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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe

II: Crusade Propaganda,   pp. 39-97 PDF (23.6 MB)

Page 53

hymn-singing and calls to arms provided emotional interludes in what must
often have seemed dry matter. By this time a wide background of anti-Islamic
polemic had created assumptions which must be understood to underlie everything
that was said. 
B. The Polemic Framework 
 The regular sequence of homiletic themes was supported by a set of ideas
sometimes clearly stated, sometimes only hinted at. These ideas delineated
the enemy as repulsive; they constituted a body of learned and popular lore
which identified the Arab and Moslem world as hostile, dangerous, and harmful.
Such an identification was obviously conducive to a condition of protracted
warfare, and most of all if this were presented as a "just war", of which
holy war is in fact the prototype. 
 The theme of the Arab attack upon "Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe" was
supported by current accounts of the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the
rise of Islam. Behind these lie accusations that violence is an essential
part of the religion of Islam, which seemed no inconsistency to crusaders
employed in religious violence. Also behind the propaganda for the crusade
as an ascetic way of life lies a theory that Islam reverses Christian moral
concepts (particularly sexual). These are the main constituents of the "Christian
version" of what Islam was, and it proved so powerful a body of ideas as
to survive even into our own time.28 These ideas sealed off the mental world
of Islam, really so close to the Christian, and effectively prevented contact,
except in certain limited fields of immediate utility to Europe. Roughly,
the development of these ideas coincides with the period of the crusades,
but it is possible to write the history of either with very little reference
to the other. We should not see the polemic as a crude and deliberate effort
of propaganda called into being by the crusading need. Still less can we
simply consider the crusades as the product of 
28. Richard W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge,
1962); Norman Daniel, Islam and the West (Edinburgh, 1966). Ugo Monneret
de villard, Lo Studio dell' Islam in Europa nel XII e nel XIII secolo (vatican
City, 1944), is not that brilliant scholar's best work. Correct by reference
to Marie T. d'Alverny, "Deux Traductions," below (note 33), and her "Marc
de Tolède, traducteur d'Ibn TUmart," Al-Andalus, XVI (1951), 99—
140, 259— 307, and XVII (1952), 1—56, with Georges Vajda; also
her La Connaissance de l'Islam en Occident du IXe au milieu du XIIe siècle
(Spoleto, 1965); but see Ekkehart Rotter, Abendland und Sarazenen (Berlin
and New York, 1986). 

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