The Maghrebi Vizier and the Haughty Copt: Historiography, Polemics and Narrative in a Mamluk‑Period Anecdote

Document Type



In a widely cited historical anecdote from the year 700/1301, an unidentified Maghrebi vizier is portrayed as visiting Cairo where he becomes outraged at seeing inappropriate non‑Muslim behavior. He then instigates an important act of sumptuary regulation by appealing to the sultan and his advisors. This study argues that the various iterations of this anecdote found in sources from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries show how historians and other authors integrated polemical anti‑ḏimmī discourse in narrative historical form and participated in diachronic discussions about how an ideal Islamic society should be governed. By applying many discursive elements also found in contemporaneous anti‑ḏimmī texts to their historical narration, historians used the character of a bigoted Maghrebi visitor intervening to challenge perceived social wrongs as a rhetorical node to exemplify that ideal Islamic society in an evocative anecdotal form.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Annales Islamologiques