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1. The Followers of the Messiah vs
The Men of the Temple
The “Salvationist Judaism” of the Roman Empire was well on its way to becoming THE religion of the Roman Empire. It proselytized, it used artistic motifs and symbols intelligible to the pagans, and it spoke a mystic and salvationist creed. But then it found competition from a faith it gave birth to – Christianity. A battle commenced for the hearts and souls of mankind.
2. First Encounters: The Prophet from the Desert
Mohammed was familiar with both Jews and Christians, and the Quran lays down specific rules on how Moslems should treat them. As Islam spread across the Mediterranean, many disaffected Christian “heretics” welcomed the arrival of the new faith. But after about a century, the cordiality between the three faiths vanished and was replaced by hostility and persecution.
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3. In the Courts of the Norman Kings
The Roman Catholic Norman rulers of southern Italy and Sicily were a definite minority amongst the Moslems, Jews and Greeks of the land. Of necessity they tolerated and utilized the talents of all communities. Roger II and Frederick II developed such deep interest in the cultures of the other faiths that their co-religionists suspected them of being crypto-converts.
4. Spain during the Reconquest
The relationships between the three faiths during the seven centuries of the Reconquista (the Christian reconquest of Iberian peninsula from the Moslems) varied wildly between toleration and co-operation to harassment and persecution. No steadfast description can be applied to the ever-changing dynamics between Islam, Christianity and Judaism during these centuries.
5. In the Aftermath of the Crusades: The Islamic Impact on Christian Europe
Despite two centuries of jihad and Crusades, new ideas, inventions, manuscripts, and crops flowed from Islamic lands into Christian Europe. Some of these were from far Asia, some from ancient Greece, some from the Moslems themselves. All of them laid the foundations for the agrarian, commercial, and scientific revolutions that paved the way for the Renaissance.
6. In the Empire of the Grand Turk
Ever a minority in their own empire, the Ottoman Turks devised ingenious ways of co-opting their various ethnic and religious subjects into the government. Their system worked well until the empire grew corrupt and decadent, and the rising nationalism of the 19th century worked to pit the various groups against one another.