Languages of Islam During the Renaissance

Arabo-latin manuscript of Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada for the duc of Urbino.


There has been a recent renewal in the history of the knowledge of the languages of Islam during the Renaissance. Numerous accounts attest to both a lasting interest during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and to new approaches that blossomed in the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, leading to broader European interest beginning in the sixteenth century. This history is nevertheless marked by discontinuities, such as the fact that the bilingual Latin translations of the Koran from the years 1450-1525 had very little lasting influence. The study of the remaining bilingual manuscripts, neglected until then, has allowed the gradual illumination of the context surrounding the periodic reactivation and knowledge transfer of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian to a “Latin” setting between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries. This context depended on complex factors, such as merchant networks, links between Jewish and Christian communities, the continuation of the medieval perspective of controversy, and new forms of intellectual and philological curiosity, among others.