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Products for grant FT-260121-18

Jewish Manuscripts in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Between Piracy, Redemption, and the Spanish Inquisition
Daniel Hershenzon, University of Connecticut

Grant details:

“Objets captifs. Les artefacts catholiques en Méditerranée occidentale au début de l’époque modern” (Article)
Title: “Objets captifs. Les artefacts catholiques en Méditerranée occidentale au début de l’époque modern”
Author: Daniel Hershenzon
Abstract: Catholic artifacts—images and sculptures of Christ, the Virgin, and various saints, as well as rosaries, crucifixes, and liturgical objects—circulated in their thousands throughout the early modern western Mediterranean. This mobility was largely an indirect byproduct of privateering and human trafficking, which intertwined Spain’s Mediterranean territories, Morocco, and Ottoman Algiers. The disruptive moment of captivity set these otherwise disparate objects on common trajectories, making it interesting to study them as a category. The article argues that Catholic artifacts played surprising roles in the experience of Catholic captives, renegades, and their Muslim masters as well as in the economy of ransom that facilitated the rescue of captives. Against the design of their initial distributors, such objects provided captives, converts, and masters with unexpected affordances, and in so doing helped blur the religious boundary and created new entanglements between members of these groups and Catholic materiality. The argument is developed in three stages. First, the article claims that the surge in captivity following the Spanish-Ottoman truce of 1581 meant that more devotional objects were sent from Spain to Catholics held captive in the Maghrib. Second, it asserts that some of these artifacts ended up serving converts to Islam, while others were plundered by Algerian and Moroccan rulers. Third, the article contends that plunder and repurposing afforded captives the power to redeem an emblem of their God, provided Trinitarians and Mercedarians with opportunities to ransom objects and gain fame back home, and served Maghrebi rulers to secure religious privileges for their subjects enslaved in Spain. Focusing on their mobility demonstrates the degree to which Catholic objects continued to articulate and mediate social, political, and economic relations in the western Mediterranean over the long seventeenth century.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 76-2