Honoring the Prophet's Family: A Comparison of Approaches to Political Legitimacy between Abu al-Hasan 'Ali al-Marini and Ahmad al-Mansur al Sa 'di

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib


How do rulers make their rule palatable and appealing to their subjects or citizens? Drawing on the expertise of several international scholars, this volume explores how rulers in medieval Iberia and the Maghrib presented their rule and what strategies they adopted to persuade their subjects of their legitimacy. It focuses on the Nasrids of Granada and the Marinids of Morocco, who both ruled from the mid-13th century to the later 15th century.

One of the book's central themes is the idea that the ways in which these monarchs presented their rule developed out of a common political culture that straddled the straits of Gibraltar. This culture was mediated by constant transfers of people, ideas and commoditities across the straits and a political historiography in which deliberate parallels and comparisons were drawn between Iberia and North Africa. The book adopts this approach to challenge a tendency to see the Iberian and North African cultural and political spheres as inherently different and, implicitly, as precursors to later European and African indentities. While several chapters in the volume do flag up contrasts in practice, they also highlight the structural similarities in the approach to legitimation deployed by the Nasrid and Marinid dynasties in this period.

The volume is divided into several sections, each of which approaches the theme of legitimation from a fresh angle. The first section contains a introduction to the theme as well as analyses of the material and intellectual background to discourses of legitimation. The next section focuses on rhetorical bids for legitimacy such as the deployment of prestigious genealogies, the use of religio-political titles, and other forms of propaganda. That is followed by a detailed look at ceremonial and the calculated patronage of religious festivals by rulers. A final section grapples with the problem of legitimation outside the environs of the city, among illiterate and frequently armed populations.