Ahmad ibn Tulun (835–884) governed Egypt on behalf of the Abbasid dynasty for sixteen years. An aggressive and innovative actor, he pursued an ambitious political agenda, including the introduction of dynastic rule over Egypt, that put him at odds with his imperial masters. Throughout, however, he retained close ties to the Abbasid house and at no point did he assert outright independence. In this volume, Matthew Gordon considers Ibn Tulun’s many achievements in office as well as the crises, including the betrayals of his eldest son and close clients, that marred his singular career.
‘In the background of Ibn Tulun’s portrait, Matthew Gordon’s alert pen sketches a vivid landscape of ninth-century Egypt, transporting the reader into the heart of the major political and social issues of that transitional century. A book to be put in all hands, both enlightened amateurs and specialists of medieval Islam.’
– Mathieu Tillier, Professor of History of Medieval Islam, Sorbonne University
‘Meticulously researched, this book offers the first book-length study in English dedicated to Ahmad son of Tulun, the ninth-century Turkish governor sent from the Abbasid capital to rule the rich province of Egypt. Moving between the person of Ibn Tulun and the historical circumstances that formed him and with which he had to wrestle, Mathew Gordon offers an exceptionally engaging study of a crucial period in the Islamic history of Egypt and the caliphate more broadly. Scholars and interested readers will be attracted to the precise yet accessible and delightfully lively image that Gordon presents of this unusual historical figure.’
– Petra Sijpesteijn, Professor of Arabic, Leiden University