What is Saracen?

Updated: 4/28/2022
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11y ago

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"Saracen" is an adaptation of a Greek word, sarakenoi, meaning "people who live in tents"; that is, Arabs. I suppose it could have been applied to some American Natives, but the Ancient Greeks didn't know any. Of course, not all Arabs live in tents, but the word "arab" is Arabic for what are sometimes called bedouins, who are those Arabs who specifically DO live in tents.

The Europeans (starting with the ancient Greeks) adopted the word first to mean "Arab". A number of different peoples in the Middle East were at times called Saracens, but the common thread is that they were always considered barbarians, especially by the Romans, who often fought Middle Eastern peoples. The term was a pejorative, or slur, for much of the Middle Ages, especially during the Crusades, when invading Christian armies used it to describe the locals, who resisted the invasions of their homeland. Note that, to Europeans at the time, both Arabs and Muslims were labelled "Saracens", but not all Arabs are (or were) Muslims and not all Muslims are (or were) Arabs.

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