In 1142, a powerful Benedictine abbot traveled to Spain. Known as Peter the Venerable for his wisdom, he ruled a federation of 600 monasteries from his base at the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy. The journey across the Pyrenees was long, and his agenda was packed with kings, bishops, abbots and complex negotiations.
Abbot Peter’s visit to Toledo, which had been reconquered a few decades earlier after almost four centuries of Muslim rule, led him to a surprising decision. He summoned Christian scholars of Arabic and set them to work translating Islamic texts into Latin.