Spain (1232 - 1315) Timeline
Christian : Catholic
Secular or Eclectic : Troubadour
Poems by Ramon Llull
Books - Links
Ramon Llull was born in Palma, the capital of the island kingdom of Majorca (now part of Spain). He was raised in a wealthy family and received an excellent education, learning to speak Catalan, Latin, Occitan, and Arabic.
While still a young man, Llull became an important administrator to King James II of Majorca. He married and had two children, though he was often traveling and he developed a reputation as a womanizer.
At some point he had a profound experience of spiritual conversion. In his dictated autobiography, he says he was composing a poem to seduce a young woman, when he turned to his right and had a vision of Christ on the cross, a vision that was repeated five times.
In the aftermath of his conversion experience, Llull became a Franciscan tertiary -- that is, dedicating himself to the Franciscan way of life but without taking monastic vows.
Ramon Llull began to dedicate himself to intellectual and spiritual pursuits. He wrote on alchemy and natural history. He practiced astrology. He wrote what is considered by some to be the first true novel in a European language, Blanquema. And he wrote his mystical meditations on the nature of divine love called The Book of the Lover and the Beloved -- inspired or at least influenced by Sufi mysticism, with which he would have been familiar, and laying the groundwork for later mystical meditations on European "courtly love." The breadth of his esoteric writings earned him the epithet "Doctor Illuminatus."
Llull, however, shared the European prejudices of the time, and he focused a great deal of his philosophical writings on strengthening Christian debate in order to convert Muslims and Jews to Christianity. He developed an elaborate rationalist form of mysticism in order to bring European Christian thought to a more equal footing with the highly developed Muslim and Jewish philosophies of the era. To this end, he even invented logical "machines," logical pneumonic devices of concentric wheels that could link philosophical and scientific ideas together in surprising and compelling ways. Filled with his missionary zeal, Llull spent his later years traveling through Europe and North Africa.
Although our modern world teaches us that we need to recognize and respect the rich diversity of religious and spiritual traditions, rather than such attempts at conversion and conformity, we should not overlook the depth of insight and stunning range of life experience exhibited by a figure like Ramon Llull.
Poems by Ramon Llull
Book of the Lover and Beloved
The complete text of Llull's great poem 'The Book of the Lover and Beloved' in both the original Catalan and translated into English by Jordi Miralda EscudŽ.
Wikipedia - Ramon Llull
A very good in-depth biography of Ramon Llull. Exploration of his career, spiritual life, philosophy, and major writings.
Ramon Llull's Memory Training
Free downloads of several Llullian works with an emphasis on alchemical practices of memory, mnemonics, and rhetoric.
Ramon Llull Database
A scholarly catalog of all of the known Llullian and pseudo-Llullian writings.
Patron Saints: Blessed Ramon Llull
A good brief biographical outline.
Catholic Encyclopedia: Raymond Llully
Another good biography, emphasizing his life within the Catholic church.