Situating Islamdom in Jean Germain's Mappemonde spirituelle (1449)

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In this article, I examine the Mappemonde spirituelle (1449), a geographically organized compendium of Christian hagiography composed by Jean Germain, bishop of Chalon-sur-Saône and chancellor of Philip the Good's chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece. Germain's "spiritual" mappamundi portrays Christian history as constructed by the martyrdom of the saints. Far from excluding Muslims and other non-Christian peoples from this worldview, Germain's focus on martyrdom dramatizes multiple encounters between these peoples and Christians: in Africa, with the Roman emperors of the "Great Persecution" era; in Europe, with the Goths, Vandals, and other invading peoples, as well as the Muslims of al-Andalus; and in Asia, with the Mamluks and the Mongols. I argue that the Mappemonde spirituelle is best understood not as a direct political argument for a renewed crusade as scholars have previously claimed, but rather as a utopian portrait of a unified Christian world which negotiates a historical Christian presence on the three continents, a vast body of legendary material, and the complex evolving historical borders of medieval Christendom and Islamdom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-346
Number of pages21
JournalMedieval Encounters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007


  • Hagiography
  • Islam
  • Jean Germain
  • King David
  • Late Crusades
  • Late medieval Court of Burgundy
  • Mappamundi
  • Mappemonde spirituelle
  • Mongols
  • Philip the Good

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language


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