The Remuneration of a Court Companion in Theory and Practice: A Case Study

in Journal of Abbasid Studies
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This study follows the financial adventures of Abū Bakr al-Ṣūlī (d. 335/947) as he served at the court of three Abbasid caliphs in various capacities over thirty-eight years. In his Kitāb al-Awrāq, chronicles covering this period, al-Ṣūlī frequently refers to payments he himself or his colleagues had received as regular salaries, occasional presents, or inheritances, and he describes in some detail the physical appearance of material gifts and the circumstances in which they were given. Al-Ṣūlī wrote the last part of his chronicles at the end of his life, residing in Basra, living in reduced circumstances after he had left the court. Especially in the part of the book which records the reign of al-Rāḍī (r. 322/934-329/940), al-Ṣūlī recollects his prosperity as court companion at the time and contrasts it with his present worries. Based on the information provided by al-Ṣūlī, different components of a courtier’s income and the sources they are extracted from are identified and discussed in the broader context of the financial dynamics at the Abbasid court, disclosing a complicated network of affiliations, loyalties and patronage defied by an ever increasing financial crisis for the central power in Baghdad.

The Remuneration of a Court Companion in Theory and Practice: A Case Study

in Journal of Abbasid Studies

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References

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1

See amongst others Ibn al-NadīmFihrist167-168; al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Ta⁠ʾrīkh Baghdādiv 198-202; Yāqūt Muʿjam 2677-2678 entry 1134; Ibn Khallikān Wafayātiv 356-361.

6

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq51; transl. Pellat 79. Hilāl al-Ṣābiʾ (d. 448/1056) in his manual on the protocol of the caliphal court gives similar instructions: “Do not boast or brag about your good quality if you have one or plead for the gratification of your hopes and needs because overdependence on favour spoils proper relationships and continuous pleading breeds dislike” (al-Ṣābiʾ Rusūm 54).

7

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq70; transl. Pellat 97-98.

8

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq144-146; Pellat (164) translates jawāʾiz and ṣilāt with “gratifications et [. . .] pensions.” However his earlier translation of ṣila as “présent” seems more appropriate.

9

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq72; transl. Pellat 100.

11

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq50-51; transl. Pellat 79.

12

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq91; transl. Pellat 115-116.

13

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq121; transl. Pellat 140-141.

14

ThaʿlabīAkhlāq129; transl. Pellat 149-150.

15

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī8.

18

For his family see Ibn al-NadīmFihrist161; Vadet Ibn Ḥamdūn.

22

ShatzmillerLabour279.

23

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Buḥturī179-183.

25

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar22.

26

Ibid.24.

28

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar65-67.

29

Ibid.79-82.

30

Ibid.133.

31

Ibid.119-120.

33

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar126.

36

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar96; ʿArīb Ṣila 48.

37

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar141.

39

ṢūlīMā lam yunshar144.

40

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī25-26.

43

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī5.

44

Ibid.19. Al-Ṣūlī adds that at the beginning of his caliphate al-Rāḍī suspended his receptions for a time when soldiers’ unrests became more frequent because he did not want them to say that the caliph was only occupied with his amusements.

46

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī31-38.

47

Ibid.90-91.

49

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī193-194.

50

Ibid.194. Al-Ṣūlī does not mention a specific payment for this activity although it may be expected that he was paid by his students.

51

Ibid.195.

53

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī196-198.

54

Ibid.219-220.

55

Ibid.208.

59

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī210-212.

62

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī214-215.

63

Ibid.217. Presumably al-Ṣūlī had not moved his library to Wāsiṭ because he was not sure of his fate there but he was instead ready to relocate to Basra more permanently.

64

Ibid.218.

65

Ibid.248.

66

Ibid.270-275.

72

ṢūlīAkhbār al-Rāḍī137.

73

Ibid.193.

74

Ibid.195.

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