Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



The 19th Arabic Papyrology Webclass: A Society in Transition: Property and Law in Arabic Documents from Toledo (11th-14th Centuries) (Winter Term 2021/22)

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  • The collection of legal documents of the Cathedral of Toledo, Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid, a collection of 1175 documents (1083-1391) offers a detailed portrait of the city of Toledo. It witnesses the fact that Muslim, Christians and Jews of Toledo preserved their Arabic legal culture for about 250 years after the conquest of Toledo in 1085. Arabic language, laws and legal culture continued under the Castilian administration, when the population of Toledo had become subject to Christian Law (Sunnat an-Naṣārà), or Fuero.
  • It is the largest collection of Arabic documents preserved in Spain and displays the continuation of Islamic legal culture and the transformation of socio-economic structures as shown by documents of transactions, donations, testaments, credits, marriage contracts, and so on. As a mirror of the transformation of society, the collection pictures the economic role played by the Church officials, the accumulation of wealth by certain families and the Cathedral, the transfer of property among religious communities as well as the process of conversion and assimilation. Furthermore, it portraits the leadership of women in social and economic life, together with the gradual linguistic "turn" that culminated in the 14th century, when Romance, the language of Castilians, replaced Arabic and Latin.
  • The Toledo documents are unique insofar as they are the only known collection of Arabic legal documents reproducing the Islamic legal system, written by non-Muslims living under Christian rule. The origin of this archive will be as well explored.
  • The course will combine traditional methods of scholarship, such as reading and deciphering the documents, situating them in their historical context, and quantitative network analysis (partially done) to reveal previously unexamined patterns of political, socio-economic and legal structures in the paradigmatic city of Toledo. A whole view of the collection will be achieved by focusing in the most representative documents of each kind. An introduction to the use of the Arabic Papyrology Database ( will be provided for the use in class.


  • This is an on-line webclass. Scans of documents will be made accessible in advance.
  • Communication will be in English.


  • Dr. Rocio Daga Portillo, Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin Arabic and Islamic Studies, Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, LMU Munich
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Kaplony, Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, LMU Munich

Time (Changed!)

  • This reading class will take place Monday, 6:00 - 8:00 PM (Central European Time); time might be changed, if all participants agree.
  • Participants are strongly advised to also take part in an additional more analytical class 4:00-6:00 PM (Central European Time).
  • 18 October 2021- 7 February 2022, no teaching 1 November, 27 December, 3 January


  • A certificate of participation will be given if students have attended at least twelve meetings and if they have met the expectations as defined at the beginning of the semester.
  • The Arabic Papyrology Webclass forms part of the Webinar Initiative in Islamic Material Culture (


  • MA and PhD students in Arabic and in Near Eastern Studies; scholars interested in Arabic documents; persons in charge of Arabic manuscript and document collections, etc.


  • 250 Euro or an equivalent amount of working time. Fees are expected to be paid before the semester starts.
  • No fees for students of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at LMU Munich, Universität Bonn, Universität Hamburg, and New York University.

Technical issues

  • Students need a computer for downloading, Internet access, and a headset.
  • Technical problems arising during the semester that prevent students from attending the class are the students’ own responsibility; therefore, missed classes will not be substituted. However, if a technical event prevents all students from participating, the class will be substituted.
  • New participants will have a personal preparatory meeting to set up technical requirements.

Further information and registration

  • Please send an informal message to rociodaga at, with name, academic affiliation, current position and interest.
  • Register until 30 September 2021. The webclass usually fills up quickly.

For reading

  • Beale-Rivaya, Y.; Busic, J. (ed.). 2018. A Companion to Medieval Toledo. Leiden: Brill
  • König, D.G. 2019. Latin and Arabic: Entangled Histories. Heidelberg: Heidelberg University
  • Olstein, D.A. 2006. La era Mozarabe. Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca
  • Pennington, K. 2006. "The Birth of the Ius commune: King Roger II’s Legislation", Rivista internazionale del diritto comune 17, 1-40
  • Paul, J. 2018. "Archival Practices in the Muslim World Prior to 1500", in: A. Bausi, C. Brockmann, M. Friedrich, S. Kienitz (ed.), Manuscripts and Archives: Comparative Views on Record-Keeping, Berlin (Studies in Manuscript Cultures 11), 339-360
  • Vandorpe, K. 2011. "Archives and Dossiers", in: S. Bagnall (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Former webclasses

  • 1: Letters from Quṣayr, by Andreas Kaplony (Fall Term 2007)
  • 2: Early Letters [from the Yale Collection], by Andreas Kaplony (Spring Term 2008)
  • 3: Arabic Contracts of Renting and Buying Real Estate, by Andreas Kaplony(Fall Term 2008)
  • 4: Bilingual Greek and Arabic Documents, by Andreas Kaplony and Raffaele Luiselli, Florence (Spring Term 2009)
  • 5: Petitions to and Letters from Mamluk Officials, by Andreas Kaplony (Fall Term 2009)
  • 6: Authentification Procedures on Arabic Coins, Seals and Letters from Mamluk Officials, by Andreas Kaplony and Lutz Ilisch, Tübingen (Spring Term 2010)
  • 7: Documentary Evidence on Childhood, by Andreas Kaplony (Fall Term 2010)
  • 8: Lists, Registers, Accounts, by Andreas Kaplony (Summer Term 2011)
  • 9: Documents from al-Andalus, by Andreas Kaplony (Winter Term 2011/12)
  • 10: Documents from Edfu, by Andreas Kaplony (Winter Term 2012/13)
  • 11: Documents from the Berlin Collection, by Andreas Kaplony (Winter Term 2013/14)
  • 12: Documents on Rural Egypt, by Andreas Kaplony (Summer Term)
  • 13: Petitions on Paper, by Andreas Kaplony (Winter Term 2014/15)
  • 14: Documents on Marriage and Divorce, by Andreas Kaplony (Winter Term/16)
  • 15: Papyrus Letters from Umayyad and Abbasid Egypt, by Andreas Kaplony (Summer Term 2017)
  • 16: Arabic Documents Referring to Jerusalem, by Andreas Kaplony (Summer Term 2018)
  • 17: Merchants, Mules, and Misunderstandings: Commercial Letters on Papyrus and Paper, by Ursula Bsees (Summer Term 2020)
  • 18: Formal Types and Paleographical Features of Arabic Documents, by Eugenio Garosi (Summer Term 2021)