Nizam al-Mulk: Book of Government; or, Rules for Kings

(1091)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Nizam al-Mulk wrote the Book of Government; or, Rules for Kings in 1091 in order to guide the Seljuk sultans and set a model of government as well as to curb the excesses of the Turkic nomads, generals, and princes. In it, he wrote about the practice and art of governing, the qualities of kingship, and how to handle threats to the Seljuk Empire. In many ways, this work, which became a classic of Islamic political and governmental philosophy, is a memorial to what Nizam al-Mulk failed to accomplish in his lifetime, despite his best efforts.

Chapter X: “Concerning Intelligence Agents and Reporters and Their Importance in Administering the Affairs of the Country”

In this excerpt from the tenth chapter of the book, Nizam al-Mulk stresses that it is important for a sultan to be involved in the matters of state, rather than simply enjoying the comforts and privileges that come with the crown. Here, he is perhaps showing regret for the way in...

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A Seljuk sultan (Yale University Art Gallery)

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