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Module

HIS2012 : Clash of Civilizations? Islam, the Crusades, and the Mongol invasions (c. 750-1300)

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Clarke
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

In the year 750, the ‘Abb?sid family swept to power in the Islamic world on the back of a wave of social and political unrest. The first half of this module will explore the political and cultural history of the ‘Abb?sid caliphate during the heyday of Baghdad, before turning to look at the waning of the regime’s authority during the ninth and tenth centuries. This decline created space in which a profusion of regional dynasties could flourish, breaking apart what had once been a unified Muslim empire stretching from Spain to India. The de-centring of political power was accompanied – or perhaps hastened – by the devolution of religious authority to a broad class of legal scholars, whose services were in turn courted by the new dynasties. The result was a crystallisation of multiple competing and overlapping Islams, most obviously the Shi’ism of the Fatimid caliphs in Egypt, and the Sunnism of the Seljuk sultans in Iraq and Syria.

Into this divided world came invaders from both east and west. The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and occupied parts of the Near East until 1291; the Mongols spent the second quarter of the thirteenth century devastating Central Asia and bringing an end to the golden age of Baghdad, before settling down to rule large parts of the Islamic world. The second half of this module will examine the political, religious and social impact of these two invasions on the central Islamic lands: what collapsed, what changed, and how Islam coped in the face of significant threats to both its survival and its worldview. Attention will be paid to the re-configuration of networks of intellectual and economic exchange, the experiences of Muslims under non-Muslim rule, how individuals like Salah al-Din could make careers out of the instability, and the institutions, structures and practices that fostered social and cultural continuity amidst sweeping political change. Seminar discussion will be centred on short passages from primary sources in translation – such as the memoirs of Usama ibn Munqidh, and Rashid al-Din’s biography of Ghazan Khan, a Mongol convert to Islam – to give students a chance to hear voices from the period.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will survey the history of Islam in the Near and Middle East between the ‘Abb?sid ‘revolution’ in 750 and the end of the Crusader states, with the fall of Acre in 1291.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable