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University of Colorado System

Coexistence in Medieval Spain: Jews, Christians, and Muslims

University of Colorado System via Coursera


This course explores Jewish, Christian, and Muslim intercultural relations in Iberia from the Visigothic era (6th century CE) until the creation of Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand II Catholic Spain (late 15th century). We evaluate the many identities of the peninsula known as Christian Hispania, Jewish Sefarad, and Islamic al-Andalus. We trace the origins and trajectory of conflict between these communities (the Muslim conquest of Spain, Christian Reconquista, prohibitions blocking intermixing of peoples, and expulsions). We aim to understand conflicts within communities as well, such as the tensions between Christian Arian Visigoths and native Catholic Iberians or the fundamentalist North African Almohad Dynasty that rejected the Spanish Umayyad Caliphate’s preference for religious tolerance. We delve into an appreciation of collaboration and coexistence among these communities. We explore the unique role of the Jewish community who Muslims and Christians depended upon as political and cultural intermediaries as well as their intellectual collaborators. We find the history of how peoples attempted to create and manage viable diverse communities. As we study this history, the Honors Track will employ an investigative process (“The Historian’s Craft”) that involves viewing, reading, analyzing, and reflecting on events, peoples, places, and artifacts.


  • Introduction to Medieval Spain and Coexistence (418-711 CE)
    • This week introduces the idea of co-existence in medieval Spain. We begin our study of medieval Spain by briefly viewing Roman Spain and then learning about the Visigoths. Supplemental information places medieval Iberia within the contexts of European, Byzantine, and Islamic civilizations. The honors section of the course introduces "The Historian's Craft" and the task of "viewing".
    • In this section of the course, we advance our investigation of medieval Spain to learn about Islamic al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) and Jewish Sefarad (Jewish Spain). This includes a study of the Islamic conquest of Visigothic Spain and the subsequent development of the Umayyad Dynasty. We evaluate the complexities of conflicts between religious groups and within religious groups. We witness interfaith collaboration. Islamic sciences are presented as is the Golden Age of the Spanish Jews. We view Islamic art and architecture. Lastly, in our honors section we continue with our study of the Historian's Craft and the task of "reading".
  • Forging A Christian Future: Christian Spain (711-1212 CE) and the Castilian Ascent In Spain (1212-1347 CE)
    • First, we continue with an investigation of the third principal culture of Iberian Peninsula -- Spanish Christian Hispania. We seek out more specific examples of the Christian kingdom's impact on political, religious, social, intellectual, and economic issues. Next, we examine the rise of the Spanish Christian Kingdom of Castile and Leon and the impact of King Alfonso X "The Learned". We study how Spanish Christians created culture through material objects and architecture. In addition, we explore the complications of Christians governing religious minorities in their lands. The honors section of the course continues with our study of the Historian's Craft and the task of "analyzing".
  • Creating Conversos and Rejecting Religious Diversity: Catholic Spain (1347-1502 CE)
    • This section of the course presents the end of coexistence in medieval Spain, which was characterized by the creation of new types of peoples (conversos, Jewish converts to Christianity), religious intolerance and expulsions. Multiple examples of the fluctuations in the relationships of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, are examined as Catholic Spain took shape. Special attention is also directed to Spanish archives that preserve this history. We take a closer look at the end of convivencia in the city of Plasencia, Spain, and view a digital video narration. As the Spanish Middle Ages did not occur in a vacuum, we share with you eight scholarly endeavors from the "Global Middle Ages" Project. The honors section of the course continues with our study of the Historian's Craft and the task of "reflecting" and features the music of the Texas Early Music Project.
  • Interpreting Iberia's Past: Our Evaluation of the Evidence
    • The final section of the course prompts students in the Honors Track to interpret and evaluate a historical artifact from medieval Spain (a material object, architecture, or a manuscript). This peer-reviewed project is not a required to complete the course as a regular student.

Taught by

Dr. Roger Louis Martínez-Dávila


3.0 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at Coursera based on 121 ratings

Start your review of Coexistence in Medieval Spain: Jews, Christians, and Muslims

  • I dropped this course after the first lesson because it would not grade my quizzes. It requested me to upgrade from a free course to a paid course in order to be graded. i am not taking these courses to earn a certificate, bachelors, or masters degree.
    i am 69 years old, have a BA in Business and Economics, and an MBA. I am taking these courses for the general knowledge in history--a passion of mine--for no other reason. Period.
  • Anonymous
    This is the first time I have taken a formal course on Moorish / Medieval Spain,after a lot of self study and reading around the topic, since I was a teenager. I was looking for a course,but didn't feel I had the finances or entry requirements to g…

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