MAPS: Mesopotamia Iraq 0979AD – 1215AD

Iraq 0979AD – 1215AD


The Buyid dynasty went into rapid decline in the last years of the 10th century, losing control of all Iraq except Baghdad and its neighbourhood. Baghdad sunk into a degraded state, law and order declined to a low ebb and, in the surrounding countryside, brigandage became endemic. Yet despite all this – perhaps even because of it – Baghdad remained a vibrant cultural centre, with a free-thinking environment that firmer government control might have stamped on.

After 1055, things improved greatly, as the Seljuq Turks came in and imposed order over nearly all of Iraq. Baghdad remained the city of the caliph, although real power now resided with the Seljuq sultan at Isfahan, in Iran.

From the mid-12th century, Seljuq power began to decline. Into this vacuum, the power of the caliphs has revived somewhat: since 1160 they have gained direct control of much of southern Iraq. Northern Iraq is now part of a large sultanate spanning Syria and Egypt.

By now, most Iraqis are Muslims, though significant Christian and Jewish communities remain; and most speak Arabic. It is now no longer the wealthiest region in the Middle East, and its population has declined considerably over the past few centuries.


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