Magnanimous or Autocratic? Muslim Rulers in Medieval and Early-Modern European Imagination

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Dr. Munazzah Akhtar, Yasmeen Abid Maan


One way to observe the Muslim-Christian encounters during the medieval and early modern periods and to measure the European fascination with the Islamic world is through the study of contemporary works of art by European artists in which the Muslim rulers were portrayed. These works also depict the Islamic culture, social life, customs, architectural and urban settings, politics and even the characteristics of exotic animals of the east through European gaze. By presenting a brief overview of selected art works produced for the European patrons and consumers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this paper discusses how the Muslim rulers and emperors were perceived in European imagination and what factors were significant in influencing these perceptions.

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