Muslims Conditions Around The World

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Cannibals and Crusaders

Abstract

During the First Crusade (1095–99) the Franks cannibalized the Muslim dead at the city of Ma`arra. More than a dozen narrative sources describe this act, but with significant differences in detail. Through an examination of the different accounts and of the probable historical, biblical, and literary models used to shape them, this article suggests that cannibalism was in part a product of necessity but also that the crusaders used it as a tool of psychological warfare. Their status as God’s warriors and their project of holy war both justified and inspired such tactics. The article thus questions the direction of current scholarship, which sees the First Crusade as a result of ordinary medieval practices of warfare and piety, rather than as an unprecedented event as disconcerting to medieval sensibilities as to modern ones.

Durant la Première Croisade (1095–99) les Francs se nourrirent de la chair des Musulmans morts à la ville de Ma`arra. Ce fait est attesté par plus d’une douzaine de sources, mais dont les détails diffèrent significativement. A travers l’examen des différents comptes rendus ainsi que des probables modèles historiques, bibliques et littéraires qui les ont inspirés, cet article suggère que le cannibalisme fut en partie causé par la nécessité, mais aussi que les croisés en firent également un outil de guerre psychologique. Leur qualité de combattants de Dieu comme leur projet de guerre sainte justifiaient et inspiraient de telles tactiques. L’article questionne ainsi l’historiographie qui voit la Première Croisade comme le produit des pratiques médiévales ordinaires de guerre et de piété davantage que comme un événement exceptionnel et troublant pour les hommes médiévaux ainsi que pour les modernes.

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This entry was posted on November 16, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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