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Saracens as idolaters in European vernacular literatures

(6,643 words)

Author(s): Kinoshita and Siobhain Bly Calkin, Sharon
Muslims frequently appear in the vernacular literatures of medieval Latin Europe, never named as such but usually called ‘Saracens’ or ‘pagans’. They are portrayed as polytheists and idolaters, worshipping their gods in the form of idols that can be desecrated and abused. In the Chanson de Roland (late 11th or early 12th century), one of the earliest and by far the most celebrated of the Old French epics ( chansons de geste), the Saracens of Saragossa worship a trinity of gods, Mahumet, Apollin, and Tervagant – the first clearly referring to the Prophet Muḥammad, a…