Imperial Power and Maritime Trade
Mecca and Cairo in the Later Middle Ages
This new paperback is a Revised Edition with new preface.
When scholars of Middle Eastern and Islamic history consider Mecca or its region, the Hijaz, they tend to focus on either the first century of Islam, when the city and region became briefly the centre of an incipient empire, or the twentieth, when the city was the centre of the Arab Revolt. More than a thousand years of history in between are relatively unknown.
The pre-modern imperial cities of Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo quickly superseded Mecca as centres of politics and long-distance trade, leaving Islam’s premier holy city with its singular role as the destination of the great pilgrimage.
Of course, the religious significance of Mecca attracted the attention of neighbouring rulers, such as the Mamluk sultans of Cairo, who claimed sovereignty over the city to enhance their reputations as paramount Muslim rulers in the later medieval period.
Using sources composed by late medieval Meccan scholars alongside the more well-known Mamluk material, this study presents the history of late medieval Mecca and the Sharifs who ruled the city by examining their relations with local and global forces: their alliances with local groups in the Hijaz, their relations with the imperial centre of Mamluk Cairo, and their reliance on the maritime trade of the Indian Ocean.
Map 1: The Red Sea and the Western Indian Ocean
Map 2: The Central Hijaz
Preface to the Revised Edition
The Rise of Mecca in the Later Middle Ages: Politics and Historiography
Local Contexts of Maritime Trade in Mecca
Brokering Power in Mecca: Mamluk Seasonal Domination and the Rule of the Sharifs,797–824/1395–1421
Mamluk Expansion and Meccan Resistance, 824 – 41/1421–38
Forging Mutual Interests, 841–67/1438–63
Mecca as Sultanate: Foundations of Economic Power, 867–903/1463–97
Politics, Trade, and the New Dispensations in Mecca, 903–23/1497–1517
Conclusion: Mecca’s Loss of Splendid Isolation
Appendix A: Comparative Political Periodization of the Mamluk Sultanate and the Meccan Sharifate and Amirate, 797–931/1395–1525
Appendix B: Genealogical Charts of the Shar?fs,7th–10th/13th–16th c.
Appendix C: Maritime Traffic between Jedda and Indian Ocean and Red Sea Ports, 876–944/1471–1537
John L. Meloy is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut.
New Titles List
John L. Meloy
Chicago Studies on the Middle East
- Commemorating the Nation - Collective Memory, Public Commemoration, and National Identity in Twentieth-century Egypt
- The Criminal Underworld in a Medieval Islamic Society - Narratives from Cairo and Damascus under the Mamluks
- Imperial Power and Maritime Trade - Mecca and Cairo in the Later Middle Ages
- Ismaili and Fatimid Studies in Honor of Paul E. Walker
- Jordan in the Late Middle Ages - Transformation of the Mamluk Frontier
- Land Tenure, Fiscal Policy and Imperial Policy in Medieval Syro-Egypt
- Palestine in the Evolution of Syrian Nationalism (1918-1920)
- Power and Patronage in Medieval Syria - The Architecture and Urban Works of Tankiz al-Nasiri
- Revolutionary Melodrama - Popular Film and Civic Identity in Nasser's Egypt
- The Wine of Love and Life - Ibn al-Farid's al-Khamriyah and al-Qaysari's Quest for Meaning