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Arabic-Islamic Records on Latin-Christian Europe

The study at hand aims at explaining how Arabic-Islamic scholars, i.e. Muslim scholars writing in Arabic, portrayed medieval Western or ‘Latin-Christian’ Europe between the seventh and the early fifteenth century. At the end of the period of investigation, Western Europe had not only emerged as a dynamic sphere at the brink of becoming active on a global scale, but also as a discernible, though roughly defined and multiple phenomenon, in Arabic-Islamic sources. Tracing this double process of ‘emergence’ is the main objective of this book.

The present chapter questions previous interpretations of related Arabic-Islamic records and outlines the study’s alternative approach. Chapter 2 lists channels of transmission by means of which information on Latin-Christian Europe reached the Arabic-Islamic sphere. Chapter 3 deals with the general factors that influenced the reception and presentation of this data at the hands of Arabic-Islamic scholars. Chapters 4 to 8 analyse how these scholars dealt with certain themes, i.e. the western dimension of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths and the Franks, the papacy, and, finally, Western Europe in the age of Latin-Christian expansionism. Against this background, Chapter 9 provides a concluding re-evaluation.

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