Inside the Palace Walls: Life at Court

Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini

in Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748617326
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671366 | DOI:
Inside the Palace Walls: Life at Court

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Having successfully fought against the Aghlabids, in 297/909 the Fatimids established themselves in the Aghlabids' former royal city of Raqqada by taking over their palaces and all the other buildings the city contained. Raqqada was to be the Fatimids' first ‘royal city’. Only a few years later, al-Mahdi took the decision to build a strategically more secure and appropriate seat for the growing needs of the newly-established dynasty. Having inherited from the Aghlabids a powerful navy, in 304/916 al-Mahdi ordered to build on the coast, 200 kilometres south of Tunis, what was to become known as al-Mahdiyya, ‘the city of the Mahdi’. This chapter explores court life at palaces during the Fatimid dynasty. It first focuses on the court harems and concubines and slave-girls in the harems. It then examines women's voices from the harem, female staff at the palace, the ‘politics’ of dress in the palace, and entertainment at the palace including court poetry, music and dance. Weddings and funerals were also held at the palace, along with religious and secular ceremonies.

Keywords: Fatimids; palaces; court harems; concubines; women; entertainment; ceremonies; weddings; funerals; dance

Chapter.  14953 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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