DIVERSIFICATION: FRANCE AND THE FRANKS (13TH-15TH CENTURIES)

The ethnonym’s failure to become a generic term used by Arabic-Islamic scholars from the Middle East to the Muslim West for all peoples of Latin Christendom can also be explained by the fact that Arabic-Islamic scholars began to acknowledge the diversity of Western European peoples rather early. Al-Mas'Udl (d. 345/956), who dedicated individual chapters to the Slavs (al-Saqaliba), the Franks and Galicians (al-Ifranja wa-l-Jalaliqa), and the Langobards (al-Nawkubard) only represents one of many examples.[1] [2] From the eleventh century onwards, Latin-Christian expansionism reinforced this notion of diversity by introducing Arabic-Islamic scholars to a number of new Western European ethnonyms.199 The appearance and diffusion of an Arabic form of the term ‘France’ (Faransa etc.) with a corresponding ‘French’ ruler (al-Ifransis, malik Faransa, etc.), is particularly interesting in this context, because it bred the need to define ‘France’ against ‘the lands of the Franks’ and ‘Frenchmen’ against ‘Franks’.

  • [1] al-Masudi, muruj, ed./trans. Pellat, § 905, p. 142, § 910, p. 145, § 920, p. 151 (AR), pp. 341,343, 347 (FR).
  • [2] See Chapter 8.
 
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