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The Revolts of the Bashmuric Copts
in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries'
Gawdat Gabra (Kairo)
n his valuable contribution "Beiträge zur Geschichte Ägyptens
unter dem Islam", which appeared one century ago, Carl Becker
touches on a considerable number of issues that are important for
our conference. His contribution covers the span of time from the
Arab conquest (641) to the Tulunid rule (870-884). He uses
documentary and literary sources to deal with significant subjects
such as Arabization, Islamizsation, poll tax, land tax, arbitrary taxes,
travel passes, imposing the poll tax on monks, torture of monks to
the point of the amputation of a hand or even to death, settlement of
Arabic tribes among the native population, pressures on the
Christian population, destruction of crosses and churches, and
Coptic revolts and conversion 2 . Becker pointed out that the bulk of
the Coptic community remained Christian in the first century of the
Arab occupation of Egypt. By the beginning of the third century of
Islamic rule, the resistance of the Copts was broken and their
economic status was dramatically weakened because of the financial
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Alexander von Hum¬
boldt-Stiftung for the fellowship that enabled me to pursue my
researches at the Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie der Univer¬
sität Münster (May 2002). The following abbreviations will be used:
CE = Aziz S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, 8 volumes, New
York 1991.
PO= Patrología Orientalis
2 Becker, Carl H., Beiträge zur Geschichte Ägyptens unter dem Islam,
Strassburg, 1903,81-148.