Arabia


The term “Arabia” typically refers to the Arabian Peninsula, a large peninsula in southwest Asia, bordered by the Persian Gulf to the northeast, the Red Sea to the west, the Arabian Sea to the southeast, and the Arabian Gulf (or Gulf of Aden) to the south. It is a region known for its vast deserts. Some Arthurian authors undoubtedly used it loosely to cover northern Africa as well.

Wolfram names the King of Arabia as Zoroaster, a vassal of Perceval’s half-brother Feirefiz. Wolfram took the name from that of the founder of Zoroastrianism, the pre-Islamic religion of Persia.

The Alliterative Morte Arthure suggests that the region was under the control of Lucius, Arthur’s enemy in the Roman War.


Arabia | 0 to the 9th century AD

Pre-Islamic Period | Before 7th century
The Arabian Peninsula was home to various nomadic tribes and settled communities. Major trading routes crossed the peninsula, connecting the Mediterranean world with the Indican Ocean. Mecca and Medina, two prominent cities in western Arabia, were significant trade centers and religious pilgrimage sites even before the advent of Islam.

Birth of Islam | 7th century
In the early seventh century, the Prophet Muhammad received revelations from God (Allah) as recorded in the Quran. In 622, Muhammad and his followers migrated (Hijra) from Mecca to Medina, marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar. This event holds historical and religious significance. Over the next years, Islam spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula, unifying various tribes under the banner of a new monotheistic faith.

Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates | 7th – 8th centuries
Following Muhammad’s death in 632, the first four Caliphs, known as the Rashidun Caliphs, led the Muslim community. They expanded Islamic rule beyond the Arabian Peninsula. The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) saw further territorial expansion, reaching as far as Spain in the west and India in the east. The caliphate’s capital was initially in Medina, then moved to Damascus.

Abbasid Caliphate | 8th century
The Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258) succeeded the Umayyads, with its capital in Baghdad. The Abbasid era is often considered a golden age of Islamic civilization, marked by advancements in science, philosophy, and the arts. Trade flourished along the Arabian Peninsula, connecting it to various parts of the Islamic world.

Islamic Golden Age | 8th – 14th centuries
During the Islamic Golden Age, scholars in the Arabian Peninsula made significant contributions to fields such as astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and literature.


Sources
Parzival | Wolfram von Eschenbach, 1200–1210
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470