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  • Cited by 15
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2021
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Book description

This comparative study explores three key cultural and political spheres – the Latin west, Byzantium and the Islamic world from Central Asia to the Atlantic – roughly from the emergence of Islam to the fall of Constantinople. These spheres drew on a shared pool of late antique Mediterranean culture, philosophy and science, and they had monotheism and historical antecedents in common. Yet where exactly political and spiritual power lay, and how it was exercised, differed. This book focuses on power dynamics and resource-allocation among ruling elites; the legitimisation of power and property with the aid of religion; and on rulers' interactions with local elites and societies. Offering the reader route-maps towards navigating each sphere and grasping the fundamentals of its political culture, this set of parallel studies offers a timely and much needed framework for comparing the societies surrounding the medieval Mediterranean.


‘Three medieval civilizations, at least partially derived from the Roman world and based on monotheism, confronted each other in the Mediterranean area. The authors, highlighting similarities as well as differences, have brilliantly explored the evolution of their political cultures (rulers, military class, role of families and women, resource allocation …).’

Jean-Claude Cheynet - Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV)

‘A marvellous work of collaborative scholarship. Ideas take centre stage in this study of political dynamics in the West, Byzantium and Islam. It is comparative history at its best, seeking out the general from the particular and forming a very useful introduction to the medieval history of western Eurasia.’

James Howard-Johnston - University of Oxford

‘This is an illuminating and thought-provoking exploration of elite political culture--the theory and practice of power - across three cultural spheres that dominated medieval Eurasia. Carefully plotted and thoughtfully framed, the editors are to be congratulated for producing a sequence of interfoliated essays about medieval Eurasia that is sober and judicious.’

Paul M. Cobb - University of Pennsylvania

‘… a comprehensive and well-structured insight into the development of power and elite structures between the 8th and 15th centuries in the Latin-Western, Byzantine and Islamic world. … one can congratulate the editors of the volume on a successful basic work that achieves its goal.’

Miriam Salzmann Source: H/Soz/Kult (

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