The Mamluk Sultanate is in many ways the ultimate medieval Muslim state, based on a military force composed almost exclusively of mounted archers, mainly of Eurasian Steppe provenance. Probably no where else was the military and political elite so closely intertwined and even almost identical. In spite of a certain amount of political instability, as a system and state, it lasted for over a quarter of a millennium, with its rulers, the sultans generally enjoying effective power. Few pre-modern Muslim states can present such a claim. On the whole, too, the Mamluks provided relative security and stability to their subjects. They were famed and lauded for their defeats of the Mongols and Crusaders, and long after these enemies disappeared, the Mamluks exploited their achievements to gain legitimacy. Under the Mamluks, cities thrived, as did commerce, and there was a vigorous cultural life in different areas: religious learning; architecture and crafts; literature and historiography; and, science and technology. The papers in this volume reflect the rich and multifaceted nature of the society of the Mamluk Sultanate as well as the vibrant nature of current research on this subject. The international cast of contributors cover a wide array of topics, dealing with such aspects as politics, military affairs, cultural and literary life, everyday life, and Syria and Palestine under Mamluk rule.
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Reuven Amitai is Eliahu Elath Professor for the History of the Muslim Peoples at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Amalia Levanoni is Professor emerita of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa, Israel
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