Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval Europe by Scott G. BruceCluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval Europe by Scott G. Bruce

Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval Europe

byScott G. Bruce

Hardcover | November 5, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info

$66.70 online 
$74.95 list price save 11%
Earn 334 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


In the summer of 972 a group of Muslim brigands based in the south of France near La Garde-Freinet abducted the abbot of Cluny as he and his entourage crossed the Alps en route from Rome to Burgundy. Ultimately, the abbot was set free and returned home safely, but the audacity of this abduction outraged Christian leaders and galvanized the will of local lords. Shortly thereafter, Count William of Arles marshaled an army and succeeded in wiping out the Muslim stronghold. In Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet, Scott G. Bruce uses this extraordinary incident, largely overlooked by contemporary scholars, to examine Christian perceptions of Islam in the Middle Ages.

The monks of Cluny kept the tale of their abbot’s abduction alive over the next century in hagiographical works and chronicles written to promote his sanctity. Bruce explores the telling and retelling of this story, focusing particularly on the representation of Islam in each account, and how that representation changed over time. The culminating figure in this study is Peter the Venerable, one of Europe’s leading intellectuals and abbot of Cluny from 1122 to 1156. Remembered today largely for his views of Islam, Peter commissioned Latin translations of Muslim historical and devotional texts including the Qur’an. As Bruce shows, Peter’s thinking on Islam had its roots in the hagiographical tradition of the abduction at La Garde-Freinet. In fact, Peter drew from the stories as he crafted a "Muslim policy" relevant to the mid-twelfth century, a time of great anxiety about Islam in the aftermath of the failed Second Crusade. Compellingly written, Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to examine Christian perceptions of Islam in the Crusading era.

Scott G. Bruce is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism: The Cluniac Tradition, c. 900–1200 and editor of Ecologies and Economies in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.
Title:Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval EuropeFormat:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:November 5, 2015Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801452996

ISBN - 13:9780801452994

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

Introduction: Hagiography and Religious Polemic in the Cluniac Tradition

Chapter 1. News of a Kidnapping
The Perils and Promises of Transalpine Travel
The Muslims of La Garde-Freinet
"The Hordes of Belial Have Surrounded Me"

Chapter 2. Monks Tell Tales
By Savage Hands Restrained
The Preacher's Prowess
Fulcher and the Great Wolf
Enter Mohammed
Interlude: A Cluniac Mission on the Spanish Frontier

Chapter 3. Peter the Venerable, Butcher of God
Against the Heirs of Iniquity
A Christian Arsenal against Islam
Assailing the Monstrous Beast
Recourse to Reason

Chapter 4. Hagiography and the Muslim Policy of Peter the Venerable
Reasoning with Unbelievers in the Decades around 1100
A Reservoir of Eastern Censure
Nalgod's Industry


Appendix: Martin of Lausanne’s Invective Poem against the Qur’an

Editorial Reviews

"Scott G. Bruce's book uncovers the driving forces behind views on Islam, and on Islamic culture, in Cluniac texts of the tenth to twelfth centuries. It makes a strong case for the need to examine their genesis explicitly in a context that takes into account the evolving societal, spiritual, and intellectual position of Cluny and its subsidiary institutions. Most surprisingly, his empirical approach to the evidence reveals that Cluniac monks did not have a single, cohesive opinion of Islam up until the second decade of the twelfth century; and that Peter the Venerable's campaign to overcome Islam by use of rational arguments was determined more by circumstance than design. In many ways, Bruce's work is a radical departure from previous scholarship in this field. Its most important achievement, perhaps, lies in the fact that it helps the reader come to the inevitable conclusion that there was no such thing as 'the medieval Christian view' on Islam." - Steven Vanderputten, Ghent University, author of Imagining Religious Leadership in the Middle Ages: Richard of Saint-Vanne and the Politics of Reform