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Table of Contents

Introduction: Riccoldo's Predicament or, How to Explain Away the Successes of a Flourishing Rival Civilization Part 1: Foundations (Seventh--Eighth Centuries) 1: God and History in the Christian West c. 600 2: Islamic Dominion and the Religious Other 3: Early Eastern Christian Reactions to Islam Part 2: Forging Polemical Images (Eighth-Twelfth Centuries) 4: Western Christian Responses to Islam (Eighth-Ninth Centuries) 5: Saracens as Pagans 6: Muhammad, Heresiarch (Twelfth Century) Part 3: Thirteenth-Century Dreams of Conquest and Conversion 7: The Muslim in the Ideologies of Thirteenth-Century Christian Spain 8: Apocalyptic Fears and Hopes Inspired by the Thirteenth-Century Crusades 9: Franciscan Missionaries Seeking the Martyr's Palm 10: The Dominican Missionary Strategy 11: From Verdant Grove to Dark Prison: Realms of Mission in Ramon Llull

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In an effort to make sense of God's apparent abandonment of Christendom in favor of a dynamic and expanding Muslim civilization, European writers distorted the teachings of Islam and caricatured its believers in a variety of ways. What ideological purposes did these portrayals serve? And how, in turn, did Muslims view Christianity? Tolan shows how Christian responses to Islam changed from the seventh to thirteenth centuries, through fast-charging crusades and spirit-crushing defeats, crystallizing into polemical images later drawn upon by Western authors in the fourteenth to twentieth centuries.

About the Author

John V. Tolan is Maitre de Conferences en histoire medievale, Department d'histoire, Universite de Nantes. He is the author of Petrus Alfonsi and His Medieval Readers and editor of Medieval Christian Perceptions of Islam: A Collection of Essays.


"Tolan sets out to show how different prejudices and myths were created by changing historical and ideological conditions... clear and informative and certainly readable." -- Alastair Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement "A significant contribution to the study of Islam's place in the medieval Christian imagination, this work is highly recommended." -- Choice "Tolan's book is welcome as a rare systematic treatment of medieval Christian attitudes toward Muslims... Tolan's remarks invite us to explore the important question of why that is so." -- Tomaz Mastnak, Speculum " Saracens contains comprehensive notes, a thorough bibliography, and an excellent index... A useful summary of the current state of hitoriography in the field." -- William E. Watson, History "Tolan's model for Christian attitudes toward Islam is the reactions of early Christians to the Roman Empire... Tolan's book is full of interesting details on individual thinkers' views on Islam and provides a welcome addition." -- Anna Sapir Abulafia, American Historical Review "Medievalist Tolan shows how the relatively fluid European beliefs about Islam turned rigid in the 13th century, leading to strict laws that separated Christians from Muslims and produced even greater distortions in perception." -- Saudi Aramco World "The best of all recently published books on Christian-Islamic relations." -- Gregory Miller, Riligious Studies Review "A thoroughgoing reference work like Saracens was long overdue; it is also quite timely." -- David Blanks, Catholic Historical Review

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