By Katharine Scarfe Beckett
Beckett reviews the approximately 5 centuries from the increase of an Islamic coverage (A.D. 622) to the 1st campaign (A.D. 1096), taking a look intimately on the wisps and lines of English wisdom of, touch with, and attitudes towards Muslims. the implications are hugely interesting.
Who knew that Bishop Georgius of Ostia, a papal legate to England, suggested in 786 to the pope on synods he had attended and integrated this decree: "That no ecclesiastic shall dare to eat foodstuffs in mystery, except as a result of very nice sickness, because it is hypocrisy and a Saracen practice"? Or that Offa, the king of Mercia (a sector of the Midlands, north of London) throughout the years 757-96 had a gold piece struck in his identify, now to be had for view on the British Museum, which bore, as Beckett places it, "a a bit bungled Arabic inscription on obverse and opposite in imitation of an Islamic dinar"?
In fleshing out darkish a while' reactions to the recent religion, Beckett very usefully establishes the primitive base from which the English-speaking peoples even this present day eventually draw their perspectives. She tells concerning the targeted English traveler's account to the center East relationship from this period (that of Arculf); tallies the dinars present in such areas as Eastborne, St. Leonards-on-Sea, London, Oxford, Croydon, and Bridgnorth; and totes up the center jap imports, akin to pepper, incense, and bronze bowls. She reveals "continuing community of exchange and diplomatic hyperlinks" attached western Christendom to the Muslim countries.
As for attitudes, they weren't simply uninformed yet static. Beckett notes that preliminary responses to Islam have been formed by way of pre-Islamic writings, specifically these of St. Jerome (c. A.D. 340-420), on Arabs, Saracens, Ismaelites, and different easterners. This lengthy impression resulted from a mentioned loss of interest at the a part of Anglo-Saxons and so much different Europeans.
To finish on a jarringly modern observe: dismayingly, the effect of Edward stated has reached the purpose that his theories approximately Western perspectives of Muslims now achieve even to the early medieval interval; Beckett devotes web page after web page to facing his theories. fortunately, she has the arrogance and integrity (in her phrases) "to some degree" to dispute these theories.
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Additional resources for Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of the Islamic World
17–19, and Southern, Western Views of Islam, pp. 21 and 24–5. The famous passage by Alvarus in his Indiculus Luminosus (PL 121, 555–6), complaining of the Spanish Christian neglect of Latin and cultivation of Arabic, is also quoted in translation by Grunebaum, Medieval Islam, pp. 57–8. See also Wolf, ‘Christian Views of Islam in Early Medieval Spain’, pp. 90–3 and 96. Daniel, Islam and the West, pp. 20–3. 54 Other pilgrims included the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon missionary, Willibald, who left a written account of his pilgrimage through more distant Muslim territory in the Holy Land and Arculf, a Gaul, who also travelled to Jerusalem and whose journey was known to Bede.
This chapter is based on secondary literature; it is not intended to provide new information nor original insights for historians but only a simple introduction to the religion and territories of Islam during the period 600–1100. The emphasis is on the topics most relevant to Anglo-Saxon perceptions of Arabs and Saracens: first, Islamic conquest and government around the Mediterranean and in north-western Europe and, secondly, some sample early responses by Christian observers who came under Muslim rule.
60 Yet however far and in whatever direction one manages to pursue the argument for medieval Orientalism, it does not quite ring true. Perhaps it is because it lacks the teleological thrust of Said’s Orientalism. All western commentary on the lands of the East tended for Said towards the last confident act of imperial, colonial rule, the consequences of which we now face. Individual studies of earlier periods suggest that things were often more complicated than that. But while this may detract from the momentum of 59 60 In the discussion below, it may generally be assumed unless otherwise indicated that where the word ‘Orientalism’ appears, whether or not enclosed in quotation marks, it refers to Said’s use of the word in his Orientalism.
Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of the Islamic World by Katharine Scarfe Beckett