Roses, the Crusades, and Mongol Expansion
Statement of intent: This project looks at material references of roses in troubadour lyric to explore potential channels for the medieval introduction of roses.
The Crusades would have provided opportunities for exposure to rose culture well beyond Constantinople as well. As in the Levant, Andalusia and the Middle East salvaged and further developed Roman technology. In Scent in the Islamic Garden, Ali Akbar Husain traces the development of fragrance alongside medicinal texts, including a rigorous engagement with Galen and the materia medica that informed Byzantine understanding. Roses are thought to originate in the Middle East, perhaps in Persia, where one could find major centers of rosewater production. In the 12th century, as far away as Iberia, Ar-Rusāfī of Valencia sang of the rosewater of Jūr, a Persian city. A further factor would have added substantial pressure to crusader encounters with garden culture in the Holy Land: Mongol expansion. Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258 and much of the Persia and the Middle East including Jūr soon followed. One can imagine the pressure of Mongol expansion on centers of production and knowledge in the region. Crusaders had many encounters with Mongols in their time in the Near East that would have served as further opportunities for exposure to texts and objects related to medicine and gardening from the Islamic world. Additionally, this would follow a prolonged period of exposure through regional conquests.
This project looks at material references of roses in troubadour lyric to explore potential channels for the medieval introduction of roses.