Aragon’s Contribution to Middle Eastern Reception (13th-15th Centuries)

In all probability, Ibn Khaldun’s account was used by the Mamluk scholar al-Qalqashandi (d. 821/1418). Although the latter cites Ibn Hayyan but fails to mention Ibn Khaldun, many parallels suggest that Ibn Khaldun figured as his main source. Al-Qalqashandi’s abbreviated account is also preceded by a section on the ‘Banu al-Ahmar’. It also provides an overview of similar length that focuses on the history of Leon and Castile as the playing field of the ‘Banu Adfunsh’, dealing with most topics also covered by Ibn Khaldun. It even features the same orthographic specificities noted by Martinez-Gros.428 An annex to the aforementioned overview contains short entries on Castile (mamlakat Qishtala), Portugal (mam- lakat al-Burtughal), ‘the realm of Barcelona’ (mamlakat Barshaluna), and Navarre (mamlakatNabarra), the same realms mentioned by Ibn Khaldun in the Introduction to his chapter.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]29

However, al-Qalqashandi also made use of alternative data. Often lacking a historical framework, the data features in various parts of his multi-volume manual for chancery scribes. While the realm of Navarre is only defined in regard to its Basque ethnicity, its capital Pamplona and its position between Castile, the territories of Barcelona and Aragon and France,430 all other descriptions reproduce snapshots taken from different periods of the Iberian Peninsula’s history between the middle of the twelfth and the fourteenth century.

Portugal features as a province of Galicia (min a'mal Jilliqiyya) centred in Lisbon (Ashbuna) ‘even though its master has a distinct title and realm’ in one passage,43i then as a small but seemingly independent kingdom (mamlaka saghira) in the west of the peninsula in another passage.432 The contents of the former passage obviously apply to the period before 1139, when Portugal, originally a province of the kingdom of Asturias, later Leon, asserted its independence, a fact acknowledged by the king of Leon and Castile as well as by the pope in 1143 and 1179 respectively.433 The contents of the later passage obviously apply to the period after these dates.

Al-Qalqashandi had problems placing the rulers of Galicia (muluk al-Jalaliqa min al-Faranj) on the historical map of the Iberian Peninsula, claiming that their capitals were in Toledo and Barcelona and that the title of their rulers had been and still was ‘Alfonso’ (Adfunsh, AfUnsh).[6] [7] His confusion, excusable in view of the entangled history of the Christian North, becomes apparent in his use of the name and title ‘Alfonso’. The latter is applied to (1) a ruler who is the overlord ofToledo435 (since 1085), (2) who sent a sword to one of the later Fatimid sultans of Cairo on the verge of the eleventh to the twelfth century^6 (3) a ruler of Castile, Toledo, Cordoba, Leon, and Valencia named ‘Dun Faranda’, who made a peace treaty with the Almohads after conquering the city of Murcia (treaty of Alcaraz 1243?), maybe Fernando III of Castile,437 (4) the ruler of a great kingdom encompassing Toledo, Castile, Seville, Valencia and Cartagena, Jaen and Galicia, and other places,438 (5) a powerful ruler well known in the Maghreb because of his proximity (li-qurbihi),439 as well as (6) a ruler called ‘Batta b. Dun Juwan’ who died in 787/1385, maybe Peter IV of Aragon.44°

Al-Qalqashandi provides most information on the Crown of Aragon. Apart from citing al-Himyari on Garcia Sanchez and the Crown’s origins in the county of Aragon,44i he refers to the unification of the county of Barcelona with the realm of Aragon442 and the succeeding expansion of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that led to the incorporation of Denia and Mallorca.443 His work contains the titles used in a letter written to a certain ‘Atfunsh Dun H akim’ (Don Jaime?), defined as the ruler of the petty kingdom of the Catalans (ta’ifat al-Kitlan), the king of Aragon (al-rid Araghun), master of Barcelona (sahib Barjaluna), and supporter of the pope (zahir baba Rumiyya).444 It also features a peace treaty dated 10 Dhu l-Qa'da 621/24 November 1224. The treaty concludes negotiations about the possession of Valencia and other localities in the east of al-Andalus (sharq al-Anda- lus) between the Muslims (al-muslimun) and a ruler defined as ‘ruler of Aragon’ (al-malik Araghun), ‘count of Barcelona’ (qumt Barjaluna), and—if the text permits this reading—‘prince of Montpellier’ (birinsib Munt Balli).445 This ruler carries the name ‘H afiza b. Batta b. Adfunsh Ibn Raymund’ and probably represents James the Conqueror (the son of Peter, the son of Alfonso, the son of Raymond).446 Drawing on the geographer Ibn Sa'ld (d. 685/1286), al-Qalqashandi reports that Sardinia had been taken over by the Catalans (al-Faranj al-Kitlaniyyin) and was ruled by a Catalan governor.447 He cites another treaty concluded between the Mamluk sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf with the envoys of James II of Aragon (Dun Hakim) in Safar 692/January 1293.44® The geography of Abu l-Fida serves as his source on the kingdom of Morea (mamlakat al-Mara), ruled partly by the ‘master of Constantinople’ (sahib al-Qustantiniyya) and a Frankish people called the Catalans (al-Qitlan, al-Kitlan), a clear reminder of the activities of the ‘Catalan Grand Company’ at the end of the thirteenth and during the fourteenth century. 449 Finally, he mentions king Peter IV (Batra, ruled 1336-87) who allegedly died in 787/1385, claiming that the king’s brother secured the independence of Zaragoza and was acclaimed ruler of Sicily by the island’s peopled0 Frederick III of Sicily (d. 1337), actually Peter’s great-uncle, is referred to as ‘al-Raydafrik’, a Catalan Frank (Faranji min al-Kitlan) ruling Sicily.451

Al-Qalqashandi was not the only Mamluk scholar who dealt with the Crown of Aragon. Among his earlier peers, Muhi al-Din b. Abd al-Zahir (d. 692/1292) reported on the Aragonese takeover of Sicily and an early alliance between Mamluk sultans and the Crown of Aragon concluded in 6 8 9/129 0.452 In his description of Christian realms north of the Mediterranean, al-'Umarl (d. 749/1349) even completely ignored Castile, Leon, Galicia, Portugal, and Navarre. He focused on the Catalans, the ‘Arabs among the Franks’, a valorous people active on land as well as on the sea that is obedient to its king and ‘does not commit evil as long as they are not aroused.’453 Al-Qalqashandi then enriched the information provided by scholars of western and eastern origin with documents recording direct relations between the Crown of Aragon and Mamluk Egypt.

Thus, data about the expanding polities of Christian Iberia gathered first in al-Andalus and the Maghreb, then increasingly in a Mediterranean context, also found its way into the hands of Mamluk scholars. The latter not only received access to such information because they drew back on scholarly works from the Muslim West. Mamluk writings from the thirteenth, fourteenth, and early fifteenth centuries also testify to the Middle Eastern impact of the only Iberian Christian realm that interacted intensively with the eastern Mediterranean: the Crown of Aragon.454 That their later colleagues al-Maqrizi (d. 845/1442), Ibn Hajar al-Asqalanl (d. 852/1449), and Ibn Taghribirdi (d. 874/1470) ceased to follow up further developments related to the Iberian Peninsula and the Crown of Aragon,455 cannot only be accounted for by the fact that their writings tend to

  • 447 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 374. 448 Ibid., TOl. 14, p. 63.
  • 449 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 409. Cf. Merriman, Rise (1918), vol. 1, pp. 363—82; Setton, Domination (1948).
  • 450 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aesha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 270.
  • 451 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 373.
  • 452 Ibn Abd al-Zahir, tashrif al-ayyam, ed. Amari (BAS), pp. 339—52 (AR), vol. 1, pp. 546—68 (IT).
  • 453 al- Umari, Condizioni, ed./trans. Amari, p. 9 (AR), p. 17 (IT): ‘la yabdun bi-sharr ma lam yunabbih nayimihim [sic]’. See Chapter 6.3.1. on the Catalans’ alleged Arab origins.
  • 454 On the Crown of Aragon’s commercial, military, and diplomatic activities in the late medieval Mediterranean, see Masia de Ros, Corona (1951); Dufourcq, LEspagne (1966); Lopez Perez, Corona (1995); Jaspert, ‘Diplomatie’ (2008), pp. 151—90; Coulon, Barcelone (2004).
  • 455 al-Maqrlz!, al-suluk, ed. Ata, vol. 1, AH 629, mentions an embassy sent by the ‘master of al-Andalus’ (sahib al-Andalus); AH 648, p. 660, on the Aragonese ruler’s (malik Barshaluna wa-ismuhu Rayarakun) role in Louis IX’s Tunisian crusade; Ibn Hajar al-Asqalanl, inba al-ghumr, ed. Habashi,

focus on the Mamluk Middle East. By the middle of the fifteenth century, the heyday of Aragonese Mediterranean expansion was over. Important links connecting both regions had been severed.^6

  • [1] 28 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aesha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, pp. 263—70. Ibn Hayyan is cited, ibid.,
  • [2] pp. 264—5. Cf. Martinez-Gros, ‘L’histoire’ (2007), p. 82.
  • [3] 429 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-acsha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, pp. 270—1.
  • [4] 430 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 271; vol. 8, p. 34. 431 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 270.
  • [5] 432 Ibid., vol. 8, p. 34. 433 Lay, Kings (2009), pp. 71—142.
  • [6] al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aesha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 484.
  • [7] Ibid., vol. 3, p. 322; vol. 5, p. 22 8 . 436 Ibid., vol. 8, pp. 34—5. 437 Ibid., vol. 14, p. 24. 438 Ibid., vol. 8, p. 33. 439 Ibid., vol. 8, p. 34. 44° Ibid., vol. 5, p. 270. 441 Ibid., vol. 6, p. 84. 442 Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 233—4. This unification was possible thanks to the alliance of RamonBerenguer IV, count of Catalonia, with Petronilla of Aragon in 1137. Cf. Schramm, ‘Entstehung’ (1956), pp. 19—50; Bisson, ‘L’essor’ (1984), p. 458. 443 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-a'sha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, pp. 233, 270; vol. 8, p. 34. 444 Ibid., vol. 8, p. 36. 445 Ibid., vol. 14, p. 26: The correct transcription is ‘y-r-n-s-b m-q-t b-sh-l-i’. Exchanging the ‘ya ’(-j) with a ‘ba’ (-j) and vocalizing with an ‘i’ would produce the word ‘birinsib’ (princeps). Exchangingthe ‘qaf’ (-3) with a ‘nun’ (-j) and vocalizing with a ‘u’ would produce the word ‘munt’ (Mont). Exchanging the ‘shin’ (-^) with a ‘lam’ (-J) and vocalizing with an ‘i’ would produce the word ‘billi’ (Pettier). 446 Ibid., vol. 14, pp. 26—9. On the date, which would correspond to 23 November in moderncalculation, see ibid., p. 27.
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