Final Public Oral Exam: Ariana Myers

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
August 3, 2022 - 10:00am
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam

I Once Was Lost: Between Christian and Muslim in the Crown of Aragon, 1225-1330


William Chester Jordan, adviser
Teresa Shawcross
Helmut Reimitz
David Nirenberg, University of Chicago

Location (Hybrid):

Julis Romo Rabinowitz 301 (RSVP required) or Zoom


Starting in the mid-thirteenth century, the Crown of Aragon was the locus of a major change in the history of religious conversion in medieval Latin Christendom. Following a 1237 decree from the reformist Pope Gregory IX, slaves, who formerly would be freed upon conversion to Christianity, would instead remain slaves. Catalan notaries developed a classification system to mark these new converts, calling them baptizati. Drawing on the notarial protocol records of Barcelona and Majorca, the two largest slave port cities in the realm, I demonstrate that the scale of this conversion was quite drastic, reaching as high as eighty percent of the thousands of slaves in each region by the fourteenth century. Based on a large sample of 422 (at minimum) converts from Islam to Christianity, I analyze the ways these converts were valued by the market, the ways they interacted with Christian identity, and how they were treated by the Christian community. I also incorporate Catalan and Arabic chronicles of the conquest of Majorca in order to expand on the ways these changing attitudes toward conversion affected the forms elite interfaith politics could take. Countering prevailing historiographical narratives that conversion was rare in the thirteenth century, that the Muslim population of Majorca went “extinct” after the conquest, and that converts almost universally experienced social rejection and poverty, I found many examples of former Muslims (especially in Majorca) who attained positions of prominence among Christians. However, I also emphasize that this momentous shift had unintended consequences; by creating this new category of person, Church reformers unknowingly paved the way for the development of expanded possibilities for state-sponsored violence and oppression against their fellow Christians.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Non-Princeton community members are asked to attend virtually using Zoom. Princeton in-person attendees are asked to submit the RSVP form prior to attending.

Area of Interest: 
Social History
Middle East and North Africa
6th through 14th Centuries