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Serving the Khan: Power, Loyalty and Ideology in the Mongol World

Tuesday 18 February 2020 - Wednesday 19 February 2020
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Verbarium, Room 1.04

This workshop will explore the themes of loyalty and ideology in the Mongol world. It is part of the NWO project Turks, Texts and Territory at Leiden University headed by Professor Gabrielle van den Berg. 

The workshop themes are close to the project’s heart, as Toby Jones is looking at loyalty in the greater Mongol empire and in the Ilkhanate, relating loyalty to succession, status and tradition; while Sara Mirahmadi is focusing on the different techniques used by Rashid al-Din and the Seljuk poet-historian Ravandi to legitimise their patrons, especially through the medium of poetry.

In this vein these are some of the questions we are considering:

  • How should we perceive the ruler/ruled divide?
  • In what ways did Persian authors attempt to make the Mongols more palatable and more powerful?
  • How have our primary sources affected the way loyalty is perceived in the Mongol world?
  • Did history writing in the Mongol period differ greatly from what came before?
  • How did Mongol tradition, or the perception of Mongol tradition, influence loyalty ideals and legitimisation techniques?

If you have an interest in Iranian history, the Mongols, nomadic empires or poetry production please come along.

Our confirmed speakers are the following:

  • Stefan Kamola (Eastern Connecticut State University): Dr. Kamola has worked extensively on Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Chronicles written in the Ilkhanate in the 14th century.
  • Bruno de Nicola (Goldsmith’s University, London): Dr. de Nicola has written one of the seminal works on women in the Mongol Empire, Women in Mongol Iran: The Khātūns, 1206-1335
  • Florence Hodous (Previously Renmin University of China, Beijing, now independent): Dr. Hodous has worked extensively on political institutions of the Mongol Empire, including law, justice and rulership.
  • Michael Hope (Yonsei University): Dr. Hope recently published a fascinating work on the political workings of the Mongol Empire and the Ilkhanate, Power, Politics, and Tradition in the Mongol Empire and the Īlkhānate of Iran.
  • Anne Broadbridge (University of Massachusetts, Amherst): Dr. Broadbridge is the Director of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written books on Mongol diplomacy and ideology, as well as a more recent publication on women in the Mongol Empire.
  • Remco Breuker (Leiden University): Dr. Breuker is the Professor of Korean Studies at Leiden University, who works on medieval Korea, as well as on modern Korea and East Asia, and is an expert in Korean, Japanese and classical Chinese sources.
  • Josephine van den Bent (Amsterdam University): Dr. van den Bent  has worked extensively on The Mongols in Mamluk Eyes, in her recently defended doctoral dissertation. 
  • Sara Mirahmadi (Leiden University): Sara is a PhD candidate here at Leiden University, focusing on two historian-poets from the Seljuq and Mongol periods, Ravandi and Rashid al-Din.
  • Toby Jones (Leiden University): Toby is also a PhD candidate at Leiden University, focusing on loyalty and punishment in the greater Mongol world, as well as more specifically on the Ilkhanate in Iran.


Tuesday 18th

9:30 Coffee and Tea Introduction 

10:00-11:00 Florence Hodous: Yasa, Törü, and what the use of synonyms in Persian can tell us about Mongol law

11:00-12:00 Michael Hope: The Wisdom of Royal Glory: Knowledge and Power in the Mongol Empire & the Ilkhanate of Iran

12:00-13:30 Lunch

14:00- 15:00 Toby Jones: Conceptualising Mongol Loyalty: Categories and Objects of Loyalty

15:00-16:00 Josephine van den Bent: Mongols in the Mamluk sultanate: Ethnic and Other Loyalties

16:00-17:00 Anne Broadbridge: Royal Wives, Consort Men, State Institutions and Lying Historians in the Ilkhanate


19:00 Dinner for Speakers

Wednesday 19th

9:00-10:00 Sara Mirahmadi: Poetry and Legitimation in Rashid al-Din’s Jami al-tavārīkh

10:00- 11:00 Stefan Kamola: Remembering the Loyal Vizier: Rashid al-Din, 1318-1833

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30-12:30 Bruno De Nicola: Between Loyalty and Rebellion in Ilkhanid Iran: a Case from Western Anatolia

12:30-13:30 Remco Breuker: TBA


If you would like to attend, please register by sending an email to Toby Jones at: t.x.jones@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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