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|Apostasy and the Inquisition in Malta, 1720-1730
|Xuereb, Mario (1998)
|Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Malta -- Church history
Apostasy -- Christianity
Inquisition -- Malta
|Xuereb, M. (1998). Apostasy and the Inquisition in Malta, 1720-1730 (Bachelor's dissertation).
|The greatest difficulty which I encountered in trying to come to terms with the theme o~ this work, was the scarcity of secondary works related to the phenomenon of apostasy from Christianity to Islam. One can find a relatively large number of philosophical and religious treatises concerned with this theme; on the other hand, the history books which merely mention such a phenomenon, do so only superficially, and their main concerns are usually corsairing and privateering. A decade ago, this lacuna was partly filled with the publication of Bartolome and Lucile Bennassar' s work, titled Les Chretiens d' Allah; Since then, the former has written a handful of papers on the subject; otherwise the secondary works available are scarce. Nonetheless the phenomenon of apostasy is so colourful and interesting, that it can give us insights into Christian culture and mentality in early-modem Europe - that is why I consider it essential for cultural historians to attempt its analysis. So far Maltese historiography has unfortunately largely ignored apostasy. Indeed, up to a few decades ago, it was standard practice to dismiss the possibility of having a Maltese-Christian convert to Islam. Girolamo Manduca and his disciples, writing in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, even went so far as to state that in the Muslim period, not one single Maltese individual embraced Islam. These psychological barriers are now being set aside, as a new understanding of history and of the nature of man, is coming to the fore. In the early-modem period, 'religion' was used as a pretext both by the Christians and the Muslims, to attack each other's vessels, men, cargo, cities, and lands. The concept of 'Holy War', existed both in Christianity and in Islam: for the former it was a 'crusade', while for the latter it was termed a jihad. However, officially, the two sets of cultural blocks were not always at war with each other. Fernand Braudel speaks of one type of war replacing another: as the official version of war moved into northern Europe, where Catholics fought Protestants, corsairing and piracy took its place in the Mediterranean. The continuous struggle between the two dominant religions-cum-ideologies of the early modern Mediterranean, which by their very own nature were opposed to each other, shaped the history of the inland sea. However, this work does not solely deal with this struggle, as it is only tangential to the whole matter. In fact, I have tried to understand the mentality of the renegades who opted either voluntarily, or forcefully, to embrace Islam. In an age when the opposition to the 'other' was expressed in religious terms, there still existed a continuous flow of people moving from one side to the other. Unfortunately it has been impossible to match this flow with a similar trend from Islam to Christianity. I am greatly indebted to Dr. Carmel Cassar, my tutor, thanks to whose insights I was able to develop the ideas expressed in this work. He also brought me in line with the leading current historiographical approaches, those concerned with the writing of anthropological and cultural history. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Canon John Azzopardi and Noel D' Anastas, without whose help in the archives I would have never got started. Many thanks also go to the staff of the Department of History at the University of Malta, with special reference to Profs. Victor Mallia-Milanes, Mr. Charles Dalli, and last but certainly not least Dr. Carmel Vassallo; the latter provided me with a number of cases related to Maltese renegades who appeared in front of the Inquisition Tribunals of Spain.
|Appears in Collections:
|Dissertations - FacArt - 1998
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 1967-2010
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