Pseudo-Conversions and Patchwork Pedigrees: The Christianization of Muslim Princes and the Diplomacy of Holy War

A common theme in medieval and early modern Western literary responses to the Muslim world has been the assumption that Muslim rulers who appeared willing to enter into political alliance with the West, particularly in a crusading context, must somehow be secretly Christian, either through pedigree or through conversion. Stories of these genealogies and conversions often served to explain Christian-Muslim diplomacy to a broader public readership at a time when Islam was portrayed as the enemy of Christendom, but they were rarely if ever based on historical evidence or direct contact with the rulers in question.