Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Davis

Second Advisor

Dr. David Ede

Third Advisor

Dr. Erika Loeffler


Late in the fourteenth century, before the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment philosophes, a great Muslim Tunisian politician, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), heralded himself as founder of a new historical science.1 He was largely ignored, as he was a controversial figure known more for his ability to avoid execution for treason than for his scholarship. He was born and educated during a period of political disorder and natural disaster in North African history. Several dynasties were competing for control of the major cities, which had been left in anarchy after the breakup of the Almohad Empire. Repeated waves of bubonic plague killed one-third of the population, including Ibn Khaldun's parents and many of his teachers. Ibn Khaldun's education took place in court circles, where he was raised and exposed to the finest minds in North Africa. As a precocious teenager, local rulers dragged, sometimes forced, him into numerous court positions. Throughout his political career he continuously switched alliances, at times to further his personal fortune, at others to save his life. At age 43, he retired from politics to write a history of the world, the introduction (muqaddimah) to which outlined his new historical science, but he was unable to keep away from public life. He spent his last few years as Maliki Grand Judge in Cairo and taught at Al-Azhar University, where he propagated his ideas.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only