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Patronage, Conflict and Mamluk Socio-Political Culture, 1341-1382
This book offers an analysis of the Syro-Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate's political culture, focusing on the period between 1341 and 1382 CE, when twelve descendants of the regime's most successful sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn reigned and the military were more deeply involved in the political process than ever.
The book consists of three chapters, each of which discusses one major component of this period's political culture: political institutions, political relationships engendering households and networks, and the dynamics of the period's many socio-political conflicts.
This book marks an important breakthrough in Mamluk studies, offering both insights into the history of a long-neglected period and new models of analysis that call for wider application in the field of Mamluk socio-political history.
al-Ḏahab al-masbūk fī ḏikr man ḥaǧǧa min al-ḫulafāʾ wa-l-mulūk. Critical Edition, Annotated Translation, and Study
In Caliphate and Kingship in a Fifteenth-Century Literary History of Muslim Leadership and Pilgrimage Jo Van Steenbergen presents a new study, edition and translation of al-Ḏahab al-Masbūk fī Ḏikr man Ḥağğa min al-Ḫulafāʾ wa-l-Mulūk, a summary history of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca by al-Maqrīzī (766-845 AH/ca. 1365-1442 CE). Traditionally considered as a useful source for the history of the ḥağğ, al-Ḏahab al-Masbūk is re-interpreted here as a complex literary construction that was endowed with different meanings. Through detailed contextualist, narratological, semiotic and codicological analyses Van Steenbergen demonstrates how these meanings were deeply embedded in early-fifteenth century Egyptian transformations, how they changed substantially over time, and how they included particular claims about authorship and about legitimate and good Muslim rule.
The concept, practice, institution and appearance of ‘the state’ have been hotly debated ever since the emergence of history as a discipline within modern scholarship. The field of medieval Islamic history, however, has remained aloof from most of these debates. Rather it tends to take for granted the particularity of dynastic trajectories within only slowly changing bureaucratic contexts. Trajectories of State Formation promotes a more critical and connected understanding of state formation in the late medieval Sultanates of Cairo and of the Timurid, Turkmen and Ottoman dynasties. Projecting seven case studies onto a broad canvas of European and West-Asian research, this volume presents a trans-dynastic reconstruction, interpretation and illustration of statist trajectories across fifteenth century Islamic West-Asia.

Contributors include: Contributors are: Georg Christ, Kristof D’hulster, Jan Dumolyn, Albrecht Fuess, Dimitri J. Kastritsis, Beatrice Forbes Manz, John L. Meloy, Jo Van Steenbergen, and Patrick Wing.


This article analyses a brief panegyric text from mid-14th-century Egypt, authored by the court scribe Ibrāhīm b. al-Qaysarānī (d. 1352) and dedicated to the Qalāwūnid Mamluk sultan al-Malik al-Ṣāliḥ Ismāʿīl (r. 1342-5). It challenges this panegyric’s standard treatment as a work of history and as a product of court propaganda, and instead connects it to wider issues of Mamluk literary production and social organisation. In doing so, a new understanding of this panegyric emerges within a specific context of Mamluk elite communication and social performance, demonstrating at the same time how such a social semiotic reading of Mamluk cultural expressions generates further insights into the symbiotic interactions between Mamluk culture and society.

In: Journal of Arabic Literature


This article focuses on the conceptualisation of Mamluk socio-political organisation in late thirteenth and early to mid-fourteenth-century Egypt and Syria. Breaking free of the heuristic constraints imposed on Mamluk studies by the paradigm of the political elite as defined by the normative exclusivism of elite military slavery—the so-called Mamluk system—it demonstrates that apparent dynastic attitudes were no mere façade for that system but rather powerful representations of the Mamluk version of a long-standing regional tradition of socio-political organisation: the military patronage state. It is argued here that this tradition, with its focus on military leadership, patronage ties, household bonds, and unstable devolved authorities, coalesced between 1279 and 1382 in Qalāwūnid leadership over and monopolisation of Syro-Egyptian societies.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
In: Court Ceremonies and Rituals of Power in Byzantium and the Medieval Mediterranean
Peoples, Economies and Cultures, 400-1500
The aim of this series is to publish outstanding, original scholarly monographs and article collections, as well as editions and translations of primary sources, encompassing any aspect of the history of the Medieval Mediterranean. All methodological approaches—including interdisciplinary ones—are welcome. The vast majority of the books in the series are in the English language, although works of outstanding quality in French or German are sometimes included.

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