Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

English and American Literature


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

David Lawton


As the first medieval text to combine the matter of the East with the matter of the Holy Land, The Travels circulated widely in over 300 manuscripts, making it an important text when studying medieval Christian attitudes toward non-Christians. Although many scholars point to The Travels as a tolerant text ahead of its time, a historicized approach reveals that Mandeville's project is better understood in terms of his intolerant universalism. I argue that in casting non-Christians as proto-Christians who stand as evidence of Christianity's global spiritual hegemony, the author appropriates and consumes them in service of his universalist agenda. I suggest that reading the text in terms of this intolerant universalism is a more productive approach to questions surrounding The Travels including Mandeville's demonization of Jews: an exception to his "generous" treatment of non-Christians), his concern for the Holy Land, and his reasons for combining the matter of the Holy Land with the matter of the East.


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