Talk:Medieval art

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Medieval art Classifications[edit]

I recently added the outline of the 9 main movements, the regional art, the art genres, the art types. The source for this was the Index of the Dictionary of the Middle Ages (1989), the 13 volume encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (ed. Joseph Strayer). Each of the links corosponds roughly to an article in the Encyclopedia. It is one way professional medievalists break down the topic of "medieval art". There are many more lesser topics not touched on but these are the major "fault lines".

Well I'm not an art historian of course, but aren't some of these a little too specific? I mean, Comnenan and Palaeologan art, for example, could just be covered under "Byzantine art" in general, couldn't they? And I still think it's just called "Crusader art" rather than "Crusader states art", but oh well. Adam Bishop 06:18, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps, it's a work in progress, I wanted to get it all down and then see how it evolves. If nothing else these links would be redirects because they are all terms that are in common use (at least among art specialists). There are two: Crusade art, and Crusader state art. One deals with art related to the Crusades, which appeared all over western europe, as a genre. The other deals with the art produces in the crusader states, as a regional art. Stbalbach 15:44, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I went back and looked at the Crusade art more closely, you are right, it is just Crusader art .. the index has it separated but its basically the same material. Stbalbach 16:09, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Hagia Sophia caption[edit]

I have reverted this because although it might be true that Byzantine art is the "high art" of the middle ages, it is to put it mildly debatable, especially when the term is defined, as here, to include Islamic art. The assertion does not appear in the article (I think), nor is there an article discussing "High art". A picture caption is not the place for all this, so I have substituted my more neutral version.

I will leave the nonsensical Celtic art references, although even the Celtic art article rightly places the major works (Books of Kells, Lindisfarne etc) in the "Hiberno-Saxon" style, or Insular art as most art historians actually call it (at least among themselves) Johnbod 02:53, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

OK - I've seen it called High Art in a number of places but it's idiomatic, just a beautiful phrase. Celtic art is more general which includes Hiberno-Saxon and Insular. -- Stbalbach 15:56, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
well I'd say it's more of a technical term (one some would call elitist & old fashioned), implying art integrated with a coherent & conscious aesthetic framework, and produced within a large-scale milieu of training, sourcing materials and financing work, all so that the artist is able, as near as possible, to realize his creative potential with as few as possible practical and technical constraints. So Byzantine art at its best met these criteria, but so did some periods of Islamic art, & also of European medieval art (Gothic period especially). Johnbod 16:25, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
I see. A High art article would be interesting, with a list of the art periods and historiography and etymology. Looking at "What links here" for the current high art article (a movie), it needs it. -- Stbalbach 17:12, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree;I could bang down a stub, but the historiography is not really my area - I imagine it's a German C18/19 concept originally, related to high culture, on which I see we have a rather dodgy-looking article (maybe the Catholic Enclopedia can help!! Johnbod 17:55, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
I've completely Genghis-ed the existing High culture article & put in a short piece, which also slides rather uncomfortably to include High art - but I think it's still an improvement. Have a look - it certainly needs expanding Johnbod 20:52, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
Nice work, Johnbod. -- Stbalbach 15:02, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Medieval art by artist?[edit]

The heading reads "Medieval art by region, type and artist". Yet, if you scroll down, the "artist" section is replaced by "genre". Which is it really? I dont know how knows?

poop???? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 65.2.214.128 (talk) 22:54, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

"medieval folklore"[edit]

"Medieval folklore" redirects here (I clicked over from the list of legendary creatures), which doesn't seem right to me! 64.126.112.80 (talk) 20:15, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

No, indeed! I can't see a precise article, so will redirect to folklore. Johnbod (talk) 20:25, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

the term "Gothic"[edit]

As far as I am aware, and I'll have to come back later with sources—though I suspect the facts are easily retrieved on GoogleBooks—the original pejorative for Gothic architecture, used by Vasari and others, was maniera tedesca ("German manner"), in reference to the influence of late German styles on increasingly classicised Italian architecture. The term "Gothic" was not used in by the Italians but arose later as a synonym for tedesca (at a time before English had settled on the word "German[ic]"), and is not intended to attack either medieval styles in general or to borrow the reputation of the Goths but rather to attack the "foreign" transalpine style. A quick GoogleBook search reveals that Erwin Panofsky says something like this. Srnec (talk) 06:49, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Not according to this and other hits in this search. Johnbod (talk) 22:14, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

I heard just now a guy asserting that the true etymology of "Gothic Art", is in fact a translation error of Vasari: it seems that "argotic" was a ancient french word for "jargon", and Vasari, unbeknown to him, translated it as "art gothic". (btw, it seems it's still a somewhat common term nowadays, both in english and in french: link ) The supposed reason for old cathedrals to be defined "argotic", it's that they were full of symbols, statues, and things that were common knowledge for people of the time, through which they get to know history or related religious happenings. (the video is here, and the relevant part is about @ minute 28, but it's in italian). (btw, Johnbod, your first link seems dead) Tiibiidii (talk) 06:13, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

A charming theory but alas pure fiction. I can't speak Italian so can't watch the video - but I note that the speaker is an expert on video games, not a historian. The first documented use of the term 'Gothic' in relation to art is in a famous and lengthy letter on aesthetic theory sent to Pope Leo X in 1519 by the artist Raphael (possibly written with the help of Baldassare Castiglione). The letter criticises 'degenerate' and 'foreign' (i.e. northern) influences in architecture, which Raphael claimed were distracting architects and patrons from the 'true inheritance' of Roman architecture. He claimed that northern medieval art was threatening the development of Renaissance architecture just as the early Germanic tribes had supposedly destroyed Classical culture in the 4th-5th centuries. Hence the association with the 'Goths'. (Pope Leo X was of course the son of Lorenzo 'Il Magnifico' da Medici and a major patron of the arts - so Raphael's letter was in part an attempt to ensure a steady stream of commissions!) Vasari's widely discussed reference to Gothic art was simply picking up on the use of the term by Raphael, of whom he was a great admirer. If anyone's interested, there's an excellent French edition of Raphael's letter; La Lettre à Léon X, trans Michel Paoli, Paris, 2005. — Preceding unsigned comment added by StuartLondon (talkcontribs) 08:35, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Medieval demographics[edit]

"The Middle Ages saw a decrease in prosperity, stability and population in the first centuries of the period—to about 800, and then a fairly steady and general increase until the massive setback of the Black Death around 1350, which is estimated to have killed about half of the overall population in Europe, with generally higher rates in the south and lower in the north. Many regions did not regain their former population levels until the 17th century. The population of Europe is estimated to have reached a low point of about 18 million in 650, doubling by 1000, and reaching over 70 million in 1340, just before the Black Death. In 1450 it was still only 50 million. To these figures, Northern Europe, especially Britain, contributed a lower proportion than today, and Southern Europe, including France, a higher one.[2] The increase in prosperity, for those who survived, was much less affected by the Black Death. Until about the 11th century most of Europe was short of agricultural labour, with large amounts of unused land, and the Medieval Warm Period benefited agriculture until about 1315."

Sure, but the average reader is going to be wondering when the word "Art" is going to make its first appearance. PiCo (talk) 12:17, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

It has already appeared many times in the lead. Johnbod (talk) 22:14, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

"Medieval contact zone"[edit]

I shall replace this strangely-titled section with the old one, and the old picture, which shows art not architecture, and does not innclude a 2nd image of the building already in the lead. If there are specific concenrns with the section please raise them here, otherwise please continue your campaign elsewhere. Johnbod (talk) 21:17, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, there are. Half of the section is beyond WP:Scope, since it deals not with the influences of Islamic on European art, but with unrelated developments in "art of Muslim countries in the Near East, Islamic Spain, and Northern Africa". Since you still do not provide reasons for keeping this, we take it from the new version. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:07, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Look, obviously what is meant is that the Islamic Middle East, Spain, and Northern Africa are assumed to be part of the European Middle Ages. We all appreciate your efforts, I'm sure, but I think you might be making too much of this issue. Why exactly is this beyond the article's scope? Adam Bishop (talk) 23:49, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Whoever made that premise in the article, it is unsubstantiated. So the question is why are the Middle East, Northern Africa and (debatable) Al-Andalus are assumed to be part of medieval Europe? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 23:58, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
Presumably because they share the same Greco-Roman heritage. Adam Bishop (talk) 00:00, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

That can't be the point; both Christian and Islamic art and architecture rest firmly on Greco-Roman foundation, but that has not kept them from being treated in separate articles which is the normal thing to do. I have long agreed to keep those parts which are directly related to Christian-Islamic contact styles, but why we should keep the following part is beyond me:

Islamic art during the Middle Ages falls outside the scope of this article, but its influence needs mention. Islamic art covers a wide variety of media including calligraphy, illustrated manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork and glass, and refers to the art of Muslim countries in the Near East, Islamic Spain, and Northern Africa, though by no means always Muslim artists or craftsmen—glass production, for example, remained a Jewish speciality throughout the period, and Christian art, as in Coptic Egypt continued, especially during the earlier centuries. There was an early formative stage from 600-900 and the development of regional styles from 900 onwards. Early Islamic art was not as opposed to compositions including human figures, though not of religious figures, as it later became, and used mosaic artists and sculptors trained in the Byzantine and Coptic traditions.[15] Calligraphy, ornament and the decorative arts generally were more important than in the West; for most of the period Islamic countries were generally wealthier than Christian ones. The earliest dated painted tiles are from 862-3 at the Great Mosque of Kairouan in modern Tunisia, though the finest works in the medium did not come until much later.[16]

This strays a lot from the topic here, don't you think? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:13, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

No. It gives context without attempting coverage, and also mentions areas of contact. There is a longer contextual passage on Late Roman art. But your monomania on this issue is well-known. Johnbod (talk) 00:54, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
The exchange is clearly apparent and the mention is valid. I see no reason for its exclusion. The cultural and aesthetic dynamic in Christian art clearly expands after interaction with Islam, and the section is adequate and should be kept...Modernist (talk) 13:10, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
I'd rather say your observation is clearly counterfactual. If it is "apparent", you will certainly have no problem in pointing to the exchange in the quoted section above, because all it tells is about Islamic art as such and its exchanges with Near Eastern Christian art. Where does medieval European art feature? As a side-note, this giving a little helping hand among you fellow contributors is a bit lame, try arguments instead... Gun Powder Ma (talk) 16:39, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
We're not even arguing about the same thing; it looks like we're just using a broader definition of "medieval Europe" than you. Until we can agree on the boundaries obviously we are not going to have a constructive discussion. Adam Bishop (talk) 18:11, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
No assertion is made that "the Near East, ... and Northern Africa" are part of Europe, though "Islamic Spain" certainly is, as were the other parts of Europe under Muslim rule detailed in the following paragraph. By my count 18 member-nations of the present day Council of Europe were in whole or part under Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, so a brief paragraph on Islamic art seems highly relevant. Johnbod (talk) 19:55, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with a section like this. I do think the "influences" are somewhat embedded in other information and "influence" is what should be clearly highlighted. Perhaps, a little reorganization would fix that. As well, the opening sentence seems somewhat editorial in nature. If the section and information is important, no need to say so just launch into the material, or alternately, explain why there is "need" for the content and source the statement. (olive (talk) 18:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC))
The next para, which appears not to be contested, covers some specific influences. Johnbod (talk) 18:59, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Page protection[edit]

I've protected the page. Please study Wikipedia:Edit warring: to-and-fro reversions are blockable conduct. When a consensus is achieved, the page can be uprotected. Consider an article WP:RFC if there is a deadlock. Ty 13:43, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Edit request from ShelfSkewed, 12 April 2010[edit]

{{editprotected}} In the section Romanesque art please disambiguate vault (displayed as vaulted) to vault (architecture). Thanks.

ShelfSkewed Talk 21:09, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done  Ronhjones  (Talk) 00:45, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Importance of calligraphy, ornament and the decorative arts in islamic art[edit]

Could we look at some reliable sources instead of edit warring ? Maybe we could all read Calligraphy in Islamic Art ? --Anneyh (talk) 17:11, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

This comment is overruled by the request for comment below. --Anneyh (talk) 06:38, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Who is rich[edit]

Instead of edit warring work out which nations were wealthy here...Modernist (talk) 17:28, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

That was also the idea behind my previous remark, but in my books I could not find that being richer (or not) made calligraphy more important or influential in Islamic art. --Anneyh (talk) 18:59, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I removed the part for lack of a reliable source per WP:Verifiability. I have already provided a link to Maddison's work, one of the most notable macro-economists, from showing that such an inferences cannot be drawn from his material. So where does this unreferenced claim come from? WP:Burden is clearly on those who wish to maintain that medieval Islamic countries were generally wealthier than Christian ones. Don't restore this contentious material again without an adequate source to back it up. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:34, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Historical comparison of wealth[edit]

Some users want to keep the *unreferenced* claim that medieval "Islamic countries were generally wealthier than Christian ones" in the article, I want to remove it per WP:Verifiability and WP:Burden.

The matter is clear, yet User:Johnbod and Modernist decided to edit-war today over it. The article contains the extraordinary claim that "For most of the period Islamic countries were generally wealthier than Christian ones". This claim is unreferenced and has been challenged by me. WP:Verifiability states that All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable published source using an inline citation and WP:Burden has it that The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. You may remove any material lacking a reliable source that directly supports it. So I removed the claim, but was reverted without either editor showing a willingness to give a source for this sweeping claim. Could someone please tell them that they have to provide the proof? As long-term editors they perfectly know, but the problem seems they just don't want to know, and I suspect a case of WP:Own by now. Regards Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:31, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

UPDATE for late joiners: The claim is now reworded ("....other types of Islamic luxury goods, notably silk textiles and carpets, came from the generally wealthier Islamic world ....") clarified and relocated in the text, and supported (note 23) with references and quotes from three historians, two of them specialists of the highest calibre (Braudel and Maddison), as follows:
"ef>Hugh Thomas, An Unfinished History of the World, 224-226, 2nd edn. 1981, Pan Books, ISBN 0330264583; Braudel, Fernand, Civilization & Capitalism, 15-18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life, William Collins & Sons, London 1981, p. 440: "If medieval Islam towered over the Old Continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific for centuries on end, it was because no state (Byzantium apart) could compete with its gold and silver money..."; and Vol 3: The Perspective of the World, 1984, ISBN 0002161338, p. 106: "For them [the Italian maritime republics], success meant making contact with the rich regions of the Mediterranean - and obtaining gold currencies, the dinars of Egypt or Syria,... In other words, Italy was still only a poor peripheral region..." [period before the Crusades]. The Statistics on World Population, GDP and Per Capita GDP, 1-2008 AD compiled by Angus Maddison show Iran and Iraq as having the world's highest per capita GDP in the year 1000. The Mahgreb however was apparently not wealthier, see Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 382, table A.7. and tables 4.2 (p. 185) and 4.3 (p. 195) give 425 1990 International Dollars for Western Europe (including Spain and Portugal), 430 for Islamic North Africa except Egypt, 450 for Islamic Spain and 425 for Islamic Portugal, while Egypt (550), Arabia (600), Iraq (650) and Iran (650) the Levant (645) and the Christian Byzantine Empire (680–770) had significantly higher GDP per capita than Western Europe, using different figures for Byzantium from Milanovic, Branko (2006): "An Estimate of Average Income and Inequality in Byzantium around Year 1000", Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 52, No. 3, pp. 449–470 (468) for the last...ref>"
- Yet GPM continues to object to it. Curious to know why ? Then read on, especially the sections below this one. Johnbod (talk) 14:49, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
I've put a citation tag on the statement in question pending the outcome of this RFC. In my opinion, the policies are clear: this is a contentious claim that must be supported by reliable sources to justify inclusion. The citation tag is an invitation for any interested reader to supply such a reference, so I suggest it be left until the RFC itself is closed (eg. in 7 days). If a suitable RS is found, it should be included. If not, the contentious statement should be removed. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 04:43, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the tag, (should have been tagged initially and discussed here, rather than deleted). I don't see GDP per capita as completely relevant to what the issue is here; rather the inclusion refers to the wealthiest Islamic rulers who build, decorate and patronize the arts...Modernist (talk) 05:20, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Here is some food for thought: [1], and [2], and [3], and [4]...Modernist (talk) 05:28, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

What's the deal here? As per policy, remove it until a reference making the claim has been brought forward. If it cannot be referenced, then the spread of said information needs to be terminated immediately, no matter what it is. The burden of evidence is on the individual who restores said unreferenced information, and nobody gets any special treatment. How ridiculous (and suspect) that anyone would edit war otherwise. :bloodofox: (talk) 06:05, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
WP:BURDEN also says Editors might object if you remove material without giving them time to provide references unless it's related to WP:BLP which this issue isn't. Which was my point...Modernist (talk) 11:34, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
If they object, then they can transfer that objection into finding a reference. While it's not nearly as common as it once was, there is still far too much of this sort of weaselly pussyfooting still going on around Wikipedia. If you want to improve the article, find a reference rather than wasting everyone's time with endlessly edit warring to have reference-less information re-added to the body, and, in relation, please keep the excuses for it off of the talk page. This sort of nonsense is the bane of Wikipedia and is plainly a waste of time for everyone. :bloodofox: (talk) 13:31, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Allowing editors time to find references is the essence of collegiality, and collaboration. What's the rush?..Modernist (talk) 13:42, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
The "rush", as you put it, is to stop the spread of potential misinformation, which is far worse a thing than no information at all. What's the problem finding a reference? And why was it put in place without a reference to begin with? :bloodofox: (talk) 17:02, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Since I didn't add the information - you will best ask the person who did...Modernist (talk) 17:20, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
It was put in without a reference because it seemed to me to have been a cliche since at least the days of Walter Scott and probably those of Edward Gibbon. I had no idea anyone would find it "contentious", failing to think of GPM. I now have a reference from Hugh Thomas, a distinguisheds historian but no specialist, and looking around it does seem that historians of the Islamic economy are much less keen on back of the envelope calculations than their European colleagues, probably wisely. References for the much larger volume of trade, and size of cities in the Islamic world are easy to find, but head-on GDP figures are not. I was hoping this RFC (not instigated by me) would produce an editor with expertise, but it seems not. It seems clear to me that the general feeling is indeed that the Islamic eceonomy was larger, but there is much less information, including info on population size, and especially on the rural sector. This is a survey article on a huge field - almost every sentence has had many books written on its subject. Personally I believe that the main problem of WP at the moment is that we cover miniscule topics pretty well, but do very badly on larger and more important articles. Every Scandinavian rock with medieval graffiti seems to have an article, but Medieval economy, Medieval European economy let alone Medieval Islamic economy seem to have nothing. This is because it is far harder to write on large topics than tiny ones, as exemplified by this episode. You & Connelly should at least have worked out what was being objected to before removing chunks of stuff. Johnbod (talk) 17:33, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
So much text to weasel out of a reference! Those "Scandinavian rock[s]" that you refer to have so many articles because they were (and are) built by editors willing to cooperate and put in the time to produce sold, first-rate referenced information, rather than edit-war over the re-instatement of a challenged, referenceless line. Connelly's removals I haven't looked at but, again, insert a proper reference or this won't proceed, as with any other subject. :bloodofox: (talk) 17:56, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, Thomas will have to do then, until something more specialized comes along. Johnbod (talk) 18:07, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Ah, someone else has beaten me to it. Johnbod (talk) 18:15, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, we can add Thomas too, if it will help quell everyone's fears. Kafka Liz (talk) 18:32, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

I'll probably regret this but... I fear this article is rapidly degenerating into a rather pointless battle of egos between two highly experienced editors who, looking at their histories, appear to have crossed swords over the issue of Muslim culture various times before. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder whether it's worth bothering with WP at all. Speaking as an art historian and medievalist who has worked and lectured at university level on both Christian and Islamic art/architecture of the 9th-14th centuries (so yes, this is WP:OR and can be readily dismissed) I would say that comparisons of GDP are a) academically meaningless (since they are based on totally anachronistic criteria) and b) irrelevant to the question of art patronage - and hence have no place here. More broadly, given that the section on Islamic Influences starts with the words "Islamic art during the Middle Ages falls outside the scope of this article..." it does seem to occupy a disproportionate (and expanding) amount of space which could simply be replaced with a short paragraph and a link to the separate article (at around 466 words it is longer than either the Insular Art or the Pre-Romanesque Art sections). It seems to be accumulating disconnected details and dubious claims which add little to a better understanding of medieval art. The section jumps around chronologically and thematically with no apparent plan and includes several generalisations that really don't hold water, such as the claim that "Instead of wall-paintings, Islamic art used painted tiles" ('generally' wall painting and decorative stucco were more important than tiles, except in some parts of the east during the Abbassid Caliphate). And what on earth is the Ruskin quote about the Doge's Palace doing in here? "Stones of Venice" tells us much about victorian aesthetics and historiography but it's worse than useless as a source for understanding medieval architecture (just because a book is in the public domain doesn't mean it's worth quoting). Many of the other referenced claims come from works which are very outdated or regarded by modern academics as 'rather eccentric in their views' (such as with John Beckwith's suggestion that the angelic musicians in the Majestas derive from Islamic paintings), or else from introductory books written by non-specialists (e.g. Honour & Fleming), whose understanding of medieval/Islamic art was questionable. There may be a place for such claims in a separate article on Islamic Influences on Western Art but here they are just noise. I know people get can very posessive about their articles and dislike criticism, which is why I haven't interfered with this article generally, but we do seem to be getting bogged down here with arguments that have more to do with personalities than issues - which is not good for WP. —Preceding unsigned comment added by StuartLondon (talkcontribs) 08:00, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

I mostly agree with StuartLondon. I'm not as knowledgeable as him/her, but I don't think Moissac is the most typical example of Islamic influences (I'd rather see Ewer birds, Louvre MR333, or the ceiling of the Palatine Chapel of Palermo). I have the impression that the section was initially about Islamic art and was merely renamed into The influence of Islamic art after the decision was made to exclude Islamic art from this article (I have a book that deals with both, the MET and the Louvre manage these as separate collections, I have no hard feelings there). The full section now needs to be rewritten with focus on its subject and using relevant examples (the detailed article Islamic influences on Christian art is also in need of work). At the level of summarized information expected for this article, I do not see any major interest of speaking about GDP differences to explain influences in art. --Anneyh (talk) 10:31, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

The Louvre ewer is an Islamic object, as far as we know made for an Islamic market, with later Western gold mounts. It would not be appropriate to use it here. Everybody knows Norman Sicily produced art using Muslim craftsmen etc; it is imo more interesting to show examples where there was influence rather than direct Muslim participation. Islamic influences on Christian art is a complete mess, but that's another story. Johnbod (talk) 14:14, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I did mention these ideas in the talk page so that we can debate about it. Many thanks for answering. I find the example of the ewer interesting because it is a re-use of Islamic art and was part of the catholic treasury. But maybe the Ciboire de maitre alpais would be more relevant? As for Moissac, the lintel is now believed to be of roman influence, but I remember seeing claims about similarities between lions sculptures and lions in Islamic textiles. An example of byzantin-islamic influence would also be good for the section.
More generally, I think influence is actually a rather difficult subject Notre-Dame Cathedral in Puy-en Velay. I was wrong in assuming the section was initially about Islamic art (I based my thought on the wrong assumption that the wp:fr article was a translation of the English one), but if I read the discussion page properly, the title of the section used to be Medieval contact zone. Maybe an alternate to "influences" would be "exchanges" as it would cover both influences (exchange of ideas) and physical exchanges (trade and re-use)? Hope it helps. --Anneyh (talk) 19:05, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
"Medieval contact zone" was introduced by GPM a year ago [5] - the current section title is the original one. The "Exchanges", as far as medieval Europe excluding Byzantiuum were concerned, were pretty one-way, & I don't really want to make the section longer, which seems to be the general view. Johnbod (talk) 13:26, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Agreed taht removal is best; a section beginning XX during the Middle Ages falls outside the scope of this article doesn't belong. The assertion that ts influence needs mention is ref'd by [6] which (as so often with these things) totally fails to support the assertion William M. Connolley (talk) 13:39, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Disagree, the section adds valuable referenced information - this is an encyclopedia...Modernist (talk) 13:44, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
(ec)That reference was not added by me. My attempts just now to improve the section have been frustrated with continual ecs with editors desperate to aid GPM's long-established progamme of removing all and any positive references to non-European medieval cultures wherever he can. I am very reluctant to allow this POV campaign another victory. The influence of Islamic art is a topic covered in most general books on Western medieval art (by no means citing the same examples, since there are many to choose from). Anneyh's guess as to the origin of the section is just wrong, as a look at the history will show. If Stuart really believes there is no connection between prosperity and artistic production, I can only suggest he makes his name with a book expounding this revolutionary thesis! The section has grown partly as result of GPM's earlier attempts to remove all mention of Islam, here as elsewhere. Meanwhile Bloodofox has twice removed "Calligraphy, ornament and the decorative arts generally were more important than in the West" a very understated version of a statement you are likely to find in the first few paragraphs of any introduction to Islamic art. Johnbod (talk) 13:59, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
long-established progamme of removing all and any positive references to non-European medieval cultures wherever he can - yep, we're into black helicopters territory. WP:AGF perhaps? William M. Connolley (talk) 14:03, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
His record and history at ANI etc speaks for itself - frankly you're a strange person to make that comment, but whatever. Johnbod (talk) 14:13, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
On a further point, anyone who favours the removal of the whole section needs to expain why mention of Crusader art, Mozarabic art, and Hispano-Moresque pottery should be suppressed, or how else to integrate these into the article. Johnbod (talk) 14:32, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
John - please don't attribute to me statements I have not made - and spare me the sarcasm. Artistic patronage throughout medieval history in Europe and the middle east was highly localised in courtly and/or ecclesiastical contexts, hence my point about GDP (which is a measure of average wealth) not being a helpful indicator. Also, when making generalisations it's important to be more conscious of the time-frame they cover - your comments about calligraphy and ornament being more important in Islamic art are absolutely true in the later period but not in the earlier periods (compare, for example, early Islamic art with Insular manuscripts). To argue that non-European art was insignificant during the medieval period is real flat-earth stuff but one has to be equally careful about excessive claims over its influence on the Christian west. In the late 20th century it became very fashionable for art historians to find Islamic origins for all kinds of western forms and some pretty bizarre claims were made which few more recent authors would agree with. If you want to include a lengthy section on Islamic art in this article then fine - but if so why not just remove the opening line about being out of scope? StuartLondon (talk) 14:42, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Thank you Stuart. Frankly I do not understand why that first line is even there...Modernist (talk) 14:48, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Obviously the article is not called Medieval Western art though that is its subject (including Byzantine art, well a bit). One could write an article called medieval art that did cover Islam too, and that might be a good thing to do, but is not what this article does, following the conventional (and very Western-biased) terminology. If Islamic art was in the "scope" it would be popping up all over the place, but instead all references are concentrated here, in an "influence" section. From what I've read, it is a bold statement to say that for example fine textiles were "highly localised in courtly and/or ecclesiastical contexts" in the Islamic world, though the imports to the West certainly were. Likewise fine pottery and glass. That was rather my point. Johnbod (talk) 15:05, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
At root here is the issue of whether to include Islamic art in this article or not. As a comparison, if you look at any of those general survey books on medieval art/architecture which are aimed at the keen amateur or first year undergrad, such as Veronica Sekules' "Medieval Art", Roger Stalley's "Early Medieval Architecture", Nicky Coldstream's "Medieval Architecture", or their T&H equivalents, they all omit Islamic art and architecture and treat "Medieval Art" as synonymous with "Medieval Western Art" or "Medieval Christian Art". As discussed elsewhere, this is not unreasonable since the terms "Medieval" and "Middle Ages" are intrinsically Eurocentric (reflecting an historiographic model that dealt with 'Classical', 'Renaissance' and 'all the messy stuff in between'). Byzantine art/architecture is usually included simply because the Byzantine world saw itself as a central part of Europa and because so many western artistic traditions emerged from it (as of course did much early Islamic art/architecture). If you want to include a brief section on Islamic influences on medieval art then fine but a significant proportion of what is in that section at the moment is an overview of Islamic art in general, which arguably belongs elsewhere. I can't help thinking though that what would be more useful than arguing over such niceties would be for someone to tackle the Augean Stable that is the Islamic influences on Christian art article... StuartLondon (talk) 12:48, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
The irony is that the introduction declares itself irrelevant "Islamic art during the Middle Ages falls outside the scope of this article, ..." Gun Powder Ma (talk) 13:01, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Islamic art is specifically said not to be in the scope of this article, nor is it. This issue was covered in GPM's last Spring Campaign a year ago (see above - "medieval contact zone"). I said then "By my count 18 member-nations of the present day Council of Europe were in whole or part under Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, so a brief paragraph on Islamic art seems highly relevant." - in fact it is, what, 4 lines of actual coverage of it per se? Books on architecture are likely to have less coverage than those covering the full range of art, including the types of portable object that were imported. If you think Islamic influences on Christian art is bad now you should look at an earlier version. In fact changes to it do not seem to be objected to, but I can't face it. Johnbod (talk) 13:18, 5 May 2011 (UTC)


View of economic historians[edit]

I've added now the views of several economic historians, the research and calculations of each of them weighing a hundred times more than the unreflected, off-hand and unsupported comment of an art historian. Please don't try to remove this additional research on the grounds that the section now becomes too off-topic. It absolutely does, but this is the fault of those who want to keep the contentious statement by citing such a non-expert shabby source as Hollingsworth. My proposal is to remove all such references to living standards and not to embarrass knowledgeable readers which such sweeping and simplistic views on historical living standards again. We should talk about art here, not economy which is neither necessary nor doesn't seem the strong point of the main editors here. QED Gun Powder Ma (talk) 21:06, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Before reading this, I had already indeed removed: According to the art historian Mary Hollingsworth the Christian Byzantine Empire and the "courts of the Islamic world both achieved standards of wealth and luxury unknown in Europe" around the year 1000, although she cites no empirical evidence for this view.[1] However, according to calculations by the macro-economist Angus Maddison the GDP per capita of Western Europe was as high as that of Islamic North Africa, both estimated at around 430 1990 International Dollars.[2] Egypt alone enjoyed a higher per capita wealth (550),[2] although still substantially lower than that of the Christian Byzantine Empire (680–770).[3] It should be mentioned that recent research into the conversion rate renders any notion of "Islamic states" anachronistic, with the Christian faith dominant west of Iran until 900-1000 AD, while Egypt may have retained a predominantly Christian population well past that date.[4]. Finally, according to the ancient economist Walter Scheidel, real incomes of unskilled laborers in the Islamic-ruled states of Egypt and Mesopotomia of the time were as low as in other Afroeurasian societies.[5]
  1. ^ Hollingsworth, Mary; Art in World History, Armonk, N.Y. : Sharpe Reference, c2004, ISBN 9788809034747 p.159.
  2. ^ a b Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 185, table 4.2.
  3. ^ Milanovic, Branko (2006): "An Estimate of Average Income and Inequality in Byzantium around Year 1000", Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 52, No. 3, pp. 449–470 (468)
  4. ^ M. Brett: "Population and Conversion to Islam in Egypt in the Medieaval Period", in: Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras IV: proceedings of the 9th and 10th international colloquium organized at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in May 2000 and May 2001, Peeters Publishers, 2005, ISBN 978-90-429-1524-4, pp. 14f.
  5. ^ Walter Scheidel: "Real Wages in Early Economies: Evidence for Living Standards from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 53 (2010), pp. 425-462 (427 & 453)

- as it is indeed way off-topic. You are also using only sources for specific dates & regions, nothing overall. I have read Brett, and how you can maintain the position you do after doing so is a bit of a mystery to me. The proportion of the population that were Muslims does not affect whether a country was "Islamic" or not in normal terminology. All this should go into the article on Medieval economy we badly need. "Islamic countries" should indeed be changed & I would have done so earlier if not edit-conflicted at evey step. I note you now ignore Maddison's figure for Spain in the year 1000, and strangely ignore Scheidel's conclusion that "real wages in medieval Cairo were higher than in most of the earlier economies reviewed above" - which include Middle Byzantine Constantinople and Bagdhad c. 760 (and see his note 82 also). But as Scheidel's paper does not deal with ANY medieval European areas, he is of course hardly relevant here. He deals with nothing in Europe after 301 AD! Equally Maddison only appears to deal with Spain and North Africa in the Islamic world, & resolutely ignores the core Islamic area of the Middle East, except for Egypt, where he does indeed conclude with high figures, as he does with Spain. Johnbod (talk) 21:46, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Oh what an exercise in selective reading from you. Scheidel writes: A survey of daily wages expressed in terms of wheat in different Afroeurasian societies from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE yields similar results: with a few exceptions, the real incomes of unskilled laborers tended to be very low. (p. 425) This is the central thesis which you have removed, not the Cairo part. Your assertion of 2islamic countries" is POV, so, hmm, what's left of your argument? Nothing, although you can give me Maddison's number of Spain. It is not in table 4.2. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:30, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
But none of those "different Afroeurasian societies from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE" are in fact from anywhere in Europe after 301AD. What a joke! Maddison's figure for Spain is from the WP article using his figures you yourself introduced to the argument. Johnbod (talk) 22:33, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Economy is important because of patronage, among other things. Much too much weight is given here now, imo. I've started digging on this topic, and in fact one source I found directly contradicts what's now in the page re Egypt, so I don't think this is settled. At all. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 21:22, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Fine. Patronage is important. But why should Christian patronage compared with Islamic patronage? Why are needless comparisons like "Islamic countries were generally wealthier than Christian ones" introduced? What can the reader learn from this comparison in an art article other than that the editor who introduced this claim believes that 'my daddy is stronger than yours'? Subject – Totally missed. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 21:40, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
That they were a wealthier society largely explains why their products in most areas of the so-called decorative arts were of higher quality than the European equivalent (until near the end of the period), and why they had a very healthy trade exporting luxury textiles, metalwork, glass & pottery etc etc to Europe, so sometimes influencing European art (see Mack). Johnbod (talk) 21:50, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
You are edit-warring, Johnbod. You have reverted now four times the edits by other users (including four top-notch references by international authorities on ancient economies), creating strongly the impression that you indeed suffer from WP:Own here. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:16, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
You are as well, as has been pointed out to you...Modernist (talk) 22:18, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
You have been too edit-warring, Modernist, as been pointed out to you, too. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:23, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
2 reverts ain't edit warring yet...Modernist (talk) 22:25, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Counting does not seem to be your strong point. It's been now three reverts from you and the sad thing is you still haven't contributed anything worthwhile to the discussion. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:31, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
3 reverts ain't edit warring either, and we have a very different opinion about this discussion...Modernist (talk) 22:37, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Hi Gun Powder Ma. First of all, I disagree with your contention that an art historian's view is of no importance in an article about art history. You say yourself that "We should talk about art here, not economy which is neither necessary nor doesn't seem the strong point of the main editors here." (can't deny that I'm no expert at economics ;)). I'm not sure precisely how you conclude that Hollingsworth's statement is "unreflected, off-hand and unsupported". I agree that the book is a survey work, and perhaps aimed more towards a popular audience than an academic one, but that hardly means it was written thoughtlessly or without research. Finally, I must disagree with your unfounded characterisation of Hollingsworth as a "non-expert shabby source": she has written five books and numerous articles on Medieval art and patronage and was a well-respected lecturer at the University of East Anglia. I can certainly try to find a reference from someone with a more prestigious résumé, since you find hers insufficient. I believe you may be confusing her with a popular Christian author of the same name. Kafka Liz (talk) 23:50, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I totally agree that art historian views are key to this article. I would suggest that we pay even more attention to art. So the edit war started with a statement on "calligraphy, ornament and the decorative arts" and now we have a new sentence on "luxury goods, notably silk textiles and carpets", that's fine textile trade is key. Do we really need to tell something about relative wealth in this sentence? If sources from art history about comparative wealth between Islamic and Medieval Christendom are difficult to find couldn't we just consider it is not the most important for this section? My own books are mostly in French so I cannot really share. --Anneyh (talk) 06:30, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually much of the best quantitative work on medieval Islamic wages & prices is only in French. The problem was never the "calligraphy, ornament and the decorative arts" bit, but only the "wealthier", and the luxury trade sentence was also there before, it's just now had the "wealthier" claim added to it, as that is more relevant to the point. I think it is highly relevant, and I would especially object to removing it as part of a much wider POV campaign. Contrary to what Stuart London says above, GPM & I are generally on the same side on "Islamic" issues, but he goes way too far in trying to remove all and any positive references to Islam. Johnbod (talk) 12:22, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think Johnbod makes a fair point here [7], and his rewording [8] softens the "'my daddy is stronger than yours'" tone objected to by Gun Powder Ma. I'm not sure why this is considered such a contentious statement. Kafka Liz (talk) 10:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm still not convinced about this mention of wealth because I went back reading my books (including the paper version that resulted from the Qantara project that is available online) and I could not find claims on comparative wealth. I may have missed them though. This very general article is a bit intimidating to me, so I'll direct my efforts toward Islamic influences on Christian art. --Anneyh (talk) 20:48, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Claim unsupported by source[edit]

User:Johnbod can edit-war as hard as he could, his claim that "the Islamic world <was> generally wealthier" remains still untenable:

  • Secondly, let's take a look whether his cited source, some art historian(!), supports directly the above claim per WP:Burden ("The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. You may remove any material lacking a reliable source that directly supports it"):
The Christian Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, and the extravagant courts of the Islamic world both achieved standards of wealth and luxury unknown in Europe. (Source: Hollingsworth, Mary; Art in World History, Armonk, N.Y. : Sharpe Reference, c2004, ISBN 9788809034747 p.159)

So, please enlighten me, where does Hollingsworth speak of the "Islamic world"? He speaks only of the splendor of the courts, not about living standards or the general capacity of national economies, but in Johnbod's edit courts become whole economies. And why is the supposedly equally rich Christian Byzantine empire completely left out? So, since this claim is clearly not directly supported by the source, and moreover partly based on fact picking, it still needs to be removed, it's so distorted. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 23:37, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

First of all, courts (encompassing royals, noblemen, officials and other persons of influence (usually wealthy, incidentally)) were first and foremost among patrons of the arts. And last I checked, we were in fact discussing art and the culture that produced it. The everyday life of the common man is interesting in its own right, and certainly worthy of an article... but little survives of the art produced by these circles, and what has was probably not generally of the quality that would travel abroad to influence the artists and craftsmen of Europe.
I changed the wording somewhat, as the source indeed does not support the statement that Islamic societies were wealthier than Christian ones, merely that they were than contemporary European societies. Art of the Christian Byzantine world has not been "completely left out", but has a separate section above.
Anyway, I'm not seeing the supposed unreliability or inapplicability of this source. Again, I'd be happy to work on finding more references for you... I just thought this one summed up the situation most succinctly. Kafka Liz (talk) 00:23, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'll add Hugh Thomas in tomorrow, & maybe some others. I have explained above why studies of particular sections of society in particular areas at a particular date have nothing to say to this broader question. For the last time, Walter Scheidel's study does not mention any medieval European area at all. I haven't read Branko Milanovic but his subject is also not relevant - the remark compares medieval Europe & the Islamic world, & does not involve Byzantium at all, though if you know anything at all about the subject you will know they were pretty, and increasingly, poor after 1204, though certainly also wealthier than Europe in the early centuries. Meanwhile you might try reading Brett more carefully. Johnbod (talk) 00:40, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Drawing to a close?[edit]

I hope this is now drawing to a close. I have added a ref to 2-3 pages from Hugh Thomas "an economy which was as superior in the volume of its trade to Western Europe as was its ostentation and culture", talking about the Caliphate period generally. I won't bother adding refs to many stretches of Fernand Braudel:

  • Braudel, Fernand, "Civilization & Capitalism, 15-18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life", William Collins & Sons, London 1981 - see p. 440: "If medieval Islam towered over the Old Continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific for centuries on end, it was because no state (Byzantium apart) could compete with its gold and silver money..."
  • Braudel, Fernand, "Civilization & Capitalism, 15-18th Centuries, Vol 2: The Wheels of Commerce", William Collins & Sons, London 1982, pp. 126-7 (on Egypt, Arabia and Syria as the central & most active area); 555-559.
  • Braudel, Fernand, "Civilization & Capitalism, 15-18th Centuries, Vol 3: The Perspective of the World", William Collins & Sons, London 1984, ISBN 0002161338, pp. 106: "For them [the Italian maritime republics], success meant making contact with the rich regions of the Mediterranean - and obtaining gold currencies, the dinars of Egypt or Syria,... In other words, Italy was still only a poor peripheral region..." [period before the Crusades - note Italy is the richest country in Europe at this point according to Maddison], and so on in other paasages - see the indexes.

It doesn't seem as if anyone has attempted per capita GDP figures for the core parts of the Islamic world [wrong - see "More on Maddison" below], for the reasons which Brett sets out, but analysis of trade & money, of which Braudel has plenty more, makes it clear that Islam was for the first part of its medieval period much richer than Europe (just as my old Ladybird Book of Economic History always said) but in the second part, if not in actual decline (see Brett on "revisionism" here) then not keeping up with rapid growth in Europe - perhaps leading to some sort of parity by the late 15th century. Johnbod (talk) 02:37, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

You continue to misrepresent the source, so how could it come to a close? As I said, I have read extensively about the subject and there are inherent problems in such a sweeping statement you don't seem to realize (or, rather, recognize). Braudel is in this respect outdated, the new resarch into comparative wealth has been led for quite a while by a new generation of quantifying economists, some of the most renowned I have quoted (and you removed). It is unacceptable that you prefer Hollingsworth over these economic historians, even at the exclusion of the latter, when she talks about economic matters as she does. We don't prefer the opinion of Angus Maddison on art over that of art historians, do we?
It is spurious to equate courts with whole economies; courts can, and were very often so, particularly in Oriental kingdoms, easily be richer and more splendid than in a wealthier country, for example when the taxation of the populace is higher or more booty made by their warring armies. I've shown already shown that, according to Maddison, the GDP per capita, that is the wealth, of Islamic North Africa was not above that of Europe in 1000. Now I've seen that the same is practically even true for Al-Andalus (see List of regions by past GDP (PPP) per capita#World 1–2003 (Maddison)), the main channel of Islamic goods to Europe:
  • Christian Western Europe: 425 1990 International Dollars
  • Islamic-ruled Spain: 450 1990 International Dollars
  • Islamic-ruled Portugal: 425 1990 International Dollars
So, Al-Andalus, perhaps the most advanced Islamic region west of Egypt, was not richer than Western Europe (the difference of ca. 3% is absolutely negligible for statistics of the time). I am open to keeping Hollingsworth's statement on Islamic courts close to its true wording, but when you insist on your version of "generally wealthier world" and only your version, I guess, the discussion has rather begun, because I have already shown to you four experts which do not easily conform to this view. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 12:52, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
If you want to continue you this you need a whole new set of sources. Scheidel DOES NOT DISCUSS MEDIEVAL EUROPE AT ALL, AS I AM NOW HAVING TO POINT OUT FOR THE FOURTH TIME. He also only deals with labourer wages. Milancovic likewise only deals with Byzantium, which was never included in the comparison objected to (as I have now clarified in the article). Brett you cited only where he deals only with the balance of Christian & Muslim populations, a point that only ever bore on the phrasing, & is wholly irrelevant to the comparison as it is now phrased. Maddison only deals with small parts of the Islamic world, & where he does his conclusions support the statement, as I have pointed out several times. What is your evidence for saying that Al-Andaluz was "the main channel of Islamic goods to Europe"? Pure OR - it exported its own products, but goods from most of the Islamic world came through Italy, not that there are any statistics. There is absolutely no reason just to dismiss the vastly-respected Braudel, whose work has generally been expanded rather than replaced, and is supported by the more recent non-specialists now cited. I make that 4-0 RS's in favour of the comparison. Johnbod (talk) 13:14, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Every person with the ability to read can see that your equation of Islamic courts with the whole Islamic world is purest original research. Not to mention that you, moreover, conveniently fact pick the Islamic courts from the quote but refuse to mention the equally rich Byzantine empire, which, by contrast, is mentioned as a whole. The point of Scheidel who discusses various Afroeurasian societies is that workers' wages until the late Middle Ages were everywhere low and stagnant, irrespective of where you were and when you lived. This runs clearly contrary to your inflated and distorted citation that there "the Islamic world was generally wealthier". Rather, the situation for large parts of the population was not fundanemtally different than in other agricultural societies. As I said, the matter is more complicated than it might appear from your POV basis. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 13:36, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
This is truly pathetic! No one is claiming that being a labourer anywere in the ancient or medieval world was very well-paid, nor that the labouring class were the ones driving the production of the luxury applied arts. Scheidel discusses data, about which he is always properly cautious, from a number of points, but FOR THE FIFTH TIME, none of those points are from anywhere in Europe after 301 AD. You also ignore his conclusion, already quoted above, that "real wages in medieval Cairo were higher than in most of the earlier economies reviewed above" - which include Middle Byzantine Constantinople and Bagdhad c. 760 (and see his note 82 also). You now seem to be conceding that the Islamic world was indeed "wealthier" than Europe, but not wealthier enough, or something. I don't "refuse to mention" Byzantium - or China, one might add - it was just not part of the comparison I was making. Of course the matter is complicated, but historians find themselves able to draw broad conclusions - see above. What POV am I supposed to have? Yours are well-known to any one who has dealt with you before. Johnbod (talk) 14:36, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

So the exact sentence we start from are "an economy which was as superior in the volume of its trade to Western Europe as was its ostentation and culture" and "The Christian Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, and the extravagant courts of the Islamic world both achieved standards of wealth and luxury unknown in Europe.". What I understand from these is that the Islamic world was trading a lot with Western Europe and had a brilliant culture especially in its courts (I need more time for a wp-class sentence). If we combine that with a sentence about fluctuating frontiers and the word Mediterranean we could come up with a better introduction to the section. We should not build a sentence with linking Islamic textile and any comparison about wealth unless we have a single source mentioning both. --Anneyh (talk) 15:14, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Why not? The whole point about money is that you can buy anything with it - there is no special currency for textiles, which in any case are only one of a whole range of applied arts. You are ignoring the Braudel citations also. We are not looking for "an introduction to the section" but confirmation of what is now a 2-word aside. As I've said above, people seem generally opposed to expanding this section in the current article, & I agree. Johnbod (talk) 15:34, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for ignoring the citation of Braudel, but it strengthen my opinion that it should be leading the section about influences. I do not like too much the use of "wealth" in this article, not only because art is not always connected to wealth but also because one difficulty of understanding the middle ages is to be very careful with modern concepts, and I think that if wikipedians have such a long argument it shows that readers could also get the idea wrong.
More generally, I find it pointless to discuss on two words of a section that looks to me suboptimal taken as a whole. On the other hand, I think all the research you just did and shared enables you to write a very decent Medieval economy article. --Anneyh (talk) 09:32, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Pointless claim[edit]

The claim under dispute seems to me pretty pointless and irrelevant to the article. Johnbod doesn't convince that the claim is necessary for the article, though there is no controversy among medieval historians to say that Islamic societies were generally wealthier. Users on both sides anyway may be imposing modern ideas of "wealth" anachronistically. There was certainly more access to luxury goods in lands that happened to be Islamic because of geography, but that is completely unrelated to craftmanship; both can be related to political power and agriculture base, but it really depends. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 00:36, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Very little is "necessary" for a broad survey article, but that doesn't mean things should be removed purely as part of a POV campaign. The claim was that the remark was unreferenced (as it then was) and inaccurate, which I'm glad to see you agree it is isn't. Johnbod (talk) 02:58, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
It is not only a pointless claim, it is also absolutely untrue to the cited source and only upheld by Johnbod by edit-warring away the large amount of expert views which run contrary to this view. So, very problematic on three accounts. Johnbod believes the removal of the quote is part of a campaign. This campaign, however, exists only in his head, although it is obvious that his belief in its existence fuels his stubbornness and will to cling to his citation.
To cut a long story short: Do you believe, Johnbod, that the claim of the medieval "Islamic world" being "generally wealthier" than the medieval Christian lands
  1. is directly relevant to the article and the immediate context of Islamic art?
  2. is an accurate representation of the cited source which states that The Christian Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, and the extravagant courts of the Islamic world both achieved standards of wealth and luxury unknown in Europe?
  3. should be maintained in the article at the exclusion of contradicting views such as those of Angus Maddison, Walter Scheidel, Branko Milanović and other economic historians?
Please answer with yes or no. In case of no, we can work something out. In case of yes, we'll have to go to mediation in the interest of Wikipedia. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:14, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, yes and there are no contradicting sources yet produced, obviously, and the claim is restricted to the subject of the article, medieval Europe, NOT "medieval Christian lands". The claim now has two references, which unlike your three actually speak to the issue at question. The Braudel quotes above can easily be added. Your continued distortion of what your sources actually say is little short of amazing, and your POV campaign exists not in my head but in your contibutions history, ANI, etc. If you want to carry this on you REALLY need to read Scheidel's paper and address what it actually says, not what you think it ought to say. Johnbod (talk) 22:57, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
  • For anyone who thinks this is excessive argument over a 2-word aside, I should add that this should be regarded as a test case - if GPM succeeds in removing the comparison here, then any mention of medieval Islamic economic success - probably even if not relative - will be regarded as fair game, and anyone who complains referred to the position GPM has "proved" here. Johnbod (talk) 11:43, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
So you admit that you are trying a make a WP:Point? It's plain obvious. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:36, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
When the claim was first included in the text, in 2009 I think, I regarded it is next to common knowledge, as I've said above. Since then the article has had tens of thousands of views without any one objecting to it, before you. You asked for references (or rather just removed it, with an inadequate edit summary), and have been supplied with an abundance of them. You supplied supposed counter-references, which have all proved in fact to support the claim (see below) or not be relevant. Yet still you persist. Who is offending against WP:Point? It is indeed obvious. Johnbod (talk) 00:49, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Tags restored[edit]

Please don't remove the tags, Johnbod. And don't add contentious material without consent. I'll give a more detailed reply later. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 15:38, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

GPM has now twice removed two Braudel refs from above on the point at issue, which I had just added to the article, and re-added a "failed verification" tag on the two already there! The references removed are: "; Braudel, Fernand, Civilization & Capitalism, 15-18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life, William Collins & Sons, London 1981, p. 440: "If medieval Islam towered over the Old Continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific for centuries on end, it was because no state (Byzantium apart) could compete with its gold and silver money..."; and Vol 3: The Perspective of the World, 1984, ISBN 0002161338, p. 106: "For them [the Italian maritime republics], success meant making contact with the rich regions of the Mediterranean - and obtaining gold currencies, the dinars of Egypt or Syria,... In other words, Italy was still only a poor peripheral region..." [period before the Crusades]"
-this is trolling, pure and simple. They have been quoted above for 5 days, in the course of which he has found nothing to say about them but that Braudel is "outdated", which he isn't. Johnbod (talk) 15:45, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

More on Maddison[edit]

The figures GPM quotes from above in Maddison's book ("Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 185, table 4.2" there) are sourced in the book to the tables on his own website http://www.ggdc.net/Maddison/ . The latest full versions are on this page at "historical statistics". He gives figures for various dates, starting with the years, 1, 1000 and 1500. So only the 1000 figures are medieval. The only Islamic countries (then) given figures are as follows: Iran 650, Iraq 650 - these are the highest figures anywhere in the world at this date - Egypt 500, Morocco 430, Spain 450, Portugal 425. Many more Western European figures are given, of which the highest are Italy and Spain at 450, and the average 427. So of the 6 Islamic areas given, ALL are above the European average, except Portugal by a whisker. Presumably a "Christian Europe" figure would produce a slightly lower average figure without most of Spain. In fact similar figures for Islamic countries are given in table 4.3 of the original book GPM cites, plus a 600 for "Arabia" that seems to have disappeared from Maddison's latest figures on the website. The summary of Maddison's results at List of regions by past GDP (PPP) per capita, heavily edited by GPM, mysteriously omits all these high Islamic figures, and includes no countries that have remained broadly Islamic; I wonder why that is? Yet another source brought forward by GPM turns out to say the opposite of what he asserts. Yet he goes on edit-warring. Johnbod (talk) 22:37, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

I would also like to see GPM's comment on this quote from Maddison's lecture Growth and Interaction in the World Economy (pdf link on same website page as the stats, page 2) "Eleventh century income levels were lower in the West than the Rest". Johnbod (talk) 02:50, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
My opinion of many of the sources being used is that they are not reliable. I say that because I'm pretty sure most experts on the middle ages would be offended by such rounded simple figures asserted as if they were pure facts. The authors in question may be economic historians, but they probably vastly underestimate the difficulties of gathering and evaluating data from such eras. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 16:30, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Of course! Maddison's figure show the "UK" and Australia in the year 1000 as both having per capita GDP of 400 (US$ at 1990 values), which is the minimum "subsistence" level you get for just turning up (ie not starving to death), like the 50% in American exams. This just at the time when the Anglo-Saxon elite were launching a splurge of conspicuous consumption and donations of imported Eastern textiles and gold-plated statues. But he does seem very widely respected among his tribe, and this is the ground on which GPM has chosen to fight - see many remarks above. Maddison is rather fond of potted history which often reads rather like a WP article. Brett's paper, summarizing other research, shows the wild swings in data that detailed researchers produce, and the few datasets they have. That is why I prefer Braudel's approach, which uses statistics, but also other sources. But they both draw the same general conclusions here. Btw, a look at List of regions by past GDP (PPP) per capita shows that GPM has been using Maddison's data for some time, which makes it all the more sinister that he misrepresents it so blatently. I had never heard of Maddison before that I can remember, though I have had the Braudels for decades. At least Scheidel stops every few sentences to say, in effect, "of course this all could well be nonsense". To be fair, both Braudel and Maddison are very aware of the provisional nature of their conclusions, which is why it is important to use the updated and freely available figures on Maddison's website, as he intended. And they are all very well aware of "the difficulties of gathering and evaluating data from such eras", but are to varying extents prepared to just go ahead and stick a number down anyway, ignoring the curled lips on the other side of the common room. Johnbod (talk) 16:55, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Let me be more blunt. Experts on medieval history (good ones anyway) would simply laugh at those presentations. They're trash. But welcome to Wikipedia Johnbod. I remember you telling me a wee while ago how ideologues were no big deal in art history articles, and I began looking at my Pictish art book very thoughtfully. ;) I'd waste time arguing the case for you, but I'm sure I'd be insulted, WP:OR would be cited, and so on. Best advice is to take the hit to the article and move on. Eventually you may get it sorted, but it won't be worth the effort. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 17:23, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
See the bottom of the section above. This has to be understood as a test case, or I wouldn't devote so much time to it. But Medieval Islamic economy may yet emerge. Usually you are sheltered from storms in art history, especially Early Medieval art history, so long as you avoid Croatian?-born artists who worked in Italy, images of the Prophet Muhammad, and a few other things. Johnbod (talk) 19:02, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Glad you agree about the test case. The discussion is still underway, so I'll now restore the tag for a final time. If it is removed again, by you or some wingman, I'll take the matter to the noticeboard where it then belongs, but I'd rather do without this. So now back to the discussion. You may be surprised but, unlike you it seems, I couldn't care less about whose daddy was richer in 1000. But I do care a lot about verifiability and balancing diverging views. So add material which supports the view that the Islamic countries were richer than Europe in 1000. And I add material which does not support this view. The normal procedure on three million WP pages. But as long as you add material which supports your view, but at the same time remove and disregard material which contradicts your view, this discussion will go on. Because you are clearly wrong in doing that, and you are clearly acting against fundamental principles of Wikipedia. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:58, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
Why on earth do you think I care "about whose daddy was richer in 1000"? I write on both Islamic and Christian medieval subjects (mainly the latter), unlike you, whose main "contributions" are removing any and all material that makes any claim to things outside Europe being earlier or better than those in Europe, or influencing Europe in any way. You have nothing but contempt for "balancing diverging views", as you surely must know. You have not produced any material that supports your view, as everything you have produced, when examined, turns out to support my views very clearly, or be irrelevant. Johnbod (talk) 01:54, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Material and arguments contra the claim of a "generally wealthier Islamic world"[edit]

There have been five questions raised in the course of the discussion:

  1. Is this claim relevant at all to a discussion of medieval art?
  2. Do we need a whole section on the influence of Islamic art, particularly in view of the existing Islamic influences on Christian art?
  3. Can North Africa and the Near East be easily called "Islamic world" in 1000 AD? Why aren't they called what they are, namely North Africa and the Near East? Brett shows that the conversion rate renders any notion of "Islamic states" rather anachronistic, with the Christian faith dominant west of Iran until 900-1000 AD, while Egypt may have retained a predominantly Christian population well past that date.[1]
  4. Is this claim of being "wealthier" verified by the sources it cites? As amply demonstrated above, Hollingsworth, who speaks of "courts" and an equally rich Christian Byzantine Empire, is totally misrepresented and, therefore, needs to be removed.
  5. Are there sources which run contrary to this view or even outrright contradict it? Yes, there are many such sources, as even a cursory search reveals, but they have been edit-warred away:
  • The ancient economist Walter Scheidel shows that real incomes of unskilled laborers in the Islamic-ruled states of Egypt and Mesopotomia of the time were as low as in other Afroeurasian societies.[2] This is a very relevant finding as it rubbishes much of the false pride talk of rampant prosperity in Golden Ages. Rather, according to this strand of research, the situation for the poor 'working class' in pre-modern societies seems to be everywhere quite similar, irrespective of the tag the period they lived in has received retrospectively (Lo Cascio shows something similar for Europe btw).
  • GDP per capita in 1990 International Dollars in 1000 AD:
    • Christian Western Europe: 425[3] = 100%
    • Christian Byzantine Empire: 680–770[4] = 160–180%
    • 'Islamic' Egypt: 550[5] = 130%
    • 'Islamic' other N. Africa: 430[5] = 100%
    • Islamic-ruled Spain: 450[3] = 105%
    • Islamic-ruled Portugal: 425[3] = 100%

Conclusion: These numbers show that, in contrast to the stereotype conveyed by Johnbod of poor medieval Christian and wealthy Islamic lands, the reality – or, rather, the present scholarly findings – is quite a different one: The divide runs not along religious lines, but rather a geographical east–west–axis! The rich countries (Byzantium, Egypt, also Mesopotamia) all lie east of the Nile, while North Africa, Iberian peninsula and Western Europe form another group of lower, but very even matched wealth.

I have absolutely no problem if the article (barring no.1 and 2 above) reflects these stats for whatever it is worth, but I wonder by what mission Johnbod is driven to steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that the east-west divide is in fact much more pronounced as any postulated Christian/Muslim dichotomy. So, John, are you prepared to change your view? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:58, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ M. Brett: "Population and Conversion to Islam in Egypt in the Medieaval Period", in: Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras IV: proceedings of the 9th and 10th international colloquium organized at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in May 2000 and May 2001, Peeters Publishers, 2005, ISBN 978-90-429-1524-4, pp. 14f.
  2. ^ Walter Scheidel: "Real Wages in Early Economies: Evidence for Living Standards from 1800 BCE to 1300 CE", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 53 (2010), pp. 425-462 (427 & 453)
  3. ^ a b c Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 382, table A.7.
  4. ^ Milanovic, Branko (2006): "An Estimate of Average Income and Inequality in Byzantium around Year 1000", Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 52, No. 3, pp. 449–470 (468)
  5. ^ a b Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 185, table 4.2:

Response[edit]

  1. At (now) two words in a long article, yes it is perfectly relevant.
  2. That there is a more detailed (and until very recently highly unsatisfactory) "main" article on the same subject is no reason not to have two paragraphs here - most sections of the article have "main" capnotes.
  3. Yes they can, and are routinely so called by historians of all sorts, just as the Crusader kingdoms are always called "Frankish" or Christian even though a majority of their population may well have been Muslim. The "Islamic world" essentially denotes Islamic-ruled states, which for the early period were all part of a single empire.
  4. and 5. Yes absolutely. No claim is made (either way) re Byzantium, as has been mentioned many times above. You continue to ignore Hugh Thomas and several references to the hugely distinguished Fernand Braudel. You introduced Walter Scheidel who does in fact find that real wages in medieval Cairo were higher than in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. But (is this the EIGHTH time?) he does not discuss any data from Europe after 301, making him irrelevant to the issue under discussion. Angus Maddison, who you introduced as the ultimate authority on the subject, has completely blown up in your face, as it has been discovered that you were using his figures totally selectively, and continue to do so just above, omitting the two areas in the world with highest per capita GDP according to Maddison, Iran and Iraq, both at 650, and also Arabia at 600 (in the book you were quoting from, all table 4.3). Put them in the table above, please! One of the Braudel refs covers these areas, with Egypt, as being the core of the medieval Islamic eceonomy, with the largest population. By the way, the footnotes in the section above are either completely jumbled, or you are abandoning Maddison, after singing his praises so highly. In fact, as explained two sections up, Maddison's figures very clearly support the claim, as does his text quoted higher up. You can't wriggle out of this! Your OR attempt to arrange those figures you have selectively quoted geographically is beside the point (plus it ignores Spain). Whichever side of the Nile a region is, it can conventionally be described at this period as either Christian or Islamic, and generalizations made on this basis, as the historians do.

The claim refers to no "stereotype", merely makes a comment relevant to the trade in luxury goods between the two regions, which was indeed typically conducted directly with Spain, Syria and Egypt rather than Morocco. In fact the long-standing belief among historians that the claim reflects is shared by Braudel, Maddison, Thomas and the others who indicate a view on the matter. Since you have run out of counter-arguments, I suggest you consider seriously the possibility that this is because the evidence supports the claim! Johnbod (talk) 01:34, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, you are arguing for the stereotype of the poor medieval West and you do this by a selective reading of the evidence. The figures on the GDP per capita are clear enough, they are evident, everybody can read and compare them: They show that the Christian Byzantines fall per capita-wise on the side of the 'Islamic' east, while the 'Islamic' west was in the same boat as Western Europe, not at all better off, including the prime contact zone of Al-Andalus/Iberia. You like to talk so much about some Christian-Islamic wealth gap, but in reality the figures do much more paint the picture of an east-west divide – your overdue acknowledgement of which would, of course, shatter your neat poor Christians–rich Muslims dichotomy.
Apart from that, I have another surprise for you: I happen agree with Deacon of Pndapetzim to a large degree. These figures, these opinions we both cite, I don't actually put too much faith in any of them, and I've read much more about historical macroeconomics than you. They are, as Deacon implied, all rather to be viewed as gussimates, as opinionated view, at best as preliminary findings. As such they are valuable, but the problem is you reduce a multitude of contrary, conflicting, outdated and preliminary views to a holy grail of the one valid truth of the rich Muslim world and that's what I find so unacceptable.
As it stands, you still haven't done more than to show that certain authors, for a single point in time (1000 AD), argue that some countries which may or may not have had a Muslim majority had a higher GDP per capita than the average of Western Europe. I will maintain that for WP:Balance we must also add the opposing views. Do you agree to include these opposing views or not? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:53, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
This is now a two word point in an article on a different subject. WP:UNDUE applies. In any case there do not seem to be any opposing views, as you have obviously put a lot of effort into finding them, so far without success. Several of the prose quotes cover a much wider period than Maddison's year 1000 and his "eleventh century". Braudel specifically speaks of "centuries on end". What you find unacceptable, as always, is anything at all that goes against your Euro-Supremacist POV. Can you point to any article where you have done anything at all to promote WP:BALANCE? You would be better spending your time adding to List of regions by past GDP (PPP) per capita to remove the blatent POV there. Or starting Medieval economy. The more you have read on "historical macroeconomics", the more dubious your behaviour here; you have already changed your tune several times as your arguments have crumbled. You now seem to accept that the single and simple point in the claim is accurate and referenced, but you want it removed, or given a lengthy context, anyway. Is that your position? Johnbod (talk) 21:16, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
My position is that we include a balanced statement per WP:BALANCE or we include no statement at all. You are still invited to address the large body of scholarship which flatly contradicts your stereotype. Unfortunatly, with your ad hominem post you have missed another chance to show that you are able to do that. The figures show that 'Islamic' Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, all these countries were not one bit wealthier than Western Europe in 1000 AD, but were even substantially poorer than the Byzantine Empire which included the entire South-Eastern Europe south of the Danube. Even more, you have still totally failed to explain why a single point, 1000 AD, amounts to the whole medieval period which spans a 1000 years. Care to explain? Why don't we take into account the situation in 1100, 1200, 1300 and 1400, when the European economy rapidly expanded and Islam was pushed, not only militarily, into the defensive? Aren't these centuries not the Middle Ages? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:40, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
What "large body of scholarship which flatly contradicts your stereotype" is that? You have just not produced any. You now seem to realize Maddison does not help you, so are abandoning him. I refer you to my previous answer re the time span - you should try actually reading my responses. In North Africa, I have only seen Egypt, in various sources, and Maddison's figures for Morocco. Where are the figures for the other areas? All the data is capable of the interpretation that the RS I rely on make from it. It may also be capable of the interpretation that you make of it, though you have not yet produced any RS sources that make that interpretation. Historical information is often capable of several interpretations. That does not mean that they all have to be mentioned when they are a minor aspect of the article in question. You would also need to demonstrate the special relevance of North Africa other than Egypt, as the population of those areas was pretty low, and Braudel and others confirm that trade with Europe, which is the context of this claim, was mostly with Egypt, Syria and Spain (look where the Italian maritime republics had their colonies). Johnbod (talk) 23:41, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
The problem is your flat out denial. I am showing you a wall of bricks and you claim it is made up of banana. The GDP per capita figures for "North Africa" plus "Egypt" are at Maddison, Angus (2007): "Contours of the World Economy, 1–2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History", Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922721-1, p. 185, table 4.2. You are in no position to ask for other numbers: You include your numbers on Iraq and Iran, and I include the numbers of Western Europe, Portugal, Spain, North Africa, Egypt and Byzanz. That way we arrive at a balanced picture. You only want to include the numbers on Iraq and Iran which support your bias? Then go to their respective art articles and leave medieval art alone. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 15:06, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Tables 4.2 (North Africa only) and 4.3 (Middle East as "West Asia" too) show how the claim ("generally wealthier") is justified, plus the many cites above from other authors talking of the Islamic world as a whole, and over a longer period. Byzantium and China are not involved. If you read further in Maddison, you will see that "North Africa" is in fact just Morocco, and I think just one dataset there too. The claim does not mention "North Africa", so why do you want only those data, from one source, used? You are just making yourself ridiculous going on like this. I don't have a bias. I'm not the one who launched thousands of words of talk trying to remove two words that offended a notorious POV position. Johnbod (talk) 15:22, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Added scholarly sources per WP:Balance: "when reputable sources contradict one another and are relatively equal in prominence, describe both approaches and work for balance. This involves describing the opposing views clearly..." Gun Powder Ma (talk) 16:00, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

The "geographical interpretation" is your own OR conclusion from Maddison's figures; he does not draw these conclusions himself. Nor does it "contradict" the other sources including Braudel. The Mahgreb was (arguably still is) a rather peripheral area within Islam, like Scandinavia within Europe, which Braudel also covers. Your reasons for insisting that only the figures from there are used is all too clear. Johnbod (talk) 16:58, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
You conveniently forget Al-Andalus which was the contact zone par excellence. And when you add it up, then the whole coastline from Spain and North Africa as far east as the Cyrenaica, with all its ports, constituted much more than 50% of the Med coastline held of Islam. Asia Minor was held by the Byzantines and the Levant by the crusaders for 200 years. Makes Egypt effectively the only Islamic conduit which has a higher GDP per capita than Western Europe at the time.
That's why your statement is so SYN and OR. Most of those Islamic regions which directly exported to Europe were, as Maddison's numbers show, not richer, not even in 1000 AD, before the rise of medieval Europe. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 09:44, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
The main routes for imports were always Italy, including Sicily. That is where the Anglo-Saxons got their textiles, and where the maritime republics brought back their goods from dozens of "colonies" in the Islamic world. I'm not sure how I "forget" Al-Andalus, though you keep trying to include its high figure in the Chritian Europe side. But it wasn't the most relevant area here. Please produce sources that say it was. The Crusaders can be said to have controlled most of the Levant precisely between 1099 and 1187, after which, barring brief European expeditions, they held a handful of ports, perhaps allowed to do so because the Italian colonies were useful for Islamic exports, which continued with relatively little interruption. I'm not at all sure what you're trying to say here. You are simply flying in the face of all the evidence. What has length of coastline to do with anything, & what RS talks of that? If you assume that is the measure, then the Kingdom of Naples is the giant of Italian trade, and Venice, Genoa, Pisa & Amalfi nothing - Amalfi has about 700 feet of coastline that is not cliffs. Johnbod (talk) 12:59, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Um. OK, I came here because there is an RfC... all this is rather beyond me, but regarding the specific question, is it OK to say "...came from the generally wealthier Islamic world...". The word "wealthy" is rather tricky -- what is "wealth", really? -- and certainly GDP statistics and comparisons to modern currencies have little meaning, I would say. However, that doesn't mean the word "wealth" has no meaning at all in describing material conditions. It is certainly "common knowledge" that the Islamic world was wealthier than most of Europe at this time. "Common knowledge" can be wrong and often enough is, but there is a certain burden on the person disputing common knowledge to make his case, rather than the other way around. And instead, we have the several good references reinforcing the notion that the Islamic world was generally wealthier. So I would say that "generally wealthier" is a valid characterization and can stay in the sentence, in my opinion. Herotratus (talk) 16:26, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
    I have to fall in behind this opinion. There are enough citations supporting a commonly held opinion, that putting emphasis behind any other opinion or removing this one would be WP:UNDUE. Going to a period of history I am more familiar with: the authors who do any sort of Macro-economic history from about 1400- 1700 usually look at the Arabic/Islamic world as considerably wealthier, largely because it straddles the east-west trade routes between Europe and China and point to this as something deeply rooted in the previous 400-500 years of trade and exchange between a relatively backwater Europe and the rest of the world. Authors such as Andre Gunder Frank in his Reorient, even go so far as to say that Europe was the backwater in the world economy from the middle ages until well into the 18th century. Admittedly, alot of people have problems with Frank, but in a macro-economic sense, that sense that Europe was not a very active participant in world economy (and therefore not economically competative with other parts of the world, relatively not wealthy in the trade sense) is insanely common in historians. Macro-historical opinions vastly oversimplify the situation, but the opinions still support a relatively unwealthy europe, Sadads (talk) 09:57, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


I do think that the sentence is a bit confusing. In my opinion, it is true that for most of the middle ages, the orient was wealthier (from the beginning to at least the 13th century ==> 800 years/ 1000). However, it must be noted that : - It is by no mean a consequence of one part of the world being islamic and the other being christian. The Orient was richer than the West well before Islam. Only Italy (and maybe Roman Spain or north africa - not in Europe - which were also very rich) could rival but the West was devastasted by the barbarian invasions, which was not the case for the East. The muslims merely took advantage of this fact by invading already-wealthy lands (this does NOT mean they did nothing on their own, simply that at the beginning they had many advantages). On the other hand, the christian eastern Roman empire was just as wealthy as the wealthiest parts of the muslim world.

- For the centuries after 1200, i'm not quite sure that the East was richer. In fact, I believe Braudel himself said that there was a shift in (geopolitical) power during the XIe century. This would be consistant with a shift in economic strengh happening a bit after that.

- As for the size of the cities, this does not mean much. In fact, in the 13th century, the west was probably more urbanized. For example, when you compare italy (in the 13th century) and muslim spain : in the first case, you have 4 cities of 100;000 inhabitants (Genoa, Venice, Milan, Florence) and 25 cities of at least 20,000 people. In the second case, one huge city (cordoba : 200, 000 - 400,000 people) but the second one has only 40,000 inhabitants, and their are only 15 cities of more than 15,000 inhabitants. The muslim world remained highly centralized for several centuries, which allowed very big capital cities to emerge (Cairo, Bagdad and Cordoba). On the other hand, the west (not including byzantium) was much less centralized (and its "capital cities" were no match for those of the muslim world : Paris, the biggest one, had 200,000-300,000 inhabitants at its peak, Rome had less than 50,000 people etc.) but there were more cities of importance, especially economic centers (in Flanders, Holland or Italy). Not to mention that i have compared Europe in the 13th with the muslim world before 1000 AD. The latter was arguably in decline in the 13th century.

- Europe was far from being a backwater. It was much more densely populated than the muslim world (with the exception of India). In 1560, the whole ottoman empire had 22 million inhabitants. France alone had 18 millioms. During the Roman era, Gaul was the most populated province with nearly 10 million people, and Hispania or Italy were not far behind.

- Sorry for my English i have madem mystakes, I'm French. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 79.87.219.23 (talk) 13:30, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree with most, perhaps all, of what you say, but I'm not sure why you then find the mention (as it was then) confusing. My researches into the question above have made it clear that while there are figures for the populations of the most important cities, no one has much of a clue what rural Islamic populations were (or what religion they followed) - see the survey of recent literature in: M. Brett: "Population and Conversion to Islam in Egypt in the Medieaval Period", in: Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk eras IV: proceedings of the 9th and 10th international colloquium organized at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in May 2000 and May 2001, Peeters Publishers, 2005, ISBN 978-90-429-1524-4, pp. 14f.. Johnbod (talk) 02:32, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Your arguments are much welcomed but you should know the claim that the Islamic World was allegedly richer is in reality not so much based in expert sources, but should be rather understood as the main author of the article suffering from WP:Own and trying to make a WP:Point as he himself admitted. Consequently, he moved around or removed the cited works until he came to the desired conclusion.
In fact, while there is little doubt that the early medieval world was poorer (but not Byzantium), the economic balance changed swiftly after the crusades in favour of Europe. After 1100, the Italian city-states controlled the Mediterranean trade and I have given enough sources by notable economic historians that even as early as 1000 most Islamic-controlled countries west of Mesopotamia are actually not considered richer. But again it is pivotal to understand that this discussion has not been about facts and figures but driven by the intellectual dishonesty of the main author and his minions – unfortunately. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 10:00, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

I found the statement confusing because while it may be true for most of the middle ages, it may not have been the case for the later middle ages. For example, take the situation at the beginning of the 14th century : on the one hand, Europe have been dominating the mediterrenean sea for two centuries (and this will continue until the rise of the ottoman navy during the 16th century) and have just known several centuries of unprecedented demographic and economic growth. On the other hand, the muslim world has been all but devastated by the mongol invasion (much more destructive than the crusades) and internal conflicts. Keep in mind that already back in 1099, the muslim world that the europeans discovered, though still probably richer than most of europe, was only a shadow of its former self (In the middle east, the turks had effectively destroyed the Abbasid empire and impose a more conservative Islam. in Spain, the brilliant era of the umayyads had been ended by the rise of a fundamentalist dynasty). And the situation was even worse in the 13th. So, what I mean is that, I'm not quite sure that the muslim world was really wealthier than europe for the whole period. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.68.28.178 (talk) 17:11, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Origin of Romanesque art in France: an outdated theory?[edit]

Hello nice people! Many, many people think that romanesque style originated from France, while it's pretty clear that it's a style that appeared at the same time in Italy and France, if not in southern Europe as a whole. The error has been caused by Charles de Gerville, an archeologist that in a 1818 letter to Arcisse de Caumont created the term "art roman". But the theory is now almost completely outdated: for instance, as french art historicist Henri Focillon pointed out, we can find in Ravenna and in Forlì (both cities in Italy) many examples of romanesque "pieve" (or country church)with every structural element of a mature romanesque style in High Middle Ages (800 a.D.), and according to Focillon that would be the prove that those architectures influenced Octonian Style in following years, but the characteristics in nuce are already present in ninth century northern Italy, as modern studies seems to suggest. An example wold be San Pietro in Trento pieve in Ravenna (link: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieve_di_San_Pietro_in_Trento) built in tenth century. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tommolo (talkcontribs) 21:29, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

I found and read the 1993 Dodwell book "The pictorial arts of the West", but I have seen no reference, for instance, on the fully romanesque 1007 a.D. frescoes in the San Vincenzo in Galliano basilica, in Cantù, Italy ( http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complesso_monumentale_di_Galliano ). For what I know, until Cluny III in 1040 (but unluckily destroyed in French revolution) there are no traces of fully romanesque wall painting in France. I respect the analisys of Dodwell, but I think we should consider or at least cite the opinions of other great art historicist like Gabrielle Demians d'Archimbaud, like t.g. Jackson, like g.c. Argan and so on... But then again, if you want, I could also cite examples of romanesque scupture or romanesque goldsmith at the end of tenth century-beginning of eleventh century...

That was quick for reading Dodwell! Obviously the transition from pre-Romanesque to a fully Romanesque style is not a sudden one, and occured gradually in its different aspects in several places. Nonetheless I still think it is reasonable to give France as the place where it all first came together. Personally if I was adding anywhere else it would be parts of the Empire north of the Alps before Italy. Dodwell has a paragraph on the Galliano paintings at pp 181-182, where he stresses the Byzantine influence (also Ottonian). Again remember we are not talking about architecture here, but the other visual arts. Romanesque architecture has its own article. An article has just been added on Sant'Angelo in Formis by the way - it would be good if you could add to that. Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Hello John! I will surely contribute about Sant'Angelo, thank you so much! Yes we have a copy of Dodwell here at the University, so it was easy to find the page you indicated in the notes... I see your point and I respect your analisys, but since we all know that it's somehow controversial I would suggest to give voice to both theories (the "north/carolingian origin theory" and the "southern/longobardian theory"), or at least a word about the fact that there is no unanimity in scientifical community... but let's talk about concrete examples: can you please citate a fully Romanesque piece of art prior to 1007 a.D.? For example, I know that some survived capitol in the second St Benigne cathedral,Dijon (started in 1002 and dedicated in 1017: I'm sorry if I'm referring again to architectural elements once again...) has some romanesque aspect, but I sincerely cannot find any previous example... I know you're an expert in the so called "minor arts", and maybe there you can find example of early Romanesque there that I'm not aware of. but since I love the argument, I would be happy to be proven wrong and to learn something new... best regards, Thomas — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tommolo (talkcontribs) 17:25, 2 November 2011 (UTC)