Panchenko Konstantin

Christian intelligence service in the Mamluk state of the 14th century: an unexpected perspective

Panchenko Konstantin (2019) "Christian intelligence service in the Mamluk state of the 14th century: an unexpected perspective ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2019, vol. 61, pp. 80-92 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII201961.80-92


This article deals with a mysterious side note in the manuscript of an Arabic Christian prayer book, now kept in Sinai monastery of St. Catherine (Sin. ar. 241). This text is directly connected with the preparation of the Alexandrian Crusade against the Mamluks, which was organised in October 1365 by King of Cyprus Pierre Luzignan. According to the note, a group of Orthodox Arabs, one of whom was the owner of the manuscript, presumably set out from the territory of Cyprus Kingdom and in February — June 1365 made a trip around the main political and church centres of Syro-Palestinian region. After this, they returned to Cyprus and then proceded to Rhodos, where the Crusaders’ forces were concentrated. This trip, presumably, aimed to gather information and establish certain links, in the fi rst hand with local church hierarchs. After the Crusaders’ attack on Alexandria, the Mamluk authorities began a campaign of repression against their Christian subjects who were suspected of disloyalty and contacts with the Crusaders. In almost all cities which were visited by the owners of Sin. ar. 241, Christian clergy were severely persecuted. This pressure led to the cessation of contacts between the Middle Eastern Orthodox Churches and Byzantine. This isolation aggravated the decline of the Christian Orient in the Late Mediaeval period.


Middle Eastern Christianity, Mamluk Sultanate, Kingdom of Cyprus, Christian-Muslim relations, Orthodox Arabs, Sinai manuscripts


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Information about the author

Panchenko Konstantin

Academic Degree: Doctor of Sciences* in History;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University; 11 Mokhovaia str., Moscow 103911, Russian Federation;
Post: Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0003-4155-5187;
Email: const969@gmail.com.

*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.