Martyrs
in Frontier narratives
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This chapter looks into the portrayals of Christian martyrdom in Muslim lands. This was not reciprocal because there were virtually no Muslim martyrs at this time. Christian martyrdom in Muslim territories has to be understood within the visceral rivalry between Catholics and Protestants in Europe whereby the martyrs of one side were the heretics of the other. Catholics looked especially to Muslim territories in order to produce fresh martyrs, their main strategy being to convince renegades to revert to Christianity and proclaim this loudly, thus giving the Muslim authorities little choice but to execute them for apostasy. Some martyrs had no desire to be martyrs, others desired martyrdom, and from these categories a few were able to perform their own martyrdom as expected. Others were executed for trying to kill their masters and escape, but were likewise considered martyrs. Of special interest are cases where a particular act of ‘martyrdom’ is told from radically different points of view, e.g. by a Muslim, a Catholic and a Protestant. Cruelty was widely practised throughout the Mediterranean world during this time, without any religion having a monopoly over it.

Frontier narratives

Liminal lives in the early modern Mediterranean