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Saracens and Conversion

Chivalric Ideals in "Aliscans</I> and Wolfram’s "Willehalm</I>


Stephanie L. Hathaway

At the heart of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Willehalm are Saracens: instrumental figures in the driving themes of conquest, loyalty, vassalage, chivalry, love-service and redemption that run through the text. When compared with Wolfram’s French sources, La Prise d’Orange and Aliscans, Willehalm is revealed to be innovative yet true to the themes and figures of the original chansons de geste, indicating that Wolfram continued the retelling process that also played a part in the composition of his French sources.
This book explores the role of Saracens in these texts, the implications of their conversion to Christianity and the portrayal of the ideals of chivalry as their depiction undergoes development from twelfth-century France to thirteenth-century Germany. The text begins with the cultural-historical setting and the development of key ideals and concepts and then analyses the Saracen figures in the texts, presenting an integrated reading of Willehalm and its source material and revealing Wolfram’s intentions in his depiction of Saracens.

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