A concept sketch for a (Shepardi) Jewish Woman Warrior in the Historically Wrong Sketch Series - Medieval Revisited
, which is based roughly on the historical middle ages from 800 AD - 1400 AD. Imarat Al-andalus, or in English, the Emirate of Andalusia, is an anachronistic representation of the Emirate of Grenada, or the Nasrid Kingdoms in the 13th century Spain, the last bastion of Muslim stronghold in Iberian Peninsula.
Inspired by the Song - Hebrew Chant
by Jordi Savall & Lior Elmaleh
We have all seen and drawn Women warriors, both fantasy and historical, from many different cultures that people can associate easily. The mongols, the christians, the muslims, the pagans, the orients, the africans, and many..many more! But what about the representation of one of the world's oldest culture, the Jews?
There are prejudice and event some unpleasant views about the Jews, and we all know at least some bit of it. Regardless of how bias people can be, I find it really hard to deny and left out the Jews out. Therefore, my aim is in this drawing is to give a tribute and a brighter portrayal of these people, whose history has been filled with prejudices in the middle ages.
The character depicted in this drawing is Saris bat-Binyamin, a daughter of one of the influential jewish family in the height of the emirate power. She is drawn with the typical round helmet with wrapped cloth (kaffiyeh?), a mail armor as well as decorated kaftan. I can say this is probably one the most anachronistic depiction of the women warriors in the series, but her true skills were probably quite different than playing with words. She would be a learned poet, a philosophers and perhaps, a very good businesswoman as well.
One of the best example where the jews have enjoyed their relative peace and prosperity is in a land called Al-Andalus, or Andalusia, the name that the arabs used for Spain under the muslim control in the middle ages.
The Jews had already settled in the peninsula long before the arrival of Muslim. One of the earliest Jewish settlement is Toledo founded in the 1st century, believed to be originated from the hebrew word for "Exile". Indeed, some scholars believed that the original jewish settlers migrated from levantine when the romans invaded the land. Nevertheless, they remain prosperous in spain and were mostly left alone by the romans. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the Visgoth came to spain and found the Jews had established numerous settlements in the peninsula. Initially everything was peaceful, but then prosecution against the Jews became increasingly heavier as the Visgoths converted to Catholicism.
When the muslim came, the jews were given their freedom and received protections, as long as they paid their taxes. The Muslims back then impose 2 different taxes for their subjects. To the Muslims, the tax "Zakat" was compulsory for every able bodied Muslim men, while for non Muslims, a tax "Jizya" was imposed, which is higher than Zak at but they were exempted from military service. However, in its early days, the Muslim often employed the Jews as well as Christians as city guards/levied garrisons, due to lack of manpower governing such large areas.
Al-andalus itself was also called the period of Jewish Golden age. During the reign of Abdul Rahman III, one of his close adviser, a jewish scholar by the name of Hasdai Ibn Shafud, facilitated the translations of many of the classical greek and roman scriptures brought from byzantines. It was this time, that the scientific and literature works of both muslims, christians and jews reached its new height. Al-andalus was different than the rest of europe. It's a multicultural, progressive and tolerant society (less can be said on regions along the northern christian border). Cities like Cordoba had numerous public bath, libraries, street lightnihg and most importantly, plenty running waters. Such luxury and grandeur would not be seen in many cities in europe in the next many centuries.
Unfortunately, growing rivalries and frictions between the governing rulers, as well as intervention by numerous christian kingdoms, succeeded in destablishing the muslim rule of spain. When the Spanish Christian Kingdoms were united under Isabella and Ferdinant, they pursued the reconquista and conquered the last bastion of muslim stronghold of grenada in the 15th entury. The muslims and the Jews were then expelled from the land, the rest who stayed were forced to convert and faced prejudice under the new spanish power, who later became the conqueror of new world and one of europe's powerful empire.
What happened to the expelled jews? the surviving refugees found home in Italy, north africa, and Ottoman Lands, contributing their experties wherever they could be found, even under heavy prejudice.
I can say in my own words that the height of Al-andalus marked a period of practical tollerance where the jews, christians and muslims coexist peacefully and were working together towards a common goal....something that has become a wishful thinking in our current modern society.
The end of such tragic event could be summarized into the following poem
The weeping of those whose tears flow endlessly
The lament of those who cried of their loss
Is not enough to fill the world devoid of its ocean
My heart is torn apart, for what i called home is now gone
For its wise and forbearing men,
Its men of letters and its men of tastes,
Are all but a forgotten.
Maybe related to the following:
A Part of the Historically Wrong Sketch Series: Medieval Revisited - You can find more on the various faction on the map here: