Lévi-Provençal, Evariste

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LÉVI-PROVENÇAL, EVARISTE (1894–1956), French Orientalist; original name, Mabkhŭsh . Born in Algiers, where he also studied, Lévi-Provençal became professor (1922) and director (1929) of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Morocaines in Rabat, professor (1928) at the University of Algiers, professor (1945) at the Sorbonne, and director of the Institut des Etudes Islamiques and of the Centre d'Etudes de l'Orient of the University of Paris. He distinguished himself mainly in two fields: in the publication of Arabic texts and as a historian of Muslim Spain. In the libraries of North Africa and Spain he discovered various manuscripts of old texts which shed new light on the history of the *Almohads and the Muslim rule in Spain, among them works such as the memoirs of Baydhag, a companion of Ibn Tŭmart, and those of Abdallah, the last Zirid king of Granada. He also published other texts, such as old Ḥisba books, dealing with markets, letters of the Almohad rulers, and writings of the Magreb and Spanish Arabic historians and geographers. His major achievement, however, was his Histoire de l'Espagne musulmane (vol. 1, 1944; vols. 1–3, 1950–532), whose first two volumes give a very clear outline of the political history of Muslim Spain until the downfall of the *Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba, whereas the third volume contains a detailed analysis of its social and cultural life. The whole work should have comprised six volumes, but when the author died, he had only collected his materials for the last three volumes. Lévi-Provencal also published Arabic inscriptions from North Africa and Spain (Inscriptions arabes d'Espagne, 1931) and many essays on the history and the civilization of the Muslims in Spain. Additionally, he was the founder of the review Arabica (Paris, 1953– ) and one of the first editors of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam.

For a list of his writings see J. and D. Sourdel, in: Arabica, 3 (1956), 136–46.

[Eliyahu Ashtor]