The body of Mahomet: Pierre Bayle on war, sex, and Islam

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This paper discusses Pierre Bayle’s article on Muhammad in his Dictionnaire historique et critique (1696), especially with regard to its two main themes: the role of force in the establishment of Islam, and sexual morality within Islam. Both themes had been a traditional part of Christian apologetics for centuries, but Bayle takes them up in an unconventional way, proposing to write the history of Islam objectively rather than fitting it into a Christian story. This article will discuss these and other themes in Bayle’s "Mahomet" and place it within the wider historiographical context of the early modern debate on Islam.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-50
JournalJournal of the History of Ideas
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Bayle
  • Islam
  • Muhammad
  • Toleration
  • Sexuality
  • Gibbon
  • Apologetics
  • History


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