Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis



Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

David Bachrach

Second Advisor

Cynthia Van Zandt

Third Advisor

Gregory McMahon


This paper examines depictions of Muslims in illuminated manuscripts produced in France between 1200-1420 that feature images of Christian-Muslim interactions. The study specifically looks at three popular manuscripts from the time: the Histoire d'Outremer, the Grandes Chroniques de France, and the Roman d'Alexandre en Prose. By examining the depictions of Saracens in these three manuscripts I attempt to gain an understanding of the artists' perceptions of Muslims. I argue that through analyzing the topoi employed by these artists we can understand how they and their audiences viewed Muslims. These images demonstrate that these artists understood Saracens to be very different from themselves but could also recognize admirable qualities and see similarities to them. This implies a nuanced understanding of Muslims that comes out in many of the depictions of Christian-Muslim interactions shown in these manuscripts.