The Ornament of the World

by María Rosa Menocal
Start Free Trial

An Andalusian in London Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on April 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 218

In 1106, a Jew named Moses was baptized as Petrus Alfonsi and left for England. Though little is known about his early life, he was trained in philosophy, science, and rhetoric, and likely served as a physician for Henry I. In England, he became something of a celebrity, as his level of learning, common in Jewish-Muslim Spain, was still a wonder in England, respected for what was seen as esoteric knowledge. One of his most famous books, Disciplina Clericalis, inspired many future writers. In fact, the simple stories, sometimes containing stories within stories, became a literary form that would span centuries in Europe. He further gave the rest of Europe Greek and Roman stories that had been all but forgotten. Another popular book by Petrus was Dialogue Against the Jews. Again, although the dialogue form of writing had existed for many years in the Arabized world, this form of writing became popular in the rest of Europe largely due to Petrus. The book itself was a diatribe against Islam and Judaism, written by one who knew the religions quite well. Menocal comments on the paradoxical nature of Petrus: although he ultimately wrote against the Jews and Muslims, it was his Arabic Jewish heritage that allowed him to be seen as a truly wise and learned individual in Christian England.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

The Church at the Top of the Hill Summary

Next

Sailing Away, Riding Away Summary