1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abulfeda
|←Abul Fazl||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 1
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Abulfeda [Abū-l-Fidā' Ismā‛īl ibn ‛Alī ‛Imād-ud-Dnī] (1273-1331), historian and geographer, was born at Damascus, whither his father Malik ul-Afdal, brother of the prince of Hamah, had fled from the Mongols. He was a descendant of Ayyūb, the father of Saladin. In his boyhood he devoted himself to the study of the Koran and the sciences, but from his twelfth year was almost constantly engaged in military expeditions, chiefly against the crusaders. In 1285 he was present at the assault of a stronghold of the knights of St John, and he took part in the sieges of Tripoli, Acre and Qal‛at ar-Rūm. In 1298 he entered the service of the Mameluke Sultan Malik al-Nāṣir and after twelve years was invested by him with the governorship of Hamah. In 1312 he became prince with the title Malik us-Sālih, and in 1320 received the hereditary rank of sultan with the title Malik ul-Mu‛ayyad. For more than twenty years altogether he reigned in tranquillity and splendour, devoting himself to the duties of government and to the composition of the works to which he is chiefly indebted for his fame. He was a munificent patron of men of letters, who came in large numbers to his court. He died in 1331. His chief historical work is An Abridgment of the History of the Human Race, in the form of annals extending from the creation of the world to the year 1329 (Constantinople, 2 vols. 1869). Various translations of parts of it exist, the earliest being a Latin rendering of the section relating to the Arabian conquests in Sicily, by Dobelius, Arabic professor at Palermo, in 1610 (preserved in Muratori's Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, vol. i.). The section dealing with the pre-Islamitic period was edited with Latin translation by H. O. Fleischer under the title Abulfedae Historia Ante-Islamica (Leipzig, 1831). The part dealing with the Mahommedan period was edited, also with Latin translation, by J. J. Reiske as Annales Moslemici (5 vols., Copenhagen, 1789-1794). His Geography is, like much of the history, founded on the works of his predecessors, and so ultimately on the work of Ptolemy. A long introduction on various geographical matters is followed by twenty-eight sections dealing in tabular form with the chief towns of the world. After each name are given the longitude, latitude, "climate," spelling, and then observations generally taken from earlier authors. Parts of the work were published and translated as early as 1650 (cf. Carl Brockelmann's Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur, Berlin, 1902, vol. ii. pp. 44-46). The text of the whole was published by M'G. de Slane and M. Reinaud (Paris, 1840), and a French translation with introduction by M. Reinaud and Stanislas Guyard (Paris, 1848-1883).