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Fractionalized Estates in a Centralized Regime: the Holdings of Al-Ashraf Qāytbāy and Qānṣūh Al-Ghawrī According to Their Waqf Deeds

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The article examines two cases of estate management from the late Mamlūk period in Egypt: shares in rural properties appropriated from former state lands by Sultans al-Ashraf Qāytbāy (872-901/1468-96) and Qānṣūh al-Ghawrī (906-22/1501-16) as indicated in their charitable endowment (waqf) deeds. Its objectives are: first, to plot the location of these property shares and thereby to determine whether any clustering or other geographic patterns are discernible. What does the location of sites suggest about the concept of property accumulation, the security of rural landholdings in the Delta and Nile Valley, and a proprietor's sense of his holdings as a coherent entity? Second, what are the implications of fractionalized shares for the operations of Egypt's fiscal and land administrative bureaus under the Mamlūk regime? The phenomenon of estate holding by shares facilitated the sultans' attempts to create private sources of revenues they could exploit to ward off bankruptcy in the face of their troops' fiscal demands.

Affiliations: 1: Northwestern University


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