In 1993, Samuel Huntington wrote about the clash of civilizations which would dominate the future of global politics1; however, Europe’s medieval history has already witnessed such a clash between the VII and XV centuries, when Islam and Christianity fought to dominate the…
However, it was, modern historians agree, a dynamic string of centuries when from the ruins of the Roman Empire new powers emerged, namely Islam-ruled states of al-Andalus in Spain in the West, the Ottoman Empire in the East and between them the new power houses of Christendom, where crusades originated. It was not simply a battle of religions, but a clash of civilizations to dominate the known world (excluding China and India). In this battle modern Europe was born, both in terms of aggressive “crusader” attitude and missionary approach of assimilating other cultures. Moreover, even such a modern term like “cold war” first appeared in Spain in the XIII century to mark the difficulties two cultures trying to coexist are facing2.
The Islam and the Christianity, in an odd manner, managed to simultaneously co-exist and to battle almost uninterruptedly on the European scene for more than eight centuries. These two civilizations were “caught up in a situation where old cultural and social patterns had been broken and new ones were forming”3. Between 636, when the Battle of Yarmouk took place, and 1453, when Constantinople fell, the head city of an already beheaded Byzantine Empire, Europe’s history was dominated by constant rivalry between Islam and Christendom, whose “attitudes to Islam had been compounded of ignorance, misperception, hostility and fear”4. On the other hand, in the process of fighting for domination Islam and Christianity inevitably borrowed from each other, while constantly desecrating the world of “the other”. The largest cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, “St. Sophia”, was transformed to a mosque by the Turks, while many mosques in Spain were changed to churches during and after the Reconquista.
Historians agree that this struggle began in 636 when the armies of Byzantium faced those of the Rashidun Caliphate in the Battle of Yarmouk and were defeated. This massive ...
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