Thursday, November 12, 2009

From Hasan to Leo

This section of the reading begins with Hasan’s time in Constantinople as a diplomat. During his time there, the Ottoman empire is rising to the height of its power, perhaps due to a mostly peaceful time. For the time, Constantinople stands out for its peaceful blend of cultures and religions. Ironically, though, the Ottomans look to disturb the peace by looking for ways to expand their territory. One such way is to take over the Mameluke Empire and its central city, Cairo. Despite the attempt by Hasan and Nur to warn the city and the Mamelukes’ courage in the city’s defense, the Ottomans prove too strong and ransack Cairo. After the birth of his daughter, Hasan and family leave the city and enter into a nomadic lifestyle.

Hasan’s adventures continue about a year later. He is captured by an Italian pirate, and because of Hasan’s skills as a traveler, scholar, and diplomat, he is taken to be placed in the service of Pope Leo X. He falls into favor with the Pope, and is baptized and christened Leo, which directly leads to the name Leo Africanus. Hasan utilizes his skills to become a scholar in the city of Christianity, and through his experiences, he learns of the earliest forms of Lutheranism, the movement to purify the Catholic Church by removing its corruption.

These last chapters were very interesting in their use of real historical figures in combination with Hasan’s storybook adventures. Also interesting is Hasan’s time in Rome, as there are many similarities between Rome and the other major cities Hasan has lived in, like Constantinople and Fez. It seems that Hasan is at the center of many of the major cultural and religious movements of the time. Also evident in the reading is that conflict extends beyond religion or politics, but is rather a combination of a broad range of factors, from politics to religion to race to economics to sheer coincidence. It is this historical lesson that is still applicable today, as many of our current topics for debate, like immigration or the economy, are multi-faceted issues, hence the debate. So, with these issues, is there a single solution we should be looking for or should me merely settle for the compromises that leave room for improvement?


  1. i think it is very interesting to look at the interactions and factors that occurred then and compare them to the ones that are so similar and that exist today. It shows to me that people never really change. Our instincts and beliefs are with us and like us and we cant really help it. These types of conflicts seem to be natural whether we like it or not.

  2. last post was by Dorothy Smith "Bunny"