Université Saint-Louis - Bruxelles
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From Granada to Istanbul. Perceptions and representations of the Muslim world in the narrative sources of the Low Countries (14th-16th)

Coordination centre(s)

Centre de recherches en histoire du droit, des institutions et de la société (CRHIDI).


Perceptions and representations of the Muslim world in Belgium and Europe are conditioned by a collective memory influenced by "orientalist" prejudices and contemporary a priori linked to the myth of the "clash of civilizations". Focusing on the representations of the Eastern world circulating in the Low Countries (late 14th-early 16th century), their evolution and specificities, this research project aims to shed these biases and provide a critical perspective on the relationship between East and West, while at the same time providing a better insight into our contemporary visions in terms of otherness and relationship to the Muslim world. Beyond the analysis of representations of otherness, the study also aims to determine the role they may have played in the construction of the identity of the former Netherlands at a time when the structures of modern states are beginning to develop.

A particularly interesting case study, in the 15th century the Burgundian Low Countries took on the role of defender of Western Christianity in the face of the rise of Ottoman power. The crusade projects illustrated by the Banquet du Faisan and the creation of the Order of the Golden Fleece testify to the political interest that the Dukes have shown in the Eastern Mediterranean. In another register, the "Outremer, Medicine, Astronomy" section of the Dukes' Library and the presence of books on the East in the libraries of the ducal entourage are another sign of this attraction to Eastern issues. Therefore, it seems necessary to question the representations of the East at the court of Burgundy.

To carry out this research, a corpus composed of narrative sources produced or acquired in the geographical area of the former Burgundian Netherlands has been compiled and will be analysed, in particular using a textometric approach. This corpus is divided into different sub-corpuses according to the nature of the texts, each likely to provide specific information: travel and pilgrimage stories, novels, prose and short stories, chronicles and historical accounts, political and religious treatises.


Bousmar Eric.


otherness / postcolonial studies / orientalist / Low Countries / literature.

Research staff