Amitai, Reuven. “Rashīd al-Dīn as an Historian of the Mamluks.” In Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, eds. Rashid al-Din, Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, 71-88. London and Turin: The Warburg Institute and Nino Aragno Editore, 2013.
The sixty year struggle (1260-1320) between the Mamluk Sultanate of Syria and Egypt and the Ilkhanate, the Mongol realm in Iran and the surrounding countries, had a profound impact on the region’s ruling elites and the general population, as well as on neighboring countries and beyond. It is possible to speak of a thirteenth century “world war”: on one side were arrayed the Mamluks and the Mongol Golden Horde of southern Russia, at times Genoa and the Byzantine empire, while on the other side we find the Ilkhanate, the Venetians (albeit still trading with the Mamluks), the states of western Europe, the Papacy, the Armenians of both the Caucasus and Cilicia, and Georgia. To these we could add minor, but still important actors: the Bedouin of Syria, the Seljuqs of Rum (Anatolia), the Turcoman of that country, and even more. Far away, the Mongols of Central Asia and the Great Khan in China also had an impact on affairs along the Mediterranean coast and southwest Asia. The present volume is based on four lectures given at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris in February 2007, and first provides an overview of the military struggle between these two regional powers, continues with a detailed discussion of the ideological posturing and sparring between them – both before and after the conversion of the Mongols to Islam in the 1290s, and finally reviews and compares how the Mamluks and Mongols presented themselves to the local, mainly Muslim, populations that they ruled. The book provides an analysis of an important chapter in Middle Eastern, Asian and world history.