, SOAS, University of London and author of The Caliphate
‘A brilliant narrative history of the rise and fall of Muslim Spain. This balanced, lucid, and myth-breaking account sheds light on a unique society that has too often been demonised, romanticised or simplified.’ — Matthew Carr, author of Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, 1492–1614
‘Catlos takes us through the kaleidoscopic interplay of Muslim–Christian relations. His deft analysis illuminates the forces brought to bear in creating both the myth and reality of life in “Moorish” Spain.’ — Thomas F. Glick, Emeritus Professor of History, Boston University, and author of Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages
‘Mediterranean studies have been shaped in an informative and innovative way by Brian Catlos’s contributions in the recent decades. His incursion now into the history of a specific region and polity — that of al-Andalus (Medieval Iberia under Muslim rule) — brings to the fore the same qualities that characterize his previous work: an inquisitive and incisive mind that homes in on perceptive questions, combined with the ability to recreate past events in an appealing manner for a wide audience.’ — Maribel Fierro, Research Professor at the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean, CSIC, Madrid
‘Kingdoms of Faith constitutes a fresh and original contribution to the history of al-Andalus, rooted in the author’s profound knowledge of medieval Iberian history. Brian Catlos has managed to produce a very well-written and lively narrative that provides an up-to-date synthesis of the most recent developments in this field of history.’ — Alejandro García Sanjuán, University of Huelva