SHCHAVELEV A.S. The Dates of Diplomatic Letters of Hasdai Ibn Shaprut


Aleksey S. Shchavelev

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Department of History of Byzantium and Eastern Europe, Institute of World History, RAS,

Prosp. Leninskiy, 32a, 1119415 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article aims to analyze the possible dating of letters from the archive, which belonged to Hasdai ibn Shaprut, the grandee of the court of the first two caliphs of the Cordoba from the Umayyad dynasty. These letters are the key source for the political and diplomatic history of Europe in the 10th century.

Methods. For the first time, the whole letters and separate passages, related to the Khazar project of Hasdai ibn Shaprut, hav been analyzed from the viewpoint of absolute and relational chronology. So, the investigation is based on methods of epistolography and chronology, the epistemological aim is the reconstruction of the interval date of the complex of letters.

Analysis. Many of the present dates of letters and the identification of addressees adopted in historiography are based on outdated or erroneous arguments. Hasdai’s letters were sent to Byzantine rulers Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, his son Roman II and Roman’s wife Anastasia-Theophano. A significant marker is the mention of the book of Josippon, which was written in 953. Most likely, Hasdai ibn Shaprut became interested in Khazaria not earlier than the 950s, and this actualized his interest to Byzantium, which had regular trade and diplomatic contacts with Khazars. In the mid or the end 960s, after the walloping of Khazaria, Hasdai’s interest in it had to be extinguished.

Results. The main body of the collection of letters from the Hasdai ibn Shaprut’s archive can be dated by the mid 950s – the first half of the 960s. As far as the remains of one personal archive are concerned, earlier dates of letters are certainly unlikely.

Key words: Byzantium, Spain, Constantinople, Cordova, Hasdai ibn Shaprut, 10th century diplomacy, chronology, epistolography.

Citation. Shchavelev A.S. The Dates of Diplomatic Letters of Hasdai Ibn Shaprut. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2018, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 186-195. (in Russian). DOI:

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The Dates of Diplomatic Letters of Hasdai Ibn Shaprut by Shchavelev A.S. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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