|The Christian saint and the Muslim princess|
An interesting tale which highlights the differences in tolerance between the eighth century and today concerns my 34th great-grandfather St. William of Gellone (also known as William of Orange) and a woman widely considered to be his wife.
His wife's birth name is recorded as Orable; however, this is likely to be a translation of a Muslim name with a similar meaning, perhaps Dua ("prayer"). She was the daughter of Thibaud, who is referred to as a "Saracen king". The Umayyads, however, did not use the title of king, the closest being emir. Thibaud is a Franco-Germanic name meaning "bold people", which does not correspond with the names of any emir of Cordoba, but if we are to believe that her father was an emir, the most likely candidate based on date would be Abd al-Rahman I, who was born near Damascus and was of Meccan and Berber descent. However, he has no recorded daughters.
At a time when Christian-Islamic relationships were at a major low, it is astonishing to think that such a committed Christian (and fighter against the caliphate to boot!) would take an Arab Muslim woman as a partner. Yet, it reflects attitudes of the day. No matter if you were black or white, Arab or Frank, Cordoban or French, differences in culture were usually mitigated by religious conversion. As Habibai David more than likely converted to Christianity upon marrying Rolinde, so Guitburgi left Islam to become a Christian. Nobody really cared about colour in those days. While not unheard of, it was rare for a true interfaith marriage to take place without conversion on the part of one of the partners. Religion was not as tied up with ethnicity as it has become in recent times- even Jews like Habibai David were considered to be ex-Jews by Christians and Muslims if they converted out of the religion (although not by Judaism, but that's another story for another time!).