is the first Stage
In his description
of Fes, Leo highlights the city's cultural and intellectual heritage.
In some ways, his attachment to the city's education and governemnt facilities
is puzzling, given the city's slow demise, since its powerful heights
in the XIVth century. Perhaps this nostaliga is testimony of his affection
for a community he not only grew up in, but that welcomed his family amongst
the many refugees fleeing Christian Granada.
As a Fassi student, Leo probably spent his days between the medersa- where
he lived and studied-, the Quaraouiyine university-where he listened to
world famous 'oulamas'-and the Sidi
Frej Maristane-where he worked. Here are a few locations Leo could
have led you to, on his tour of the medina
Most of Fes' medersas were built during
the Merinide dynasty. These were educational institutions teaching
the religious and legal principles embraced by the Merinide sultans,
thus forming employees for the Fassi state.
In Leo's days, the Merinides had recently
been replaced by the Wattasides, a dynasty whose intellectual legacy
was quite poor. By then, the medersas has lost some of their political
clout and prestige, though they continued to form government officials.
As a student in one of the Fes medersas,
Leo would have studied both religious and 'profane' sciences: theology
and mathematics. He may have lived in one of the building's tiny
student rooms. Students traveled from everywhere in the Maghreb
and beyond to find a place in one of these medersas, hoping to study
their way into the Quaraouiyine University: only the most gifted
were given free room and board in one of the medersas.
Attarine Medersa in the Fes medina
World renown, this university is probably the oldest in the Arab world.
Attached to the Mosque by the same name, it drew scholars from around
to world (Muslim and non Muslim) and is still synonymous with knowledge
Maristane Sidi Frej
A "Maristane" is a hospital for mental
patients. This Fassi institution claims to be one of the oldest in the
world, and was still in operation until the mid 1940s. Leo worked here,
as a secretary, for two years.
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