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Medieval Empires and the Culture of CompetitionLiterary Duels at Islamic and Christian Courts$
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Samuel England

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474425223

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474425223.001.0001

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Introduction: Courtly Gifts, Imperial Rewards

Introduction: Courtly Gifts, Imperial Rewards

(p.1) Introduction: Courtly Gifts, Imperial Rewards
Medieval Empires and the Culture of Competition

Samuel England

Edinburgh University Press

The book begins by exploring how we conceive of literature in the broader context of medieval history. I argue for the centrality of political crisis in cultural developments throughout the late Middle Ages. From that historical and theoretical framework, I give an overview of medieval imperial culture and the court’s techniques of representing the empire through literature. Competition, as a spectacle and an organizing principle of artistic creation, allowed members of the court to establish and exploit the parameters of culture. Just as importantly, it provided the rituals with which empires affirmed their identity during conflict, whether internal or foreign. The book’s argument opens with the image of political upheaval in the late Middle Ages and the way medieval conflicts have haunted our modern notions of culture, religion, and history.

Keywords:   Multiculturalism, Buyid, Architecture, Crusades, ‘Abbasid, Praise Poetry

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