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.
al-MasʿūdīAbū-l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. al-ḤusaynBarbier de Meynard et Pavet de Courteille.Les Prairies d’or — Murūj al-dhahab wa-maʿādhin al-jawhar1965-79BeirutPublications de l’Université Libanaise7 vols.Revue et corrigée par Charles Pellat(d. 345/956)
al-ṢūlīAbū BakrCanardMariusAkhbâr ar-Râdî billâh wa’l-Muttaqî billâh (Histoire de la Dynastie Abbaside de 322 à 333/933 à 944)1946 and 1950AlgiersInstitut d’Études Orientales da la Faculté des Lettres2 vols.
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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).
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.