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Die Heidin: A Late-Medieval Experiment in Cultural Rapprochement between Christians and Saracens

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Whereas recent scholarship has primarily focused on the hostile attitudes against the Orient espoused by writers in the European Middle Ages, a number of intriguing narratives also indicate surprising open-minded attitudes. These might reflect utopian fantasies, but they still project noteworthy "tolerant" relationships between Christians and "heathens." This paper examines one of these narratives, the Middle High German Die Heidin (late thirteenth century), where courtly love and 'domestic violence' counterbalance each other, instigating the heathen protagonist to flee with her Christian suitor back to his country because her erstwhile loving husband (heathen) had turned toward brutal behavior. This narrative indicates how little European audiences obviously cared about religious and racial conflicts and subsumed them under the much more fascinating discourse on love.


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