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By Antonia Fraser

In Cromwell, award-winning biographer Antonia Fraser tells of 1 of England's so much celebrated and arguable figures, frequently misunderstood and demonized as a puritanical zealot. Oliver Cromwell rose from humble beginnings to spearhead the uprising opposed to King Charles I, who was once beheaded in 1649, and led his infantrymen into the final conflict opposed to the Royalists and King Charles II at Worcester, finishing the civil battle in 1651. Fraser exhibits how England's status and prosperity grew less than Cromwell, reversing the decline it had suffered considering the fact that Queen Elizabeth I's loss of life.

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Travel Tales, Their Creators and Critics 15 followed by the northward journey across Arabia to Kufa in southern Iraq; here Ibn Battuta adds the technique of compressing Ibn Jubayr’s material. Finally, the route from Kufa to Baghdad, then north to Nasibin and Mardin, is described using all these methods, especially compression and, as Mattock reiterates, this section is taken almost entirely from Ibn Jubayr. Mattock has little doubt that Ibn Battuta did actually visit the places mentioned, yet the extent of the borrowing is conscious and involves to some extent an effort to disguise the fact.

The precaution was necessary, for as they passed through dense reed marshland, some stragglers were picked off by Arab brigands and stripped of their possessions, including shoes and wooden bowls. The thieves then vanished into the vast fortress of reeds. In Wasit, Ibn Battuta was guest of the founder and head of the city’s largest madrasa, who supplied him also with dates and money. He took advantage of the caravan halt to visit the tomb of a famous saint, a day’s ride away, but found upon his return that his party had just left for Basra, obliging him to chase after it.

Why do others, like al-Balawi, al-Abdari and Ibn Battuta (or perhaps Ibn Juzayy), borrow from Ibn Jubayr, with some passages acknowledged, others not? Why does Ibn Battuta openly borrow from Ibn Jubayr at times, but pass over al-Abdari in silence? It has also been suggested that there may exist a relationship between Ibn Battuta’s travel narrative of Mali in central Africa and passages from a massive work by the famous writer-administrator Ibn Fadl Allah al-Umari (d. 1349). In the present state of our understanding of these texts, answers to these questions are not forthcoming.

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