As the articles reprinted in this volume demonstrate, medieval men and women were curious about the world around them. They wanted to hear about distant lands and the various peoples who inhabited them. Travellers' tales, factual such as that of Marco Polo, and fictional, such as Chaucer's famous pilgrimage, entertained audiences across Europe. Colorful mappaemundi placed in churches illustrated these other lands and peoples for those who could not read. Medieval travel literature was not only entertaining, however, it was also informative, generating proto-ethnological information about the world beyond Latin Christendom that provided useful guidance for those such as merchants and missionaries who intended to travel abroad. Merchants learned about safe travel routes to foreign lands, about dangers to be avoided on the roads and at sea, about cultural practices that might interfere with their attempts at trade, and about products that would be suitable for foreign markets. Churchmen read the reports of missionaries to understand the beliefs of Muslims and other non-believers in order to debate with them and to learn their languages. These articles illustrate how travellers' reports in turn shaped the European response to the world beyond Europe, and are set in context in the editor's introduction.
'Editor James Muldoon, who is also co-editor for the series, has woven a tapestry of essays that offer substantial insight into the perception of non-Europeans not only in medieval Europe but also in the academic discourse from the past half-century… The articles are well chosen and illustrate a cross-section of scholarship on intellectual curiosity over the past sixty years.' Terrae Incognitae
Contents: Introduction; Part I The Matter of Curiosity: Libertas Inquirendi and the Vitium Curiositatis in medieval thought, Edward Peters; Ecclesiastical attitudes to novelty c.1100-c.1250, Beryl Smalley; Medieval Christendom's encounter with the alien, Peter Jackson; The nature of the infidel: the anthropology of the canon lawyers, James Muldoon; Moslem-Christian understanding in medieval times, James Kritzeck; Knowing the enemy: Western understanding of Islam at the time of the crusades, Bernard Hamilton; Muhammad and the Muslims in St Thomas Aquinas, James Waltz. Part II The Muslim World - Crusade or Conversion?: From Friar Paul to Friar Raymond: the development of innovative missionizing argumentation, Robert Chazen; Talking to spiritual others: Ramon Llull, Nicholas of Cusa, Diego Valadés, Pauline Moffitt Watts; Saracen philosophers secretly deride Islam, John Tolan; Popular attitudes towards Islam in medieval Europe, Jo Ann Hoeppner Moran Cruz; William [of Malmesbury] and some other Western writers on Islam, Rodney M. Thomson. Part III The Mongol World: The conversion of a pagan society in the Middle Ages, Robert Bartlett; Missionaries and the marriages of infidels: the case of the Mongol mission, James Muldoon; Tartars, Jews, Saracens and the Jewish-Mongol 'plot' of 1241, Sophia Menache. Part IV Visualizing Knowledge of the World: Cartography in Europe and Islam in the Middle Ages, Norman J.W. Thrower; Some medieval theories about the Nile, O.G.S. Crawford; Shifting alterity: the Mongol in the visual and literary culture of the late Middle Ages, Maurizio Peleggi; Experiencing strangeness: monstrousness peoples on the edge of the Earth as depicted on medieval mappae mundi, Marina MÃ¼nkler; Index.
The 'rise of the west' is the most familiar and most elusive topic in global history. Everyone agrees it happened. No one can say how, when, where or why, without provoking dissent. Yet the world we inhabit is, by universal acknowledgement, the outcome.
In recent years, controversy has focussed on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - the 'early modern period', when Western expansion became a conspicuous phenomenon in a world of colliding empires and unprecedented long-range cultural exchange. But, like most such apparently new departures in history, Western European activity in the 'expanding world' of early modernity is best understood against a background of long, sometimes faltering preparation in the Middle Ages.
Therefore, following the success of the series An Expanding World, a series of key papers on the period, published by Routledge and edited by A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Ashgate has commissioned an attempt to collect cutting-edge research on the medieval background and events of European expansion. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and James Muldoon have gathered classic and key contributions from learned journals and other arcane publications to give readers a conspectus of knowledge, analysis and reflection on the history of the frontiers, mental horizons, internal expansion and means of growth of Latin Christendom from the eleventh to the early sixteenth centuries.