Vita Mahumeti

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A number of Latin works on the Life of Muhammad (Vita Mahumeti, Vita Machometi, etc.) were written during the 11th to 13th centuries.

They are ultimately based on the tradition of the Chronographia of Theophanes the Confessor (d. 818), translated into Latin in the 9th century by Anastasius Bibliothecarius, which contained a chapter on the life of Muhammad. The earliest original Latin composition is Eulogius of Córdoba (c. 857).[1]

While Latin biographies of Muhammad in the 11th to 12th century are still in the genre of anti-hagiography, depicting Muhammad as an heresiarch, the tradition develops into the genre of picaresque novel, with Muhammad in the role of the trickster figure, in the 13th century.

The Vita Mahumeti by Embrico of Mainz (Embricho Moguntinus) is an early example of the genre. The text is in rhyming leonine hexameters, extending to 1,148 lines. It was modelled on the verse hagiography of contemporaries such as Hildebert of Le Mans. It was most likely written between 1072 an 1090. The author of the Vita has been identified with the future provost of Mainz Cathedral, Embricho II by Rotter (1994).

Embrico's text is roughly contemporary with the Dei gesta per Francos by Guibert of Nogent. Both texts are the tradition of the biography the Chronographia of Theophanes, including the account of Muhammad's epilepsy and his body being eaten by pigs after his death.[2]

A 12th-century versions include Otia Machometi by Gautier de Compiègne (c. 1155) and Vita Machometi by Adelphus-[3] 13th-century works of the romance type, written in Old French, include The Romance of Muhammad (1258) and The Book of Muhammad's Ladder (1264).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stella (2008), p. 120.
  2. ^ Nicholas Morton, Encountering Islam on the First Crusade, Cambridge University Press (2016), p. 213.
  3. ^ Ed. B. Bischoff, "Ein Leben Mohammads (Adelphus?) (Zwölftes Jahrhundert)", Anecdota Novissima, 1984.
  • John Tolan, "Anti-Hagiography: Embrico of Mainz's Vita Mahumeti," Journal of Medieval History 22 (1996), 25-41.
  • John Tolan, Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.[page needed]
  • Ekkehart Rotter, "Embricho von Mainz und das Mohammed-Bild seiner Zeit" in: Franz Staab (ed), Auslandsbeziehungen unter den salischen Kaisern. Geistige Auseinandersetzung und Politik, Speyer (1994), 69–122
  • Francesco Vincenzo Stella, "Le versificazioni latine della vita di Maometto. Dall'antiagiografia al romanzo picaresco" in: Studio sulle vite metriche in latino di Maometto, sulle loro fonti e sulla loro fortuna romanza (2008).
  • Reginald Hyatte, Romans de Mahon, BRILL, 1997.