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Crowds and SultansUrban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria$
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Amina Elbendary

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774167171

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774167171.001.0001

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A Society in Flux

A Society in Flux

(p.45) 3 A Society in Flux
Crowds and Sultans

Amina Elbendary

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter examines the social transformations that arose in the Mamluk sultanate during the fifteenth century that allowed room for social mobility. It begins with a discussion of population and demographic changes across the landscape of Egypt in particular, and to some extent Syria. It then considers the rise of the Bedouins and Bedouinization during the Mamluk period, with particular emphasis on the Bedouin tribes' increasing authority in many areas of the countryside and their impact on both peasant communities and urban life. It also explores the move of different racial groups from the peripheries of society closer to the core, including the habashis. Finally, it explores other social changes during the period, such as the emergence of a new landowning class and a new type of social integration, the spread of Islam, and an increase in social mobility. The chapter shows that all of these changes caused social anxiety and tension throughout the Mamluk sultanate, acutely reflected in frequent protests, especially on the streets of important cities.

Keywords:   social transformations, Mamluk sultanate, social mobility, Bedouins, Bedouinization, Mamluk period, habashis, social integration, Islam, social anxiety

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