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CHAPTER LI - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 9 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 9.
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The Conquest of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, by the Arabs or Saracens — Empire of the Caliphs, or Successors of Mahomet — State of the Christians, &c. under their Government
The revolution of Arabia had not changed the character of the Arabs: the death of Mahomet was the signal of independence; and the hasty structure of his power and religion tottered to its foundations. A small and faithful band of his primitive disciples had listened to his eloquence and shared his distress; had fled with the apostle from the persecution of Mecca or had received the fugitive in the walls of Medina. The increasing myriads, who acknowledged Mahomet as their king and prophet, had been compelled by his arms or allured by his prosperity. The polytheists were confounded by the simple idea of a solitary and invisible God; the pride of the Christians and Jews disdained the yoke of a mortal and contemporary legislator. Their habits of faith and obedience were not sufficiently confirmed; and many of the new converts regretted the venerable antiquity of the law of Moses, or the rites and mysteries of the Catholic church, or the idols, the sacrifices, the joyous festivals, of their pagan ancestors. The jarring interests and hereditary feuds of the Arabian tribes had not yet coalesced in a system of union and subordination; and the Barbarians were impatient of the mildest and most salutary laws that curbed their passions or violated their customs. They submitted with reluctance to the religious precepts of the Koran, the abstinence from wine, the fast of the Ramadan, and the daily repetition of five prayers; and the alms and tithes, which were collected for the treasury of Medina, could be distinguished only by a name from the payment of a perpetual and ignominious tribute. The example of Mahomet had excited a spirit of fanaticism or imposture, and several of his rivals presumed to imitate the conduct and defy the authority of the living prophet. At the head of the fugitives and auxiliaries, the first caliph was reduced to the cities of Mecca, Medina, and Tayef; and perhaps the Koreish would have restored the idols of the Caaba, if their levity had not been checked by a seasonable reproof. “Ye men of Mecca, will ye be the last to embrace and the first to abandon the religion of Islam?” After exhorting the Moslems to confide in the aid of God and his apostle, Abubeker resolved, by a vigorous attack, to prevent the junction of the rebels. The women and children were safely lodged in the cavities of the mountains: the warriors, marching under eleven banners, diffused the terror of their arms; and the appearance of a military force revived and confirmed the loyalty of the faithful. The inconstant tribes accepted, with humble repentance, the duties of prayer and fasting and alms; and, after some examples of success and severity, the most daring apostates fell prostrate before the sword of the Lord and of Caled. In the fertile province of Yemannah,1 between the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Persia, in a city not inferior to Medina itself, a powerful chief, his name was Moseilama, had assumed the character of a prophet, and the tribe of Hanifa listened to his voice. A female prophetess was attracted by his reputation: the decencies of words and actions were spurned by these favourites of heaven,2 and they employed several days in mystic and amorous converse. An obscure sentence of his Koran, or book, is yet extant;3 and, in the pride of his mission, Moseilama condescended to offer a partition of the earth. The proposal was answered by Mahomet with contempt; but the rapid progress of the impostor awakened the fears of his successor: forty thousand Moslems were assembled under the standard of Caled; and the existence of their faith was resigned to the event of a decisive battle. In the first action they were repulsed with the loss of twelve hundred men; but the skill and perseverance of their general prevailed: their defeat was avenged by the slaughter of ten thousand infidels; and Moseilama himself was pierced by an Ethiopian slave with the same javelin which had mortally wounded the uncle of Mahomet. The various rebels of Arabia, without a chief or a cause, were speedily suppressed by the power and discipline of the rising monarchy; and the whole nation again professed, and more steadfastly held, the religion of the Koran. The ambition of the caliphs provided an immediate exercise for the restless spirit of the Saracens; their valour was united in the prosecution of an holy war; and their enthusiasm was equally confirmed by opposition and victory.
From the rapid conquests of the Saracens, a presumption will naturally arise that the first caliphs commanded in person the armies of the faithful, and sought the crown of martyrdom in the foremost ranks of the battle. The courage of Abubeker,4 Omar,5 and Othman6 had indeed been tried in the persecution and wars of the prophet; and the personal assurance of paradise must have taught them to despise the pleasures and dangers of the present world. But they ascended the throne in a venerable or mature age, and esteemed the domestic cares of religion and justice the most important duties of a sovereign. Except the presence of Omar at the siege of Jerusalem, the longest expeditions were the frequent pilgrimages from Medina to Mecca; and they calmly received the tidings of victory as they prayed or preached before the sepulchre of the prophet. The austere and frugal measure of their lives was the effect of virtue or habit, and the pride of their simplicity insulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth. When Abubeker assumed the office of caliph, he enjoined his daughter Ayesha to take a strict account of his private patrimony, that it might be evident whether he were enriched or impoverished by the service of the state. He thought himself entitled to a stipend of three pieces of gold, with the sufficient maintenance of a single camel and a black slave; but on the Friday of each week he distributed the residue of his own and the public money, first to the most worthy, and then to the most indigent, of the Moslems. The remains of his wealth, a coarse garment and five pieces of gold, were delivered to his successor, who lamented with a modest sigh his own inability to equal such an admirable model. Yet the abstinence and humility of Omar were not inferior to the virtues of Abubeker: his food consisted of barley-bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places; and a Persian satrap, who paid his homage to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosch of Medina. Economy is the source of liberality, and the increase of the revenue enabled Omar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful. Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand drachms or pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the aged warriors, the relics of the field of Beder, and the last and meanest of the companions of Mahomet was distinguished by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. One thousand was the stipend of the veterans who had fought in the first battles against the Greeks and Persians, and the decreasing pay, as low as fifty pieces of silver, was adapted to the respective merit and seniority of the soldiers of Omar. Under his reign and that of his predecessor, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people; the mass of the public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and they united, by a rare felicity, the despatch and execution of despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government. The heroic courage of Ali,7 the consummate prudence of Moawiyah,8 excited the emulation of their subjects; and the talents which had been exercised in the schools of civil discord were more usefully applied to propagate the faith and dominion of the prophet. In the sloth and vanity of the palace of Damascus, the succeeding princes of the house of Ommiyah were alike destitute of the qualifications of statesmen and of saints.9 Yet the spoils of unknown nations were continually laid at the foot of their throne, and the uniform ascent of the Arabian greatness must be ascribed to the spirit of the nation rather than the abilities of their chiefs. A large deduction must be allowed for the weakness of their enemies. The birth of Mahomet was fortunately placed in the most degenerate and disorderly period of the Persians, the Romans, and the Barbarians of Europe: the empires of Trajan, or even of Constantine or Charlemagne, would have repelled the assault of the naked Saracens, and the torrent of fanaticism might have been obscurely lost in the sands of Arabia.
In the victorious days of the Roman republic, it had been the aim of the senate to confine their counsels and legions to a single war, and completely to suppress a first enemy before they provoked the hostilities of a second. These timid maxims of policy were disdained by the magnanimity or enthusiasm of the Arabian caliphs. With the same vigour and success they invaded the successors of Augustus and those of Artaxerxes; and the rival monarchies at the same instant became the prey of an enemy whom they had been so long accustomed to despise. In the ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred moschs for the exercise of the religion of Mahomet. One hundred years after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant provinces, which may be comprised under the names of I. Persia; II. Syria; III. Egypt; IV. Africa; and V. Spain. Under this general division, I shall proceed to unfold these memorable transactions; despatching, with brevity, the remote and less interesting conquests of the East, and reserving a fuller narrative for those domestic countries which had been included within the pale of the Roman empire. Yet I must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the blindness and insufficiency of my guides. The Greeks, so loquacious in controversy, have not been anxious to celebrate the triumphs of their enemies.10 After a century of ignorance, the first annals of the Musulmans were collected in a great measure from the voice of tradition.11 Among the numerous productions of Arabic and Persian literature,12 our interpreters have selected the imperfect sketches of a more recent age.13 The art and genius of history have ever been unknown to the Asiatics;14 they are ignorant of the laws of criticism; and our monkish chronicles of the same period may be compared to their most popular works, which are never vivified by the spirit of philosophy and freedom. The Oriental library of a Frenchman15 would instruct the most learned mufti of the East; and perhaps the Arabs might not find in a single historian so clear and comprehensive a narrative of their own exploits, as that which will be deduced in the ensuing sheets.
I. In the first year of the first caliph, his lieutenant Caled, the sword of God and the scourge of the infidels, advanced to the banks of the Euphrates, and reduced the cities of Anbar and Hira. Westward of the ruins of Babylon, a tribe of sedentary Arabs had fixed themselves on the verge of the desert; and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who had embraced the Christian religion and reigned above six hundred years under the shadow of the throne of Persia.16 The last of the Mondars was defeated and slain by Caled; his son was sent a captive to Medina; his nobles bowed before the successor of the prophet; the people was tempted by the example and success of their countrymen; and the caliph accepted as the first fruits of foreign conquest an annual tribute of seventy thousand pieces of gold.17 The conquerors, and even their historians, were astonished by the dawn of their future greatness: “In the same year,” says Elmacin, “Caled fought many signal battles; an immense multitude of infidels was slaughtered; and spoils, infinite and innumerable, were acquired by the victorious Moslems.”18 But the invincible Caled was soon transferred to the Syrian war; the invasion of the Persian frontier was conducted by less active, or less prudent, commanders; the Saracens were repulsed with loss in the passage of the Euphrates; and, though they chastised the insolent pursuit of the Magians, their remaining forces still hovered in the desert of Babylon.
The indignation and fears of the Persians suspended for a moment their intestine divisions. By the unanimous sentence of the priests and nobles, their queen Arzema was deposed: the sixth of the transient usurpers who had arisen and vanished in three or four years since the death of Chosroes and the retreat of Heraclius. Her tiara was placed on the head of Yezdegerd, the grandson of Chosroes; and the same era, which coincides with an astronomical period,19 has recorded the fall of the Sassanian dynasty and the religion of Zoroaster.20 The youth and inexperience of the prince, he was only fifteen years of age, declined a perilous encounter; the royal standard was delivered into the hands of his general Rustam; and a remnant of thirty thousand regular troops was swelled in truth, or in opinion, to one hundred and twenty thousand subjects, or allies, of the Great King. The Moslems, whose numbers were reinforced from twelve to thirty thousand, had pitched their camp in the plains of Cadesia;21 and their line, though it consisted of fewer men, could produce more soldiers than the unwieldy host of the infidels. I shall here observe what I must often repeat, that the charge of the Arabs was not like that of the Greeks and Romans, the effort of a firm and compact infantry: their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers; and the engagement, which was often interrupted and often renewed by single combats and flying skirmishes, might be protracted without any decisive event to the continuance of several days. The periods of the battle of Cadesia were distinguished by their peculiar appellations. The first, from the well-timed appearance of six thousand of the Syrian brethren, was denominated the day of succour.22 The day of concussion might express the disorder of one, or perhaps of both, of the contending armies. The third, a nocturnal tumult, received the whimsical name of the night of barking, from the discordant clamours which were compared to the inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals. The morning of the succeeding day determined the fate of Persia; and a seasonable whirlwind drove a cloud of dust against the faces of the unbelievers. The clangour of arms was re-echoed to the tent of Rustam, who, far unlike the ancient hero of his name, was gently reclining in a cool and tranquil shade, amidst the baggage of his camp and the train of mules that were laden with gold and silver. On the sound of danger he started from his couch; but his flight was overtaken by a valiant Arab, who caught him by the foot, struck off his head, hoisted it on a lance, and, instantly returning to the field of battle, carried slaughter and dismay among the thickest ranks of the Persians.23 The Saracens confess a loss of seven thousand five hundred men; and the battle of Cadesia is justly described by the epithets of obstinate and atrocious.24 The standard of the monarchy was overthrown and captured in the field — a leathern apron of a blacksmith, who, in ancient times, had arisen the deliverer of Persia; but this badge of heroic poverty was disguised and almost concealed by a profusion of precious gems.25 After this victory, the wealthy province of Irak26 or Assyria submitted to the caliph, and his conquests were firmly established by the speedy foundation of Bassora,27 a place which ever commands the trade and navigation of the Persians. At the distance of fourscore miles from the Gulf, the Euphrates and Tigris unite in a broad and direct current, which is aptly styled the river of the Arabs. In the midway, between the junction and the mouth of these famous streams, the new settlement was planted on the western bank; the first colony was composed of eight hundred Moslems; but the influence of the situation soon reared a flourishing and populous capital. The air, though excessively hot, is pure and healthy; the meadows are filled with palm-trees and cattle; and one of the adjacent valleys has been celebrated among the four paradises or gardens of Asia. Under the first caliphs, the jurisdiction of this Arabian colony extended over the southern provinces of Persia; the city has been sanctified by the tombs of the companions and martyrs; and the vessels of Europe still frequent the port of Bassora, as a convenient station and passage of the Indian trade.
After the defeat of Cadesia, a country intersected by rivers and canals might have opposed an insuperable barrier to the victorious cavalry; and the walls of Ctesiphon or Madayn, which had resisted the battering-rams of the Romans, would not have yielded to the darts of the Saracens. But the flying Persians were overcome by the belief that the last day of their religion and empire was at hand; the strongest posts were abandoned by treachery or cowardice; and the king, with a part of his family and treasures, escaped to Holwan at the foot of the Median hills. In the third month after the battle,28 Said, the lieutenant of Omar, passed the Tigris without opposition; the capital was taken by assault; and the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the sabres of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, “This is the white palace of Chosroes, this is the promise of the apostle of God!” The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly enriched beyond the measure of their hope or knowledge. Each chamber revealed a new treasure, secreted with art or ostentatiously displayed; the gold and silver, the various wardrobes and precious furniture, surpassed (says Abulfeda) the estimate of fancy or numbers; and another historian defines the untold and almost infinite mass by the fabulous computation of three thousands of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold.29 Some minute though curious facts represent the contrast of riches and ignorance. From the remote islands of the Indian Ocean, a large provision of camphire30 had been imported, which is employed with a mixture of wax to illuminate the palaces of the East. Strangers to the name and properties of that odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for salt, mingled the camphire in their bread and were astonished at the bitterness of the taste. One of the apartments of the palace was decorated with a carpet of silk, sixty cubits in length and as many in breadth; a paradise or garden was depictured on the ground; the flowers, fruits, and shrubs were imitated by the figures of the gold embroidery and the colours of the precious stones; and the ample square was encircled by a variegated and verdant border. The Arabian general persuaded his soldiers to relinquish their claim in the reasonable hope that the eyes of the caliph would be delighted with the splendid workmanship of nature and industry. Regardless of the merit of art and the pomp of royalty, the rigid Omar divided the prize among his brethren of Medina; the picture was destroyed; but such was the intrinsic value of the materials that the share of Ali alone was sold for twenty thousand drachms. A mule that carried away the tiara and cuirass, the belt and bracelets of Chosroes, was overtaken by the pursuers; the gorgeous trophy was presented to the commander of the faithful; and the gravest of the companions condescended to smile when they beheld the white beard, hairy arms, and uncouth figure of the veteran, who was invested with the spoils of the Great King.31 The sack of Ctesiphon was followed by its desertion and gradual decay. The Saracens disliked the air and situation of the place; and Omar was advised by his general to remove the seat of government to the western side of the Euphrates. In every age, the foundation and ruin of the Assyrian cities has been easy and rapid; the country is destitute of stone and timber, and the most solid structures32 are composed of bricks baked in the sun and joined by a cement of the native bitumen. The name of Cufa33 describes an habitation of reeds and earth; but the importance of the new capital was supported by the numbers, wealth, and spirit of a colony of veterans; and their licentiousness was indulged by the wisest caliphs, who were apprehensive of provoking the revolt of an hundred thousand swords: “Ye men of Cufa,” said Ali, who solicited their aid, “you have been always conspicuous by your valour. You conquered the Persian king and scattered his forces, till you had taken possession of his inheritance.” This mighty conquest was achieved by the battles of Jalula and Nehavend. After the loss of the former, Yezdegerd fled from Holwan, and concealed his shame and despair in the mountains of Farsistan, from whence Cyrus had descended with his equal and valiant companions. The courage of the nation survived that of the monarch; among the hills to the south of Ecbatana or Hamadan, one hundred and fifty thousand Persians made a third and final stand for their religion and country; and the decisive battle of Nehavend was styled by the Arabs the victory of victories. If it be true that the flying general of the Persians was stopped and overtaken in a crowd of mules and camels laden with honey, the incident, however slight or singular, will denote the luxurious impediments of an Oriental army.34
The geography of Persia is darkly delineated by the Greeks and Latins; but the most illustrious of her cities appear to be more ancient than the invasion of the Arabs. By the reduction of Hamadan and Ispahan, of Caswin, Tauris, and Rei, they gradually approached the shores of the Caspian Sea; and the orators of Mecca might applaud the success and spirit of the faithful, who had already lost sight of the northern bear, and had almost transcended the bounds of the habitable world.35 Again turning towards the west and the Roman empire, they repassed the Tigris over the bridge of Mosul, and, in the captive provinces of Armenia and Mesopotamia, embraced their victorious brethren of the Syrian army. From the palace of Madayn their eastern progress was not less rapid or extensive. They advanced along the Tigris and the Gulf; penetrated through the passes of the mountains into the valley of Estachar or Persepolis; and profaned the last sanctuary of the Magian empire. The grandson of Chosroes was nearly surprised among the falling columns and mutilated figures, — a sad emblem of the past and present fortune of Persia:36 he fled with accelerated haste over the desert of Kirman, implored the aid of the warlike Segestans, and sought an humble refuge on the verge of the Turkish and Chinese power.37 But a victorious army is insensible of fatigue; the Arabs divided their forces in the pursuit of a timorous enemy; and the caliph Othman promised the government of Chorasan to the first general who should enter that large and populous country, the kingdom of the ancient Bactrians. The condition was accepted; the prize was deserved; the standard of Mahomet was planted on the walls of Herat, Merou, and Balch; and the successful leader neither halted nor reposed till his foaming cavalry had tasted the waters of the Oxus. In the public anarchy, the independent governors of the cities and castles obtained their separate capitulations; the terms were granted or imposed by the esteem, the prudence, or the compassion of the victors; and a simple profession of faith established the distinction between a brother and a slave. After a noble defence, Harmozan, the prince or satrap of Ahwaz and Susa, was compelled to surrender his person and his state to the discretion of the caliph; and their interview exhibits a portrait of the Arabian manners. In the presence, and by the command, of Omar, the gay Barbarian was despoiled of his silken robes embroidered with gold, and of his tiara bedecked with rubies and emeralds. “Are you now sensible,” said the conqueror to his naked captive, “are you now sensible of the judgment of God and of the different rewards of infidelity and obedience?” “Alas!” replied Harmozan, “I feel them too deeply. In the days of our common ignorance, we fought with the weapons of the flesh, and my nation was superior. God was then neuter: since he has espoused your quarrel, you have subverted our kingdom and religion.” Oppressed by this painful dialogue, the Persian complained of intolerable thirst, but discovered some apprehension lest he should be killed whilst he was drinking a cup of water. “Be of good courage,” said the caliph, “your life is safe till you have drunk this water.” The crafty satrap accepted the assurance, and instantly dashed the vase against the ground. Omar would have avenged the deceit, but his companions represented the sanctity of an oath; and the speedy conversion of Harmozan entitled him not only to a free pardon, but even to a stipend of two thousand pieces of gold. The administration of Persia was regulated by an actual survey of the people, the cattle, and the fruits of the earth;38 and this monument, which attests the vigilance of the caliphs, might have instructed the philosophers of every age.39
The flight of Yezdegerd had carried him beyond the Oxus and as far as the Jaxartes, two rivers40 of ancient and modern renown, which descend from the mountains of India towards the Caspian Sea. He was hospitably entertained by Tarkhan,41 prince of Fargana,42 a fertile province on the Jaxartes; the king of Samarcand, with the Turkish tribes of Sogdiana and Scythia, were moved by the lamentations and promises of the fallen monarch; and he solicited by a suppliant embassy the more solid and powerful friendship of the emperor of China.43 The virtuous Taitsong,44 the first of the dynasty of the Tang, may be justly compared with the Antonines of Rome; his people enjoyed the blessings of prosperity and peace; and his dominion was acknowledged by forty-four hordes of the Barbarians of Tartary. His last garrisons of Cashgar and Khoten maintained a frequent intercourse with their neighbours of the Jaxartes and Oxus; a recent colony of Persians had introduced into China the astronomy of the Magi; and Taitsong might be alarmed by the rapid progress and dangerous vicinity of the Arabs. The influence, and perhaps the supplies, of China revived the hopes of Yezdegerd and the zeal of the worshippers of fire; and he returned with an army of Turks to conquer the inheritance of his fathers. The fortunate Moslems, without unsheathing their swords, were the spectators of his ruin and death. The grandson of Chosroes was betrayed by his servant, insulted by the seditious inhabitants of Merou, and oppressed, defeated, and pursued by his Barbarian allies. He reached the banks of a river, and offered his rings and bracelets for an instant passage in a miller’s boat. Ignorant or insensible of royal distress, the rustic replied that four drachms of silver were the daily profit of his mill, and that he would not suspend his work unless the loss were repaid. In this moment of hesitation and delay, the last of the Sassanian kings was overtaken and slaughtered by the Turkish cavalry, in the nineteenth year of his unhappy reign.45 His son Firuz, an humble client of the Chinese emperor, accepted the station of captain of his guards; and the Magian worship was long preserved by a colony of loyal exiles in the province of Bucharia. His grandson inherited the regal name; but after a faint and fruitless enterprise he returned to China and ended his days in the palace of Sigan. The male line of the Sassanides was extinct; but the female captives, the daughters of Persia, were given to the conquerors in servitude or marriage; and the race of the caliphs and imams was ennobled by the blood of their royal mothers.46
After the fall of the Persian kingdom, the river Oxus divided the territories of the Saracens and of the Turks. This narrow boundary was soon overleaped by the spirit of the Arabs; the governors of Chorasan extended their successive inroads; and one of their triumphs was adorned with the buskin of a Turkish queen, which she dropped in her precipitate flight beyond the hills of Bochara.47 But the final conquest of Transoxiana,48 as well as of Spain, was reserved for the glorious reign of the inactive Walid; and the name of Catibah, the camel-driver, declares the origin and merit of his successful lieutenant. While one of his colleagues displayed the first Mahometan banner on the banks of the Indus,49 the spacious regions between the Oxus, the Jaxartes, and the Caspian Sea were reduced by the arms of Catibah to the obedience of the prophet and of the caliph.50 A tribute of two millions of pieces of gold was imposed on the infidels; their idols were burnt or broken; the Musulman chief pronounced a sermon in the new mosch of Carizme; after several battles, the Turkish hordes were driven back to the desert; and the emperors of China solicited the friendship of the victorious Arabs. To their industry the prosperity of the province, the Sogdiana of the ancients, may in a great measure be ascribed; but the advantages of the soil and climate had been understood and cultivated since the reign of the Macedonian kings. Before the invasion of the Saracens, Carizme, Bochara, and Samarcand were rich and populous under the yoke of the shepherds of the north.51 These cities were surrounded with a double wall; and the exterior fortification, of a larger circumference, enclosed the fields and gardens of the adjacent district. The mutual wants of India and Europe were supplied by the diligence of the Sogdian merchants; and the inestimable art of transforming linen into paper has been diffused from the manufacture of Samarcand over the Western world.52
II. No sooner had Abubeker restored the unity of faith and government than he despatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes. “In the name of the most merciful God, to the rest of the true believers. Health and happiness, and the mercy and blessing of God, be upon you. I praise the most high God, and I pray for his prophet Mahomet. This is to acquaint you that I intend to send the true believers into Syria53 to take it out of the hands of the infidels. And I would have you know that the fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God.” His messengers returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardour, which they had kindled in every province; and the camp of Medina was successively filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and accused, with impatient murmurs, the delays of the caliph. As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. In person and on foot he accompanied the first day’s march; and, when the blushing leaders attempted to dismount, the caliph removed their scruples by a declaration that those who rode and those who walked, in the service of religion, were equally meritorious. His instructions54 to the chiefs of the Syrian army were inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and effects to despise, the objects of earthly ambition. “Remember,” said the successor of the prophet, “that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women or children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word. As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries.55 And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns;56 be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter, till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute.” All profane or frivolous conversation, all dangerous recollection of ancient quarrels, was severely prohibited among the Arabs; in the tumult of a camp, the exercises of religion were assiduously practised; and the intervals of action were employed in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran. The abuse, or even the use, of wine was chastised by fourscore strokes on the soles of the feet; and in the fervour of their primitive zeal many secret sinners revealed their fault and solicited their punishment. After some hesitation, the command of the Syrian army was delegated to Abu Obeidah, one of the fugitives of Mecca and companions of Mahomet; whose zeal and devotion were assuaged, without being abated, by the singular mildness and benevolence of his temper. But in all the emergencies of war the soldiers demanded the superior genius of Caled; and, whoever might be the choice of the prince, the sword of God was both in fact and fame the foremost leader of the Saracens. He obeyed without reluctance; he was consulted without jealousy; and such was the spirit of the man, or rather of the times, that Caled professed his readiness to serve under the banner of the faith, though it were in the hands of a child or an enemy. Glory and riches and dominion were indeed promised to the victorious Musulman; but he was carefully instructed that, if the goods of this life were his only incitement, they likewise would be his only reward.
One of the fifteen provinces of Syria, the cultivated lands to the eastward of the Jordan, had been decorated by Roman vanity with the name of Arabia;57 and the first arms of the Saracens were justified by the semblance of a national right. The country was enriched by the various benefits of trade; by the vigilance of the emperors it was covered with a line of forts; and the populous cities of Gerasa, Philadelphia, and Bosra58 were secure, at least from a surprise, by the solid structure of their walls. The last of these cities was the eighteenth station from Medina; the road was familiar to the caravans of Hejaz and Irak, who annually visited this plenteous market of the province and the desert; the perpetual jealousy of the Arabs had trained the inhabitants to arms; and twelve thousand horse could sally from the gates of Bosra, an appellation which signifies, in the Syriac language, a strong tower of defence. Encouraged by their first success against the open towns and flying parties of the borders, a detachment of four thousand Moslems presumed to summon and attack the fortress of Bosra. They were oppressed by the numbers of the Syrians; they were saved by the presence of Caled,59 with fifteen hundred horse; he blamed the enterprise, restored the battle, and rescued his friend, the venerable Serjabil, who had vainly invoked the unity of God and the promises of the apostle. After a short repose, the Moslems performed their ablutions with sand instead of water;60 and the morning prayer was recited by Caled before they mounted on horseback. Confident in their strength, the people of Bosra threw open their gates, drew their forces into the plain, and swore to die in the defence of their religion. But a religion of peace was incapable of withstanding the fanatic cry of “Fight, fight! Paradise, paradise!” that re-echoed in the ranks of the Saracens; and the uproar of the town, the ringing of bells,61 and the exclamations of the priests and monks increased the dismay and disorder of the Christians. With the loss of two hundred and thirty men, the Arabs remained masters of the field; and the ramparts of Bosra, in expectation of human or divine aid, were crowded with holy crosses and consecrated banners. The governor Romanus had recommended an early submission: despised by the people, and degraded from his office, he still retained the desire and opportunity of revenge. In a nocturnal interview, he informed the enemy of a subterraneous passage from his house under the wall of the city; the son of the caliph, with an hundred volunteers, were committed to the faith of this new ally, and their successful intrepidity gave an easy entrance to their companions. After Caled had imposed the terms of servitude and tribute, the apostate or convert avowed in the assembly of the people his meritorious treason. “I renounce your society,” said Romanus, “both in this world and the world to come. And I deny him that was crucified, and whosoever worships him. And I choose God for my Lord, Islam for my faith, Mecca for my temple, the Moslems for my brethren, and Mahomet for my prophet; who was sent to lead us into the right way, and to exalt the true religion in spite of those who join partners with God.”
The conquest of Bosra, four days’ journey from Damascus,62 encouraged the Arabs to besiege the ancient capital of Syria.63 At some distance from the walls, they encamped among the groves and fountains of that delicious territory,64 and the usual option of the Mahometan faith, of tribute, or of war, was proposed to the resolute citizens, who had been lately strengthened by a reinforcement of five thousand Greeks. In the decline as in the infancy of the military art, an hostile defiance was frequently offered and accepted by the generals themselves:65 many a lance was shivered in the plain of Damascus, and the personal prowess of Caled was signalised in the first sally of the besieged. After an obstinate combat, he had overthrown and made prisoner one of the Christian leaders, a stout and worthy antagonist. He instantly mounted a fresh horse, the gift of the governor of Palmyra, and pushed forwards to the front of the battle. “Repose yourself for a moment,” said his friend Derar, “and permit me to supply your place; you are fatigued with fighting with this dog.” “O Derar!” replied the indefatigable Saracen, “we shall rest in the world to come. He that labours to-day shall rest to-morrow.” With the same unabated ardour, Caled answered, encountered, and vanquished a second champion; and the heads of his two captives who refused to abandon their religion were indignantly hurled into the midst of the city. The event of some general and partial actions reduced the Damascenes to a closer defence; but a messenger, whom they dropped from the walls, returned with the promise of speedy and powerful succour, and their tumultuous joy conveyed the intelligence to the camp of the Arabs. After some debate it was resolved by the generals to raise, or rather to suspend, the siege of Damascus, till they had given battle to the forces of the emperor. In the retreat, Caled would have chosen the more perilous station of the rear-guard; he modestly yielded to the wishes of Abu Obeidah. But in the hour of danger he flew to the rescue of his companion, who was rudely pressed by a sally of six thousand horse and ten thousand foot, and few among the Christians could relate at Damascus the circumstances of their defeat. The importance of the contest required the junction of the Saracens who were dispersed on the frontiers of Syria and Palestine; and I shall transcribe one of the circular mandates which was addressed to Amrou the future conqueror of Egypt. “In the name of the most merciful God: from Caled to Amrou, health and happiness. Know that thy brethren the Moslems design to march to Aiznadin, where there is an army of seventy thousand Greeks, who purpose to come against us, that they may extinguish the light of God with their mouths; but God preserveth his light in spite of the infidels.66 As soon, therefore, as this letter of mine shall be delivered to thy hands, come with those that are with thee to Aiznadin, where thou shalt find us, if it please the most high God.” The summons was cheerfully obeyed, and the forty-five thousand Moslems who met on the same day, on the same spot, ascribed to the blessing of providence the effects of their activity and zeal.
About four years after the triumphs of the Persian war, the repose of Heraclius and the empire was again disturbed by a new enemy, the power of whose religion was more strongly felt than it was clearly understood by the Christians of the East. In his palace of Constantinople or Antioch, he was awakened by the invasion of Syria, the loss of Bosra, and the danger of Damascus. An army of seventy thousand veterans, or new levies, was assembled at Hems or Emesa, under the command of his general Werdan;67 and these troops, consisting chiefly of cavalry, might be indifferently styled either Syrians, or Greeks, or Romans: Syrians, from the place of their birth or warfare; Greeks, from the religion and language of their sovereign; and Romans, from the proud appellation which was still profaned by the successors of Constantine. On the plain of Aiznadin,68 as Werdan rode on a white mule decorated with gold chains and surrounded with ensigns and standards, he was surprised by the near approach of a fierce and naked warrior, who had undertaken to view the state of the enemy. The adventurous valour of Derar69 was inspired, and has perhaps been adorned, by the enthusiasm of his age and country. The hatred of the Christians, the love of spoil, and the contempt of danger were the ruling passions of the audacious Saracen; and the prospect of instant death could never shake his religious confidence, or ruffle the calmness of his resolution, or even suspend the frank and martial pleasantry of his humour. In the most hopeless enterprises, he was bold, and prudent, and fortunate: after innumerable hazards, after being thrice a prisoner in the hands of the infidels, he still survived to relate the achievements, and to enjoy the rewards, of the Syrian conquest. On this occasion, his single lance maintained a flying fight against thirty Romans, who were detached by Werdan; and, after killing or unhorsing seventeen of their number, Derar returned in safety to his applauding brethren. When his rashness was mildly censured by the general, he excused himself with the simplicity of a soldier. “Nay,” said Derar, “I did not begin first; but they came out to take me, and I was afraid that God should see me turn my back; and indeed I fought in good earnest, and without doubt God assisted me against them; and, had I not been apprehensive of disobeying your orders, I should not have come away as I did; and I perceive already that they will fall into our hands.” In the presence of both armies, a venerable Greek advanced from the ranks with a liberal offer of peace; and the departure of the Saracens would have been purchased by a gift to each soldier, of a turban, a robe, and a piece of gold; ten robes and an hundred pieces to their leader; one hundred robes and a thousand pieces to the caliph. A smile of indignation expressed the refusal of Caled. “Ye Christian dogs, you know your option: the Koran, the tribute, or the sword. We are a people whose delight is in war rather than in peace; and we despise your pitiful alms, since we shall be speedily masters of your wealth, your families, and your persons.” Notwithstanding this apparent disdain, he was deeply conscious of the public danger: those who had been in Persia, and had seen the armies of Chosroes, confessed that they never beheld a more formidable array. From the superiority of the enemy the artful Saracen derived a fresh incentive of courage: “You see before you,” said he, “the united force of the Romans, you cannot hope to escape, but you may conquer Syria in a single day. The event depends on your discipline and patience. Reserve yourselves till the evening. It was in the evening that the prophet was accustomed to vanquish.” During two successive engagements, his temperate firmness sustained the darts of the enemy, and the murmurs of his troops. At length, when the spirits and quivers of the adverse line were almost exhausted, Caled gave the signal of onset and victory. The remains of the Imperial army fled to Antioch, or Cæsarea, or Damascus; and the death of four hundred and seventy Moslems was compensated by the opinion that they had sent to hell above fifty thousand of the infidels. The spoil was inestimable: many banners and crosses of gold and silver, precious stones, silver and gold chains, and innumerable suits of the richest armour and apparel. The general distribution was postponed till Damascus should be taken; but the seasonable supply of arms became the instrument of new victories. The glorious intelligence was transmitted to the throne of the caliph, and the Arabian tribes, the coldest or most hostile to the prophet’s mission, were eager and importunate to share the harvest of Syria.70
The sad tidings were carried to Damascus by the speed of grief and terror; and the inhabitants beheld from their walls the return of the heroes of Aiznadin. Amrou led the van at the head of nine thousand horse; the bands of the Saracens succeeded each other in formidable review; and the rear was closed by Caled in person, with the standard of the black eagle. To the activity of Derar he entrusted the commission of patrolling round the city with two thousand horse, of scouring the plain, and of intercepting all succour or intelligence. The rest of the Arabian chiefs were fixed in their respective stations before the seven gates of Damascus; and the siege was renewed with fresh vigour and confidence. The art, the labour, the military engines, of the Greeks and Romans are seldom to be found in the simple, though successful, operations of the Saracens: it was sufficient for them to invest a city with arms rather than with trenches; to repel the sallies of the besieged; to attempt a stratagem or an assault; or to expect the progress of famine and discontent. Damascus would have acquiesced in the trial of Aiznadin, as a final and peremptory sentence between the emperor and the caliph; her courage was rekindled by the example and authority of Thomas, a noble Greek, illustrious in a private condition by the alliance of Heraclius71 The tumult and illumination of the night proclaimed the design of the morning sally; and the Christian hero, who affected to despise the enthusiasm of the Arabs, employed the resource of a similar superstition. At the principal gate, in the sight of both armies, a lofty crucifix was erected; the bishop, with his clergy, accompanied the march, and laid the volume of the New Testament before the image of Jesus; and the contending parties were scandalised or edified by a prayer that the Son of God would defend his servants and vindicate his truth. The battle raged with incessant fury; and the dexterity of Thomas,72 an incomparable archer, was fatal to the boldest Saracens, till their death was revenged by a female heroine. The wife of Aban, who had followed him to the holy war, embraced her expiring husband. “Happy,” said she, “happy art thou, my dear; thou art gone to thy Lord, who first joined us together, and then parted us asunder. I will revenge thy death, and endeavour to the utmost of my power to come to the place where thou art, because I love thee. Henceforth shall no man ever touch me more, for I have dedicated myself to the service of God.” Without a groan, without a tear, she washed the corpse of her husband, and buried him with the usual rites. Then grasping the manly weapons, which in her native land she was accustomed to wield, the intrepid widow of Aban sought the place where his murderer fought in the thickest of the battle. Her first arrow pierced the hand of his standard-bearer; her second wounded Thomas in the eye; and the fainting Christians no longer beheld their ensign or their leader. Yet the generous champion of Damascus refused to withdraw to his palace; his wound was dressed on the rampart; the fight was continued till the evening; and the Syrians rested on their arms. In the silence of the night, the signal was given by a stroke on the great bell; the gates were thrown open, and each gate discharged an impetuous column on the sleeping camp of the Saracens. Caled was the first in arms; at the head of four hundred horse he flew to the post of danger, and the tears trickled down his iron cheeks, as he uttered a fervent ejaculation: “O God! who never sleepest, look upon thy servants, and do not deliver them into the hands of their enemies.” The valour and victory of Thomas were arrested by the presence of the sword of God; with the knowledge of the peril, the Moslems recovered their ranks, and charged the assailants in the flank and rear. After the loss of thousands, the Christian general retreated with a sigh of despair, and the pursuit of the Saracens was checked by the military engines of the rampart.
After a siege of seventy days,73 the patience, and perhaps the provisions, of the Damascenes were exhausted; and the bravest of their chiefs submitted to the hard dictates of necessity. In the occurrences of peace and war, they had been taught to dread the fierceness of Caled, and to revere the mild virtues of Abu Obeidah. At the hour of midnight, one hundred chosen deputies of the clergy and people were introduced to the tent of that venerable commander. He received and dismissed them with courtesy. They returned with a written agreement, on the faith of a companion of Mahomet, that all hostilities should cease; that the voluntary emigrants might depart in safety, with as much as they could carry away of their effects; and that the tributary subjects of the caliphs should enjoy their lands and houses, with the use and possession of seven churches. On these terms, the most respectable hostages, and the gate nearest to his camp, were delivered into his hands; his soldiers imitated the moderation of their chief; and he enjoyed the submissive gratitude of a people whom he had rescued from destruction. But the success of the treaty had relaxed their vigilance, and in the same moment the opposite quarter of the city was betrayed and taken by assault. A party of an hundred Arabs had opened the eastern gate to a more inexorable foe. “No quarter,” cried the rapacious and sanguinary Caled, “no quarter to the enemies of the Lord;” his trumpets sounded, and a torrent of Christian blood was poured down the streets of Damascus. When he reached the church of St. Mary, he was astonished and provoked by the peaceful aspect of his companions: their swords were in the scabbard, and they were surrounded by a multitude of priests and monks. Abu Obeidah saluted the general: “God,” said he, “has delivered the city into my hands by way of surrender, and has saved the believers the trouble of fighting.” “And am I not,” replied the indignant Caled, “am I not the lieutenant of the commander of the faithful? Have I not taken the city by storm? The unbelievers shall perish by the sword. Fall on.” The hungry and cruel Arabs would have obeyed the welcome command; and Damascus was lost, if the benevolence of Abu Obeidah had not been supported by a decent and dignified firmness. Throwing himself between the trembling citizens and the most eager of the Barbarians, he adjured them by the holy name of God to respect his promise, to suspend their fury, and to wait the determination of their chiefs. The chiefs retired into the church of St. Mary; and, after a vehement debate, Caled submitted in some measure to the reason and authority of his colleague; who urged the sanctity of a covenant, the advantage as well as the honour which the Moslems would derive from the punctual performance of their word, and the obstinate resistance which they must encounter from the distrust and despair of the rest of the Syrian cities. It was agreed that the sword should be sheathed, that the part of Damascus which had surrendered to Abu Obeidah should be immediately entitled to the benefit of his capitulation, and that the final decision should be referred to the justice and wisdom of the caliph.74 A large majority of the people accepted the terms of toleration and tribute; and Damascus is still peopled by twenty thousand Christians. But the valiant Thomas, and the free-born patriots who had fought under his banner, embraced the alternative of poverty and exile. In the adjacent meadow, a numerous encampment was formed of priests and laymen, of soldiers and citizens, of women and children: they collected with haste and terror their most precious moveables; and abandoned, with loud lamentations or silent anguish, their native homes and the pleasant banks of the Pharphar. The inflexible soul of Caled was not touched by the spectacle of their distress: he disputed with the Damascenes the property of a magazine of corn; endeavoured to exclude the garrison from the benefit of the treaty; consented, with reluctance, that each of the fugitives should arm himself with a sword, or a lance, or a bow; and sternly declared that, after a respite of three days, they might be pursued and treated as the enemies of the Moslems.
The passion of a Syrian youth completed the ruin of the exiles of Damascus. A nobleman of the city, of the name of Jonas,75 was betrothed to a wealthy maiden; but her parents delayed the consummation of his nuptials, and their daughter was persuaded to escape with the man whom she had chosen. They corrupted the nightly watchmen of the gate Keisan: the lover, who led the way, was encompassed by a squadron of Arabs; but his exclamation in the Greek tongue, “the bird is taken,” admonished his mistress to hasten her return. In the presence of Caled, and of death, the unfortunate Jonas professed his belief in one God, and his apostle Mahomet; and continued, till the season of his martyrdom, to discharge the duties of a brave and sincere Musulman. When the city was taken, he flew to the monastery, where Eudocia had taken refuge; but the lover was forgotten; the apostate was scorned; she preferred her religion to her country; and the justice of Caled, though deaf to mercy, refused to detain by force a male or female inhabitant of Damascus. Four days was the general confined to the city by the obligation of the treaty and the urgent cares of his new conquest. His appetite for blood and rapine would have been extinguished by the hopeless computation of time and distance; but he listened to the importunities of Jonas, who assured him that the weary fugitives might yet be overtaken. At the head of four thousand horse, in the disguise of Christian Arabs, Caled undertook the pursuit. They halted only for the moments of prayer; and their guide had a perfect knowledge of the country. For a long way the footsteps of the Damascenes were plain and conspicuous: they vanished on a sudden; but the Saracens were comforted by the assurance that the caravan had turned aside into the mountains, and must speedily fall into their hands. In traversing the ridges of the Libanus, they endured intolerable hardships, and the sinking spirits of the veteran fanatics were supported and cheered by the unconquerable ardour of a lover. From a peasant of the country, they were informed that the emperor had sent orders to the colony of exiles, to pursue without delay the road of the sea-coast and of Constantinople; apprehensive, perhaps, that the soldiers and people of Antioch must be discouraged by the sight and the story of their sufferings. The Saracens were conducted through the territories of Gabala76 and Laodicea, at a cautious distance from the walls of the cities; the rain was incessant, the night was dark, a single mountain separated them from the Roman army; and Caled, ever anxious for the safety of his brethren, whispered an ominous dream in the ear of his companion. With the dawn of day, the prospect again cleared, and they saw before them, in a pleasant valley, the tents of Damascus. After a short interval of repose and prayer, Caled divided his cavalry into four squadrons, committing the first to his faithful Derar, and reserving the last for himself. They successively rushed on the promiscuous multitude, insufficiently provided with arms, and already vanquished by sorrow and fatigue. Except a captive who was pardoned and dismissed, the Arabs enjoyed the satisfaction of believing that not a Christian of either sex escaped the edge of their scymetars. The gold and silver of Damascus was scattered over the camp, and a royal wardrobe of three hundred load of silk might clothe an army of naked Barbarians. In the tumult of the battle, Jonas sought and found the object of his pursuit; but her resentment was inflamed by the last act of his perfidy; and, as Eudocia struggled in his hateful embraces, she struck a dagger to her heart. Another female, the widow of Thomas, and the real or supposed daughter of Heraclius, was spared and released without a ransom; but the generosity of Caled was the effect of his contempt; and the haughty Saracen insulted, by a message of defiance, the throne of the Cæsars. Caled had penetrated above an hundred and fifty miles into the heart of the Roman province: he returned to Damascus with the same secrecy and speed. On the accession of Omar, the sword of God was removed from the command; but the caliph, who blamed the rashness, was compelled to applaud the vigour and conduct, of the enterprise.77
Another expedition of the conquerors of Damascus will equally display their avidity and their contempt for the riches of the present world. They were informed that the produce and manufactures of the country were annually collected in the fair of Abyla,78 about thirty miles from the city; that the cell of a devout hermit was visited at the same time by a multitude of pilgrims; and that the festival of trade and superstition would be ennobled by the nuptials of the daughter of the governor of Tripoli. Abdallah, the son of Jaafar, a glorious and holy martyr, undertook, with a banner of five hundred horse, the pious and profitable commission of despoiling the infidels. As he approached the fair of Abyla, he was astonished by the report of the mighty concourse of Jews and Christians, Greeks and Armenians, of natives of Syria and of strangers of Egypt, to the number of ten thousand, besides a guard of five thousand horse that attended the person of the bride. The Saracens paused: “For my own part,” said Abdallah, “I dare not go back; our foes are many, our danger is great; but our reward is splendid and secure, either in this life or in the life to come. Let every man, according to his inclination, advance or retire.” Not a Musulman deserted his standard. “Lead the way,” said Abdallah to his Christian guide, “and you shall see what the companions of the prophet can perform.” They charged in five squadrons; but, after the first advantage of the surprise, they were encompassed and almost overwhelmed by the multitude of their enemies; and their valiant band is fancifully compared to a white spot in the skin of a black camel.79 About the hour of sunset, when their weapons dropped from their hands, when they panted on the verge of eternity, they discovered an approaching cloud of dust, they heard the welcome sound of the tecbir,80 and they soon perceived the standard of Caled, who flew to their relief with the utmost speed of his cavalry. The Christians were broken by his attack, and slaughtered in their flight as far as the river of Tripoli. They left behind them the various riches of the fair: the merchandises that were exposed for sale, the money that was brought for purchase, the gay decorations of the nuptials, and the governor’s daughter, with forty of her female attendants. The fruits, provisions, and furniture, the money, plate, and jewels, were diligently laden on the backs of horses, asses, and mules; and the holy robbers returned in triumph to Damascus. The hermit, after a short and angry controversy with Caled, declined the crown of martyrdom, and was left alive in the solitary scene of blood and devastation.
Syria,81 one of the countries that have been improved by the most early cultivation, is not unworthy of the preference.82 The heat of the climate is tempered by the vicinity of the sea and mountains, by the plenty of wood and water; and the produce of a fertile soil affords the subsistence, and encourages the propagation, of men and animals. From the age of David to that of Heraclius, the country was overspread with ancient and flourishing cities: the inhabitants were numerous and wealthy; and, after the slow ravage of despotism and superstition, after the recent calamities of the Persian war, Syria could still attract and reward the rapacious tribes of the desert. A plain, of ten days’ journey, from Damascus to Aleppo and Antioch, is watered, on the western side, by the winding course of the Orontes. The hills of Libanus and Anti-Libanus are planted from north to south, between the Orontes and the Mediterranean, and the epithet of hollow (Cœlesyria) was applied to a long and fruitful valley, which is confined in the same direction by the two ridges of snowy mountains.83 Among the cities, which are enumerated by Greek and Oriental names in the geography and contest of Syria, we may distinguish Emesa or Hems, Heliopolis or Baalbec, the former as the metropolis of the plain, the latter as the capital of the valley. Under the last of the Cæsars, they were strong and populous: the turrets glittered from afar; an ample space was covered with public and private buildings; and the citizens were illustrious by their spirit, or at least by their pride; by their riches, or at least by their luxury. In the days of Paganism, both Emesa and Heliopolis were addicted to the worship of Baal, or the sun; but the decline of their superstition and splendour has been marked by a singular variety of fortune. Not a vestige remains of the temple of Emesa, which was equalled in poetic style to the summits of Mount Libanus,84 while the ruins of Baalbec, invisible to the writers of antiquity, excite the curiosity and wonder of the European traveller.85 The measure of the temple is two hundred feet in length, and one hundred in breadth; the front is adorned with a double portico of eight columns; fourteen may be counted on either side; and each column, forty-five feet in height, is composed of three massy blocks of stone or marble. The proportions and ornaments of the Corinthian order express the architecture of the Greeks; but, as Baalbec has never been the seat of a monarch, we are at a loss to conceive how the expense of these magnificent structures could be supplied by private or municipal liberality.86 From the conquest of Damascus the Saracens proceeded to Heliopolis and Emesa: but I shall decline the repetition of the sallies and combats which have been already shewn on a larger scale. In the prosecution of the war, their policy was not less effectual than their sword. By short and separate truces they dissolved the union of the enemy; accustomed the Syrians to compare their friendship with their enmity; familiarised the idea of their language, religion, and manners; and exhausted, by clandestine purchase, the magazines and arsenals of the cities which they returned to besiege. They aggravated the ransom of the more wealthy or the more obstinate; and Chalcis alone was taxed at five thousand ounces of gold, five thousand ounces of silver, two thousand robes of silk, and as many figs and olives as would load five thousand asses. But the terms of truce or capitulation were faithfully observed; and the lieutenant of the caliph, who had promised not to enter the walls of the captive Baalbec, remained tranquil and immovable in his tent till the jarring factions solicited the interposition of a foreign master. The conquest of the plain and valley of Syria was achieved in less than two years.87 Yet the commander of the faithful reproved the slowness of their progress, and the Saracens, bewailing their fault with tears of rage and repentance, called aloud on their chiefs to lead them forth to fight the battles of the Lord. In a recent action, under the walls of Emesa, an Arabian youth, the cousin of Caled, was heard aloud to exclaim, “Methinks I see the black-eyed girls looking upon me; one of whom, should she appear in this world, all mankind would die for love of her. And I see in the hand of one of them an handkerchief of green silk, and a cap of precious stones, and she beckons me, and calls out, Come hither quickly, for I love thee.” With these words, charging the Christians, he made havoc wherever he went, till, observed at length by the governor of Hems, he was struck through with a javelin.
It was incumbent on the Saracens to exert the full powers of their valour and enthusiasm against the forces of the emperor, who was taught by repeated losses that the rovers of the desert had undertaken, and would speedily achieve, a regular and permanent conquest. From the provinces of Europe and Asia, fourscore thousand soldiers were transported by sea and land to Antioch and Cæsarea; the light troops of the army consisted of sixty thousand Christian Arabs of the tribe of Gassan. Under the banner of Jabalah, the last of their princes, they marched in the van; and it was a maxim of the Greeks that, for the purpose of cutting diamond, a diamond was the most effectual. Heraclius withheld his person from the dangers of the field; but his presumption, or perhaps his despondency, suggested a peremptory order that the fate of the province and the war should be decided by a single battle. The Syrians were attached to the standard of Rome and of the cross; but the noble, the citizen, the peasant, were exasperated by the injustice and cruelty of a licentious host who oppressed them as subjects and despised them as strangers and aliens.88 A report of these mighty preparations was conveyed to the Saracens in their camp of Emesa; and the chiefs, though resolved to fight, assembled a council; the faith of Abu Obeidah would have expected on the same spot the glory of martyrdom; the wisdom of Caled advised an honourable retreat to the skirts of Palestine and Arabia, where they might await the succours of their friends and the attack of the unbelievers. A speedy messenger soon returned from the throne of Medina, with the blessings of Omar and Ali, the prayers of the widows of the prophet, and a reinforcement of eight thousand Moslems. In their way they overturned a detachment of Greeks, and, when they joined at Yermuk the camp of their brethren, they found the pleasing intelligence that Caled had already defeated and scattered the Christian Arabs of the tribe of Gassan. In the neighbourhood of Bosra, the springs of Mount Hermon descend in a torrent to the plain of Decapolis, or ten cities; and the Hieromax, a name which has been corrupted to Yermuk, is lost after a short course in the lake of Tiberias.89 The banks of this obscure stream were illustrated by a long and bloody encounter. On this momentous occasion, the public voice, and the modesty of Abu Obeidah, restored the command to the most deserving of the Moslems. Caled assumed his station in the front, his colleague was posted in the rear, that the disorder of the fugitives might be checked by his venerable aspect and the sight of the yellow banner which Mahomet had displayed before the walls of Chaibar. The last line was occupied by the sister of Derar, with the Arabian women who had enlisted in this holy war, who were accustomed to wield the bow and the lance, and who in a moment of captivity had defended, against the uncircumcised ravishers, their chastity and religion.90 The exhortation of the generals was brief and forcible; “Paradise is before you, the devil and hell-fire in your rear.” Yet such was the weight of the Roman cavalry that the right wing of the Arabs was broken and separated from the main body. Thrice did they retreat in disorder, and thrice were they driven back to the charge by the reproaches and blows of the women. In the intervals of action, Abu Obeidah visited the tents of his brethren; prolonged their repose by repeating at once the prayers of two different hours; bound up their wounds with his own hands, and administered the comfortable reflection that the infidels partook of their sufferings without partaking of their reward. Four thousand and thirty of the Moslems were buried in the field of battle; and the skill of the Armenian archers enabled seven hundred to boast that they had lost an eye in that meritorious service. The veterans of the Syrian war acknowledged that it was the hardest and most doubtful of the days which they had seen. But it was likewise the most decisive: many thousands of the Greeks and Syrians fell by the swords of the Arabs; many were slaughtered, after the defeat in the woods and mountains; many, by mistaking the ford, were drowned in the waters of the Yermuk; and, however the loss may be magnified,91 the Christian writers confess and bewail the bloody punishment of their sins.92 Manuel, the Roman general, was either killed at Damascus or took refuge in the monastery of Mount Sinai. An exile in the Byzantine court, Jabalah lamented the manners of Arabia and his unlucky preference of the Christian cause.93 He had once inclined to the profession of Islam; but, in the pilgrimage of Mecca, Jabalah was provoked to strike one of his brethren, and fled with amazement from the stern and equal justice of the caliph. The victorious Saracens enjoyed at Damascus a month of pleasure and repose; the spoil was divided by the discretion of Abu Obeidah; an equal share was allotted to a soldier and to his horse, and a double portion was reserved for the noble coursers of the Arabian breed.
After the battle of Yermuk the Roman army no longer appeared in the field; and the Saracens might securely choose among the fortified towns of Syria the first object of their attack. They consulted the caliph whether they should march to Cæsarea or Jerusalem; and the advice of Ali determined the immediate siege of the latter. To a profane eye, Jerusalem was the first or second capital of Palestine; but, after Mecca and Medina, it was revered and visited by the devout Moslems, as the temple of the Holy Land, which had been sanctified by the revelation of Moses, of Jesus, and of Mahomet himself. The son of Abu Sophian was sent with five thousand Arabs to try the first experiment of surprise or treaty; but on the eleventh day the town was invested by the whole force of Abu Obeidah. He addressed the customary summons to the chief commanders and people of Ælia.94 “Health and happiness to every one that follows the right way! We require of you to testify that there is but one God and that Mahomet is his apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute, and be under us forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better than you do the drinking of wine or eating hogs’ flesh. Nor will I ever stir from you, if it please God, till I have destroyed those that fight for you, and made slaves of your children.” But the city was defended on every side by deep valleys and steep ascents; since the invasion of Syria, the walls and towers had been anxiously restored; the bravest of the fugitives of Yermuk had stopped in the nearest place of refuge; and in the defence of the sepulchre of Christ the natives and strangers might feel some sparks of the enthusiasm which so fiercely glowed in the bosoms of the Saracens. The siege of Jerusalem lasted four months; not a day was lost without some action of sally or assault; the military engines incessantly played from the ramparts; and the inclemency of the winter was still more painful and destructive to the Arabs. The Christians yielded at length to the perseverance of the besiegers. The patriarch Sophronius appeared on the walls, and by the voice of an interpreter demanded a conference. After a vain attempt to dissuade the lieutenant of the caliph from his impious enterprise, he proposed, in the name of the people, a fair capitulation, with this extraordinary clause, that the articles of security should be ratified by the authority and presence of Omar himself. The question was debated in the council of Medina; the sanctity of the place, and the advice of Ali, persuaded the caliph to gratify the wishes of his soldiers and enemies, and the simplicity of his journey is more illustrious than the royal pageants of vanity and oppression. The conqueror of Persia and Syria was mounted on a red camel, which carried, besides his person, a bag of corn, a bag of dates, a wooden dish, and a leathern bottle of water. Wherever he halted, the company, without distinction, was invited to partake of his homely fare, and the repast was consecrated by the prayer and exhortation of the commander of the faithful.95 But in this expedition or pilgrimage his power was exercised in the administration of justice; he reformed the licentious polygamy of the Arabs, relieved the tributaries from extortion and cruelty, and chastised the luxury of the Saracens by despoiling them of their rich silks and dragging them on their faces in the dirt. When he came within sight of Jerusalem, the caliph cried with a loud voice, “God is victorious. O Lord, give us an easy conquest;” and, pitching his tent of coarse hair, calmly seated himself on the ground. After signing the capitulation, he entered the city without fear or precaution; and courteously discoursed with the patriarch concerning its religious antiquities.96 Sophronius bowed before his new master, and secretly muttered, in the words of Daniel, “The abomination of desolation is in the holy place.”97 At the hour of prayer they stood together in the church of the Resurrection; but the caliph refused to perform his devotions, and contented himself with praying on the steps of the church of Constantine. To the patriarch he disclosed his prudent and honourable motive. “Had I yielded,” said Omar, “to your request, the Moslems of a future age would have infringed the treaty under colour of imitating my example.” By his command the ground of the temple of Solomon was prepared for the foundation of a mosch;98 and, during a residence of ten days, he regulated the present and future state of his Syrian conquests. Medina might be jealous lest the caliph should be detained by the sanctity of Jerusalem or the beauty of Damascus; her apprehensions were dispelled by his prompt and voluntary return to the tomb of the apostle.99
To achieve what yet remained of the Syrian war, the caliph had formed two separate armies: a chosen detachment, under Amrou and Yezid, was left in the camp of Palestine; while the larger division, under the standard of Abu Obeidah and Caled, marched away to the north against Antioch and Aleppo.100 The latter of these, the Berœa of the Greeks, was not yet illustrious as the capital of a province or a kingdom; and the inhabitants, by anticipating their submission and pleading their poverty, obtained a moderate composition for their lives and religion. But the castle of Aleppo,101 distinct from the city, stood erect on a lofty artificial mound: the sides were sharpened to a precipice, and faced with freestone; and the breadth of the ditch might be filled with water from the neighbouring springs. After a loss of three thousand men, the garrison was still equal to the defence; and Youkinna, their valiant and hereditary chief, had murdered his brother, an holy monk, for daring to pronounce the name of peace. In a siege of four or five months, the hardest of the Syrian war, great numbers of the Saracens were killed and wounded; their removal to the distance of a mile could not seduce the vigilance of Youkinna; nor could the Christians be terrified by the execution of three hundred captives, whom they beheaded before the castle-wall. The silence, and at length the complaints, of Abu Obeidah informed the caliph that their hope and patience were consumed at the foot of this impregnable fortress. “I am variously affected,” replied Omar, “by the difference of your success; but I charge you by no means to raise the siege of the castle. Your retreat would diminish the reputation of our arms, and encourage the infidels to fall upon you on all sides. Remain before Aleppo till God shall determine the event, and forage with your horse round the adjacent country.” The exhortation of the commander of the faithful was fortified by a supply of volunteers from all the tribes of Arabia, who arrived in the camp on horses or camels. Among these was Dames, of a servile birth, but of gigantic size and intrepid resolution. The forty-seventh day of his service he proposed, with only thirty men, to make an attempt on the castle. The experience and testimony of Caled recommended his offer; and Abu Obeidah admonished his brethren not to despise the baser origin of Dames, since he himself, could he relinquish the public care, would cheerfully serve under the banner of the slave. His design was covered by the appearance of a retreat; and the camp of the Saracens was pitched about a league from Aleppo. The thirty adventurers lay in ambush at the foot of the hill; and Dames at length succeeded in his inquiries, though he was provoked by the ignorance of his Greek captives. “God curse these dogs,” said the illiterate Arab, “what a strange barbarous language they speak!” At the darkest hour of the night, he scaled the most accessible height, which he had diligently surveyed, a place where the stones were less entire, or the slope less perpendicular, or the guard less vigilant. Seven of the stoutest Saracens mounted on each other’s shoulders, and the weight of the column was sustained on the broad and sinewy back of the gigantic slave. The foremost in this painful ascent could grasp and climb the lowest part of the battlements; they silently stabbed and cast down the sentinels; and the thirty brethren, repeating a pious ejaculation, “O apostle of God, help and deliver us!” were successively drawn up by the long folds of their turbans. With bold and cautious footsteps, Dames explored the palace of the governor, who celebrated, in riotous merriment, the festival of his deliverance. From thence returning to his companions, he assaulted on the inside the entrance of the castle. They overpowered the guard, unbolted the gate, let down the drawbridge, and defended the narrow pass, till the arrival of Caled, with the dawn of day, relieved their danger and assured their conquest. Youkinna, a formidable foe, became an active and useful proselyte; and the general of the Saracens expressed his regard for the most humble merit by detaining the army at Aleppo till Dames was cured of his honourable wounds. The capital of Syria was still covered by the castle of Aazaz and the iron bridge of the Orontes. After the loss of those important posts and the defeat of the last of the Roman armies, the luxury of Antioch102 trembled and obeyed. Her safety was ransomed with three hundred thousand pieces of gold; but the throne of the successors of Alexander, the seat of the Roman government in the East, which had been decorated by Cæsar with the titles of free, and holy, and inviolate, was degraded under the yoke of the caliphs to the secondary rank of a provincial town.103
In the life of Heraclius, the glories of the Persian war are clouded on either hand by the disgrace and weakness of his more early and his later days. When the successors of Mahomet unsheathed the sword of war and religion, he was astonished at the boundless prospect of toil and danger; his nature was indolent, nor could the infirm and frigid age of the emperor be kindled to a second effort. The sense of shame, and the importunities of the Syrians, prevented his hasty departure from the scene of action; but the hero was no more; and the loss of Damascus and Jerusalem, the bloody fields of Aiznadin and Yermuk, may be imputed in some degree to the absence or misconduct of the sovereign. Instead of defending the sepulchre of Christ, he involved the church and state in a metaphysical controversy for the unity of his will; and, while Heraclius crowned the offspring of his second nuptials, he was tamely stripped of the most valuable part of their inheritance. In the cathedral of Antioch, in the presence of the bishops, at the foot of the crucifix, he bewailed the sins of the prince and people; but his confession instructed the world that it was vain, and perhaps impious, to resist the judgment of God. The Saracens were invincible in fact, since they were invincible in opinion; and the desertion of Youkinna, his false repentance and repeated perfidy, might justify the suspicion of the emperor that he was encompassed by traitors and apostates who conspired to betray his person and their country to the enemies of Christ. In the hour of adversity, his superstition was agitated by the omens and dreams of a falling crown; and, after bidding an eternal farewell to Syria, he secretly embarked with a few attendants and absolved the faith of his subjects.104 Constantine, his eldest son, had been stationed with forty thousand men at Cæsarea, the civil metropolis of the three provinces of Palestine. But his private interest recalled him to the Byzantine court; and, after the flight of his father, he felt himself an unequal champion to the united force of the caliph. His vanguard was boldly attacked by three hundred Arabs and a thousand black slaves, who, in the depth of winter, had climbed the snowy mountains of Libanus, and who were speedily followed by the victorious squadrons of Caled himself. From the north and south, the troops of Antioch and Jerusalem advanced along the sea-shore, till their banners were joined under the walls of the Phœnician cities: Tripoli and Tyre were betrayed; and a fleet of fifty transports, which entered without distrust the captive harbours, brought a seasonable supply of arms and provisions to the camp of the Saracens. Their labours were terminated by the unexpected surrender of Cæsarea:105 the Roman prince had embarked in the night;106 and the defenceless citizens solicited their pardon with an offering of two hundred thousand pieces of gold. The remainder of the province, Ramlah,107 Ptolemais or Acre, Sichem or Neapolis, Gaza, Ascalon, Berytus, Sidon, Gabala, Laodicea, Apamea, Hierapolis, no longer presumed to dispute the will of the conqueror; and Syria bowed under the sceptre of the caliphs seven hundred years after Pompey had despoiled the last of the Macedonian kings.108
The sieges and battles of six campaigns had consumed many thousands of the Moslems. They died with the reputation and the cheerfulness of martyrs; and the simplicity of their faith may be expressed in the words of an Arabian youth, when he embraced, for the last time, his sister and mother: “It is not,” said he, “the delicacies of Syria, or the fading delights of this world, that have prompted me to devote my life in the cause of religion. But I seek the favour of God and his apostle; and I have heard, from one of the companions of the prophet, that the spirits of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green birds, who shall taste the fruits, and drink of the rivers, of paradise. Farewell; we shall meet again among the groves and fountains which God has provided for his elect.” The faithful captives might exercise a passive and more arduous resolution; and a cousin of Mahomet is celebrated for refusing, after an abstinence of three days, the wine and pork, the only nourishment that was allowed by the malice of the infidels. The frailty of some weaker brethren exasperated the implacable spirit of fanaticism; and the father of Amer deplored, in pathetic strains, the apostacy and damnation of a son, who had renounced the promises of God and the intercession of the prophet, to occupy, with the priests and deacons, the lowest mansions of hell. The more fortunate Arabs, who survived the war and persevered in the faith, were restrained by their abstemious leader from the abuse of prosperity. After a refreshment of three days, Abu Obeidah withdrew his troops from the pernicious contagion of the luxury of Antioch, and assured the caliph that their religion and virtue could only be preserved by the hard discipline of poverty and labour. But the virtue of Omar, however rigorous to himself, was kind and liberal to his brethren. After a just tribute of praise and thanksgiving, he dropped a tear of compassion; and, sitting down on the ground, wrote an answer, in which he mildly censured the severity of his lieutenant: “God,” said the successor of the prophet, “has not forbidden the use of the good things of this world to faithful men, and such as have performed good works: therefore, you ought to have given them leave to rest themselves, and partake freely of those good things which the country affordeth. If any of the Saracens have no family in Arabia, they may marry in Syria; and, whosoever of them wants any female slaves, he may purchase as many as he hath occasion for.” The conquerors prepared to use, or to abuse, this gracious permission; but the year of their triumph was marked by a mortality of men and cattle; and twenty-five thousand Saracens were snatched away from the possession of Syria. The death of Abu Obeidah might be lamented by the Christians; but his brethren recollected that he was one of the ten elect whom the prophet had named as the heirs of paradise.109 Caled survived his brethren about three years; and the tomb of the Sword of God is shewn in the neighbourhood of Emesa. His valour, which founded in Arabia and Syria the empire of the caliphs, was fortified by the opinion of a special providence; and, as long as he wore a cap which had been blessed by Mahomet, he deemed himself invulnerable amidst the darts of the infidels.
The place of the first conquerors was supplied by a new generation of their children and countrymen: Syria became the seat and support of the house of Ommiyah; and the revenue, the soldiers, the ships, of that powerful kingdom were consecrated to enlarge on every side the empire of the caliphs. But the Saracens despise a superfluity of fame; and their historians scarcely condescend to mention the subordinate conquests which are lost in the splendour and rapidity of their victorious career. To the north of Syria, they passed Mount Taurus, and reduced to their obedience the province of Cilicia, with its capital Tarsus, the ancient monument of the Assyrian kings. Beyond a second ridge of the same mountains, they spread the flame of war, rather than the light of religion, as far as the shores of the Euxine and the neighbourhood of Constantinople. To the east, they advanced to the banks and sources of the Euphrates and Tigris:110 the long-disputed barrier of Rome and Persia was for ever confounded; the walls of Edessa and Amida, of Dara and Nisibis, which had resisted the arms and engines of Sapor or Nushirvan, were levelled in the dust; and the holy city of Abgarus might vainly produce the epistle of the image of Christ to an unbelieving conqueror. To the west, the Syrian kingdom is bounded by the sea; and the ruin of Aradus, a small island or peninsula on the coast, was postponed during ten years. But the hills of Libanus abounded in timber, the trade of Phœnicia was populous in mariners; and a fleet of seventeen hundred barks was equipped and manned by the natives of the desert. The Imperial navy of the Romans fled before them from the Pamphylian rocks to the Hellespont; but the spirit of the emperor, a grandson of Heraclius, had been subdued before the combat by a dream and a pun.111 The Saracens rode masters of the sea; and the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, and the Cyclades were successively exposed to their rapacious visits. Three hundred years before the Christian era, the memorable though fruitless siege of Rhodes112 by Demetrius had furnished that maritime republic with the materials and the subject of a trophy. A gigantic statue of Apollo, or the sun, seventy cubits in height, was erected at the entrance of the harbour, a monument of the freedom and the arts of Greece. After standing fifty-six years, the colossus of Rhodes was overthrown by an earthquake; but the massy trunk and huge fragments lay scattered eight centuries on the ground, and are often described as one of the wonders of the ancient world. They were collected by the diligence of the Saracens, and sold to a Jewish merchant of Edessa, who is said to have laden nine hundred camels with the weight of the brass metal: an enormous weight, though we should include the hundred colossal figures113 and the three thousand statues which adorned the prosperity of the city of the sun.
III. The conquest of Egypt may be explained by the character of the victorious Saracen, one of the first of his nation, in an age when the meanest of the brethren was exalted above his nature by the spirit of enthusiasm. The birth of Amrou was at once base and illustrious: his mother, a notorious prostitute, was unable to decide among five of the Koreish; but the proof of resemblance adjudged the child to Aasi, the oldest of her lovers.114 The youth of Amrou was impelled by the passions and prejudices of his kindred: his poetic genius was exercised in satirical verses against the person and doctrine of Mahomet; his dexterity was employed by the reigning faction to pursue the religious exiles who had taken refuge in the court of the Œthiopian king115 yet he returned from this embassy a secret proselyte; his reason or his interest determined him to renounce the worship of idols; he escaped from Mecca with his friend Caled, and the prophet of Medina enjoyed at the same moment the satisfaction of embracing the two firmest champions of his cause. The impatience of Amrou to lead the armies of the faithful was checked by the reproof of Omar, who advised him not to seek power and dominion, since he who is a subject to-day may be a prince to-morrow. Yet his merit was not overlooked by the two first successors of Mahomet; they were indebted to his arms for the conquest of Palestine; and in all the battles and sieges of Syria he united with the temper of a chief the valour of an adventurous soldier. In a visit to Medina, the caliph expressed a wish to survey the sword which had cut down so many Christian warriors: the son of Aasi unsheathed a short and ordinary scymetar; and, as he perceived the surprise of Omar, “Alas,” said the modest Saracen, “the sword itself, without the arm of its master, is neither sharper nor more weighty than the sword of Pharezdak the poet.”116 After the conquest of Egypt, he was recalled by the jealousy of the caliph Othman; but, in the subsequent troubles, the ambition of a soldier, a statesman, and an orator emerged from a private station. His powerful support, both in council and in the field, established the throne of the Ommiades; the administration and revenue of Egypt were restored by the gratitude of Moawiyah to a faithful friend, who had raised himself above the rank of a subject; and Amrou ended his days in the palace and city which he had founded on the banks of the Nile. His dying speech to his children is celebrated by the Arabians as a model of eloquence and wisdom: he deplored the errors of his youth; but, if the penitent was still infected by the vanity of a poet, he might exaggerate the venom and mischief of his impious compositions.117
From his camp, in Palestine, Amrou had surprised or anticipated the caliph’s leave for the invasion of Egypt.118 The magnanimous Omar trusted in his God and his sword, which had shaken the thrones of Chosroes and Cæsar; but, when he compared the slender force of the Moslems with the greatness of the enterprise, he condemned his own rashness and listened to his timid companions. The pride and the greatness of Pharaoh were familiar to the readers of the Koran; and a tenfold repetition of prodigies had been scarcely sufficient to effect, not the victory, but the flight of six hundred thousand of the children of Israel. The cities of Egypt were many and populous; their architecture was strong and solid; the Nile, with its numerous branches, was alone an insuperable barrier; and the granary of the Imperial city would be obstinately defended by the Roman powers. In this perplexity, the commander of the faithful resigned himself to the decision of chance, or, in his opinion, of providence. At the head of only four thousand Arabs, the intrepid Amrou had marched away from his station of Gaza, when he was overtaken by the messenger of Omar. “If you are still in Syria,” said the ambiguous mandate, “retreat without delay; but if, at the receipt of this epistle, you have already reached the frontiers of Egypt, advance with confidence, and depend on the succour of God and of your brethren.” The experience, perhaps the secret intelligence, of Amrou had taught him to suspect the mutability of courts; and he continued his march till his tents were unquestionably pitched on Egyptian ground. He there assembled his officers, broke the seal, perused the epistle, gravely inquired the name and situation of the place, and declared his ready obedience to the commands of the caliph. After a siege of thirty days, he took possession of Farmah or Pelusium; and that key of Egypt, as it has been justly named, unlocked the entrance of the country, as far as the ruins of Heliopolis and the neighbourhood of the modern Cairo.
On the western side of the Nile, at a small distance to the east of the Pyramids, at a small distance to the south of the Delta, Memphis, one hundred and fifty furlongs in circumference, displayed the magnificence of ancient kings. Under the reign of the Ptolemies and Cæsars, the seat of government was removed to the sea-coast; the ancient capital was eclipsed by the arts and opulence of Alexandria; the palaces, and at length the temples, were reduced to a desolate and ruinous condition: yet in the age of Augustus, and even in that of Constantine, Memphis was still numbered among the greatest and most populous of the provincial cities.119 The banks of the Nile, in this place of the breadth of three thousand feet, were united by two bridges of sixty and of thirty boats, connected in the middle stream by the small island of Rouda, which was covered with gardens and habitations.120 The eastern extremity of the bridge was terminated by the town of Babylon and the camp of a Roman legion, which protected the passage of the river and the second capital of Egypt. This important fortress, which might fairly be described as a part of Memphis, or Misrah, was invested by the arms of the lieutenant of Omar: a reinforcement of four thousand Saracens soon arrived in his camp; and the military engines, which battered the walls, may be imputed to the art and labour of his Syrian allies. Yet the siege was protracted to seven months; and the rash invaders were encompassed and threatened by the inundation of the Nile.121 Their last assault was bold and successful: they passed the ditch, which had been fortified with iron spikes, applied their scaling-ladders, entered the fortress with the shout of “God is victorious!” and drove the remnant of the Greeks to their boats and the isle of Rouda. The spot was afterwards recommended to the conqueror by the easy communication with the gulf and the peninsula of Arabia: the remains of Memphis were deserted; the tents of the Arabs were converted into permanent habitations; and the first mosch was blessed by the presence of fourscore companions of Mahomet.122 A new city arose in their camp on the eastward bank of the Nile; and the contiguous quarters of Babylon and Fostat are confounded in their present decay by the appellation of old Misrah or Cairo, of which they form an extensive suburb. But the name of Cairo, the town of victory, more strictly belongs to the modern capital, which was founded in the tenth century by the Fatimite caliphs.123 It has gradually receded from the river,123a but the continuity of buildings may be traced by an attentive eye from the monuments of Sesostris to those of Saladin.124
Yet the Arabs, after a glorious and profitable enterprise, must have retreated to the desert, had they not found a powerful alliance in the heart of the country. The rapid conquest of Alexander was assisted by the superstition and revolt of the natives; they abhorred their Persian oppressors, the disciples of the Magi, who had burnt the temples of Egypt, and feasted with sacrilegious appetite on the flesh of the god Apis.125 After a period of ten centuries the same revolution was renewed by a similar cause; and, in the support of an incomprehensible creed, the zeal of the Coptic Christians was equally ardent. I have already explained the origin and progress of the Monophysite controversy, and the persecution of the emperors, which converted a sect into a nation and alienated Egypt from their religion and government. The Saracens were received as the deliverers of the Jacobite church; and a secret and effectual treaty was opened during the siege of Memphis between a victorious army and a people of slaves. A rich and noble Egyptian, of the name of Mokawkas, had dissembled his faith to obtain the administration of his province: in the disorders of the Persian war he aspired to independence; the embassy of Mahomet ranked him among princes; but he declined, with rich gifts and ambiguous compliments, the proposal of a new religion.126 The abuse of his trust exposed him to the resentment of Heraclius; his submission was delayed by arrogance and fear; and his conscience was prompted by interest to throw himself on the favour of the nation and the support of the Saracens. In his first conference with Amrou, he heard without indignation the usual option of the Koran, the tribute, or the sword. “The Greeks,” replied Mokawkas, “are determined to abide the determination of the sword; but with the Greeks I desire no communion, either in this world or in the next, and I abjure for ever the Byzantine tyrant, his synod of Chalcedon, and his Melchite slaves. For myself and my brethren, we are resolved to live and die in the profession of the gospel and unity of Christ. It is impossible for us to embrace the revelations of your prophet; but we are desirous of peace, and cheerfully submit to pay tribute and obedience to his temporal successors.” The tribute was ascertained at two pieces of gold for the head of every Christian;127 but old men, monks, women, and children of both sexes under sixteen years of age were exempted from this personal assessment; the Copts above and below Memphis swore allegiance to the caliph, and promised an hospitable entertainment of three days to every Musulman who should travel through their country. By this charter of security the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny of the Melchites was destroyed;128 the anathemas of St. Cyril were thundered from every pulpit; and the sacred edifices, with the patrimony of the church, were restored to the national communion of the Jacobites, who enjoyed without moderation the moment of triumph and revenge. At the pressing summons of Amrou, their patriarch Benjamin emerged from his desert; and, after the first interview, the courteous Arab affected to declare that he had never conversed with a Christian priest of more innocent manners and a more venerable aspect.129 In the march from Memphis to Alexandria, the lieutenant of Omar entrusted his safety to the zeal and gratitude of the Egyptians; the roads and bridges were diligently repaired; and, in every step of his progress, he could depend on a constant supply of provisions and intelligence. The Greeks of Egypt, whose numbers could scarcely equal a tenth of the natives, were overwhelmed by the universal defection; they had ever been hated, they were no longer feared; the magistrate fled from his tribunal, the bishop from his altar; and the distant garrisons were surprised or starved by the surrounding multitudes. Had not the Nile afforded a safe and ready conveyance to the sea, not an individual could have escaped who by birth, or language, or office, or religion was connected with their odious name.
By the retreat of the Greeks from the provinces of Upper Egypt, a considerable force was collected in the island of Delta: the natural and artificial channels of the Nile afforded a succession of strong and defensible posts; and the road to Alexandria was laboriously cleared by the victory of the Saracens in two and twenty days of general or partial combat. In their annals of conquest, the siege of Alexandria130 is perhaps the most arduous and important enterprise. The first trading city in the world was abundantly replenished with the means of subsistence and defence. Her numerous inhabitants fought for the dearest of human rights, religion and property; and the enmity of the natives seemed to exclude them from the common benefit of peace and toleration. The sea was continually open; and, if Heraclius had been awake to the public distress, fresh armies of Romans and Barbarians might have been poured into the harbour to save the second capital of the empire. A circumference of ten miles would have scattered the forces of the Greeks and favoured the stratagems of an active enemy; but the two sides of an oblong square were covered by the sea and the lake Maræotis, and each of the narrow ends exposed a front of no more than ten furlongs. The efforts of the Arabs were not inadequate to the difficulty of the attempt and the value of the prize. From the throne of Medina, the eyes of Omar were fixed on the camp and city: his voice excited to arms the Arabian tribes and the veterans of Syria; and the merit of an holy war was recommended by the peculiar fame and fertility of Egypt. Anxious for the ruin or expulsion of their tyrants, the faithful natives devoted their labours to the service of Amrou; some sparks of martial spirit were perhaps rekindled by the example of their allies; and the sanguine hopes of Mokawkas had fixed his sepulchre in the church of St. John of Alexandria. Eutychius the patriarch observes that the Saracens fought with the courage of lions; they repulsed the frequent and almost daily sallies of the besieged, and soon assaulted in their turn the walls and towers of the city. In every attack, the sword, the banner of Amrou glittered in the van of the Moslems. On a memorable day, he was betrayed by his imprudent valour: his followers who had entered the citadel were driven back; and the general, with a friend and a slave, remained a prisoner in the hands of the Christians. When Amrou was conducted before the prefect, he remembered his dignity and forgot his situation; a lofty demeanour and resolute language revealed the lieutenant of the caliph, and the battle-axe of a soldier was already raised to strike off the head of the audacious captive. His life was saved by the readiness of his slave, who instantly gave his master a blow on the face, and commanded him, with an angry tone, to be silent in the presence of his superiors. The credulous Greek was deceived: he listened to the offer of a treaty, and his prisoners were dismissed in the hope of a more respectable embassy, till the joyful acclamations of the camp announced the return of their general and insulted the folly of the infidels.131 At length, after a siege of fourteen months132 and the loss of three and twenty thousand men, the Saracens prevailed; the Greeks embarked their dispirited and diminished numbers, and the standard of Mahomet was planted on the walls of the capital of Egypt. “I have taken,” said Amrou to the caliph, “the great city of the West. It is impossible for me to enumerate the variety of its riches and beauty; and I shall content myself with observing that it contains four thousand palaces, four thousand baths, four hundred theatres or places of amusement, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetable food, and forty thousand tributary Jews. The town has been subdued by force of arms, without treaty or capitulation, and the Moslems are impatient to seize the fruits of their victory.”133 The commander of the faithful rejected with firmness the idea of pillage, and directed his lieutenant to reserve the wealth and revenue of Alexandria for the public service and the propagation of the faith. The inhabitants were numbered; a tribute was imposed; the zeal and resentment of the Jacobites were curbed, and the Melchites who submitted to the Arabian yoke were indulged in the obscure but tranquil exercise of their worship. The intelligence of this disgraceful and calamitous event afflicted the declining health of the emperor; and Heraclius died of a dropsy about seven weeks after the loss of Alexandria.134 Under the minority of his grandson, the clamours of a people, deprived of their daily sustenance, compelled the Byzantine court to undertake the recovery of the capital of Egypt. In the space of four years, the harbour and fortifications of Alexandria were twice occupied by a fleet and army of Romans. They were twice expelled by the valour of Amrou, who was recalled by the domestic peril from the distant wars of Tripoli and Nubia. But the facility of the attempt, the repetition of the insult, and the obstinacy of the resistance provoked him to swear that, if a third time he drove the infidels into the sea, he would render Alexandria as accessible on all sides as the house of a prostitute. Faithful to his promise, he dismantled several parts of the walls and towers, but the people was spared in the chastisement of the city, and the mosch of Mercy was erected on the spot where the victorious general had stopped the fury of his troops.
I should deceive the expectation of the reader, if I passed in silence the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the learned Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amrou was more curious and liberal than that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours the Arabian chief was pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius, and who derived the surname of Philoponus from his laborious studies of grammar and philosophy.135 Emboldened by this familiar intercourse, Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in his opinion, contemptible in that of the Barbarians: the royal library, which alone, among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit and the seal of the conqueror. Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of the grammarian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest object without the consent of the caliph; and the well-known answer of Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic. “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.” The sentence was executed with blind obedience; the volumes of paper or parchment were distributed to the four thousand baths of the city; and such was their incredible multitude that six months were barely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel. Since the Dynasties of Abulpharagius136 have been given to the world in a Latin version, the tale has been repeatedly transcribed; and every scholar, with pious indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learning, the arts, and the genius of antiquity. For my own part, I am strongly tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences. The fact is indeed marvellous; “Read and wonder!” says the historian himself; and the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end of six hundred years on the confines of Media is overbalanced by the silence of two annalists of a more early date, both Christians, both natives of Egypt, and the most ancient of whom, the patriarch Eutychius, has amply described the conquest of Alexandria.137 The rigid sentence of Omar is repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mahometan casuists: they expressly declare that the religious books of the Jews and Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, should never be committed to the flames; and that the works of profane science, historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied to the use of the faithful.138 A more destructive zeal may perhaps be attributed to the first successors of Mahomet; yet in this instance the conflagration would have speedily expired in the deficiency of materials. I shall not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Cæsar in his own defence,139 or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians who studied to destroy the monuments of idolatry.140 But, if we gradually descend from the age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall learn from a chain of contemporary witnesses that the royal palace and the temple of Serapis no longer contained the four, or the seven, hundred thousand volumes which had been assembled by the curiosity and magnificence of the Ptolemies.141 Perhaps the church and seat of the patriarchs might be enriched with a repository of books; but, if the ponderous mass of Arian and Monophysite controversy were indeed consumed in the public baths,142 a philosopher may allow, with a smile, that it was ultimately devoted to the benefit of mankind. I sincerely regret the more valuable libraries which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman empire; but, when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignorance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our losses, are the object of my surprise. Many curious and interesting facts are buried in oblivion: the three great historians of Rome have been transmitted to our hands in a mutilated state, and we are deprived of many pleasing compositions of the lyric, iambic, and dramatic poetry of the Greeks. Yet we should gratefully remember that the mischances of time and accident have spared the classic works to which the suffrage of antiquity143 had adjudged the first place of genius and glory; the teachers of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had persued and compared the writings of their predecessors;144 nor can it fairly be presumed that any important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages.
In the administration of Egypt,145 Amrou balanced the demands of justice and policy; the interest of the people of the law, who were defended by God, and of the people of the alliance, who were protected by man. In the recent tumult of conquest and deliverance, the tongue of the Copts and the sword of the Arabs were most adverse to the tranquillity of the province. To the former, Amrou declared that faction and falsehood would be doubly chastised: by the punishment of the accusers, whom he should detest as his personal enemies, and by the promotion of their innocent brethren, whom their envy had laboured to injure and supplant. He excited the latter by the motives of religion and honour to sustain the dignity of their character, to endear themselves by a modest and temperate conduct to God and the caliph, to spare and protect a people who had trusted to their faith, and to content themselves with the legitimate and splendid rewards of their victory. In the management of the revenue he disapproved the simple but oppressive mode of capitation, and preferred with reason a proportion of taxes, deducted on every branch from the clear profits of agriculture and commerce. A third part of the tribute was appropriated to the annual repairs of the dykes and canals, so essential to the public welfare. Under his administration the fertility of Egypt supplied the dearth of Arabia; and a string of camels, laden with corn and provisions, covered almost without an interval the long road from Memphis to Medina.146 But the genius of Amrou soon renewed the maritime communication which had been attempted or achieved by the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, or the Cæsars; and a canal, at least eighty miles in length, was opened from the Nile to the Red Sea. This inland navigation, which would have joined the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, was soon discontinued as useless and dangerous; the throne was removed from Medina to Damascus; and the Grecian fleets might have explored a passage to the holy cities of Arabia.147
Of his new conquest, the caliph Omar had an imperfect knowledge from the voice of fame and the legends of the Koran. He requested that his lieutenant would place before his eyes the realm of Pharaoh and the Amalekites; and the answer of Amrou exhibits a lively and not unfaithful picture of that singular country.148 “O commander of the faithful, Egypt is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a pulverised mountain and a red sand. The distance from Syene to the sea is a month’s journey for an horseman. Along the valley descends a river, on which the blessing of the Most High reposes both in the evening and morning, and which rises and falls with the revolutions of the sun and moon. When the annual dispensation of Providence unlocks the springs and fountains that nourish the earth, the Nile rolls his swelling and sounding waters through the realm of Egypt; the fields are overspread by the salutary flood; and the villages communicate with each other in their painted barks. The retreat of the inundation deposits a fertilising mud for the reception of the various seeds; the crowds of husbandmen who blacken the land may be compared to a swarm of industrious ants; and their native indolence is quickened by the lash of the task-master and the promise of the flowers and fruits of a plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom deceived; but the riches which they extract from the wheat, the barley, and the rice, the legumes, the fruit-trees, and the cattle, are unequally shared between those who labour and those who possess. According to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the face of the country is adorned with a silver wave, a verdant emerald, and the deep yellow of a golden harvest.”149 Yet this beneficial order is sometimes interrupted; and the long delay and sudden swell of the river in the first year of the conquest might afford some colour to an edifying fable. It is said that the annual sacrifice of a virgin150 had been interdicted by the piety of Omar; and that the Nile lay sullen and inactive in his shallow bed, till the mandate of the caliph was cast into the obedient stream, which rose in a single night to the height of sixteen cubits. The admiration of the Arabs for their new conquest encouraged the licence of their romantic spirit. We may read, in the gravest authors, that Egypt was crowded with twenty thousand cities or villages;151that, exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone were found, on the assessment, six millions of tributary subjects,152 or twenty millions of either sex and of every age; that three hundred millions of gold or silver were annually paid to the treasury of the caliph.153 Our reason must be startled by these extravagant assertions; and they will become more palpable, if we assume the compass and measure the extent of habitable ground: a valley from the tropic to Memphis, seldom broader than twelve miles, and the triangle of the Delta, a flat surface of two thousand one hundred square leagues, compose a twelfth part of the magnitude of France.154 A more accurate research will justify a more reasonable estimate. The three hundred millions, created by the error of a scribe, are reduced to the decent revenue of four millions three hundred thousand pieces of gold, of which nine hundred thousand were consumed by the pay of the soldiers.155 Two authentic lists, of the present and of the twelfth century, are circumscribed within the respectable number of two thousand seven hundred villages and towns.156 After a long residence at Cairo, a French consul has ventured to assign about four millions of Mahometans, Christians, and Jews for the ample, though not incredible, scope of the population of Egypt.157
IV. The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean,158 was first attempted by the arms of the caliph Othman.159 The pious design was approved by the companions of Mahomet and the chiefs of the tribes; and twenty thousand Arabs marched from Medina, with the gifts and the blessing of the commander of the faithful. They were joined in the camp of Memphis by twenty thousand of their countrymen; and the conduct of the war was entrusted to Abdallah,160 the son of Said, and the foster-brother of the caliph, who had lately supplanted the conqueror and lieutenant of Egypt. Yet the favour of the prince and the merit of his favourite could not obliterate the guilt of his apostasy. The early conversion of Abdallah and his skilful pen had recommended him to the important office of transcribing the sheets of the Koran; he betrayed his trust, corrupted the text, derided the errors which he had made, and fled to Mecca to escape the justice, and expose the ignorance, of the apostle. After the conquest of Mecca, he fell prostrate at the feet of Mahomet; his tears and the entreaties of Othman extorted a reluctant pardon; but the prophet declared that he had so long hesitated to allow time for some zealous disciple to avenge his injury in the blood of the apostate. With apparent fidelity and effective merit, he served the religion which it was no longer his interest to desert: his birth and talents gave him an honourable rank among the Koreish; and, in a nation of cavalry, Abdallah was renowned as the boldest and most dexterous horseman of Arabia. At the head of forty thousand Moslems, he advanced from Egypt into the unknown countries of the West. The sands of Barca might be impervious to a Roman legion; but the Arabs were attended by their faithful camels; and the natives of the desert beheld without terror the familiar aspect of the soil and climate. After a painful march, they pitched their tents before the walls of Tripoli,161 a maritime city, in which the name, the wealth, and the inhabitants of the province had gradually centred, and which now maintains the third rank among the states of Barbary. A reinforcement of Greeks was surprised and cut in pieces on the sea-shore; but the fortifications of Tripoli resisted the first assaults; and the Saracens were tempted by the approach of the prefect Gregory162 to relinquish the labours of the siege for the perils and the hopes of a decisive action. If his standard was followed by one hundred and twenty thousand men, the regular bands of the empire must have been lost in the naked and disorderly crowd of Africans and Moors, who formed the strength, or rather the numbers, of his host. He rejected with indignation the option of the Koran or the tribute; and during several days the two armies were fiercely engaged from the dawn of light to the hour of noon, when their fatigue and the excessive heat compelled them to seek shelter and refreshment in their respective camps. The daughter of Gregory, a maid of incomparable beauty and spirit, is said to have fought by his side; from her earliest youth she was trained to mount on horseback, to draw the bow, and to wield the scymetar; and the richness of her arms and apparel was conspicuous in the foremost ranks of the battle. Her hand, with an hundred thousand pieces of gold, was offered for the head of the Arabian general, and the youths of Africa were excited by the prospect of the glorious prize. At the pressing solicitation of his brethren, Abdallah withdrew his person from the field; but the Saracens were discouraged by the retreat of their leader and the repetition of these equal or unsuccessful conflicts.
A noble Arabian, who afterwards became the adversary of Ali and the father of a caliph, had signalised his valour in Egypt, and Zobeir163 was the first who planted the scaling-ladder against the walls of Babylon. In the African war he was detached from the standard of Abdallah. On the news of the battle, Zobeir, with twelve companions, cut his way through the camp of the Greeks, and pressed forwards, without tasting either food or repose, to partake of the dangers of his brethren. He cast his eyes round the field: “Where,” said he, “is our general?” “In his tent.” “Is the tent a station for the general of the Moslems?” Abdallah represented with a blush the importance of his own life, and the temptation that was held forth by the Roman prefect. “Retort,” said Zobeir, “on the infidels their ungenerous attempt. Proclaim through the ranks that the head of Gregory shall be repaid with his captive daughter and the equal sum of one hundred thousand pieces of gold.”164 To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the lieutenant of the caliph entrusted the execution of his own stratagem, which inclined the long-disputed balance in favour of the Saracens. Supplying by activity and artifice the deficiency of numbers, a part of their forces lay concealed in their tents, while the remainder prolonged an irregular skirmish with the enemy, till the sun was high in the heavens. On both sides they retired with fainting steps; their horses were unbridled, their armour was laid aside, and the hostile nations prepared, or seemed to prepare, for the refreshment of the evening and the encounter of the ensuing day. On a sudden, the charge was sounded; the Arabian camp poured forth a swarm of fresh and intrepid warriors; and the long line of the Greeks and Africans was surprised, assaulted, overturned by new squadrons of the faithful, who, to the eye of fanaticism, might appear as a band of angels descending from the sky. The prefect himself was slain by the hand of Zobeir: his daughter, who sought revenge and death, was surrounded and made prisoner; and the fugitives involved in their disaster the town of Sufetula, to which they escaped from the sabres and lances of the Arabs. Sufetula was built one hundred and fifty miles to the south of Carthage: a gentle declivity is watered by a running stream, and shaded by a grove of Juniper trees; and, in the ruins of a triumphal arch, a portico, and three temples of the Corinthian order, curiosity may yet admire the magnificence of the Romans.165 After the fall of this opulent city, the provincials and Barbarians implored on all sides the mercy of the conqueror. His vanity or his zeal might be flattered by offers of tribute or professions of faith; but his losses, his fatigues, and the progress of an epidemical disease prevented a solid establishment; and the Saracens, after a campaign of fifteen months, retreated to the confines of Egypt, with the captives and the wealth of their African expedition. The caliph’s fifth was granted to a favourite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces of gold;166 but the state was doubly injured by this fallacious transaction, if each foot-soldier had shared one thousand, and each horseman three thousand, pieces in the real division of the plunder. The author of the death of Gregory was expected to have claimed the most precious reward of the victory: from his silence it might be presumed that he had fallen in the battle, till the tears and exclamations of the prefect’s daughter at the sight of Zobeir revealed the valour and modesty of that gallant soldier. The unfortunate virgin was offered, and almost rejected, as a slave, by her father’s murderer, who coolly declared that his sword was consecrated to the service of religion; and that he laboured for a recompense far above the charms of mortal beauty or the riches of this transitory life.167 A reward congenial to his temper was the honourable commission of announcing to the caliph Othman the success of his arms. The companions, the chiefs, and the people were assembled in the mosch of Medina, to hear the interesting narrative of Zobeir; and, as the orator forgot nothing except the merit of his own counsels and actions, the name of Abdallah was joined by the Arabians with the heroic names of Caled and Amrou.168
The Western conquests of the Saracens were suspended near twenty years, till their dissensions were composed by the establishment of the house of Ommiyah; and the caliph Moawiyah was invited by the cries of the Africans themselves. The successors of Heraclius had been informed of the tribute which they had been compelled to stipulate with the Arabs; but, instead of being moved to pity and relieve their distress, they imposed, as an equivalent or a fine, a second tribute of a similar amount. The ears of the Byzantine ministers were shut against the complaints of their poverty and ruin; their despair was reduced to prefer the dominion of a single master; and the extortions of the patriarch169 of Carthage, who was invested with civil and military power, provoked the sectaries, and even the Catholics, of the Roman province to abjure the religion as well as the authority of their tyrants. The first lieutenant170 of Moawiyah acquired a just renown, subdued an important city, defeated an army of thirty thousand Greeks, swept away fourscore thousand captives, and enriched with their spoils the bold adventurers of Syria and Egypt.171 But the title of conqueror of Africa is more justly due to his successor Akbah. He marched from Damascus at the head of ten thousand of the bravest Arabs; and the genuine force of the Moslems was enlarged by the doubtful aid and conversion of many thousand Barbarians. It would be difficult, nor is it necessary, to trace the accurate line of the progress of Akbah. The interior regions have been peopled by the Orientals with fictitious armies and imaginary citadels.172 In the warlike province of Zab or Numidia, fourscore thousand of the natives might assemble in arms; but the number of three hundred and sixty towns is incompatible with the ignorance or decay of husbandry;173 and a circumference of three leagues will not be justified by the ruins of Erbe or Lambesa, the ancient metropolis of that inland country. As we approach the sea-coast the well-known cities of Bugia174 and Tangier175 define the more certain limits of the Saracen victories. A remnant of trade still adheres to the commodious harbour of Bugia, which, in a more prosperous age, is said to have contained about twenty thousand houses; and the plenty of iron, which is dug from the adjacent mountains, might have supplied a braver people with the instruments of defence. The remote position and venerable antiquity of Tingi, or Tangier, have been decorated by the Greek and Arabian fables; but the figurative expressions of the latter, that the walls were constructed of brass, and that the roofs were covered with gold and silver, may be interpreted as the emblems of strength and opulence. The province of Mauritania Tingitana,176 which assumed the name of the capital, had been imperfectly discovered and settled by the Romans; the five colonies were confined to a narrow pale, and the more southern parts were seldom explored except by the agents of luxury, who searched the forests for ivory and the citron-wood,177 and the shores of the ocean for the purple shell-fish. The fearless Akbah plunged into the heart of the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors erected the splendid capitals of Fez and Morocco,178 and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert. The river Sus descends from the western sides of Mount Atlas, fertilises, like the Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the sea at a moderate distance from the Canary, or Fortunate, islands. Its banks were inhabited by the last of the Moors, a race of savages, without laws, or discipline, or religion: they were astonished by the strange and irresistible terrors of the Oriental arms; and, as they possessed neither gold nor silver, the richest spoil was the beauty of the female captives, some of whom were afterwards sold for a thousand pieces of gold. The career, though not the zeal, of Akbah was checked by the prospect of a boundless ocean. He spurred his horse into the waves, and, raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed with the tone of a fanatic: “Great God! if my course were not stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown kingdoms of the West, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship any other gods than thee.”179 Yet this Mahometan Alexander, who sighed for new worlds, was unable to preserve his recent conquests. By the universal defection of the Greeks and Africans, he was recalled from the shores of the Atlantic, and the surrounding multitudes left him only the resource of an honourable death. The last scene was dignified by an example of national virtue. An ambitious chief, who had disputed the command and failed in the attempt, was led about as a prisoner in the camp of the Arabian general. The insurgents had trusted to his discontent and revenge; he disdained their offers, and revealed their designs. In the hour of danger the grateful Akbah unlocked his fetters and advised him to retire; he chose to die under the banner of his rival. Embracing as friends and martyrs, they unsheathed their scymetars, broke their scabbards, and maintained an obstinate combat, till they fell by each other’s side on the last of their slaughtered countrymen.180 The third general or governor of Africa, Zuheir, avenged and encountered the fate of his predecessor. He vanquished the natives in many battles; he was overthrown by a powerful army which Constantinople had sent to the relief of Carthage.
It had been the frequent practice of the Moorish tribes to join the invaders, to share the plunder, to profess the faith, and to revolt to their savage state of independence and idolatry on the first retreat or misfortune of the Moslems. The prudence of Akbah had proposed to found an Arabian colony in the heart of Africa: a citadel that might curb the levity of the Barbarians, a place of refuge to secure, against the accidents of war, the wealth and the families of the Saracens. With this view, and under the modest title of the station of a caravan, he planted this colony in the fiftieth year of the Hegira. In its present decay, Cairoan181 still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis, from which it is distant about fifty miles to the south:182 its inland situation, twelve miles westward of the sea, has protected the city from the Greek and Sicilian fleets. When the wild beasts and serpents were extirpated, when the forest, or rather wilderness, was cleared, the vestiges of a Roman town were discovered in a sandy plain; the vegetable food of Cairoan is brought from afar; and the scarcity of springs constrains the inhabitants to collect in cisterns and reservoirs a precarious supply of rain-water. These obstacles were subdued by the industry of Akbah: he traced a circumference of three thousand and six hundred paces, which he encompassed with a brick wall; in the space of five years, the governor’s palace was surrounded with a sufficient number of private habitations; a spacious mosch was supported by five hundred columns of granite, porphyry, and Numidian marble; and Cairoan became the seat of learning as well as of empire. But these were the glories of a later age; the new colony was shaken by the successive defeats of Akbah and Zuheir, and the Western expeditions were again interrupted by the civil discord of the Arabian monarchy.183 The son of the valiant Zobeir maintained a war of twelve years, a siege of seven months, against the house of Ommiyah. Abdallah was said to unite the fierceness of the lion with the subtlety of the fox; but, if he inherited the courage, he was devoid of the generosity, of his father.184
The return of domestic peace allowed the caliph Abdalmalek to resume the conquest of Africa; the standard was delivered to Hassan governor of Egypt, and the revenue of that kingdom, with an army of forty thousand men, was consecrated to the important service. In the vicissitudes of war, the interior provinces had been alternately won and lost by the Saracens. But the sea-coast still remained in the hands of the Greeks; the predecessors of Hassan had respected the name and fortifications of Carthage; and the number of its defenders was recruited by the fugitives of Cabes and Tripoli. The arms of Hassan were bolder and more fortunate; he reduced and pillaged the metropolis of Africa; and the mention of scaling-ladders may justify the suspicion that he anticipated, by a sudden assault, the more tedious operations of a regular siege. But the joy of the conquerors was soon disturbed by the appearance of the Christian succours. The prefect and patrician John, a general of experience and renown, embarked at Constantinople the forces of the Eastern empire;185 they were joined by the ships and soldiers of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths186 was obtained from the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch. The weight of the confederate navy broke the chain that guarded the entrance of the harbour; the Arabs retired to Cairoan, or Tripoli; the Christians landed; the citizens hailed the ensign of the cross, and the winter was idly wasted in the dream of victory or deliverance. But Africa was irrecoverably lost: the zeal and resentment of the commander of the faithful187 prepared in the ensuing spring a more numerous armament by sea and land; and the patrician in his turn was compelled to evacuate the post and fortifications of Carthage. A second battle was fought in the neighbourhood of Utica: the Greeks and Goths were again defeated; and their timely embarkation saved them from the sword of Hassan, who had invested the slight and insufficient rampart of their camp. Whatever yet remained of Carthage was delivered to the flames, and the colony of Dido188 and Cæsar lay desolate above two hundred years, till a part, perhaps a twentieth, of the old circumference was repeopled by the first of the Fatimite caliphs. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the second capital of the West was represented by a mosch, a college without students, twenty-five or thirty shops, and the huts of five hundred peasants, who, in their abject poverty, displayed the arrogance of the Punic senators. Even that paltry village was swept away by the Spaniards whom Charles the Fifth had stationed in the fortress of the Goletta. The ruins of Carthage have perished; and the place might be unknown, if some broken arches of an aqueduct did not guide the footsteps of the inquisitive traveller.189
The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not yet masters of the country. In the interior provinces, the Moors or Berbers,190 so feeble under the first Cæsars, so formidable to the Byzantine princes, maintained a disorderly resistance to the religion and power of the successors of Mahomet. Under the standard of their queen Cahina the independent tribes acquired some degree of union and discipline; and, as the Moors respected in their females the character of a prophetess, they attacked the invaders with an enthusiasm similar to their own. The veteran bands of Hassan were inadequate to the defence of Africa; the conquests of an age were lost in a single day,191 and the Arabian chief, overwhelmed by the torrent, retired to the confines of Egypt, and expected, five years, the promised succours of the caliph. After the retreat of the Saracens, the victorious prophetess assembled the Moorish chiefs, and recommended a measure of strange and savage policy. “Our cities,” said she, “and the gold and silver which they contain, perpetually attract the arms of the Arabs. These vile metals are not the objects of our ambition; we content ourselves with the simple productions of the earth. Let us destroy these cities; let us bury in their ruins those pernicious treasures; and, when the avarice of our foes shall be destitute of temptation, perhaps they will cease to disturb the tranquillity of a warlike people.” The proposal was accepted with unanimous applause. From Tangier to Tripoli the buildings, or at least the fortifications, were demolished, the fruit-trees were cut down, the means of subsistence were extirpated, a fertile and populous garden was changed into a desert, and the historians of a more recent period could discern the frequent traces of the prosperity and devastation of their ancestors. Such is the tale of the modern Arabians. Yet I strongly suspect that their ignorance of antiquity, the love of the marvellous, and the fashion of extolling the philosophy of Barbarians has induced them to describe, as one voluntary act, the calamities of three hundred years since the first fury of the Donatists and Vandals. In the progress of the revolt Cahina had most probably contributed her share of destruction; and the alarm of universal ruin might terrify and alienate the cities that had reluctantly yielded to her unworthy yoke. They no longer hoped, perhaps they no longer wished, the return of their Byzantine sovereigns: their present servitude was not alleviated by the benefits of order and justice; and the most zealous Catholic must prefer the imperfect truths of the Koran to the blind and rude idolatry of the Moors. The general of the Saracens was again received as the saviour of the province; the friends of civil society conspired against the savages of the land; and the royal prophetess was slain in the first battle, which overturned the baseless fabric of her superstition and empire. The same spirit revived under the successor of Hassan; it was finally quelled by the activity of Musa192 and his two sons; but the number of the rebels may be presumed from that of three hundred thousand captives; sixty thousand of whom, the caliph’s fifth, were sold for the profit of the public treasury. Thirty thousand of the Barbarian youth were enlisted in the troops; and the pious labours of Musa, to inculcate the knowledge and practice of the Koran, accustomed the Africans to obey the apostle of God and the commander of the faithful. In their climate and government, their diet and habitation, the wandering Moors resembled the Bedoweens of the desert. With the religion, they were proud to adopt the language, name, and origin of Arabs; the blood of the strangers and natives was insensibly mingled; and from the Euphrates to the Atlantic the same nation might seem to be diffused over the sandy plains of Asia and Africa. Yet I will not deny that fifty thousand tents of pure Arabians might be transported over the Nile, and scattered through the Libyan desert; and I am not ignorant that five of the Moorish tribes still retain their Barbarous idiom, with the appellation and character of white Africans.193
V. In the progress of conquest from the north and south, the Goths and the Saracens encountered each other on the confines of Europe and Africa. In the opinion of the latter, the difference of religion is a reasonable ground of enmity and warfare.194
As early as the time of Othman195 their piratical squadrons had ravaged the coast of Andalusia;196 nor had they forgotten the relief of Carthage by the Gothic succours. In that age, as well as in the present, the kings of Spain were possessed of the fortress of Ceuta: one of the columns of Hercules, which is divided by a narrow strait from the opposite pillar or point of Europe.197 A small portion of Mauritania was still wanting to the African conquest; but Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed from the walls of Ceuta by the vigilance and courage of Count Julian, the general of the Goths. From his disappointment and perplexity Musa was relieved by an unexpected message of the Christian chief, who offered his place, his person, and his sword to the successors of Mahomet, and solicited the disgraceful honour of introducing their arms into the heart of Spain.198 If we inquire into the cause of his treachery, the Spaniards will repeat the popular story of his daughter Cava;199 of a virgin who was seduced, or ravished, by her sovereign; of a father who sacrificed his religion and country to the thirst of revenge. The passions of princes have often been licentious and destructive; but this well-known tale, romantic in itself, is indifferently supported by external evidence; and the history of Spain will suggest some motives of interest and policy, more congenial to the breast of a veteran statesman.200 After the decease or deposition of Witiza, his two sons were supplanted by the ambition of Roderic, a noble Goth, whose father, the duke or governor of a province, had fallen a victim to the preceding tyranny. The monarchy was still elective; but the sons of Witiza, educated on the steps of the throne, were impatient of a private station. Their resentment was the more dangerous, as it was varnished with the dissimulation of courts; their followers were excited by the remembrance of favours and the promise of a revolution; and their uncle Oppas, archbishop of Toledo and Seville, was the first person in the church, and the second in the state. It is probable that Julian was involved in the disgrace of the unsuccessful faction; that he had little to hope and much to fear from the new reign; and that the imprudent king could not forget or forgive the injuries which Roderic and his family had sustained. The merit and influence of the count rendered him an useful or formidable subject; his estates were ample, his followers bold and numerous; and it was too fatally shewn that, by his Andalusian and Mauritanian commands, he held in his hand the keys of the Spanish monarchy. Too feeble, however, to meet his sovereign in arms, he sought the aid of a foreign power; and his rash invitation of the Moors and Arabs produced the calamities of eight hundred years. In his epistles, or in a personal interview, he revealed the wealth and nakedness of his country; the weakness of an unpopular prince; the degeneracy of an effeminate people. The Goths were no longer the victorious Barbarians who had humbled the pride of Rome, despoiled the queen of nations, and penetrated from the Danube to the Atlantic ocean. Secluded from the world by the Pyrenean mountains, the successors of Alaric had slumbered in a long peace; the walls of the cities were mouldered into dust; the youth had abandoned the exercise of arms; and the presumption of their ancient renown would expose them in a field of battle to the first assault of the invaders. The ambitious Saracen was fired by the ease and importance of the attempt; but the execution was delayed till he had consulted the commander of the faithful; and his messenger returned with the permission of Walid to annex the unknown kingdoms of the West to the religion and throne of the caliphs. In his residence of Tangier, Musa, with secrecy and caution, continued his correspondence and hastened his preparations. But the remorse of the conspirators was soothed by the fallacious assurance that he should content himself with the glory and spoil, without aspiring to establish the Moslems beyond the sea that separates Africa from Europe.201
Before Musa would trust an army of the faithful to the traitors and infidels of a foreign land, he made a less dangerous trial of their strength and veracity. One hundred Arabs,202 and four hundred Africans, passed over, in four vessels, from Tangier or Ceuta; the place of their descent on the opposite shore of the strait is marked by the name of Tarif their chief; and the date of this memorable event203 is fixed to the month of Ramadan, of the ninety-first year of the Hegira, to the month of July, seven hundred and forty-eight years from the Spanish era of Cæsar,204 seven hundred and ten after the birth of Christ. From their first station, they marched eighteen miles through an hilly country to the castle and town of Julian;205 on which (it is still called Algezire) they bestowed the name of the Green Island, from a verdant cape that advances into the sea. Their hospitable entertainment, the Christians who joined their standard, their inroad into a fertile and unguarded province, the richness of their spoil and the safety of their return, announced to their brethren the most favourable omens of victory. In the ensuing spring, five thousand veterans and volunteers were embarked under the command of Tarik, a dauntless and skilful soldier, who surpassed the expectation of his chief; and the necessary transports were provided by the industry of their too faithful ally. The Saracens landed206 at the pillar or point of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of Gibraltar (Gebel al Tarik) describes the mountain of Tarik; and the intrenchments of his camp were the first outline of those fortifications which, in the hands of our countrymen, have resisted the art and power of the house of Bourbon. The adjacent governors informed the court of Toledo of the descent and progress of the Arabs; and the defeat of his lieutenant Edeco, who had been commanded to seize and bind the presumptuous strangers, admonished Roderic of the magnitude of the danger. At the royal summons the dukes and counts, the bishops and nobles of the Gothic monarchy, assembled at the head of their followers; and the title of King of the Romans, which is employed by an Arabic historian, may be excused by the close affinity of language, religion, and manners, between the nations of Spain. His army consisted of ninety or an hundred thousand men: a formidable power, if their fidelity and discipline had been adequate to their numbers. The troops of Tarik had been augmented to twelve thousand Saracens; but the Christian malcontents were attracted by the influence of Julian, and a crowd of Africans most greedily tasted the temporal blessings of the Koran. In the neighbourhood of Cadiz, the town of Xeres207 has been illustrated by the encounter which determined the fate of the kingdom; the stream of the Guadalete, which falls into the bay, divided the two camps, and marked the advancing and retreating skirmishes of three successive and bloody days. On the fourth day the two armies joined a more serious and decisive issue; but Alaric would have blushed at the sight of his unworthy successor, sustaining on his head a diadem of pearls, encumbered with a flowing robe of gold and silken embroidery, and reclining on a litter or car of ivory, drawn by two white mules. Notwithstanding the valour of the Saracens, they fainted under the weight of multitudes, and the plain of Xeres was overspread with sixteen thousand of their dead bodies. “My brethren,” said Tarik to his surviving companions, “the enemy is before you, the sea is behind; whither would ye fly? Follow your general: I am resolved either to lose my life or to trample on the prostrate king of the Romans.” Besides the resource of despair, he confided in the secret correspondence and nocturnal interviews of Count Julian with the sons and the brother of Witiza. The two princes and the archbishop of Toledo occupied the most important post; their well-timed defection broke the ranks of the Christians; each warrior was prompted by fear or suspicion to consult his personal safety; and the remains of the Gothic army were scattered or destroyed in the flight and pursuit of the three following days. Amidst the general disorder, Roderic started from his car, and mounted Orelia, the fleetest of his horses; but he escaped from a soldier’s death to perish more ignobly in the waters of the Baetis or Guadalquivir. His diadem, his robes, and his courser were found on the bank; but, as the body of the Gothic prince was lost in the waves, the pride and ignorance of the caliph must have been gratified with some meaner head, which was exposed in triumph before the palace of Damascus. “And such,” continues a valiant historian of the Arabs, “is the fate of those kings who withdraw themselves from a field of battle.”208
Count Julian had plunged so deep into guilt and infamy that his only hope was in the ruin of his country. After the battle of Xeres he recommended the most effectual measures to the victorious Saracen. “The king of the Goths is slain; their princes have fled before you, the army is routed, the nation is astonished. Secure with sufficient detachments the cities of Baetica; but in person, and without delay, march to the royal city of Toledo, and allow not the distracted Christians either time or tranquillity for the election of a new monarch.” Tarik listened to his advice. A Roman captive and proselyte, who had been enfranchised by the caliph himself, assaulted Cordova with seven hundred horse; he swam the river, surprised the town, and drove the Christians into the great church, where they defended themselves above three months. Another detachment reduced the sea-coast of Baetica, which in the last period of the Moorish power has comprised in a narrow space the populous kingdom of Grenada. The march of Tarik from the Baetis to the Tagus209 was directed through the Sierra Morena, that separates Andalusia and Castile till he appeared in arms under the walls of Toledo.210 The most zealous of the Catholics had escaped with the relics of their saints; and, if the gates were shut, it was only till the victor had subscribed a fair and reasonable capitulation. The voluntary exiles were allowed to depart with their effects; seven churches were appropriated to the Christian worship; the archbishop and his clergy were at liberty to exercise their functions, the monks to practise or neglect their penance; and the Goths and Romans were left in all civil and criminal cases to the subordinate jurisdiction of their own laws and magistrates. But, if the justice of Tarik protected the Christians, his gratitude and policy rewarded the Jews, to whose secret or open aid he was indebted for his most important acquisitions. Persecuted by the kings and synods of Spain, who had often pressed the alternative of banishment or baptism, that outcast nation embraced the moment of revenge; the comparison of their past and present state was the pledge of their fidelity; and the alliance between the disciples of Moses and of Mahomet was maintained till the final era of their common expulsion. From the royal seat of Toledo, the Arabian leader spread his conquests to the north, over the modern realms of Castile and Leon; but it is needless to enumerate the cities that yielded on his approach, or again to describe the table of emerald,211 transported from the East by the Romans, acquired by the Goths among the spoils of Rome, and presented by the Arabs to the throne of Damascus. Beyond the Asturian mountains, the maritime town of Gijon was the term212 of the lieutenant of Musa, who had performed, with the speed of a traveller, his victorious march, of seven hundred miles, from the rock of Gibraltar to the bay of Biscay. The failure of land compelled him to retreat; and he was recalled to Toledo, to excuse his presumption of subduing a kingdom in the absence of his general. Spain, which, in a more savage and disorderly state, had resisted, two hundred years, the arms of the Romans, was overrun in a few months by those of the Saracens; and such was the eagerness of submission and treaty that the governor of Cordova is recorded as the only chief who fell, without conditions, a prisoner into their hands. The cause of the Goths had been irrevocably judged in the field of Xeres; and, in the national dismay, each part of the monarchy declined a contest with the antagonist who had vanquished the united strength of the whole.213 That strength had been wasted by two successive seasons of famine and pestilence; and the governors, who were impatient to surrender, might exaggerate the difficulty of collecting the provisions of a siege. To disarm the Christians, superstition likewise contributed her terrors; and the subtle Arab encouraged the report of dreams, omens, and prophecies, and of the portraits of the destined conquerors of Spain, that were discovered on breaking open an apartment of the royal palace. Yet a spark of the vital flame was still alive; some invincible fugitives preferred a life of poverty and freedom in the Asturian valleys; the hardy mountaineers repulsed the slaves of the caliph; and the sword of Pelagius has been transformed into the sceptre of the Catholic kings.214
On the intelligence of this rapid success, the applause of Musa degenerated into envy; and he began, not to complain, but to fear, that Tarik would leave him nothing to subdue. At the head of ten thousand Arabs and eight thousand Africans, he passed over in person from Mauritania to Spain; the first of his companions were the noblest of the Koreish; his eldest son was left in the command of Africa; the three younger brethren were of an age and spirit to second the boldest enterprises of their father. At his landing in Algezire, he was respectfully entertained by Count Julian, who stifled his inward remorse, and testified, both in words and actions, that the victory of the Arabs had not impaired his attachment to their cause. Some enemies yet remained for the sword of Musa. The tardy repentance of the Goths had compared their own numbers and those of the invaders; the cities from which the march of Tarik had declined considered themselves as impregnable; and the bravest patriots defended the fortifications of Seville and Merida. They were successively besieged and reduced by the labour of Musa, who transported his camp from the Baetis to the Anas, from the Guadalquivir to the Guadiana. When he beheld the works of Roman magnificence, the bridge, the aqueducts, the triumphal arches, and the theatre of the ancient metropolis of Lusitania, “I should imagine,” said he to his four companions, “that the human race must have united their art and power in the foundation of this city; happy is the man who shall become its master!” He aspired to that happiness, but the Emeritans sustained on this occasion the honour of their descent from the veteran legionaries of Augustus.215 Disdaining the confinement of their walls, they gave battle to the Arabs on the plain; but an ambuscade rising from the shelter of a quarry, or a ruin, chastised their indiscretion and intercepted their return. The wooden turrets of assault were rolled forwards to the foot of the rampart; but the defence of Merida was obstinate and long; and the castle of the martyrs was a perpetual testimony of the losses of the Moslems. The constancy of the besieged was at length subdued by famine and despair; and the prudent victor disguised his impatience under the names of clemency and esteem. The alternative of exile or tribute was allowed; the churches were divided between the two religions; and the wealth of those who had fallen in the siege, or retired to Gallicia, was confiscated as the reward of the faithful. In the midway between Merida and Toledo, the lieutenant of Musa saluted the vicegerent of the caliph, and conducted him to the palace of the Gothic kings. Their first interview was cold and formal; a rigid account was exacted of the treasures of Spain; the character of Tarik was exposed to suspicion and obloquy; and the hero was imprisoned, reviled, and ignominiously scourged by the hand or the command of Musa. Yet so strict was the discipline, so pure the zeal, or so tame the spirit of the primitive Moslems that, after this public indignity, Tarik could serve and be trusted in the reduction of the Tarragonese province. A mosch was erected at Saragossa, by the liberality of the Koreish; the port of Barcelona was opened to the vessels of Syria; and the Goths were pursued beyond the Pyrenean mountains into their Gallic province of Septimania or Languedoc.216 In the church of St. Mary at Carcassonne, Musa found, but it is improbable that he left, seven equestrian statues of massy silver; and from his term or column of Narbonne he returned on his footsteps to the Gallician and Lusitanian shores of the ocean. During the absence of the father, his son Abdelaziz chastised the insurgents of Seville, and reduced, from Malaga to Valentia, the sea-coast of the Mediterranean: his original treaty with the discreet and valiant Theodemir217 will represent the manners and policy of the times. “The conditions of peace agreed and sworn between Abdelaziz, the son of Musa, the son of Nassir, and Theodemir, prince of the Goths. In the name of the most merciful God, Abdelaziz makes peace on these conditions: That Theodemir shall not be disturbed in his principality; nor any injury be offered to the life or property, the wives and children, the religion and temples, of the Christians: That Theodemir shall freely deliver his seven cities, Orihuela, Valentola, Alicant, Mola, Vacasora, Bigerra (now Bejar), Ora (or Opta), and Lorca: That he shall not assist or entertain the enemies of the caliph, but shall faithfully communicate his knowledge of their hostile designs: That himself, and each of the Gothic nobles, shall annually pay one piece of gold, four measures of wheat, as many of barley, with a certain proportion of honey, oil, and vinegar; and that each of their vassals shall be taxed at one moiety of the said imposition. Given the fourth of Regeb, in the year of the Hegira ninety-four, and subscribed with the names of four Musulman witnesses.”218 Theodemir and his subjects were treated with uncommon lenity; but the rate of tribute appears to have fluctuated from a tenth to a fifth, according to the submission or obstinacy of the Christians.219 In this revolution, many partial calamities were inflicted by the carnal or religious passions of the enthusiasts; some churches were profaned by the new worship; some relics or images were confounded with idols; the rebels were put to the sword; and one town (an obscure place between Cordova and Seville) was razed to its foundations. Yet, if we compare the invasion of Spain by the Goths, or its recovery by the kings of Castile and Arragon, we must applaud the moderation and discipline of the Arabian conquerors.
The exploits of Musa were performed in the evening of life, though he affected to disguise his age by colouring with a red powder the whiteness of his beard. But in the love of action and glory his breast was still fired with the ardour of youth; and the possession of Spain was considered only as the first step to the monarchy of Europe. With a powerful armament by sea and land, he was preparing to repass the Pyrenees, to extinguish in Gaul and Italy the declining kingdoms of the Franks and Lombards, and to preach the unity of God on the altar of the Vatican. From thence, subduing the Barbarians of Germany, he proposed to follow the course of the Danube from its source to the Euxine Sea, to overthrow the Greek or Roman empire of Constantinople, and, returning from Europe to Asia, to unite his new acquisitions with Antioch and the provinces of Syria.220 But his vast enterprise, perhaps of easy execution, must have seemed extravagant to vulgar minds; and the visionary conqueror was soon reminded of his dependence and servitude. The friends of Tarik had effectually stated his services and wrongs: at the court of Damascus, the proceedings of Musa were blamed, his intentions were suspected, and his delay in complying with the first invitation was chastised by an harsher and more peremptory summons. An intrepid messenger of the caliph entered his camp at Lugo in Gallicia, and in the presence of the Saracens and Christians arrested the bridle of his horse. His own loyalty, or that of his troops, inculcated the duty of obedience; and his disgrace was alleviated by the recall of his rival, and the permission of investing with his two governments his two sons, Abdallah and Abdelaziz. His long triumph from Ceuta to Damascus displayed the spoils of Africa and the treasures of Spain; four hundred Gothic nobles, with gold coronets and girdles, were distinguished in his train: and the number of male and female captives, selected for their birth or beauty, was computed at eighteen, or even at thirty, thousand persons. As soon as he reached Tiberias in Palestine, he was apprised of the sickness and danger of the caliph, by a private message from Soliman, his brother and presumptive heir; who wished to reserve for his own reign the spectacle of victory. Had Walid recovered, the delay of Musa would have been criminal: he pursued his march, and found an enemy on the throne. In his trial before a partial judge, against a popular antagonist, he was convicted of vanity and falsehood; and a fine of two hundred thousand pieces of gold either exhausted his poverty or proved his rapaciousness. The unworthy treatment of Tarik was revenged by a similar indignity; and the veteran commander, after a public whipping, stood a whole day in the sun before the palace gate, till he obtained a decent exile, under the pious name of a pilgrimage to Mecca. The resentment of the caliph might have been satiated with the ruin of Musa; but his fears demanded the extirpation of a potent and injured family. A sentence of death was intimated with secrecy and speed to the trusty servants of the throne both in Africa and Spain; and the forms, if not the substance, of justice were superseded in this bloody execution. In the mosch or palace of Cordova, Abdelaziz was slain by the swords of the conspirators; they accused their governor of claiming the honours of royalty; and his scandalous marriage with Egilona, the widow of Roderic, offended the prejudices both of the Christians and Moslems. By a refinement of cruelty, the head of the son was presented to the father, with an insulting question, whether he acknowledged the features of the rebel? “I know his features,” he exclaimed with indignation: “I assert his innocence; and I imprecate the same, a juster fate, against the authors of his death.” The age and despair of Musa raised him above the power of kings; and he expired at Mecca of the anguish of a broken heart. His rival was more favourably treated; his services were forgiven; and Tarik was permitted to mingle with the crowd of slaves.221 I am ignorant whether Count Julian was rewarded with the death which he deserved indeed, though not from the hands of the Saracens; but the tale of their ingratitude to the sons of Witiza is disproved by the most unquestionable evidence. The two royal youths were reinstated in the private patrimony of their father; but on the decease of Eba the elder, his daughter was unjustly despoiled of her portion by the violence of her uncle Sigebut. The Gothic maid pleaded her cause before the caliph Hashem, and obtained the restitution of her inheritance; but she was given in marriage to a noble Arabian, and their two sons, Isaac and Ibrahim, were received in Spain with the consideration that was due to their origin and riches.
A province is assimilated to the victorious state by the introduction of strangers and the imitative spirit of the natives; and Spain, which had been successively tinctured with Punic, and Roman, and Gothic blood, imbibed, in a few generations, the name and manners of the Arabs. The first conquerors, and the twenty successive lieutenants of the caliphs, were attended by a numerous train of civil and military followers, who preferred a distant fortune to a narrow home; the private and public interest was promoted by the establishment of faithful colonies; and the cities of Spain were proud to commemorate the tribe or country of their Eastern progenitors. The victorious though motley bands of Tarik and Musa asserted, by the name of Spaniards, their original claim of conquest; yet they allowed their brethren of Egypt to share their establishments of Murcia and Lisbon. The royal legion of Damascus was planted at Cordova; that of Emesa at Seville; that of Kinnisrin or Chalcis at Jaen; that of Palestine at Algezire and Medina Sidonia. The natives of Yemen and Persia were scattered round Toledo and the inland country; and the fertile seats of Grenada were bestowed on ten thousand horsemen of Syria and Irak, the children of the purest and most noble of the Arabian tribes.222 A spirit of emulation, sometimes beneficial, more frequently dangerous, was nourished by these hereditary factions. Ten years after the conquest, a map of the province was presented to the caliph: the seas, the rivers, and the harbours, the inhabitants and cities, the climate, the soil, and the mineral productions of the earth.223 In the space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved by the agriculture,224 the manufactures, and the commerce of an industrious people; and the effects of their diligence have been magnified by the idleness of their fancy. The first of the Ommiades who reigned in Spain solicited the support of the Christians; and, in his edict of peace and protection, he contents himself with a modest imposition of ten thousand ounces of gold, ten thousand pounds of silver, ten thousand horses, as many mules, one thousand cuirasses, with an equal number of helmets and lances.225 The most powerful of his successors derived from the same kingdom the annual tribute of twelve millions and forty-five thousand dinars or pieces of gold, about six millions of sterling money:226 a sum which, in the tenth century, most probably surpassed the united revenues of the Christian monarchs. His royal seat of Cordova contained six hundred moschs, nine hundred baths, and two hundred thousand houses: he gave laws to eighty cities of the first, to three hundred of the second and third order; and the fertile banks of the Guadalquivir were adorned with twelve thousand villages and hamlets. The Arabs might exaggerate the truth, but they created and they describe the most prosperous era of the riches, the cultivation, and the populousness of Spain.227
The wars of the Moslems were sanctified by the prophet; but, among the various precepts and examples of his life, the caliphs selected the lessons of toleration that might tend to disarm the resistance of the unbelievers. Arabia was the temple and patrimony of the God of Mahomet; but he beheld with less jealousy and affection the nations of the earth. The polytheists and idolaters who were ignorant of his name might be lawfully extirpated by his votaries;228 but a wise policy supplied the obligation of justice; and, after some acts of intolerant zeal, the Mahometan conquerors of Hindostan have spared the pagods of that devout and populous country. The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of Jesus were solemnly invited to accept the more perfect revelation of Mahomet; but, if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they were entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship.229 In a field of battle, the forfeit lives of the prisoners were redeemed by the profession of Islam; the females were bound to embrace the religion of their masters, and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of African and Asiatic converts, who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs, must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief in one God and the apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence and the loss of a foreskin, the subject or the slave, the captive or the criminal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the victorious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was dissolved: the vow of celibacy was superseded by the indulgence of nature; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were awakened by the trumpet of the Saracens; and, in the convulsion of the world, every member of a new society ascended to the natural level of his capacity and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted by the invisible as well as temporal blessings of the Arabian prophet; and charity will hope that many of his proselytes entertained a serious conviction of the truth and sanctity of his revelation. In the eyes of an inquisitive polytheist, it must appear worthy of the human and the divine nature. More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospel.
In the extensive provinces of Persia and Africa, the national religion has been eradicated by the Mahometan faith. The ambiguous theology of the Magi stood alone among the sects of the East: but the profane writings of Zoroaster230 might, under the reverend name of Abraham, be dexterously connected with the chain of divine revelation. Their evil principle, the demon Ahriman, might be represented as the rival, or as the creature, of the God of light. The temples of Persia were devoid of images; but the worship of the sun and of fire might be stigmatised as a gross and criminal idolatry.231 The milder sentiment was consecrated by the practice of Mahomet232 and the prudence of the caliphs; the Magians, or Ghebers, were ranked with the Jews and Christians among the people of the written law;233 and, as late as the third century of the Hegira, the city of Herat will afford a lively contrast of private zeal and public toleration.234 Under the payment of an annual tribute, the Mahometan law secured to the Ghebers of Herat their civil and religious liberties; but the recent and humble mosch was overshadowed by the antique splendour of the adjoining temple of fire. A fanatic Imam deplored, in his sermons, the scandalous neighbourhood, and accused the weakness or indifference of the faithful. Excited by his voice, the people assembled in tumult; the two houses of prayer were consumed by the flames, but the vacant ground was immediately occupied by the foundations of a new mosch. The injured Magi appealed to the sovereign of Chorasan; he promised justice and relief; when, behold! four thousand citizens of Herat, of a grave character and mature age, unanimously swore that the idolatrous fane had never existed; the inquisition was silenced, and their conscience was satisfied (says the historian Mirchond235 ) with this holy and meritorious perjury.236 But the greatest part of the temples of Persia were ruined by the insensible and general desertion of their votaries. It was insensible, since it is not accompanied with any memorial of time or place, of persecution or resistance. It was general, since the whole realm, from Shiraz to Samarcand, imbibed the faith of the Koran; and the preservation of the native tongue reveals the descent of the Mahometans of Persia.237 In the mountains and deserts, an obstinate race of unbelievers adhered to the superstition of their fathers; and a faint tradition of the Magian theology is kept alive in the province of Kirman, along the banks of the Indus, among the exiles of Surat, and in the colony, which, in the last century, was planted by Shaw Abbas at the gates of Ispahan. The chief pontiff has retired to Mount Elbourz, eighteen leagues from the city of Yezd; the perpetual fire (if it continue to burn) is inaccessible to the profane; but his residence is the school, the oracle, and the pilgrimage of the Ghebers, whose hard and uniform features attest the unmingled purity of their blood. Under the jurisdiction of their elders, eighty thousand families maintain an innocent and industrious life; their subsistence is derived from some curious manufactures and mechanic trades; and they cultivate the earth with the fervour of a religious duty. Their ignorance withstood the despotism of Shaw Abbas, who demanded with threats and tortures the prophetic books of Zoroaster; and this obscure remnant of the Magians is spared by the moderation or contempt of their present sovereigns.238
The northern coast of Africa is the only land in which the light of the gospel, after a long and perfect establishment, has been totally extinguished. The arts, which had been taught by Carthage and Rome, were involved in a cloud of ignorance; the doctrine of Cyprian and Augustine was no longer studied. Five hundred episcopal churches were overturned by the hostile fury of the Donatists, the Vandals, and the Moors. The zeal and numbers of the clergy declined; and the people, without discipline, or knowledge, or hope, submissively sunk under the yoke of the Arabian prophet. Within fifty years after the expulsion of the Greeks, a lieutenant of Africa informed the caliph that the tribute of the infidels was abolished by their conversion;239 and, though he sought to disguise his fraud and rebellion, his specious pretence was drawn from the rapid and extensive progress of the Mahometan faith. In the next age an extraordinary mission of five bishops was detached from Alexandria to Cairoan. They were ordained by the Jacobite patriarch to cherish and revive the dying embers of Christianity.240 But the interposition of a foreign prelate, a stranger to the Latins, an enemy to the Catholics, supposes the decay and dissolution of the African hierarchy. It was no longer the time when the successor of St. Cyprian, at the head of a numerous synod, could maintain an equal contest with the ambition of the Roman pontiff. In the eleventh century, the unfortunate priest who was seated on the ruins of Carthage, implored the arms and the protection of the Vatican; and he bitterly complains that his naked body had been scourged by the Saracens, and that his authority was disputed by the four suffragans, the tottering pillars of his throne. Two epistles of Gregory the Seventh241 are destined to soothe the distress of the Catholics and the pride of a Moorish prince. The pope assures the sultan that they both worship the same God and may hope to meet in the bosom of Abraham; but the complaints that three bishops could no longer be found to consecrate a brother, announces the speedy and inevitable ruin of the episcopal order. The Christians of Africa and Spain had long since submitted to the practice of circumcision and the legal abstinence from wine and pork; and the name of Mozarabes242 (adoptive Arabs) was applied to their civil or religious conformity.243 About the middle of the twelfth century, the worship of Christ and the succession of pastors were abolished along the coast of Barbary, and in the kingdoms of Cordova and Seville, of Valencia and Grenada.244 The throne of the Almohades, or Unitarians, was founded on the blindest fanaticism, and their extraordinary rigour might be provoked or justified by the recent victories and intolerant zeal of the princes of Sicily and Castile, of Arragon and Portugal. The faith of the Mozarabes was occasionally revived by the papal missionaries; and, on the landing of Charles the Fifth, some families of Latin Christians were encouraged to rear their heads at Tunis and Algiers. But the seed of the gospel was quickly eradicated, and the long province from Tripolito the Atlantic has lost all memory of the language and religion of Rome.245
After the revolution of eleven centuries, the Jews and Christians of the Turkish empire enjoy the liberty of conscience, which was granted by the Arabian caliphs. During the first age of the conquest, they suspected the loyalty of the Catholics, whose name of Melchites betrayed their secret attachment to the Greek emperor, while the Nestorians and Jacobites, his inveterate enemies, approved themselves the sincere and voluntary friends of the Mahometan government.246 Yet this partial jealousy was healed by time and submission; the churches of Egypt were shared with the Catholics;247 and all the Oriental sects were included in the common benefits of toleration. The rank, the immunities, the domestic jurisdiction, of the patriarchs, the bishops, and the clergy, were protected by the civil magistrate; the learning of individuals recommended them to the employments of secretaries and physicians; they were enriched by the lucrative collection of the revenue; and their merit was sometimes raised to the command of cities and provinces. A caliph of the house of Abbas was heard to declare that the Christians were most worthy of trust in the administration of Persia. “The Moslems,” said he, “will abuse their present fortune; the Magians regret their fallen greatness; and the Jews are impatient for their approaching deliverance.”248 But the slaves of despotism are exposed to the alternatives of favour and disgrace. The captive churches of the East have been afflicted in every age by the avarice or bigotry of their rulers; and the ordinary and legal restraints must be offensive to the pride or the zeal of the Christians.249 About two hundred years after Mahomet, they were separated from their fellow-subjects by a turban or girdle of a less honourable colour; instead of horses or mules, they were condemned to ride on asses, in the attitude of women. Their public and private buildings were measured by a diminutive standard; in the streets or the baths, it is their duty to give way or bow down before the meanest of the people; and their testimony is rejected, if it may tend to the prejudice of a true believer. The pomp of processions, the sound of bells or of psalmody, is interdicted in their worship; a decent reverence for the national faith is imposed on their sermons and conversations; and the sacrilegious attempt to enter a mosch or to seduce a Musulman will not be suffered to escape with impunity. In a time, however, of tranquillity and justice, the Christians have never been compelled to renounce the Gospel or to embrace the Koran; but the punishment of death is inflicted upon249a the apostates who have professed and deserted the law of Mahomet. The martyrs of Cordova provoked the sentence of the cadhi by the public confession of their inconstancy, or their passionate invectives against the person and religion of the prophet.250
At the end of the first century of the Hegira, the caliphs were the most potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. Their prerogative was not circumscribed, either in right or in fact, by the power of the nobles, the freedom of the commons, the privileges of the church, the votes of a senate, or the memory of a free constitution. The authority of the companions of Mahomet expired with their lives; and the chiefs or emirs of the Arabian tribes left behind, in the desert, the spirit of equality and independence. The regal and sacerdotal characters were united in the successors of Mahomet; and, if the Koran was the rule of their actions, they were the supreme judges and interpreters of that divine book. They reigned by the right of conquest over the nations of the East, to whom the name of liberty was unknown, and who were accustomed to applaud in their tyrants the acts of violence and severity that were exercised at their own expense. Under the last of the Ommiades, the Arabian empire extended two hundred days’ journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. And, if we retrench the sleeve of the robe, as it is styled by their writers, the long and narrow province of Africa, the solid and compact dominion from Fargana to Aden, from Tarsus to Surat, will spread on every side to the measure of four or five months of the march of a caravan.251 We should vainly seek the indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded the government of Augustus and the Antonines; but the progress of the Mahometan religion diffused over this ample space a general resemblance of manners and opinions. The language and laws of the Koran were studied with equal devotion at Samarcand and Seville: the Moor and the Indian embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca; and the Arabian language was adopted as the popular idiom in all the provinces to the westward of the Tigris.252
[1 ]See the description of the city and country of Al Yamanah, in Abulfeda, Descript. Arabiæ, p. 60, 61. In the xiiith century, there were some ruins and a few palms, but in the present century, the same ground is occupied by the visions and arms of a modern prophet, whose tenets are imperfectly known (Niebuhr, Description de l’Arabie, p. 296-302).
[2 ]Their first salutation may be transcribed, but cannot be translated. It was thus that Moseilama [Musailima is a mocking diminutive of Maslama] said or sung: —
The prophetess Segjah, after the fall of her lover, returned to idolatry; but, under the reign of Moawiyah, she became a Musulman, and died at Bassora (Abulfeda, Annal. vers. Reiske, p. 63). [The tradition that Musailima and Sejāh spent three days “in amorous converse” is found in Tabari (i. p 135-7, ed. Kosegarten), but seems to be refuted by the circumstance that Musailima was then more than a hundred years old; Weil, i. p. 22.]
[3 ]See this text, which demonstrates a God from the works of generation, in Abulpharagius (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 13, and Dynast. p. 103) and Abulfeda (Annal. p. 63).
[4 ]His reign in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 251; Elmacin, p. 18; Abulpharagius, p. 108; Abulfeda, p. 60; D’Herbelot, p. 58.
[5 ]His reign in Eutychius, p. 264; Elmacin, p. 24; Abulpharagius, p. 110; Abulfeda, p. 66; D’Herbelot, p. 686.
[6 ]His reign in Eutychius, p. 323; Elmacin, p. 36; Abulpharagius, p. 115; Abulfeda, p. 75; D’Herbelot, p. 695.
[7 ]His reign in Eutychius, p. 343; Elmacin, p. 51; Abulpharagius, p. 117; Abulfeda, p. 83; D’Herbelot, p. 89.
[8 ]His reign in Eutychius, p. 344; Elmacin, p. 54; Abulpharagius, p. 123; Abulfeda, p. 101; D’Herbelot, p. 586.
[9 ]Their reigns in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 360-395; Elmacin, p. 59-108; Abulpharagius, Dynast. ix. p. 124-139; Abulfeda, p. 111-141; D’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 691, and the particular article of the Ommiades. [It must be remembered that the writers from whom our accounts of the Omayyads come wrote in the interest of their supplanters, the Abbāsids. Cp. vol. viii. Appendix 1.]
[10 ]For the viith and viiith century, we have scarcely any original evidence of the Byzantine historians, except the Chronicles of Theophanes (Theophanis Confessoris Chronographia, Gr. et Lat. cum notis Jacobi Goar. Paris, 1655, in folio), and the Abridgment of Nicephorus (Nicephori Patriarchæ C. P. Breviarium Historicum, Gr. et Lat. Paris, 1648, in folio), who both lived in the beginning of the ixth century (see Hanckius de Scriptor. Byzant. p. 200-246). Their contemporary Photius does not seem to be more opulent. After praising the style of Nicephorus, he adds, Καὶ δλως πολλούς ἐστι τω̂ν πρὸ αὐτον̂ ἀποκρυπτόμενος τῃ̑δε τη̂ς ἱστορίας τῃ̑ συγγραϕῃ̑, and only complains of his extreme brevity (Phot. Bibliot. cod lxvi. p. 100). Some additions may be gleaned from the more recent histories of Cedrenus and Zonaras of the xiith century. [An earlier source than any, either Greek or Arabic, is the chronicle of John of Nikiu in an Ethiopic version. See vol. viii. Appendix 1.]
[11 ]Tabari, or Al Tabari, a native of Taborestan, a famous Imam of Bagdad, and the Livy of the Arabians, finished his general history in the year of the Hegira 302 ( 914). At the request of his friends, he reduced a work of 30,000 sheets to a more reasonable size. But his Arabic original is known only by the Persian and Turkish versions. The Saracenic history of Ebn Amid or Elmacin [Ibn al-Amīd al-Mekīn] is said to be an abridgment of the great Tabari (Ockley’s Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. preface, p. xxxix. and list of authors; d’Herbelot, p. 866, 870, 1014). [See vol. viii. Appendix 1.]
[12 ]Besides the list of authors framed by Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 179-189), Ockley (at the end of his second volume), and Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 525-550), we find, in the Bibliothèque Orientale Tarikh, a catalogue of two or three hundred histories or chronicles of the East, of which not more than three or four are older than Tabari. A lively sketch of Oriental literature is given by Reiske (in his Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifæ librum memorialem ad calcem Abulfedæ Tabulæ Syriæ, Lipsiæ, 1766); but his project and the French version of Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Timur Bec. tom. i. preface, p. xlv.) have fallen to the ground.
[13 ]The particular historians and geographers will be occasionally introduced. The four following titles represent the annals which have guided me in this general narrative: 1. Annales Eutychii, Patriarchæ Alexandrini, ab Edwardo Pocockio, Oxon. 1656, 2 vols. in 4to. A pompous edition of an indifferent author, translated by Pocock to gratify the Presbyterian prejudice of his friend Selden. 2. Historia Saracenica Georgii Elmacini, operâ et studio Thomae Erpini, in 4to, Lugd. Batavorum, 1625. He is said to have hastily translated a corrupt MS. and his version is often deficient in style and sense. 3. Historia compendiosa Dynastiarum a Gregorio Abulpharagio, interprete Edwardo Pocockio, in 4to, Oxon. 1663. More useful for the literary than the civil history of the East. 4. Abulfedæ Annales Moslemici ad Ann. Hegiræ ccccvi. a Jo. Jac. Reiske, in 4to, Lipsiæ, 1754. The best of our chronicles, both for the original and version, yet how far below the name of Abulfeda! We know that he wrote at Hamah, in the xivth century. The three former were Christians of the xth, xiith, and xiiith centuries; the two first, natives of Egypt, a Melchite patriarch and a Jacobite scribe.
[14 ]M. du Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. pref. p. xix. xx.) has characterised, with truth and knowledge, the two sorts of Arabian historians: the dry annalist and the tumid and flowery orator.
[15 ]Bibliothèque Orientale, par M. d’Herbelot, in folio, Paris, 1697. For the character of the respectable author, consult his friend Thévenot (Voyages du Levant, part i. chap. i.). His work is an agreeable miscellany, which must gratify every taste; but I never can digest the alphabetical order, and I find him more satisfactory in the Persian than the Arabic history. The recent supplement from the papers of MM. Visdelou and Galland (in folio, La Haye, 1779) is of a different cast, a medley of tales, proverbs, and Chinese antiquities.
[16 ]Pocock will explain the chronology (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 66-74), and d’Anville the geography (l’Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 125), of the dynasty of the Almondars [al-Mundhir]. The English scholar understood more Arabic than the mufti of Aleppo (Ockley, vol. ii. p. 34); the French geographer is equally at home in every age and every climate of the world. [The vassal state of Hira, which sprung from the camp of an Arab chief (as the name signifies), was perhaps founded about the middle of the third cent. , in the reign of Sapor I. Cp. Noldeke, Tabari, p. 25.]
[17 ][Hīra was allowed to remain Christian.]
[18 ]Fecit et Chaled plurima in hoc anno prœlia, in quibus vicerunt Muslimi, et infidelium immensâ multitudine occisâ spolia infinita et innumera sunt nacti (Hist. Saracenica, p. 20). The Christian annalist slides into the national and compendious term of infidels, and I often adopt (I hope without scandal) this characteristic mode of expression.
[19 ]A cycle of 120 years, at the end of which an intercalary month of 30 days supplied the use of our Bissextile, and restored the integrity of the solar year. In a great revolution of 1440 years, this intercalation was successively removed from the first to the twelfth month; but Hyde and Fréret are involved in a profound controversy, whether the twelve or only eight of these changes were accomplished before the era of Yezdegerd, which is unanimously fixed to the 16th of June, 632. How laboriously does the curious spirit of Europe explore the darkest and most distant antiquities! (Hyde, de Religione Persarum, c. 14-18, p. 181-211. Fréret in the Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xvi. p. 233-267). [The queen’s name was Azarmīdocht ( 631-2); and she is not to be confused with a previous female usurper, Bōrān ( 630-1). Cp. Nöldeke, Tabari, p. 433-4.]
[20 ]Nine days after the death of Mahomet (7th [8th] June, 632), we find the era of Yezdegerd (16th June, 632), and his accession cannot be postponed beyond the end of the first year. His predecessors could not therefore resist the arms of the caliph Omar, and these unquestionable dates overthrow the thoughtless chronology of Abulpharagius. See Ockley’s Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 130. [Eutychius states that Yezdegerd was aged fifteen at his accession; but Tabari (p. 399, ed. Nöldeke) states that he was only twenty-eight when he died ( 651-2), so that he would have been only eight at his accession.]
[21 ]Cadesia, says the Nubian geographer (p. 121), is in margine solitudinis, 61 leagues from Bagdad, and two stations from Cufa. Otter (Voyage, tom. i. p. 163) reckons 15 leagues, and observes that the place is supplied with dates and water. [For date of the battle of al-Kādisīya, cp. Appendix 5.]
[22 ][The day of Aghwāth (crying for succour) was the second day of the battle. Gibbon (following Abū-l-Fidā) omits the first day, called the day of Armāth. The day of Ghimās (concussion) was the third, the night of Harīr (yelping) the fourth. Tabari gives a chapter to each period, iii. p. 21 sqq. tr. Kosegarten; de Goeje’s Arabic text, i. 2285-2334; and calls the third day Imās (concealing).]
[23 ][The account of the death of Rustam given by Tabari is different and more authentic (tr. Zotenberg, iii. p. 396). “An Arab named Hilāl, approaching the treasure-laden camels of Rustam, struck at them with his sword, at a hazard. The stroke hit the camel on which Rustam was seated; for the darkness caused by the dart hindered him from seeing Rustam. The cord which tied the load of treasure to the camel was severed and the load fell on the head of Rustam, who notwithstanding the pain he experienced leapt on his feet and threw himself into the canal to save himself by swimming. Now in leaping he broke his leg and could not move. Hilāl ran to the spot, seized him by the leg, drew him out of the water and cut off his head, which he fastened to the point of his spear. Then he got up on the seat, and cried, ‘Moslems, I have slain Rustam.’ ” I have taken this from the Persian version of Tabari, to illustrate how it differs from the original Arabic, but I have shortened it somewhat. Tabari says there were two packets on the camel (mulo Kosegarten), and that one fell on Rustam and injured his spine; but says nothing of the leg being broken by the leap. Kosegarten, iii. p. 56; de Goeje, i. 2336-7.]
[24 ]Atrox, contumax, plus semel renovatum, are the well-chosen expressions of the translator of Abulfeda (Reiske, p. 69 [leg. i. 231]).
[25 ]D’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 297, [347 and] 348. [We read in Arabic sources that the standard was made of panthers’ skins. What is the authority for the blacksmith’s apron? See Rawlinson, Seventh Oriental Monarchy, p. 554.]
[26 ][The whole province of conquered Persia (with Kūfa as capital) was called Irāk, and was afterwards divided into two parts — Arabian Irāk and Persian Irāk. At present, the name Irāk is confined to a very small district near Kom.]
[27 ]The reader may satisfy himself on the subject of Bassora, by consulting the following writers: Geograph. Nubiens. p. 121; D’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 192; D’Anville, l’Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 130, 133, 145; Raynal, Hist. Philosophique des deux Indes, tom. ii. p. 92-100; Voyages di Pietro della Valle, tom. iv. p. 370-391; De Tavernier, tom. i. p. 240-247; De Thévenot, tom. ii. p. 545-584; D’Otter, tom. ii. p. 45-78; De Niebuhr, tom. ii. p. 172-199. [The modern Basra is some miles to the north-east of the old site.]
[28 ][Madāin probably fell more than a year after the battle of Cadesia, according to Tabari’s chronology. Cp. Muir, op. cit. p. 178 sqq.]
[29 ]Mente vix potest numerove comprehendi quanta spolia . . . nostris cesserint. Abulfeda, p. 69. Yet I still suspect that the extravagant numbers of Elmacin may be the error, not of the text, but of the version. The best translators from the Greek, for instance, I find to be very poor arithmeticians. [The translation here seems to be correct.]
[30 ]The camphire tree grows in China and Japan; but many hundredweight of those meaner sorts are exchanged for a single pound of the more precious gum of Borneo and Sumatra (Raynal, Hist. Philosoph. tom. i. p. 362-365. Dictionnaire d’Hist. Naturelle par Bomare. Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary). These may be the islands of the first climate from whence the Arabians imported their camphire (Geograph. Nub. p. 34, 35; d’Herbelot, p. 232).
[31 ]See Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 376, 377. I may credit the fact, without believing the prophecy.
[32 ]The most considerable ruins of Assyria [rather Babylonia] are the tower of Belus, at Babylon, and the hall of Chosroes, at Ctesiphon: they have been visited by that vain and curious traveller Pietro della Valle (tom. i. p. 713-718, 731-735). [On the tower of Belus see General Chesney’s Expedition for the Survey of the Euphrates and Tigris, vol. ii. p. 26. For an account of the ruins of Babylonia, ib. c. xix. p. 604 sqq.]
[33 ]Consult the article of Coufah in the Bibliothèque of d’Herbelot (p 277, 278), and the second volume of Ockley’s History, particularly p. 40 and 153.
[34 ]See the article of Nehavend in d’Herbelot, p. 667, 668, and Voyages en Turquie et en Perse, par Otter, tom. i. p. 191. [On the first danger of Madāīn, Yezdegerd fled to Holwān, a fortress in the hills, a hundred miles to the north-east of that city. A new army formed there advanced (autumn 637) to Jalūla, half-way on the road to Madāīn. Defeated there, Yezdegerd fled to Rayy (near the modern Teheran). The Moslems took Holwān and made it their outpost; there was to be no further advance into Persia, and the Saracens occupied themselves with completing their reduction of Mesopotamia. Omar laid down the principle that the limits of Arabian Irāk were to be the limits of Saracen conquest. But circumstances forced his hand. The governor of Bahrain, on the east coast of Arabia, crossed to Fārs and made an attack on Istakhr (Persepolis) without the caliph’s permission; and its failure encouraged the Persians in Khūzistān to renew hostilities. The outcome was that the Moslems of Basra and Kūfa were drawn into subjugating Khūzistān (including the towns of Ahwāz, Tustar, Rāmhurmuz, Sūs, Jundai-Sābūr). These events ( 638) convinced Omar that the only wise policy was to stamp out the Persian realm, and pursue Yezdegerd beyond its borders. After the great defeat of Nehavend (see text), Yezdegerd fled from Rayy to Ispahān, thence across Kirmān into Khurāsān. He reached Nishāpur, then Merv, then Merv-er-Rūd which lies four days to the south of Merv, then Balkh, from which place he sent appeals to Turkey and China. On their side, the Moslems, after the victory of Nehavend, subdued Hamadhān, Ispahān, and Rayy; and then their arms were carried in three directions: (1) into Adharbījān and northward towards the Caucasus; (2) into Khurāsān; Merv, Merv-er-Rūd, and Balkh were taken and the borders of Islām advanced to the Oxus or Jeihūn; (3) south-eastward (Fārs having been already ( 643) subdued by several generals and Istakhr taken) Kirmān was conquered (Tabari, p. 516; de Goeje’s text, i. 2703) and then Sijistān and Mekrān ( 644; Tabari, p. 518; de Goeje, i. 2705-6). The conquest of Khurāsān was carried out by Ahnaf ibn Kais.]
[35 ]It is in such a style of ignorance and wonder that the Athenian orator describes the Arctic conquests of Alexander, who never advanced beyond the shores of the Caspian, Ἀλέξανδρος ἔξω τη̂ς ἄρκτου καὶ τη̂ς οἰκουμένης, ὀλἱγου δεɩ̂ν πάσης μεθειστήκει. Æschines contra Ctesiphontem, tom. iii. p. 554, edit. Græc. Orator. Reiske. This memorable cause was pleaded at Athens, Olymp. cxii. 3 (before Christ 330), in the autumn (Taylor, præfat. p. 370, &c.), about a year after the battle of Arbela; and Alexander, in the pursuit of Darius, was marching towards Hyrcania and Bactriana.
[36 ]We are indebted for this curious particular to the Dynasties of Abulpharagius, p. 116; but it is needless to prove the identity of Estachar and Persepolis (d’Herbelot, p. 327), and still more needless to copy the drawings and descriptions of Sir John Chardin or Corneille le Bruyn.
[37 ][Cp. Tabari, iii. p. 503, tr. Zotenberg; de Goeje’s text, i. 2691. By “Segestans” are meant the people of Sijistān (or Sīstān).]
[38 ]After the conquest of Persia, Theophanes adds, αὐτῷ δὲ τῷ χρόνῳ ἐκέλευσεν Οὔμαρος ἀναγραϕη̂ναι πα̂σαν τὴν ὑπ’ αὐτὸν οὶκουμένην, ἔγενετο δὲ ὴ ἀναγραϕὴ καὶ ἀνθρώπων καὶ κτηνω̂ν καὶ ϕυτω̂ν (Chronograph. p. 283 [suba.m. 5131]).
[39 ]Amidst our meagre relations, I must regret that d’Herbelot has not found and used a Persian translation of Tabari, enriched, as he says, with many extracts from the native historians of the Ghebers or Magi (Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 1014). [It is now accessible in Zotenberg’s French translation, referred to in previous notes.]
[40 ]The most authentic accounts of the two rivers, the Sihon (Jaxartes) and the Gihon (Oxus), may be found in Sherif al Edrisi (Geograph. Nubiens. p 138), Abulfeda (Descript. Chorasan, in Hudson, tom. iii. p. 23), Abulghazi Khan, who reigned on their banks (Hist. Généalogique des Tatars, p. 32, 57, 766), and the Turkish Geographer, a MS. in the king of France’s library (Examen Critique des Historiens d’Alexandre, p. 194-360). [It should be remembered that the Oxus or Amu Darya (which now, like the Jaxartes or Syr Darya, flows into the Aral) then flowed into the Caspian. The course changed about 1573. Recently there have been thoughts of diverting it into its old course.]
[41 ][Tarkhan is not a proper name, but a Turkish title.]
[42 ]The territory of Fargana is described by Abulfeda, p. 76, 77. [There are two great gates between China and Western Asia, — north and south, respectively, of the Celestial Mountains. Farghana lies in front of the southern gate, through which a difficult route leads into the country of Kāshghar.]
[43 ]Eo redegit angustiarum eundem regem exsulem, ut Turcici regis, et Sogdiani, et Sinensis, auxilia missis literis imploraret (Abulfed. Annal. p. 74). The connection of the Persian and Chinese history is illustrated by Fréret (Mém. de l’Académie, tom. xvi. p. 245-255), and de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 54-59, and for the Geography of the borders, tom. ii. p. 1-43).
[44 ]Hist. Sinica, p. 41-46, in the iiird part of the Relations Curieuses of Thévenot. [The Tang dynasty, founded in 626, put an end to the long period of disintegration and anarchy which had prevailed in China since the fall of the Han dynasty ( 221).]
[45 ]I have endeavoured to harmonise the various narratives of Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 37), Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 116), Abulfeda (Annal. p. 74, 79), and d’Herbelot (p. 485). The end of Yezdegerd was not only unfortunate but obscure. [In Tabari the story is different. Yezdegerd obtains a night’s lodging from a miller, who, coveting his gold-embroidered dress, kills him with a hatchet; op. cit. iii. p. 505; cp. the Arabic text of de Goeje, i. 2690.]
[46 ]The two daughters of Yezdegerd married Hassan, the son of Ali, and Mohammed, the son of Abubeker; and the first of these was the father of a numerous progeny. The daughter of Phirouz became the wife of the caliph Walid, and their son Yezid derived his genuine or fabulous descent from the Chosroes of Persia, the Cæsars of Rome, and the Chagans of the Turks or Avars (d’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orientale, p. 96, 487).
[47 ]It was valued at 2000 pieces of gold, and was the prize of Obeidollah the son of Ziyād, a name afterwards infamous by the murder of Hosein (Ockley’s History of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 142, 143). His brother Salem was accompanied by his wife, the first Arabian woman ( 680) who passed the Oxus; she borrowed, or rather stole, the crown and jewels of the princess of the Sogdians (p. 231, 232). [The queen (khatun or “lady,” she is called) whose slippers enriched the son of Ziyād c. 674 was still alive and reigning more than 30 years later, when Kutaiba came to conquer her realm (Narshaki).]
[48 ]A part of Abulfeda’s Geography is translated by Greaves, inserted in Hudson’s collection of the minor Geographers (tom. iii.), and entitled Descriptio Chorasmiæ et Mawaralnahræ, id est, regionum extra fluvium, Oxum, p. 80. The name of Transoxiana, softer in sound, equivalent in sense, is aptly used by Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Gengiscan, &c.) and some modern Orientalists, but they are mistaken in ascribing it to the writers of antiquity. [For the conquest of Transoxiana, Tabari (see next note) gives the main thread. But we have a very important source, which has only recently been utilised, in a work of Narshaki of Bokhārā who wrote in 943, known through a Persian translation in possession of the Royal Asiatic Society. It is a topographical and historical description of Bokhārā, and has been used by A. Vámbéry for his History of Bokhārā, and by M. L. Cahun for his Introduction à l’Histoire de l’Asie (1896). The text was edited in 1892 by Schefer.]
[49 ][Mohammad ibn Kāsim was the able general who advanced beyond the Indus ( 709-714). Advancing through Mekrān (the subjugation of which country he completed), Mohammad captured the city of Daibal on the coast, a very difficult achievement, which created a great sensation. Then crossing the Indus he defeated an Indian army under a chief named Daher; and advancing northward on the left bank of the Indus took one after another the towns of Brahmanābād, Daur, Alor, Savendary, and finally reached the sacred city of Multān on the Hyphasis. This fell after a long siege. It is not quite correct to say (as in the text) that the Moslems appeared now for the first time on the banks of the Indus. In Moāwiya’s caliphate, Muhallab had advanced to the Indus from the side of Kābul. In the same caliphate, the conquest of Afghanistan and Baluchistan was completed; Kandahār was taken in the north and Cosdar in the south.]
[50 ]The conquests of Catibah are faintly marked by Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 84), d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. Catbah Samarcand Valid), and de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 58, 59). [They are fully recounted by Tabari. See Weil, i. p. 497 sqq. The expedition of the son of Ziyād against Bokhārā, which Gibbon mentions, took place in the caliphate of Moāwiya. In the same caliphate ( 676) Sad (son of caliph Othmān) seems to have advanced to Samarkand. See Weil, i p. 291. Kutaiba’s conquest of Transoxiana occupied him for ten years, as there were continual revolts. The province of Bokhārā was subjugated by 709; Samarkand was taken and occupied with a garrison in 712; and the province of Farghana was annexed in 713. In 715 Kutaiba was advancing or preparing to advance to Kāshghar; his ambassadors (it is said) were sent to treat with the “King of China,” when the news of the caliph’s death and fears for his own safety caused him to desist from further enterprises of conquest Under Sulaimān, the successor of Walid, the territories of Jurjān and Tabaristān (S.E. and S. of the Caspian) were subdued. Carizme (or Khwārizm; = the Khanate of Khiva) seems to have been first occupied under Yezid (680-3); and afterwards reconquered by Kutaiba.]
[51 ][In Transoxiana there was a mixed population of Iranians and White Huns (Ephthalites), who had been subdued by the Turks (see above, vol. vii. p 188-9), and still acknowledged the allegiance of the Chagan, but were under the immediate government of local princes (like the queen of Bokhārā, the tarkhan of Sogdiana). At the time of Kutaiba’s conquest, there was an insurrectionary movement in Transoxiana, of the poor against the rich. (Cp. Cahun, op. cit. p. 133-4) The Saracen conquerors most skilfully took advantage of the two elements of disunion — the race hatred between Irān and Tūrān, and the political faction; and Kutaiba’s conquest was due as much to intrigue as to force. It must also be observed that to the Nestorian Christians of Transoxiana, Islam (with its ancient history founded on the Jewish Scripture) was less obnoxious than fire-worship. The chief danger which Kutaiba had to fear was succour to the enemy from the Turks of Altai; and a Turkish force actually came in 706; but he managed, by playing upon the credulity of the tarkhan of Sogdiana, to get rid of the formidable warriors without fighting a battle. The conquest of Farghana cost more blows than the conquest of Sogdiana. Here the Saracens came into contact with the Tibetan Buddhists, who had recently revolted against the Emperor of China. Bands of these Tibetan mountaineers crossed the great southern pass to plunder in the lands of the Oxus and Jaxartes. They formed friendly relations with the Saracens, who in their turn reconnoitred in Kashgharia. It would have been a matter of great importance to the Saracens to hold the southern gate of China, and thus create and command a new route of commerce from east to west. But this would have taken away the occupation of the Turks, who had hitherto been the intermediates between China and Western Asia, holding the northern gate and hindering any one else from holding the southern. Accordingly the Turkish Chagan interfered, and forcibly recalled the Tibetans to their allegiance to the Emperor of China. The advance to Kāshghar, which was interrupted by the news of the caliph’s death (see last note), was clearly intended to wrest from China its south-western provinces, in conjunction with the allies of Tibet. — Some years later ( 724) another Turkish army was sent to Sogdiana and defeated 20,000 Moslems near Samarkand. The event is mentioned in an inscription recently found near Lake Kosho-Tsaidam and deciphered by Thomsen, — the earliest Turkish document known. The stone was erected by the Turkish Chagan in 733 in memory of his brother Kul; and this Kul won the victory near Samarkand. The inscription is bilingual — in Turkish and Chinese. See Radlov, Alttürkische Inschriften, cited above, in vol. iv. p. 540.]
[52 ]A curious description of Samarcand is inserted in the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 208, &c. The librarian Casiri (tom. ii. 9) relates, from credible testimony, that paper was first imported from China to Samarcand, a.h. 30, and invented, or rather introduced, at Mecca, a.h. 88. The Escurial library contains paper MSS. as old as the ivth or vth century of the Hegira.
[53 ]A separate history of the conquest of Syria has been composed by Al Wakidi, cadi of Bagdad, who was born 748, and died 822; he likewise wrote the conquest of Egypt, of Diarbekir, &c. Above the meagre and recent chronicles of the Arabians, Al Wakidi has the double merit of antiquity and copiousness. His tales and traditions afford an artless picture of the men and the times. Yet his narrative is too often defective, trifling, and improbable. Till something better shall be found, his learned and spirited interpreter (Ockley, in his History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 21-342) will not deserve the petulant animadversion of Reiske (Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifæ Tabulas, p. 236). I am sorry to think that the labours of Ockley were consummated in a jail (see his two prefaces to the 1st vol. 1708, to the 2nd, 1718, with the list of authors at the end). [See vol. viii. Appendix 1.]
[54 ]The instructions, &c. of the Syrian war are described by Al Wakidi and Ockley, tom. i. p. 22-27, &c. In the sequel it is necessary to contract, and needless to quote, their circumstantial narrative. My obligations to others shall be noticed.
[55 ]Notwithstanding this precept, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les Egyptiens, tom. ii. p. 192, edit. Lausanne) represents the Bedoweens as the implacable enemies of the Christian monks. For my own part, I am more inclined to suspect the avarice of the Arabian robbers, and the prejudices of the German philosopher.
[56 ]Even in the seventh century the monks were generally laymen; they wore their hair long and dishevelled, and shaved their heads when they were ordained priests. The circular tonsure was sacred and mysterious; it was the crown of thorns; but it was likewise a royal diadem, and every priest was a king, &c. (Thomassin, Discipline de l’Eglise, tom. i. p. 721-758, especially p. 737, 738). [Weil translates the last words of Abū Bekr’s speech very differently: “If you meet men who have their crowns shaven and the rest of their hair in long tresses, touch them only with the flat of the sword and go on your way in God’s name. God ward you in war and plague.” i. 10.]
[57 ]Huic Arabia est conserta, ex alio latere Nabathæis contigua; opima varietate commerciorum, castrisque oppleta validis et castellis, quæ ad repellendos gentium vicinarum excursus, solicitudo pervigil veterum per opportunos saltos erexit et cautos. Ammian. Marcellin. xiv. 8. Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 85, 86.
[58 ]With Gerasa and Philadelphia, Ammianus praises the fortifications of Bosra, firmitate cautissimas. They deserved the same praise in the time of Abulfeda (Tabul. Syriæ, p. 99), who describes this city, the metropolis of Hawran (Auranitis), four days’ journey from Damascus. The Hebrew etymology I learn from Reland, Palestin. tom. ii. p. 666.
[59 ][The accounts of the wonderful march of Khālid across the Syrian desert, by way of Dūma and Korākar and Tadmor, must be received with caution. The story of the taking of Busrā told in the text is taken from Ockley and has no good authority. Cp. Weil, i. 39; Muir, Early Caliphate, p. 101-3.]
[60 ]The apostle of a desert and an army was obliged to allow this ready succedaneum for water (Koran, c. iii. p. 66, c. v. p. 83); but the Arabian and Persian casuists have embarrassed his free permission with many niceties and distinctions (Reland, de Relig. Mohammed. l. i. p. 82, 83. Chardin, Voyages en Perse, tom. iv.).
[61 ]The bells rung! Ockley, vol. i. p. 38. Yet I much doubt whether this expression can be justified by the text of Al Wakidi, or the practice of the times. Ad Græcos, says the learned Ducange (Glossar. med. et infim. Græcitat. tom. i. p. 774), campanarum usus serius transit et etiamnum rarissimus est. The oldest example which he can find in the Byzantine writers is of the year 1040; but the Venetians pretend that they introduced bells at Constantinople in the ixth century. [When Mohammad said (acc. to the Traditions), “There is a devil in every bell,” he meant the bells worn by girls round their ankles. Cp. S. Lane-Poole, Speeches and Table-talk of the Prophet M., 168. The Christians of Arabia at that time called to church by beating a wooden stick with a rod.]
[62 ]Damascus is amply described by the Sherif al Edrisi (Geograph. Nub. p. 116, 117), and his translator, Sionita (Appendix, c. 4); Abulfeda (Tabula Syriæ, p. 100); Schultens (Index Geograph. ad Vit. Saladin.); d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 291); Thévenot (Voyage du Levant, part i. p. 688-698); Maundrell (Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 122-130); and Pocock (Description of the East, vol. ii. p. 117-127).
[63 ]Nobilissima civitas, says Justin. According to the Oriental traditions, it was older than Abraham or Semiramis. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. l. i. c. 6, 7, p. 24, 29, edit. Havercamp. Justin. xxxvi. 2.
[64 ]Ἔδει γὰρ οῑμαι τὴν Διὸς πόλιν ἀληθω̂ς, καὶ τη̂ς Ἑώας ἁπάσης ὀϕθαλμὸν, τὴν ἱερὰν καὶ μεγίστην Δάμασκον λἑγω, τοɩ̂ς τε ἄλλοις σύμπασιν οɩ̂̓ον ἱερω̂ν κάλλει, καὶ νεω̂ν μεγέθει, καὶ ὼρω̂ν εὐκαιρίᾳ καὶ πηγω̂ν ἀγλαίᾳ καὶ ποταμω̂ν πλήθει, καὶ γη̂ς εὐϕορίᾳ νικω̂σαν, &c. Julian, epist. xxiv. p. 392. These splendid epithets are occasioned by the figs of Damascus, of which the author sends an hundred to his friend Serapion, and this rhetorical theme is inserted by Petavius, Spanheim, &c. (p. 390-396) among the genuine epistles of Julian. [This is now generally recognised as spurious.] How could they overlook that the writer is an inhabitant of Damascus (he thrice affirms that this peculiar fig grows only παρ’ ἡμɩ̂ν), a city which Julian never entered or approached?
[65 ]Voltaire, who casts a keen and lively glance over the surface of history, has been struck with the resemblance of the first Moslems and the heroes of the Iliad; the siege of Troy and that of Damascus (Hist. Générale, tom. i. p. 348).
[66 ]These words are a text of the Koran, c. ix. 32, lxi. 8. Like our fanatics of the last century, the Moslems, on every familiar or important occasion, spoke the language of their scriptures; a style more natural in their mouths than the Hebrew idiom transplanted into the climate and dialect of Britain.
[67 ]The name of Werdan is unknown to Theophanes, and, though it might belong to an Armenian chief, has very little of a Greek aspect or sound. If the Byzantine historians have mangled the Oriental names, the Arabs, in this instance, likewise have taken ample revenge on their enemies. In transposing the Greek character from right to left, might they not produce, from the familiar appellation of Andrew, something like the anagram Werdan? [Werdan clearly represents Bardanes, an Armenian name. It is hard to understand what was in Gibbon’s mind when he proposed to explain Werdan as an anagrammatic corruption of the English Andrew. The Greek form, of which Andrew is a corruption, is Andreas.]
[68 ][Between Ramla (then Rama) and Bait Jibrin.]
[69 ][This Dhirār is a hero of the false Wākidi.]
[70 ][All this description of the engagement of Ajnādain is derived from the unhistorical account of “Wākidi.” For the chronology see Appendix 5.]
[71 ]Vanity prompted the Arabs to believe that Thomas was the son-in-law of the emperor. We know the children of Heraclius by his two wives; and his august daughter would not have married in exile at Damascus (see Ducange, Fam. Byzantin. p. 118, 119). Had he been less religious, I might only suspect the legitimacy of the damsel.
[72 ]Al Wakidi (Ockley, p. 101) says, “with poisoned arrows”; but this savage invention is so repugnant to the practice of the Greeks and Romans that I must suspect, on this occasion, the malevolent credulity of the Saracens.
[73 ]Abulfeda allows only seventy days for the siege of Damascus (Annal. Moslem. p. 67, vers. Reiske); but Elmacin, who mentions this opinion, prolongs the term to six months, and notices the use of balistæ by the Saracens (Hist. Saracen. p. 25, 32). Even this longer period is insufficient to fill the interval between the battle of Aiznadin (July, 633) and the accession of Omar (24 July, 634 [but see Appendix 5]), to whose reign the conquest of Damascus is unanimously ascribed (Al Wakidi, apud Ockley, vol. i. p. 115; Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 112, vers. Pocock). Perhaps, as in the Trojan war, the operations were interrupted by excursions and detachments, till the last seventy days of the siege.
[74 ]It appears from Abulfeda (p. 125) and Elmacin (p. 32) that this distinction of the two parts of Damascus was long remembered, though not always respected, by the Mahometan sovereigns. See likewise Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 379, 380, 383). [This division of Damascus had nothing to do with the attack of Khālid; it was in accordance with the stipulation already made in the treaty. The same arrangement was adopted in other towns too.]
[75 ]On the fate of these lovers, whom he names Phocyas and Eudocia, Mr. Hughes has built the siege of Damascus, one of our most popular tragedies, and which possesses the rare merit of blending nature and history, the manners of the times and the feelings of the heart. The foolish delicacy of the players compelled him to soften the guilt of the hero and the despair of the heroine. Instead of a base renegado, Phocyas serves the Arabs as an honourable ally; instead of prompting their pursuit, he flies to the succour of his countrymen, and, after killing Caled and Derar, is himself mortally wounded, and expires in the presence of Eudocia, who professes her resolution to take the veil at Constantinople. A frigid catastrophe! [This story of the pursuit of the exiles depends on the authority of the false Wākidi only. The tragedy of J. Hughes was published in 1720.]
[76 ]The towns of Gabala and Laodicea, which the Arabs passed, still exist in a state of decay (Maundrell, p. 11, 12. Pocock, vol. ii. p. 14). Had not the Christians been overtaken, they must have crossed the Orontes on some bridge in the sixteen miles between Antioch and the sea, and might have rejoined the high road of Constantinople at Alexandria. The itineraries will represent the directions and distances (p. 146, 148, 581, 582, edit. Wesseling).
[77 ][Gibbon omits to mention the battle of Fihl (Pella), won over a Greek army towards the end of the summer of 635. Cp. Bilādhurī, ap. Weil, iii. Anh. zum ersten Bande, p. i.]
[78 ]Dair Abil Kodos. After retrenching the last word, the epithet holy. I discover the Abila of Lysanias [Abil as-Sūk] between Damascus and Heliopolis; the name (Abil signifies a vineyard [?]) concurs with the situation to justify my conjecture (Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 317, tom. ii. p. 525, 527).
[79 ]I am bolder than Mr. Ockley (vol. i. p. 164), who dares not insert this figurative expression in the text, though he observes, in a marginal note, that the Arabians often borrow their similes from that useful and familiar animal. The reindeer may be equally famous in the songs of the Laplanders.
This word, so formidable in their holy wars, is a verb active (says Ockley in his Index) of the second conjugation from Kabbara, which signifies saying Alla Acbar, God is most mighty!
[81 ]In the Geography of Abulfeda, the description of Syria, his native country, is the most interesting and authentic portion. It was published in Arabic and Latin, Lipsiæ, 1766, in quarto, with the learned notes of Kochler and Reiske, and some extracts of geography and natural history from Ibn Ol Wardii. Among the modern travels, Pocock’s description of the East (of Syria and Mesopotamia, vol. ii. p. 88-209) is a work of superior learning and dignity; but the author too often confounds what he had seen and what he had read.
[82 ]The praises of Dionysius are just and lively. Καὶ τὴν μὲν (Syria) πολλοί τε καὶ ὄλβιοι ἄνδρες ἔχουσιν (in Periegesi, v. 902, in tom. iv. Geograph. Minor. Hudson). In another place he styles the country πολύπτολιν αɩ̂̓αν (v. 898). He proceeds to say,
This poetical geographer lived in the age of Augustus, and his description of the world is illustrated by the Greek commentary of Eustathius, who paid the same compliments to Homer and Dionysius (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. l. iv. c. 2. tom. iii. p. 21, &c.). [The date of Dionysius is still disputed, but he probably wrote under Hadrian, and certainly at Alexandria. See Leue’s article in Philologus, 42, 175 sqq.]
[83 ]The topography of the Libanus and Anti-Libanus is excellently described by the learning and sense of Reland (Palestin. tom. i. p. 311-326).
These verses of the Latin version of Rufus Avienus [1084 sqq.] are wanting in the Greek original of Dionysius; and, since they are likewise unnoticed by Eustathius, I must, with Fabricius (Bibliot. Latin. tom. iii. p. 153, edit. Ernesti), and against Salmasius (ad Vopiscum, p. 366, 367, in Hist. August.), ascribe them to the fancy rather than the MSS. of Avienus.
[85 ]I am much better satisfied with Maundrell’s slight octavo (Journey, p. 134-139) than with the pompous folio of Doctor Pocock (Description of the East, vol. ii. p. 100-113); but every preceding account is eclipsed by the magnificent description and drawings of MM. Dawkins and Wood, who have transported into England the ruins of Palmyra and Baalbec.
[86 ]The Orientals explain the prodigy by a never-failing expedient. The edifices of Baalbec were constructed by the fairies or the genii (Hist. de Timour Bec, tom. iii. l. v. c. 23, p. 311, 312. Voyage d’Otter, tom. i. p. 83). With less absurdity, but with equal ignorance, Abulfeda and Ibn Chaukel ascribe them to the Sabæans or Aadites. Non sunt in omni Syriâ ædificia magnificentiora his (Tabula Syriæ, p. 103).
[87 ][Ockley, whom Gibbon is following, places the occupation of Emesa and Heliopolis early in 637, vol. i. p. 181, 191.]
[88 ]I have read somewhere in Tacitus, or Grotius, Subjectos habent tanquam suos, viles tanquam alienos. Some Greek officers ravished the wife, and murdered the child, of their Syrian landlord; and Manuel smiled at his undutiful complaint.
[89 ]See Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 272, 283, tom. ii. p. 773, 775. This learned professor was equal to the task of describing the Holy Land, since he was alike conversant with Greek and Latin, with Hebrew and Arabian literature. The Yermuk, or Hieromax, is noticed by Cellarius (Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii. p. 392), and D’Anville (Géographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 185). The Arabs, and even Abulfeda himself, do not seem to recognise the scene of their victory. [For the chronology see Appendix 5. The battle was fought in the plain of Wākūsa, perhaps 40 miles above the junction of the Yermūk with the Jordan, and about 30 miles east of Gadara, close to where the military road from Damascus to Palestine crosses the river. See Muir, op. cit. p. 99.]
[90 ]These women were of the tribe of the Hamyarites, who derived their origin from the ancient Amalekites. Their females were accustomed to ride on horseback, and to fight like the Amazons of old (Ockley, vol. i. p. 67).
[91 ]We killed of them, says Abu Obeidah to the caliph, one hundred and fifty thousand, and made prisoners forty thousand (Ockley, vol. i. p. 241). As I cannot doubt his veracity nor believe his computation, I must suspect that the Arabic historians indulged themselves in the practice of composing speeches and letters for their heroes.
[92 ]After deploring the sins of the Christians, Theophanes adds (Chronograph. p. 276 [a.m. 6121]): ἀνέστη ὁ ἑρημικὸς [leg. ἐρημικώτατος] Ἀμαλὴκ τύπτων ὴμα̂ς τὸν λαὸν τον̂ Χριστον̂ καὶ γίνεται πρώτῃ ϕορᾳ̑ [leg πρώτη ϕοβερὰ] πτω̂σις τον̂ Ρωμαικον̂ στρατον̂ ἡ κατὰ τὸ [leg. τὸν] Γαβιθὰν λέγω (does he mean Aiznadin?) καὶ Ἱερμουχὰν, καὶ τὴν ἄθεσμον [leg. Δάθεσμον, a fort in Palestine; cp. Latin version of Anastasius, and text of de Boor] αἱματοχυσίαν [leg. αἰμοχυσία]. His account is brief and obscure, but he accuses the numbers of the enemy, the adverse wind, and the cloud of dust; μὴ δυνηθέντες (the Romans) ἀντιπροσωπη̂σαι [leg. ἀντωπη̂σαι] ἐχθροɩ̂ς διὰ τὸν κονιορτόν, ἡττω̂νται, καὶ ὲαυτοὺς βάλλοντες εἰς τὰς στενόδους τον̂ Ἱερμογθον̂ [leg. Ἱερομουχθα̂] ποταμον̂ ἐκεɩ̂ ἀπώλοντο ἄρδην (Chronograph. p. 280 [a.m. 6126]).
[93 ]See Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 70, 71), who transcribes the poetical complaint of Jabalah himself, and some panegyrical strains of an Arabian poet, to whom the chief of Gassan sent from Constantinople a gift of five hundred pieces of gold by the hands of the ambassador of Omar.
[94 ]In the name of the city, the profane prevailed over the sacred; Jerusalem was known to the devout Christians (Euseb. de Martyr. Palest. c. xi.); but the legal and popular appellation of Ælia (the colony of Ælius Hadrianus) has passed from the Romans to the Arabs (Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 207, tom. ii. p. 835; d’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, Cods, p. 269, Ilia, p. 420). The epithet of Al Cods, the Holy, is used as the proper name of Jerusalem.
[95 ]The singular journey and equipage of Omar are described (besides Ockley, vol. i. p. 250) by Murtadi (Merveilles de l’Egypte, p. 200-202).
[96 ]The Arabs boast of an old prophecy preserved at Jerusalem, and describing the name, the religion, and the person of Omar, the future conqueror. By such arts the Jews are said to have soothed the pride of their foreign masters, Cyrus and Alexander (Joseph. Ant. Jud. l. xi. c. 1, 8, p. 547, 579-582).
[97 ]Τὸ βδέλυγμα τη̂ς ἐρημώσεως τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τον̂ προϕήτου ἑστὼς [leg. ἑστὸς] ἐν τόπῳἁγίῳ. Theophan. Chronograph. p. 281 [a.m. 6127]. This prediction, which had already served for Antiochus and the Romans, was again refitted for the present occasion, by the œconomy of Sophronius, one of the deepest theologians of the Monothelite controversy.
[98 ]According to the accurate survey of D’Anville (Dissertation sur l’ancienne Jerusalem, p. 42-54), the mosch of Omar, enlarged and embellished by succeeding caliphs, covered the ground of the ancient temple (παλαιὸντον̂ μεγάλου ναον̂ δάπεδον, says Phocas), a length of 215, a breadth of 172, toises. The Nubian geographer declares that this magnificent structure was second only in size and beauty to the great mosch of Cordova (p. 113), whose present state Mr. Swinburne has so elegantly represented (Travels into Spain, p. 296-302).
[99 ]Of the many Arabic tarikhs or chronicles of Jerusalem (d’Herbelot, p. 867), Ockley found one among the Pocock MSS. of Oxford (vol. i. p. 257), which he has used to supply the defective narrative of Al Wakidi.
[100 ][Antioch and Aleppo had fallen along with Epiphania, Laodicea, and Chalcis in 636 (after the fall of Emesa). But the Romans made an attempt to recover North Syria in 638; most of these towns received them with open arms; and it was with this revolt that Abū Obaida and Khālid had now to cope.]
[101 ]The Persian historian of Timur (tom. iii. l. v. c. 21, p. 300) describes the castle of Aleppo as founded on a rock one hundred cubits in height; a proof, says the French translator, that he had never visited the place. It is now in the midst of the city, of no strength, with a single gate, the circuit is about 500 or 600 paces, and the ditch half full of stagnant water (Voyages de Tavernier, tom. i. p. 149. Pocock, vol. ii. part i. p. 150). The fortresses of the East are contemptible to an European eye.
[102 ]The date of the conquest of Antioch by the Arabs is of some importance. By comparing the years of the world in the chronography of Theophanes with the years of the Hegira in the history of Elmacin, we shall determine that it was taken between January 23d and September 1st, of the year of Christ 638 (Pagi, Critica, in Baron. Annal. tom. ii. p. 812, 813). Al Wakidi (Ockley, vol. i. p. 314) assigns that event to Tuesday, August 21st, an inconsistent date; since Easter fell that year on April 5th, the 21st of August must have been a Friday (see the Tables of the Art de Vérifier les Dates). [But see above, p. 163, n. 100.]
[103 ]His bounteous edict, which tempted the grateful city to assume the victory of Pharsalia for a perpetual era, is given ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τῃ̑ μητροπόλει, ἱερᾳ̑ καὶ ἀσύλῳ καὶ αὐτονόμῳ καὶ ἀρχούσῃ καὶ προκαθημένῃ τη̂ς ἀνατολη̂ς. John Malala, in Chron. p. 91, edit. Venet. [p. 216, ed. Bonn]. We may distinguish his authentic information of domestic facts from his gross ignorance of general history.
[104 ]See Ockley (vol. i. p. 308, 312), who laughs at the credulity of his author. When Heraclius bade farewell to Syria, Vale Syria et ultimum vale, he prophesied that the Romans should never re-enter the province till the birth of an inauspicious child, the future scourge of the empire. Abulfeda, p. 68. I am perfectly ignorant of the mystic sense, or nonsense, of this prediction.
[105 ][Theophanes gives 642 (suba.m. 6133) as date of capture of Cæsarea. Ibn Abd al Hakam places it in the year of the death of Heraclius (a.h. 20, 641). John of Nikiu (tr. Zotenberg, p. 569) mentions the capture of Kīlūnās as synchronous with events in Egypt of 641, but it is gratuitous to identify this mysterious place with Cæsarea. Kīlūnās is far more likely to be a corruption of Ascalon (and this conjecture may be supported by al-Bilādhurī, p. ii. ap. Weil, loc. cit.).]
[106 ]In the loose and obscure chronology of the times, I am guided by an authentic record (in the book of ceremonies of Constantine Porphyrogenitus) which certifies that, June 4, 638, the emperor crowned his younger son Heraclius [or Heraclonas] in the presence of his eldest Constantine, and in the palace of Constantinople; that January 1, 639, the royal procession visited the great church, and, on the 4th of the same month, the hippodrome. [Bk. ii. c. 27, 28; p. 627-9, ed. Bonn. The flight of Heraclius is probably to be placed in 636; cp. Weil, op. cit. p. 79. Theophanes places it in 633.]
[107 ][The name Ramlah is of later date (8th cent.); at the time of the conquest the name was Rama.]
[108 ]Sixty-five years before Christ, Syria Pontusque monumenta sunt Cn. Pompeii virtutis (Vell. Patercul. ii. 38), rather of his fortune and power, he adjudged Syria to be a Roman province, and the last of the Seleucides were incapable of drawing a sword in defence of their patrimony (see the original texts collected by Usher, Annal. p. 420).
[109 ]Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p. 73. Mahomet could artfully vary the praises of his disciples. Of Omar he was accustomed to say that, if a prophet could arise after himself, it would be Omar; and that in a general calamity Omar would be excepted by the divine justice (Ockley, vol. i. p. 221).
[110 ]Al Wakidi had likewise written an history of the conquest of Diarbekir, or Mesopotamia (Ockley, at the end of the iid vol.), which our interpreters do not appear to have seen. [The text has been published by Ewald: Liber Wakedii de Mesopotamiae expugnatae historia, Göttingen, 1827] The Chronicle of Dionysius of Telmar, the Jacobite patriarch, records the taking of Edessa, 637, and of Dara, 641 (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 103), and the attentive may glean some doubtful information from the Chronography of Theophanes (p. 285-287). Most of the towns of Mesopotamia yielded by surrender (Abulpharag. p. 112). [The chronicle of Dionysius of Tellmahrē (Patriarch of Antioch 818-845) reached down to the year 775; the later part of it has never been published.]
[111 ]He dreamed that he was at Thessalonica, an harmless and unmeaning vision; but his soothsayer, or his cowardice, understood the sure omen of a defeat concealed in that inauspicious word θὲς ἄλλῳ νίκην, Give to another the victory (Theophan. p. 286 [leg. 287; a.m. 6146]. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 88 [c. 19]).
[112 ]Every passage and every fact that relates to the isle, the city, and the colossus of Rhodes, are compiled in the laborious treatise of Meursius, who has bestowed the same diligence on the two larger islands of Crete and Cyprus. See in the iiird vol. of his works, the Rhodus of Meursius (l. i. c. 15, p. 715-719) [cp. especially Pliny, Nat. Hist., 34, 18]. The Byzantine writers, Theophanes and Constantine, have ignorantly prolonged the term to 1360 years, and ridiculously divide the weight among 30,000 camels. [See Mr. C. Torr’s Rhodes in Ancient Times, p. 96-7. He observes: “The twenty tons of metal would not load more than 90 camels.”]
[113 ]Centum colossi alium nobilitaturi locum [colossi centum numero, sed ubicumque singuli fuissent nobilitaturi locum], says Pliny, with his usual spirit. Hist. Natur. xxxiv. 18.
[114 ]We learn this anecdote from a spirited old woman, who reviled to their faces the caliph and his friend. She was encouraged by the silence of Amrou and the liberality of Moawiyah (Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p. 111).
[115 ]Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 46, &c., who quotes the Abyssinian history, or romance, of Abdel Balcides. Yet the fact of the embassy and ambassador may be allowed.
[116 ]This saying is preserved by Pocock (Not. ad Carmen Tograi, p. 184), and justly applauded by Mr. Harris (Philosophical Arrangements, p. 350).
[117 ]For the life and character of Amrou, see Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 28, 63, 94, 328, 342, 344, and to the end of the volume; vol. ii. p. 51, 55, 57, 74, 110-112, 162) and Otter (Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 131, 132). The readers of Tacitus may aptly compare Vespasian and Mucianus with Moawiyah and Amrou. Yet the resemblance is still more in the situation than in the characters of the men.
[118 ]Al Wakidi had likewise composed a separate history of the conquest of Egypt, which Mr. Ockley could never procure; and his own inquiries (vol. i. p. 344-362) have added very little to the original text of Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 296-323, vers. Pocock), the Melchite patriarch of Alexandria, who lived three hundred years after the revolution.
[119 ]Strabo, an accurate and attentive spectator, observes of Heliopolis, νυνὶ μὲν οὐν ἐστι πανέρημος ἡ πόλις (Geograph. l. xvii. p. 1158 [1, § 27]), but of Memphis he declares, πόλις δ’ ἐστι μεγάλη τε καὶ εὔανδρος δευτέρα μετ’ Ἀλεξανδρείαν (p. 1161 [ib § 32]); he notices, however, the mixture of inhabitants and the ruin of the palaces. In the proper Egypt, Ammianus enumerates Memphis among the four cities, maximis urbibus quibus provincia nitet (xxii. 16), and the name of Memphis appears with distinction in the Roman Itinerary and Episcopal lists.
[120 ]These rare and curious facts, the breadth (2946 feet) and the bridge of the Nile, are only to be found in the Danish traveller and the Nubian geographer (p. 98).
[121 ]From the month of April, the Nile begins imperceptibly to rise; the swell becomes strong and visible in the moon after the summer solstice (Plin. Hist. Nat. v. 10), and is usually proclaimed at Cairo on St. Peter’s day (June 29). A register of thirty successive years marks the greatest height of the waters between July 25 and August 18 (Maillet, Description de l’Egypte, lettre xi. p. 67, &c. Pocock’s Description of the East, vol. i. p. 200. Shaw’s Travels, p. 383).
[122 ]Murtadi, Merveilles de l’Egypte, p. 243-259. He expatiates on the subject with the zeal and minuteness of a citizen and a bigot, and his local traditions have a strong air of truth and accuracy.
[123 ]D’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 233.
[123a ][The river has receded towards the west. On the different sites included in Cairo and “Old Misr” see Lane, Cairo fifty years ago (1896), ch i. and x; and S. Lane-Poole, Art of the Saracens in Egypt, p. 4-9. Memphis is about fourteen miles south of Cairo.]
[124 ]The position of New and of Old Cairo is well known, and has been often described. Two writers who were intimately acquainted with ancient and modern Egypt, have fixed, after a learned inquiry, the city of Memphis at Gizeh, directly opposite the old Cairo (Sicard, Nouveaux Mémoires des Missions du Levant, tom. vi. p. 5, 6. Shaw’s Observations and Travels, p. 296-304). Yet we may not disregard the authority or the arguments of Pocock (vol. i. p. 25-41), Niebuhr (Voyage, tom. i. 77-106), and, above all, of D’Anville (Description de l’Egypte, p. 111, 112, 130-149), who have removed Memphis towards the village of Mohannah, some miles farther to the south. In their heat, the disputants have forgot that the ample space of a metropolis covers and annihilates the far greater part of the controversy.
[125 ]See Herodotus, l. iii. c. 27, 28, 29. Ælian. Hist. Var. l. iv. c. 8. Suidas in Ὤχος, tom. ii. p. 774. Diodor. Sicul. tom. ii. l. xvii. p. 197 [c. 49], edit. Wesseling, Τω̂ν Περσω̂ν ἠσεβηκότων είς τὰ ἱερά, says the last of these historians.
[126 ]Mokawkas sent the prophet two Coptic damsels [see above, p. 88], with two maids and one eunuch, an alabaster vase, an ingot of pure gold, oil, honey, and the finest white linen of Egypt, with an horse, a mule, and an ass, distinguished by their respective qualifications. The embassy of Mahomet was despatched from Medina in the seventh year of the Hegira ( 88). See Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 255, 256, 303), from Al Jannabi. [For Mokawkas or al-Mukaukis see Appendix 4.]
[127 ][And also a not oppressive property tax. Cp. Weil, i. p. 110, 111.]
[128 ]The prefecture of Egypt, and the conduct of the war, had been trusted by Heraclius to the patriarch Cyrus (Theophan. p. 280, 281 [suba.m. 6126]). “In Spain,” said James II., “do you not consult your priests?” “We do,” replied the Catholic ambassador, “and our affairs succeed accordingly.” I know not how to relate the plans of Cyrus, of paying tribute without impairing the revenue, and of converting Omar by his marriage with the emperor’s daughter (Nicephor. Breviar. p. 17, 18).
[129 ]See the life of Benjamin, in Renaudot (Hist. Patriarch. Alexandrin. p. 156-172), who has enriched the conquest of Egypt with some facts from the Arabic text of Severus, the Jacobite historian.
[130 ]The local description of Alexandria is perfectly ascertained by the master hand of the first of geographers (d’Anville, Mémoire sur l’Egypte, p. 52-63), but we may borrow the eyes of the modern travellers, more especially of Thévenot (Voyage au Levant, part i. p. 381-395), Pocock (vol. i. p. 2-13), and Niebuhr (Voyage en Arabie, tom. i. p. 34-43). Of the two modern rivals, Savary and Volney, the one may amuse, the other will instruct. [For the topography of Alexandria see Puchstein’s art. in Paulys Realencyclopadie der class. Altertumswissenschaft, vol. i. p. 1376 sqq. (1894), and G. Lumbroso’s L’Egitto (1895).]
[131 ][There seems to be no early authority for this anecdote.]
[132 ]Both Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 319) and Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 28) concur in fixing the taking of Alexandria to Friday of the new moon of Moharram of the twentieth year of the Hegira (December 22, 640). In reckoning backwards fourteen months spent before Alexandria, seven months before Babylon, &c. Amrou might have invaded Egypt about the end of the year 638, but we are assured that he entered the country the 12th of Bayni, 6th of June (Murtadi, Merveilles de l’Egypte, p. 164. Severus, apud Renaudot, p. 162). The Saracen, and afterwards Lewis IX. of France, halted at Pelusium, or Damietta, during the season of the inundation of the Nile. [For date see Appendix 5.]
[133 ]Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 316, 319. [Alexandria capitulated, see Tabari, iii. p. 463; John of Nikiu, ch. 121. Al-Bilādhurī, like Eutychius, has the false statement that it was stormed. Cp. Mr. E. W. Brooks in Byz. Zeitsch. iv. p. 443.]
[134 ]Notwithstanding some inconsistencies of Theophanes and Cedrenus, the accuracy of Pagi (Critica, tom. ii. p. 824) has extracted from Nicephorus and the Chronicon Orientale the true date of the death of Heraclius, February 11th, 641, fifty days after the loss of Alexandria. A fourth of that time was sufficient to convey the intelligence. [Alexandria fell nine months after his death (Appendix 5).]
[135 ]Many treatises of this lover of labour (ϕιλόπονος) are still extant; but for readers of the present age the printed and unpublished are nearly in the same predicament. Moses and Aristotle are the chief objects of his verbose commentaries, one of which is dated as early as May 10th, 617 (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. ix. p. 458-468). A modern (John Le Clerc), who sometimes assumed the same name, was equal to old Philoponus in diligence, and far superior in good sense and real knowledge. [The story founders on the chronology. John Philoponus lived in the early part of the sixth century. Cp. Krumbacher, Gesch. der byz. Litteratur, p. 581.]
[136 ]Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 114, vers. Pocock. [The story is also given by another late authority, Abd al Latīf.] Audi quid factum sit et mirare. It would be endless to enumerate the moderns who have wondered and believed, but I may distinguish with honour the rational scepticism of Renaudot (Hist. Alex. Patriarch. p. 170): historia . . . habet aliquid ἄπιστον ut Arabibus familiare est. [For Abulfaragius or Bar-Hebraeus, see vol. viii. Appendix 1.]
[137 ]This curious anecdote will be vainly sought in the annals of Eutychius and the Saracenic history of Elmacin [and the histories of Tabari and Ibn Abd al Hakam who was resident in Egypt]. The silence of Abulfeda, Murtadi, and a crowd of Moslems is less conclusive from their ignorance of Christian literature.
[138 ]See Reland, de Jure Militari Mohammedanorum, in his iiird volume of Dissertations, p. 37. The reason for not burning the religious books of the Jews or Christians is derived from the respect that is due to the name of God.
[139 ]Consult the collections of Frensheim [Freinshemius] (Supplement. Livian. c. 12, 43) and Usher (Annal. p. 469). Livy himself had styled the Alexandrian library, elegantiæ regum curæque egregium opus: a liberal encomium, for which he is pertly criticised by the narrow stoicism of Seneca (De Tranquillitate Animi, c. 9), whose wisdom, on this occasion, deviates into nonsense.
[140 ]See this History, vol. v. p. 87.
[141 ]Aulus Gellius (Noctes Atticæ, vi. 17), Ammianus Marcellinus (xxii. 16), and Orosius (l. vi. c. 15). They all speak in the past tense, and the words of Ammianus are remarkably strong, fuerunt Bibliothecæ innumerabiles [leg. inaestimabiles]; et loquitur monumentorum veterum concinens fides, &c. [Cp. also the expression of John Philoponus (in his commentary on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, p. iv. a, ed. Venice, 1536) as to 40 books of Analytics found “in the old libraries”; and there is a similar remark in Ammonius. The silence of the early authorities, both Greek and Arabic, is the main argument for Gibbon’s scepticism as to the burning of the Alexandrian “library” by Omar’s orders. The silence of the chronicles of Theophanes and Nicephorus does not count for much, as they are capricious and unaccountable in their selection of facts. The silence of Tabari and Ibn Abd al Hakam is more important, but not decisive. Of far greater weight is the silence of the contemporary John of Nikiu, who gives a very full account of the conquest of Egypt. Weil supports Gibbon, while St. Martin, among others, has defended the statement of Abulfaragius. For the two libraries at Alexandria, and the evidence of Orosius, see above, vol. v. Appendix 3. It should be noticed perhaps that the expression of Abulfaragius is not “library” but “libri philosophici qui in gazophylaciis regiis reperiuntur” (tr. Pocock, p. 114). But Abd al Latif (ed. Silvestre de Sacy, p. 183) speaks of “the library which Amr burned with Omar’s permission.” — The origin of the story is perhaps to be sought in the actual destruction of religious books in Persia. Ibn Khaldūn, as quoted by Hājji Khalīfa (apud de Sacy, op. cit. p. 241), states that Omar authorised some Persian books to be thrown into the water, basing his decision on the same dilemma, which, according to Abulfaragius, he enunciated to Amr. It is quite credible that books of the Fire-worshippers were destroyed by Omar’s orders; and this incident might have originated legends of the destruction of books elsewhere.]
[142 ]Renaudot answers for versions of the Bible, Hexapla Catenæ Patrum Commentaries, &c. (p. 170). Our Alexandrian MS., if it came from Egypt and not from Constantinople or Mount Athos (Wetstein, Prolegom. ad N. T. p. 8, &c.), might possibly be among them.
[143 ]I have often persued with pleasure a chapter of Quintilian (Institut. Orator. x. 1), in which that judicious critic enumerates and appreciates the series of Greek and Latin classics.
[144 ]Such as Galen, Pliny, Aristotle, &c. On this subject Wotton (Reflections on ancient and modern Learning, p. 85-95) argues with solid sense against the lively exotic fancies of Sir William Temple. The contempt of the Greeks for Barbaric science would scarcely admit the Indian or Æthiopic books into the library of Alexandria; nor is it proved that philosophy has sustained any real loss from their exclusion.
[145 ]This curious and authentic intelligence of Murtadi (p. 284-289) has not been discovered either by Mr. Ockley or by the self-sufficient compilers of the Modern Universal History.
[146 ]Eutychius, Annal. tom. ii. p. 320. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 35.
[147 ]On these obscure canals, the reader may try to satisfy himself from d’Anville (Mém. sur l’Egypte, p. 108-110, 124, 132), and a learned thesis maintained and printed at Strasburg in the year 1770 (Jungendorum marium fluviorumque molimina, p. 39-47, 68-70). Even the supine Turks have agitated the old project of joining the two seas (Mémoires du Baron de Tott, tom. iv.). [The canal from Bubastis to the Red Sea was begun by Necho and finished by Darius. Having become choked up with sand, it was cleared by Ptolemy II. and again by Trajan. The canal of Amr, beginning at Babylon, ran north to Bilbeis, then east to Heroopolis, and then southward, reaching the Red Sea at Kulzum (Suez). John of Nikiu states that the Moslems compelled the Egyptians to execute the work of clearing the “Canal of Trajan,” tr. Zotenberg, p. 577.]
[148 ]A small volume, des Merveilles, &c. de l’Egypte, composed in the xiiith century by Murtadi of Cairo, and translated from an Arabic MS. of Cardinal Mazarin, was published by Pierre Vatier, Paris, 1666. The antiquities of Egypt are wild and legendary; but the writer deserves credit and esteem for his account of the conquest and geography of his native country (see the correspondence of Amrou and Omar, p. 279-289). [For the correspondence of Amr and Omar recorded by Ibn Abd al Hakam, see Weil, i. p. 124 sqq.]
[149 ]In a twenty years’ residence at Cairo, the consul Maillet had contemplated that varying scene, the Nile (lettre ii. particularly p. 70, 75); the fertility of the land (lettre ix.). From a college at Cambridge, the poetic eye of Gray had seen the same objects with a keener glance: —
[150 ]Murtadi, p. 164-167. The reader will not easily credit an human sacrifice under the Christian emperors, or a miracle of the successors of Mahomet.
[151 ]Maillet, Description de l’Egypte, p. 22. He mentions this number as the common opinion; and adds that the generality of these villages contain two or three thousand persons, and that many of them are more populous than our large cities.
[152 ]Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 308, 311. The twenty millions are computed from the following data: one twelfth of mankind above sixty, one third below sixteen, the proportion of men to women as seventeen to sixteen (Recherches sur la Population de la France, p. 71, 72). The president Goguet (Origine des Arts, &c. tom. iii. p. 26, &c.) bestows twenty-seven millions on ancient Egypt, because the seventeen hundred companions of Sesostris were born on the same day.
[153 ]Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 218; and this gross lump is swallowed without scruple by d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 1031), Arbuthnot (Tables of Ancient Coins, p. 262), and De Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 135). They might allege the not less extravagant liberality of Appian in favour of the Ptolemies (in præfat.), of seventy-four myriads 740,000 talents, an annual income of 185, or near 300, millions of pounds sterling, according as we reckon by the Egyptian or the Alexandrian talent (Bernard de Ponderibus Antiq. p. 186).
[154 ]See the measurement of d’Anville (Mém. sur l’Egypte, p. 23, &c.). After some peevish cavils, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les Egyptiens, tom. i. p. 118-121) can only enlarge his reckoning to 2250 square leagues.
[155 ]Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexand. p. 334, who calls the common reading or version of Elmacin error librarii. [Elmacin gives 300,300,000.] His own emendation of 4,300,000 pieces, in the ixth century, maintains a probable medium between the 3,000,000 which the Arabs acquired by the conquest of Egypt (idem, p. 168), and the 2,400,000 which the sultan of Constantinople levied in the last century (Pietro della Valle, tom. i. p. 352 [p. 219 in French translation]; Thévenot, part i. p. 824). Pauw (Recherches, tom. ii. p. 365-373) gradually raises the revenue of the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, and the Cæsars, from six to fifteen millions of German crowns.
[156 ]The list of Schultens (Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit. Saladin. p. 5) contains 2396 places; that of d’Anville (Mém. sur l’Egypte, p. 29), from the divan of Cairo, enumerates 2696.
[157 ]See Maillet (Description de l’Egypte, p. 28), who seems to argue with candour and judgment. I am much better satisfied with the observations than with the reading of the French consul. He was ignorant of Greek and Latin literature, and his fancy is too much delighted with the fictions of the Arabs. Their best knowledge is collected by Abulfeda (Descript. Ægypt. Arab. et Lat. a Joh. David Michaelis, Gottingæ, in 4to, 1776), and in two recent voyages into Egypt we are amused by Savary and instructed by Volney. I wish the latter could travel over the globe.
[158 ]My conquest of Africa is drawn from two French interpreters of Arabic literature, Cardonne (Hist. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, tom. i. p. 8-55), and Otter (Mém de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 111-125, and 136). They derive their principal information from Novairi, who composed, 1331, an Encyclopædia in more than twenty volumes. The five general parts successively treat of, 1. Physics, 2. Man, 3. Animals, 4. Plants, and 5. History; and the African affairs are discussed in the vith chapter of the vth section of this last part (Reiske, Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifæ Tabulas, p. 232-234). Among the older historians who are quoted by Novairi, we may distinguish the original narrative of a soldier who led the van of the Moslems. [The work of Novairi (see Baron de Slane’s translation, Journal Asiatique, 1841, and App. to tome i. of his transl. of Ibn Khaldūn, p. 313 sqq.) is marked by many romantic and legendary details. It is safer to adhere to the briefer notices of the older ninth-century writers, especially Bilādhurī (see references in Journal Asiat., 1844) and Ibn Abd al Hakam (see extract in Journal Asiat., ib., and App. to Slane’s Ibn Khaldūn, p. 301-12), and use with caution both Novairi and Ibn Khaldūn (whose History of the Berbers and Musulman dynasties of North Africa has been translated by the Baron de Slane, 1852-6, 4 vols.). Ibn Khaldūn (14th century) used Novairi; and Novairi used Bilādhurī, and Ibn al Athīr, among other sources. Ibn Kutaiba has also some important notices (see Gayangos, History of the Mohammedan dynasties in Spain, 1840, vol. i. App. E), and Al Bakri (see Slane, in Journal Asiat., 1858). The French conquest of Algiers and occupation of Tunis have led to some valuable studies on this period: Fournel, Les Berbers: Etudes sur la conquête de l’Afrique par les Arabes, 1881; Mercier, Hist. de l’Afrique septentrionale, 1888-91; Diehl, Bk. v. in L’Afrique Byzantine, 1896. Besides these, we have Weil, Amari (Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, first chapters of vol. i.), Roth’s Oqba ibn Nafi, 1859, Tauxier’s Le patrice Gregorius (Rev. Africaine in 1885).]
[159 ][Amr however had already rendered Barca tributary and reduced Tripoli and Sabrata in 642-3 or 643-4 (according to Ibn Abd al Hakam, ap. Slane’s Ibn Khaldūn, p. 302-3. See Weil, i. p. 124). Omar decided against a further advance westward.]
[160 ]See the history of Abdallah in Abulfeda (Vit. Mohammed. p. 109) and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 45-48).
[161 ]The province and city of Tripoli are described by Leo Africanus (in Navigatione et Viaggi di Ramusio, tom. i. Venetia, 1550, fol. 76, verso), and Marmol (Description de l’Afrique, tom. ii. p. 562). The first of these writers was a Moor, a scholar, and a traveller, who composed or translated his African geography in a state of captivity at Rome, where he had assumed the name and religion of Pope Leo X. [His work has been recently edited for the Hakluyt Soc. by Dr. R. Brown.] In a similar captivity among the Moors, the Spaniard Marmol, a soldier of Charles V., compiled his Description of Africa, translated by d’Ablancourt into French (Paris, 1667, 3 vols in 4to). Marmol had read and seen, but he is destitute of the curious and extensive observation which abounds in the original work of Leo the African.
[162 ]Theophanes, who mentions the defeat, rather than the death, of Gregory. He brands the prefect with the name of Τύραννος; he had probably assumed the purple (Chronograph. p. 285 [suba.m. 6139]). [There is no doubt that Gregory revolted against Constans and was proclaimed emperor. Cp. Ibn Abd al Hakam (loc. cit. p. 304), who speaks of him as “a king named Jorejīr (or Jirjīr) who had at first administered the country as lieutenant of Heraclius, but had then revolted against his master and struck dinārs with his own image. His authority extended from Tripoli to Tangier.” He was very popular in Africa, as a champion of orthodoxy against Monotheletism, and protected the Abbot Maximus. See Migne, Patr. Gr. 91, p. 354. He was also supported by the Berbers (cf. Theoph. loc. cit.), and he fixed his residence at the inland city of Sufetula, which had a strong citadel.]
[163 ]See in Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 45) the death of Zobeir, which was honoured with the tears of Ali, against whom he had rebelled. His valour at the siege of Babylon, if indeed it be the same person, is mentioned by Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 308).
[164 ][Novairi, apud Slane’s Ibn Khaldūn, i. p. 319.]
[165 ]Shaw’s Travels, p. 118, 119. [For Sufetula (Sbaitla), an important centre of roads, see Saladin’s Rapport on a mission to Tunis in Nouv Arch. des Missions, i. 1893. The plan of the site is given in Diehl’s l’Afrique Byzantine, p. 278.]
[166 ]Mimica emptio, says Abulfeda, erat hæc, et mira donatio; quandoquidem Othman, ejus nomine nummos ex ærario prius ablatos ærario præstabat (Annal. Moslem. p. 78). Elmacin (in his cloudy version, p. 39) seems to report the same job. When the Arabs besieged the palace of Othman, it stood high in their catalogue of grievances.
[167 ][Ibn Abd al Hakam (loc. cit. p. 306) gives another story about the daughter of Gregory. She fell to the lot of a man of Medina. He placed her on a camel and returned with her improvising these verses: —
She “asked what this dog meant; and having learned the meaning of the words threw herself from the camel and broke her neck.”]
[168 ]Ἐπεστράτευσαν Σαρακηνοὶ τὴν Ἀϕρικὴν, καὶ συμβαλόντες τῷ τυράννῳ Γρηγορίῳ τον̂τον τρέπουσι καὶ τοὺς σὺν αὐτῷ κτέννουσι καὶ στοιχήσαντες ϕόρους μετὰ τω̂ν Ἀϕρων ὑπέστρε ψαν. Theophan. Chronograph. p. 285, edit. Paris [a.m. 6139]. His chronology is loose and inaccurate. [Some words have accidentally fallen out in this passage after κτέννουσι and are preserved in the translation of Anastasius: et hunc ab Africa pellunt (de Boor supplies καὶ τον̂τον Ἀϕρικη̂ς ἀπελαύνουσιν). This implies that Gregory was not slain, cp. above, note 162. Diehl justly remarks that he must not be identified with Gregory the nephew of Heraclius who died in 651-2; op. cit. p. 559; but does not question the statement (of Arabic sources, e g. Ibn Abd al Hakam, loc. cit. p. 304) that he was slain at Sbaitla. The details of the battle given in the text depend chiefly on the doubtful authority of Novairi.]
[169 ][This is presumably a misprint for Patrician.]
[170 ][Moāwiya ibn Hudaīj.]
[171 ]Theophanes (in Chronograph. p. 293 [a.m. 6161]) inserts the vague rumours that might reach Constantinople, of the Western conquests of the Arabs; and I learn from Paul Warnefrid, deacon of Aquileia (de Gestis Langobard. l. v. c. 13), that at this time they sent a fleet from Alexandria into the Sicilian and African seas. [The army of 30,000 was sent over from Sicily by the Emperor Constans.]
[172 ][Not imaginary. North Africa is full of the remains of Byzantine citadels. Cp. above, vol. vii. p. 58, note 111.]
[173 ]See Novairi (apud Otter, p. 118), Leo Africanus (fol. 81, verso), who reckons only cinque citta e infinite casale, Marmol (Description de l’Afrique, tom. iii. p. 33), and Shaw (Travels, p. 57, 65-68).
[174 ]Leo African. fol. 58, verso; 59, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 415. Shaw, p. 43.
[175 ]Leo African. fol. 52. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 228.
[176 ]Regio ignobilis, et vix quicquam illustre sortita, parvis oppidis habitatur parva flumina emittit, solo quam viris melior et segnitie gentis obscura. Pomponius Mela, i. 5, iii. 10. Mela deserves the more credit, since his own Phœnician ancestors had migrated from Tingitana to Spain (see, in ii. 6, a passage of that geographer so cruelly tortured by Salmasius, Isaac Vossius, and the most virulent of critics, James Gronovius). He lived at the time of the final reduction of that country by the emperor Claudius: yet almost thirty years afterwards Pliny (Hist. Nat. v. 1) complains of his authors, too lazy to inquire, too proud to confess their ignorance of that wild and remote province.
[177 ]The foolish fashion of this citron-wood prevailed at Rome among the men, as much as the taste for pearls among the women. A round board or table, four or five feet in diameter, sold for the price of an estate (latifundii taxatione), eight, ten, or twelve thousand pounds sterling (Plin. Hist. Natur. xiii. 29). I conceive that I must not confound the tree citrus with that of the fruit citrum. But I am not botanist enough to define the former (it is like the wild cypress) by the vulgar or Linnæan name; nor will I decide whether the citrum be the orange or the lemon. Salmasius appears to exhaust the subject, but he too often involves himself in the web of his disorderly erudition (Plinian. Exercitat. tom. ii. p. 666, &c.).
[178 ]Leo African. fol. 16, verso; Marmol, tom. ii. p. 28. This province, the first scene of the exploits and greatness of the cherifs, is often mentioned in the curious history of that dynasty at the end of the iiird volume of Marmol, Description de l’Afrique. The iiird volume of the Recherches Historiques sur les Maures (lately published at Paris) illustrates the history and geography of the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco. [It is doubtful whether Okba really reached Tangier and the Atlantic. Weil rejects the story; vol. i. p. 288.]
[179 ]Otter (p. 119) has given the strong tone of fanaticism to this exclamation, which Cardonne (p. 37) has softened to a pious wish of preaching the Koran. Yet they had both the same text of Novairi before their eyes.
[180 ][Novairi, loc. cit. p. 334-6.]
[181 ]The foundation of Cairoan is mentioned by Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 129, 130); and the situation, mosch, &c. of the city are described by Leo Africanus (fol. 75), Marmol (tom. ii. p. 532), and Shaw (p. 115). [Kairawān means main body of an army, and hence the camp where it halted. Cp. Ibn Abd al Hakam in Journ. Asiat., Nov. 1844, p. 360 (or, ap. Slane’s Ibn Khaldūn, i. p. 305); also Ibn Khallikān, i. 35, trans. Slane]
[182 ]A portentous, though frequent, mistake has been the confounding, from a slight similitude of name, the Cyrene of the Greeks, and the Cairoan of the Arabs, two cities which are separated by an interval of a thousand miles along the sea-coast. The great Thuanus has not escaped this fault, the less excusable as it is connected with a formal and elaborate description of Africa (Historiar. l. vii. c. 2, in tom. i. p. 240, edit. Buckley). [The mistake has been reiterated recently in Butcher’s Church of Egypt, 1897.]
[183 ][After the death of Okba, the chief power in North Africa fell into the hands of the Berber chief Kuseila, who obtained possession of Kairawān. Throughout the reign of Heraclius the indigenous tribes of Northern Africa had been growing more and more independent of the Imperial government, which owing to the struggles in the East was unable to attend to Africa. The shock of the Saracen invasion of 647 had the effect of increasing this independence. Against the subsequent Saracen attacks, the natives joined hands with the Imperial troops, and Kuseila organised a confederation of native tribes. It was against this Berber chief that the military efforts of Zuhair were directed. A battle was fought in the plain of Mamma (in Byzacena) and Kuseila was slain. His death broke up the Berber confederation, and restored the leading position in Africa to the Patrician of Carthage. It also increased the importance of another Berber potentate, the Aurasian queen Kāhina; who joined forces with the Imperial army to oppose the invasion of Hasan. See below.]
[184 ]Beside the Arabic chronicles of Abulfeda, Elmacin, and Abulpharagius, under the seventy-third year of the Hegira, we may consult d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 7) and Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 339-349). The latter has given the last and pathetic dialogue between Abdallah and his mother; but he forgot a physical effect of her grief for his death, the return, at the age of ninety, and fatal consequences, of her menses.
[185 ]Λεόντιος . . . ἄπαντα τὰ Ῥωμαικὰ ἐξώπλισε πλόϊμα στρατηγόν τε ἐπ’ αὐτοɩ̂ς Ἱωάννην τὸν Πατρίκιον [[Editor: illegible Greek character]ς] ἔμπειρον τω̂ν πολεμίων προχειρισάμενος πρὸς Καρχηδόνα κατὰ τω̂ν Σαρακηνω̂ν ὲξὲπεμψεν. Nicephori Constantinoplitani Breviar. p. 28 [p. 35, ed. de Boor]. The patriarch of Constantinople, with Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 309 [a. m. 6190]), have slightly mentioned this last attempt for the relief of Africa. Pagi (Critica, tom. iii. p. 129, 141) has nicely ascertained the chronology by a strict comparison of the Arabic and Byzantine historians, who often disagree both in time and fact. See likewise a note of Otter (p. 121).
[186 ]Dove s’ erano ridotti i nobili Romani e i Gotti; and afterwards, i Romani suggirono e i Gotti, lasciarono Carthagine (Leo African. fol. 72, recto). I know not from what Arabic writer the African derived his Goths; but the fact, though new, is so interesting and so probable, that I will accept it on the slightest authority.
[187 ]This commander is styled by Nicephorus Βασιλεὺς Σαρακηνω̂ν, a vague though not improper definition of the caliph. Theophanes introduces the strange appellation of Πρωτοσύμβουλος, which his interpreter Goar explains by Visir Azem. They may approach the truth, in assigning the active part to the minister, rather than the prince; but they forgot that the Ommiades had only a kateb, or secretary, and that the office of Vizir was not revived or instituted till the 132nd year of the Hegira (d’Herbelot, p. 912).
[188 ]According to Solinus (l. 27 [leg. c. 30], p. 36, edit. Salmas.), the Carthage of Dido stood either 677 or 737 years: a various reading, which proceeds from the difference of MSS. or editions (Salmas. Plinian. Exercit. tom. i. p. 228). The former of these accounts, which gives 823 years before Christ, is more consistent with the well-weighed testimony of Vellerus Paterculus; but the latter is preferred by our chronologists (Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 398) as more agreeable to the Hebrew and Tyrian annals.
[189 ]Leo African. fol. 71, verso; 72, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 445-447. Shaw, p. 80.
[190 ]The history of the word Barbar may be classed under four periods: 1. In the time of Homer, when the Greeks and Asiatics might probably use a common idiom, the imitative sound of Barbar was applied to the ruder tribes, whose pronunciation was most harsh, whose grammar was most defective. Κα̂ρες βαρβαρόϕωνοι (Iliad ii. 867, with the Oxford scholiast Clarke’s Annotation, and Henry Stephens’s Greek Thesaurus, tom. i. p. 720). 2. From the time, at least, of Herodotus, it was extended to all the nations who were strangers to the language and manners of the Greeks. 3. In the age of Plautus, the Romans submitted to the insult (Pompeius Festus, l. ii. p. 48, edit. Dacier) and freely gave themselves the name of Barbarians. They insensibly claimed an exemption for Italy and her subject provinces; and at length removed the disgraceful appellation to the savage or hostile nations beyond the pale of the empire. 4. In every sense, it was due to the Moors; the familiar word was borrowed from the Latin provincials by the Arabian conquerors, and has justly settled as a local denomination (Barbary) along the northern coast of Africa. [In Moorish history, the Berbers (Moors proper) are clearly distinguished from the Arabs who ruled, and were afterwards mastered by, them.]
[191 ][Novairi (loc. cit. p. 340) says that the battle was fought on the banks of the stream Nini (which flows into the lake Guerrat el Tarf near Bagai). Ibn Abd al Hakam says: near a river which is now called the river of destruction. Cp. Weil, i. p. 474.]
[192 ][Mūsā seems to have succeeded Hasan in 704. See A. Müller, Der Islam im Morgen- und Abendlande, i. p. 422. Weil adopts the date 698 given by Ibn Kutaiba.]
[193 ]The first book of Leo Africanus and the observations of Dr. Shaw (p. 220, 223, 227, 247, &c.) will throw some light on the roving tribes of Barbary, of Arabian or Moorish descent. But Shaw had seen these savages with distant terror; and Leo, a captive in the Vatican, appears to have lost more of his Arabic, than he could acquire of Greek or Roman, learning. Many of his gross mistakes might be detected in the first period of the Mahometan history.
[194 ]In a conference with a prince of the Greeks, Amrou observed that their religion was different; upon which score it was lawful for brothers to quarrel. Ockley’s History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 328.
[195 ]Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p. 78, vers. Reiske.
[196 ]The name of Andalusia [al-Andalus] is applied by the Arabs not only to the modern province, but to the whole peninsula of Spain (Geograph. Nub. p. 151; d’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 114, 115). The etymology has been most improbably deduced from Vandalusia, country of the Vandals (d’Anville, Etats de l’Europe, p. 146, 147, &c.). But the Handalusia of Casiri, which signifies in Arabic, the region of the evening, of the West, in a word the Hesperia of the Greeks, is perfectly apposite (Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 327, &c.). [The derivation of Andalusia is an unsolved problem.]
[197 ][There is a serious mistake here. The fortress of Septem (Ceuta) did not belong to the Visigothic King, but to the Roman Emperor; Count Julian was an Imperial not a Gothic general. It seems probable that, as Dozy conjectures, the governor of Septem received the title of Exarch after the fall of Carthage. It seems too that some posts on the coast of Spain were still retained by the Empire — perhaps reconquered since the reign of Suinthila (see above, vol. vii p. 122, n. 56). Cp Dozy, Recherches sur l’histoire et la litt. de l’Espagne, i. p. 64 sqq.; Isidore Pacensis, 38 (in Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. 96); and Life of St. Gregory of Agrigentum, in Patr. Græc. vol. 98, p. 685, 697.]
[198 ]The fall and resurrection of the Gothic monarchy are related by Mariana (tom. i. p. 238-260, l. vi. c. 19-26, l vii c. 1, 2). That historian has infused into his noble work (Historiæ de Rebus Hispaniæ, libri xxx. Hagæ Comitum 1733, in four volumes in folio, with the Continuation of Miniana) the style and spirit of a Roman classic; and, after the xiith century, his knowledge and judgment may be safely trusted. But the Jesuit is not exempt from the prejudices of his order; he adopts and adorns, like his rival Buchanan, the most absurd of the national legends; he is too careless of criticism and chronology, and supplies from a lively fancy the chasms of historical evidence These chasms are large and frequent: Roderic, archbishop of Toledo, the father of the Spanish history, lived five hundred years after the conquest of the Arabs; and the more early accounts are comprised in some meagre lines of the blind chronicles of Isidore of Badajoz (Pacensis), and of Alphonso III. king of Leon, which I have seen only in the Annals of Pagi. [The chronicle of Isidorus Pacensis (reaching from 610 to 754 ) is printed in Migne’s Patr. Lat., vol. 98, p. 1253 sqq.]
[199 ]Le viol (says Voltaire) est aussi difficile à faire qu’à prouver. Des Evêques se seroient-ils ligués pour une fille? (Hist. Générale, c. xxvi.). His argument is not logically conclusive.
[200 ]In the story of Cava, Mariana (l. vi. c. 21, p. 241, 242) seems to vie with the Lucretia of Livy. Like the ancients, he seldom quotes; and the oldest testimony of Baronius (Annal. Eccles. 713, No. 10), that of Lucas Tudensis, a Gallician deacon of the xiiith century, only says, Cava quam pro concubinâ utebatur.
[201 ]The Orientals, Elmacin, Abulpharagius, Abulfeda, pass over the conquest of Spain in silence, or with a single word. The text of Novairi and the other Arabian writers is represented, though with some foreign alloy, by M. de Cardonne (Hist. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, Paris, 1765, 3 vols. in 12mo, tom. i. p. 55-114) and more concisely by M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 347-350). [Novairi’s account — in which he follows the older historian Ibn al-Athīr — will be found in Slane’s translation in Journ. Asiat., 1841, p. 564 sqq.] The librarian of the Escurial has not satisfied my hopes; yet he appears to have searched with diligence his broken materials; and the history of the conquest is illustrated by some valuable fragments of the genuine Razis (who wrote at Corduba, a.h. 300), of Ben Hazil, &c. See Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32, 105, 106, 182, 252, 319-332. On this occasion, the industry of Pagi has been aided by the Arabic learning of his friend the Abbé de Longuerue, and to their joint labours I am deeply indebted. [See Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne (1861), vol. 2; Recherches sur l’histoire et la littérature de l’Espagne (1860). Lembke’s Geschichte Spaniens, Burke’s History of Spain, and S. Lane-Poole’s sketch of the “Moors in Spain,” contain accounts of the conquest. A translation of a large part of a voluminous work of Al Makkari, by P. de Gayangos, with very valuable notes, appeared in 1840 (2 vols.). The Arabic text has been critically edited by W. Wright. As Al Makkari lived in the seventeenth century his compilation has no independent authority.]
[202 ][That is, horses.]
[203 ]A mistake of Roderic of Toledo, in comparing the lunar years of the Hegira with the Julian years of the Era, has determined Baronius, Mariana, and the crowd of Spanish historians to place the first invasion in the year 713, and the battle of Xeres in November 714. This anachronism of three years has been detected by the more correct industry of modern chronologists, above all, of Pagi (Critica, tom. iii. p. 169, 171-174), who have restored the genuine state of the revolution. At the present time an Arabian scholar, like Cardonne, who adopts the ancient error (tom. i. p. 75), is inexcusably ignorant or careless.
[204 ]The Era of Cæsar, which in Spain was in legal and popular use till the xivth century, begins thirty-eight years before the birth of Christ. I would refer the origin to the general peace by sea and land, which confirmed the power and partition of the triumvirs (Dion Cassius, l. xlviii. p. 547 [c. 28], 553 [c. 36]. Appian de Bell. Civil. l. v. p. 1034, edit. fol. [c. 72]). Spain was a province of Cæsar Octavian; and Tarragona, which raised the first temple to Augustus (Tacit. Annal. i. 78), might borrow from the Orientals this mode of flattery.
[205 ]The road, the country, the old castle of Count Julian, and the superstitious belief of the Spaniards of hidden treasures, &c. are described by Père Labat (Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, tom. i. p. 207-217) with his usual pleasantry.
[206 ]The Nubian Geographer (p. 154) explains the topography of the war; but it is highly incredible that the lieutenant of Musa should execute the desperate and useless measure of burning his ships. [The derivation of “Gibraltar” seems doubtful, though commonly accepted.]
[207 ]Xeres (the Roman colony of Asta Regia) is only two leagues from Cadiz. In the xvith century it was a granary of corn; and the wine of Xeres is familiar to the nations of Europe (Lud. Nonii Hispania, c. 13, p. 54-56, a work of correct and concise knowledge; d’Anville, Etats de l’Europe, &c. p. 154). [The battle was fought on the banks of the Wādi Bekka, now called the Salado, on July 19. See Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne, ii. 34.]
[208 ]Id sane infortunii regibus pedem ex acie referentibus sæpe contingit. Ben Hazil of Grenada, in Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 327. Some credulous Spaniards believe that King Roderic, or Roderigo, escaped to an hermit’s cell; and others, that he was cast alive into a tub full of serpents, from whence he exclaimed, with a lamentable voice, “they devour the part with which I have so grievously sinned” (Don Quixote, part ii. l. iii. c. i.).
[209 ]The direct road from Corduba to Toledo was measured by Mr. Swinburne’s mules in 72½ hours; but a larger computation must be adopted for the slow and devious marches of an army. The Arabs traversed the province of La Mancha, which the pen of Cervantes has transformed into classic ground to the reader of every nation.
[210 ]The antiquities of Toledo, Urbs Parva in the Punic wars, Urbs Regia in the vith century, are briefly described by Nonius (Hispania, c. 59, p. 181-186). He borrows from Roderic the fatale palatium of Moorish portraits; but modestly insinuates that it was no more than a Roman amphitheatre.
[211 ]In the Historia Arabum (c. 9, p. 17, ad calcem Elmacin) Roderic of Toledo describes the emerald tables, and inserts the name of Medinat Almeyda in Arabic words and letters. He appears to be conversant with Mahometan writers; but I cannot agree with M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 350), that he had read and transcribed Novairi; because he was dead an hundred years before Novairi composed his history. This mistake is founded on a still grosser error. M. de Guignes confounds the historian Roderic Ximenes, archbishop of Toledo in the xiiith century, with Cardinal Ximenes, who governed Spain in the beginning of the xvith, and was the subject, not the author, of historical compositions.
[212 ]Tarik might have inscribed on the last rock the boast of Regnard and his companions in their Lapland journey, “Hic tandem stetimus, nobis ubi defuit orbis.”
[213 ]Such was the argument of the traitor Oppas, and every chief to whom it was addressed did not answer with the spirit of Pelagius: Omnis Hispania dudum sub uno regimine Gothorum, omnis exercitus Hispaniæ in uno congregatus Ismaelitarum non valuit sustinere impetum. Chron. Alphonsi Regis apud Pagi, tom. iii. p. 177.
[214 ]The revival of the Gothic kingdom in the Asturias is distinctly, though concisely, noticed by d’Anville (Etats de l’Europe, p. 159).
[215 ]The honourable relics of the Cantabrian war (Dion Cassius, l. liii. p. 720 [c. 26]) were planted in this metropolis of Lusitania, perhaps of Spain (submittit cui tota suos Hispania fasces). Nonius (Hispania, c. 31, p. 106-110) enumerates the ancient structures, but concludes with a sigh: Urbs hæc olim nobilissima ad magnam incolarum infrequentiam delapsa est et præter priscæ claritatis ruinas nihil ostendit.
[216 ]Both the interpreters of Novairi, de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 349) and Cardonne (Hist. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne, tom. i. p. 93, 94, 104, 105), lead Musa into the Narbonnese Gaul. But I find no mention of this enterprise either in Roderic of Toledo or the MSS. of the Escurial, and the invasion of the Saracens is postponed by a French chronicle till the ixth year after the conquest of Spain, 721 (Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 177, 195. Historians of France, tom. iii.). I much question whether Musa ever passed the Pyrenees.
[217 ]Four hundred years after Theodemir, his territories of Murcia and Carthagena retain in the Nubian Geographer Edrisi (p. 154, 161) the name of Tadmir (D’Anville, Etats de l’Europe, p. 156; Pagi, tom. iii p 174). In the present decay of Spanish agriculture, Mr. Swinburne (Travels into Spain, p. 119) surveyed with pleasure the delicious valley from Murcia to Orihuela, four leagues and a half of the finest corn, pulse, lucern, oranges, &c.
[218 ]See the treaty in Arabic and Latin, in the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 105, 106. It is signed the 4th of the month of Regeb, a.h. 94, the 5th of April 713, a date which seems to prolong the resistance of Theodemir and the government of Musa. [As Milman remarks, eight cities, not seven, are named in the text; Bigerra is omitted in Conde’s translation.]
[219 ]From the history of Sandoval, p. 87, Fleury (Hist. Ecclés. tom. ix. p. 261) has given the substance of another treaty concluded a.æ.c. 782, 734, between an Arabian chief and the Goths and Romans, of the territory of Coimbra in Portugal. The tax of the churches is fixed at twenty-five pounds of gold; of the monasteries, fifty; of the cathedrals, one hundred: the Christians are judged by their count, but in capital cases he must consult the alcaide. The church doors must be shut, and they must respect the name of Mahomet. I have not the original before me; it would confirm or destroy a dark suspicion that the piece has been forged to introduce the immunity of a neighbouring convent.
[220 ]This design, which is attested by several Arabian historians (Cardonne, tom. i. p. 95, 96), may be compared with that of Mithridates, to march from the Crimea to Rome; or with that of Cæsar, to conquer the East and return home by the North. And all three are, perhaps, surpassed by the real and successful enterprise of Hannibal.
[221 ]I much regret our loss, or my ignorance, of two Arabic works of the eighth century, a Life of Musa and a Poem on the exploits of Tarik. Of these authentic pieces, the former was composed by a grandson of Musa, who had escaped from the massacre of his kindred, the latter by the Vizir of the first Abdalrahman, caliph of Spain, who might have conversed with some of the veterans of the conqueror (Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p 36, 139). [The account, in the text, of the punishment and fate of Mūsā is legendary; and is refuted by the fact, attested by Bilādhurī, that Mūsā enjoyed the protection of Yezīd, the powerful favourite of Sulaiman. See Dozy, Hist. des Musulmans d’Espagne, i. p. 217.]
[222 ]Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32, 252. The former of these quotations is take from a Biographia Hispanica, by an Arabian of Valentia (see the copious Extracts of Casiri, tom. ii. p. 30-121); and the latter from a general Chronology of the Caliphs, and of the African and Spanish Dynasties, with a particular History of the Kingdom of Grenada, of which Casiri has given almost an entire version, Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana (tom. ii. p. 177-319). The author Ebn Khateb, a native of Grenada, and a contemporary of Novairi and Abulfeda (born 1313, died 1374), was an historian, geographer, physician, poet, &c. (tom. ii. p. 71, 72).
[223 ]Cardonne, Hist. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne, tom. i. p. 116, 117.
[224 ]A copious treatise of husbandry, by an Arabian of Seville, in the xiith century, is in the Escurial library, and Casiri had some thoughts of translating it. He gives a list of the authors quoted, Arabs as well as Greeks, Latins, &c.; but it is much if the Andalusian saw these strangers through the medium of his countryman Columella (Casiri, Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 323-338).
[225 ]Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 104. Casiri translates the original testimony of the historian Rasis, as it is alleged in the Arabic Biographia Hispanica, pars ix. But I am most exceedingly surprised at the address, Principibus cæterisque Christianis Hispanis suis Castellæ. The name of Castellæ was unknown in the viiith century; the kingdom was not erected till the year 1022, an hundred years after the time of Rasis (Bibliot. tom. ii. p. 330), and the appellation was always expressive, not of a tributary province, but of a line of castles independent of the Moorish yoke (d’Anville, Etats de l’Europe, p. 166-170). Had Casiri been a critic, he would have cleared a difficulty, perhaps of his own making.
[226 ]Cardonne, tom. i. p. 337, 338. He computes the revenue at 130,000,000 of French livres. The entire picture of peace and prosperity relieves the bloody uniformity of the Moorish annals.
[227 ]I am happy enough to possess a splendid and interesting work, which has only been distributed in presents by the court of Madrid: Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana Escurialensis operâ et studio Michaelis Casiri, Syro Maronitæ. Matriti, in folio, tomus prior, 1760, tomus posterior, 1770. The execution of this work does honour to the Spanish press; the MSS. to the number of mdcccli, are judiciously classed by the editor, and his copious extracts throw some light on the Mahometan literature and history of Spain. These relics are now secure, but the task has been supinely delayed, till in the year 1671 a fire consumed the greatest part of the Escurial library, rich in the spoils of Grenada and Morocco. [In his History of Mohammadan Dynasties in Spain M. Gayangos criticised Casiri’s work as “hasty and superficial,” and containing “unaccountable blunders.”]
[228 ]The Harbii, as they are styled, qui tolerari nequeunt, are: 1. Those who, besides God, worship the sun, moon, or idols. 2. Atheists. Utrique, quamdiu princeps aliquis inter Mohammedanos superest, oppugnari debent donec religionem amplectantur, nec requies iis concedenda est, nec pretium acceptandum pro optinendâ conscientiæ libertate (Reland, Dissertat. x. de Jure Militari Mohammedan. tom. (ii. p. 14). A rigid theory!
[229 ]The distinction between a proscribed and a tolerated sect, between the Harbii and the people of the Book, the believers in some divine revelation, is correctly defined in the conversation of the caliph Al Mamun with the idolaters or Sabæans of Charræ. Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 107, 108.
[230 ]The Zend or Pazend, the Bible of the Ghebers, is reckoned by themselves, or at least by the Mahometans, among the ten books which Abraham received from heaven; and their religion is honourably styled the religion of Abraham (d’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 701; Hyde, de Religione veterum Persarum, c. iii. p. 27, 28, &c.). I much fear that we do not possess any pure and free description of the system of Zoroaster. Dr. Prideaux (Connection, vol. i. p. 300, octavo) adopts the opinion that he had been the slave and scholar of some Jewish prophet in the captivity of Babylon. Perhaps the Persians, who have been the masters of the Jews, would assert the honour, a poor honour, of being their masters.
[231 ]The Arabian Nights, a faithful and amusing picture of the Oriental world, represent, in the most odious colours, the Magians, or worshippers of fire, to whom they attribute the annual sacrifice of a Musulman. The religion of Zoroaster has not the least affinity with that of the Hindoos, yet they are often confounded by the Mahometans; and the sword of Timour was sharpened by this mistake (Hist. de Timour Bec, par Cherefeddin Ali Yezdi, l. v.).
[232 ]Vie de Mahomet, par Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 114, 115.
[233 ]Hæ tres sectæ, Judæi, Christiani, et qui inter Persas Magorum institutis addicti sunt, κατ’ ἐξοχήν, populi libri dicuntur (Reland, Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 15). The caliph Al Mamun confirms this honourable distinction in favour of the three sects, with the vague and equivocal religion of the Sabæans, under which the ancient polytheists of Charræ were allowed to shelter their idolatrous worship (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 167, 168).
[234 ]This singular story is related by d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 448, 449) on the faith of Khondemir, and by Mirchond himself (Hist. priorum Regum Persarum, &c. p. 9, 10, not. p. 88, 89).
[235 ]Mirchond (Mohammed Emir Khoondah Shah), a native of Herat, composed, in the Persian language, a general history of the East, from the Creation to the year of the Hegira 875 ( 1471). In the year 904 ( 1498), the historian obtained the command of a princely library, and his applauded work, in seven or twelve parts, was abbreviated in three volumes by his son Khondemir, a.h. 997, 1520. The two writers, most accurately distinguished by Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Genghizcan, p. 537, 538, 544, 545), are loosely confounded by d’Herbelot (p. 358, 410, 994, 995); but his numerous extracts, under the improper name of Khondemir, belong to the father rather than the son. The historian of Genghizcan refers to a MS. of Mirchond, which he received from the hands of his friend d’Herbelot himself. A curious fragment (the Taherian and Soffarian Dynasties) has been lately published in Persic and Latin (Viennæ, 1782, in quarto, cum notis Bernard de Jenisch); and the editor allows us to hope for a continuation of Mirchond.
[236 ]Quo testimonio boni se quidpiam præstitisse opinabantur. Yet Mirchond must have condemned their zeal, since he approved the legal toleration of the Magi, cui (the fire temple) peracto singulis annis censu, uti sacra Mohammedis lege cautum, ab omnibus molestiis ac oneribus libero esse licuit.
[237 ]The last Magian of name and power appears to be Mardavige the Dilemite [Mardāwīj, the Ziyārid], who, in the beginning of the xth century, reigned in the northern provinces of Persia, near the Caspian Sea (d’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 335). But his soldiers and successors, the Bowides [Buwaihids], either professed or embraced the Mahometan faith; and under their dynasty ( 933-1020 [932-1023 in Ispahān and Hamadhān; but till 1055 in Fārs, in Irāk and in Kirmān. For the geographical distribution of the dynasty see S. Lane-Poole, Mohammadan Dynasties, p. 143]) I should place the fall of the religion of Zoroaster.
[238 ]The present state of the Ghebers in Persia is taken from Sir John Chardin, not indeed the most learned, but the most judicious and inquisitive, of our modern travellers (Voyages en Perse, tom. ii. p. 109, 179-187, in 4to). His brethren, Pietro della Valle, Olearius, Thévenot, Tavernier, &c. whom I have fruitlessly searched, had neither eyes nor attention for this interesting people.
[239 ]The letter of Abdoulrahman, governor or tyrant of Africa, to the caliph Aboul Abbas, the first of the Abbassides, is dated a.h. 132 (Cardonne, Hist. d’Afrique et de l’Espagne, tom. i. p. 168).
[240 ]Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 66. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 287, 288.
[241 ]Among the Epistles of the Popes, see Leo IX. epist. 3; Gregor. VII. l. i. epist. 22, 23, l. iii. epist. 19, 20, 21; and the criticisms of Pagi (tom. iv. 1053, No. 14, 1073, No. 13), who investigates the name and family of the Moorish prince, with whom the proudest of the Roman pontiffs so politely corresponds.
[242 ]Mozarabes, or Mostarabes [al-Mustariba], adscititii, as it is interpreted in Latin (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 39, 40. Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 18). The Mozarabic liturgy, the ancient ritual of the church of Toledo, has been attacked by the popes and exposed to the doubtful trials of the sword and of fire (Marian, Hist. Hispan. tom. i. l. ix. c. 18, p. 378). It was, or rather it is, in the Latin tongue; yet, in the xith century, it was found necessary (a.æ.c. 1087. 1039) to transcribe an Arabic version of the canons of the councils of Spain (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 547) for the use of the bishops and clergy in the Moorish kingdoms.
[243 ]About the middle of the xth century, the clergy of Cordova was reproached with this criminal compliance, by the intrepid envoy of the emperor Otho I. (Vit. Johan. Gorz. in Secul. Benedict. V. No. 115, apud Fleury, His. Ecclés. tom. xii. p. 91).
[244 ]Pagi, Critica, tom. iv. 1149, No. 8, 9. He justly observes that, when Seville, &c. were retaken by Ferdinand of Castile, no Christians, except captives, were found in the place; and that the Mozarabic churches of Africa and Spain, described by James à Vitriaco, 1218 (Hist. Hierosol. c. 80, p. 1095, in Gest. Dei per Francos), are copied from some older book. I shall add that the date of the Hegira, 677 ( 1278), must apply to the copy, not the composition, of a treatise of jurisprudence, which states the civil rights of the Christians of Cordova (Bibliot. Arab. Hist. tom. i. p. 471); and that the Jews were the only dissenters whom Abul Waled, king of Grenada ( 1313), could either discountenance or tolerate (tom. ii. p. 288).
[245 ]Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 288. Leo Africanus would have flattered his Roman masters, could he have discovered any latent relics of the Christianity of Africa.
[246 ]Absit (said the Catholic to the Vizir of Bagdad) ut pari loco habeas Nestorianos, quorum præter Arabas nullus alius rex est, et Græcos quorum reges amovendo Arabibus bello non desistunt, &c. See in the collections of Assemannus (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 94-101) the state of the Nestorians under the caliphs. That of the Jacobites is more concisely exposed in the preliminary Dissertation of the second volume of Assemannus.
[247 ]Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 384, 387, 388. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 205, 206, 257, 332. A taint of the Monothelite heresy might render the first of these Greek patriarchs less loyal to the emperors and less obnoxious to the Arabs.
[248 ]Motadhed, who had reigned from 892-902. The Magians still held their name and rank among the religions of the empire (Assemanni, Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 97).
[249 ]Reland explains the general restraints of the Mahometan policy and jurisprudence (Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 16-20). The oppressive edicts of the caliph Motawakkel ( 847-861), which are still in force, are noticed by Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 448) and d’Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 640). A persecution of the caliph Omar II. is related, and most probably magnified, by the Greek Theophanes (Chron. p. 334 [ad a.m. 6210]).
[249a ][The quarto ed. gives for.]
[250 ]The martyrs of Cordova ( 850, &c.) are commemorated and justified by St. Eulogius, who at length fell a victim himself. A synod, convened by the caliph, ambiguously censured their rashness. The moderate Fleury cannot reconcile their conduct with the discipline of antiquity, toutefois l’autorité de l’église, &c. (Fleury, Hist. Ecclés. tom. x. p. 415-522, particularly p. 451, 508, 509). Their authentic acts throw a strong though transient light on the Spanish church in the ixth century.
[251 ]See the article Eslamiah (as we say Christendom) in the Bibliothèque Orientale (p. 325). This chart of the Mahometan world is suited by the author, Ebn Alwardi, to the year of the Hegira 385 ( 995). Since that time, the losses in Spain have been over-balanced by the conquests in India, Tartary, and European Turkey.
[252 ]The Arabic of the Koran is taught as a dead language in the college of Mecca. By the Danish traveller, this ancient idiom is compared to the Latin; the vulgar tongue of Hejaz and Yemen to the Italian; and the Arabian dialects of Syria, Egypt, Africa, &c. to the Provençal, Spanish, and Portuguese (Niebuhr, Description de l’Arabie, p. 74, &c.).