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A mean,

pieces of gold. After the death of Mohammed, the oath of
allegiance was administered in the name of his son Ibrahim to a
numerous band of votaries, who expected only a signal and a
leader; and the governor of Chorasan continued to deplore his
fruitless admonitions and the deadly slumber of the caliphs of
Damascus, till he himself, with all his adherents, was driven
from the city and palace of Meru, by the rebellious arms of Abu
Moslem.41 That maker of kings, the author, as he is named, of
the call of the Abbassides, was at length rewarded for his pre-
sumption of merit with the usual gratitude of courts.
perhaps a foreign, extraction could not repress the aspiring
energy of Abu Moslem. Jealous of his wives, liberal of his
wealth, prodigal of his own blood, and of that of others, he could
boast with pleasure, and possibly with truth, that he had de-
stroyed six hundred thousand of his enemies; and such was the
intrepid gravity of his mind and countenance that he was never
seen to smile except on a day of battle.

In the visible separation of parties, the green was consecrated to the Fatimites; the Ommiades were distinguished by the white ; and the black, as the most adverse, was naturally adopted by the Abbassides. Their turbans and garments were stained with that gloomy colour; two black standards, on pike-staves nine cubits long, were born aloft in the van of Abu Moslem; and their allegorical names of the night and the shadow obscurely represented the indissoluble union and perpetual succession of the line of Hashem. From the Indus to the Euphrates, the East was convulsed by the quarrel of the white and the black factions; the Abbassides were most frequently victorious; but their public success was clouded by the personal misfortune of their chief. The court of Damascus, awakening from a long slumber, resolved to prevent the pilgrimage of Mecca, which Ibrahim had undertaken with a splendid retinue, to recommend himself at once to the

favour of the prophet and of the people. A detachment of (A.D. 144] cavalry intercepted his march and arrested his person; and the

unhappy Ibrahim, snatched away from the promise of untasted royalty, expired in iron fetters in the dungeons of Haran. His

41 The steed and the saddle which had carried any of his wives were instantly killed or burnt, lest they should be afterwards mounted by a male. Twelve hun. dred mules or camels were required for his kitchen furniture; and the daily con. sumption amounted to three thousand cakes, an hundred sheep, besides oxen, poultry, &c. (Abulpharagius, Hist. Dynast. p. 140).

two younger brothers, Saffah 42 and Almansor, 13 eluded the search of the tyrant, and lay concealed at Cufa, till the zeal of the people and the approach of his eastern friends allowed them to expose their persons to the impatient public. On Friday, in the dress of a caliph, in the colours of the sect, Saffah proceeded with religious and military pomp to the mosque; ascending the palpit, he prayed and preached as the lawful successor of Mahomet; and, after his departure, his kinsmen bound a willing people by an oath of fidelity. But it was on the banks of the Zab, and not in the mosque of Cufa, that this important controversy was determined. Every advantage appeared to be on the side of the white faction: the authority of established government; an army of an hundred and twenty thousand soldiers, against a sixth part of that number ; 434 and the presence and merit of the caliph Mervan, the fourteenth and last of the house (Marwan II. of Ommiyah. Before his accession to the throne, he had deserved, by his Georgian warfare, the honourable epithet of the ass of Mesopotamia ; 44 and he might have been ranked among the greatest princes, had not, says Abulfeda, the eternal order decreed that moment for the ruin of his family: a decree against which all human prudence and fortitude must struggle in vain.

The orders of Mervan were mistaken or disobeyed; the return of his horse, from which he had dismounted on a necessary occasion, impressed the belief of his death; and the enthusiasm of the black squadrons was ably conducted by Abdallah, the uncle of his competitor. After an irretrieveable defeat, the caliph escaped to Mosul ; but the colours of the Abbassides were displayed from the rampart; he suddenly repassed the Tigris, cast a melancholy look on his palace of Haran, crossed the Euphrates, abandoned the fortifications of Damascus, and, without halting in

A.D. 744-50)

[Abd Allab Abū-l-Abbás al-Saffah (the bloody), caliph 750-754.]
** Abu-Jafar Mansur, caliph 754-775.)
43» So Tabari, ed. de Goeje, iii. 45.]

** Å i Hamar. He had been governor of Mesopotamia, and the Arabic proverb praises the courage of that warlike breed of asses who never fly from an enemy. The surname of Mervan may justify the comparison of Homer (Iliad, v. 557, &c.), and both will silence the moderns, who consider the ass as a stupid and ignoble emblem (d'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 558).

*5 (This motive seems to have been drawn from Persian sources-Gibbon took it from Herbelot. We must rather follow Tabari's account. Marwan sent his son with some troops back to the camp to rescue his money. This back movement was taken by the rest of the army as a retreat and they all took to flight. See Weil, op. cit., i, p. 701; Tabari, ed. de Goeje, iii. 38 899.]


Palestine, pitched his last and fatal camp at Busir on the banks Fall of the of the Nile. His speed was urged by the incessant diligence Ommiades. A.D. 750, of Abdallah, who in every step of the pursuit acquired strength Feb. 10

and reputation; the remains of the white faction were finally vanquished in Egypt; and the lance, which terminated the life and anxiety of Mervan, was not less welcome perhaps to the unfortunate than to the victorious chief. The merciless inquisition of the conqueror eradicated the most distant branches of the hostile race: their bones were scattered, their memory was accursed, and the martyrdom of Hossein was abundantly revenged on the posterity of his tyrants. Fourscore of the Ommiades, who had yielded to the faith or clemency of their foes, were invited to a banquet at Damascus. The laws of hospitality were violated by a promiscuous massacre; the board was spread over their fallen bodies; and the festivity of the guests was enlivened by the music of their dying groans. By the event of the civil war the dynasty of the Abbassides was firmly established; but the Christians only could triumph in the mutual hatred and

common loss of the disciples of Mahomet. 47 Revolt of Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of war Spain.

might have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding generation, if the consequences of the revolution had not tended to dissolve the power and unity of the empire of the Saracens. In the proscription of the Ommiades, a royal youth of the name of Abdalrahman alone escaped the rage of his enemies, who hunted the wandering exile from the banks of the Euphrates to the

46 Four several places, all in Egypt, bore the name of Busir, or Busiris, so famous in Greek fable. The first, where Mervan was slain, was to the west of the Nile, in the province of Fium, or Arsinoe ; the second in the Delta, in the Sebenny. tio nome; the third, near the pyramids ; the fourth, which was destroyed by Diocletian (see above, vol. i. p. 474), in the Thebais. I shall here transcribe a note of the learned and orthodox Michaelis : Videntur in pluribus Ægypti superioris urbibus Busiri Coptoque arma sumpsisse Christiani, libertatemque de religione sentiendi defendisse, sed succubuisse quo in bello Coptos et Busuris diruta, et circa Esnam magna strages edita. Bellum narrant sed causam belli ignorant scriptores Byzantini, alioqui Coptum et Busirim non rebellasse dicturi, sed causam Christian. orum suscepturi (Not. 211, p. 100). For the geography of the four Busirs, see Abulfeda (Descript. Ægypt. p. 9, vers. Michaelis. Gottinge, 1776, in 4to), Michaelis (Not. 122-127, p. 58-63), and d'Anville (Mémoire sur l'Egypte, p. 85, 147, 205).

47 See Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 136-145), Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 392, vers. Pocock), Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 109-121), Abulpharagius (Hist. Dynast. p. 134-140), Roderic of Toledo (Hist. Arabum, c. 18, p. 33), Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 356, 357 (A.M. 6240, 6241], who speaks of the Abbassides under the names of Xωρασανίται and Mαυροφόροι), and the Bibliotheque d'Herbelot, in the articles of Ommiades, Abbassides, Marvan, Ibrahim, Saffah, Abou Moslem, [Tabari, vol. iii. 44-51.)

A.D. 755


valleys of mount Atlas. His presence in the neighbourhood of Spain revived the zeal of the white faction. The name and cause of the Abbassides had been first vindicated by the Persians ; the West had been pure from civil arms; and the servants of the abdicated family still held, by a precarious tenure, the inheritance of their lands and the offices of government. Strongly prompted by gratitude, indignation, and fear, they invited the grandson of the caliph Hashem to ascend the throne of his ancestors; and, in his desperate condition, the extremes of rashness and prudence were almost the same. The acclamations of the people saluted his landing on the coast of Andalusia; and, after a successful struggle, Abdalrahman established the throne (A.D. 756) of Cordova, and was the father of the Ommiades of Spain, who reigned above two hundred and fifty years from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees." He slew in battle a lieutenant of the Abbassides, who had invaded his dominions with a fleet and army: the head of Ala, in salt and camphire, was suspended by a [A.D. 768) daring messenger before the palace of Mecca ; 4' and the caliph Almansor rejoiced in his safety, that he was removed by seas and lands from such a formidable adversary. Their mutual designs or declarations of offensive war evaporated without effect; but, instead of opening a door to the conquest of Europe, Spain was dissevered from the trunk of the monarchy, engaged in perpetual hostility with the East, and inclined to peace and friendship with the Christian sovereigns of Constantinople and France. The example of the Ommiades was imitated by the Triple real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the Edrissites of Mauritania, and of the the more powerful Fatimites of Africa and Egypt. In the tenth century, the chair of Mahomet was disputed by three caliphs or commanders of the faithful, who reigned at Bagdad, Cairoan, and Cordova, excommunicated each other, and agreed only in a principle of discord, that a sectary is more odious and criminal than an unbeliever.50




• For the revolution of Spain, consult Roderic of Toledo (c. xviii. p. 34, &c.), the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana (tom. ii. p. 30, 198), and Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, tom. i. p. 180-197, 205, 272, 323, &c.).

** [Others say the head was exposed at Kairawān; Dozy, Aistoire des Musulmans d'Espagne, i. 367.]

» I shall not stop to refute the strange errors and fancies of Sir William Temple (his works, vol. iii. p. 371-374, octavo edition) and Voltaire (Histoire Générale, c. stiji, tom. ii. p. 124, 125, édition de Lausanne), concerning the division of the Saracen empire. The mistakes of Voltaire proceeded from the want of knowledge

Magnificonce of

A.D. 750-960


Mecca was the patrimony of the line of Hashem, yet the the caliphs. Abbassides were never tempted to reside either in the birthplace

or the city of the prophet. Damascus was disgraced by the choice, and polluted with the blood, of the Ommiades; and, after some hesitation, Almansor, the brother and successor of Saffah, laid the foundations of Bagdad,51 the Imperial seat of his posterity during a reign of five hundred years. The chosen spot is on the eastern bank of the Tigris, about fifteen miles above the ruins of Modain; the double wall was of a circular form; and such was the rapid increase of a capital, now dwindled to a provincial town, that the funeral of a popular saint might be attended by eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women of Bagdad and the adjacent villages. In this city of peace,53 amidst the riches of the East, the Abbassides or reflection; but Sir William was deceived by a Spanish impostor, who has tramed an apocryphal history of the conquest of Spain by the Arabs. (The Omayyad rulers of Spain called themselves emirs (Amir) for a century and three-quarters. Abd arRahmān III. (912-961) first assumed the higher title of caliph in 929. Thus it is incorrect to speak of two Caliphates, or a western Caliphate, until 929; the Emirate of Cordova is the correct designation.)

51 The geographer d'Anville (l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 121-123), and the Orientalist d'Herbelot (Bibliothèque, p. 167, 168), may suffice for the knowledge of Bagdad. Our travellers, Pietro della Valle (tom. i. p. 688-698), Tavernier (tom. i. p. 230-238), Thévenot (part ii. p. 209-212), Otter (tom. i. p. 162-168), and Niebuhr (Voyage en Arabie, tom. ii. p. 239-271), have seen only its decay; and the Nubian geographer (p. 204), and the travelling Jew, Benjamin of Tudela (Itinerarium, p. 112-123, à Const. l’Empereur, apud Elzevir, 1633), are the only writers of my acquaintance, who have known Bagdad under the reign of the Abbassides. [See Ibn Serapion's description of the canals of Baghdād, translated and annotated by G. Le Strange, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, N.S. vol. 27 (1895), p. 285 899., and the sketch plan of the city (ib. opposite p. 33); and the same scholar's full history and description of the city in his Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate, 1900.]

52 The foundations of Bagdad were laid A.1. 145, A.D. 762 ; Mostasem (Mustasim, 1242-1258], the last of the Abbassides, was taken and put to death by the Tartars, A.H. 656, A.D. 1258, the 20th of February.

63 Medinat al Salem, Dar al Salem (Dār al-Salām). Urbs pacis, or, as is more neatly compounded by the Byzantine writers, Eipnvórodis (Irenopolis). There is some dispute concerning the etymology of Bagdad, but the first syllable is allowed to signify a garden, in the Persian tongue; the garden of Dad, a Christian hermit, whoge cell had been the only habitation on the spot. [" The original city as founded by the Caliph Al-Mansür was circular, being surrounded by a double wall and ditch, with four equidistant gates. From gate to gate measured an Arab mile (about one English mile and a quarter). This circular city stood on the western side of the Tigris, immediately above the point where the Sarāt Canal, coming from the Nahr ’Isā, joined the Tigris, and the Sarāt fowed round the southern side of the city.” “In the century and a half which had elapsed, counting from the date of the foundation of the city down to the epoch at which Ibn Serapion wrote, Baghdād had undergone many changes. It had never recovered the destructive effects of the great siege, when Al-Amin had defended himself, to the death, against the troops of his brother Al-Mamūn; and again it had suffered semi-depopulation by the removal of the seat of government to Samarrā (A.D. 836-892). The original

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