Published: April 26, 2018

 Brian Catlos’s Kingdoms of Faith. A New History of Islamic Spainto 

Brian Catlos’s recent book Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain (Basic: 2018) has just been published in Spanish as Reinos de fe. Una nueva historia de la España musulmana by Pasado y Presente, with a prologue by leading Spanish historian, Eduardo Manzano.

Translations to Polish, German, Korean, and Simplified and Complex Chinese.


A magisterial, myth-dispelling history of Islamic Spain spanning the millennium between the founding of Islam in the seventh century and the final expulsion of Spain's Muslims in the seventeenth In Kingdoms of Faith, award-winning historian Brian A. Catlos rewrites the history of Islamic Spain from the ground up, evoking the cultural splendor of al-Andalus, while offering an authoritative new interpretation of the forces that shaped it. Prior accounts have portrayed Islamic Spain as a paradise of enlightened tolerance or the site where civilizations clashed. Catlos taps a wide array of primary sources to paint a more complex portrait, showing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews together built a sophisticated civilization that transformed the Western world, even as they waged relentless war against each other and their coreligionists. Religion was often the language of conflict, but seldom its cause–a lesson we would do well to learn in our own time.

Advance praise:

“This is a lively and interesting new account of medieval Spain and Portugal which steers away from the usual stereotypes and gives us a new, and much more nuanced account of relations and interactions between the various communities and faith groups in the peninsula.”
—Hugh Kennedy, professor of Arabic at SOAS, University of London, and author of Caliphate: The History of an Idea and Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History of al-Andalus


“Brian Catlos'sKingdoms of Faithoffers an insightful and nuanced view of Islamic Spain from its origins in the eighth century to the poignant demise of Islamic presence, as exemplifed by his brilliant reflection on Cervantes's fictional Morisco character, Ricote. Based upon a masterly command of sources and the secondary literature, Catlos eschews the hyperbolic descriptions of Islam in Iberia and the exaggerated claims of tolerance while, at the same time, showing its many accomplishments and enduring legacy. It is a brilliant, well-written, and well-researched book that will force historians to see the Islamic presence in the peninsula in a new light.”

—Teofilo Ruíz, distinguished professor of history, UCLA


“In Kingdoms of Faith, Brian A. Catlos takes us through the kaleidoscopic interplay of Muslim-Christian relations, bringing clarity to a complex narrative. His deft analysis illuminates the forces brought to bear in creating both the myth and reality of life in 'Moorish' Spain.”

— Thomas F. Glick, professor of history, emeritus, Boston University, and author ofIslamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages and From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle


“Mediterranean studies have been shaped in an informative and innovative way by Brian Catlos’ contributions in the recent decades. His incursion now into the history of a specific region and polity – that of al-Andalus (Medieval Iberia under Muslim rule) - brings to the fore the same qualities that characterize his previous work: an inquisitive and incisive mind that hones in on perceptive questions, combined with the ability to recreate past events in an appealing manner for a wide audience.”

— Maribel Fierro, Research Professor, Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean, CSIC (Madrid), and editor of The Western Islamic world: eleventh to eighteenth centuries (The New Cambridge History of Islam, II)


“Kingdoms of Faith constitutes a fresh and original contribution to the history of al-Andalus, rooted in the author's profound knowledge of medieval iberian history. Catlos has managed to produce a very well-written and lively narrative that provides an up-to-date synthesis of the most recent developments in this field of history.”

— Alejandro García Sanjuán, professor of History, University of Huelva, and author of Coexistencia y conflictos : minorías religiosas en la Península Ibérica durante la Edad Media


Kingdoms of Faith will be published in the UK by Hurst, translations in German (Frankfurt: Beck Verlag), Simplified Chinese (Beijing: Gingko), and Complex Chinese (Taipei: Owl Press) are forthcoming.


Brian Catlos’s previous books include: 

• The Victors and the Vanquished: Christians and Muslims of Catalonia and Aragon, 1050–130(Cambridge: 2004) – co-winner of the John E. Fagg Prize for the best book in Spanish and Latin American History (2005) and the biennial Premio del Rey for the best book in Spanish history before 1512 (2006) from the American Historical Association

• Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors: Power, Faith and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad(Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2014) – honorable mention in the 2015 PROSE Awards

• Muslims of Latin Christendom, ca. 1050–1614(Cambridge: 2014) – winner of the Albert Hourani Prize for the best book on Middle Eastern and Islamic History from the Middle East Studies Association (2014); winner of the Charles Homer Haskins Medal for a distinguished book on Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America (2018); winner of the Kayden Book Award for best book (triennial) in History and the Arts (2018) 

• The Rough Guide to Languedoc and Roussillon (Rough Guides: 2000–)

He also appeared in the PBS documentary: Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain