Empires and Communities in the Post-Roman and Islamic World, C. 400-1000 CE

ISBN : 9780190067946

Walter Pohl
464 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
May 2021
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OPEN ACCESS This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. This book deals with the ways empires affect smaller communities like ethnic groups, religious communities and local or peripheral populations. It raises the question how these different types of community were integrated into larger imperial edifices, and in which contexts the dialectic between empires and particular communities caused disruption. How did religious discourses or practices reinforce (or subvert) imperial pretenses? How were constructions of identity affected in the process? How were Egyptians accommodated under Islamic rule, Yemenis included in an Arab identity, Aquitanians integrated in the Carolingian empire, Jews in the Fatimid Caliphate? Why did the dissolution of Western Rome and the Abbasid Caliphate lead to different types of polities in their wake? How was the Byzantine Empire preserved in the 7th century; how did the Franks construct theirs in the 9th? How did single events in early medieval Rome and Constantinople promote social integration in both a local and a broader framework? Focusing on the post-Roman Mediterranean, this book deals with these questions from a comparative perspective. It takes into account political structures in the Latin West, in Byzantium and in the early Islamic world, and does so in a period that is exceptionally well suited to study the various expansive and erosive dynamics of empires, as well as their interaction with smaller communities. By never adhering to a single overall model, and avoiding Western notions of empire, this volume combines individual approaches with collaborative perspectives. Taken together, these chapters constitute a major contribution to the advancement of comparative studies on pre-modern empires.


1. Introduction: Empires and Communities in the Post-Roman and Islamic World (Walter Pohl and Rutger Kramer)
2. The Emergence of New Polities in the Break-Up of the Abbasid Caliphate (Hugh Kennedy)
3. The Emergence of New Polities in the Break-Up of the Western Roman Empire (Walter Pohl)
4. Comparative Perspectives: Differences between the Dissolution of the Western Roman Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate (Walter Pohl and Hugh Kennedy)
5. Fragmentation and Integration: A Response to the Contributions by Hugh Kennedy and Walter Pohl (Peter Webb)
6. Historicizing Resilience: The Paradox of the Medieval East Roman State
Collapse, Adaptation, and Survival (John Haldon)
7. Processions, Power, and Community Identity: East and West (Leslie Brubaker and Chris Wickham)
8. Death of a Patriarch: The Murder of Yuhanna ibn Jami (966) and the Question of 'Melkite' Identity in Early Islamic Palestine (Daniel Reynolds)
9. Diversity and Convergence: The Accommodation of Ethnic and Legal Pluralism in the Carolingian Empire (Stefan Esders and Helmut Reimitz)
10. Franks, Romans, and Countrymen: Carolingian Interests, Local Identities, and the Conquest of Aquitaine (Rutger Kramer)
11. From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: Yemeni Arab Identity in Abbasid Iraq (including Appendix: translations of selected poems) (Peter Webb)
12. Loyal and Knowledgeable Supporters: Integrating Egyptian Elites in Early Islamic Egypt (Petra Sijpesteijn)
13. Concluding Thoughts: Empires and Communities (Chris Wickham)

About the author: 

Rutger Kramer is Assistant Professor of Medieval History at Radboud University, The Netherlands. Walter Pohl is Professor of History at the University of Vienna, Austria.

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