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The Privatization of Protection: Extortion and The State in the Circassian Mamluk Period

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This article examines privatized forms of protection (himāyah ), and especially extortion, during the Circassian Mamluk period as reported in contemporary chronicles and a tract calling for administrative reform. Protection rackets were characterized by a symbiotic relationship between "protectors" and state officials. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of extortion for our understanding of the effective power of the Mamluk Sultanate during its last century of rule. Cet article examine les formes privées de protection pratiquées durant le règne des Mamelouks circassiens, en particulier l'extorsion. Ces pratiques sont rapportées par les chroniques de l'époque et par un manifeste appelant à des réformes administratives. Cette forme de "racket" se caractérisait par la relation symbiotique liant les "protecteurs" aux fonctionnaires. En conclusion, cette étude nous amène à nous interroger sur la manière dont ces pratiques d'extorsion permettent de mieux cerner le pouvoir réel au sein du sultanat mamelouk pendant le dernier siècle de son existence.


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