Sea of Faith

Sea of Faith

Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World

eBook - 2012
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From the best-selling author of The Perfect Heresy, and in the spirit of Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, a rich narrative account of the millennium of religious wars that destroyed the Byzantine Empire while shaping the Muslim/Christian conflict that haunts us still. The Medieval Mediterranean was a sea of two faiths: Christianity and Islam. Though bitter rivals, they shared a common history. Here are the epochal moments during that 1000-year struggle: the fall of the Christian Middle East at Yarmuk, Martel's 'wall of ice' at Poitiers, Byzantium's rout at Manzikert, all the way through to Saladin at Jerusalem, Lazar at Kosovo and the suicidal defence of Malta against the Ottomans. Stephen O'Shea tells a riveting story, which stretches from Syria and Israel to France and Morocco. Today, the two faiths again collide. Sea of Faith is a magnificent work of popular history and a timely reminder of our shared past.
Publisher: [United States] : D & M Publishers : Made available through hoopla, 2012
ISBN: 9781926685793
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital


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Jul 21, 2016

An unwieldy procession of details.
O'Shea's theme is engaging: the clash in war, and cooperation in trade and culture, of Christian and Muslim forces in the Medieval Mediterranean.
He suggests that religious motivation in this long interaction is exaggerated: most leaders were simply out for themselves, with many ad hoc alliances and even marriages across the religious divide. The invasions of Mongols and Tamerlane produced especially strange alignments.
But his tale ends with the famous defense of Malta by the Knights of St John against the Ottoman horde in 1565, 450 years ago, where religion was paramount on the Christian side at least. He briefly mentions the battle of Lepanto but omits the siege of Cyprus, the siege of Crete, the second siege of Vienna, the Austrian reconquest, the Russian advance, the revolt of the Balkans, the fall and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, Western imperialism across North Africa and the Near East, the ravagement of Palestinians and imposition of Israel and its wars. Nor does he cover the US-led demolition of Muslim states since 9/11.
Clearly the sometime Medieval modus vivendi that O'Shea stresses did not lead to subsequent peace and stability.
In our day, Christians and Jews have shown scant respect for Muslim peoples and nations, which are fine if allied to us, but lack inherent humanity and can always be disposed of.
Muslim immigrants meanwhile reject Western mores, and a few go mad with violence against the intolerable spectacle of female freedom.
The old religious incompatibility still exists and probably did throughout.
O'Shea's copyright is 2006. Would he take the same view today? He praises the liberality of Turkey. Would he do so under the current Islamist Erdogan dictatorship, aid to Islamic State, and ongoing purge?

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