The database is part of the research project RELMIN: The legal status of religious minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean world (5th -15th centuries), funded for five years (2010-2015) by the European Research Council and directed by John Tolan, Professor of history at the University of Nantes. The research team consists of doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers and associated scholars throughout the world. In addition to creating the database, the team organizes seminars and conferences in Nantes and elsewhere in Europe and the Mediterranean.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig XIV 6 (c. 1300), folio 242v (detail): baptism of a Muslim, illumination from the Vidal Mayor

RELMIN collects, studies and publishes legal texts defining the status of religious minorities in medieval Europe. The corpus of texts is rich and varied, spanning ten centuries over a broad geographical area; these texts, in Latin, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic (and also in Medieval Spanish, Portuguese, and other European vernaculars), are dispersed in libraries and archives across Europe. The texts are now gathered in the RELMIN Database in their original language, with translations and commentaries. They are made available to scholars, students and citizens at large. Access is unlimited, free and perennial. and to contribute to the work of compilation.

It is an important tool for the study of the history of interfaith relations and in particular for the study of legal strictures (and protections and privileges) conferred on religious groups. While it is impossible to compile an exhaustive anthology of texts, we present a broad and representative sample of texts. and to contribute to the work of compilation.

For example, the Roman law code of emperor Theodosius II, promulgated in 438, accorded to Jews measures of protection but also restricted their access to certain functions of the Roman administration. These principles echo through the canon law and imperial and royal legislation of Medieval Europe, providing the bases for an inferior and often precarious place in Christian society for Jews. Later canon lawyers and lay princes extended the same inferior but protected status to Muslims living in their realms, particularly in Sicily and Spain. In Muslim societies, Qur’an and Hadith define the status of the dhimmi, protected minorities (principally Jews and Christians). Hundreds of legal texts from Muslim Spain, Sicily and elsewhere testify to the role of religious minorities and to the legal issues posed by their daily relations with the Muslim majorities: Fatwas (judicial consultations) and hisbas manuals (municipal law collections) deal with everything from the reliability of Jewish and Christian witnesses in court trials to dress restrictions. While Jews were everywhere the minority, their relations with the adherents of other religions were also based on sacred texts (the Torah) and on the legal opinions of the Talmud. Various Jewish authors of Medieval Europe, from Cordoba to Krakow, in texts such as biblical commentaries, letters, or responsa, offered legal advice to fellow Jews on the proper and legal limits to relations with Christians and Muslims.

Suggestions, corrections, contributions we invite scholars who use the database to provide feedback and to contribute to the work of compilation.

We also invite you to suggest texts to be included in the database. If you are willing to contribute to the database by writing one or more entries, please let us know.

All correspondence may be sent to :

Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes

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