9 Rural life and economy until 1800 andrew m. watson Diversity The lives of sedentary people in the Islamic countryside unfolded in a multifaceted context. Natural, technological, economic, political, cultural and religious factors all bore on rural life, and were in turn aﬀected by it. The natural world provided a backdrop of topography, soils, climate and water, while technologies oﬀered tools, irrigation devices, plants, animals and rotations. Economic factors such as population densities, urbanisation, monetisation of the economy and long-distance trade further conditioned the activities of agriculturists, as did the policies of governments concerning security, land tenure, inheritance, water rights, taxation and the construction and maintenance of irrigation works. Cultural biases showed in preferences for diﬀerent modes of settlement and production, as well as in diets, and both political and cultural elements were informed by religious teachings. None of these was a constant. Not surprisingly there was much variation in agricultural activities over time and space. To give just one example, Vincent Lagardère has identiﬁed seven types of agricultural undertakings in Islamic Spain, each the product of a particular situation. These are as follows: (1) the munya, an aristocratic estate generally located near large cities, and as much pleasure garden as farm, where year-round irrigation supported orchards and intensive cultivation; (2) the rah.al, a small aristocratic estate, probably resulting from the distribution of conﬁscated lands to people of high rank, generally located further from cities and containing irrigated land, which was heavily cropped, and rain-fed land, mainly given over to olive trees and vines; (3) the janna, or small irrigated orchard and market garden, often located near towns and owned by towndwellers, typically operated for pleasure and proﬁt by the owners and their families, sometimes with the help of hired labour; (4) the qarya, usually a village of around ten to thirty families, who generally owned their farmlands 290 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 but might be the sharecroppers of a great person, producing a wide range of crops on both irrigated and un-irrigated lands; (5) the d.ayqa, a large estate with a single owner, which with the help of sharecroppers or hired labourers produced both crops and animals; (6) the majshar, a privately owned estate devoted to the production of livestock in hilly and mountainous areas unsuited to crop production; and (7) other communities specialised in the raising of animals in marshy or well-watered areas along river basins.1 If one looks beyond Spain to other parts of the early Islamic world one encounters still more variation, but this is strikingly limited in scope. Two types of settlement inherited from Antiquity are notably absent from the above list for Spain, but were found elsewhere. One of these is the larger farms along river valleys, where seasonal irrigation allowed the production of crops for subsistence and for sale, the labour being most often provided by sharecroppers. The other, found in many regions, is a community practising mixed, but hardly integrated, farming: most of its members grew crops, but they also entrusted ﬂocks to shepherds for grazing on near or more distant pastures. These appear to complete the list of early Islamic modes of production. That these same types repeat themselves all over the early Islamic world; that they appear to have been the only types of agricultural undertakings in early Islamic times; and that they persisted well into modern times, by which time several new types of undertakings had appeared, calls for an explanation. Uniformity This would suggest that the repetition of the same patterns over vast spaces and long periods of time was the result of several inherited or emerging commonalities: similarities in the natural environments in which agriculture was practised; the region’s common heritage of agricultural technologies developed in the ancient world; the changes wrought all over this world by its Arab conquerors; and ﬁnally, during the ﬁrst four centuries of Islam, the massive diﬀusion from east to west of crops, farming techniques and irrigation technologies, which further uniﬁed agricultural practice. The physical environment of the early Islamic world, though extremely varied, allowed agriculture in very limited areas. Normally, dry farming could be successful only where rainfall was above 250 millimetres per year; typically, annual rainfall in cultivated areas was between 300 and 400 millimetres, but in 1 Vincent Lagardère, Campagnes et paysans d’al-Andalus, VIIIe–XVe siècles (Paris, 1993), passim. 291 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam a few places it was as high as 700 millimetres. Nearly all the rain fell in the autumn, winter and early spring, allowing only a single agricultural season. The hot, dry summer was almost dead. Where rainfall was adequate, topography might not be: crops could be grown only on plains and on the slopes of hills and mountains that had retained enough soil to permit terracing; uncultivable areas, in the plains and on mountain slopes, might be used for seasonal grazing of animals. If irrigation water was available, this could be used to increase the productivity of rain-fed areas and to support agriculture in areas with inadequate rainfall: along river valleys, around oases and in places where wells or underground canals gave access to ground water. To exploit the possibilities of this diﬃcult environment a common body of agricultural knowledge and practice had emerged in ancient times, and was inherited by the conquering Arabs. Uniformity was particularly striking in the Mediterranean basin, where Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and ﬁnally Byzantines had diﬀused tools, crops and practices over wide areas, so that by the seventh century CE there could be found almost everywhere the same ways of coping with environmental challenges. Generally, rain-fed lands were planted with drought-resistant permanent crops, such as olive trees, ﬁg trees and vines, or they were sown bi-annually with winter grains, mostly wheat, barley and millets, as well as winter pulses such as chickpeas, lentils, peas and broad beans. In alternate years cultivated lands were fallowed to replenish moisture and fertility. On irrigated lands a wider range of crops was grown, including fruits, vegetables and, in warmer areas, date palms. Biennial fallowing was usually suppressed in favour of annual cropping on irrigated land; sometimes, but rarely, two crops were produced in one year. Depending on the region and the type of undertaking, some large animals might be raised, commonly sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses, mules and donkeys. But in general the production of animals and the growing of crops were two distinct activities, carried out by diﬀerent people on diﬀerent types of land. There was no trace of the integrated (or mixed) farming of medieval Europe, in which the same land and labour were used to produce both crops and large animals. In the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, as well as in the Indus Valley, some diﬀerences from Mediterranean practices are noteworthy in pre-Islamic times: most particularly in irrigation, which in some places allowed a summer season, and in range of crops, which included some plants, such as sorghum and rice, diﬀused out of India. But to a remarkable degree, even in these distant regions, a ‘Mediterranean’ mode of agriculture prevailed. In the regions they conquered the Arabs were in many ways a unifying force. Their armies and the settlers who came in their wake brought the 292 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 Arabic language, which was the language of Islam and was almost everywhere to become the language of government, of learning and, in many places, of vernacular discourse, thus encouraging the development of a common culture throughout dār al-islām. And they brought a new religion. Though the Qurpān seems to have a low regard for sedentary rural people and their work, Islam oﬀered teachings and developed legal traditions which bore on agriculture in important ways. Islam forbade the eating of pork and the drinking of wine, proscriptions which banished pigs from the farmyards of Muslims and greatly reduced – but did not eliminate – their making and drinking of wine. Legal traditions included laws of inheritance which decreed how estates, including agricultural properties, should be divided among heirs; there might be a great many inheritors, resulting in the extreme fragmentation of farms or else their continued exploitation as a single property jointly owned, but poorly managed, by many absentee landlords. There developed a complex and bewildering body of tax laws explaining how diﬀerent categories of rural people, lands, crops and animals should be taxed. There were also rules concerning rights over irrigation water, including the proscription of its sale; these rights undoubtedly encouraged investment in irrigation. And there were teachings and laws concerning the ownership of land, which, depending on circumstances and jurist, was seen to belong to God, to the state, to the Muslim community, to institutions and to individuals. Although in time diﬀerent schools of law emerged with somewhat diﬀerent rules concerning taxation and the ownership of land, and although realities increasingly diverged from the teachings of jurists, at least in the early centuries Islamic law contributed signiﬁcantly to the uniformity of rural life across the Islamic world. Further homogenisation of agriculture occurred in the ﬁrst four centuries of Islam through the widespread diﬀusion of old and new technologies. The principal direction of ﬂow was from the eastern part of the caliphate – the Sind and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates – to the Mediterranean basin. These were regions that in earlier times had had little contact but which, as a result of the Arab conquests, were brought under a single rule. Over the length and breadth of this world there was much travel by pilgrims, scholars, merchants, ﬁghters and settlers, who carried the agricultural knowledge and food preferences of their homelands to new places. Among the crops diﬀused westwards were rice, sorghum, sugar cane, cotton, various citrus trees (Seville oranges, lemons, limes and shaddocks), bananas, plantains, watermelons, spinach, aubergines, colocasia, mango trees and coconut palms. With the exception of mango trees and coconut palms, which could be grown only in tropical or semi-tropical zones, these new crops were diﬀused to all regions of 293 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam the early Islamic world and many became economically important. One irrigation technology was also carried westward: the qanāt or kārı¯z, an underground canal which brought water, often over long distances, from aquifers at the base of mountains to ﬁelds, villages and towns. At the same time, two water-lifting devices, which had been known to the Romans but were little used until the labour shortages of the ﬁfth and sixth centuries, were widely diﬀused through the early Islamic world. These were the noria or waterwheel, which was driven by the ﬂow of streams and rivers, and the sāqiya or chain of pots, powered by animals. Thus similarities in physical environment, commonalities in agricultural heritage, the imprint of the Arab conquerors and of Islam and, ﬁnally, a massive diﬀusion of agricultural technologies from east to west: these seem to account for the limited variety of agricultural forms found throughout the early Islamic world. Only later, when Islam moved outwards into new areas, or when new forms were introduced by invaders or migrants coming from outside, or when new modes of production slowly evolved within the Islamic world in response to new conditions, did greater variation appear. Just three examples out of many will be given here to illustrate the growing complexity of agriculture in later times; several other cases will be treated later in this chapter. As Islam spread into sub-Saharan Africa, it came to embrace quasi-sedentary communities whose members burned stretches of the savannah for shifting cultivation. In some of the lands of the Balkans conquered by the Ottomans, for instance on the plains of Wallachia, another mode of exploitation appeared: this closely resembled the medieval European manor, which may well be its origin, with share-cropping tenants who cultivated their own holdings, performed labour services on the owner’s demesne and grazed animals on common pasture lands. Finally, in parts of Central Asia there is evidence in the ﬁfteenth and sixteenth centuries of what Jürgen Paul has called a communité villageoise, a seemingly more ancient type of settlement in which villagers collectively controlled the construction and maintenance of irrigation works, the distribution of water and, apparently, the allocation and reallocation of farmlands which individual cultivators were not allowed to alienate. Whether such communities were introduced by conquerors or migrants coming from outside or evolved within the Islamic world is not clear, but the principle of collective management suggests a nomadic origin.2 2 Jürgen Paul, ‘Le village en Asie centrale aux XVe et XVIe siècles’, Cahiers du Monde Russe et Soviétique, 32 (1991). 294 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 Interfaces: cities and nomads Rural people in the Islamic world had crucial relations with two nonagricultural elements of society: city-dwellers and nomadic pastoralists. Together, these involvements were in large measure – though certainly not entirely – responsible for the rhythm of growth and decay that periodised the region’s agricultural history. Between the cities and the countryside there was a ﬂow, in both directions, of money, services and goods. Funds moved from agriculturists to cities in the form of taxes, rents and other dues, which were the main support for the bureaucracy, the military and a land-owning rentier class. There was a return ﬂow of money to the countryside, as landowners and urban moneylenders provided loans to allow farmers to buy inputs, to tide them over till harvest time and to get them through years of bad harvests; the frequent inability of borrowers to repay on time was one factor leading to the build-up of great estates. Funds might also ﬂow from the cities as governments took an interest in the construction and repair of large irrigation works, though often the labour needed for such work was provided by corvées. The city – more precisely the government – was also the main source of whatever protection could be given to rural dwellers against invaders, marauders and Bedouin. In the other direction, the countryside sent to the city some of its excess of labour to seek seasonal or long-term employment in households, services and industry. Trade saw the cities exporting some industrial goods to the countryside, most notably textiles and tools, while the agricultural surplus of crops and animals was, in large measure, sold to the cities. Indeed, the cities depended almost entirely upon the countryside for their food supplies and for many of their industrial raw materials; and as cities grew they drew into their orbits ever larger hinterlands where agriculture became increasingly specialised and intensive. When hinterlands could not increase their surpluses at prices that were economic, the growth of cities was blocked – unless long-distance trade could oﬀer alternative sources of supply. Thus although city-dwellers and agriculturists are often seen as opposing worlds in Islamic belief, the former favoured over the latter by the Prophet and his religion, in fact they lived in a close symbiotic relationship. The spectacular rise of cities in the early centuries of Islam was possible only because of a corresponding development of agriculture. Contacts between sedentary rural people and nomadic pastoralists – often referred to as Bedouin – were perhaps more limited. Indeed, to some extent the worlds of these two peoples who shared the countryside seem 295 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam diametrically opposed. They had diﬀerent modes of production, diﬀerent cultures, diﬀerent values, diﬀerent dress and diﬀerent diets. At the margins they competed for land. Yet for this very reason there were periodic shiftings of people and land between these two ways of life. As Bedouin populations rose or the yield of their pastures fell, or as the protection of sedentary agriculture became lax, they might extend their pastures onto cultivated lands. When sedentary agriculture was contracting, for whatever reason, farmers might become nomads. Those who could most easily make the switch were those already engaged in animal production; they had the necessary skills and they often lived in regions where farming was most at risk. Conversely, there were periods when settled communities, usually with government support, might take over fertile pasture lands or Bedouin might be settled on these lands; typically, Bedouin settlements would be of the majshar type, producing mainly animals which grazed on common pastures, or else they would consist of small villages where crops were grown and animals entrusted to herders for transhumant grazing. Even when the balance between sedentarism and nomadism was stable the frontiers between these two opposing worlds were porous, allowing for a peaceful ﬂow of goods in both directions. Bedouin typically sold a part of their surplus production of animals, milk products, hides and wool to settled rural communities, most particularly to those that did not produce large animals, and especially at the times of the great annual feasts when large numbers of sheep would be slaughtered. And Bedouin obtained a good part of their grain supplies from sedentary farmers. In many parts of the Islamic world these exchanges were eﬀected in rural markets, which as yet have been little studied. These gathered weekly or monthly on sites lying at convenient distances from a number of villages and near to the nomads’ pasturelands. Through the week the markets in a region might rotate from one site to another, so that on most or all days of the week there was an operating market. Vulnerabilities Partly because of the dependency of farmers on city-dwellers and Bedouin, and partly for very diﬀerent reasons, farming was an uncertain, risky undertaking, and in many regions agriculture itself was fragile. Rural prosperity depended on the behaviour of various elements in the cities: on the ability and willingness of rulers to tax fairly, to maintain the larger irrigation works and to provide protection to settled communities, their lands and their trade; on the 296 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 interest in their estates or the neglect of these on the part of landowners living in the cities; on the size of markets, near and distant, which varied as urban populations waxed or waned and as trade routes opened or closed. Rural producers were also at the mercy of urban rulers, bureaucrats and merchants who might unscrupulously manipulate grain supplies and prices. On the interface with the Bedouin other vulnerabilities appeared. In fact, the Bedouin were an ever-present threat in most regions, particularly in the many places where settlement was discontinuous or bordered on nomadic grazing lands. Even in the best of times such communities could not easily be protected against Bedouin razzias, transhumance or longer-term incursions. The trade routes on which agriculturists depended might be even more diﬃcult to defend. To complete the list of rural vulnerabilities, it is important to note that farmers were also subject to the vagaries of nature and they were, moreover, in many times and places, the victims of their own excesses. Nature might strike in many ways. There were great year-to-year ﬂuctuations in rainfall, river ﬂows and temperatures; and there could be harsh winds, hailstorms, infestations of rodents and insects and attacks of plant and animal diseases. Perhaps for these reasons the Qurpān views good harvests as a gift of God rather than the fruit of human labour endowed with agricultural skills developed over eight or more millennia. And certainly there were many years when harvests failed over smaller or larger areas. Michael Dols has stated that between 661 and 1500 there are records of 186 major famines in the Islamic world, a ﬁgure he thinks is ‘far too low’ owing to the incompleteness of the sources. Famines could cause high death rates in the cities, and also in the countryside where, even in good times, peasants often lived barely above the subsistence level. When starvation was followed by disease, as often happened, mortality rose still further.3 Finally, the activities of agriculturists themselves might in the long term damage agriculture. Over-cultivation could deplete soils of their fertility; over-irrigation could lower water tables or lead to salinisation of soil, especially in Iraq; and over-grazing degraded the vegetation of pasture lands, often leaving little that animals would eat. Furthermore, over-cultivation, overgrazing and deforestation left land more vulnerable to erosion by rainfall, winds and ﬂoods, and in not a few places the soil cover on which agriculture depended was lost. Whether these human activities also caused climate 3 Michael Dols, ‘Famine in the Islamic world’, in Joseph Strayer (ed.), Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 13 vols. (New York, 1982–9), vol. V, pp. 1–3. 297 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam changes aﬀecting agriculture, or whether there was any change in climate for other reasons, are questions that cannot yet be answered. In any case, these dependencies of agriculture – on urban dwellers, Bedouin, natural phenomena and the practices of farmers themselves – are responsible for short-term ﬂuctuations in rural prosperity. And they are also in large measure responsible for the longer-term cycles of agricultural progress and decline. Periodisation: ups and downs In this necessarily very brief treatment of agricultural history over a vast expanse of the earth’s surface and over a very long stretch of time it will not be possible to describe in detail, let alone attempt to explain, the long-term ﬂuctuations in rural fortunes. Only the most cursory overview can be oﬀered. Once the disruptions caused by the Arab conquests were over, the early centuries of Islam were nearly everywhere a time of sustained agricultural progress, in which the area of sedentary agriculture expanded and the productivity of most categories of agricultural land and labour rose. Backed by policies of the Umayyad and qAbbāsid caliphates, local pastoralists and conquering Arabs in many regions were persuaded to become sedentary farmers. Thus, for instance, in several parts of Ifrı̄qiya and the Maghrib nomadic Berbers and other transhumant tribes began constructing huts to replace tents and cultivating ﬁelds at the expense of grazing. According to recently published archaeological evidence a large region in the central Euphrates Valley, which on the eve of Islam was virtually uninhabited, had 103 villages by the early ninth century.4 In this process of sedentarisation the widespread construction of irrigation works – canals, embankments, weirs, dams, dykes, reservoirs, terraces and water-lifting machines – was often critical. These brought more water to more land over more months of the year, and quite often perennial irrigation was achieved. One outstanding example of many is the large-scale water-engineering projects undertaken by the governor of Iraq, al-H . ajjāj ibn Yūsuf (d. 714) in the region of Wāsit., which he founded. Similarly, Ziyād ibn Abı̄hi (d. 680), the governor of two other new cities, Bas.ra and Kūfa, each surrounded by newly irrigated hinterlands, ordered the construction of two large canals connecting Bas.ra with the Shat.t. al-qArab. Still other important irrigation and land-reclamation works in the Sawād were undertaken by private developers. 4 Sophie Berthier et al., Peuplement rural et aménagements hydroagricoles dans la moyenne vallée de l’Euphrate, ﬁn VIIe–XIXe siècle (Damascus, 2001), passim. 298 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 The new crops also played an important role. Some, such as sorghum and watermelons, were relatively drought-tolerant and thus encouraged the advance of agriculture into drier areas. Many other new crops were either permanent crops – such as citrus and banana trees – or were summer crops; both required heavy irrigation during the summer months and thus went hand-in-hand with progress in irrigation. Together, the traditional and new crops permitted new rotations in which land could be cropped two or more times a year without fallowing; the greater ﬂexibility of rotations allowed farmers to take special advantage of micro-climates and local soils. The gains in productivity achieved in these ways are bound up with general economic development, demographic growth and the spread of the money economy into the countryside. More particularly, they are linked, as both cause and eﬀect, to the impressive rise of cities. But in many places growth was not to last. As early as the ninth century, when agriculture was still prospering in most of the Islamic world, settlement retreated from the western fringes of the desert in the H.ijāz, in Transjordania and in much of Syria. In the eastern part of this desert, along the middle Euphrates, there was a dramatic decline of settlement as many communities were abandoned. The causes of this early decline are obscure: possibly it is due to climate change, or perhaps settlement had pushed into regions where rainfall and river ﬂows were too low and too variable for viable agriculture, or perhaps the slow decentralisation and decline of the powers of the caliphate left the government unable to protect sedentary agriculture in these regions. Whatever the explanation, the eleventh century saw new threats to agriculture, as nomadic invaders overran large areas in the eastern and western parts of the Islamic world. In the west, the Banū Hilāl, a nomadic people from northern Arabia, devastated agriculture in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, and then, in 1052, moved on to Ifrı̄qiya and the western Maghrib, where they destroyed most inland settlements and forced a retreat of sedentary agriculture back to coastal regions; the littoral towns were obliged to turn to Sicily for a large part of their grain supplies. In the eastern part of the caliphate the Saljūq Turks, another nomadic people, established an empire based in Persia in 1040; after raiding Anatolia repeatedly in the early part of the century they fought the Byzantines, and won a decisive victory in 1071. This was followed by a massive movement into Anatolia of nomadic Turcomans, who were largely unsympathetic to sedentary agriculture. In the century that followed the frequent battles with Byzantines and Crusaders prevented agricultural recovery in most of Anatolia. 299 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam The subsequent history of the rural economy in the Islamic world is the tale of periods of recovery, and even advance, followed by further decay, in which regional variation became more evident. In general, agriculture continued to suﬀer from the successive waves of invaders who, with almost monotonous regularity, overran diﬀerent parts of the Islamic world: the Crusaders, Ayyūbids, Mongols, Tı̄mūrids and Ottomans in the east, and the Almoravids and Almohads in the west. Like the Banū Hilāl and the Saljūqs, these later conquerors were mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples, more familiar with grazing and extensive grain cultivation than with the intensive, irrigated agriculture that had developed so brilliantly in the early Islamic world. In the course of their conquests they often destroyed settlements and irrigation works, and their victories were usually followed by large-scale immigration of nomads into the conquered areas. The usually short-lived regimes they established often showed little interest in promoting agriculture. Particularly devastating were the conquests of the Mongols in thirteenthcentury West Asia: these were followed by massive slaughters of city-dwellers and rural folk alike, neglect or destruction of irrigation works and widespread abandonment of cultivated land, triggering what I. P. Petrushevsky has called a ‘colossal economic decline’.5 Recovery was thwarted by the Black Death, which, through the second half of the fourteenth century, reduced population by perhaps one-third in territories formerly ruled by the Mongols (and indeed all over West Asia, North Africa and al-Andalus), making intensive agriculture, in most places, unnecessary and uneconomic. To be sure, after the initial damage of the conquests some of the conquerors were able to create governments that were suﬃciently strong and stable to support agriculture; and in fact the strength and stability of their governments depended in considerable measure on prosperity in the countryside. One such example is Spain under its Berber conquerors, the Almoravids and the Almohads, where not only did intensive agriculture ﬂourish in many places but agricultural science was advanced on botanical gardens and experimental farms, and scholars wrote extensively on the emerging science of agriculture. Other examples are Egypt under the Bah.rı̄ Mamlūks (1240–1382), Iran during the rule of Ghāzān Khān (1295–1304), Yemen in the time of the Rasūlid kings (early thirteenth century–1428), the Ottoman empire from 1470 until the end of the rule of Süleymān the Magniﬁcent in 1566, and Iran during the reign of 5 I. P. Petrushevsky, ‘The socio-economic condition of Iran under the Īl-Khāns’, in The Cambridge history of Iran, 7 vols. in 8 (London and New York, 1968–91), vol. V; J. A. Boyle (ed.), The Saljuq and Mongol periods, p. 483. 300 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 Shāh qAbbās I (1571–1629). In general, these were periods when governments were suﬃciently strong to provide the support needed by agriculture and sedentarisation of nomads was encouraged; they were also usually times when trade ﬂourished and money supplies were relatively abundant, factors which may have contributed to the strength of governments. Agricultural revival in the early modern era may also have been fed by new crops arriving in the Islamic world following the voyages of discovery: from China came sweet oranges and from the New World were brought maize, potatoes, sweet potatoes, capsicum peppers, tomatoes, tobacco, New World cotton and haricot, runner and lima beans. Although maize (fed at ﬁrst to animals and later to human beings) spread quickly through the early modern Islamic world, the other crops seem to have been diﬀused more slowly; they may nevertheless have given some new strength to agriculture, even in its periods of decay. Recovery from invasions, regressive policies and epidemics grew increasingly diﬃcult as new landholding and taxation arrangements became more widespread and more pernicious. The earliest of these was tax-farming. Adopted in the qAbbāsid caliphate in the ninth century, the delegation of tax collection to provincial governors allowed them to collect, and largely keep, the taxes from their jurisdictions. Collection in some regions was soon decentralised further as individuals were allowed to buy the taxation rights over smaller or larger areas of the provinces; rates of taxation tended to rise and become more arbitrary in such areas, and peasants had little recourse. The second of these harmful institutions was the iqt.āq, introduced by the Būyids and the Saljūqs in the eleventh century and widely adopted in later centuries. This was a beneﬁce granted to high-ranking oﬃcers; in return for military service, the holder obtained the right to collect and retain taxes over considerable areas of agricultural land. Originally granted for a period of years or for a lifetime, the iqt.āq thus encouraged short-term maximisation of revenue with little reinvestment in land or irrigation works. In some regions it became hereditary and the holder began to assume ‘feudal’ rights over lands and people in his beneﬁce, thus obscuring the locus of land ownership and sometimes extinguishing individual property rights. Finally, the institution of the waqf had further damaging eﬀects on agricultural production. By the tenth century this had become a means of granting lands in perpetuity to charitable institutions, such as mosques, schools and caravanserais. Typically, the recipient had little agricultural knowledge and little interest in managing the lands received; and as an institution’s endowments grew in size its holdings became increasingly scattered and diﬃcult to supervise. Many waqf lands also escaped 301 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam taxation. Because they were in principle inalienable, the progressive accumulation of such endowments was diﬃcult to stop: by later Ottoman times it has been estimated that the dead hand of the waqf had touched three-quarters of the empire’s agricultural land. Thus all three arrangements tended to undermine enlightened management of lands by peasants or owners; by eroding state revenues they also weakened the ability of the state to govern and hence to promote agriculture. As these institutions spread, further decline seemed inevitable. Recovery, when it occurred, was usually incomplete and often short-lived. Indeed, from the early or mid-seventeenth century onwards the general trend was downwards: rural areas were slowly depopulated, trade faltered, and agricultural output and productivity fell. Only with the arrival of the colonial powers did matters change, but then the change did not always beneﬁt peasants or landowners. Trade Probably the most powerful engine of agricultural progress was trade. It led to the specialisation of land use in those activities for which land was better suited. It also encouraged specialisation of the labour force, which thereby improved its skills. The pressure to increase productivity occurred not only on the lands shifted to commercial production but also on the reduced areas available for subsistence agriculture. Where these latter became insuﬃcient for a community’s needs, it would start buying part of its sustenance from other villages; these would then try to increase their productivity. If land or labour was scarce, the ripples could travel far. It is probable that in the Islamic world, at all times and in all places, there were few rural communities that did not trade. In the panoply of types of agricultural undertakings described by Vincent Lagardère and outlined above, probably none was near to self-suﬃciency. They all traded, most on a considerable scale; indeed, without trade they could not have survived, and the modes of agricultural production would have been very diﬀerent and less productive. The munya and janna were clearly involved in production of fruits and vegetables for sale in urban markets, and their inhabitants must have bought meat, and probably grains, from elsewhere. The rah.al appears to have produced few or no large animals, and its inhabitants must have procured small amounts of meat – and perhaps wool, skins and milk products – from other estates. The majshar and other communities raising animals seem to have produced no crops at all, and must have obtained these from others. 302 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 Although the inhabitants of the d.ayqa and the qarya may have been more selfsuﬃcient than those on other types of undertakings, almost certainly they too depended, to varying degrees, on markets. Trade occurred not only at the rural markets described above, where settled communities could trade with one another and with Bedouin, but also at markets on the outskirts of towns, where agriculturists, Bedouin and city-dwellers could all exchange their products. Specialisation of the rural labour force seems to have been carried further by the fact that household industries in the countryside – both usufacture and market-oriented industries – appear to have been negligible. While rural areas did have some non-household industries, such as mining, and considerable amounts of raw and spun silk were indeed produced in rural households, the overwhelming part of industrial production seems to have occurred in cities. As far as one can tell from the sources, even the production of textiles, pottery and baskets, as well as much of the processing of foods, was carried out mainly in urban workshops. Rural dwellers, therefore, seem to have depended on the cities for most of their tools, cloth, pots and much else. This division of industrial labour in turn put pressure on rural dwellers to produce still greater agricultural surpluses: in order to buy industrial products, in addition to a part of their food supplies, they had to sell more. As cities grew in the period from 700 to 1100, sometimes reaching unprecedented sizes for their regions, rural specialisation increased. Thus in Ifrı̄qiya in the early eleventh century, the expanding hinterland of the capital, Qayrawān, encompassed what Claudette Vanacker has called a ‘juxtaposition of specialised zones’. The region of Fah.s. al-Darrāra sent grains and fruits to the capital; the lands between Qayrawān and Sfax produced olives; the area north of Gafsa specialised in animal production; the oasis of Tozeur exported northwards (according to al-Bakrı̄) a thousand camel-loads of dates almost every day; a number of areas sent saﬀron for the city’s textile industry; and other localities provided pistachios, ﬁgs, silk cocoons and ﬂowers. These and other specialisations were held in place by the ability of the zones to trade with one another and with the capital.6 Some regions of agricultural specialisation traded not only with nearby cities but with more distant markets. Where conditions permitted, such longer-distance trade could lead to much larger areas of agricultural land 6 Claudette Vanacker, ‘Géographie économique de l’Afrique du Nord selon les auteurs arabes, du XIe siècle au milieu du XIIe siècle’, Annales: Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 28 (1973). 303 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. The New Cambridge History of Islam being given over to near monoculture. Thus, for instance, although cotton was grown widely over almost all the Islamic world from 800 onwards, certain zones of intense specialisation appeared: a wide stretch of land in the highlands of Syria reaching from Aleppo south to H.amā; a southern extension of this zone around the lake of al-H.ūla, where 200 villages were said to be given over to cotton production; the lower Tigris and its dependent canals around Bas.ra; and the area in the upper Euphrates Valley around Nahr H.abūr. Equally concentrated production of sugar cane could be found from the tenth century onwards in the Sind, in Khūzistān, on much of the Levantine coastal plain, in the Jordan Valley, along the Nile and in its Delta, and in the Sūs in southern Morocco. The cotton and sugar produced in these regions were exported in many directions, sometimes to very distant markets. As trans-Mediterranean trade opened up from 1100 onwards, cotton bought by European merchants in the eastern Mediterranean supplied a growing textile industry in northern Italy and later in Germany; and sugar of various types began appearing in Barcelona, Marseilles and the northern Italian cities, whence some of it made its way to markets in north-western Europe. Whether the specialisation in land use induced by such extensive trade led to changes in the mode of production is not clear from the sources, which have little to say on the subject. It seems, however, that large and small units, using family, tenant and wage labour, could all successfully compete in the production of speciality crops for sale. Quite possibly, in the absence of agricultural slaves and colonial overlords, there were no economies of scale to be derived from large-scale production of the plantation type. We do learn, however, that in fourteenth-century Egypt the Banū Fud.ayl family planted 2500 feddans of sugar cane every year. In both Egypt and Syria Mamlūk amı¯rs, viziers, princes and even sultans were deeply involved in the production of sugar cane on their estates. As they paid little or nothing in taxes they had an advantage over other producers, whom they partially displaced; and on the sultan’s estates this advantage was increased as tenants became liable to corvée on lands he exploited directly. Mamlūk producers came to exercise greater control over the industry through vertical integration: many acquired their own sugar presses and reﬁneries. Carrying this process one stage further, the Sultan Barsbāy (1422–38) attempted to establish a state monopoly over both the production of cane and the manufacture of sugar. Perhaps indeed we can see here the beginnings of a plantation mode of production. While incorporation into the emerging world economy undoubtedly increased incomes from agricultural activities, these gains came at a price. Not only were the rewards unevenly distributed, so that the returns to labour 304 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms. Rural life and economy until 1800 in some cases hardly changed, or even fell, but dependence on overseas markets also created new vulnerabilities for peasants, landowners and merchants. All found themselves at the mercy of events in distant places over which they and their rulers had no control: trade cycles, wars, changes in taste and competition from other sources of supply could all adversely aﬀect markets and prices, and sometimes markets simply dried up. In the ﬁfteenth century the Spanish and Portuguese introduced sugar cane into the islands of Madeira, the Canaries, Santiago and São Tomé; and by the sixteenth sugar from these islands was ﬂooding onto European and Arab markets. By then, too, the voyages of discovery had opened sea routes to continents with vast tropical and semi-tropical regions, where sugar cane, rice, cotton, bananas and other crops of tropical origin could be grown more cheaply. By the end of the seventeenth century these crops had largely disappeared from the Mediterranean basin, where they had once been so important, as well as from some parts of West Asia. In the eighteenth century the British shifted their source of raw silk from Iran to India. By the end of that century coﬀee production – long the exclusive domain of Yemen – had spread to India, South-East Asia, the Indonesian archipelago and Central and South America. Where European trading companies still sought agricultural products from Islamic regions, as they did from Islamic parts of West Africa, India, SouthEast Asia and the Indonesian archipelago, there was every danger that they would try to maximise proﬁts by monopolising ﬁrst the export and then the production of the goods: they could then buy more cheaply and sell at higher prices, thus capturing monopoly proﬁts from both production and trade. To establish and enforce their monopolies they usually found that political control was needed, and regions exporting key agricultural products to Europe became prime targets for colonial rule. Thus, in the early modern period, as the world economy tightened, agriculturists in many parts of the Islamic world had a foretaste of new vulnerabilities. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was worse to come. 305 Downloaded from https://www.cambridge.org/core. California State University - Fresno, on 26 Oct 2017 at 20:21:32, subject to the Online © Cambridgehttps://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521838245.011 University Press, 2011 Cambridge Core terms ofCambridge use, available atHistories https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms.