In the Sultan’s Salon: Learning, Religion, and Rulership at the Mamluk Court of Qāniṣawh al-Ghawrī (r. 1501–1516) (2 vols)


Christian Mauder’s In the Sultan’s Salon builds on his award-winning research and constitutes the first detailed study of the Egyptian court culture of the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517). Based mainly on understudied Arabic manuscript sources describing the learned salons of the Mamluk Sultan al-Ghawrī, In the Sultan’s Salon presents the first theoretical conceptualization of the term “court” that can be fruitfully applied to premodern Islamic societies. It uses this conceptualization to demonstrate that al-Ghawrī’s court functioned as a transregionally interconnected center of dynamic intellectual exchange, theological debate, and performance of rule that triggered novel developments in Islamic scholarly, religious, and political culture.

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Christian Mauder, Ph.D. (2017), University of Göttingen, is Associate Professor in the Study of Religions at the University of Bergen. His numerous publications on the religious, intellectual, and cultural history of the Islamic world include the monograph Gelehrte Krieger: Die Mamluken als Träger arabischsprachiger Bildung nach al-Ṣafadī, al-Maqrīzī und weiteren Quellen (Olms, 2012).
" In the Sultan’s Salon offers a paradigm-shifting analysis of the court of the penultimate sultan of Cairo. Driven by a well-informed theoretical reflection, Mauder’s thorough study of three courtly majālis works invites us to radically rethink Egypt’s royal court as a nexus of cosmopolitanism, innovation and transregional elite formation. A must-read!" - Jo Van Steenbergen, Research Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Ghent University
"Christian Mauder’s book is a fascinating study of late Mamluk court life. A breathtaking variety of sources are used to provide a pioneering, carefully documented and highly readable account of the scholarly salons of the Mamluk Sultan al-Ghawrī. The study is a model for the integration of social, political, intellectual and religious history." - Khaled El-Rouayheb, James Richard Jewett Professor of Islamic Intellectual History, Harvard University
"Theoretically and philologically informed, this book invites us to rethink late Mamluk history and elegantly puts the ruler’s court on our agenda. A pleasure to read!" - Konrad Hirschler, Professor of Middle Eastern History, Freie Universität Berlin
List of Tables, Maps and Figures
Note on Transliteration, Style and Periodization

1 Introduction
 1.1  Topics and Research Questions
 1.2  What Is a Court? Theoretical and Terminological Considerations

2 Historical Context and State of Research
 2.1  Historical Context: The Standard Narrative
 2.2  State of Research

3 Arabic, Turkic and Other Sources
 3.1  Arabic Accounts of al-Ghawrī’s majālis
 3.2  Other Arabic Sources
 3.3  Turkic Sources
 3.4  Sources in European Languages
 3.5  Material and Epigraphic Sources
 3.6  Synopsis of Sources Utilized

4 Learning and the Transmission of Knowledge at al-Ghawrī’s Court
 4.1  Al-Ghawrī’s majālis as Historical Events
 4.2  The Topics of al-Ghawrī’s majālis
 4.3  Al-Ghawrī’s majālis as Salons
 4.4  Other Educational and Scholarly Activities at al-Ghawrī’s Court
 4.5  Courtly Education and Scholarship in Its Late Mamluk Context

5 Religious Life at al-Ghawrī’s Court
 5.1  Events, Influences, and Topics of Religious Life at the Sultan’s Court
 5.2  The Sultan’s Role in Religious Life
 5.3  The Significance of Religious Communication at al-Ghawrī’s Court

List of Tables, Maps and Figures

6 Rulership, Representation, and Legitimation of Rule at al-Ghawrī’s Court
 6.1  The Crisis of Late Mamluk Legitimacy
 6.2  Rulership and Political Theory in the majālis and at al-Ghawrī’s Court
 6.3  Communicative Strategies of Courtly Representation and Legitimation of Rule
 6.4  The Political Communication at al-Ghawrī’s Court between Tradition and Innovation

7 Conclusion
 7.1  Summary
 7.2  Research Results and Outlook

Appendix 1: Works Cited in the Accounts of al-Ghawrī’s majālis
Appendix 2: Participants in al-Ghawrī’s majālis
Appendix 3: Parallel Passages in the Accounts of al-Ghawrī’s majālis
Everyone interested in the intellectual, religious, and political history of the Islamic world in general and the Mamluk Sultanate in particular as well as specialists in comparative studies of courts.