Coinciding with the 8th centenary of the birth of Alfonso X, the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation wishes to pay tribute to the Wise King by participating in the programme of activities designed by different public and private institutions around the monarch on the occasion of this anniversary.
To this end, Three Cultures has prepared a series of lectures as part of the Al-Andalus Chair project, as well as the re-publication of a book, with the aim of raising awareness of various aspects of the reign and work of one of the most important figures in our history.
The second session of the series of talks, entitled 'Muslims and Jews in the cultural and political work of Alfonso X', will be held on Tuesday 14th December at 19:00. The conference will be given by Francisco García Fitz, professor of Medieval History at the University of Extremadura.
Relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims - although characterised for centuries by their fluctuating, contradictory, never easy nature - were particularly complex during the reign of Alfonso X. The Wise King carried out transcendental work in areas such as the promotion of the translation of Arabic works on astronomy, astrology, mathematics, philosophy, literature, religion and history. In other areas such as education, Alfonso X ordered the construction of a school of higher learning in Murcia where classes in logic, engineering, mathematics, music and philosophy were taught under the direction of the philosopher Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Riquti. These facts have contributed to the monarch's being known as the ruler "of the Three Religions" because of his perceived compromise attitude towards the Muslim and Jewish minorities.
Professor Francisco García Fitz questions the absolute validity of this premise, considering that "(...) both the general conclusions about the coexistence of the three communities during the reign of Alfonso X and some assessments or interpretations referring specifically to intercultural relations are impregnated with a good dose of optimism that does not always find support in historical reality".
How much was there state pragmatism or genuine interest in the followers of the other two great monotheistic religions in Alfonso X's cultural work? Is it possible to speak of a period of special coexistence between confessions? And, if so, would the use of concepts such as multi-confessionalism or coexistence between religions be a historical anachronism?