Renaissance Emir: A Druze Warlord at the Court of the Medici by T J Gorton - review by David Abulafia

David Abulafia

Seeder of Lebanon

Renaissance Emir: A Druze Warlord at the Court of the Medici


Quartet Books 225pp £25

The physical layout of Lebanon and Galilee, varying from coast and plains to mountains and valleys, has never made that part of the Middle East easy to rule. The mountain fastnesses have provided a refuge for a great melange of people of different religions and origins. They include the Maronite Christians, who arrived there from further north during the first millennium, having been persecuted not by Muslims but by the Orthodox Greeks of Byzantium; and the mysterious Druze, one of whose most remarkable leaders, Fakhr ad-Din, is the subject of T J Gorton’s lively and readable book. Fakhr ad-Din became leader of the Druze in 1593 and today is credited in Lebanese schoolbooks as being one of the founders of an independent Lebanon. Yet in reality it is a land that has rarely been independent, even in recent times, when it was held for many years in thrall by its Syrian neighbour. Fakhr ad-Din thought he could withstand the power of a great empire, but it should come as no surprise that when

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