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5.0 out of 5 stars A knowledgeable account of the subject, but not for idle browsers, 21 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Saracen Strongholds 11001500 (Fortress) (Paperback)
This is a knowledgeable account of the subject, but not for idle browsers, only for those really interested in the subject. You will need to check the glossary frequently, but unfortunately, not every term used in the book will be found there; as new terms are introduced, they are defined, but not always included in the glossary, so remember to pay attention.

From the Introduction –
“To interpret the fortifications erected by a particular culture, its political as well as military circumstances ned to be understood. For Example, the idea that the later medieval Islamic world was dominated by despotic foreign rulers – usually Turks – who dominated the great cities by military force is greatly exaggerated, as is the supposed weakness of local urban and rural elites. In reality these groups shared power and responsibility, largely because the efforts of foreign military rulers to undermine the long-established power of local tribes, clans, families and households were never entirely successful. Another feature which distinguishes the medieval Islamic realms from those of medieval Europe was that Muslim rulers rarely had anything like a ‘divine right’ to rule. Instead, they had to negotiate with existing secular, religious, economic and even military elites while their positions of authority depended upon administrative and military effectiveness, and respect for Islamic religious values”

“Most of the new, largely Turkish and almost invariably Turkish-influenced ruling classes were strict military hierarchies, maintained in power by troops who were divided into ethnic groups with differing prestige and even legal status, of free or unfree origin. Membership of such a military group became virtually the only path to political power for a new dynasty, and perhaps inevitably the new ruling class developed something of a fortress mentality in relation to their own subjects.”

“…Furthermore, these new rulers, unlike their predecessors, tended to live in genuinely fortified citadels that also contained barracks, stables and parade grounds as well as administrative facilities.”

The Contents are –
P04: Introduction
P09: Design and Development
.Egypt and Syria before the Seljuks; The Great Seljuks and their rivals; Atabegs and the Seljuk’s successors; Anatolian Seljuks and Ayyubids; The Mamluks; The Mongols and after; Islamic India
P30: The Living Sites
.Egypt and Syria before the Seljuks; Seljuks and Atabegs; The Ayyubids; Mamluks, Mongols and Timurids
P41: The Sites at War
.The Middle East before the Seljuks; The Great Seljuks; Ayyubida and Mamluks; The Mongols and after
P56: Aftermath
P61: Bibliography
P64: Index

The Colour Plates –
P06: Map – The Middle Eastern Heartlands
P07: Map – The Central Middle East
P10-11: Colour Plate - The Bab-al Nasr in Cairo at the end of the 11th century. This shows one of 3 great fortified entrances to Cairo, with a selection of figures passing by the gate.
P19: Colour Plate – Section through the Temple castle at Baalbeck, mid-13th century.
P23: Colour Plate - Qal’at’Ayla (Jazirat Fara’un) c.1187. This was a fortified island off Aqaba, protecting the pilgrim road.
P34: Map – Iran and its Neighbours
P38: Map – The Eastern Provinces
P42: Colour Plate – Bilik’s Tower, Subayba castle, 1230 and 1275. This was on the Golan Heights.
P46: Colour Plate - Karaman Castle, mid-14th century. This is depicted with horsemen training in the foreground.
P54: Colour Plate – Mongol Siege of the ‘Asasassin’ cave fortress of Maymun Diz in 1526.
P59: Colour Plate – The Fortress of Alexandria Harbour, late 15th century. This was built on the site of the Pharos – and is shown with a selection of boats.

There are copious colour and monochrome illustrations supporting the text.
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Saracen Strongholds 11001500 (Fortress)
Saracen Strongholds 11001500 (Fortress) by David Nicolle (Paperback - 10 Sep 2009)
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