ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the thinking of the Enlightenment historians David Hume, William Robertson and Edward Gibbon regarding Islam and the medieval Arab world that stretched from the eastern Mediterranean to Spain in the west. It proposes that one can add the evocations of the Crusades in Hume, Robertson and Gibbon as fragments that float free of the historical narratives in which they are first presented. Hume, Gibbon draws attention to Saladin's bequest on his death of alms among the three religions, and the display of his shroud to admonish the East of the instability of human greatness. Said admonishes Schwab for not noticing the sheer folly and derangement stirred up by the Orient towards the end of the long eighteenth century, evident in writers and artists such as Beckford, Byron and Delacroix, for in such literature and art the Orient actively disoriented Europe. Pocock points out that stadial theory could encompass diversity and divergence, constituting itself within European history.