Medieval Anatolian architectural hybridities

 Until the establishment of Ottoman suzerainty over the region in the mid-fifteenth century, Anatolia was a place of cultural “betweenness.”

The Seljuks were the first Turkish Muslim entity to become established in the region (the Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks took place 1071; TN). They were followed by many other similar Turkish and Persian-speaking principalities, which existed either as subservient to the Seljuks or in direct competition with them.

At the same time, the Armenians established their own principality and, later, kingdom in the region. And after the First Crusade, a Latin Crusader state was established around Antioch. This was followed by the entrance of the Mongols into the region. Those Mongols who had converted to Islam (and were known as the Ilkhanids) extended their territory into Anatolia in the mid-thirteenth century, forming the largest contiguous land empire in the history of humankind.

As all of these political entities established themselves in Anatolia, they supported the construction of churches, mosques, religious schools (medreses, or ma-drassas), dervish lodges ( zaviyes), and caravansaries (inns), completely transforming the physical landscape both of urban areas and the hinterland. These physical structures, in turn, altered the cultural life of the region, by providing spaces within which individuals could gather to pray, study, or participate in the development of mystical religious practices.

The architectural programs funded in Anatolia—by a range of individuals associated with myriad local principalities—altered the urban and rural landscapes of the region. On a purely aesthetic level, these architectural programs are material evidence of the kind of hybridity that was common in late medieval Anatolia. Many of the masons and architects constructing new “Islamic” buildings (e.g., mosques, madrassas, and dervish lodges) were members of indigenous Christian populations. As a result, while many of the buildings and their functions were new, the physical appearance of much of the early Islamic architecture of Anatolia looks very similar to what is traditionally considered the Armenian, Byzantine, and Georgian (i.e., Christian) architecture of the region.

This blog quotes a portion of "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by  Rachel Oshgarian which can be found here. Illustration: Ruins of the Cathedral of Ani and the church of Redeemer in Ani, an ancient capital of Armenia in the 10th century; photo by Antonio, source Wikipedia Commons

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Medieval Benedictine anti-islam manuscripts by Peter of Cluny

Peter the Venerable (c. 1092 – 25 December 1156) was between 1122 and 1156 the 8th abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Cluny. (...) His greatest achievement is his contribution to the reappraisal of the Church’s relations with the religion of Islam (by translating Islamic manuscripts such as the Qur'an; TN).

Peter used the newly translated material in his own writings on Islam, of which the most important are the Summa totius heresis Saracenorum (The Summary of the Entire Heresy of the Saracens) and the Liber contra sectam sive heresim Saracenorum (The Refutation of the Sect or Heresy of the Saracens). In these works Peter portrays Islam as a Christian heresy that approaches paganism (...). His explicit purpose for commissioning the translation was the conversion of Muslims. For Peter, the point is not to "study" a "religion" but to refute a particularly vile form of Christological heresy, a heresy centered on the denial of Christ's divinity.

While his interpretation of Islam was basically negative, it did manage in “setting out a more reasoned approach to Islam (...) through using its own sources rather than those produced by the hyperactive imagination of some earlier Western Christian writers.” Although this alternative approach was not widely accepted or emulated by other Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, it did achieve some influence among a limited number of Church figures (...).

Source text Wikipedia and the paper by John Tolan "Peter the Venerable on the "Diabolical heresy of the Saracens" " on Illustration: The Consecration of Cluny III by Pope Urban II, 12th century (Bibliothèque Nationale de France), source Wikipedia.

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Medieval Frankish society well in touch with the Holy Land

On her "Real Crusader History Blog" Dr. Helena P. Schrader reviews "Frankish rural settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem" by Ronnie Ellenblum (2003) as quoted below:

"In this seminal work, Ronnie Ellenblum, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, challenges the assumptions of prominent 20th-century scholars concerning the composition and character of crusader settlement and society.  (...) Ellenblum’s research enabled the “reconstruction” of entire villages ― property by property ― identifying in the process the origins and vocations of many of the inhabitants. This survey turned up roughly 200 Frankish settlements, most of which had never been heard of before either because the settlements themselves had since been abandoned, ruined and overgrown, or because their Frankish origins were hidden behind modern Arabic names and more recent construction.

One of Ellenblum’s chief theses is that: “The Franks…were very successful settlers and were not only fighters and builders of fortifications.  The migrants who settled in the Kingdom of Jerusalem established a network of well-developed settlements…includ[ing] the construction of developed castra [towns], of ‘rural burgi,’ and monasteries, of castles that served as centers for seigniorial estates, of smaller castles, manor houses, farmhouses, unfortified villages, parochial systems etc.”

Even more important, Ellenblum proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the claim of earlier historians such as Prawer and Smail “that the Franks were completely unaware of what went on in their fields (save when it came to collecting their share of the crops), and had no contact with the local inhabitants, is not based on written or archeological sources and is certainly not accurate.” (Emphasis added.) (...) This book makes all previous conclusions about Frankish society obsolete, and any depiction of Frankish Palestine that does not take Ellenblum’s conclusions into account can be dismissed as inaccurate."

Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge OCR Advanced Sciences)

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Cluny Abbey: 10th century start of restoring spiritual independence

As early as the tenth century the situation and dependence of the church on worldly power had alarmed many devout men. In the hope of improving the monastic system William I of Aquitaine, Duke of Aquitaine and count of Mâcon, nicknamed William the Pious, (...) asked the abbot Berno (850-927) of the monastery of Baume, near Besançon, for advice on the foundation of a small new abbey, where twelve monks would enter. This became the abbey of Cluny