Al-Mansur and the Critical Ambassador

Roberts, Alexandre M.

The Arabic narrative sources record a host of tales related to the founding of Baghdad and to its founder, the caliph al-Manṣūr. In one account, reported in several versions by al-Ṭabarī and al-Ḫaṭīb al-Bagdādī, a Byzantine ambassador arrives at al-Manṣūr’s court and criticizes the caliph’s new capital. The present paper suggests that the tale might have been used in the centuries following Baghdad’s founding to explain why the Abbasids behaved like kings by blaming direct Byzantine influence.
Keywords: Abbasid Caliphate, Abbasid dynasty, Abbasids, al-Mansur (Caliph), Baghdad, Byzantine empire, Byzantine influence

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Bulletin d’études orientales

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December 2, 2016