Conflict and Coexistence

Archbishop Rodrigo and the Muslims and Jews of Medieval Spain
Lucy K. Pick
Illuminates the career and method of one of thirteenth-century Spain's most important religious, military, and political figures


In Conflict and Coexistence, Lucy Pick sets out to explain how Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived alongside one another in medieval Spain. By examining the life and works of Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, the Archbishop of Toledo (1209-47), Pick explains that the perceived threat of the non-Christian presence was managed through the subordination of Muslims and Jews.

Rodrigo stood at the center of a transformative period of history in the Iberian peninsula. During his long and varied career as archbishop, he acted as scholar, warrior, builder, and political leader. The wave of victories he helped initiate were instrumental in turning back the tide of Muslim attacks on Christian Spain and restarting the process of Christian territorial conquest. However, Toledo was still a multiethnic city in which Christians lived side by side with Jews and Muslims. As archbishop, he was faced with the considerable challenge of maintaining peace and prosperity in a city where religious passions and intolerance were a constant threat to stability.

This work seeks to examine Rodrigo's relations with the Muslims and Jews of his community both as he idealized them on paper and as he worked through them in real life. Though Rodrigo wrote an anti-Jewish polemic, and set out to conquer Muslim-held lands, he also used scholarly patronage and literary creation to combat internal and external, Christian and non-Christian threats alike. His intended and actual consequences of these varied techniques were to allow Christians, Muslims, and Jews to live together under Christian authority. Rodrigo was bound by practical necessity to find a means of accommodating these groups that was both effective and theologically satisfactory. Throughout this influential work, Pick examines the various aspects of Rodrigo's life and career that led to his policies and the consequences that his work and beliefs brought about in medieval Spain.

This book will be of interest to anyone who studies the history, religion, and literature of medieval Spain, to those interested in the transmission of learning from the Muslim to the Christian world, and to those who study intellectual life and development in medieval Europe.

Lucy K. Pick is Senior Lecturer in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago.

Praise / Awards

  • "An outstanding contribution not only to Spanish but to European history at large. Pick's book is the first to clarify the unity of purpose that drove Archbishop Rodrigo, a major figure not only as a historian and controversialist, but as a churchman whose military campaigns advanced the conquest of Muslim Spain and shifted the whole balance of power in the Iberian Peninsula."
    —J. N. Hillgarth, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

  • "By focusing on the diversified activities of the talented mid-thirteenth-century archbishop of Toledo, Lucy Pick brilliantly illuminates the complex relations between the Christian conquerors of Spain and the conquered Muslim and Jewish populations. Students of medieval Spain, of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, of medieval Muslims and Islam, and of medieval Jews and Judaism will benefit from this excellent study."
    —Robert Chazan, New York University

  • "The author's analytical study provides remarkable insight into the quintessence of Spanish medieval history in which three religions and cultures—those of Christians, Jews, and Muslims—though frequently in conflict with one another, coexisted within the same political, economic, social, and intellectual dimensions."
    —Paulette L. Pepin, The Historian

  • "Lucy Pick's study of this relatively unknown an admirable example of the painstaking historical research presented in an engaging and lively manner. Rodrigo comes alive in these pages as a church primate with a desire for power and sovereignty, as an ideologue with charisma who put theory into practice, and as a realist who was able to come to terms with the heterogenic society in which he lived and to find a place in it for both Jews and Muslims."
    —Harvey Hames, The Journal of Religion

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Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
  • 6 B&W photographs, 2 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2004
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11387-3

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  • $94.95 U.S.



  • Muslim, Islamic, Jew, Jewish, Jews, Judaism, Spain, medieval, renaissance, religion, religious studies, Toledo, Christian, Christianity, Alan of Lille, Visigothic, Castile, archbishop