By Benedict S. Robinson (auth.)
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Extra resources for Islam and Early Modern English Literature: The Politics of Romance from Spenser to Milton
5 As Munday wrote, this was more than a question of distant sympathies. English soldiers were fighting Turkish armies in eastern Europe, even as English merchants were pursuing new forms of commerce from Persia to Morocco. In the year that Munday’s romance was published, William Harborne was negotiating the first Anglo-Ottoman commercial treaty in Istanbul, a treaty that would lead to the establishment of the Levant Company and to a new English presence in cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Aleppo, Cairo, Iskendrun, and elsewhere.
On the other hand, the opposition between the faithful and the infidel manifested in the passion narrative offers the typological model for all future religious differences including the difference between Christian “Secret Faith” 31 and Muslim, through the intermediary figure of supposed Jewish recalcitrance. History and scripture interpret each other: the encounter with the Turks provides a visual language for the antagonisms of scriptural narrative, while that narrative supplies contemporary experiences of encounter with a typological meaning.
But at one point in The Faerie Queene, Spenser quite clearly signals the historical parameters of his representation. 18 The description couples together the romance “Saracen” and the contemporary Turks, evoking narratives of captivity in the Ottoman Empire and North Africa, but also linking those narratives to the genre of romance. We are more clearly in the presence of a contemporary history of contact with Islam here than in Munday’s narrative, a history that explicitly includes the collecting of alms for the redemption of captives, as documented by Knutson.
Islam and Early Modern English Literature: The Politics of Romance from Spenser to Milton by Benedict S. Robinson (auth.)