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This paper engages with the organization of the leadership of the Syro-Egyptian sultanate in the long ninth/fifteenth century, focusing particularly on the case of the court position of ‘the Chief Head of the [sultan’s] Guards’ (raʾs nawbat al-nuwab). It explores narrative source reports to identify the sultanate’s sixty ‘Chief Heads’ and to reconsider what they did in this capacity. Through the analytical categories of the court, social infrastructures and military entrepreneurialism, this paper furthers understandings of how these military leaders were all constitutive participants in the era’s complex processes of resource accumulation, violence-wielding, courtly reconfiguration, and state formation.

Open Access
In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Proceedings of the themed day of the Fifth Conference of the School of Mamluk Studies
The present volume contributes to research on historic Arabic texts from late medieval Egypt and Syria. Departing from dominant understandings of these texts through the prisms of authenticity and “literarization,” it engages with questions of textual constructedness and authorial agency.
It consists of 13 contributions by a new generation of scholars in three parts. Each part represents a different aspect of their new readings of particular texts. Part one looks at concrete instances of textual interdependencies, part two at the creativity of authorial agencies, and part three at the relationship between texts and social practice. New Readings thus participates in the revaluation of late medieval Arabic historiography as a critical field of inquiry.

Contributors: Rasmus Bech Olsen, Víctor de Castro León, Mohammad Gharaibeh, Kenneth A. Goudie, Christian Mauder, Evan Metzger, Zacharie Mochtari de Pierrepont, Clément Onimus, Tarek Sabraa, Iria Santás de Arcos, Gowaart Van Den Bossche, Koby Yosef.