Images of the Turk in Europe: A Historical Overview
This chapter attempts a historical overview of the developing image of the Ottoman Turk, and of the East in general, in Europe from the ancient Greeks to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. It focuses on the construction of the East as Europe's other. It aims to shed further light on the contemporary debates on Turkish accession to the EU by putting them into a historical context. During the middle Ages, the terms Europe' and Europeans' were far less widely used than Christendom'. The Crusades also had the function of diffusing knowledge of the existence of Islam and the name of Mohammed, and, following the Crusades, the term Saracen' began to be used more specifically to denote Muslims rather than unbelievers in general. The Renaissance political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli also alluded to the rivalry between the Greeks and the Persians in his comparison of contemporary Europeans and the Ottoman Empire.