DS: Unlocking the Manuscripts, Paleography, and History of Medieval Granada (Spain)

Course Designers and Professors

Dr. Roger L. Martínez-Dávila, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid


This course will investigate the interreligious history of the city of Granada from the inception of the Islamic Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in 1238 c.e, through its fall in 1492 to Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and until the expulsion of the Muslim converts to Christianity (moriscos) in 1609. This course will first focus on Islamic King Muhammad V’s creation of the splendid hillside palace of the Alhambra and the interreligious community he ruled over. By reading Islamic sources such as those by the noteworthy traveler, Ibn Battuta, and the great historian, Ibn Khaldun, we will assess the nature of intercultural relations during the 1300s. Subsequently, we will appraise the Christian conquest of Granada, the final formation of Catholic Spain, and the re-integration of the city into Christian Spain after 700 years of Muslim rule. Lastly, we will assess the religious and cultural milieu that prompted moriscos to pen letters to the royal government espousing their loyalty to the king and an unusual set of falsified lead books (the Lead Books of Sacromonte) that suggested the moriscos were ancient group of Christians. We will virtually-tour the Alhambra, the Albaicín neighborhood (the site of the 1499 rebellion against Christian rule), and other cultural sites. We also will transcribe manuscripts from the cathedral and municipal archives so that we can seek new historical truths from this historic period.

No knowledge of Spanish is needed to participate in the course or in our transcription efforts.

Learning Outcomes

  • Garner knowledge and assess the history of medieval Spanish intercultural coexistence in the city of Granada and the combined Kingdom of Castile and Leon and the Kingdom of Aragon.
  • Explore the world of medieval manuscripts and texts held in the archives of the Cathedral of Granada and the City of Granada.
  • Learn the craft of medieval paleography, or reading authentic handwritten manuscripts.
  • Transcribe medieval manuscripts and contribute to new scholar knowledge.