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Caught between heredity and merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (d. 1341)

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Abstract
From medieval times until today ideas of heredity through lineage and of merit through slave status have jostled for pre-eminence as explanations for transitions of Mamluk royal authority. This article contributes to this debate through an analysis of events in late 1341 marking the transition from the reign of one of the sultanate's most successful rulers, al-Nasir Muhammad b. Qalawun, to that of his sons. This is achieved by focusing on the whereabouts of one of al-Nasir Muhammad's most powerful agents, Qusun al-Saqi al-Nasiri, and on how this amir monopolized power in Egypt and Syria in such a way that his accession to the sultanate seemed inevitable. The article then demonstrates how things went wrong for Qusun and how his failed attempt to obtain the sultanate triggered a Qalawunid dynastic succession practice that was to remain dominant for many decades.
Keywords
Qalawunids (1279-1382), Mamluk sultanate, Qusun al-Saqi al-Nasiri (c. 1300-42), Royal succession, Tanistry, SULTANATE

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Chicago
Van Steenbergen, Jo. 2015. “Caught Between Heredity and Merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the Legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad B. Qalāwūn (d. 1341).” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies-university of London 78 (3): 429–450.
APA
Van Steenbergen, Jo. (2015). Caught between heredity and merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (d. 1341). BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, 78(3), 429–450.
Vancouver
1.
Van Steenbergen J. Caught between heredity and merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (d. 1341). BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP; 2015;78(3):429–50.
MLA
Van Steenbergen, Jo. “Caught Between Heredity and Merit: Qūṣūn (d. 1342) and the Legacy of al-Nāṣir Muḥammad B. Qalāwūn (d. 1341).” BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON 78.3 (2015): 429–450. Print.
@article{981418,
  abstract     = {From medieval times until today ideas of heredity through lineage and of merit through slave status have jostled for pre-eminence as explanations for transitions of Mamluk royal authority. This article contributes to this debate through an analysis of events in late 1341 marking the transition from the reign of one of the sultanate's most successful rulers, al-Nasir Muhammad b. Qalawun, to that of his sons. This is achieved by focusing on the whereabouts of one of al-Nasir Muhammad's most powerful agents, Qusun al-Saqi al-Nasiri, and on how this amir monopolized power in Egypt and Syria in such a way that his accession to the sultanate seemed inevitable. The article then demonstrates how things went wrong for Qusun and how his failed attempt to obtain the sultanate triggered a Qalawunid dynastic succession practice that was to remain dominant for many decades.},
  author       = {Van Steenbergen, Jo},
  issn         = {0041-977X},
  journal      = {BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {429--450},
  publisher    = {Cambridge UP},
  title        = {Caught between heredity and merit: Q\={u}\d{s}\={u}n (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-N\={a}\d{s}ir Mu\d{h}ammad b. Qal\={a}w\={u}n (d. 1341)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0041977X15000269},
  volume       = {78},
  year         = {2015},
}

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