BUTRUS (Melchite bishop of Misr)
A thirteenth-century Melchite bishop of Misr. Butrus is mentioned twice in an anonymous Muslim work relating the life of al-Mansur Qalawun, king of Egypt (A.D. 1279-1290), entitled Kitab Tashrif al-Ayyam wa-al-‘Usur (History of Arabic Literature). In both cases, the context considers treaties of armistice between the Genoans and al-Mansur, following naval battles.
Both texts are written by the bishop, who signs himself Butrus usquf Misr al-Malki (Peter, Melchite bishop of Misr). The Genoan emissary was Alberto Spinola, accompanied by consuls and traders. On the Egyptian side, the witnesses are four Melchites: Bishop Arsaniyus, the abbot of the Melchite monastery of al-Qusayr near Cairo, the deacon Matta, and Mkha’il, monk of Sinai. The agreement was concluded on 14 Ayyar anno mundi 6798/14 May 1290. The Genoans swore on the Gospel and the cross, “standing, with their heads uncovered.”
The Arabic text was published by Habib Zayyat in 1953 on the basis of a manuscript written in Egypt at the end of the thirteenth century (National Library, Paris, Arabe 1704 [not 174 as said by the editor]), the first witnessing in fols. 338a-40b, and the second in fols. 341a-52b.
- Habib Zayyat. Al-Rum al-Malkiyyun fi al-Islam, Vol. 1. Harisa, 1953.
KHALIL SAMIR, S.J.