Praise for “Swearing by God”

2015 Best First Article Prize in Iberian History, Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
“The committee […] is pleased to announce that this year’s award goes to Belen Vicens for her article, “Swearing by God: Muslim Oath-Taking in Late Medieval and Early Modern Christian Iberia,” which was published in Medieval Encounters in 2014. In her article, Vicens ranges deeply and widely through several centuries of documents in several languages to trace the evolution of oaths offered by Muslims to Christians. She does an admirable job of interpreting, while not leaping to unwarranted conclusions, the meanings behind the changes in wording of these oaths, suggesting that the inclusion and absence of certain elements in them can indicate the state of the relationships among Christians, Muslims, and Jews at that time. Vicens treats aspects of religion, law, rhetoric, and social relations, mostly in eastern Spain and Catalonia. The article is well documented and researched, gracefully and carefully written, and demonstrates both great scholarship and commendable ambition in its effort to suggest larger themes. We congratulate Vicens and look forward to reading more from this promising young scholar.”

Ruth MacKay, Stanford University
Lisa Surwillo, Stanford University
Adam Beaver, Princeton University

2015 Philip Gleason Prize, Notre Dame History Department
Selection committee’s comments: “[“Swearing by God: Muslim oath-taking in late medieval and early modern Christian Iberia”] is a meticulously researched and lucid exposition of a single, clearly defined and focused subject of research: the appearance of Muslim Arabic judicial oaths, transliterated into Spanish, in Medieval and Early Modern primary sources from Spain. The article demonstrates an excellent command of primary historical sources in difficult languages, both Latin and Medieval Castilian, as well as judicious and meticulous use of the secondary material in English, Spanish, and French in order to elucidate the historical context and background of the issues it raises, including legal ones. Moreover, the article shows impressive analytical abilities, apparent both in its application of the more technical skills of the historian’s craft (e.g. noticing and correcting an important copyist’s error, p. 136), its sensitive noting of historical progression over time (e.g. the addition of the qibla and Ramāḍān to the oaths), and the author’s ability to draw broader historical conclusions and explain the significance of its analysis. In short, this article reads in every way like the work of a mature and fully-formed historian.”


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