An Evolving Information Landscape (7th-15th Centuries)
Arabic-Islamic scholars who produced records on Latin-Christian Europe relied on data that had been acquired during manifold forms of interaction and had traversed various channels of transmission. The aim of the present chapter is to list (potential) channels and to provide an understanding of how they shifted over the centuries. Such an overview inevitably remains sketchy and cannot do justice to the many fields of research touched upon in the following pages. Notwithstanding, it seemed necessary for two reasons. On the one hand, the following overview conveys an impression of how much information on Latin-Christian Europe could have actually been available in an Arabic-Islamic sphere that emerged in the seventh century, established intensive relations with various parts of Latin-Christian Europe in the wake of its expansion to the west, and then continued to maintain an ever-changing network of intensive relations in the shifting geopolitical landscape of the following centuries. On the other hand, it illustrates that there existed a world beyond Arabic-Islamic scholarship, an overriding framework of transmission and reception in which the authors of Arabic-Islamic records on Latin-Christian Europe occupied a specific, but not necessarily prominent place. Their writings fed on the flow of information from the Latin-Christian to the Arabic-Islamic sphere, but were hardly able to document it in its entirety.