Universiteit Leiden

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LUCIS What's New lecture

Centralization, Language Reform and the Role of Governors in Umayyad Administration: A Question of Point of View

Thursday 2 May 2019
Free to visit, drinks after
What's New?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The nature of the early Islamic state, the role of ‘Abd al-Malik and the so-called Marwanid reforms in shaping Umayyad administration has been the subject of much discussion in research of the past decades. Various theories of state formation have been followed in parallel to the examination of individual caliphates. A focus on Mu‘awiya has revealed that a number of Marwanid developments find their root in the earlier decades of Umayyad history. Still, the early Marwanids are often perceived as the creators of a centralized state, a centralized coinage and of an Arabized state and administration. Diverging opinions are regularly expressed on each of those aspects as a perception of an Umayyad state with fixed borders, a common language and a monopoly of authority at the centre is in itself problematic when looking at the contemporary source material. This lecture will attempt to discuss the role of provincial governors, the linguistic practices in their provinces as well as their fiscal policies. Contemporary data provided in Egyptian papyri will be confronted to a selection of accounts found in later narrative sources with reference to the administration of Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

About Marie Legendre

Marie Legendre is lecturer in Islamic history at the University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on early Islamic social and economic history (600–1200). She has published on the transformation of Byzantine administrative structures in the early Islamic period and edited Arabic and Coptic documents from early Islamic Egypt. Her projects include a reconstruction of Abbasid fiscal practice based on documents preserved in the Egyptian countryside in Greek, Coptic and Arabic.

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