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Foundation of the Leonine city. A.D. 852

The Amorian war between

A.D. 838

at every hour, by the presence of the indefatigable pontiff. The love of fame, a generous but worldly passion, may be detected in the name of the Leonine city, which he bestowed on the Vatican; yet the pride of the dedication was tempered with Christian penance and humility. The boundary was trod by the bishop and his clergy, barefoot, in sackcloth and ashes; the songs of triumph were modulated to psalms and litanies; the walls were besprinkled with holy water; and the ceremony was concluded with a prayer that, under the guardian care of the apostles and the angelic host, both the old and the new Rome might ever be preserved pure, prosperous, and impregnable.108

The emperor Theophilus, son of Michael the Stammerer,

was one of the most active and high-spirited princes who reigned philus and at Constantinople during the middle age. In offensive or de

fensive war, he marched in person five times against the Saracens, formidable in his attack, esteemed by the enemy in his losses and defeats. In the last of these expeditions he penetrated

into Syria, and besieged the obscure town of Sozopetra : the [Mutasim) casual birth-place of the caliph Motassem, whose father Harun

was attended in peace or war by the most favourite of his wives and concubines. The revolt of a Persian impostor employed at that moment the arms of the Saracen, and he could only intercede in favour of a place for which he felt and acknowledged some degree of filial affection. These solicitations determined the emperor to wound his pride in so sensible a part. Sozopetra was levelled with the ground, the Syrian prisoners were marked or mutilated with ignominious cruelty, and a thousand female captives were forced away from the adjacent territory. Among these a matron of the house of Abbas invoked, in an agony of despair, the name of Motassem; and the insults of the Greeks engaged the honour of her kinsman to avenge his indignity and to answer her appeal. Under the reign of the two elder brothers, the inheritance of the youngest had been confined to Anatolia, Armenia, Georgia, and Circassia; this frontier station had exercised his military talents ; and, among his accidental claims to the name of Octonary,109 the most meritorious are the eight battles which he gained or fought against the enemies of the Koran. In this personal quarrel, the troops of Irak, Syria, and Egypt, were recruited from the tribes of Arabia and the Turkish hordes: his cavalry might be numerous, though we should deduct some myriads from the hundred and thirty thousand horses of the royal stables; and the expense of the armament was computed at four millions sterling, or one hundred thousand pounds of gold. From Tarsus, the place of assembly, the Saracens advanced in three divisions along the high road of Constantinople: Motassem himself commanded the centre, and the vanguard was given to his son Abbas, who, in the trial of the first adventures, might succeed with the more glory, or fail with the least reproach. In the revenge of his injury, the caliph prepared to retaliate a similar affront. The father of Theophilus was a native of Amorium 110 in Phrygia; the original seat of the imperial house had been adorned with privileges and monuments; and, whatever might be the indifference of the people, Constantinople itself was scarcely of more value in the eyes of the sovereign and his court. The name of AMORIUM was inscribed on the shields of the Saracens ; and their three armies were again united under the walls of the devoted city. It had been proposed by the wisest counsellors to evacuate Amorium, to remove the inhabitants, and to abandon the empty structures to the vain resentment of the barbarians. The emperor embraced the more generous resolution of defending, in a siege and battle, the country of his ancestors. When the armies drew near, the front of the Mahometan line appeared to a Roman eye more closely planted with spears and javelins; but the event of the

108 The Arabs and the Greeks are alike silent concerning the invasion of Rome by the Africans. The Latin chronicles do not afford much instruction (see the Annals of Baronius and Pagi). Our authentic and contemporary guide for the Popes of the ixth century is Anastasius, librarian of the Roman church. His Life of Leo IV. contains twenty-four pages (p. 175-199, edit. Paris); and, if a great part consists of superstitious trifles, we must blame or commend his hero, who was much oftener in a church than in & camp. (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, vol. ii. See above, vol. v. Appendix 1, p. 540.]

109 The same number was applied to the following circumstance in the life of Motassen : he was the eighth of the Abbassides; he reigned eight years, eight months, and eight days; left eight sons, eight daughters, eight thousand slaves, ogni millions of gold.

119 Amorium is seldom mentioned by the old geographers, and totally forgotten in the Roman Itineraries. After the vith century it became an episcopal see, and st length the metropolis of the new Galatia (formed by Theodosius the Great] (Carol Sancto Paulo, Geograph. Sacra, p. 234). The city rose again from its ruins, ut we should read Ammuria not Anguria, in the text of the Nubian geographer, p. 236. (Tbe site is near Hanza Hadji. See Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor, i. R 451; Ramsay, Asia Minor, p. 230-1. The battle described in the text was tongbt east of the Halys, near Dazimon (Tokat).]

action was not glorious on either side to the national troops. The Arabs were broken, but it was by the swords of thirty thousand Persians, who had obtained service and settlement in the Byzantine empire. The Greeks were repulsed and vanquished, but it was by the arrows of the Turkish cavalry; and, had not their bow-strings been damped and relaxed by the evening rain, very few of the Christians could have escaped with the emperor from the field of battle. They breathed at Dorylæum, at the distance of three days; and Theophilus, reviewing his trembling squadrons, forgave the common flight both of the prince and people. After this discovery of his weakness, he vainly hoped to deprecate the fate of Amorium: the inexorable caliph rejected with contempt his prayers and promises; and detained the Roman ambassadors to be the witnesses of his great revenge. They had nearly been the witnesses of his shame. The vigorous assaults of fifty-five days were encountered by a faithful governor, a veteran garrison, and a desperate people; and the Saracens must have raised the siege if a domestic traitor had not pointed to the weakest part of the wall, a place which was decorated with the statues of a lion and a bull. The vow of Motassem was accomplished with unrelenting rigour; tired,

rather than satiated, with destruction, he returned to his new (Samarra palace of Samara, in the neighbourhood of Bagdad, while the Bagdad for unfortunate 111 Theophilus implored the tardy and doubtful aid A.D. 836-892) of his Western rival, the emperor of the Franks. Yet in the

siege of Amorium above seventy thousand Moslems had perished; their loss had been revenged by the slaughter of thirty thousand Christians, and the sufferings of an equal number of captives, who were treated as the most atrocious criminals. Mutual necessity could sometimes extort the exchange or ransom of prisoners ; 112 but in the national religious conflict of the two


55 years.

111 In the East he was styled Avotuxhs (Continuator Theophan. 1. iii. p. 84 (p. 135, 1. 10, ed. Bonn]); but such was the ignorance of the West that his ambas. sadors, in public discourse, might boldly narrate, de victoriis, quas adversus exteras bellando gentes cælitus fuerat assecutus (Annalist. Bertinian. apud Pagi, tom, iii. p. 720 (Pertz, Mon. i. 434]). (For Samarrã op. Le Strange in Journal As. Soc. vol. 27, p. 36.—The siege of Amorion lasted only twelve days.]

113 Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 167, 168) relates one of these singular transactions on the bridge of the river Lamus (Lamas Su) in Cilicia, the limit of the two empires, and one day's journey westward of Tarsus (d'Anville, Géographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 91). Four thousand four hundred and sixty Moslems, eight hundred women and children, one hundred confederates, were exchanged for an equal num. ber of Greeks. They passed each other in the middle of the bridge, and, when

of the


empires peace was without confidence, and war without mercy. Quarter was seldom given in the field; those who escaped the edge of the sword were condemned to hopeless servitude or exquisite torture ; and a Catholic emperor relates, with visible satisfaction, the execution of the Saracens of Crete, who were flayed alive, or plunged into caldrons of boiling oil.113 To a point of honour Motassem had sacrificed a flourishing city, two hundred thousand lives, and the property of millions. The same caliph descended from his horse and dirtied his robe to relieve the distress of a decrepit old man, who with his laden ass had tumbled into a ditch. On which of these actions did he reflect with the most pleasure, when he was summoned by the angel of death ? 114

With Motassem, the eighth of the Abbassides, the glory of Disorders his family and nation expired. When the Arabian conquerors Turkish

guards. had spread themselves over the East, and were mingled with .D. 841-870, the servile crowds of Persia, Syria, and Egypt, they insensibly lost the freeborn and martial virtues of the desert.

The courage of the South is the artificial fruit of discipline and prejudice; the active power of enthusiasm had decayed, and the mercenary forces of the caliphs were recruited in those climates of the North, of which valour is the hardy and spontaneous production. Of the Turks 116 who dwelt upon the Oxus and Jaxartes, the robust youths, either taken in war or purchased in trade, were educated in the exercises of the field and the profession of the Mahometan faith. The Turkish guards stood in arms round the they reached their respective friends, they shouted Allah Acbar, and Kyrie Eleison. Many of the prisoners of Amorium were probably among them, but in the same Fear (A.1. 231) the most illustrious of them, the forty-two martyrs, were beheaded by the caliph's order. (For exchanges of prisoners on the Lamos see also Theoph. Contin. p. 443, ed. Bonn. The hagiographical texts on the death of the disunguished captives taken at Amorium (A.D. 838) and martyred seven years later, have been edited by P. Nikitin : Skazaniia o 42 Amoriiskikh muchenikakh, in the Zapiski of Russian Imp. Academy, viii. sér. vii. 2, 1905.]

11: Constantin. Porphyrogenitus, in Vit. Basil. c. 61, p. 186. These Saracens Tere indeed treated with peculiar severity as pirates and renegadoes.

114 For Theophilus, Motassem, and the Amorian war, see the Continuator of Theophanes (1. iii. p. 77-84 [p. 124 899. ed. Bonn]), Genesius (1. iii. p. 24-34 (p. 51 699.]), Cedrenus (528-532 [ii. 129 sqq. ed. Bonn)), Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 180), Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 165, 166), Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 191), d'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 639, 640).

215 M. de Guignes, who sometimes leaps, and sometimes stumbles, in the gulf between Chinese and Mahometan story, thinks he can see that these Turks are the Hoei-ke, alias the Kao-tche, or high-waggons; that they were divided into fiftee hordes, from China and Siberia to the dominions of the caliphs and Samanides, &c. (Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 1-33, 124-181).

VOL. VI. -4

(Mutawakkil. A.D. 847-861)

throne of their benefactor, and their chiefs usurped the dominion of the palace and the provinces. Motassem, the first author of this dangerous example, introduced into the capital above fifty thousand Turks: their licentious conduct provoked the public indignation, and the quarrels of the soldiers and people induced the caliph to retire from Bagdad, and establish his own residence and the camp of his barbarian favourites at Samara on the Tigris, about twelve leagues above the city of Peace.116 His son Motawakkel was a jealous and cruel tyrant; odious to his subjects, he cast himself on the fidelity of the strangers, and these strangers, ambitious and apprehensive, were tempted by the rich promise of a revolution. At the instigation, or at least in the cause, of his son, they burst into his apartment at the hour of supper, and the caliph was cut into seven pieces by the same swords which he had recently distributed among the

guards of his life and throne. To this throne, yet streaming (Muntasir, with a father's blood, Montasser was triumphantly led; but in a reign of six months he found only the pangs of a guilty consci

If he wept at the sight of an old tapestry which represented the crime and punishment of the son of Chosroes; if his days were abridged by grief and remorse, we may allow some pity to a parricide, who exclaimed, in the bitterness of death, that he had lost both this world and the world to come. After this act of treason, the ensigns of royalty, the garment and walking staff of Mahomet, were given and torn away by the foreign mercenaries, who in four years created, deposed, and murdered three commanders of the faithful. As often as the Turks were inflamed by fear, or rage, or avarice, these caliphs were dragged by the feet, exposed naked to the scorching sun, beaten with iron clubs, and compelled to purchase, by the abdication of their dignity, a short reprieve of inevitable fate.117 At length, however, the fury of the tempest was spent or

A.D. 861-2)


116 He changed the old name of Sumere, or Samara, into the fanciful title of Ser-men-rai, that which gives pleasure at first (d'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, p. 808 ; d'Anville, l’Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 97, 98). [Surra men raā = "who so B&W, rejoiced”.]

111 Take a specimen, the death of the caliph Motaz: Correptum pedibus retra hunt, et sudibus probe permulcant, et spoliatum laceris vestibus in sole collocant, præ cujus acerrimo wstu pedes alternis attollebat et demittebat. Adstantium aliquis misero colaphos continuo ingerebat, quos ille objectis manibus avertere studebat. .. Quo facto traditus tortori fuit totoque triduo cibo potuque prohibitus. . . . Suffo. catus, &c. (Abulfeda, p. 206). Of the caliph Mohtadi, he says, cervices ipsi perpetuis ictibus contundebant, testiculosque pedibus conculca bant (p. 208).

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