The research group investigates four different categories of rebellion during the ‘long 8th century CE’, i.e. from the end of the second civil war and the consolidation of ʿAbd al-Malik’s rule until the failure of the last large-scale (pro-)‘Alid rebellions in the central Islamic lands. This period was characterized by comprehensive efforts directed towards state formation under both the Marwānid Umayyads and the early ʿAbbāsids. The administrative reforms implemented in this period include the centralization of state power vis-à-vis the provinces, the increased systematisation and enforcement of taxation, land surveys and censuses, changes in the army payment systems, the Arabicisation of the administration, and major coinage reforms. It is probably no coincidence that this period also witnessed a large number of rebellions; the precise connection between these two phenomena will be analysed over the course of the proposed project. In any case, the centralising imperial projects of this period form the backdrop against which the selected revolts will be studied.
The four selected categories of rebellion represent a good cross-section of society; all of them remain understudied, and with the exception of ashrāfī revolts, they have been analysed with a somewhat reductive focus on their religious dimensions. Khārijite and (pro-)ʿAlid revolts are also among the most frequent in the ‘long 8th century CE’. Rebellions specifically intended to shake off Arab and/or Muslim rule, like the ‘nativist rebellions’ of Iran and Transoxania analysed by Patricia Crone (2012), are of a somewhat different nature and thus excluded as well. A working hypothesis of the project is that Armenian revolts were not primarily aimed at overthrowing Arab/Muslim dominion, but at improving status within the established system. The decision to consider Armenian revolts also responds to recent calls for a (re-)integration of Armenia into early Islamic history. Finally, the comprehensive scholarship on the ʿAbbāsid takeover as an example of a successful rebellion will be utilized for comparative purposes, but the ‘revolution’ will not be studied separately.