Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday BookReview: HARRY JAFFA

Professor Jaffa with William Buckley in 1984

The towering Lincoln scholar Harry Jaffa, who died last year at the age of 96, compared the Lincoln/Douglas debates to an earlier philosophical wrangle:

"After awhile," Jaffa says, "I realized that the issue between Lincoln and Douglas was identical to the issue between Socrates and Thrasymachus in the first book of Plato's Republic. Not similar to it. Identical. It is a question of whether the people make the moral order or the moral order makes the people."

Justice, Thrasymachus argued, possesses no independent or objective standing, finding its only definition in the wishes of the powerful. "Justice," Thrasymachus asserts in the Republic, "is the advantage of the stronger." Socrates objects, insisting that reason can indeed apprehend objective standards of justice.

Socrates believed in objective truth -- unlike Karl Marx who thundered against morality as the great enemy of human well-being! Mr. Jaffa was part of that dwindling band of modern professors who fight back against the fog of relativism.

Stephen Douglas believed we should completely trust popular sovereignty: if the citizens of Kansas or Nebraska vote to accept slavery, so be it. Nonsense! says Jaffa: "Lincoln thought slavery was wrong, and he did not think a vote of the people could make it right."

"Washington spoke of 'an indissoluble union of virtue and happiness,' " Jaffa says. "Aristotle couldn't have put it any better. And when Washington said that, he was telling us that 'the pursuit of happiness' in the Declaration of Independence didn’t mean radical individualism. It meant the pursuit of virtue."

From a 'First Things' tribute to Professor Jaffa's classic volume of 1959:
Harry V. Jaffa has few peers as a student of the American Founding and none as the expositor of the Declaration of Independence and the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln. He first established these credentials with the publication of Crisis of the House Divided ... 
Dismissed by the left as irredeemably unenlightened, and criticized by many on the right as suspiciously egalitarian, Jaffa has responded to both by arguing that the case for constitutional government cannot be understood or sustained without affirming the truths set forth in the preamble to the Declaration ... 
The immediate purpose of Crisis was to refute diverse revisionists who asserted that Lincoln led the nation into an unnecessary civil war. Jaffa identified these scholars’ unexamined historicist premises, by virtue of which they either refused to take seriously Lincoln’s arguments concerning the Declaration’s principles or rejected outright the truths it proclaimed. Jaffa countered with an elegant philosophical and historical exegesis of Lincoln’s thought, beginning with the Lyceum Speech of 1838 and culminating in the celebrated debates with Stephen A. Douglas during the Illinois senatorial campaign of 1858. 
A negotiated settlement of the slavery controversy, Jaffa argued, was no longer possible in the 1850s, not because Lincoln’s rhetoric had removed the ground of compromise, but because proslavery advocates had begun to insist on the rightness of slavery, whence it would follow that Congress had not only the right but the duty to protect their interests. Chief Justice Taney’s error in Dred Scott, Jaffa contended, lay not in recognizing that the Constitution had made certain practical compromises with slavery, which it certainly had, but in insisting that blacks possessed no rights that the white man was bound to respect. Once that proposition got itself embedded in constitutional understanding, the principles of the Declaration would become a nullity, marking the end of the American experiment in self-government. Lincoln merely articulated what was already implicit in the logic of the 1850s: the American people would have to affirm or deny the truth that all men are created equal, but they could not affirm that truth and at the same time agree with Douglas that majority will was the summum bonum of the Constitution. 
By refocusing attention on the importance of natural rights in Lincoln’s thought, Jaffa at once corrected the historical record and sought to reestablish the centrality of the Declaration in the American constitutional order. The Declaration, in Jaffa’s view, is neither an abstract philosophical treatise nor a rhetorical set piece designed to mask or elevate baser motives. It is rather a living testament of political faith, one that in articulating the moral ground for government by consent also limited the powers of governments thereby created. It ratified not only the prescriptive rights of English subjects, but the sovereign right of all men everywhere to secure through government their divinely endowed rights. The Declaration was the summary document par excellence of the Founders' political teaching, but was hardly unique in its sentiment; its antecedents and echoes are to be found in numerous contemporaneous American charters, pamphlets, sermons, and legal commentaries. Redolent of biblical understanding as well as natural theology, the Declaration provides the ordering principle by which the American people became "We the People" of the Constitution. 
In Crisis and in a series of books and articles written in the years since its publication, Jaffa has argued that the crisis of late twentieth-century America, although lacking the immediate intensity of the slavery controversy, is morally analogous to it. Common to both is the rejection of natural rights. Douglas’ statement that he didn’t care whether slavery was voted up or down in the territories, but only whether the sense of the majority was free to work its will, is philosophically indistinguishable, says Jaffa, from arguments advanced today on both the right (e.g., by Robert Bork, William Rehnquist, and Antonin Scalia) and the left (e.g., by defenders of abortion). Jaffa rejects the jurisprudence of the so called "living Constitution," but he understands, in ways that Bork, Rehnquist, and Scalia apparently do not, that simple majoritarianism is no cure for the vice of judicial usurpation. 
In this, he stands as one with John Paul II, who has affirmed that the principles of the Declaration, rightly understood, embody the distilled wisdom of both reason and Revelation on the moral rationale for human government. Once positive law is separated from the moral argument of the Declaration, both men have said, one not only invites tyranny but severs the connection to the divine. 

UPDATE: Every year on the Fourth of July, radio host Hugh Hewitt replays his lengthy interview with Professor Jaffa. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Strategic Dilemma for American Foreign Policy: Religious Nations or the Atheist West

[first published March 20, 2014]

by Dr. David Pence

Throughout the world there is an awakening of nations aligning themselves in terms of their religious and cultural heritages into communal bodies.

The Muslims have nations in Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and the "-stans" of central Asia. The Muslim Arabs have a nation in Egypt, but still flounder elsewhere as the impossible dream of a micro-state of Palestine obfuscates a strategy to form the larger Muslim Arabic State needed to function as a serious nation in the Levant.

Later this spring, India will likely elect a Hindu nationalist as its next Prime Minister.
[Ed note: May 2014 Narendra Modi won a landslide victory]  He is going to stand for parliamentary election in a holy city to show this is no longer the secular Left of the Gandhi clan. Mr Modi is also a strong supporter of Israel].
This cultural nationalist revival has already been experienced in Japan (especially under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) as well as China. Religion, nations, ethnic ties and men who will fight for them have not been eliminated by entering some new time-zone called 'modernity' or the twentieth-first century.

Mr Abe, pictured in center, during his visit to India earlier this year
America is not, in her deepest soul, part of any atheist crusade for modernity. We are the continent of territorial religious nations. We are white, brown, black, and yellow; and our soldiers need not defend a European death cult whose men will not fight and whose women will not bear children. In the war of the atheist European superstate against the Christian governments of Nigeria and Uganda, should we support the white atheists in their economic threats against black Christian men who stigmatize rather than sacralize sodomy? We are tied much more deeply to our American brothers through the continent, and the Christians East and South, who fight the nagging hectoring godless Witch of the West. Americans must decide if we are trying to make the nations safe for public worship and private family life, or if we are strengthening international courts to diminish national authorities to elevate individual autonomy for abortion and sodomy. Each strategy would push a different "re-start" button in our relations with Orthodox Russia and Persian Shiite Iran.

Russia, Crimea, and Ukraine

The Russian nation has a Christian soul, baptized by water and confirmed in blood. Both the waters of baptism and the blood of martyrs have sacralized Crimea in the Russian motherland. Crimea is a different communal body than both eastern and western Ukraine. Crimea has returned to Russia. Most American news commentators and senators seem to have no sense of either the historical timelines, nor maps nor religious history, that belie the fable of Crimea and Ukraine as a national community. Liberal scholars who have studied Russian history (e.g., here and here) and conservative journalists (here and here) who respect ethnicity, religion, and nationalism are the voices of reason in this debate as Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and Democratic Lady-in-Waiting Hillary Clinton emote from the shallow end of the strategic foreign policy pool.    

Crimean citizens overwhelmingly and freely voted to rejoin Russia and assume the older citizenship their grandparents knew. A Russian Christian military won the peninsula 250 years ago from the Crimean Khanate (Turkish-speaking Islamic Tatars who were military superiors to both Moscow and Kiev for several centuries). Sevastopol is a city rich in Russian history and drenched in the blood of Russian soldiers. It is a key port for their naval fleet and legally could house 25,000 Russian troops -- which is why the Russians said they never "invaded Crimea."

The Ukraine has much deeper fraternal ties to Russia than Poland or Hungary -- but unlike Crimea, it is known as a distinct nation. A common Slavic Orthodox Christianity, which was baptized in Kiev, ties the Ukraine and Russia together as fraternal nations.

Kiev's Monastery of the Caves, founded in the 11th century

Ukraine cannot become what it is meant to be unless both America and Russia play their roles in allowing this nation to live. It will be just as crucial that serious Christian thinkers in America develop a more mature and comprehensive narrative of the Church amidst the nations in contemporary international relations.

The religious split of the Latin Catholics and Kievan Orthodox (major religions of Western Ukraine) from the Moscow patriarchate Orthodox (religion of the East) could fracture the Ukraine. This would be a tragic failure for the nation whose destiny as a state is to bridge the rupture of Christian believers. That Great Schism led to the loss of Christian Mideast lands to Islam in the first millennium, and Christian Eurasia to the militarized atheist states at the end of the second. Re-joining the two lungs of Christianity animated the world historical visions of Pope John XXIII, John Paul II, and the Second Vatican Council. Ukraine is a pivotal natural meeting place for that union, but it could just as easily split East and West if a larger religious vision is not brought to bear on the crisis.

The Emergence of Russia

The Soviet Union and the USA split peoples all over the globe in the blood-drenched Cold War. That may have been necessary then; it is madness today. The Russian nation is not the new Soviet Union -- they are the Christian nation emerging from the atheist Gulag. Orthodox Russia is not the heir of the Soviets -- she was its bloodiest victim. She doesn't look pretty emerging from the rubble, but can't we rejoice that she still lives?

The Russians are our Christian brothers. What irony that the materialist atheism of "the West" now aligns the European Union and NATO against the Christian nations of Africa and the Eastern Orthodox nations of Eurasia. America's men must reclaim our national foreign policy from the "drone and bomb" sexual Left and the bellicose neo-con Right. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union we have lacked a strategic foreign policy driven by a deep understanding of geography, history, and a Biblical sense of the role our Christian country plays amidst all the earth's nations (the grandsons of Noah in our tradition).

It was the case, once, that to study the Soviet Union, we had to know Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Now we must know the Orthodox patriarchates, the Catholic Eastern Rite, Turko-Islamic traditions, and Eurasian relations of Russia, Japan, and China. The Russian patriarch Kirill has written: "What we are referring to is the Russian world, the great Russian civilization that came from the Kievan baptismal font and spread across the huge expanse of Eurasia."

The Russian president and the Orthodox patriarch see the Russian nation as having a religious destiny of securing states through Eurasia that respect Christians' ability to worship freely and live securely. They know they must also ensure the liberty of Islamic worship and the life of ethnic groups like the Tatars. (In President Putin’s address on the integration of Crimea he made sure to say that the languages of Crimea would include that of the Tatars, for they too were returning to their ancestral home.) Putin is acting as the leader of an armed Christian nation, but he understands he must govern in a region of many languages and religions. He is not of the West, for his largest emptiest land mass has borders with China and Japan -- and he needs a more capacious bridging identity to relate to them. He respects communal identities including his own; that is why he seems so foreign and frightening to television newscasters of the individualistic libertarian Right and the obsessed sexual Left.

The Orthodox have not reduced the political commentary of the Church to "War Never Again!" or "Stop Capital Punishment" or "Put away the Sword of the State." They see homosexuals and feminists as the deformed personalities of the comfortable atheists who speak of the "West" and the "twenty-first century," as if these abstractions can replace the bonds of history and place which link men to God and their fathers through the ages.The Orthodox have a realistic view of the necessity of the state's sword for the life of the church and nation. At times this has corrupted some of their churchmen. At other times it has lent sacral blessing to the sacrifice of patriots defending their homeland. Should not such heroic sacrifice be blessed? Christians had to be armed as a State to face Mongol horse warriors from the East, Islamic jihadists from the South, and German Nazis from the West. Mother Russia armed them. American Christians should not be too quick to dismiss the Orthodox tradition as "being chaplain for the Czars" given our own Catholic hierarchy’s current penchant for pacifism, and blindness toward the necessity of punishment to guarantee justice in exercising either civic or ecclesial authority. Maybe a subset of our theologians have been too obsessed with the sexual practices of intimacy while ignoring our deficient Christian public anthropology of the male fraternal relations needed to protect and baptize the nations.

Christian Realism as Foreign Policy                               

The abysmal ignorance of national senators and journalists (forget the man on the street) regarding the Crimean affair should  motivate Christian thinkers to fish deeper to grasp the fractured human and religious bonds behind the rumors of war.
American men -- especially our senators, soldiers, journalists, and scholars -- must be intellectually disciplined enough to bring as much historical knowledge and research to this unfolding of events as we do to bracket analysis for the NCAA basketball tourney.
The Christian nation strategy must first integrate our immigrants as fellow citizen-protectors and producers. It would model Catholic and Evangelical national statesmen for South America where the Marxist card has frayed, but the Christian leader card has not been played. It would seek fraternal relations among the Asian nations, and not play their border feuds off one another.
We need less venom about 'weak' Obama and 'bully' Putin. Maybe we could take time to read our forgotten hero Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the godless cowardly West as well as the Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Russian nation.

Thank God that President Obama has not led us into the wrong war. Let us arm our next national candidates with a pointer and a series of maps and timelines. Let us have one of the television debates as a short lecture format, with each candidate explaining the world and our particular role in it. A realistic foreign policy will be clear-eyed in assessing the present alignment of forces, and utterly Christian in proposing that nations can live together fraternally under God. We are condemned to fratricide without Him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mr. Trump is far from vanquished

by David Pence

In cataloging the sins of Donald Trump, the most grievous of his sins is adultery. He has publicly bragged about his relations with married women long before he ran for president. The moral guardians of the media insist on hyperventilating about all touching initiatives as "sexual assault," while passing on the moral turpitude of adultery since it is between consenting adults. Mr. Trump should recognize the gravity of his sins in terms of basic loyalties. He should repent and reform. But until the media is given the powers of absolution, he is under no obligation to confess to them.

If he were ever shot by an aggrieved husband, an honorable man would vote to acquit the assailant since Trump committed a capital crime against the man and the social order. At the same time, an honorable American man is pressed to vote for Trump as president because he is the one public figure among Democrats and Republicans who will stop treating Russia as America's enemy and build an alliance with them. Christian Russia is our most logical ally  against the demonic jihadists who are killing both Shia Muslims and Christians. Some Russian experts say we are as close to war with Russia as we were during the Cuban missile crisis. This incredible turn of affairs with a country who should be our ally could only happen to a country fleeing from God.

To realign a Christian-led alliance of many nations including India, Iran, and Israel against the real centers of jihad in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is the most important public issue in the federal election. Reconstituting a Supreme Court respectful of the laws of nature and the limits of the Constitution is the second. Mr. Trump is the only candidate who will accomplish both of these goals. Like King David, he is burdened by his crimes of adultery. He should repent so he can better lead our country. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

CATHOLIC SOCIOBIOLOGY: Getting the universe right

[first published April 12, 2016]

All of physical reality is in some way a sacramental expression of deeper spiritual truths. There is so much violence and dissipation in the Universe that, often, scientists (especially physicists) take a dim view of the Creator's Benevolence or any notion that mankind's eventual outcome is anything but another extinction event.

Dr. Pence had teaching licenses in Earth and Space Science, as well as Life Science. He thought the depressed physicist was seeing something very real in the violence of the Universe. At the same time, many Catholic apologists downplay the radical divergence in the fate of most of the physical Universe and the election of the biosphere and earth for mankind. Here is  Dr. Pence’s essay: We must get the Universe right.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Map on Monday: YEMEN

This post originally appeared on Anthropology of Accord on January 26, 2015. Click here to read our Map on Monday: YEMEN post.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, October 15

by Dr. David Pence


NEW CARDINALS APPOINTED BY POPE FRANCIS: Cardinal means hinge. The new cardinals. John Allen at Crux calls the American part of this group the "McCarrick Caucus." McCarrick is the former cardinal of Washington DC; personal ally of Teddy Kennedy; and a well-known homosexual predator. He is not a pedophile and probably thinks they are disgusting. His prey has always been older adolescents and young males in the age groups of college seminaries. To call him the centrist wing of the church tells us a good deal about John Allen and the corruption of the cardinals selection process in America under Pope Francis and his American advisers Cardinal O’Malley of Boston and Wuerl of Washington. If what Allen says is true, then the homosexual (not moderate) wing of the American episcopacy has the pope’s ear - they don’t have his back. Pope Francis is not in any way part of the homosexual lobby in the priesthood, but like both his predecessors he has put his trust in men with nefarious designs. American bishops need to face the bishops and priests within their ranks whom they have never been willing to face. The beginning might be for some group to start with Theodore (Uncle Teddy) McCarrick and ask that he stop performing the Mass publicly and be committed to an ecclesial institution where he is under guard and forced to do penance and restitution. The reform of the Catholic Church will entail much more direct accusations and remedies aimed at the homosexual cartels so entwined in the Catholic priesthood and episcopacy. This is the other half of the Catholics-Democratic Party story associated with the leaked emails to John Podesta (chairman of Hillary Clinton campaign).

The teaching of the Catholic Church is committed to patriarchy, fraternity, and heterosexual marriage but the priesthood and major orders of sisters are deeply infiltrated by homosexuals and feminists who have sabotaged that teaching for forty years. Tim Kaine and Nancy Pelosi are creatures of this hypocritical culture. Thousands of victims of sexual abuse (80 percent adolescent males) still scream for justice and reform.


IN DEARBORN, THE ANTI-ISIS RALLY OF MUSLIMS IS ON HOLY DAY OF ASHURA: On this day of the year, Sunni Muslims commemorate the freeing of the Jews from Egypt. It is a much more significant feast for the Shia - the followers of Ali. They remember the slaying of Husain - the third Shia Imam (they don’t use the term caliph). This is a significant Holy Day for the Shia in terms of organizing opposition to the murderous Salafist and Wahhabi ideology which treats them as non-Muslims worthy of death. Here we see an openly anti-ISIS and anti-Saudi rally by American Muslims. Are we listening? In Dearborn, Michigan the feast has taken on this modern understanding of the continued persecution of Shia Muslims by Wahhabists.

ALEPPO - MUCH OF MEDIA MISSES THAT IT IS AL NUSRA THAT RUSSIANS AND SYRIANS ARE TRYING TO REMOVE: Al Nusra is an Al Qaeda-type Salafist group that all agree is an enemy to the US as well as to Assad and the Syrian government. That is the group the Russians and Syrians are trying to dislodge from Aleppo. They are hiding in a city - it is hard to kill them in that cover. The linked article reports the UN asking al Nusra to stop holding the city hostage. Taking back Aleppo is a huge setback for the Syrian rebels but displacing an entrenched force from a city comes at a great human cost. It is not a war crime; it is war. We will see the same problem when we take back the major cities of ISIS. Cities still held by ISIS.

SAUDIS ESCALATE IN YEMEN - MAY CAUSE NEW ENEMIES: The wedding bombing which may draw northern tribes into the fight. The New York Times turns their eyes to Yemen - US moral duty to stop the Saudis.


TRUMP VS. CLINTON - THE ELDERS OF THE BABY BOOMERS - TWO FACES OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: Heather McDonald at City Journal on the "Trumped up outrage" of the sexual revolutionaries. Summing up Trump - Seven articles making his case. And, finally, our response to the bizarre TV drama of CNN’s Anderson Cooper becoming America’s expert on good touch/ bad touch. Only in TV studios could Gloria Vanderbilt’s pampered boy pose as the defender of American womanhood against the big heterosexual bully daring to run for president. We examine the two faces of the sexual revolution:  The Playboy and The Feminist: Lessons from the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

TRUMP SAYS RUSSIA, IRAN, AND SYRIA ARE ALL FIGHTING ISIS - THE FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE PITS TRUMP VS. HILLARY DEMOCRATS AND BUSH REPUBLICANS: One reason it is hard for Trump to really explain his foreign policy views is that it will pit him first and foremost against Republican hawks. This was the striking reality of the VP debate in which Mike Pence vigorously argued the Republican line on Russia that Mr. Trump has opposed throughout the primaries. Donald Trump represents the first significant challenge to the bipartisan disaster of our post-Cold War foreign policy. The parties will not sort this out during an election. All the more reason we need good journalism to clarify the strange alignments emerging. After the election, a serous antiwar movement in the Democratic party will emerge to debate these issues. That will happen no matter who wins.
 Who should be our allies? Who are our real enemies? This is what the Senate should be debating, and the presidential election should be addressing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday BookReview: "Aristotle's Children"

[first published November 11, 2011]

"St. Thomas called art 'reason in making.' This is a very cold and very beautiful definition, and if it is unpopular today, this is because reason has lost ground among us. As grace and nature have been separated, so imagination and reason have been separated, and this always means an end to art. The artist uses his reason to discover an answering reason in everything he sees. For him, to be reasonable is to find, in the object, in the situation, in the sequence, the spirit which makes it itself. This is not an easy or simple thing to do. It is to intrude upon the timeless, and that is only done by the violence of a single-minded respect for the truth."
                                                          (Flannery O'Connor)

For the tale of the great Sundering, grab a copy of Richard Rubenstein's 2003 book, Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages.

Aristotle's writings had been lost to the West for almost a thousand years. How did medieval universities and the leading churchmen react to their re-discovery in the 12th century? To Rubenstein's surprise, it turns out they "tried to modernize the Church by reconciling faith and reason" -- refusing to settle, as we moderns have, for a "split between the cultures of the heart and the head."

There will always be tension between reason and faith, but history shows us it can be a creative tension. Today's world of 'value-free' science and 'reason-free' religion is a house dangerously divided.

It is high time to restore the Aristotelian consensus. Faith and reason were not implacable enemies in the medieval era, and they need not be in our day.

There is no justification for the modern world settling for "a coldly objectivist science and a passionately subjectivist religion."

Professor Rubenstein writes of the malign influence of William of Ockham with his philosophy of Nominalism. It's a shame that someone such as Peter Kreeft hasn't written a book on the English Franciscan who died in the mid-14th century during the Black Death -- and of the deep influence he had on the thought of the Reformation. (Luther was trained at the University of Erfurt in nominalist theology.)

Who does Rubenstein say were the two leading Aristotle-haters of the early modern period? Martin Luther ("no one can become a theologian unless he becomes one without Aristotle") and Thomas Hobbes (contra Aristotle's notion that politics is a branch of ethics, he asserted that the law of the state is the law). Rubenstein calls Hobbes "the most brilliant spokesman of the new ruling class," those elites who wanted to be free of all restraints on their power -- thus they wanted no truck with the ideas of Aristotle or Aquinas about reason and morality. Hobbes carried the new day with his glorification of will and power.


"Medieval students did not have to agree with him on every point -- in fact, on some points, Christians were expected to disagree -- but for four centuries, one could not begin a discussion of metaphysics, natural science, logic, theology, ethics, aesthetics, or politics without referring to Aristotle's views and dealing respectfully with them."

Catholic publisher Mark Brumley has written:
"The irony is profound. The Reformation sought to recover 'genuine Christianity' by hacking through what it regarded as the vast overgrowth of medieval theology. Yet to do so, the Reformers wielded swords forged in the fires of the worst of medieval theology – the decadent scholasticism of Nominalism."

UPDATE -- From another review of Professor Rubenstein's book:

"For, unlike those 17th-century Inquisitors who forced Galileo to recant, 12th-century Archbishop Raymund I of Toledo was one of the unrecognized heroes of Western culture, who 'did more than any man to make the treasures of Greek philosophy and science available to the Latin world... and opened the door to advanced Arab and Jewish ideas,' Rubenstein writes. Establishing a translation center in Toledo, he recruited 'the best scholars available... whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Latin, Greek, or Slav.' "

Toledo is less than 50 miles from Madrid. It was the first great city of Al-Andalus (Islamic Iberia) to be conquered by a Christian kingdom:
"When Castilian king Alfonso IV conquered the city in 1085, he found out that there were plenty of original works in the libraries of Toledo, including the remaining works from the library of the caliph of Cordoba, which had managed to gather up to 400,000 volumes."