Published: 03/02/2012
ISBN: 9781848767980
eISBN: 9781785896903
Format: Paperback/eBook

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About the Author

Fluency in languages drew Donald McGilvray into an international career. He has lived in several countries in Europe and East Asia and has traveled widely elsewhere; frequently to the Middle East. Con... read more

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The Seizure of the Sultanate
by Donald McGilvray

A fascinating history of this pivotal point in Spanish and European history, this is an important new look at the conquest of Granada

The sultanate of Granada was the last bastion of Islamic rule in Western Europe. Situated in the mountainous regions of Southern Spain, it survived and even prospered for over two and a half centuries and was then overwhelmed in less than a decade. How did it resist the pressures of its Christian neighbours for so long? How was it then conquered so rapidly? These are the intriguing questions that Donald McGilvray has sought to answer in this carefully researched new look at the topic. In doing so he has brought to light a host of related issues – then as now we come across the use of religion for political ends, religious fundamentalism, holy wars and attempts to create multicultural societies.

After a brief introduction to Muslim Spain and the Christian reconquest, the salient features which enabled Nasrid Granada to resist external pressures, despite internal weaknesses, are examined along with the circumstances that led to the final war. The core of the book describes the political and military aspects of that war and the religious, economic and social elements that contributed to it.

The drama of the surrender of Granada, enacted on the battlements of the Alhambra and outside the city walls, unfolds in the last chapters which also expose subsequent events. The surrender terms had been generous to the local population and at first a genuine attempt was made to establish a society within which those of different faiths and cultures could live together in harmony. Those efforts were frustrated by the intervention of radical clerics, events which were controversial at the time and remain so today.

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A much quoted proverb tells us that history repeats itself. That is perhaps debatable, but there is plenty of evidence to show that human nature has changed little over the centuries. In the story of the Sultanate of Granada and its conquest,we come across greed, the lust for wealth and power,deceit, cowardice and betrayal; but also generosity,courage,loyalty, self-sacrifice and humanity. The blend and balance of those characteristics bring the personalities out of the pages of history and much closer to the world in which we live today.

Oxford Today Journal

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