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Products for grant FEL-263014-19

Memory, Genealogy and Power in al-Andalus: A Study of Rex Lupus, Medieval Islamic Ruler in Southern Spain
Abigail Balbale, Bard College

Grant details:

The Wolf King: Constructing Power in al-Andalus (Book)
Title: The Wolf King: Constructing Power in al-Andalus
Author: Abigail Krasner Balbale
Abstract: The book focuses on Muḥammad ibn Saʿd ibn Mardanīsh (518-567 AH/1124-1172 CE), ruler of southeastern al-Andalus in the name of the Abbasids, who fought the Marrakech-based Almohad caliphate in cooperation with his Christian neighbors. Ibn Mardanīsh and his Almohad rivals were contesting the central issue of the Islamic Middle Period: how to articulate the political and religious roles of the caliphate, and how non-Arab Muslims could be integrated into the Islamic political system. At the same time, Ibn Mardanīsh was imbricated in overlapping spheres of culture and sovereignty in the Western Mediterranean. Ibn Mardanīsh, his Almohad rivals, and the kings of Castile, Barcelona, and Sicily, among others, traded and offered gifts, exchanged women, borrowed architectural forms, and sent scholars and poets to each other’s courts. The forms and people they exchanged hailed, in many cases, from points further east. Rather than a world defined by conflict between Muslims and Christians, or between the forces of cosmopolitanism and strict religiosity, this book illuminates constantly shifting kaleidoscopic arrangements of alliance and violence. Ibn Mardanīsh was intensely eastward-looking in his ruling culture, and visual forms and language he imported from Baghdad and Cairo made their way to his allies in Castile, where they were used to articulate new kinds of royal power. After his death, Ibn Mardanīsh’s children were incorporated into the highest echelons of the Almohad elite. Histories written about Ibn Mardanīsh reflect his dynasty's ultimate failure, as well as later attitudes about religion and race. By working in an interdisciplinary and transregional mode, this book illuminates both how Ibn Mardanīsh sought and claimed power and how ideas about him, geography, religion and culture developed over time.
Year: 2022
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: No