Re: Pratesi 2016 series, Playing cards in Europe before 1377
Posted: 28 Aug 2016, 10:27
I would imagine that it was in 'forbidden' places that the cultural divide was most likely to be crossed! To think otherwise seems to me to show a somewhat naive understanding of human nature and the tendency to transgression, whatever the professed faith.mikeh wrote: As for sailors, they presumably aren't Mamluk, and would they really trust Christians enough to teach them a forbidden game?
Christians and Jews lived in Muslim territories, larger Urban centers or international trading ports (such as Alexandria) were especially cosmopolitan. There were taverns (Hanat) and pleasure boats where wine and beer was served, people smoked hashish, where one could play games and gamble, and watch dancers, jugglers and acrobats - a great many also served as or were connected to brothels, and served clients of various religions. They were interested in your money, not your faith or nationality.
In Cairo in the 14th century, there was a prison that housed Christian prisoners of war from Syria and Armenia, men, women and children. I say 'housed' rather than 'imprisoned' because they were not locked up per se and had to make their own living. The 'prisoners' made their living making wine and selling pork (!), and it served as a brothel to both men and women. It was very popular with the Mamluks, who also played games and gambled on the premises, until it was shut down after the death of the Sultan (1341), due to complaints of outraged citizens and an Amir who had disputes with the local Franks.*
The were far more Taverns of this type in Alexandria, being a major port City, which were not only frequented by foreigners, but some were owned and ran by them. “In a notarial act drawn up in Alexandria in 1421 not less than five innkeepers are mentioned, one of them an Anconitan, one man from Rhodes, one from Cyprus, one a native Christian, and one a Greek or Cretan.” E. Ashtor, Levantine Trade Many Hanat in Iraq too, were run by Christians and Jews.
*Hizanat al-Bunu, originally a Fatimid arsenal that in Ayyubid times was turned into a prison, belonged to buildings of the Great Eastern Palace and was located between Qasr as-Sawk and Bab al-Id. When al-Malik an-Nasir, son of Qalawun, came back from his exile to assume the royal power in Egypt for the third time (1310) he brought with his a significant number of Christian prisoners from Syria and Armenia. A group of them was settled in the Citadel. The other group was accommodated in Hizanet al-Bunud. “The Armenians filled the building, so much so that the prison became obsolete there. And the Sultan made in Hizanat al-Bunud lodgings for them...they had their children there and pressed the grapes for wines so that during a single year they produced 32,0000 jars of wine which they sold openly. The pig’s meat hung there over the counter was sold without shame. They also established there places where people could gather to do forbidden things, so that sinners came to them...Wives of many me were spoiled there in an atrocious way, as were a lot of their children, and a group of the amirs’ mamluks... the Sultan shut his eyes to it, taking into account his interests and policy that was then required because of the agreement between him and the kings of the Franks.” When amir al Malik al-Gukander, who had a house next to Hizanat al-Bunud, whose Mamluks frequented the place, complained to the Sultan, the Sultan replied: “Oh, Hagg, if you do not like your neighbours, then just move somewhere else.” From an account by Al-Maqrizi, Suluk