In the pursuit of political thought on authoritative and efficacious rule, this chapter contains a brief introduction to those currents that shaped the eleventh century: the coming of the Turks to the eastern Islamic world, and the interaction of Turkic rulers with the Abbasids and local elites, to which Nizam al-Mulk belonged, as narrated in the medieval histories with a particular élan. Drawing on new scholarship on ethnicity, ethnogenesis, and nomadic polities, it argues that normative assumptions that color medieval accounts of Saljuq tribal and political organization offer insights that have hitherto been neglected. Ethnonyms and toponyms are frequently used in medieval sources as situational constructs, camouflaging alliances and ideological proclivities.
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