A Leyden Take on Conversion

Last Spring, the museum De Lakenhal in Leiden hosted the exhibition Lucas van Leyden and the Renaissance, featuring prints, drawings and paintings by the Dutch engraver Van Leyden (1494-1533) and his colleagues, including Albrecht Dürer and Marcantonio Raimondi. In addition to showing the work of the leading Renaissance artist of the Northern Netherlands, the purpose of the display was to present it in the context of the art of his contemporaries. Continue reading

Augustine and Islam

Saint Augustine has always had a close relationship with North Africa: he was born in Thagaste (now Souk-Ahras in eastern Algeria) and later became Bishop of Hippo (modern Annaba). A little known legend however claimed that Augustine had been born in Tagaoust, Morrocco (perhaps a confusion with the similar sounding Thagaste). One tradition identified Augustine with Abu-l-‘Abbas Sabti (d. 1204), a Sufi saint, ascetic and teacher famous for caring for the poor. After his death the saint became associated with providing protection for all the unfortunate, including Christians and Jews who were able to approach his tomb without prior conversion to Islam. Continue reading

Working in the British Library

With a project of this nature, where the focus is inevitably on early printed and manuscript sources, it’s inevitable that the project team finds themselves spending considerable time in research libraries. I spent part of the summer working from the British Library in London in order to look at a range of printed conversion narratives, from various editions of The Italian Convert (1608) translated by William Crashaw, to The English Spanish Pilgrime (1629) by James Wadsworth. Continue reading

Love thy neighbour?

Tittle Tattle

A conference at Bath Spa University will explore what it meant to be neighbours in medieval and early modern Europe. The conference Call for Papers includes the idea of neighbours facing each other not across fences (most early modern houses were notoriously lacking in private space or well-demarcated boundaries) but across confessional divides, when neighbours belonged to different churches. Continue reading