The Indigenous Christians of the Arabic Middle East in an Age of Crusaders, Mongols, and Mamlūks (1244-1366)
Parker, Kenneth Scott
Doctorate of Philosophy, Royal Holloway College, University of London, September (2012)
This thesis examines the indigenous Christians of the Arabic Middle East from 1244-1366. During this period, the Muslim world was under external threat both from the Mongol invasions and from the latter Crusades. There were also internal developments in the area such as the rise of the Baḥrī Mamlūks and the hardening of Islamic religious and popular sentiment against Christians. The impact of these events on the various Christian Communities is analysed, paying particular attention to their diverse experiences, influence and participation in the political context. Efforts to strengthen each Community and instances of continued artistic and literary expression in the midst of adverse circumstances is also explored. The thesis argues that the situations and experiences of the different confessions varied widely according to time and place depending, for example, on whether the Christians were at the heart of power in Egypt or at the periphery in northern Syria. Overall, the thesis fills a void by addressing a neglected but important period in the demographic development of the diverse medieval Near East.
In this thesis, I will examine the situation of the indigenous Christians living within the Arabic Middle East in the years 1244-1366. Most general histories of the Middle East neglect the native Christian population and relegate them to little more than a footnote. As such, when all of the Christians are grouped together with little context, few realize that there were actually nine different Christian Confessions indigenous to Greater Syria (that is, Bilād al-Shām) and Egypt during the later Middle Ages. These were: Armenians, adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East, Copts, Nubians, Ethiopians, Maronites, Georgians, Melkites, and Syrian Orthodox.