chapter  12
William and Some Other Writers on Islam*
ByRodney M. Thomson
Pages 12

Some of William's strongest views, as conveyed in his writings, were those about ethnic and religious groups. His emphatic sense of Englishness has long been noted, and more recently his concept of 'civilization', of which he thought die ancient Romans and modem French the greatest exemplars. And yet William, a monk who never travelled far from England, was the Westerner who, according to Southern, first presented a reasonably accurate account of Islam and Mohammed. One must ask whether the statements about Islam contained in Williams Gesta Regum and Commentary on Lamentations are dependent on his knowledge of Hugh of Fleury. The shorter passages from the Gesta Regum and Commentary on Lamentations are also gratuitous pieces of information, so far as the main themes of each work are concerned. The relationship between William of Malmesbury's account and Hughs is similar to Hugh's with Anastasiuss. William has abbreviated heavily, again mostly to the advantage of his version.