Frontier narratives

Liminal lives in the early modern Mediterranean

This book explores how Muslims, Christians and Jews interacted in frontier zones of the early modern Mediterranean (primarily 1530–1670), and how they developed a frontier consciousness that took into account how their interlocutors thought and acted. Sources used include the gamut of genres ranging from factual to fictive, from inquisitional records and different sorts of treatises to plays, novels and (auto)biographies, in numerous languages of the Mediterranean. The Muslim-Christian divide in the Mediterranean produced an unusual kind of slavery, fostered a surge in conversion to Islam, offered an ideal setting for Catholic martyrdom in its rivalry with Protestantism, and provided a haven of sorts for Spanish Muslims (Moriscos) as well as Jews. The book argues that identities and alterities were multiple and versatile, that there was no war between Christianity and Islam during the early modern period, that ‘popular religion’ prevailed over theological principles, that women experienced slavery and religious conversion differently from men, that commerce prevailed over ideology and dogma, and that ‘positive’ human relations among people of different categories were not only possible but inevitable despite prevailing hostile conditions. In the spirit of Braudel, who asserts that ‘the Mediterranean speaks with many voices; it is a sum of individual histories’, this book endeavours to allow the people of the early modern Mediterranean to be heard more than one can find in any other study till now, and strives to cast all its major themes in a new light.

Abstract only
Log-in for full text


‘In this beautiful complement to Braudel’s work on the Mediterranean, Hutchinson maps, in depth, the cultural tapestry woven through the multiplex interaction between Christian and Muslim political powers. Readers’ eyes will become increasingly open regarding the thorny complexities of the entire situation.  In this interdisciplinary, well written and timely work, he shows the cruelty exercised by both sides of the conflict, and in great abundance. ’
James Iffland, Boston University
June 2020

‘Steven Hutchinson's Writing the Early Modern Mediterranean is a game-changer. Hutchinson examines the shifting modalities of human identities and relationships in the Early Modern Mediterranean through the voices of those who actually experienced the Mediterranean frontier zone, locales of sustained interaction among followers of the three major Abrahamic religions. Meticulously researched and skillfully written, this book offers a more nuanced and complex view of the Mediterranean frontier that will alter or change altogether the standard view or “take” on life in that frontier zone of the Early Modern world. ’
Marsha Collins, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
July 2020

    • Full book download (HTML)
    • Full book download (PDF with hyperlinks)
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 809 298 19
Full Text Views 343 157 3
PDF Downloads 611 276 29