Point of conjecture : defining convivencia through the secular Hebrew poetry of al-Andalus
Leben, Sarah J.
During the eleventh century in al-Andalus, Jews living under the rule of Islam, amongst Muslims and Christians, experienced a cultural rebirth known as the Golden Age of Hebrew poetry (c. 1000-1 090). Yet there is no clear understanding of the coexistence of Jews and Muslims at this time; a relationship which contributed to Jewish cultural development. Through analysis of secular Hebrew poetry of the Jewish courtier poets of al-Andalus and evaluation of the historical evidence of the time, the nature of convivencia is revealed. The courtly poetry of Samuel Ha-Nagid (c.993-1055) and Moses Ibn Ezra (c.1055-1138) expresses the viewpoint and experience of the Jewish courtier poets of the Muslim courts of al-Andalus. Borrowing from Arabic culture poetical conventions and scholastic standards, the Jewish courtier poets created a new form of Hebrew high culture that called for a mastery of Hebrew culture and the sophistication of courtly standards. In a balanced coexistence of ethnicities, the Jewish courtier poets created and pursued secular Hebrew poetry in order to re-establish themselves as learned people.