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

Principal Investigator:

Marianna Mazzola

Funded by:

Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship



By studying how kingship was conceptualised by a large group of Christian subjects of Islamic rule (the Syriac Orthodox, in the mid 7th through 10th centuries), this project probes 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 exegetical, historiographical, and philosophical sources, the project aims at: 

  1. Identifying the new cultural sources that informed the Syriac Orthodox conceptualisation of kingship in the Islamic period and examining the ways in which this material was appropriated and adapted.
  2. Assessing the potential endurance, replacement, and/or adjustment of the former theological framework of a Christian politeia after the Islamic conquest.
  3. Clarifying the manner in which the conceptualisation 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.

Team members