Negotiating Conquest: Treaties and Concessions to establish Arab rule

Professor Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden University) will lecture in the Main Lecture Theatre at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, which is located at 66 St Giles, Oxford, at 5pm on Friday 22 June. Please see below the title and abstract of the lecture:

Negotiating Conquest: Treaties and Concessions to establish Arab rule

The great conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries established Arab rule over an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian subcontinent. The Islamic Empire that resulted lasted for centuries to come. Accounting for the military success of the conquests has been the object of considerable scholarly energy. The more complex and ultimately more important question of how the Arabs managed to transform the disparate territories they had conquered into an Islamic empire has been given much less attention. The apparent seamlessness of this process has led many to see it as an automatic and self-evident consequence of military subjugation. But this elision conceals the remarkable nature of the Muslim achievement, and the skill with which post-conquest administration was managed. In this paper I will discuss the strategies by which the Arabs, in the face of significant internal and external opposition, as well as formidable practical challenges, were able to impose an enduring system of government. I will focus in particular on the processes of negotiations and concession by which subject populations were coopted. In doing so I hope to show how the Arabs were on the one hand operating like any other conquering political power, while at the same time providing a unique offering of particular flexibility and appeal.

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