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In: Mamluk Cairo, a Crossroads for Embassies

Abstract

Muslim caliphal rule was anything but coherent. In fact, a chain of repeated civil wars caused large devastation during the first three centuries of Islam. The mid-8th century witnessed the overthrow of the Umayyad ruling dynasty by the Abbasids. From the 9th century onwards, territorial integrity was put at stake by a trend towards regionalisation. From now on provinces gained independence from the imperial centre in Baghdad. Short-term political events were surface phenomena but symptomatic for long-term processes inside the societies. Of these may be mentioned the Arabisation of the Middle Eastern and North African populations; movements of religious conversion; the settlement of the progeny of the Arab military class in the conquered lands; the import of Turkish military slaves from Central Asia. All these transformations arose from, or were at least related to, migrations of considerable geographic reach. Similarly, administrative elites and middle-ranking technocrats, ‘the backbone of imperial rule’, were not at the mercy of short-term political events. Rather, they were kept in place during the fall of their regimes and even after. Only one or two generations later was the personnel effectively exchanged, because of profound ‘real’ changes at social levels deeper than the political surface. The administrative personnel is of special interest, because both elites and middle-level technocrats had considerable influence on local political decision-making. Their migration always meant an import of specific forms of control over the means of government. These forms could change from group to group and would have lasting effects on local conditions. The particular staff composition of regional administrations not only affected adjacent social milieus and brought along technological innovations, but also was a causal link for provincial politics and the political fate of the empire itself.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of methodological debates in the field of medieval migration studies and a chronological overview of major developments in the migration history of the Afro-Eurasian Transition Zone (between the Mediterranean and Central Asia and between Eastern Europe and East Africa) from 300 to 1500 a.d. It demonstrates that this macro-region was the most important intersection of human mobility in the pre-modern period with immense impact on all adjacent areas. Equally, migrations below the “radar” of state authorities or the interest of official historiography and the pitfalls of ancient, medieval and modern historiographies are highlighted.

In: Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition Zone
The transition zone between Africa, Asia and Europe was the most important intersection of human mobility in the medieval period. The present volume for the first time systematically covers migration histories of the regions between the Mediterranean and Central Asia and between Eastern Europe and the Indian Ocean in the centuries from Late Antiquity up to the early modern era.
Within this framework, specialists from Byzantine, Islamic, Medieval and African history provide detailed analyses of specific regions and groups of migrants, both elites and non-elites as well as voluntary and involuntary. Thereby, also current debates of migration studies are enriched with a new dimension of deep historical time.

Contributors are: Alexander Beihammer, Lutz Berger, Florin Curta, Charalampos Gasparis, George Hatke, Dirk Hoerder, Johannes Koder, Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Lucian Reinfandt, Youval Rotman, Yannis Stouraitis, Panayiotis Theodoropoulos, and Myriam Wissa.