Bat Tleaxes and Formidable Aunties

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:
Bat Tleaxes and Formidable Aunties

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This chapter focuses on the influential and powerful women at the Fatimid courts and at the courts of the Fatimids' vassal dynasties. While power was exclusively confined to the secular domain, the case of one woman, the Yemeni queen Arwa, stands out as the only example thus far of a female ruler who might have held a position of religious authority in addition to her status as a secular sovereign. Within the 'Abbasid dynasty, several wives and mothers of caliphs-to-be were known to have influenced dynastic politics by supporting the succession claims of one or the other of their sons. Royal women were powerful by virtue of their connections to powerful men: they were the mothers of, the consorts of, the daughters of, the sisters of, the aunts of or even the slaves of past or present rulers. This chapter looks at some women who wielded power and influence at the Fatimid courts, including Rasad, as well as women rulers such as Sitt al-Mulk and Queen Arwa al-Sayyida al-Hurra.

Keywords: power; women; influence; Fatimids; Queen Arwa; authority; Rasad; mothers; aunts; Sitt al-Mulk

Chapter.  23411 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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