Rashīd al-Dīn and the making of history in Mongol Iran
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The <italic>Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh</italic> (Collected histories) of Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb (d. 1318) has long been considered the single richest witness to the history of the early Mongol Empire in general and its Middle Eastern branch, the Ilkhanate, in particular. This has created a persistent dependence on the work as a source of historical data, with a corresponding lack of appreciation for the place it holds within Perso-Islamic intellectual history. This understanding of Rashīd al-Dīn and the <italic>Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh</italic>, however, does not match certain historiographical and ideological strategies evident in the work itself and in other works by Rashīd al-Dīn and his contemporaries. This dissertation reads beyond the monolithic and uncritical use of the <italic>Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh</italic> that dominates modern scholarship on Mongol and Ilkhanid history. Instead, it fits Rashīd al-Dīn and his work into the difficult process of transforming the Mongol Ilkhans from a dynasty of foreign military occupation into one of legitimate sovereigns for the Perso-Islamic world. This is the first study to examine a full range of Persianate cultural responses to the experience of Mongol conquest and rule through the life and work of the most prominent statesman of the period. Drawing on the example of cultural projects undertaken in the early decades of the Ilkhanate, Rashīd al-Dīn canonized a narrative of Ilkhanid history in which his patrons embodied a model of sacred kingship that adhered both to contemporary intellectual trends in the Middle East and to Mongol dynastic traditions emphasizing descent from Genghis Khan. This new model, which first enters political discourse in the writing of Rashīd al-Dīn in response to the vacuum of authority created by the fall of the Abbasid caliphate, laid the groundwork for later Timurid, Safavid and Mughal court ideologies. By fitting Rashīd al-Dīn and his works within their historical context, this dissertation disentangles seven centuries of literary elaboration that have accrued to his historical memory.
- History