The Fatimid Empire

Michael Brett

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A complete history of the Fatimids, showing the significance of the empire to Islam and the wider world

The Fatimid empire in North Africa, Egypt and Syria was at the centre of the political and religious history of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages, from the breakdown of the ‘Abbasid empire in the tenth century, to the invasions of the Seljuqs in the eleventh and the Crusaders in the twelfth, leading up to its extinction by Saladin. As Imam and Caliph, the Fatimid sovereign claimed to inherit the religious and political authority of the Prophet, a claim which inspired the conquest of North Africa and Egypt and a following of believers as far away as India. The reaction this provoked was crucial to the political and religious evolution of mediaeval Islam. This book combines the separate histories of Isma'ilism, North Africa and Egypt with that of the dynasty into a coherent account. It then relates this account to the wider history of Islam to provide a narrative that establishes the historical significance of the empire.

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List of Box TextsList of IllustrationsList of MapsIntroduction: The Question of EmpireChapter 1: The Coming of the MahdīChapter 2: The City of the MahdīChapter 3: The Conquest of EgyptChapter 4: The Constitution of the StateChapter 5: The Formation of the EmpireChapter 6: A Failure of Direction: The Reign of al-Óākim bi Amr AllāhChapter 7: The Regime of the PenChapter 8: The Crisis of the EmpireChapter 9: The Fatimid RenascenceChapter 10: The Reorientation of the DynastyChapter 11: The Final FailureConclusion: The Fatamids in RetrospectGenealogy of Shiʾite ImāmsGenealogy of FatimidsBibliographyIndex

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Michael Brett is Emeritus Reader in the History of North Africa at SOAS. His publications include The Moors: Islam in the West, 1980; (with L. Fentress) The Berbers (1996, with E. Fentress); Ibn Khaldun and the Medieval Maghrib, 1999; The Rise of the Fatimids, 2001; and Approaching African History, 2013, with contributions to the Cambridge History of Africa, the New Cambridge Medieval History, and The New Cambridge History of Islam.

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