This essay focuses on the political, economic, cultural, and gastronomic history of Italy and Spain, especially of western Sicily and the Andalusia region in southern Spain. It is written for the participants in Stanford Travel/Study’s program, Sicily to Southern Spain, October 27-November 10, 2019.
The first section contains a briefing that sets out major turning points in 2500 years of Italian and Spanish history and summarizes key comparative indicators of socio-economic development. Within that context, I then focus on political and economic transitions in Sicily and southern Spain during the 8th through 16th centuries. I seek to explain why Palermo (Sicily) and Cordoba (Andalusia) were two of Europe’s largest, richest, and technically advanced cities under Muslim leadership in the 10th and 11th centuries and what happened after Christian leaders regained
control. I contrast political and economic trends in Islamic and Norman Sicily (831-1194) and in Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus, 711-1492) and Imperial Spain (1479-1598). Two time lines, two bibliographies, and a description of sites that I visited in Sicily and Spain are appended.
Muslim and Norman Sicily, Arab Muslim Sicily, Conquest and Administration, Arab Muslim Sicily, Wealth and Fall, Islamic Spain, Islamic Conquest of Iberia, Political Evolution in al-Andalus, Moorish Wealth and Legacy, Contrasting Food Patterns, Christian Re-conquest of Iberia, Imperial Spain, Preconditions for Empire, Political Evolution and Imperial Administration, Imperial Wealth, New World Food and Drink in Spain, Decline of Imperial Spain, Palermo, Mazara del Vallo, and Monreale, Sicily, Italy, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, Granada and Jaén, Andalusia, Spain, Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain, Seville, Andalusia,