The Finest Castle in the World

Robert I. Burns and Paul E. Chevedden describe how a much-besieged citadel became the focus for Christian-Muslim co-existence in medieval Spain.

Xàtiva in 2003. Photo by Jan Harenburg

Medieval Christian and Muslim powers lived by a web of pacts, truces and alliances, not only among their own religious-ethnic group but frequently with the ‘infidel’ powers around them. Each contestant in the struggle between Cross and Crescent had to be capable of negotiation. Each treaty or truce represented a unique circumstance, a tangle of options, dangers, opportunities and historical and geographical contexts. The principals in this diplomacy were negotiating to keep or to surrender elements of their identity and their culture. Since Islam and Christendom embraced radically different belief systems, legal assumptions and rhetorical traditions, a Christian-Islamic treaty was not truly a meeting of minds but rather a clash of cultures and political psychologies.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.