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The Sammaran Military and the Origins of Abbasid decline,
This review is from: Breaking of a Thousand Swords the: A History of the Turkish Military of Samarra (A.H. 200-275/815-889 C.E.) (Suny Series, Medieval Middle East History) (Paperback)
Gordon has written an excellent history of the origin of the 'Turkish' (as Gordon notes, not only Turks were involved)military under the Abbasids. Locating the construction of the slave-soldier Turkish regiments under the reign of al-Ma'mun, he adeptly attributes the origin of this practice to the need of the 'Abbasid state to reconstruct its military power following the devastating civil war of al-Ma'mun vs. his brother, al-Amin. Thereafter, his account traces the founding of Sammara--a nearly unparalleled, massive medieval city bordering on a million inhabitants at its peak--which served as both the the new seat of the caliph and the base of the Turkish armies. Gordon gives a cogent, lucid picture of the political and social dynamics that the formation of the Turkish slave-soldier regiments. While tracing the rise and influence of the new Turkish elite, he convincingly points to the internal contradictions that led the undoing of Turkish influence over the caliphate and the eventual erosion and waning of central Abbasid power (which was always fragile). Half of the pages dedicated to the work consists of the bibliography and footnotes. Gordon demonstrates a fluency in the source material that does not deprive him of an analytical edge that many of the historians of his field too often lack.
Breaking of a Thousand Swords the: A History of the Turkish Military of Samarra (A.H. 200-275/815-889 C.E.) (Suny Series, Medieval Middle East History)(2 customer reviews)