Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East
Ed. by Heidemann, Stefan / Hagen, Gottfried / Kaplony, Andreas / Matthee, Rudi / Richardson, Kristina L.
CiteScore 2018: 0.12
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.147
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.267
The reign of the ῾Abbsid caliph al-Mu῾taṣim (833842) is usually recognized among historians for its military character with the recruitment of new Turkic troops, the foundation of Smarr᾿ as a new capital, and the campaign against ᾿Ammriyya. Chronicle accounts about al-Mu῾taṣim, however, also hold potential as a topic for narrative criticism. This article analyzes the little examined use of military history for literary and allusive purposes by medieval narrators. The overall accomplishments of al-Mu῾taṣim were dramatized in the classical texts within a matrix of tensions that permeated his reign, including: the caliph's backing of the Miḥna while undertaking jihd against the Byzantines and the Khurramiyya, his sudden reversal for the fortunes of al-Afshn in spite of the latter's military skill, and the lingering mistrust between the ῾Alids and the ῾Abbsids, Persian officials and the Arab leadership. The article shows how the narratives of Ṭabar in particular display a careful construction which deployed these various dimensions as objects for readership reflection to varying degrees of criticism or support.
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