3 October 2011
The Book of Contemplation / Islam and the Crusades
From reading The Book of Contemplation I feel that the Franks are Inferior to the Muslims, in the eyes of Usama Ibn Munqidh. Throughout the literature when Usama refers to the Franks, a “may God curse them” usually follows. Usama rarely sheds a positive light on the Franks’ beliefs, actions, or practice of medicine.
The first instance of Usama referencing the Franks was in the story “In the service of Nur Al-Din (Munqidh 43).” In the story Usamas' family and possessions were being transported from Egypt to come to be with him. For the journey they were granted “safe passage” from the King of the Franks. Upon arriving to Acre, from Damietta, the King of the Franks sent out a small boat to sink their ship. The King himself took as pillage everything that was in the ship (Munqidh 44).
In the chapter “Thief Stories: The Bandit al-Zamarrakal Belittles his Wounds” a thief plans to steal horses from a group of Franks (Munqidh 53). When Usama and his cousin Layth al-Dawla approached the Thief and another man they learned of the Thief’s intentions. After learning the intentions of the Thief, Usama and al-Dawla rode off and set up camp for the night. Upon awakening the next morning they rode out on their horses to wait for whatever the Franks were going to do. They then came across the Thief, whose leg and foot were covered with coagulated blood, who informed them of how he had stolen a horse, a shield, and a spear. The Franks had chased the Thief and wounded him with a spear to the thigh, which afterwards the Thief made light of his wounds as they had happened to someone else (Munqidh 54).
In the chapter “Jum’a al-Numayri Rescues his Son from the Franks,” Usama witnesses “the bravery of men and their courage in time of war…” (Munqidh 67). A group of ten Frankish horsemen had come to the gate of Shayzar, upon the gatekeeper telling the Franks where they were the...