Abu al-Fida, Historia ante-Islamica online

Emily Cottrell has written to tell me about a discovery in Google Books:

I am happy to have found this amazing chronicle online (very little studied because rarely available in libraries:


(Abu al-Fida, an Ayyubid prince of the 14th c. check out for his interesting genealogies of Greeks and Romans… I am trying to see if he had access to the Philosophical History by Porphyry…)


8 thoughts on “Abu al-Fida, Historia ante-Islamica online

  1. It seems that only the first part is available online. This goes up to pefore Islam. The second part, I understand, covers the following period up to 1327 AD. Has somebody found the second part online?

    Also it looks like this book has been translated to English. I can’t find details of the English translation.

  2. Aha! thanks – and the link is interesting too.

    Probably the problem is that someone has transliterated the guy’s name differently. (I do curse that aspect of Arabic).

    A search on “abulfedae” in Google books brings up quite a few works, with Arabic text and Latin translation. But I can’t find a second volume of the Historia AnteIslamica.

    There’s a Wikipedia article on the guy:


    A search in Copac (for author=abul fida, and then clicking on the real name in the first entry) revealed quite a lot of Abul Fida, but none in English apart from this:

    “The Chevalier D’Arvieux’s Travels in Arabia the desart; written by himself, and publish’d by Mr. De la Roque: giving a very accurate and entertaining account of the religion, rites, customs, diversions, &c. of the Bedouins, or Arabian scenites. Undertaken by order of the late French King. To which is added, A general description of Arabia, by Sultan Ishmael Abulfeda, translated from the best manuscripts; with notes. Done into English by an eminent hand. Illustrated with copper plates. / [by Arvieux, Laurent d’]. 1723.”

    But I did find this:

    Main author: Abū al-Fidā, Ismāīl ibn Alī, 1273-1331.
    Title details: The life of Mohammed, translated from the Arabic of Abulfeda / With an introduction and an appendix, by Rev. Wm. Murray.
    Published: Elgin : A.C. Brander; Messrs. Simpkin and Marshall, London; Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh; and A. Brown and Co. Aberdeen, [1833]
    Physical desc.: xvi, 217, [1] p.

    and this:

    Main author: Abū al-Fidāʾ, Ismāʻīl ibn ʻAlī.
    Title details: The memoirs of a Syrian prince : Abu ‘l-Fidāʾ, Sultan of Hamah (672-732/1273-1331) / translated with an introduction by P.M. Holt.
    [ al-Mukhtaṣar fī akhbār al-bashar. English. Selections. ]
    Series: Freiburger Islamstudien ; Bd. 9
    Published: Wiesbaden : Steiner, 1983.
    Physical desc.: xi, 99p.
    Identifier: ISBN: 3515036849
    Notes: Translation into English of the final part of al-Mukhtaṣar fī akhbār al-bashar for the period 684-729/1285-1329.
    Includes bibliographic references and index
    Subject: Abū al-Fidāʾ Ismāʻīl ibn ʻAlī, 1273-1331.
    Syria — History — 1260-1516.
    Other names: Holt, P.M. (Peter Malcolm)

    Plus some extracts also in French.

  3. You are right. I have searched this topic, and I cannot find any evidence that Abu Al Fida has been translated into English. Franasco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades; tr. E.J. Costello (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969)has a section on Abu Al Fida’s biography and there is no mention of any English translation. Where did that Islamic website get it, I don’t know. But it is obviously incorrect.

    Gabrieli translates large sections of Abu Al Fida to Italian, which is then translated into English by Costello), but the whole book is not yet translated.

    PS A more interesting figure than Abu Al Fida, and important to the history of the Crusades, is the guy with the notorius name, Usama. Has anyone any intention to translate him?

  4. I don’t know very much about Islamic literature, so have never heard of Usama. But I never feel any urge to translate any of it either; there are all these people out there who are interested in it, and making translations of it, and Islamic funding for such things is probably available. I try to concentrate on stuff that others do not do or will not do.

  5. I think Usama ibn Munqidh (1095-1188) is particularly important. He lived during the Crusades, and mingled with the Franks (all Europeans called Franks “Frinja” by the Arabs), and his book, Kitab al-I’tibar (Book of Instruction with illustrations) contains several interesting writings about them, such as: their medicine; their marital jealousy; their piety; etc. I quote an interesting opinion of his, “You will observe a strange contradiction in their character: they are without jealousy or a sense of honour, and yet at the same time they have the courage that as a rule springs only from the sense of honour and a readiness to take offence.” (from Arab Historians of the Crusades by F Gabrieli; tra from Ita by E J Costello; 1984; p. 78).

    Dioscorus Boles

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