Eduardo Carrero

title.none: Gerli, ed., Medieval Iberia (Eduardo Carrero)

identifier.other: baj9928.0401.005 04.01.05

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Eduardo Carrero, Universidad de Oviedo,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2004

identifier.citation: Gerli, E. Michael, ed. Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2003. Pp. xxx, 920. $175.00 0-415-93918-6. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 04.01.05

Gerli, E. Michael, ed. Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2003. Pp. xxx, 920. $175.00 0-415-93918-6. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Eduardo Carrero
Universidad de Oviedo

Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia is the eighth in the remarkable collection, Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages, that Routledge has been publishing for several years. Edited by E. Michael Gerli, the volume tries to condense in 920 pages the most important facts, personages, and elements that contributed to the problematic culture of the Iberian Peninsula between the years 470 and 1500. These include the disintegration of the Roman administrative structures, the creation of the Visigothic State, the Islamic invasion, the immediate process of formation and consolidation of the four great Christian kingdoms of Portugal, Navarre, Aragón and Castile, material on the Islamic kingdoms in the south of the Peninsula, as well as information on religious minorities and the ability of Jews, Christians and Muslims to live together. Compiling this book must have been a tremendous task because of the wealth and the variety of the sources-- institutional, popular, religious, civil, literary, legislative-- which are absolutely overflowing in a territory that enjoyed the greatest cultural plurality in all medieval Europe.

The Encyclopedia reveals a primary interest in literature, music, and their history. This makes sense given that some of coordinators and contributors are prestigious philologists like Pedro M. Cátedra and Alan D. Deyermond and musicologists like Robert Stevenson. In addition, there are entries dedicated to the Islamic and Jewish peninsular cultures, and their representatives, codices, and texts. In all these cases, the authors of different entries have taken care to create a complete catalogue of the most varied samples of literature, philosophy, policy, thought and music from the Iberian Peninsula, as well as of their authors, whatever their religious creed. Moreover, the contributors have investigated the new historiographic tendencies and the cultural phenomena which produced those works, using the literary works and biographies not only as isolated elements of study, but also as sources for a history of the medieval Iberian culture.

This Encyclopedia, however, is lacking with respect to history of art, history of architecture, and archaeology. The only entry dedicated to the complete history of Iberian medieval architecture seems to be a little limited, as there is some confusion about certain buildings and on the chronology of others. This problem is more important relative to painting and sculpture. Romanesque and the Gothic painting lack their own entries; and, it is not logical that while there is an entry dedicated to Portuguese Gothic sculpture, there is not another one on the Gothic sculpture in Aragón and Castile. While there are many entries on Iberian medieval literature and music and their authors, the coverage of the Encyclopedia is inconsistent in the field of art and art history. For instance, the book, in my opinion, should cover artistic phenomena like the Hispanic Preromanesque, the conflicting beginnings of Romanesque art and its sculpture, all the gothic painting and sculpture in Navarre, Castile and Aragón, famous buildings such as the archiepiscopal palace of Santiago de Compostela, its cathedral, the monastery of Silos, the abbey of Alcobaça, the monastery of Santa Maria the Real of Las Huelgas in Burgos, the wall-paintings of San Isidoro of Leon, Tahull or Bagüés, the cathedral of Seville, and the parish church of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelon. After all, the art of the Muslims and Jews, the mosque of Cordova, and the Alhambra, all have their own entries. In the same way, certain artists like Maestro Mateo, the architect Juan Guas, the sculptors Pere Sanglada and Pere Oller, and painters like Lluis Dalmau or Bartholomew Bermejo should have individual entries. There are some few representatives of art and artists with their own entries: one on the scriptorium of Alfonso X el Sabio and the illumination of manuscripts; ones dedicated to textiles; the Pórtico de la Gloria of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela; and one on the Portuguese painter Nuno Gonçalves.

Something similar happens with the Christian Liturgy. I am not going to enter in the convenience or not of applying the term "mozárabic" to the liturgy that was developed in the Hispanic churches until end of the eleventh century, although I think that already has been indicated the necessity of using the term "Hispanic Liturgy" because it was not a liturgy made solely by "mozárabs", but by all the peninsular Christian community before the generalization of the Roman Rite. In any case, the conflicting passage of one to another liturgy, the paper of the monarchy and the ecclesiastical authorities in same or the their geographic diffusion are not sufficiently developed.

In spite of the good opinion that Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia deserves, I must emphasize an important caveat as to the bibliographical update. Iberian medievalism has enjoyed a recent and outstanding renovation, made as much by Spanish researchers as by Hispanists worldwide. While the articles dedicated to the history of literature reflect this bibliographical renovation, it does not happen the same in the fields of the history of mentalities or material culture, since the revisions that they have been put under political history, social history, the history of art or archaeology from its more traditional variants have been excluded from the point of view of the bibliography. For example, in the encyclopedia the problems that are involved with concepts like "mozarabismo" and the "mudejarismo" lack discussion of the state of the question that the new historiographic tendencies have proposed on the matter.

Finally, it is possible to emphasize the customized treatment that is devoted to the most important personages of the history of culture in the Iberian Peninsula. A high number of them enjoys its own voice, which also happens with the social, political and cultural phenomena, without leaving out gender history. With respect to the history of institutions, the more outstanding monarchs, noble or ecclesiastics, each religious phenomenon or sociopolitical institutions have their respective entries, although they fall down a bit regarding other such decisive elements in the historical development of medieval Iberia as the evolution of the episcopate and the cathedral chapters.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia is an in-depth work, of general interest for the scientific community and that also for the more general public it is an excellent approach to the medieval culture of the Iberian peninsula.