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The Ḥaṭī and the Sultan. Letters and embassies from Abyssinia to the Mamluk court

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Abstract

Letters and embassies has been dispatched to Cairo by the king of the Abyssinians (the ḥaṭī of the Mamluk sources) on a regular basis throughout the Mamluk period. The exchanges with this Christian king were among the longest-standing relations of the Mamluk court with a foreign polity. The present paper therefore goes back to issues adressed to by Abyssinian envoys and makes an inventory of the letters and embassies received in Cairo on behalf of the ḥaṭī. Lacking evidence in Ge'ez sources, this survey is based almost exclusively on Arabic texts compiled or written down in Cairo, with the exception of few European testimonies. The evidence gathered enables a reassessment of the diplomatic relations between the ḥaṭī and the sultan, with respect to the journey of embassies, the identity of emissaries and the language of diplomatic exchanges. One of the findings is that embassies to Cairo were almost always led by two emissaries, an Abyssinian dignitary and an Arabic speaking Muslim, often a merchant involved in the Red sea trade including slaves.
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Dates and versions

hal-02116473 , version 1 (30-04-2019)

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Julien Loiseau. The Ḥaṭī and the Sultan. Letters and embassies from Abyssinia to the Mamluk court. F. Bauden & M. Dekkiche ed. Mamluk Cairo, a Crossroad for Embassies. Studies on Diplomacy and Diplomatics, Brill, pp.638-657, 2019, 978-90-04-38463-7. ⟨10.1163/9789004384637_021⟩. ⟨hal-02116473⟩
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