Narrative Construction, Ideal Rule, and Emotional Discourse in the Biographies of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn and Louis IX by Bahāʾ al-Dīn b. Shaddād and Jean Sire de Joinville

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Bahāʾ al-Dīn b. Shaddād and Jean Sire de Joinville wrote two unrelated but remarkably similar biographies of the rulers they once served, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn and Louis IX. Especially striking are two anecdotes in which both Ibn Shaddād and Joinville rebuke the ruler for excessive crying upon receiving the news of a close relative’s death. This essay explores the narrative logic that drove these authors to write their texts and these anecdotes in particular in such a similar way. By embedding their discourse on emotional restraint in the wider discursive matrix of advice literature circulating in the period, Ibn Shaddād and Joinville actively participated in narrative discussions on ideal rule. In this they did not only stress the importance of emotional restraint for a ruler, but also the necessity of employing good advisors, ideally exemplified by themselves.

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