The Mamlukization of the Mamluk Sultanate? State Formation and the History of Fifteenth Century Egypt and Syria: Part I—Old Problems and New Trends
This is the first of two connected articles that aim to offer a new perspective on the history of late medieval Egypt and Syria, on 15th-century political history of the so-called Mamluk Sultanate in particular. Informed by a comparative look at a selection of wider relevant scholarship, we propose to reconsider 15th-century Syro-Egyptian political actionwithin the particular framework of a complex process of state formation. This perspective, defined as ‘ Mamlukization’ , may help to better account for change, and for contemporary laments that “ things aren’ t what they used to be.” In “ Part I — Old problems and new trends” , we begin by examining the state of the field of 15th-century Mamluk political history, before laying out the new perspective of ‘ Mamlukization’ in Part II. Part I explains how Mamluk scholarship has only recently managed to overcome a traditional tendency to view the sultanate’ s political history as a long process of divergence from an idealized system based on military slavery, raising new difficulties. We conclude that there remains a need to replace this decline paradigm with a more useful conceptual framework. If something profound indeed was taking place in the 15th century, something that is not usefully considered "decline,” then what was it?