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Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period by Tarif Khalidi

By Tarif Khalidi

In a piece that surveys a whole culture of historic concept and writing throughout a span of eight-hundred years, Tarif Khalidi examines how Arabic-Islamic tradition of the premodern interval seen the earlier, the way it recorded it, and the way it sought to reply to the various advanced questions linked to the self-discipline of historical past.

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Why should Godwine have agreed to an arrangement that was potentially so damaging to his family's ambitions? He was not at this point in a weak position - his rebellion shortly afterwards would not have been ventured had he not thought he could win. Why, for that matter, should any of the witenagemot have consented to a Norman heir? Moreover, the taking of hostages and there are strong arguments for thinking that hostages were required at some point - is far more likely to have occurred during the negotiations at Gloucester, when the tide turned against Godwine, as surety for his appearance at the London trial; indeed, Florence of Worcester says just this.

A promised crown, a petjured lord, these were issues that might appeal to an ecclesiastical judge. Whether they were a faithful representation of the facts is open to doubt. In the fraught atmosphere of a royal court faced with a succession crisis, the possibility of a Norman succession was almost certainly discussed; it was probably raised informally by Edward, perhaps as a bargaining counter in the tortuous domestic politics of 1051-2, but that it was given formal reality must remain unproven.

20 Harold stood to gain by the exile's promotion, unless he was already thinking of the crown for himself (which is possible). William, by this time secure in Normandy, would have seen any claim he might have had cut out by the nomination of an heir with closer ties of kinship, but there is little he could have done about it. It has been suggested that Edward refused to see the claimant in order to register his disapproval of this reversal of his pro-Norman strategy, but this explanation seems unlikely on two counts.

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