Spotlight on Angus Stewart
December 6, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr Angus Stewart has been a Lecturer in Middle Eastern History in St Andrews since 2007, having been a Teaching Fellow in Mediaeval History, and then a Senior Teaching Fellow, from 2001. However, his association with St Andrews goes much further back: having graduated with an MA (Hons) in Mediaeval History (1994), he went on to obtain an MLitt and then a PhD (2000) here, under the supervision of Professor Hugh Kennedy (now at SOAS in London).
By training as a mediaeval historian, in his postgraduate work and afterwards Angus has turned to look at the Near East and its connections with the wider world. His research is based on material produced in a variety of different traditions. He has made especial use of the extensive Arabic literature originating in the Mamluk Sultanate, the empire that controlled Egypt, Syria and the surrounding territory, from the middle of the thirteenth century to the early sixteenth century. The Mamluk sultans and their ruling elite frequently originated as slave soldiers, brought in from the pagan lands to the north of the Islamic world, and it was perhaps this position as outsiders that led them to be keen patrons of, amongst other things, historical works. Angus has used this material, alongside sources produced by Armenians and Franks (people of Western European origin) in the region, to shed light on Mamluk relations with their neighbours and rivals. A study of the Mamluk dealings with the Armenian kingdom centred on Cilicia was published as The Armenian Kingdom and the Mamluks: War and Diplomacy during the reigns of Het‘um II (1289-1307) (Leiden, 2001).
A key theme in Near Eastern affairs in this period was the arrival of the Mongols and the creation of a Mongol state in the region, the Ilkhanate, based in Iran. One theme of Angus’s research in recent years has been the interaction of the Ilkhans with others in the region, and he has worked on the Armenian relationship with the Mongols, and their role in Ilkhanid diplomacy with Western Europe. He has also become interested more widely in the theme of nomadic society on the steppes and its interactions with settled peoples. His research is increasingly informed by the study of more than just ‘historical’ texts; he has become increasingly interested in the art and architecture of the period, and has also worked on more ‘literary’ material such as tales. One avenue that he is exploring in his current research is the relationship between the Muslim rulers of the region and the states created by the Crusaders; he is especially interested in the Mamluk dealings with these Franks of Outremer.
These interests are reflected in the teaching that Angus carries out in the School of History. He contributes to teaching at all levels: he has been co-ordinator of various sub-honours modules in Mediaeval History, and is currently co-ordinator of MH2002, “Introduction to Middle Eastern History”; his Honours courses include ME3162, “The Mediaeval Castle”, and ME4855, “Crusaders, Mongols and Mamluks: West and East in the mid-thirteenth century”; he also contributes to MLitts in Mediaeval, Iranian and Middle Eastern History. He was for many years the School’s Disabilities Officer, and was also Chair of Arabic and Middle East Studies from 2007 to 2010.
Angus has enjoyed travelling in the Near East. He has given papers at conferences in Istanbul, Aleppo and Damascus, and has also led a tour party around some of the sites of eastern Turkey.
For the last three seasons Angus has been vice-captain of the university’s Staff and Postgraduate Cricket Club, and in each year they have been champions of their division in the Strathmore and Perthshire League.