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Writing History as a Political Act: Ibn Khaldūn, ʿAṣabiyya and Legitimacy

Writing History as a Political Act: Ibn Khaldūn, ʿAṣabiyya and Legitimacy

Chapter:
(p.47) 3 Writing History as a Political Act: Ibn Khaldūn, ʿAṣabiyya and Legitimacy
Source:
The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib
Author(s):
Allen J. Fromherz
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265697.003.0003

Studies of legitimacy in the medieval Maghrib have considered political, religious, social, and economic power, but rarely the political motivations of those who write the sources of the era. Although archaeology has made some promising advances, the basis for our understanding of these factors comes primarily from historical sources written by a particular class of scholar. Most historians of the medieval Maghrib were also ministers and advisors with their own specific and highly political interests. These writers were far from passive referees on the sidelines of history. Their portrayal of what was legitimate or even of what was history often had to do with their own political interests as learned ministers. Using Ibn Khaldūn’s autobiography, this chapter argues that to understand legitimacy in the fourteenth century a deeper understanding of the personal and political motivations of historians is needed.

Keywords:   Ibn Khaldūn, legitimacy, ʿAṣabiyya, autobiography, historiography, amīr, wazīr

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