'Saracen' was a name employed by medieval writers to describe the Muslims of Syria and Palestine, and the Arab rulers of North Africa generally - especially those conquerors of Spain and Sicily, and the invaders of France. Later the name was applied to all those peoples against whom the crusades were preached, and it is with these events that the term'Saracen is most popularly connected. Saladin, proclaimed sultan in 1174, was the most prominent leader of this period and in many ways he can be said to typify the Saracenic qualities: courage, wisdom, magnanimity. However, the crusader period covered but a small part of Saracen history which, indeed, can be said to extend from pre-Islamic Arabia; Spain itself saw eight centuries of Saracen rule. In 'A Short History of the Saracens', Ameer Ali examines every aspect of these extraordinary people. Few writers, in the decades since this work was first published, in 1899, have presented a more complete account. For this reason, both historians and students of the period will welcome its republication.
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