posted on 01/12/21
They take place every Tuesday from 1 February to 1 March at 4.30pm (GMT) and, including Q&A, will probably last just under an hour. They are available for viewing for eight weeks after the last episode is streamed (26 April 2022).
This opening talk provides cultural, geographical and historical context for a region characterised, above all, by its nearly 800 years of Muslim rule. In creating a framework for understanding Andalucía and its rich cultural heritage, we will consider the important legacy of the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Visigoths, and their relevance to Andalucía’s later history.
Military leaders loyal to the Umayyad caliph in Damascus first arrived in the Iberian peninsula at the behest of the Visigoths, who were eager to resolve a succession dispute. However, Umayyad rule in the region did not properly start until they were themselves deposed in Damascus by the Abbasid dynasty. The subsequent rise of the Umayyad, in what they named al-Andalus, left to posterity the wonderful Mesquita in Córdoba and the ruins of their caliphal city at Madīnat al-Zaḥrā’, destroyed after their fall in 1031.
Following the collapse of the Umayyads, al-Andalus fragmented into a number of taifas, or petty kingdoms. With encroaching Christian monarchs from the north increasingly claiming Muslim-held territories, the formerly nomadic African Berbers came to the aid of the taifa kings and went on to rule al-Andalus for 200 years. Often characterised as religiously pious and bereft of artistic sentiment, in fact, the Almoravid and later the Almohad dynasties contributed hugely to the development of Andalucían art and architecture, above all in their capital, Seville.
The Emirate of Granada was the last Muslim-held territory in the Iberian peninsula, and the palatine city of the Alhambra was the seat of the ruling Nasrid dynasty. This talk covers the Alhambra’s fascinating, if chequered, history, from the construction and significance of its most important remaining buildings, their gradual deterioration from the reign of Philip II of Spain onwards, the picturesque art and myths that ensued, to the regeneration of the Alhambra, such that today it is Spain’s most visited historic monument.
In January 1492, the fall of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs ended almost eight centuries of Muslim rule in the peninsula. However, the architectural and decorative styles typical of Muslim al-Andalus continued to inform the tastes of the Christian elite in Andalucía, in their buildings, furnishings, and ceramics. These styles are known as Mudéjar, a Spanish corruption of an Arabic word, mudajjan, meaning servile. This talk follows the development of Mudéjar taste in Andalucía, at a time when the Greco-Roman Renaissance predominated throughout much of Europe.
Following a successful career in academic publishing in the humanities, Philippa was reviews editor on the magazine History Today for five years. She is now an independent lecturer and researcher, and a tutor in art history at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. Philippa’s broad academic interests look at the many societies and cultures that have given Andalucía, Sicily, and the rest of the Mediterranean basin, their rich and diverse architectural and artistic heritage.
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