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SPAIN and ITALY: The Muslim Heritage

Stephen Read attributes Muslim decline to the Mongol invasion. The Mongols conquered Persia and briefly occupied the caliphate of Baghdad, but they never reached beyond into the Arab world, whose decadence can therefore not be explained by it. Timurlane is buried in Samarkand (Uzbekistan), and ruled his world from there. Under his successors, the Timurids, Uzbekistan was briefly an important cultural. Stephen praises the cultural achievements of Ulugh Beg. "He was a patron of learning and a respected astronomer in his own right--it is said that his calculations of celestial position contributed to the studies of Kepler and Tycho Brahe and he was in those times recognized in European pantheons of astronomers."

This does not explain the decline of Islam, but it does raise again the issue of textbooks. Now that Soviet dominance has disappeared, what change has there been in Uzbek history textbooks? In Mongolia, the change has been total. Genghis Kahn, despised as a tyrant in Marxist textbooks, is now revered as the founder of Mongolia.

Ronald Hilton - 7/30/00