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The History of al-Tabari Vol. 34: Incipient Decline: The Caliphates of al-Wathiq, al-Mutawakkil, and al-Muntasir A.D. 841-863/A.H. 227-248
     

The History of al-Tabari Vol. 34: Incipient Decline: The Caliphates of al-Wathiq, al-Mutawakkil, and al-Muntasir A.D. 841-863/A.H. 227-248

by Joel L. Kraemer (Translator)
 

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The events described in this volume took place during al-Tabari's own time. Al-Tabari was thus writing "contemporary history," and his narrative, often based on first-hand reports, is drawn in vivid and arresting detail. The volume portrays the summit of "the Samarra period," following al-Mu'tasim's transfer of the 'Abbasid capital upstream from Baghdad to Samarra.

Overview

The events described in this volume took place during al-Tabari's own time. Al-Tabari was thus writing "contemporary history," and his narrative, often based on first-hand reports, is drawn in vivid and arresting detail. The volume portrays the summit of "the Samarra period," following al-Mu'tasim's transfer of the 'Abbasid capital upstream from Baghdad to Samarra.

Three caliphs are portrayed in this volume: al-Mu'tasim's son and successor, al-Wathiq; al-Wathiq's brother al-Mutawakkil; and al-Mutawakkil's son al-Muntasir. At this time the 'Abbasid caliphs came under the dominant influence of the Turkish military elite. The crowning example of Turkish power and 'Abbasid frailty was the dramatic assassination of al-Mutawakkil by Turkish officers within the precincts of his own palace. The Turks were afterward not only instrumental in raising al-Muntasir the caliphate, they also forced him to depose his two brothers as heirs apparent. Finally, they had al-Muntasir himself killed.

During the period of al-Wathiq and al-Mutawakkil, insurrections erupted in the center of the empire, and serious revolts broke out in distant provinces, including Africa and Armenia. The Byzantine raids on Damietta and Samosata were memorable events, and periodic Muslim forays were made into Byzantine territory. Prisoner exchanges between Muslims and Byzantines are reported in engaging detail on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The report of a prisoner release by a Shi'ite emissary to the Byzantine emperor contains a charming description of his visit to Constantinople and his audience with Michael III.

A discounted price is available when purchasing the entire 39-volume History of al-Tabari set. Contact SUNY Press for more information.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In this volume, covering the years AD 636-642 (A.H. 15-21) and the middle of Umar's caliphate, al-Tabari relies almost exclusively on the controversial historian Sayb b. Umar (d. circa A.D. 800). Includes a discussion of the poetry in the volume, and a 1905 diagram of the city of Tustar (modern Schushtar), the siege and fall of which is narrated herein. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Covering in this volume the years AD 841-863, al-Tabari relates events that happened in his own lifetime, drawing on eyewitness accounts, and preserving contemporary documents. The heyday of the Abbasid dynasty was over, and the successors of Harun al-Rashid gradually retreated before the encroaching power of the mamlucks--the Turkish generals and bureaucrats who would soon rule from behind their puppet caliphs. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887068744
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
11/01/1989
Series:
SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies Series , #34
Pages:
282

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