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Ahmad ibn Tulun

Governor of Abbasid Egypt, 868–884

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Ahmad ibn Tulun (835–884) governed Egypt on behalf of the Abbasid dynasty for sixteen years, taking strides to unify what was a fractious land. An aggressive and innovative actor, he pursued an ambitious political agenda that often put him at odds with his imperial masters, who once tried to remove him by force. In spite of this, he ultimately remained loyal to the Abbasids, twice marching into Syria to wage war against their Byzantine rivals.

Perhaps best known today for the mosque in Cairo that bears his name, Ibn Tulun left a lasting mark on Egyptian history and politics, but, Matthew Gordon asks, was he the hero of Egyptian ‘national’ independence that some hail him to be?

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