On Tue, 27 Feb 1996, Abigail Ann Young wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 26 Feb 1996 21:11:23 -0500 (EST)
> From: Lawrence M. Clopper <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Mahound, etc.
> To Heike--I'm not sure one can be so confident that the name
> "Mahound" is not connected with the prophet or the orient. Look at
> romances such as Bevis, Guy of Warwick, all those romances in which the
> daughter of the emperor is married to an"infidel," Richard the
> Lion-heart. These texts were written during or within memory of the
> crusades; there is a lot of oriental "lore"--and "othering" in the
> period. Try some travel books.
> To Tom Corbet's statement that if the Jews were not in England, what
> about the Prioress and the Plays at York?: Well, the common wisdom is that
> the Jews were expelled at the end of the 13th c., and I recently asked
> a distinguished historian whether there might not be "covert" Jews of
> some sort in England after that date, and he said "no." If you do not
> have the "demonic Jew" in one's presence, surely it is not too difficult
> to conjure him up from, e.g., the gospels or the legend of St. Hugh of
> Larry Clopper
Dear Heike, Larry et al.
Probably as you suggest the Mahound designation is both generic (other
infidels, including Moslims), but also part of pagan-fears within the
Church, as with the elusive Jews (not just in the mysterious domus
conversos, where maybe one poor convert sat for a while)--the designation
usually referred to "Judaizers" (and that goes back to the New Testament
scandals). Don't forget too that England at that time included
Aquitaine and Englishmen were not all that insular: there were never many
Jews about, but they did have some impact on intellectual life and on the
imagination. The London community before the expulsion of 1290 was quite
intellectually active, connected to Rashi and the northern rabbinical
academies, and some figures were internationally known for their scholarship.