Wrongness of soul is an object of laughter. Any vice that is not painful or destructive can be an object of laughter, whereas a joke is a concealed reproach of an error. The comic ironist is a type of humorist joking by means of understatement or some other kind of pretence in order to expose errors of soul in his victims and arouse laughter. With irony apparently depending on a superior moral or intellectual standpoint, laughter aroused by it may well express malicious or otherwise self-satisfied pleasure. The 11th-century Byzantine ironist Michael Psellos is a case in point.
This paper will explore the assumptions, ‘knowledge’ and attitudes with which the crusaders’ approached the Turks during the First Crusade. The possibility will be entertained that the crusaders drew upon longstanding stereotypes, generated either in Byzantium or Eastern Germany concerning Turkic peoples such as the Magyars, in their subsequent engagement with the Seljuks. Other lines of ‘prior-knowledge’ will be considered such as the influence of Norman mercenaries who had served in Asia Minor and the tales of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Crusading charters will also be investigated in an attempt to understand how the crusaders initially defined their enemy. The paper will conclude by drawing together the above analyses with some reflections on the papacy’s approach to the Turks in its crusade propaganda.