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The Struggle Between Muslims and Christians for the Mediterranean

Lecture Center for Global Humanities Lecture/Seminar Series

Amy G. Remensnyder

Amy G. Remensnyder

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.


A Professor of History at Brown University, Amy G. Remensnyder has been passionate about the Middle Ages ever since she saw her first medieval cathedral at age 18. In her teaching and research, she seeks to illuminate the worldviews and experiences of medieval and early modern Europeans. She is particularly interested in relations between Muslims and Christians in the Mediterranean, the subject of her current research. Educated at Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and the University of California at Berkeley, she has written several books and has received numerous fellowships and awards.  


WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103

Assigned Reading

  • Amy G. Remensnyder, La Conquistadora: The Virgin Mary at War and Peace in the Old and New Worlds (Oxford, 2014), pp. 1-205. 
  • Amy G. Remensnyder, “The Boundaries of Christendom and Islam,” in The Oxford Handbook to Medieval Christianity, ed. John Arnold (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 93-113.
  • Amy G. Remensnyder, “Christian Captives, Muslim Maidens, and Mary,” Speculum 82 (2007): 642-677. 


5 p.m. at the UNE Art Gallery (Portland campus)

The Struggle Between Muslims and Christians for the Mediterranean event poster
6:00 PM
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion

Portland Campus

Free and open to the public