Ibn Wāṣil: An Ayyūbid Perspective on Frankish Lordships and Crusades

crusadesIbn Wāṣil: An Ayyūbid Perspective on Frankish Lordships and Crusades

Muslim Historians of the Crusades: (The Muslim World in the Age of the Crusades 2), Leiden: Brill (2014)


Ibn Wāṣil (604/1208-697/1298) was a relatively prominent scholar and administrator who had close links with the political and military elites of Ayyūbid- and early Mamlūk-period Egypt and Syria throughout his career. Partly due to these relations he held a variety of posts, ranging from teaching appointments in Ayyūbid Jerusalem and early Mamlūk Cairo, via positions as qāḍī in Egypt and Ḥamā, to his role as Mamlūk ambassador to the court of the Hohenstaufen ruler Manfred (d. 1266) in southern Italy. In addition, he served as Ayyūbid ambassador to Baghdad and (probably as kātib [secretary]) at the provincial Ayyūbid courts of Ḥamā and Kerak.

Ibn Wāṣil was born into a middle-ranking family of scholars and administrators in the northern Syrian town of Ḥamā. Although his family was not the kind that was able to monopolize posts in the town over long periods, such as the Banū’l-Bārizī did at the turn of the seventh/thirteenth and eighth/fourteenth centuries2, Ibn Wāṣil’s father held various teaching posts in Ḥamā and its surrounding towns as well as the position of chief qāḍī there. Ibn Wāṣil’s maternal uncle Burhān al-Dīn Ismāʿīl Ibn Abī’l-Damm was one of the notables of the town and, together with his cousin Shihāb al-Dīn Ibrāhīm Ibn Abī’l-Damm (d. 642/1244), was involved in the deposition of the town’s ruler al-Malik al-Nāṣir in 626/1229.

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