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High Middle Ages – European history

By |2018-04-12T00:08:13+00:00August 3rd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Devils torture the damned in Hell (Abbey of Moissac, about 1050 AD) The Seljuks destabilize Europe's neighbors In 1071 AD, the Byzantine Empire lost most of Anatolia (modern Turkey) to the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert. About the same time, the Abbasids lost control of pieces of the Islamic Empire as well. The Seljuks took over the East, and [...]

Pisa – the Duomo – medieval Italy

By |2017-07-31T09:36:31+00:00July 31st, 2017|Architecture, Medieval|

Cathedral of Pisa (the Duomo) This is the cathedral of medieval Pisa, in Italy. The architects built the cathedral in the Romanesque style around 1064 AD. The rounded arches are typical of the Romanesque style. So is the floor plan of the building, with many little bits sticking out all over. Façade of Pisa's Duomo The outside of the [...]

Aachen – Palatine Chapel – Charlemagne

By |2017-07-29T18:08:15+00:00July 29th, 2017|Architecture, Medieval|

Aachen cathedral (begun 792 AD) One of the first ambitious buildings in Western Europe after the fall of Rome was Charlemagne's chapel at his capital of Aachen (now in northern Germany) about 792 AD. Charlemagne thought of himself as re-creating the Roman Empire. He wanted to build an impressive church that would show that he was a very [...]

Medieval Islamic science

By |2018-04-24T08:21:20+00:00July 27th, 2017|Islam, Science|

Al Tusi's diagram of linear motion from circular motion In the Early Middle Ages, before the formation of the Islamic Empire, Buddhists ran the world's biggest universities. One was in India, at Nalanda. Another was in what is now Pakistan, at Taxila. In Egypt, the University of Alexandria was still an important center of learning, too. Most serious scholars went to [...]

Ibn Rushd – Medieval Islamic Science

By |2018-04-09T23:07:34+00:00July 27th, 2017|Islam, Philosophy, Science|

Cordoba mosque Since the time of Socrates, many people have tried to figure out how science and religion can both be true at the same time. Ibn Rushd, like the earlier ibn Sina and al-Ghazali, was part of an important movement to try to combine Aristotle's scientific description of the world with religious views to create a unified [...]

Guide for the Perplexed – Maimonides

By |2018-04-18T17:19:15+00:00July 25th, 2017|Egypt, Medieval, Philosophy|

Maimonides studied in this Cordoba synagogue in Spain (1315 AD, rebuilt from Maimonides' time) When Maimonides was a child, in the 1100s AD, he studied Jewish religious law in the Cordoba synagogue, in Spain. When he was a young man, he studied Aristotle and other scientific philosophers at the University of Fez in Morocco. Then when he grew up, Maimonides became [...]

Islamic Spain and the Umayyads

By |2018-04-09T10:31:09+00:00July 25th, 2017|History, Islam|

Cordoba mosque, Spain By the late 600s AD, the Moors, people from North Africa who had converted to Islam, were regularly attacking Visigothic Spain. At first these raids were not very serious, and the Spanish were able to fight them off. But in 711 AD, the Moors took advantage of a civil war in Spain to make a more serious attack, [...]

The Abbasids – Medieval Islamic history

By |2018-04-18T23:33:46+00:00July 23rd, 2017|History, Islam|

Minaret at Samarra, 847 AD In 750 AD, the Abbasid caliphs murdered all of the surviving Umayyad men but one. They took over ruling the Islamic Empire. The Abbasids were less interested in the Mediterranean coast than the Umayyads had been. So the Abbasids concentrated more on the plains of Iraq and Iran, and less on the coast: Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, [...]

Umayyad architecture – Islam

By |2017-07-23T08:21:29+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Islam, West Asia|

Dome of the Rock mosque, Jerusalem People didn't build a lot of new buildings during the Umayyad period. They were busy getting organized after the Islamic conquests, and the Umayyad dynasty didn't rule very long. But what they did build was new and exciting. The Umayyads, who were conquering everything, had pots of money to [...]

Mosque history – what is a mosque? – medieval Islamic architecture

By |2017-12-29T14:22:06+00:00July 23rd, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Islam, West Asia|

Mosque history - Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo (Egypt, 900s AD) What is a mosque? A mosque (MAH-SK) is a kind of building where people who follow the Islamic faith pray to God. Mosque history People first built mosques in the 600s AD, when the Arabs conquered Jerusalem and other parts of West Asia. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem [...]