Quotes by David Levering Lewis

"Most of history is indisputably written by the winners, yet "winning" at Poitiers actually meant that the economic, scientific, and cultural levels that Europeans attained in the thirteenth century could almost certainly have been achieved more than three centuries earlier had they been included in the Muslim world empire."

"Returning to Cordoba immediately after the slaughter, Mughith established a precedent of historic political and religious impact. He assembled all of the Jews in the city and left them, "together with willing Christians and a small detachment of Muslims," in charge of Cordoba's defenses. Mughith's precedent established the conditions for the vaunted Muslim-Judeo-Christian interdependence that was to distinguish Islam in Iberia for several centuries. His collaborative precedent was also, to be sure, an astute response to the numbers on the ground-a Muslim force of infinitesimal size pragmatically manufacturing auxiliaries from the local population. King Egica's insensate proscriptions casting all unconverted Jews into slavery and confiscating their property had driven these people to save themselves by reaching out to the conquering Arabs. After so many years of living under the Damoclean sword of property expropriation, forced conversion, and expulsion, Jews throughout Hispania welcomed the Muslim invaders as deliverers. Leaving this first large conquered city well pacified, Mughith saddled up and drove his cavalry due north to reunite with Tariq's main force, already at the gates of Toledo."

"To safeguard the holiest symbol of their Catholic faith, the Toledo churchmen, escorted by a small cohort of armed nobles, had fled with the cathedral's high altar for a fortified place the Muslims would call Wadi al-Hijara ("river of stones")-Guadalajara-some three days' ride frim the capital and but a few miles from the village of Madrid."

"In any case, the royal remains of the last Goth to rule Hispania were never found-only his magnificent white stallion, still saddled and dead in a ditch. A batch of heads, severed from the necks of ranking Visigoths, was collected and wrapped in camphor-soaked cloth to send along with bejeweled hilts and gold rings to Damascus as tributary proof of the scale of the Believer's victory. Once again in history, a civilization's fate was determined by an encounter in which the objective factors of location, numbers, and equipment were decidedly not favorable to the winners."


Books by David Levering Lewis

  • King: A Biography
  • 42 ratings
  • August 1st 1978 by University of Illinois Press

    (first published January 1st 1970)

You May Also Like

David Levering Lewis
  • David Levering Lewis

  • Date of birth: May 25, 1936
  • Born: in Little Rock, Arkansas, The United States.

  • Description: David Levering Lewis is the Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History at New York University.