Hugh N. Kennedy

Hugh Nigel Kennedy, FRSE, FRAS, FBA (born 22 October 1947) is a British medieval historian and academic. He specialises in the history of the early Islamic Middle East, Muslim Spain and the Crusades. From 1997 to 2007, he was Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of St Andrews. Since 2007, he has been Professor of Arabic at SOAS, University of London.

Hugh N. Kennedy
Born22 October 1947 (age 71)
Hythe, Kent, England
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
Hilary Wybar (m. 1970)
AwardsFRSE (2000)
FBA (2012)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of St Andrews
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
ThesisPolitics and the political élite in the early Abbasid Caliphate (1978)

Early life

Kennedy was born on 22 October 1947 in Hythe, Kent, England.[1] He spent a year 1965-6 studying at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies at Shemlan in Lebanon; he had received a scholarship from the British Foreign Office.[2] From 1966 to 1969, he studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge.[1][2] He studied Arabic and Persian for Part 1 of the Tripos (achieving a 2:1), and history for Part II (achieving a first).[2] He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1969.[1] From 1969 to 1972, he was a postgraduate student within the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Cambridge.[2] He completed his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1978 with a doctoral thesis titled Politics and the political élite in the early Abbasid Caliphate.[3]

Academic career

In 1972, Kennedy joined the University of St Andrews as a Lecturer in Mediaeval History. He was promoted to Reader in 1990.[2] He was appointed Professor of Middle Eastern History in 1997.[1][2] He held a number of academic administration appointments at St Andrews: he was Deputy Head of the School of History from 1992 to 1998, and was Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1995 to 1998.[2]

In 2007, he left the University of St Andrew's to join the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.[1] He was appointed Professor of Arabic at SOAS.[2] From January 2015 to January 2018, he is leading a project at SOAS titled Economic integration and social change in the Islamic world system, 800-1000CE; it is being funded by the Leverhulme Trust.[4]

Among his research topics is the History of the Islamic Middle East, Islamic Archaeology and Muslim Spain.[5]

Personal life

In 1970, Kennedy married Hilary Wybar. Together they have had four children; one son and three daughters. One of their daughters has pre-deceased her parents.[1]


In 2000, Kennedy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE).[2][6] In July 2012, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA).[7][8] He is also a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (FRAS).[2]


  • 1981, The Early Abbasid Caliphate; a Political History (Barnes and Noble, London and New York). (ISBN 978-0389200185)
  • 1986, The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates, 600–1050 (London, Longman) (ISBN 0-582-49312-9)
  • 1990, Al-Mansur and al-Mahdi; being an annotated translation of vol. xxix of the History of al-Tabari (Albany, State University of New York Press) (ISBN 0-7914-0142-1)
  • 1994, Crusader Castles (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press) (ISBN 0 521 42068 7)
  • 1996, Muslim Spain and Portugal: a political history of al–Andalus (London, Longman) (ISBN 0 582 299683)
  • 2001, The Armies of the Caliphs: military and society in the early Islamic State (London, Routledge) (ISBN 0 415 25092 7)
  • 2001, Revised ed. of Crusader Castles (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press) (ISBN 0 521 79913 9)
  • 2003, Mongols, Huns and Vikings: Nomads at War (London, Cassell) (ISBN 0 304 35292 6)
  • 2004, The Court of the Caliphs (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson) (ISBN 0 297 83000 7)
  • 2006, The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East (Variorum Collected Studies Series) (Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited) (ISBN 0 754 65909 7)
  • 2004, Revised ed. of Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates, 600–1050. (London, Longman) (ISBN 0 582 40525 4)
  • 2005, When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty (Cambridge, MA, Da Capo Press) (ISBN 0 306 81435 8)
  • 2007, The Great Arab Conquests. How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson) (ISBN 0 297 84657 4)
  • 2016, The Caliphate: A Pelican Introduction. (London, Penguin) (ISBN 978-0141981406)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "KENNEDY, Prof. Hugh Nigel". Who's Who 2015. Oxford University Press. November 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Prof. Hugh N. Kennedy - CURRICULUM VITAE" (PDF). School of Oriental and African Studies. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Hugh Nigel (1978). "Politics and the political élite in the early Abbasid Caliphate". Newton Library Catalogue. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Economic integration and social change in the Islamic world system, 800-1000CE". School of Oriental and African Studies. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  5. ^ Professor Hugh N Kennedy | Staff | SOAS, University of London
  6. ^ "Directory 2013/14" (pdf). Royal Society of Edinburgh. p. 150. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Fellows elected July 2012". British Academy. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  8. ^ "KENNEDY, Professor Hugh". British Academy Fellows. British Academy. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
Al-Fadl ibn Salih

Al-Fadl ibn Salih ibn Ali ibn Abdillah ibn Abbas (Arabic: الفضل بن صالح بن علي بن عبد الله العباسي‎) (740–789) was the Abbasid governor of a number of different provinces in Syria during the late 8th-century CE. He was also governor of Egypt for a brief period of time. He was related to the Abbasid caliphs and was part of the Banu Salih branch of the Abbasid dynasty.

Al-Fath ibn Khaqan

Al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān (c. 817/8 – 11 December 861) was an Abbasid official and one of the most prominent figures of the court of the Caliph al-Mutawakkil (r. 847–861). The son of a Turkic general of Caliph al-Mu'tasim, al-Fath was raised at the caliphal palace alongside the future al-Mutawakkil and adopted by al-Mu'tasim at age seven. With the accession of al-Mutawakkil, he occupied a series of official posts, including governor of Egypt and the Syrian provinces, but his power stemmed mainly from his close relationship to al-Mutawakkil, whose main adviser and confidante he was. A well-educated man and ardent bibliophile, al-Fath was himself a writer and a patron of writers, and assembled a large library at his palace at Samarra. He was assassinated by the Turkic guard alongside al-Mutawakkil.

Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf

Abū Muhammad al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Ḥakam ibn ʿAqīl al-Thaqafī (Arabic: أبو محمد الحجاج بن يوسف بن الحكم بن عقيل الثقفي‎; Ta'if 661 – Wasit, 714), known simply as al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf (Arabic: الحجاج بن يوسف‎ / ALA: al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf (or otherwise transliterated), was perhaps the most notable governor who served the Umayyad Caliphate. An extremely capable though ruthless statesman, a strict in character, but also a harsh and demanding master, he was widely feared by his contemporaries and became a deeply controversial figure and an object of deep-seated enmity among later, pro-Abbasid writers, who ascribed to him persecutions and mass executions.


Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad (Muhammad) ibn Ja'far al-Muqtadir (Arabic: أبو العباس أحمد (محمد) بن جعفر المقتدر‎, translit. Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad (Muḥammad) ibn al-Muqtadir; December 909 – 23 December 940), usually simply known by his regnal name ar-Radi bi'llah (Arabic: الراضي بالله‎, translit. ar-Rāḍī bi'llāh, lit. 'Content with God'), was the 20th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate, reigning from 934 to his death. He died on 23 December 940 at the age of 31. His reign marked the end of the caliph's political power and the rise of military strongmen, who competed for the title of amir al-umara.

Battle of Bishapur (643–644)

The Battle of Bishapur took place during the Muslim conquest of Fars, a province of Persia, in the seventh century AD. The city was taken by the Muslim Rashidun forces after a siege.

Battle of Rayy

This Battle of Rayy (one among many) was fought on May 1, 811 CE as part of an Abbasid civil war (the "Fourth Fitna") between the two half-brothers, al-Amin and al-Ma'mun.

Hugh Kennedy (disambiguation)

Hugh Kennedy (1879–1936) was the Attorney-General of Ireland and Chief Justice.

Hugh Kennedy may also refer to:

Hugh N. Kennedy, professor in history of the Islamic Middle East

Hugh Kennedy (New Orleans), U.S. politician

Hugh Alexander Kennedy (1809–1878), British chess master and army captain

Ibrahim ibn al-Ashtar

Ibrāhīm ibn Mālik al-Ashtar ibn al-Ḥārith al-Nakhaʿī (died October 691) was an Arab commander who fought in the service of Caliph Ali (r. 656–661) and later served the pro-Alid leader al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. He led al-Mukhtar's forces to a decisive victory at the Battle of Khazir (686) against the Umayyads under Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad, who was personally slain by Ibn al-Ashtar. He later defected to the Zubayrids after they killed al-Mukhtar in 687. About four years later, while fighting for the Zubayrids at the Battle of Maskin, Ibn al-Ashtar was killed by the Umayyad army and his corpse was set alight.

Isa ibn Musa

ʿĪsā ibn Mūsā ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn al-ʿAbbās (ca. 721–783/4) was a nephew of the first two Abbassid Caliphs, as-Saffah (r. 750–754) and al-Mansur (r. 754–775), and for a long time heir-apparent of the Caliphate, until he was superseded by al-Mansur's son al-Mahdi (r. 775–785).

Khumarawayh ibn Ahmad ibn Tulun

Abu 'l-Jaysh Khumārawayh ibn Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn (Arabic: أبو الجيش خمارويه بن أحمد بن طولون‎; 864 – 18 January 896) was a son of the founder of the Tulunid dynasty, Ahmad ibn Tulun. His father, the autonomous ruler of Egypt and Syria , designated him as his successor. When Ibn Tulun died in May 884, Khumarawayh succeeded him, and after defeating an attempt to depose him, in 886 he managed to gain recognition of his rule over Egypt and Syria as a hereditary governor from the Abbasid Caliphate. In 893 the agreement was renewed with the new Abbasid Caliph, al-Mu'tadid, and sealed with the marriage of his daughter Qatr al-Nada to the Caliph. At the height of his power, Khumarawayh's authority expanded from the Byzantine frontier in Cilicia and the Jazira to Nubia. Domestically, his reign is marked by a prodigal squandering of funds on extravagant displays of wealth, construction of palaces, and patronage of artists and poets. In combination with the need to maintain a sizeable professional army and guarantee its loyalty through rich gifts, by the end of his reign the treasury was left empty. Khumarawayh was murdered by a palace servant in 896, and was succeeded by his son Jaysh, who was deposed after a few months in favour of another son, Harun ibn Khumarawayh. The Tulunid state entered a period of turmoil and weakness, which culminated in its reconquest by the Abbasids in 904–905.

Muhammad ibn Ra'iq

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ra'iq (Arabic: أبو بكر محمد بن رائق‎; died 13 February 942), usually simply known as Ibn Ra'iq, was a senior official of the Abbasid Caliphate, who exploited the caliphal government's weakness to become the first amir al-umara ("commander of commanders", de facto regent) of the Caliphate in 936. Deposed by Turkish military leaders in 938, he regained the post in 941 and kept it until his assassination in February 942.

Nahrawan Canal

The Nahrawan Canal (Arabic: قناة النهروان‎) was a major irrigation system of the Sassanid and early Islamic periods in central Iraq, along the eastern banks of the Tigris and the lower course of the Diyala River. Created in the 6th century, it reached its peak under the Abbasid Caliphate, when it served the main water supply for the Abbasid capital of Baghdad, while the regions irrigated by it served as the city's main breadbasket. Its destruction and progressive abandonment from the mid-10th century onwards mirror the Abbasid Caliphate's decline.


Sarmada (Arabic: سرمدا‎) is a town in the Harem District, Idlib Governorate of Syria. It is in the extreme northwest of Syria near the border with Turkey.

A church was consecrated in Sarmada by Patriarch Elias of Antioch in 722 CE. It is also the place in which the Battle of Sarmada took place between the Principality of Antioch and the Artuqids on June 28, 1119.

Siege of Kamacha

The siege of Kamacha by the Abbasid Caliphate took place in autumn 766, and involved the siege of the strategically important Byzantine fortress of Kamacha on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river, as well as a large-scale raid across eastern Cappadocia by a part of the Abbasid invasion army. Both enterprises failed, with the siege dragging on into winter before being abandoned and the raiding force being surrounded and heavily defeated by the Byzantines. The campaign was one of the first large-scale Abbasid operations against Byzantium, and is one of the few campaigns of the Arab–Byzantine wars for which detailed information survives, although it is barely mentioned in Arabic or in Byzantine sources.

The Meadows of Gold

Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems (in Arabic: مروج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر‎, translit. Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawahir) is an historical account in Arabic of the beginning of the world starting with Adam and Eve up to and through the late Abbasid Caliphate by medieval Baghdadi historian Masudi (in Arabic المسعودي).

One English version is the abridged The Meadows of Gold: The Abbasids, translated and edited by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone.

An 1841 translation of volume I, by Aloys Sprenger, also exists and is available at Princeton's Firestone Library.

A first version of the book was allegedly completed in the year 947 AD but the author spent most of his life adding and editing the work as well.The first European version of The Meadows of Gold was published in both French and Arabic between 1861 and 1877 by the Societe Asiatique of Paris by Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. For over 100 years this version was the standard version used by Western scholars until Charles Pellat published a French revision between 1966 and 1974. This revision was published by the Universite Libanaise in Beirut and consisted of five volumes.Versions of the source text by Mas'udi have been published in Arabic for hundreds of years, mainly from presses operating in Egypt and Lebanon.

One English version was published in 1989 and was translated and edited by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone. According to this edition's introduction, their English translation is heavily edited and contains only a fragment of the original manuscript due to the editors' own personal research interests and focuses almost exclusively on the Abbasid history of Mas'udi. Their introduction also outlines how the editors relied mainly on the Pellat revision in French and are therefore mainly working from the French translation with the Arabic source text as a background guide.Another English version was published in 1841 by Aloys Sprenger, which includes a full translation of the first volume and extensive footnotes.

Historian Hugh N. Kennedy calls the book "Probably the best introduction to the Arabic historical tradition for the non-specialist."

Tus, Iran

Tus (Persian: طوس‎ or توس Ṫus or Tus), also spelled as Tous, Toos or Tūs, is an ancient city in Razavi Khorasan Province in Iran near Mashhad. To the ancient Greeks, it was known as Susia (Ancient Greek: Σούσια). It was also known as Tusa.

Type of Constans

The Type of Constans (also called Typos of Constans) was an imperial edict issued by Byzantine Emperor Constans II in 648 in an attempt to defuse the confusion and arguments over the Christological doctrine of Monotheletism. For over two centuries, there had been a bitter debate regarding the nature of Christ: the orthodox Chalcedonian position defined Christ as having two natures in one person, whereas Monophysite opponents contended that Jesus Christ possessed but a single nature. At the time, the Byzantine Empire had been at near constant war for fifty years and had lost large territories. It was under great pressure to establish domestic unity. This was hampered by the large number of Byzantines who rejected the Council of Chalcedon in favour of Monophysitism.

The Type attempted to dismiss the entire controversy, on pain of dire punishment. This extended to kidnapping the Pope from Rome to try him for high treason and mutilating one of the Type's main opponents. Constans died in 668. Ten years later his son, Constantine IV, fresh from a triumph over his Arab enemies and with the predominately Monophysitic provinces irredeemably lost, called the Third Council of Constantinople. It decided with an overwhelming majority to condemn Monophysitism, Monotheletism, the Type of Constans and its major supporters. Constantine put his seal to the Council's decisions, and reunited such of Christendom as was not under Arab suzerainty.

Umayya ibn Abdallah ibn Khalid ibn Asid

Umayya ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khālid ibn Asīd al-Umawī (died 744) was an Umayyad prince and governor of Khurasan between 692/93 or 694 and 697/98. According to historian Hugh N. Kennedy, Umayya was known to be "easygoing, generous, peace-loving and, his enemies alleged, pompous and effeminate".

Viking raid on Seville

The Viking raid on Seville, then part of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba, took place in 844. After raiding the coasts of what are now Spain and Portugal, a Viking fleet arrived in Seville through the Guadalquivir on 25 September, and took the city on 1 or 3 October. The Vikings pillaged the city and the surrounding areas. Emir Abd ar-Rahman II of Córdoba mobilised and sent a large force against the Vikings under the command of the hajib (chief-minister) Isa ibn Shuhayd. After a series of indecisive engagements, the Muslim army defeated the Vikings on either 11 or 17 November. Seville was retaken, and the remnants of the Vikings fled Spain. After the raid, the Muslims raised new troops and built more ships and other military equipment to protect the coast. The quick military response in 844 and the subsequent defensive improvements discouraged further attacks by the Vikings.Historians such as Hugh N. Kennedy and Neil Price contrast the rapid Muslim response during the 844 raid, as well as the organization of long-term defences, with the weak responses by the contemporary Carolingians and Anglo-Saxons against the Vikings.

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