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Conversion and Apocalypse: The Visual Archive of the “Libro del alborayque”


This essay is an examination of how and why early modern Iberian Christians employed medieval depictions of Islam to attack Jewish converts to Christianity, known as "conversos."

Kimmel, Seth. “Conversion and Apocalypse: The Visual Archive of the Libro del alborayque.” Romance Notes, vol. 58 no. 3, 2018, pp. 341-355.



The anonymous Christian author of the Libro del alborayque, a late fifteenth-century popular polemic, accused Christians of Jewish origin of being monsters. Represented by the Prophet Muhammad’s hybrid steed, known in Arabic as al-buraq, the New Christians’ alleged biological hybridity was an allegory for their religious heterodoxy. This essay reconstructs the medieval archive of apocalyptic imagery that, I argue, the author of the Libro del alborayque employed to co-opt and redefine al-buraq. In the process, the essay also considers the role of formalism as a critical method employed by both early modern Iberian polemicists and late modern scholars of medieval and early modern Iberia.

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