Selections from Subh al-A'shā by al-Qalqashandi, Clerk of the Mamluk Court: Egypt: “Seats of Government” and “Regulations of the Kingdom”, From Early Islam to the Mamluks, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Selections from Subh al-A'shā by al-Qalqashandi, Clerk of the Mamluk Court

Egypt: “Seats of Government” and “Regulations of the Kingdom”, From Early Islam to the Mamluks, 1st Edition

Edited by Tarek Galal Abdelhamid, Heba El-Toudy


470 pages

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Ṣubḥ al-A‘shā by al-Qalqashandī is a manual for chancery clerks completed in 1412 and a vital source of information on Fatimid and Mamluk Egypt which, for the first time, has been translated into English.

The text provides valuable insight into the Mamluk and earlier Muslim eras. The selections presented in this volume describe Cairo, Fustat and the Cairo Citadel and give a detailed picture of the Fatimid (AD 969–1172), Ayyubid (AD 1172-1250) and Mamluk (AD 1250–1412) court customs, rituals and protocols, and depict how the Mamluk Sultanate was ruled. It also contains a wealth of details covering the geography, history and state administration systems of medieval Egypt. An introduction preceding the translation contextualizes al-Qalqashandī’s role and manu□script, as well as introducing the man himself, while detailed notes accompany the translation to explain and elaborate on the content of the material. The volume concludes with an extensive glossary of terms which forms a mini-encyclopaedia of the Fatimid and Mamluk periods.

This translation will be a valuable resource for any student of medieval Islamic history.


"This work represents a major addition to the existing translated texts covering Egypt in the medieval period. The astonishing depth and chronological coverage of this source guarantees its usefulness to scholars concerned either with Egypt or with the broader history of the Eastern Mediterranean, while the supplementary materials provided by the editors only increase its value."

- Nicholas Morton, Nottingham Trent University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Maps


Part I - The Seats of Government

A - The First Seat of Government – Fustat

    1. The Neighbourhoods of Fustat
    2. The Houses of Fustat
    3. The House of the Amir (Dār al-Imāra)
    4. The Expansion an Decline of Fustat
    5. Al-Rawḍa Island
    6. The Establishment of al-Mahrānī (Munsha'at al-Mahrānī)
    7. Al-Ḥabash Pond (Birkat al-Ḥabash)
    8. The Mosques of Fustat
    9. The Madrasas of Fustat
    10. The Khanqas and Ribats of Fustat
    11. The Hospital
    12. B- The Second Seat of Government – Cairo

    13. The Fatimid Palaces
    14. The Gates and Walls of Cairo
    15. The Neighbourhoods of Cairo
    16. The Mosques of Cairo
    17. The Madrasas of Cairo
    18. The Khanqas and Ribats of Cairo
    19. The Five-prayer Mosques
    20. The Hospital
    21. Construction and Description of Cairo

C- The Third Seat of Government – The Citadel

D- Al-Qarāfa (The Cemetery)

Part II - The Regulation of the Kingdom

A- The First Status – Rulers Appointed by the Caliphate

B- The Second Status –The Fatimids

    1. The First Clause – Royal Instruments
    2. The Second Clause – The Caliph's Warehouses
    3. The Third Clause – The Armies
    4. The Fourth Clause – The Holders of Offices
      1. Holders of Offices in the Caliph’s presence.
      2. Holders of the Offices outside of the Caliph’s presence.

    5. The Fifth Clause – The Appearance of the Caliph
      1. Sitting in Audience during Processions
      2. Riding Processions
      3. The Caliph's Appearance

    6. The Sixth Clause – The Fleets, Ruling Subjects, and Persuading Opposers
    7. The Seventh Clause – The Running Salaries, Grants and Banquettes
    8. The Eighth End – The Vizier's Audiences


C- The Third Status – The Ayyubids and Mamluks

    1. The First Purpose – The Protocols and Instruments of Royalty
    2. The Second Purpose – The Sultan's Warehouses
    3. The Third Purpose – The Kingdom's Dignitaries and Holders of Posts
      1. Men of the Sword
      2. Men of the Pen

    4. The Fourth Purpose – The Attire of the Kingdom's Dignitaries
    5. The Fifth Purpose – The Sultan's Appearance in Royal Protocol
    6. The Sixth Purpose – The Running Salaries
    7. The Seventh Purpose – The Special Territories
    8. The Eighth Purpose – How News Reaches the Sultan
    9. The Ninth Purpose – The Appearance and Regulation of Emirate
    10. The Tenth Purpose – The Governors



About the Editors

Heba El-Toudy is an independent researcher and translator.

Tarek Galal Abdelhamid is an assistant professor of architecture at MSA University, Egypt. His previous publications include The Mamluk Army (2013), War In the Mamluk Period (2013), A Concise History of North Syria in the Mamluk Period (2013) and Lectures on Computer Applications in Archaeology (2014, 2015).

About the Series

Routledge Medieval Translations

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Middle East / Egypt (see also Ancient / Egypt)
HISTORY / Middle East / General
HISTORY / Medieval