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Late Medieval Ambassadors And The Practice Of Cross-Cultural Encounters 1250–1450

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes a variety of ambassadorial reports in order to answer these questions: What was the possible basis for Castilian understanding of cultural diversity? Was it a culturally-specific idiom? And did this idiom include the equivalent of a secular concept of 'civilization,' or was it largely limited to the medieval European emphasis on the priority of religious classification? And assess their broader significance for our understanding of cross-cultural encounters. Three great late-medieval ethnographic traditions are worth considering: Latin Christian, Islamic, and Chinese. The chapter explains with a small anecdote which invites us to consider whether these three great medieval civilizations shared an understanding of what it was to be 'civilized '. 'Abd al-Razzaq's remarkable act of cultural creativity was bold, because its target audience was the court of a monarch who sought distance from Central Asian pagan practices, and emphatically portrayed himself as a protector of sharia.

Keywords: 'Abd al-Razzaq's; Castilian; Chinese; Christian; cultural diversity; Islam; medieval ambassadors



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