Caliphs on the Throne of Constantine: Syriac Orthodox Reassessment of Kingship in the Umayyad and Abbasid Period

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Middle Eastern history
    • Other Middle Eastern literatures
    • History of religions, churches and theology
    • Study of Christianity
Late antique and Medieval Middle East Christians under Islam Eastern Christian political thought
Project description

By studying how kingship was conceptualized by a large group of Christian subjects of Islamic rule (Syriac Orthodox, mid. 7th-10th c.), this project plugs a gap in current scholarship: it probes into how Christians adapted their tradition on kingship to accommodate Islamic kings and explores how this generated conditional acceptance of Islamic rule. Relying on the examination of a wide range of sources in many genres (exegesis, historiography, philosophy) and languages (Syriac, Arabic, Greek), this project aims at: a) identifying the new cultural sources that informed Syriac Orthodox conceptualization of kingship in the Islamic period and examining the ways in which this material was appropriated and adapted; b) assessing the potential endurance, replacement and/or adjustment of the former theological framework of a Christian politeia after the Islamic conquest c) clarifying in what manner the conceptualization of kingship relates to the specific social and political context of Islamic rule. The project will thus investigate the accommodation of Christian kingship’s theological significance to the unprecedented condition of a permanent non-Christian rule, contributing to a fuller understanding not only of Christian political thought but also, in a broader perspective, of the cultural, social and political context of the Late antique and Medieval Middle East.