Abstract and Keywords
This article examines the complex nature of the ascendancy of Islamic cities from the eighth century, drawing on late Roman and Byzantine legacies but also powered by militarization under Muslim rule and by their function as a key vehicle in the affirmation and diffusion of Islam. The absence of civic autonomy was offset by informal power structures and organizations within the city such as neighbourhoods and waqfs. Strong urban growth in the high Middle Ages, especially in Syria and Egypt, was boosted by heavy rural and ethnic immigration and by international overland trade that benefited from the rise of the Mongol empire stretching from the Middle East to East Asia.
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