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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Mediterranean has been an exceptionally important place of interaction, competition, and, at times, conflict among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, throughout the centuries since the rise of Islam. In this chapter, the emphasis is upon the themes of crystallization of identity, dispersion, and conflict. In the early Middle Ages the borders between the various religious communities in the Mediterranean were at times ill-defined, with frequent interaction and overlaps in religious identities. This situation changes in the Middle Ages, with permeable boundaries turning into physical, social, legal, and cultural walls. Thus, in many Mediterranean communities we can observe the crystallization of the religious groups into self-confident communities led by literate elites and wedded to codes of law embodied in the Talmud, in the evolving system of canon law, and in Muslim ḥadīths and fatwas. This stiffening of the boundaries is reflected in the Crusades and in the Iberian conflicts.

Keywords: Mediterranean, dispersion, communal boundaries, Crusades, coexistence, conversion, identity, Sephardim, Iberian kingdoms

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