Monday, 23 March 2015

A Concise History of Spain

Exploring the ancestry and culture of Moorish Spain, Stephen Town talks about the latest donation from his Nightshelf, A Concise History of Spain

Philips, W.D, and Philips, C.R, A Concise History of Spain, in the University Library at Q 46 PHI

The red brick walls contrast against
a delicate doorway in Marrakech 
My blog this week comes on my return from a break in Marrakech. At this time of year, for the last two years, I have taken a holiday in an Alhambra (the previous year’s trip being to Granada in the Andalusia region of Spain).

The Arabic meaning of al-hambra as ‘red (castle)’ was originally a description of the sun-dried mud bricks of the outer walls of a city or palace. In Marrakech last week our driver was very keen to assure us that the Medina walls there were the original ‘Alhambra’, and that the Granada name was chosen because the Moors in Andalus were reminded of their home city and its red earth.

Last year before visiting Granada I felt the lack of a history book which would put the Moorish occupation of Spain in a wider context. Hence this week’s donation of a work by the husband and wife partnership of William and Carla Phillips of the University of Minnesota.

The Moorish and Catholic Monarch elements of the book which inspired my purchase suitably lived up to expectations, but I had my reservations with the more recent history covered. It is difficult to take an even-handed approach to the Spanish Civil War, and the authors seemed to have an almost sycophantic approach to the contribution of the Spanish Royal family in modern times. But as they suggest, this is a small book on a vast topic, and, as what they refer to as a ‘casual traveller’ I found it accessible and an easy cover-to-cover read.
The walls of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain reminded
early Moor settlers of home.

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