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Diplomacy and oriental influence in the court of Cordoba (9th-10th centuries)

Diplomacy and oriental influence in the court of Cordoba (9th-10th centuries)

By Elsa Raquel Fernandes Cardoso

MA Thesis, University of Lisbon, 2015

Medieval Muslims in al-Andalus playing chess. From the Book of Games by King Alfonso X, c. 1283.

Abstract: This dissertation aims to study the diplomatic relations that Cordoba, as the capital of al-Andalus, kept with the Byzantine, Christian Iberian and Western European courts from the beginning of amīr ‘Abd al-Raḥmān II’s reign (822) until the death of Caliph alḤakam II (976).

Articulating the political intents of these diplomatic exchanges with its ceremonial features is one of its main goals. To achieve this purpose, a broader picture of the political situation of the Mediterranean in the 9th and 10th centuries is analysed, as seen by al-Andalus. For the ceremonial, the oriental influence from Baghdad that al-Andalus underwent at this time is tested by comparing the ceremonial prevailing in diplomatic receptions of both courts.


Ceremonial protocol practiced in the court of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos had also an impact in the court of al-Andalus and will be addressed in the dissertation. The ceremonial displayed during ambassadorial receptions was an outcome of the bureaucratization of the court of Cordoba, as it was also the cause of increasing power, being the result of the Umayyad legitimacy and at the same time creating it. Indeed, the oriental influence was not only one of the main products of diplomacy but also one of its causes.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Lisbon

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