Saracens and Sheikhs: Romance in Context

  • Amy Burge
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Romance was the most popular secular genre in late medieval England, and approximately 120 romances in Middle English survive today.1 Written in the vernacular, these popular texts circulated widely and enjoyed a diverse audience, composed of both elite and lower status readers and listeners. Composed, on the whole, in verse, Middle English romances flourished in the years 1350–1500 and feature stock characters, motifs, and storylines, including references to Saracens and to the East that occur with surprising regularity. In the course of my research for this book, I identified forty-two Middle English verse romances that refer to Saracens or the East, albeit in widely varying ways, including descriptions of monstrous Saracens, cross-religious battles or tournaments, the wearing of Saracen textiles, and the conversion of Saracens to Christianity. Appendix 1 details these forty-two romances, their date of composition, number of extant manuscripts, and their Saracen elements, indicating an enduring fascination with the Saracen East throughout the Middle Ages.


Romantic Relationship Ethnic Identity British Library Romance Study Eastern World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Amy Burge 2016

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  • Amy Burge

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