TitleAfrica and the Atlantic: Contact, Exploration, Self-Perception
Date/TimeMonday 4 July 2022: 11.15-12.45
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairIona McCleery, Institute for Medieval Studies / School of History, University of Leeds
Paper 130-a The Atlantic Ocean and the Medieval Islamic World: From Boundary of Expansion to Zone of Contact and Exploration
(Language: English)
Andreas Obenaus, Forschungsschwerpunkt Globalgeschichte, Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Universität Wien
Index Terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies; Maritime and Naval Studies
Paper 130-b Christ's New Frontier: Portugal and the Evangelisation of the Atlantic Coast of Africa in the 15th-16th Centuries
(Language: English)
Fernando Mouta, Centro de Investigação Transdisciplinar 'Cultura, Espaço e Memória' (CITCEM), Universidade do Porto
Index Terms: Ecclesiastical History; Economics - General; Historiography - Modern Scholarship; Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 130-c The Unsuccessful Conquest of Tangier by the Portuguese within the Framework of Religious, Cultural, and Geographic Borders
(Language: English)
António Manuel Ribeiro Rebelo, Centro de Estudos Clássicos & Humanísticos / Departamento de Línguas, Literaturas e Culturas, Universidade de Coimbra
Index Terms: Hagiography; Historiography - Medieval; Language and Literature - Latin; Religious Life
AbstractPaper -a:
During the Early and High Middle Ages the dār al-Islām had a suitable access to the Atlantic Ocean, stretching roughly from modern central Portugal to the far south of Morocco. In many medieval Arabic sources this ocean was seen as a boundary of Muslim expansion in the west as well as the end of the (known) world. But in contrast, some Arabic and even Latin documents allude to Atlantic activities of Muslim seamen, ranging from offshore fishing to maritime trade and naval warfare, which made this ocean into a zone of contact at least between northwest Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, a few Arabic sources dating from the 9th to the 14th centuries shed some light on the concepts, awareness, and knowledge concerning the Atlantic Ocean and even indicate a growing interest in its exploration. So the aim of this paper is to reveal these Islamic roots of early Atlantic contacts and exploration.

Paper -b:
The arrival of the Portuguese south of the Sahara is usually referred as an essential step in the European age of maritime expansion. After an initial phase of conflict, commerce would be the preferred tool to forge long-standing diplomatic, economic, and social relations. Simultaneously, crown-sponsored agents tried to convert the locals, particularly rulers and elites. Why? What was Portugal's role in setting new frontiers for European Christianity? And why did some Africans easily accept this alien religion? This presentation focuses on the initial evangelisation of the Atlantic coast of Africa and its importance in redefining Europe's political and mental borders.

Paper -c:
The attempted conquest of Tangier in the Summer and Autumn of 1437, lead by two sons of King João I, the famous Prince Henry, the Navigator, and Prince Fernando, the Holy Prince, was registered in two biographies, one in Portuguese (written by the Secretary of the Holy Prince) and another in Latin (codex Vat. Lat. 3634 of the Vatican Library). Both texts, together with the historical context, explain how Christians and Muslims interacted among themselves regarding the many borders erected between Christian and Islamic worlds in the late Middle Ages. Although geographic borders were of the utmost importance, trade continued between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, but mistrust dominated. Human cruelty nevertheless aroused sympathy and even created affective bonds with other human beings, natural (cultural and historical) enemies, beyond religious borders. Even the perspectives among Christians may be different, but many factors might explain their behaviours.