The Crusaders’ Perceptions of their Opponents

  • Margaret Jubb
Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


We would not expect western Christian writers to paint a neutral picture of their opponents in holy war, but the caricatured and contemptuous denigration of the Muslim enemy that we find in early chronicles and in epic poetry still has the power to shock us. How could these writers have maintained and perpetuated the manifest fiction that the Muslims were pagan idolaters, when direct contact during the crusades would have exposed the falsehood of such a preconception? How could later writers have perpetuated the equally manifest, but in this case conspicuously (self-)flattering, fiction that Saladin had a noble French mother, had been dubbed a knight in western fashion, and had even covertly baptized himself on his deathbed? Evidently these were fictions in which both writers and their audiences colluded and which they wanted to believe, but why? In order to address this question, it is necessary to set the texts in their historical and literary contexts, and to examine the conditions of their production, reception and consumption. What was the prevailing political and ideological climate, and how was the crusader movement faring at the time? Was the writer a cleric or a layperson, was he based in the West or the East, and what can we determine about the nature of his intended audience and the purpose of the writing — instruction, propaganda, and/or entertainment?


Muslim World Western View Medieval Text Epic Poetry Divine Comedy 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Margaret Jubb

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