Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes: An Anthology of Arabic, Persian and Turkish Political Advice

Publication Year



Edited and translated by Louise Marlow, Ph.D. 1987

The 'mirror for princes' genre of literature offers advice to a ruler, or ruler-to-be, concerning the exercise of royal power and the wellbeing of the body politic. This anthology presents selections from the 'mirror literature' produced in the Islamic Early Middle Period (roughly the tenth to twelfth centuries CE), newly translated from the original Arabic and Persian, as well as a previously translated Turkish example. In these texts, authors advise on a host of political issues which remain compelling to our contemporary world: political legitimacy and the ruler's responsibilities, the limits of the ruler's power and the limits of the subjects' duty of obedience, the maintenance of social stability, causes of unrest, licit and illicit uses of force, the functions of governmental offices and the status and rights of diverse social groups. Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes is a unique introduction to this important body of literature, showing how these texts reflect and respond to the circumstances and conditions of their era, and of ours.

  • Introduces the mirror literature genre, showing how the selected texts fit into their larger intellectual, literary and historical contexts
  • Provides accessible translations of selected extracts from the medieval Arabic, Persian and Turkish mirror for princes literatures
  • Points out parallels with mirror literatures written in contemporaneous Christian contexts, particularly Byzantium and the Latin West

Table of contents

Part I. Introduction:
1. The Arabic, Persian and Turkish mirror literatures
2. Contexts
3. Texts and authors
4. Editions and translations
Part II. Texts:
5. The nature of sovereignty
6. The king's person and character
7. Foundations of royal authority and principles of governance
8. The practice of good governance
9. Problems in the kingdom and their remedies

Series Title
Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought
Cambridge University Press
Cloth: 9781108425650; paper: 9781108442923; ebook: 9781316999868