While modern scholars, medieval European and anachronistic Arab sources paint a portrait of Mamlūk Alexandria as a bustling and thriving international port, contemporary Arabic writings of the second half of the ninth/fifteenth and the first quarter of the tenth/sixteenth centuries present quite a different image. This article analyses Arabic chronicles to demonstrate that, from the Cairene perspective, Alexandria was a frontier city that was utilised as a jail for banished political prisoners. In contrast to other parts of their realm, investment in Alexandria by the Mamlūk regime was largely limited to fortifying it against seaborne threats; the sultans did little to embellish the city for civilian or religious purposes. Thus, the city was marginalised, politically and socially, even while still maintaining its role as a gateway to Egypt.
- Egyptian dynasty-administration
- El Iskanderý̄ya
- Local history-administration/Eastern Mediterranean
- Mamlū ks
- Prisons and prisoners-in Egypt
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies