Sarasins, Sarazenes, Sarrasins, Sarrazins
During the period of 450-550 AD, the term “Saracens” referred to various groups of people, primarily Arab and Bedouin tribes, who inhabited the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding regions.
The term “Saracen” was used by the Byzantine Emperor and later adopted by Europeans to broadly describe the nomadic peoples of the desert. However, it is important to note that the term itself was quite fluid and could encompass different groups over time. The Saracens were known for their expertise in horsemanship and archery, which made them formidable in battles and skirmishes.
In Arthurian legends, the term “Saracens” is often used to refer to a group of Muslim warriors or adversaries of King Arthur and his knights. These legends emerged and developed primarily in medieval Europe, where there was limited knowledge and understanding of the Middle East and the Islamic world. As a result, the portrayal of Saracens in Arthurian tales is often a mix of historical inaccuracies, romanticized notions, and literary conventions.
In Arthurian literature, the Saracens are typically depicted as enemies of Christianity and Arthur’s kingdom, engaging in battles and conflicts with the knights of the Round Table. They are portrayed as exotic and foreign, often associated with unfamiliar customs, different religious beliefs, and sometimes depicted as pagans or followers of non-Christian faiths. The depiction of Saracens in Arthurian legends reflects the prevailing attituted, biases, and cultural context of medieval Europe.
Grail legend holds that the race took its name from the city of Sarras.
Arthour and Merlin and Malory replace the Saxon invasion of Britain with an invasion of Saracens, although since both races were not Christians, the authors may have intended the same people. Groups of Saracens also joined Rome’s war with Arthur. Other Saracens invaded Cornwall but were repelled by Prince Bodwyne (Boudwin), King Mark’s brother.
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Arthour and Merlin | Late 13th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470