Europe and the Mediterranean

 

Tunis

RAMON LLULL IN TUNIS

In the mid 1293 Ramon Llull decides to make his first missionary journey to African soil. He sails from Genoa to Tunis, city then ruled by the emir Abu-Hafs Umar I; he embarks on a galley, hiding from his friends, for fear that they make him stay in the port as he was ill. He accounts in Vita coetanea, that as soon he arrived in Tunisia, he contacted the most prestigious Muslim scholars and he told them that if they were able to convince him, he will convert to Islam. What really happened was quite different: he was beaten, imprisoned and sentenced to death by beheading which the emir finally commuted to expulsion from the kingdom. On the ship back, heading to Naples, he writes indefatigable the Taula general a new version of Art.

Finally, in 1315, over eighty years old, he begins his third mission to North Africa as one of the “christiani bene literati el lingua arabiga habituate” and sets sail back to Tunis. There he wrote his last books, in December 1315, that he dedicated to the then emir of Tunisia Abu Yahiya. This was the last trip of his life, because, according to the theories that defend his martyrdom, he died on the ship that returned him to Mallorca, because of the wounds suffered by a stoning in the African city.

 

TUNIS, THEN AND NOW

Tunis is the capital of the North African country Tunisia. Located on the Mediterranean coast, it has the important port of La Goulette, actually a lake connected to the sea by a canal. It was originally a fortress that protected Carthage, whose ruins are still preserved north of the city. It passed into the hands of the Romans in 144BC. It was later conquered, successively, by Vandals, Byzantines and Muslims (695). In 1236 it became the capital of the Muslim kingdom Hafsid, that established extensive trade and diplomatic relations with Europe and especially the Catalan-Aragonese Crown. In 1270 Tunis is taken by the King of France Louis IX the Saint, in the Eight Crusade; but his troops contract dysentery (of which he dies) and they must leave the city.

The ancient part of Tunis (the Medina) has more than 700 monuments and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Among the most notable medieval buildings stands out the Ez-Zitouna Mosque (8th and 9th centuries) that even today is one of the most important religious studies center in the Magreb. Of the Hafsid era survived: the bazaars, the Kasbah and the Ksar Mosque.

 

Ramon Llull quotations

 
«No treasure is greater than the truth»
 

Messages about Ramon Llull

 
Ramon Llull has been considered by some an alchemist, a medieval science that he never practiced.
 

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