Abstract Prof. Letizia Osti
Letizia Osti (Department of Studies in Language Mediation and Intercultural Communication, State University of Milano)
Abstract: Reaching out and Going out: Unbalances of Power in the Mid-4th/10th Century
This paper looks at communication and negotiation between the court and actors outwith Baghdad during the tumultuous decade (324-334/936-946) leading to what is generally considered the end of the Abbasids as a political power.
It is a period of great instability, when military commanders and bureaucrats are appointed and dismissed quickly, and move up and down the Tigris, trying to gain (or re-gain) control of key towns and districts. The caliphs al-Rāḍī and al-Muttaqī, unlike their father al-Muqtadir, who had gone out of Baghdad only to meet his death, are forced to engage in this fight, backing this or that commander and surrendering power not to a vizier, who would be able to extract revenue from the provinces, but to a provincial governor, who would otherwise withhold payments to the central government. In other words, the balance of power is shifting from the centre to the periphery.
The paper examines interactions between the Caliph and his interlocutors through letters, gifts, travels and conversations as a means to illustrate how the reach and power of attraction of the centre decrease over this period.