The Struggle Between Muslims and Christians for the Mediterranean
Muslims and Christian powers struggled for long centuries over the political mastery of the Mediterranean. This lecture explores how in the middle ages and early modern era, the Mediterranean became a sea of danger, frequented by crusaders and prowled by corsairs and pirates of both faiths who seized captives and sold them into slavery. Yet as this lecture shows, there is another side to this history. Linking Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor, the Mediterranean offered the arena not just for battle between Muslims and Christians but also for cultural exchange, neighborly relations, and cooperation. Muslims and Christians could even pray together at religious shrines, especially those dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On maps of this era, Christians rarely drew firm lines separating their lands from those held by Muslims. This lecture suggests that the Mediterranean was not the theatre for a “clash of civilizations,” but instead represented a contested space shared by Muslims and Christians.