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19 - State formation and organisation

from PART V - RULERS, SOLDIERS, PEASANTS, SCHOLARS AND TRADERS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2011

Maribel Fierro
Affiliation:
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid
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Summary

Historiography: three types of government

All societies have government in the sense of rules of behaviour, but not all societies have a government to make and enforce those rules. The medieval world of the Mediterranean had inherited a long tradition of such government, beginning with the magistracies of the ancient city-states and culminating in the monarchies of the Roman and Byzantine empires. These, however, overlay a still longer tradition of customary self-regulation by peoples of the mountains, deserts and forests within and without the Roman frontiers, which had revived as the frontier was overrun by these barbarians, and imperial government shrank away towards the east. The tradition of imperial government was renewed by the Arabs, the last of the barbarians as well as the last of the heretics, who carried it back to North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, as well as to Central Asia and northern India, without suppressing the tradition of self-government among the peoples of the mountains and the deserts whom they brought under their sway. The subsequent history of state formation and organisation in the lands of the Arab empire is a history of the working out of the opposition between these two kinds of government under the rubric of their faith, with its requirement for government in accordance with the Law of God.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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