Toledo School of Translators

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Translation School of Toledo is a term coined in the early 19th century by Amable Jourdain , which is used with critical reservations in research today, under which various activities of translation from Arabic are summarized, which have been traceable in Toledo since the 12th century , where an "international college of translators" had assembled. It was not a school in the sense of an institution, but a variety of translation activities made possible by the contact between Mozarabs and Jews who knew Arabic with novels or Latin authors, and were partly promoted by episcopal or royal initiative.


After the battle of Vouillé (507) lost against the Franks and the loss of their capital, Toulouse , the Visigoths withdrew to Spain , which they had loosely ruled , and made the Roman city of Toletum their new capital. About two hundred years later, in 711, the Moors conquered the Toledan kingdom . In 1085 Toledo, now Ṭulayṭula (طليطلة), was ruled by the emperor Totius Hispaniae Alfons VI. "Recaptured" . In the Moorish period, Toledo was a city with a very important Christian minority, the so-called Mozarabs , who played an important role in the creation of the later translations.

12th century (early Toledo)

The first phase of the translations, which lasted from about 1130 to 1187, was shaped by Archbishop Raimund of Toledo . Scientific and philosophical writings ( Plato , Aristotle ) of ancient origin, which had been translated from Greek into Arabic under the Abbassid rule in Madīnat as-Salām , but also genuine Arabic writings, for example from the field of astronomy and mathematics, were translated Writings on the knowledge of Islamic religion and theology. In 1142 the abbot of Cluny , Petrus Venerabilis , came to Spain and commissioned a translation of the Koran , which was completed in 1143 by Robert von Ketton , Hermann von Carinthia , Peter of Toledo and the Saracen Mohammed and the secretary of the abbot, Peter von Poitiers, linguistically revised.

13th century (Hochtoledo and Spättoledo)

At the end of the 12th century, Marcus diaconus , canon of the Cathedral School of Toledo, mentioned in a document in 1191 , went to the Translation School of Toledo. There he translated Galen's work on the pulse and the isagogue of Johannitius from Arabic into Latin. In the 13th century, Alfonso X and his court initiated new translation initiatives , whereby the focus was no longer on the translation into Latin, but into Castilian , and the dialect of the Toledan court in particular played a linguistically standardized role. Thematically, astronomy , physics , alchemy and mathematics formed the focus, but games and oriental literature as well as works on knowledge of the Islamic religion were also translated. Under Alfonso X, such activities were not limited to Toledo, but also extended to Seville, depending in part on the residence of the court .

The translation process

There is no evidence of a uniform creation process for the translations created in Toledo. In many cases, however, the incipits and prologue texts of some of these works and the comparison of surviving versions result in a combination of Arabic and Latin literate authors, in which a Jew or Mozarab first created a Romance intermediate level based on the Arabic original, which in some cases only existed orally and in turn formed the basis for the Latin version. Mozarabic and Castilian served as the transmitter languages ​​in this case. Later, in the Alfonsine period, translations were usually carried out from Arabic into Castilian Spanish and the final editing was carried out by an emendador .

Since scripts had to be translated with a large number of scientific topics that were not or little known in the West until then, the translators were faced with the task of finding suitable translations for Arabic words for which no equivalent existed in the target language . They solved this task in many cases by borrowing from Arabic and thus contributed significantly to the fact that to this day a significant part of the scientific and technical vocabulary is conveyed in European languages ​​of Arabic origin or Arabic from other oriental languages.

About the term "Toledo School of Translators"

Regarding the existence of the translation school of Toledo in an institutionalized form, as suggested by the term “school”, the literature does not provide final clarity. However, the prevailing opinion on this question is that the term “Toledo School of Translators” is an invention of 19th century historians. The term “school” or “collège” to designate the activities of the translators of Toledo was first used by the French Amable Jourdain in 1819, who suspected that Archbishop Raimund had founded such an institution on his own initiative in the 12th century. However, this contradicts the fact that the term “translator school” is not explicitly mentioned in contemporary sources. In addition, there are also uncertainties to what extent the term “school” is appropriate for the activities in Toledo in the 12th and 13th centuries. Galfredus de Vino Salvo, who was active as an author in the late 12th century, described Toledo as a center in which the quadrivium was researched and placed Toledo in a row with the universities of Paris, Bologna and Salerno. Nevertheless, the term “school” established itself in the course of the 19th century, as Valentin Rose also concluded in 1874 that the activities in Toledo were a school that focused on the transfer of books and research knowledge from Arabic into Latin was aligned. According to Rose (1874), scholars came to Toledo not only to translate books, but also to hold lectures and hold academic discussions based on the translated works. This description of the events in Toledo therefore corresponds more to the research and teaching activities of a university than to the activities of a school in the strict sense.

In summary, it can be said that the “Translation School of Toledo” thus existed in an institutionalized form, neither as a teaching institution nor as a translation institution with a fixed infrastructure. But even if the institutional framework for the translation activities, which are clearly documented as such, is uncertain in Toledo, there are indications that the translators are teaching and that the archbishops generally tolerate and support these activities. At most one can speak of a certain institutionalization of the translation activity in the epoch under Alfonso X. , since the regent appeared directly as commissioner and proofreader.

Today's "Toledo School of Translators"

The University of New Castile ( University of Castile-La Mancha ) has been running an Escuela de Traductores de Toledo in Toledo since 1994 with the support of the European Cultural Foundation , which ties in with the medieval tradition by offering special courses in translation from Arabic and Hebrew into Spanish.

Important persons in connection with the translation school (alphabetical)

Translated authors and works (selection)

The chess book Alfons des Wise, Spanish Libro de los Juegos or Libro de ajedrez, dados y tablas , is based on Arabic texts, but develops the game of chess further and stands at the beginning of the literary genre of the Schachzabel books .

See also


  • Georg Bossong : Moorish Spain. History and culture (Beck knowledge; 2395). Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-55488-9 , pp. 73-79 (EA Munich 2007).
  • Robert I. Burns: Emperor of culture. Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and his thirteenth-century Renaissance (Middle Ages Series). University Press, Philadelphia 1990, ISBN 0-8122-8116-0 .
  • Anwar G. Chejne: Muslim Spain. Its history and culture . University Press, Minneapolis, Minn. 1974, ISBN 0-8166-0688-9
  • Spanish: Historia de España Musulmana . 4th edition. Éditorial Cátedra, Madrid 1999, ISBN 84-376-0225-4 (EA Madrid 1980, translated by Pilar Vila).
  • Arnold Hottinger : The Moors. Arabic culture in Spain . Fink, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7705-3075-6 (EA Zurich 1995).
  • Matthias Lutz-Bachmann , Alexander Fidora (ed.): Jews, Christians and Muslims. Religious dialogues in the Middle Ages. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2004; ISBN 3-534-17533-6
  • Paulino Iradiel, Salustiano Moreta, Estaban Sarasa: Historia Medieval de la España Cristiana . 4th edition Editorial Cátedra, Madrid 2010, ISBN 978-84-376-2556-0 (EA Madrid 1989).
  • María Rosa Menocal: The ornament of the world. How Muslims, Jews, and Christians created a culture of tolerance in medieval Spain . Little Brown, Boston, Mass. 2002, ISBN 978-0-316-16871-7 .
    • German: The palm in the west. Muslims, Jews and Christians in ancient Andalusia . Kindler Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-463-40430-3 (translated by Henning Thies).
  • Anthony Pym : Twelfth-Century Toledo and Strategies of the Literalist Trojan Horse . In: International Journal of Translation Studies , Vol. 6 (1994), No. 1, pp. 43-46, ISSN  0924-1884
  • Heinrich Schipperges : The schools of Toledo in their importance for occidental science. In: Meeting reports of the Marburg Academy of Sciences 82, 1960, pp. 3-18.
  • Heinrich Schipperges (†): Toledo, translation school of. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 1402-1404.
  • Karl Sudhoff : Toledo! In: Sudhoffs Archiv 23, 1930, pp. 1-6; and on this: Owsei Temkin in Janus 33, 1929, p. 358 f.
  • Spanish: Paulo Vélez León. " Sobre la noción, significado e importancia de la Escuela de Toledo ". Disputation. Philosophical Research Bulletin 6, n.º 7 (2017), pp. 537-579.
  • Annette Đurović, Vlasta Kučiš: Politically initiated translational teamwork - translation services then and now , Informatol. 50, 2017., 3–4, urovic.pdf, pp. 186–191, , accessed on March 12, 2019

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gotthard Strohmaier : Avicenna. Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-41946-1 , pp. 143-145.
  2. ^ Wolfgang Wegner: Marcus of Toledo. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. 2005, p. 891.
  3. Annette Đurović, Vlasta Kučiš: Politically initiated translational teamwork , 2017, p. 190