Palace Intrigue with a Teenage King

The great conquerer Babur (1483-1530) is best known as the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, but he got his start a thousand miles away. He was born in what is today Uzbekistan, and at the age of eleven was thrust into the snake pit that was Central Asian geopolitics. His time as a […]

Earnest Pleas in Early Muslim Poetry

Khalifa ibn Khayyat was an Arab historian and religious scholar active in the 800s A.D. His history of the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphates is one of the oldest to have survived. It records a lot more poetry than you see in Western histories. Most of these poems are put in the mouths of people […]

Post-Pirate Politics in a Mughal Port

It was 1695 in Surat, a large seaport city in what is today northwest India and was at the time the Mughal Empire. Every year, ships from Surat sailed west across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. They carried goods to trade in Yemen and Muslim pilgrims on the hajj: the pilgrimage to Mecca […]

The Pirate Mutiny that Made the ‘Fancy’

In 1694, a mutiny occurred aboard a British ship moored in a Spanish harbor. A group of sailors, led by the first mate, overpowered the captain and those loyal to him. The mutineers set their enemies adrift and, with the rest of the crew apparently behind them, set off to become pirates! Their ship, rechristened […]

The Fall of Caliph Uthman

Uthman was the third caliph: the third religious and political successor to the Prophet Muhammad. Uthman’s rule was contentious, his downfall ugly. It’s a fascinating case study and a terrible tragedy. The last months of his reign saw at least three factions battling for control of his empire, but all the politics was done on […]

Ibn Battuta’s Maldivian Coup Plot

We’ve talked twice before about Ibn Battuta, the medieval Moroccan traveler. This time, we’re going to talk about his adventures in the Maldives, a paradisiacal tropical archipelago south of India. In the Maldives, Ibn Battuta got pressed into service as an Islamic judge, let his bad attitude get him into political trouble, and plotted a […]

The Secret History of the Mountain Folk

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David Alroy, the Wizard-Messiah

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The Scheming Landlord of Magomero

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PCs on the Battlefield: the Caste War

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Valladolid in the 1840s

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The Catiline Conspiracy

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Cargo Cult Rebellion

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The Murder of Monsieur Dorbain

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The Cannibal Conspiracy to Destroy Sparta

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