The Mercenary Mediterranean
Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon
University of Chicago Press 2016
New Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network August 12, 2017 Mark Klobas
Hussein Fancy’s book The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon (University of Chicago Press, 2016) begins with the description of five Muslim jenets, or cavalrymen, journeying through Spain in 1285 to serve as soldiers for the crown of Aragon. As Fancy explains, these men were not outliers, but just a few of the many thousands who were employed by successive Aragonese kings over the course of the 13th and 14th centuries, and their service challenges many of our long-held assumptions of the divide between the Christian and Islamic worlds during the Middle Ages. For the kings of Aragon, hiring jenets gave them a powerful force of light cavalry that could be used to foster their imperial ambitions, while the jenets themselves saw their service for Christian kings as fully compatible with their tradition of jihad. By describing their relationship, Fancy’s work highlights one of the many ties that linked Christian Aragon to Muslim North Africa, two regions that are usually treated separately rather than part of the interconnected Mediterranean world that emerges from his pages.