For other Latin works from medieval Spain that include accounts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, see:
. The Byzantine-Arabic Chronicle
. The Mozarabic Chronicle
. Eulogius of Córdoba's Apologia for the Martyrs of Córdoba
. The Prophetic Chronicle
. The Tultusceptru from the Book of Lord Metobius
. Mark of Toledo's Prologue to his Latin translation of the Qur'an
The Chronicon Mundi, which translates as 'Chronicle of the World,' is a universal history work that was written by Lucas Tudensis (Lucas of Tuy/Lucas de Tuy). According to Emma Falque in her introduction to the modern critical edition of the original Latin text as published by Brepols' Corpus Christianorum series:
'Lucas was probably born in León or its environs...and although we do not know for sure the date of his birth, this is normally situated in the last years of the eleventh century. Nor do we know anything about his education, although his writings seem to indicate that he was educated in San Isidoro of León, where he came to be a deacon and later a canon...So we can well say that don Lucas was Lucas of León: for the possibility that he was born there and for having lived there for the greater part of his life, with some interruptions on account of his journeys...according to his own testimony, he travelled to Jerusalem, visiting Greece, Constantinople, Tarsus of Cilicia and Armenia. In his youth he had been in Paris and possible in 1230 or 1231 he was in Rome.'
Falque explains that in 1239, Lucas was named bishop of Tuy (a town located in Galicia on the border with modern-day Portugal) and he held this position until his death in 1249. His most prominent work is the Chronicon Mundi, which goes from the beginning of the world until 1236 when Córdoba was retaken from Muslim rule by Fernando III of Castile.
The biography of the Prophet Muhammad contained in this work forms a small part of the third book (chapters five and six). It contains the basic narrative thread that can be found in many of the other Latin works from medieval Spain with accounts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad: namely, the portrayal of the Prophet as a leader of the rebellious Arabs who attacked the Byzantine Empire and then established a kingdom for themselves in Damascus, with Muhammad leading the kingdom for ten years. There are also some other familiar ideas from medieval Christian literature on the Prophet, such as Muhammad's feigned or real displays of epileptic fits, that Islam constituted borrowings and distortions of the Old and New Testaments.
Below I feature my translation and commentary on the biography. Note that I have mostly preserved the original transliterations of names for the sake of authenticity. I would like to dedicate this work to my close friend Aaron Zelin, who is celebrating his birthday today. Widely renowned as the king of jihadism studies with his excellent website Jihadology, Aaron now holds the distinction of the most dedications of translations and commentaries on this site (see previous dedications here and here). Aaron, here is hoping that you are having a truly monstrous birthday with sweets and cake and that we will see many more years of fine work from you.
Then there arose a certain unjust preacher in Arabia called Mahumet. This most evil seducer seeing discord between Orientals[i] and Romans, raised himself against God and the empire of the Christians, raising the peoples of the Arabs through seduction and saying that they should not be subject to the dominion of another people, because the Lord would make provisions for them by granting a benevolent leader from their own race, whom they would have as a brother, with whom also the Lord would speak.
As he preached these things and things similar to them with those persuasive words and seemed to perform certain feigned powers and miracles with magic arts, immediately the Hismahelites[ii] as brute animals, who do not have understanding, gradually changed from good into evil, abandoned the Catholic faith and began to believe him and hold him in such great veneration, that they claimed he was a prophet sent by God, and they chose him as their king, seduced as they were by the feigned miracles of that man and deceived by his eloquence. For he was handsome, eloquent, brave and very much imbued with magic arts.
This Machometus, the leader of the Sarracens and Arabs, as is said, was from the line of Ismahel the son of Abraham. When he had begun in his adolescence to be a merchant with foresight, he frequently went with his camels to Egypt and Palestine, and tarried with the Jews and Christians, and very much so with a certain Antiochian monk who was a friend of superstition and was called Iohannes. He learnt from that man both the New and Old Testaments in a superficial and superstitious way. And as he travelled hither and thither with various specimens of aromas and riches for the sake of profit, it happened that he entered the province of Corrozania.[iii] The mistress of this province, who was called Hadiga,[iv] when she saw the young man, became captivated in her mind at first sight on account of his handsomeness and eloquence, and began to contemplate the various specimens which Machometus had brought with him and cling to him on familiar terms. Machumet seized her cautiously through the phantasma of his incantations and astutely and gradually began to lead her into error, telling her that he was the Messiah, whom the Jews expected would come.
He was helped not only by queen Hadiga, who had been deceived by him, but also many Jews who rushed from various parts to him.[v] Also all the Ismahelites and Arabs flowed to him in groups, astonished by the such great newness of the matter. He began to devise new laws for them, and hand them over to them, applying as he did to those wicked laws testimonies corrupted from both Testaments. Such did he pervert the authorities of the divine page, that he shut off in advance the approach for the Christians and the Jews to dispute with the Sarracens. Also he gave an edict to his own people, that whoever preached things other than those things that they had received from him, should be punished by the notice of the sword. The Sarracens call the sacrilegious traditions of this man the laws of God, and claim that he is their legislator and the messenger of God. Also the aforementioned Hadiga, when she saw that he was strengthened by a crowd of Jews and Sarracens equally, thought that the divine power lay within him, and as she was a widow, she accepted him as her husband, and Mahumet himself assumed the title of king with the diadem of the kingdom imposed on him. From there he began to train strenuously in arms and usurp the name and insignia of a king and prophet for himself. But after these things he began to fall frequently with epilepsy and epileptic suffering. Seeing this, queen Hadiga was rather saddened, because she had married a man whom she believed was labouring by the seizure of demons. But he astutely soothed and deceived her saying: 'As I contemplate Gabriel the angel of the Lord speaking with me, and as I cannot bear the splendour of his face, since I am a human of flesh, I stumble and fall.' Saying these things, he strove to perform certain signs and miracles by magic arts. But in fact, as is said, the devil transforming itself into the angel of light, told him of certain things to come. Hence it is that in the beginning of his deceptive preaching he[vi] approached Yspania[vii] and at Córdoba taught the sect of his perdition. For he said that Jesus Christ the Lord was born from the virgin by the operation of the Holy Spirit, but was not however God. When this had been reported to the most blessed father Yisidorus,[viii] who was then returning from the Roman curia, he immediately sent ministers to capture him. But the devil appeared to Machometus and ordered him to flee as quickly as possible. So Machometus after fleeing into Affrica and Arabia seduced countless peoples. He obtained the kingdom with the Hismaelites who believed that he was receiving from the mouth of the archangel Gabriel the laws which he was handing to them, and then with fortitude he devastated the Roman empire.
In era 656,[ix] Machometus invaded in a hostile manner with his army the parts of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia and occupied both those parts and neighbouring lands with destructive plundering. When this had been announced to Theodorus, the brother of Eracleus,[x] who was then in charge of the eastern regions, soon came to meet him at Gabata[xi] with a great army, intending to do battle. When, while they fought each other fiercely, Theodorus was killed, the greatest part of the army of the Christians fell by the terrible sword, and the rest fell in flight. Then the Agarenes,[xii] made stronger by the flight of the Romans, attacked more audaciously Syria, and plundering the land, established the throne of the kingdom for themselves at Damascus, once the noble city of the Christians. And they professed faith in the words of Machometus, asserting that divine power lay within him. But Machometus, among the rest of the wicked things that he taught, revived the sect of Nicholay the Antiochian migrant, who had been one of the seven deacons of the apostles. This sect had died out already through the Apostles, and the Lord writes in Apocalipsis to the angel of the church at Ephesus that he hates it, saying: 'You hate the deeds of the Nicolaytes, which I also hate.'[xiii]
But in the tenth year of his rule, as he had said that he would die and rise again on the third day,[xiv] his disciple Albimor, who wanted to test whether he would truly rise again from death, offered to Machometus the most effective poison, by which, through sudden change, Machumet sensed the end of his death. Hence he said to certain people standing by him that they should accept through water the remission of sins and he immediately died. But his disciples diligently guarded his body, waiting for him to rise again. But with excess stench breaking out, as they could no longer bear it, they departed, and Albimor after the eleventh day found his body torn apart by dogs, and diligently gathering his bones he buried him with a great gathering of the Sarracens in Medina Rassul,[xv] which in Latin means 'city of the messenger.'
[i] i.e. the Sassanids, who were in conflict with the Byzantines.
[ii] The Ishmaelites: i.e. the Arabs.
[iii] John Joseph Gavigan lists Corrozania as one of the Latin forms for the name of the region of Khorasan as occurs in the Gesta Francorum. Either the author is geographically confused or he is perhaps using the name Corrozania to mean the region inhabited by the Quraysh Arabs.
[iv] Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad.
[v] I would suggest that this notion of the Jews rushing to the aid of the Prophet Muhammad is a distorted understanding of the Prophet's interactions with the Jewish tribes of Medina.
[vi] i.e. Muhammad.
[viii] Saint Isidore of Seville, who, it should be noted, lived in the same period as the Prophet Muhammad (Isidore was born in around 560 CE and died in 636 CE).
[ix] The era is a Spanish system of dating. The corresponding CE year here is 617/618 CE. This follows the chronology of the Byzantine-Arabic Chronicle and the Mozarabic Chronicle.
[x] The Byzantine emperor Heraclius.
[xi] This location is also mentioned in the Byzantine-Arabic Chronicle and the Mozarabic Chronicle.
[xii] The people of Hagar: i.e. the Arabs.
[xiii] Revelation 2:6. Nicolas of Antioch was considered an early heretic in Christianity, and his primary fault as described in the relevant Christian writings was one of 'sexual immorality,' as noted by Alberto Ferreiro in his discussion of medieval Christian writings that tied the Prophet Muhammad to Simon Magus and Nicolas of Antioch. In the case of tying Muhammad to Nicolas of Antioch, the point is to attack Islam's teachings on polygamy and its views of sex more generally.
[xiv] The idea that Muhammad taught he would rise again on the third day, as well as the devouring of his body by dogs, also occurs in the biography produced in Eulogius of Córdoba's work and the Prophetic Chronicle.
[xv] i.e. Medina in Arabia.