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The Flux and Reflux of Mamluk State Formation: Reconsidering Mamluk notions of Elite, State and Empire

Introduction 1

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In a paper given in April 2011 at a Mamluk meeting in Haifa, I presented an understanding of the rather surprising fact that what modern historians tend to refer to as the Mamluk sultanate was actually not known by that name to contemporaries. If at all considered a historical unit, this Muslim polity dominating Egypt, Syria and beyond between the mid-13th to the early 16th centuries was identified in most extant sources by the label of dawlat al-atrāk (or variants thereof), the ‘Rule of the Turks’. 2 As could be expected, a lively discussion ensued, but not just on the meanings of atrāk: the debate revolved most of all on the ways in which dawla should be translated in this combination with atrāk, with suggestions going from dynasty, over regime or rule, to state or perhaps even empire. The present paper wishes to further the discussion of the meanings of dawla in a Mamluk context, approaching it from two perspectives: the one empirical, from Mamluk sources, and the other conceptual, from social theory. More precisely, I will look into that black box which in many ways the dawla at the centre of the Mamluk polity remains, and explore how dawla in Mamluk times was and today still can be a meaningful concept to understand the dawlat al-Atrāk.

1. the Mamluk DAWLA: Between turn of fortune and social transformation

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In the course of the many centuries of Arabic and Islamic history, the noun dawla has indeed appeared in many different contexts, with complex meanings that are not always easily rendered in European languages. Developing from the root-meaning of rotation and transformation in time, it has been used in political contexts as wide ranging as revolutionary projects, dynastic claims to authority, imperial enterprises, and modern nation-states. 3  As suggested by the discussions in Haifa, it also appears not infrequently in extant Mamluk sources, and discussions on which of these or any other contexts may have been referred to by their authors and audiences remain largely unresolved.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 A cursory identification of Mamluk cases in which the noun dawla may be encountered —in narrative historiography and in epigraphy— suggests that there was not just one Mamluk dawla, but that the dawlat al-Atrāk consisted of a succession of different dawlas, this term in most cases simply being used for the sake of periodisation, for explaining when something happened: when sultan X or Y was in power, or, literally, when the dawla or ‘turn of fortune’ was in that particular sultan’s favour. 4 A representative example of this temporal meaning of dawla is an inscription on a mausoleum in Cairo, commemorating a Mamluk victory over Ottoman troops in Anatolia, which explains that the monument was constructed in the course of the dawla or reign of sultan Qāyitbāy by the phrase fī dawlat al-Maqām al-Sharīf al-Khāqānī al-Faghfūrī al-Farīdūnī Tāj Mulūk al-ʿArab wa-l-ʿAjam Khādim al-aramayn al-Sharīfayn […] Abū l-Futūḥāt al-Sulṭān Qāyitbāy. 5

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 In some cases, however, it transpires that this use of dawla does not just allude to a moment in time, but also to something more complex. 6 In these rare instances, a late echo actually transpires of the meanings that the noun dawla had obtained in ʿAbbāsid times, as reconstructed for that period by Jacob Lassner. In his The Middle East Remembered: forged identities, competing narratives, contested spaces, Lassner concludes that it was a

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 “medieval concept” that “can mean both a revolution that results in transformative change and a dynastic polity of truly imperial dimensions.” 7 When describing the usurpation of the sultanate by the amir Ṭaṭar in 824/1421, the Mamluk court historian Ibn Taghrī Birdī suggested that this change of ruler involved a more substantial transformation, a “revolution” resulting in “transformative change” indeed, when he claimed that in his view Ṭaṭar’s heroic achievement concerned the fact that “he transformed one dawla into another dawla in the shortest time and the easiest way (wa-aqlaba dawlatan bi-dawlatin ghayrihā fī aysar muddatin wa-ahwan arīqatin).” 8  What this dawla then actually consisted of, if not simply the sultan or his term in office, is partly suggested elsewhere, when the same historian explained how the junior mamluks of Ṭaṭar’s predecessor were re-integrated into the transformation, by

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 “bringing them closer, drawing them near, and calming their fears, until each of them attached himself to someone from the followers of Ṭaṭar (awāshī aar), as is the custom with unfortunate armies whose dawla has come to an end and whose power has gone (kamā hiya ʿādatu al-ʿasākiri al-maflūlati mimman zālat dawlatuhum wa-dhahabat shawkatuhum).” 9

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Another aspect of the meaning of dawla is suggested by another protagonist of the Mamluk narrative source tradition, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-Maqrīzī. In his discussion of the extremely brief reign of Barsbāy’s son al-ʿAzīz Yūsuf, in 842/1338, he explained how a certain amir Īnāl’s deserting of the young sultan “was the beginning of the end of the dawla of al-ʿAzīz”, after which al-Maqrīzī portrayed a remorseful Īnāl as crying out: “there was no payback from me to al-Malik al-Ashraf [Barsbāy]. He bought me, raised me, taught me the Quran, covered me with his blessing, and his house was destroyed by my hand (akhraba baytuhu bi-yadī).” 10 A dawla, in the eyes of Ibn Taghrī Birdī and al-Maqrīzī, thus revolved around the temporality of an entourage, a house or bayt of family, friends and followers, and an army integrated into that. Finally, in another work of history by Ibn Taghrī Birdī, the author’s assessment of al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad b. Īnāl’s short reign in 865/1461 repeats this idea of the dawla as a social construction, providing at the same time some further insight into the full complexity of contemporary conceptualisations of the noun:

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Al-Muʾayyad’s dawla came to an end most quickly, as if it had never been. Praise be to Him whose reign never ends!

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 This happened in spite of the large number of his followers, the vastness of his possessions, and the impact of his charisma, unlike [the qualities displayed by] the other sons of rulers who had become sultan (hādhā maʿa kathrati awāshīhi wa-amwālihi wa-ʿumatihi fī-l-nufūsi bi-khalāfi baqiyyati l-mustalinīn min awlādi l-mulūki).

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 These [benefits] were mainly due to [the following factors:] his advanced age, as he was in his thirties when he became sultan; the fact that he had already been awarded power in the days of his father during that long period, enjoying much respect, awe in the souls of men, and authority —the people kept knocking at his gate in order to have their matters settled; the fact that he had been made aṭābak in the days of his father, for all sons of rulers that were deposed [from the sultanate] were time and again overcome by [the one who occupied] the position of aṭābak —but this [man’s] father had not had any other aṭābak than his son; the fact that the people were acquainted with him, in the cities, the towns, and in the countryside, [on the one hand] because he had traveled as amīr ḥājj mamal […] and on many a trip to the pasture and elsewhere, [and on the other hand because] he was well-informed about the Syrian domains and its conditions, from the days that his father had held office in those lands; [his beneficial position was also due] to the fact that he had many partners, followers and mamlūks —but perhaps this trait of his was shared by the sons of the former rulers as well.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 In spite of all this, his rule came to an end, and he was deposed from the sultanate by his enemies very easily. 11

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Not only is a Mamluk dawla in the eyes of Ibn Taghrī Birdī, and of other Mamluk authors and their audiences, a very dynamic social construction of partners, followers, mamlūks and possessions; it is also the project of a man and his friends and followers that was created in the centre of Mamluk power and related to that centre’s peripheries, and that most of all perhaps should inspire different people to accept its authority. In short, in order to be successful, a Mamluk dawla had to transcend the local and transform into, indeed, a “dynastic polity of truly imperial dimensions”. 12 In al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad’s case, however, meeting these conditions —at least in the eyes of the Mamluk chronicler— still proved not good enough to resist further “transformative change”!

2. Mamluk DAWLAs : Between Revolution and Empire

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 These contemporary perceptions of the social complexity of dawla’s within the temporal framework of the dawlat al-Atrāk offers a useful starting point for the second, main part of my paper, since this will be concerned with the ways in which this transformative contemporary concept of dawla may still be meaningful today. What stands out from the cursory discussion above is that the noun dawla —whether in its chronological or in its social historiographical usage, and whether in its revolutionary or in its imperial conceptual guise— is always used in a particular context of a power relationship that was at least claimed to be legitimate. I will explore here further the conceptualisation of this legitimate power relationship at the centre of the Mamluk polity, and I will propose a better understanding of the fact that it was a transformative social construction that could be at the same time revolutionary, dynastic and imperial. To this end, I will develop the concept of a specifically Mamluk process of state formation, as a model for the formation and fragmentation of Mamluk dawlas between transformative, dynastic and imperial paradigmatic types.

A. Definitions

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 An important premise for any definition of what is meant by the notion of Mamluk state formation should certainly be the fact that Egypt and Syria were governed through many dynamic practices that transcended the historical reality of one sultan’s dawla or another by far, in time as well as in space. The royal chancery and most other aspects of court protocol derived their forms, functions and meanings in many ways from Abbasid, Fatimid and other precedents; the financial-fiscal organisations of Egypt and of Syria were rooted in local customs often as old as the land that was being tilled; wider economic and social life in urban and rural contexts were regulated by, amongst others, legal and moral codes many of which at least purported to go back to the early Islamic period; and many of these practices and the skills they required were linked since pre-Mamluk times to particular social groups and families, many of whom continued to dominate them as before in the Mamluk and even in subsequent eras. There can be no doubt either that these and related dynamic practices defined many of the arenas for competition, negotiation and exchange from which Mamluk society emerged. The question here, however, is whether that prism of social, economic, and cultural practices suffices to explain Mamluk politics, and more widely whether Mamluk state formation can be meaningfully reduced to how social spaces were shaped by social, economic and cultural “institutions” and their transformations.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 It is quite obvious to me that for an understanding of Mamluk dawlas, for an explanation of the social realities of domination, hierarchy and political elite membership, an understanding of the parameters defining such distinct but intertwined Mamluk social spaces as constituted by social, economic, and cultural practices alone does not suffice. In short, chancery practice, court protocols, fiscal and legal codes, and similar continuities and practices do not explain Mamluk political elite memberships and power relationships; they do not explain who was in power nor how that power was performed; they rather merely represent the diversity of means by which those memberships and relationships were established, consolidated, performed and challenged, that is, negotiated, in the centre as much as in the many peripheries of Mamluk society. When pursuing the question of Mamluk state formation, an understanding needs to be developed first and foremost of a Mamluk social space of power, that as a hegemonic political superstructure defined the organisation of individuals and groups within their social, economic and cultural contexts along relationships of power and domination, a dynamic superstructure that was identified in contemporary sources as —indeed— dawla.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 In my view, this Mamluk dawla represents and simultaneously emanates from such a political superstructure in its continuous negotiation from a monopolising centre with the socially, economically or culturally defined spaces that underpinned it, a negotiation that was a multi-directional and creative one, driven by the interests, ambitions and choices of Syro-Egyptian political elites in the centre, and adapted by the interests, ambitions and choices of other political, social, economic and cultural elites in the peripheries. In an adaptation to such Mamluk realities of Pierre Bourdieu’s version of Max Weber’s definition of ‘the state’, this vision of the Mamluk dawla could then be defined as “the political superstructure that in its interaction with Mamluk social, economic and cultural spaces successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical and symbolic violence over a majority of social groups in late medieval Egypt and Syria”. 13 This superstructure of power relationships and their wider interaction as well as the nature of its successful claims are then further to be defined from the perspective of Mamluk State formation, of the process —suggested above— of Mamluk dawlas being formed and transformed continuously.

B. Models: “the duration of the life of a dawla does not as a rule extendbeyond three generations”

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 The study of pre-modern state formation is the subject of a long and rich historiographical tradition —for late medieval and early modern Europe in particular— that has achieved substantial but not unproblematic conceptual complexity. 14 In Mamluk studies, apart from the PhD of late Winslow Clifford on “State Formation and the Structure of Politics” in the early Mamluk sultanate, 15 as far as I am aware no other study exists that explicitly or consciously engages with these or related rich and inspiring debates. Traditional academic assumptions of the sultanate as a Syro-Egyptian ‘military slave state’ that was historically, socially and geographically discontinuous, disconnected and unique are increasingly problematised and gradually making place for more nuanced approaches. Nevertheless, an overall conscious model for the formation and transformation of Mamluk dawlas, for Mamluk state formation, still remains wanting.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 In a recent publication, I tried to come to some terms with the latter epistemological problem by introducing the idea of the Mamluk sultanate as a Military Patronage State (MPS). 16 This is a concept that was defined by Marshall Hodgson and refined by Michael Chamberlain for understanding (post-)Mongol and (post-)Saljuq political realities respectively. 17 It thinks of ‘the state’ as a collection of military households, organised by these households’ competitive politics of revenue appropriation and assignment. Translating this to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Mamluk realities, I suggested that extended military households continued to be not just —as is well known— the basic units of Mamluk social, economic and cultural participation, but also the building blocks of Mamluk political organisation. This model therefore starts from the assumption that the Mamluk sultanate’s political superstructure basically was another version of such a Military Patronage State, a “collection of powerful households kept in check by the head of the most powerful among them” 18, transformed from many of its premodern Turco-Mongol counterparts only in that the endemic tendency towards fragmentation of its elite households no longer had any territorial repercussions. In that article, however, I focused mainly on one particular moment of formation and transformation of this MPS-model, around the Qalāwūnid bayt in the 14th century. Here I would like to suggest a model of Mamluk state formation that transcends the limits of the Qalāwūnid experience, taking inspiration from the somewhat unusual combination of two theoretical models of state formation, both suggesting in their own ways how state formation concerns first and foremost a transformation in the reach of the ruler’s household, in the length and subsequent complexity “of the chains of authority and agency” emanating from the ruler, 19 and therefore in the distance between ruler and ruled.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Most germane to the Mamluk experience at large among classic models of state formation is that offered by the 14th-century North-African scholar Ibn Khaldūn. In the introduction to his great history of North-Africa and Asia, the famous Muqaddima, Ibn Khaldūn devotes substantial attention to how the organisation of dynasties, their elites and the agrarian-based societies that they dominate, transform over time. In this respect, Ibn Khaldūn posited a well-known and quite appropriate historical model of a dawla’s cyclical transformation. In a sort of cartoonesque historical manner, he summarised this model as follows:

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 “… the duration of the life of a dawla does not as a rule extend beyond three generations. The first generation retains the desert qualities, desert toughness, and desert savagery. … Therefore, the strength of group feeling (ʿaṣabiyya) continues to be preserved among them. They are sharp and greatly feared. People submit to them. Under the influence of royal authority and a life of ease, the second generation changes from the desert attitude to sedentary culture, from privation to luxury and plenty, from a condition in which everybody shared in the glory to one in which one man claims all the glory for himself while the others are too lazy to strive for it, and from proud superiority to humble subservience. Thus, the vigour of group feeling is broken to some extent. People become used to lowliness and obedience. But many of [the old virtues] remain in them, because they had had direct personal contact with the first generation and its conditions … . The third generation, then, has [completely] forgotten the period of desert life and toughness, as if it had never existed. … Luxury reaches its peak among them, because they are so much given to a life of prosperity and ease. They become dependent on the dynasty and are like women and children who need to be defended. […] The ruler (ṣāḥib al-dawla), then, has need of other, brave people for his support. He takes many clients and followers (yastakthir bi-l-mawālī). They help the dynasty to some degree, until God permits it to be destroyed, and it goes with everything it stands for.” 20

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 As suggested in this fragment, Ibn Khaldūn’s model of a political organisation’s cyclical transformation emerges first and foremost in the chronological oscillation between simple tributary polities of local chiefs, families and clans of nomadic origins (“the first generation”) on the one hand, and complex tax-based and urban-centred agrarian dynastic states on the other hand, perpetuated by “clients and followers”, by professional groups of administrators and military. For Ibn Khaldūn, however, human society’s historical movement toward more specialised, structural, and autonomous relationships of power and authority inherently was a negative development. In the best of postmodern traditions, therefore, the objective value of the conscious and unconscious adoption of this simple model is nowadays rightfully being questioned. Ibn Khaldūn’s suggestion of a polity’s continuous socio-political transformation, however, involving the emergence of new social groups and the redefinition of relationships of power, remains a compelling analysis, particularly for the Mamluk Sultanate in which he lived, and for the dawla concept that his contemporaries used to understand it.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 This then brings me to another model I briefly wish to dwell on, which —in my reading at least— more than other ‘European’ models allows us to usefully connect Ibn Khaldūn’s ideas to current conceptualisations of political organisation and transformation. In some of his later writings, the French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu (d. 2002) developed his own historical model of the rise and development of socio-political organisations. In his “From the King’s House to the Reason of State” in particular, Bourdieu attempts to construct a model for the process of transition from what he calls the “dynastic state” to the “bureaucratic state,” that is, from “the state reduced to the household of the king to the state constituted as a field of forces and a field of struggles oriented towards the monopoly of the legitimate manipulation of public goods.” 21  Bourdieu’s model of state formation then basically focuses on the more or less natural emergence in a ‘Dynastic State’ of a more complex political superstructure, which monopolises and therefore subsumes different sorts of power and resources and which is intrinsically linked to the appearance of new elites and new strategies. This closely mirrors Ibn Khaldūn’s model —but breaking free from the constraints of his cyclical matrix— in its representation of state formation as a transformative process, a polity’s flux across a continuum that stretches between a simple political superstructure created through affectional ties at one end of the continuum, and a complex one constructed around rationalising procedures of monopolisation at the far other end.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 One particular problem remains, however, with the application of these two and most other models of state formation to Mamluk dawla realities. In all of these models, the ruler and his household are hardly ever included among the variables of the political superstructure. Nevertheless, Mamluk sources’ explicit perception of the transformative nature of the Mamluk dawla — as with Ṭaṭar’s “transforming one dawla into another dawla in the shortest time and the easiest way” 22— suggests that the Mamluk ruling household was a variable by excellence. Contrary to common assumptions, it is by now widely acknowledged that dynastic aspirations —the succession of fathers by their sons— were a rule of thumb in Mamluk succession practices from the thirteenth to the later fifteenth centuries; however, as experienced by the above-mentioned son of Īnāl, al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad, an even stronger rule of thumb in Mamluk succession practices was the Turco-Mongol variant of tanistry, of succession to rule by the most capable male member of the ruling clan, as decided by the sword. 23 In the Mamluk context, the legitimating contours of this ‘ruling clan’ were open to constant negotiation and interpretation by different stakeholders, so that —with the exception of the case of fourteen of Qalāwūn’s descendants for most of the 14th century— most sultans’ sons’ tenure of the sultanate was ephemeral only. As is also illustrated by the case of the failure of the dawla of al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad in 865/1461, especially in the 15th century dynastic tendencies constantly failed to stem the tide of the emergence of new rulers, their new entourages of family, friends, and followers, and their new hegemonic projects. This indeed revolutionary character of a Mamluk dawla, this recurrent tendency of the Mamluk political superstructure to completely fragment into various groups of claimants —or factions— for the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical and symbolic violence, is a major causal factor in the transformative character of Mamluk state formation. It causes the political superstructure’s constant flux across that continuum, between different types of dawla. This is the ‘flux and reflux‘ model of state formation which I propose —to borrow from Ernest Gellner’s ‘Flux and Reflux in the Faith of Men’, his Khaldūnian interpretation of human oscillation between polytheism and monotheism. 24

C. Mamluk State Formation: “a revolution that results in transformative change and a dynastic polity of truly imperial dimensions”

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Combining this flux and reflux model with the Military Patronage State model, it becomes apparent that Mamluk state formation thus proceeded across an even more complex continuum than the one suggested so far, a continuum that in fact has most in common with Ibn Khaldūn’s three-tiered generational historical model. The simplest type of the Mamluk dawla is not that of the unipolar state reduced to the ruler’s household, but rather that of a multipolar fragile equilibrium of elite military households and their consensus over the distribution of social, economic and cultural resources. The unipolar type only emerges when one military leader manages to subsume most other elite households into his own and when that consensus increasingly starts to correspond to this leader’s wishes or needs, so that his house is transformed into ‘the state’ and vice versa. And a third, more complex type follows when in this latter Ibn Khaldūnian dawla or ‘dynastic’ state the distance between the ruler and his subjects widens to the extent that the institutions and officials that represent and perform his expanding authority in the Mamluk social, economic and cultural spaces acquire semi-autonomous reflexes, and when thus a “dynastic polity of truly imperial dimensions” appears.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 In the Mamluk sultanate, the first multipolar and second simple unipolar dawla types were clearly constantly jostling for pre-eminence as its political superstructure; the third more complex unipolar, imperial type —it seems to me— only emerged in specific contexts, of relatively long and successful or charismatic unipolar rule, and then always with remarkable spillover effects in the social, economic, and cultural structures of subsequent periods. The latter fact of more complex Mamluk state formation happened in my view in particular under seven Mamluk sultans: during the militarily victorious sultanate of Baybars (1260-1277), during the thirty-years reign of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (1310-1341), under the charismatic leadership of sultan Barqūq (1382-1399), during the reign of sultan Barsbāy (1422-1438), and also during its continuance by Jaqmaq (1438-1453), in the long-lasting days of sultan Qāytbāy (1467-1496), and during the creative reign of sultan Qansawh (1501-1516). The disappearance of these sultans time and again roughly meant a “revolutionary” relapse of the political superstructure into the first multipolar moment, and the forty-three other sultans’ less successful to sometimes extremely short-lived reigns were always due to their inability, rashness, or simple failure to consolidate their authorities by fully achieving the unipolar type, to establish a dawla of their own. At the same time, the spillover effect of the third ‘imperial’ model, and in particular the emergence of new semi-autonomous institutions and elites on its six occasions, obviously had more lasting effects, but primarily on the social, economic and cultural practices of the Mamluk sultanate, which transformed over time and which were perceived increasingly as more complex, more organised and even more imperial as a result. The fifteenth century Mamluk sultanate therefore presents itself as far more mature, efficient, bureaucratic, and even self-conscious a Dawlat al-Atrāk than before; the continuous failure of dynastic tendencies such as in al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad’s case, and the repeated re-fragmentation of the elite in the same period, underline at the same time how the political superstructure of the Mamluk Military Patronage State continued to be driven by the interests of different political leaders and their households.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0  

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 This is then the flux and reflux of Mamluk state formation as I currently see it unfolding from the mid-thirteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, oscillating between different dawla-types, between multipolar, “revolutionary” fragmentation and different modes of unipolar formation, yes even of unipolar formation “of truly imperial dimensions”. Although this view cannot at this moment purport to be more than a speculative model for imagining dynamic relationships among Mamluk ruling elites, a skeleton that awaits further modelling, filling and correction, it does present itself as a coherent framework for further inquiry, a potentially productive starting point to ask many different (new) questions, including about the projections of state and empire at the centre and in the peripheries of different Mamluk dawlas.


28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Creative Commons Licence
The Flux and Reflux of Mamluk State Formation (Working Paper) by Jo Van Steenbergen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Notes:

  1. 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0
  2.   This paper is being developed within the context of the project “The Mamlukisation of the Mamluk Sultanate (MMS): State Formation and the Structure of Politics in Fifteenth-century Egypt and Syria”, a research project financed by the European Research Council (ERC-Starting Grant, 2009-14, ERC StG 240865 MMS, Ghent University). We wish to thank the team members for useful discussions, suggestions and feedback. Earlier versions of this paper were presented on several occasions: as a seminar paper in the “Eurasian Empires Program” at Leiden University in January 2013, and as a paper in a panel on ‘Projections of Mamluk Empire’ at the October 2013 Middle East Studies Association annual meeting in New Orleans; I am grateful to all who have provided helpful feedback, and look forward to any further comments and suggestions from readers.
  3. J. Van Steenbergen, “‘Nomen est omen. David Ayalon, the Mamluk Sultanate, and the Rule of the Turks”, in Egypt and Syria under Mamluk Rule: Political, Social and Cultural Aspects, ed. A. Levanoni (in publication)
  4. See especially Fr. Rosenthal, “Dawla”, EI2
  5. See also Rosenthal, “Dawla”.
  6. Thesaurus dEpigraphie Islamique, fiche nr. 12180. َFurthermore, we looked into 191 narrative source reports containing the noun dawla in our MP3 database (consisting of a range of source material for the period 1382-1467; see http://www.mamluk.ugent.be/prosopography), from which it transpired that the great majority of cases concerned this type of periodisation by sultan.
  7. See also Rosenthal, “Dawla”.
  8. J. Lassner, The Middle East Remembered. forged identities, competing narratives, contested spaces (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000): Chapter 3: “Dawlah, Transformative Politics and Historical Memory”, pp. 60-94 (quote p. 89). I am grateful to Dr. Kristof D’hulster for this suggestion.
  9. Ibn Taghrī Birdī, Nujūm (ed. Popper), 6: 517.
  10. idem, 6: 507.
  11. al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 4: 1077.
  12. Ibn Taghrī Birdī, awādith (ed. Popper), 8: 396-7
  13. I understand the adjective ‘imperial’ here as referring to a political system that combines an ideology of trans-regional hegemony with a centre-periphery relational model of diverse and dynamic interactions between different regional elites (See esp. Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference. The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective [CUP, 2008], esp. 9-15).
  14. Pierre Bourdieu, Loic J.D. Wacquant, Samar Farage, “Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field”, Sociological Theory 12/1 (1994): 1-18, p. 3: “I would say, using a variation around Max Weber’s famous formula, that the state is an X (to be determined) which successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical and symbolic (sic) violence over a definite territory and over the totality of the corresponding population.”
  15. For a superb overview of this debate, see John Watts, The Making of Polities. Europe, 1300-1500 (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks) (Cambridge: CUP, 2009), pp. 1-42.
  16. W.W. Clifford, State formation and the structure of politics in Mamluk Syro-Egypt, 648-741 A.H./1250-1340 C.E.. Edited by Stephan Conermann. 267 pp. Goettingen: Bonn University Press, 2013.
  17. J. Van Steenbergen, “The Mamluk Sultanate as a Military Patronage State: Household Politics and the Case of the Qalāwūnid Bayt.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 56, 2 (2013): 189-217.
  18. See Marshall S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam. Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Vol. 2. The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977): 400-10; Michael Chamberlain, “Military Patronage States and the Political Economy of the Frontier, 1000-1250.” in A Companion to the History of the Middle East, ed. Y. Choueiri (Blackwell 2005 [pb 2008]): 141-52.
  19. Quote from Chamberlain, “Military Patronage States and the Political Economy of the Frontier”, p. 142.
  20. Quote from P. Bourdieu, “From the King’s House to the Reason of State: A Model of the Genesis of the Bureaucratic Field”, Constellations 11/1 (2004): 16-36, p. 31.
  21. Translation from  F. Rosenthal, The Muqaddimah: an introduction to history, Chapter 3: 12
  22. See P. Bourdieu, “From the King’s House to the Reason of State: A Model of the Genesis of the Bureaucratic Field”, Constellations 11/1 (2004): 16-36; quote from p. 16.
  23. Ibn Taghrī Birdī, Nujūm (ed. Popper), 6: 517.
  24. See especially Joseph Fletcher, “Turco-Mongolian monarchic tradition in the Ottoman Empire”, Harvard Ukranian Studies 3-4 (1979-1980): 236-51; J. Van Steenbergen, “Caught between Heredity and Merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (d. 1341)”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (in press).
  25. Ernest Gellner, “The Flux and Reflux in the Faith of Men”, in E. Gellner, Muslim Society (Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology 32) (Cambridge: CUP, 1982).
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Source: http://islamichistorycommons.org/mamluk/

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