In Medieval Arabic Historiography, Konrad Hirschler presents two different modes of emplotment used by the chroniclers Abū Shāma (559-665/1203-1258) and Ibn Wāsil (604-697/1208-1298). Hirschler argues that Abū Shāma constructed ideal representations of the rulers Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zengi (541‐565/1146‐1174) and Salāh al-Dīn (570-589/1174-1193) in his main work, Kitāb al-rawdatayn fī akhbār al-dawlatayn al-Nūriya wa l-Salāhiyya (“The Book of the Two Gardens Concerning the Two Regimes of Nūr al-Dīn and Salāh al-Dīn”). In contrast, Ibn Wāsil—Hirschler argues—did not limit his discussion of exemplary rule to particular persons in his Mufarrij al-kurūb fī akhbār Banī Ayyūb (“The Disquiet Dispelled by the Dealings of the Ayyūbid Dynasty”); rather, he framed instances of ideal rulership as recurring events within a much broader scheme of history. The implication of these two “modes of emplotment” is variance in the use of sources and in the representation of individuals, like Salāh al-Dīn.
In this presentation, I will apply Hirschler’s comparative approach to assess how Abū Shāma and Ibn Wāsil used two sources, ‘Imād al-Din al-Isfahanī (519‐597/1125‐1201) and Bahā’ al-Dīn ibn Shaddād (539‐632/1145‐1235), to describe and ultimately reframe negotiations between Salāh al-Dīn’s court and King Richard I “Cœur de Lion” during the Third Crusade. My aim is to track how depictions of amicable relations between the king and commanders in the sultan’s court changed over time on the basis of each chronicler’s narrating priorities. I will focus on three series of negotiations beginning in Ramadān 587/October 1191 and lasting until the “Treaty of Jaffa” was ratified in Sha‘bān 588/September 1192. The period 587-588/1191-1192 was a particularly tense time in Frankish-Muslim relations in the Levant that witnessed occurrences of both extreme violence and peaceful dialogue. The period was a particularly trying time for Salāh al-Dīn and its sources provide historians with extensive material for analyzing Muslim perspectives on the Franks and on interfaith relations.
The overall objective is to analyze how processes of selection, abbreviation, and commentary employed by Abū Shāma and Ibn Wāsil—as both authors and compilers—were based on a complex set of criteria that corresponded to their interests, perspectives as well as modes of narrative emplotment. I will also explore whether change in the representation of personal relations across the Christian-Muslim divide might have reflected later Mamlūk-period perception of Muslim rulers who engaged in diplomacy with Christian sovereigns.