Monthly Archives: February 2014

Anti-Semitism begins in Europe

Part of the countdown to the First Crusade… Before the year 1000, there’s no clear evidence of anti-Jewish actions. A small community of Jews had settled along the Rhine River in Roman days; there were some other small historic communities … Continue reading

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Normans on the world stage

  You’ll remember that one of the early steps to pacifying the North was the deal the Franks made with Rollo the Dane to have land in exchange for peace. The Northmen who settled in Normandy were probably warriors who … Continue reading

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Ideology takes over the Caliphate

I’ve taken a week off writing about medieval Islam, so I want to review before going on. After about 950, the nature of the Muslim world began to change profoundly. Each region had its own type of change. In Persia, … Continue reading

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Kievan interlude

To take note of today’s news of fiery uprising in Kiev, I’m going to duck to one side of the Islamic developments I’ve been tracking, and instead look at Anne of Kiev, a Queen of France. Anne’s grandmother may have … Continue reading

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North African Puritans

When the Ismaili Shi’ites were looking for an accepting, protective tribe distant from Baghdad’s central power, they found it in the Kutama tribe of Berbers. With this base, they took over the Mediterranean strip of North Africa, and on across … Continue reading

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End of Cordoban power

In 976, around the same time that Fatimids were building Cairo, the last powerful descendant of Abd al-Rahman died in Cordoba. He left a 12 year old son, Hisham II, with Hisham’s mother as regent. As so often happened, this … Continue reading

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The Mad Caliph

By the late 900s, the Fatimid dynasty was in control of all of North Africa, Palestine, and the holy places in Arabia, Mecca and Medina. Sunni Muslims had been the norm in Egypt; now they were pressured to become Ismailis. … Continue reading

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Fatimid ideology

The IMAM: During the Abbasid years, Shi’ite believers had turned away from secular power in order to survive. Those who challenged the Caliph openly usually died. Those who developed the ability to go undercover while seeming loyal, survived. We hear … Continue reading

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Religious ideology in the early Middle Ages

When the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads, theology had been only lightly involved, just enough to get most Shi’ite sympathizers on their side while actually shifting power to Persians. These dynasties had been about pragmatic balance of power and maximizing tax … Continue reading

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The Shi’ite Revolution: Revenge of Fatima

Ever since the Battle of Karbala, true-believer Shi’ites kept track of a secret line of true Imams descended from one survivor. It was inevitable that someone would emerge to challenge Abbasid power, and to this end, the regime was constantly … Continue reading

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