IV. The spread of Islamic culture into Europe.
The Islamicisation of intellectual culture in Spain as early as the ninth century was described by Alvaro, a contemporary Cordovian bishop: “the Christians love to read the poems and romances of the Arabs: theologians and philosophers. Alas! All talented young Christians read and study with enthusiasm the Arab books; they gather immense libraries at great expense; they despise the Christian literature as unworthy of attention. They have forgotten their language. For everyone who can write a letter in Latin to a friend, there are a thousand who can express themselves in Arabic with elegance, and write better poems in this language than the Arabs themselves”. (R.W. Southern, p.21).
There have been many discussions of the relationship of Arabic and European elements in the sphere of poetry (Sir Hamilton Gibb,The Legacy of Islam) , notably in respect of Provençal poetry and the troubadours (from the Arabic word mutrebeen). The popular poetry formed the connecting link between Spain and Provence, since singers moved between Muslim and Christian territories.
This refinement of life gradually spread northwards from Spain and Sicily. The experiences of the Crusaders in Islamic lands doubtless contributed something to the spread of Arab culture in Western Europe.