906: Bertha of Tuscany’s Correspondence with al-Muktafī bi-llāh in the Version of Ibn al-Zubayr

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That Bertha, the marquise of Tuscany, should have entered into written correspondence with the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Muktafī bi-llāh in 906 has aroused scholarly curiosity for decades. The correspondence is recorded in Arabic sources since the tenth century, but found its most extensive documentation in an eleventh-century version, edited by Muḥammad Ḥamīdullāh in the early 1950s. Since then, scholars have speculated about Bertha’s motives to win the caliph’s friendship, generally characterizing Bertha as an ambitious woman who, in this case, went beyond her means. In the early 2000s, Ann Christys then labelled Bertha’s correspondence “as a spoof” and as a manifestation of Arabic-Islamic “conceptualizations of the barbarous,” thus seriously questioning the authenticity of the correspondence. This article draws together different arguments to arrive at an evaluation of what the extant documentation can tell us about the probability and nature of Tuscan–ʿAbbāsid relations in the early tenth century.

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ISO 690KÖNIG, Daniel G., 2023. 906: Bertha of Tuscany’s Correspondence with al-Muktafī bi-llāh in the Version of Ibn al-Zubayr. In: Transmediterranean History. Universität Konstanz. 2023, 5(1). Available under: doi: 10.18148/tmh/2023.5.1.66
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@article{Konig2023Berth-67588,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.18148/tmh/2023.5.1.66},
  title={906: Bertha of Tuscany’s Correspondence with al-Muktafī bi-llāh in the Version of Ibn al-Zubayr},
  number={1},
  volume={5},
  journal={Transmediterranean History},
  author={König, Daniel G.},
  note={OPEN ACCESS VERSION: https://doi.org/10.18148/tmh/2023.5.1.66}
}
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OPEN ACCESS VERSION: https://doi.org/10.18148/tmh/2023.5.1.66
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