Horváth, Revolts & official narratives from the Fatimid Caliphate

Satans rising from under the throne: revolts and official narratives from the Fatimid Caliphate

Máté Horváth (Avicenna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Budapest)

The second half of the 5th /11th century was a period of convulsion in the Egypt-centred Fatimid Caliphate. The age saw the so-called ’great crisis’ (al-shidda al-’uzma), a near-fatal combination of low inundation levels of the Nile and the breakdown of the central power, resulting in widespread famines and epidemics, an immense rise of food prices and almost incessant internal warfare, which devastated the land and almost caused the downfall of the Fatimids. This prolonged conflict was put to an end by the drastic measures of Badr al-Jamali, the new vizier, who estabilished military rule in Egypt. Despite his efforts, this period did not lack internal dissent and rebellion either, and soon after his death, his son and successor, al-Afdal had to deal with yet another revolt – this time led by a pretender  to the imamate.

The aim of the paper is to present the known revolts and rebellions faced by the Jamalis, and in particular to expound the existing official narratives regarding them, based on surviving Arabic documents and historiographical works.