This book investigates how minorities contributed to medieval society, comparing these contributions to majority society’s perceptions of the minority.
In this volume the contributors define ‘minority’ status as based on a group’s relative position in power relations, that is, a group with less power than the dominant group(s). The chapters cover both what modern historians call ‘religious’ and ‘ethnic’ minorities (including, for example, Muslims in Latin Europe, German-speakers in Central Europe, Dutch in England, Jews and Christians in Egypt), but also address contemporary medieval definitions; medieval writers distinguished between ‘believers’ and ‘infidels’, between groups speaking different languages, and between those with different legal statuses.
The contributors reflect on patterns of influence in terms of what majority societies borrowed from minorities, the ways in which minorities contributed to society, the mechanisms in majority society that triggered positive or negative perceptions, and the function of such perceptions in the dynamics of power. The book highlights structural and situational similarities as well as historical contingency in the shaping of minority influence and majority perceptions.
The chapters in this book were originally published as special issue of the Journal of Medieval History.
Table of Contents
1. Real and perceived minority influences in medieval society
2. ‘Ale for an Englishman is a natural drink’: the Dutch and the origins of beer brewing in late medieval England
3. Islamic influence on Christian legislation in the kingdom of Castile
4. Franks, locals and sugar cane: a case study of cultural interaction in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem
Judith Bronstein, Edna J. Stern and Elisabeth Yehuda
5. Medieval Sunni historians on Fatimid policy and non-Muslim influence
6. The Catalans in Sardinia and the transformation of Sardinians into a political minority in the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries
7. Iure Theutonico? German settlers and legal frameworks for immigration to Hungary in an East-Central European perspective
8. Migrants in high medieval Bohemia
9. The real and perceived influence of minority groups in Poland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
Nora Berend is Professor of European History at the University of Cambridge, UK. Professor Berend’s interests encompass medieval religious and cultural interaction; the formation of identity; modern uses of the medieval. Her publications include At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and ‘pagans’ in medieval Hungary (c.1000 – c. 1300) (2001), and the co-authored Central Europe in the High Middle Ages, c. 900-c.1300 (2013).