Chapter

Writing the battle

Carole Hillenbrand

in Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625727
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671359 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625727.003.0005
Writing the battle

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This chapter examines the strategies and tropes used by the Arab and Persian chroniclers in the medieval Muslim narratives of the battle of Manzikert, and the didactic purposes for which these narratives are used. Qur'anic resonances, such as presenting the arrogant Byzantine emperor Romanus as a latter-day Pharaoh, and other Muslim elements in these accounts, such as the importance of positioning the battle on a Friday, are discussed. Narrative techniques, including theatrical features, are analysed. The influence of the Mirrors for Princes advice literature is also examined. This chapter emphasises in its conclusion that these accounts can hardly be described as providing concrete details about the actual battle of Manzikert; instead, they are vehicles through which Arabic and Persian writers can praise their Turkish overlords, can vaunt the military prowess traditionally associated with the Turks, and – through the triumphal symbol of none other than the captured Byzantine emperor himself – can proclaim the triumph of Islam over Christianity. Thus Manzikert provides not only a spur but also an examplar for subsequent Muslim victories over the Christian foe.

Keywords: Rhetoric; Ideology; Qur'an; Pharaoh; Mujahid; Friday; Anti-Christian tropes; Storytelling; Theatricality; Advice literature

Chapter.  12235 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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