David Levering Lewis - God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
God’s Crucible marks Lewis’ historical engagement with the major theme of the impact of Islamic civilisation upon the formation of Europe. Through his synthesis of secondary historical studies in English, French and Spanish Lewis paints a broad historical canvas portraying the rise and spread of Islam in South West Asia, its dramatic extension across North Africa into the Iberian peninsula and beyond under the Umayyad Caliphs, and the complex interaction and vicissitudes of Christian and Muslim powers in Hispania/ Andalusia. He ends his narrative with the start of the reconquista at the fateful Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, which was fought not far from Toledo in central Spain and which ended with the total victory of the combined forces of three Christian kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarra over the Almohad caliph Muhammad III (r. 1199-1213): “the first war fought by Christians and Muslims exclusively as Muslims and as Christians - a war between civilizations” (p. 378). Lewis clearly has the contemporary ‘clash’ in mind when exploiting this much abused phrase.