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. The 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 Yemanah, 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 favorites 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 by 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 Aethiopian 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 valor was united in the prosecution of a holy war; and their enthusiasm was equally confirmed by opposition and victory.
1 See the description of the city and country of Al Yamanah, in Abulfeda, Descript. Arabiae, 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.)]
* This extraordinary woman was a Christian; she was at the head of a numerous and flourishing sect; Moseilama professed to recognize her inspiration. In a personal interview he proposed their marriage and the union of their sects. The handsome person, the impassioned eloquence, and the arts of Moseilama, triumphed over the virtue of the prophetesa who was rejected with scorn by her lover, and by her notorious unchastity ost her influence with her own followers. Gibbon, with that propensity too common, especially in his later volumes, has selected only the grosser part of this singular adventure. — M.]
2 The first salutation may be transcribed, but cannot be translated. It was thus that Moseilama said or sung:—
Surge tandem itaque strenue permolenda; nam stratus tibi thorus est. Aut in propatulo tentorio si velis, aut in abditiore cubiculo si malis; Aut supinam te humi exporrectam fustigabo, si velis, Aut si malis manibus pedibusque nixam. Aut si velis ejus (Priapi) gemino triente aut si malis totus veniam. Imo, totus venito, O Apostole Dei, clamabat foemina. Id ipsum, dicebat Moseilama, mihi quoque suggessit Deus.
The prophetess Segjah, after the fall of her lover, returned to idolatry; but under the reign of Moawiyah, she became a Mussulman, and died at Bassora, (Abulfeda, Annal. vers. Reiske, p. 63.)]
3 See this text, which demonstrates a God from the work of generation, in Abulpharagius (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 13, and Dynast. p. 103) and Abulfeda, (Annal. p. 63.)]
* Compare a long account of this battle in Price, p. 42. — M.]
From the rapid conquests of the Saracens a presumption will naturally arise, that the 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 Othman, 6 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, their longest expeditions were the frequent pilgrimage 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 the Persian satrap, who paid his homage to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosch of Medina. Oeeconomy 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 school 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 Arabic, “successors.” V. Hammer Geschichte der Assas. p. 14 — M.]
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, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 691, and the particular articles of the Ommiades.]
In the victorious days of the Roman republic, it had been the aim of the senate to confine their councils 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 vigor 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 Mussulmans 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 chronicle 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 Frenchman 15 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.
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, 1665, in folio) and the Abridgment of Nicephorus, (Nicephori Patriarchae 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, 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.]
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, (A.D. 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, 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.)]
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 Bibliotheque 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 Chalifae librum memorialem ad calcem Abulfedae Tabulae Syriae, Lipsiae, 1776;) 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, Patriarchoe Alexandrini, ab Edwardo Pocockio, Oxon. 1656, 2 vols. in 4to. A pompous edition of an indifferent author, translated by Pocock to gratify the Presbyterian prejudices of his friend Selden. 2. Historia Saracenica Georgii Elmacini, opera et studio Thomae Erpenii, 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. Abulfedoe Annales Moslemici ad Ann. Hegiroe ccccvi. a Jo. Jac. Reiske, in 4to., Lipsioe, 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. D. Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. pref. p. xix. xx.) has characterized, with truth and knowledge, the two sorts of Arabian historians — the dry annalist, and the tumid and flowery orator.]
15 Bibliotheque Orientale, par M. D’Herbelot, in folio, Paris, 1697. For the character of the respectable author, consult his friend Thevenot, (Voyages du Levant, part i. chap. 1.) 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.]
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. 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 the infidels was slaughtered; and spoils infinite and innumerable were acquired by the victorious Moslems.” 17 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. †
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. 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.]
* Eichhorn and Silvestre de Sacy have written on the obscure history of the Mondars. — M.]
17 Fecit et Chaled plurima in hoc anno praelia, in quibus vicerunt Muslimi, et infidelium immensa multitudine occisa 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.]
† Compare throughout Malcolm, vol. ii. p. 136. — M.]
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 aera, which coincides with an astronomical period, 18 has recorded the fall of the Sassanian dynasty and the religion of Zoroaster. 19 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 reenforced from twelve to thirty thousand, had pitched their camp in the plains of Cadesia: 20 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 succor. 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 clamors, 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 clangor of arms was reechoed 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. 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. 21 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. 22 After this victory, the wealthy province of Irak, or Assyria, submitted to the caliph, and his conquests were firmly established by the speedy foundation of Bassora, 23 a place which ever commands the trade and navigation of the Persians. As 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.
18 A cycle of 120 years, 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 Freret are involved in a profound controversy, whether the twelve, or only eight of these changes were accomplished before the aera of Yezdegerd, which is unanimously fixed to the 16th of June, A.D. 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. Freret in the Mem. de l’Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xvi. p. 233 — 267.)]
19 Nine days after the death of Mahomet (7th June, A.D. 632) we find the aera of Yezdegerd, (16th June, A.D. 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.
Note: The Rezont Uzzuffa (Price, p. 105) has a strange account of an embassy to Yezdegerd. The Oriental historians take great delight in these embassies, which give them an opportunity of displaying their Asiatic eloquence — M.]
20 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.]
* The day of cormorants, or according to another reading the day of reinforcements. It was the night which was called the night of snarling. Price, p. 114. — M.]
† According to Malcolm’s authorities, only three thousand; but he adds “This is the report of Mahomedan historians, who have a great disposition of the wonderful, in relating the first actions of the faithful” Vol. i. p. 39. — M.]
21 Atrox, contumax, plus semel renovatum, are the well-chosen expressions of the translator of Abulfeda, (Reiske, p. 69.)]
22 D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 297, 348.]
23 The reader may satisfy himself on the subject of Bassora by consulting the following writers: Geograph, Nubiens. p. 121. D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque 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 Thevenot, tom. ii. p. 545 — 584. D Otter, tom. ii. p. 45 — 78. De Niebuhr, tom. ii. p. 172 — 199.]
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, 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. 24 Some minute though curious facts represent the contrast of riches and ignorance. From the remote islands of the Indian Ocean a large provision of camphire 25 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 colors 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 drams. 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, the hairy arms, and uncouth figure of the veteran, who was invested with the spoils of the Great King. 26 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 structures 27 are composed of bricks baked in the sun, and joined by a cement of the native bitumen. The name of Cufa 28 describes a 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 a hundred thousand swords: “Ye men of Cufa,” said Ali, who solicited their aid, “you have been always conspicuous by your valor. 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 and singular, will denote the luxurious impediments of an Oriental army. 29
24 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.
Note: Ockley (Hist. of Saracens, vol. i. p. 230) translates in the same manner three thousand million of ducats. See Forster’s Mahometanism Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 462; who makes this innocent doubt of Gibbon, in which, is to the amount of the plunder, I venture to concur, a grave charge of inaccuracy and disrespect to the memory of Erpenius.
The Persian authorities of Price (p. 122) make the booty worth three hundred and thirty millions sterling! — M]
25 The camphire-tree grows in China and Japan; but many hundred weight 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.)]
† Compare Price, p. 122. — M.]
26 See Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 376, 377. I may credit the fact, without believing the prophecy.]
27 The most considerable ruins of Assyria 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.)
Note: The best modern account is that of Claudius Rich Esq. Two Memoirs of Babylon. London, 1818. — M.]
28 Consult the article of Coufah in the Bibliotheque of D’Herbelot ( p. 277, 278,) and the second volume of Ockley’s History, particularly p. 40 and 153.]
29 See the article of Nehavend, in D’Herbelot, p. 667, 668; and Voyages en Turquie et en Perse, par Otter, tom. i. 191.
Note: Malcolm vol. i. p. 141. — M.]
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. 30 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: 31 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. 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; 32 and this monument, which attests the vigilance of the caliphs, might have instructed the philosophers of every age. 33
30 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. Aeschines contra Ctesiphontem, tom. iii. p. 554, edit. Graec. Orator. Reiske. This memorable cause was pleaded at Athens, Olymp. cxii. 3, (before Christ 330,) in the autumn, (Taylor, praefat. p. 370, &c.,) about a year after the battle of Arbela; and Alexander, in the pursuit of Darius, was marching towards Hyrcania and Bactriana.]
31 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 Corneillo le Bruyn.]
32 After the conquest of Persia, Theophanes adds, (Chronograph p. 283.]
33 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, (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 1014.)]
The flight of Yezdegerd had carried him beyond the Oxus, and as far as the Jaxartes, two rivers 34 of ancient and modern renown, which descend from the mountains of India towards the Caspian Sea. He was hospitably entertained by Takhan, prince of Fargana, 35 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. 36 The virtuous Taitsong, 37 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 neighbors 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 drams 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. 38 * 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. 39
34 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. Genealogique 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.)]
35 The territory of Fergana is described by Abulfeda, p. 76, 77.]
36 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 Freret (Mem. de l’Academie, 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.]
37 Hist. Sinica, p. 41 — 46, in the iiid part of the Relations Curieuses of Thevenot.]
38 I have endeavored to harmonize 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.]
* The account of Yezdegerd’s death in the Habeib ‘usseyr and Rouzut uzzuffa (Price, p. 162) is much more probable.
On the demand of the few dhirems, he offered to the miller his sword, and royal girdle, of inesturable value. This awoke the cupidity of the miller, who murdered him, and threw the body into the stream. — M.]
† Firouz died leaving a son called Ni-ni-cha by the Chinese, probably Narses. Yezdegerd had two sons, Firouz and Bahram St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 318. — M.]
39 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 Caesars of Rome, and the Chagans of the Turks or Avars, (D’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orientale, p. 96, 487.)]
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. 40 But the final conquest of Transoxiana, 41 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, 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. 42 A tribute of two millions of pieces of gold was imposed on the infidels; their idols were burnt or broken; the Mussulman 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. * 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. 43
40 It was valued at 2000 pieces of gold, and was the prize of Obeidollah, the son of Ziyad, 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 (A.D. 680) who passed the Oxus: she borrowed, or rather stole, the crown and jewels of the princess of the Sogdians, (p. 231, 232.)]
41 A part of Abulfeda’s geography is translated by Greaves, inserted in Hudson’s collection of the minor geographers, (tom. iii.,) and entitled Descriptio Chorasmiae et Mawaralnahroe, 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.]
42 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.)]
* The manuscripts Arabian and Persian writers in the royal library contain very circumstantial details on the contest between the Persians and Arabians. M. St. Martin declined this addition to the work of Le Beau, as extending to too great a length. St. Martin vol. xi. p. 320. — M.]
43 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.]
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 Syria 44 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 ardor 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 instructions 45 to the chiefs of the Syrian army were inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects 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: 46 And you will find another sort of people, that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; 47 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 fervor 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 was 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 Mussulman; but he was carefully instructed, that if the goods of this life were his only incitement, they likewise would be his only reward.
44 A separate history of the conquest of Syria has been composed by Al Wakidi, cadi of Bagdad, who was born A.D. 748, and died A.D. 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 spiritual interpreter (Ockley, in his History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 21 — 342) will not deserve the petulant animadversion of Reiske, (Prodidagmata ad Magji Chalifae Tabulas, p. 236.) I am sorry to think that the labors of Ockley were consummated in a jail, (see his two prefaces to the 1st A.D. 1708, to the 2d, 1718, with the list of authors at the end.)
Note: M. Hamaker has clearly shown that neither of these works can be inscribed to Al Wakidi: they are not older than the end of the xith century or later than the middle of the xivth. Praefat. in Inc. Auct. LIb. de Expugnatione Memphidis, c. ix. x. — M.]
45 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.]
46 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.
Note: Several modern travellers (Mr. Fazakerley, in Walpole’s Travels in the East, vol. xi. 371) give very amusing accounts of the terms on which the monks of Mount Sinai live with the neighboring Bedoweens. Such, probably, was their relative state in older times, wherever the Arab retained his Bedoween habits. — M.]
47 Even in the seventh century, the monks were generally laymen: ‘hey 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.)]
* Compare Price, p. 90. — M.]
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, 64 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 this 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 Mussulman 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. 65 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, 66 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.
64 Dair Abil Kodos. After retrenching the last word, the epithet, holy, I discover the Abila of Lysanias 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. 526, 527.)]
65 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.]
66 We hear the tecbir; so the Arabs call
Their shout of onset, when with loud appeal They challenge heaven, as if demanding conquest.
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!]
Syria, 67 one of the countries that have been improved by the most early cultivation, is not unworthy of the preference. 68 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 (Coelesyria) was applied to a long and fruitful valley, which is confined in the same direction, by the two ridges of snowy mountains. 69 Among the cities, which are enumerated by Greek and Oriental names in the geography and conquest 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 Caesars, 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 splendor 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, 70 while the ruins of Baalbec, invisible to the writers of antiquity, excite the curiosity and wonder of the European traveller. 71 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. 72 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 shown 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; familiarized 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. 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 a 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.
67 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, Lipsiae, 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.]
68 The praises of Dionysius are just and lively. Syria, (in Periegesi, v. 902, in tom. iv. Geograph. Minor. Hudson.) In another place he styles the country differently, (v. 898.)
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 compliment to Homer and Dionysius, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. l. iv. c. 2, tom. iii. p. 21, &c.)]
69 The topography of the Libanus and Anti-Libanus is excellently described by the learning and sense of Reland, (Palestin. tom. i. p. 311 — 326)]
70 — Emesae fastigia celsa renident.
Nam diffusa solo latus explicat; ac subit auras
Turribus in coelum nitentibus: incola claris
Cor studiis acuit . . .
Denique flammicomo devoti pectora soli
Vitam agitant. Libanus frondosa cacumina turget.
Et tamen his certant celsi fastigia templi.
These verses of the Latin version of Rufus Avienus 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.,) ascribed them to the fancy, rather than the Mss., of Avienus.]
71 I am much better satisfied with Maundrell’s slight octavo, (Journey, p. 134 — 139), than with the pompous folio of Dr. Pocock, (Description of the East, vol. ii. p. 106 — 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 Pamyra and Baalbec.]
72 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 Sabaeans or Aadites Non sunt in omni Syria aedificia magnificentiora his, (Tabula Syria p. 108.)]
It was incumbent on the Saracens to exert the full powers of their valor 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 Caesarea: 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. 73 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 honorable retreat to the skirts of Palestine and Arabia, where they might await the succors 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 reenforcement 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 neighborhood 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. 74 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 fugitive 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. 75 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, 76 the Christian writers confess and bewail the bloody punishment of their sins. 77 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. 78 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 These 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.
73 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.]
74 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, (Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 185.) The Arabs, and even Abulfeda himself, do not seem to recognize the scene of their victory.]
* Compare Price, p. 79. The army of the Romans is swoller to 400,000 men of which 70,000 perished. — M.]
75 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.)]
76 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 indulge themselves in the practice of comparing speeches and letters for their heroes.]
77 After deploring the sins of the Christians, Theophanes, adds, (Chronograph. p. 276,) does he mean Aiznadin? His account is brief and obscure, but he accuses the numbers of the enemy, the adverse wind, and the cloud of dust. (Chronograph. p. 280.)]
78 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.]
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 Caesarea 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 Aelia. 79
79 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 Aelia (the colony of Aelius Hadrianus) has passed from the Romans to the Arabs. (Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 207, tom. ii. p. 835. D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, Cods, p. 269, Ilia, p. 420.) The epithet of Al Cods, the Holy, is used as the proper name of Jerusalem.]
“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 hog’s 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. 80 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. 81 Sophronius bowed before his new master, and secretly muttered, in the words of Daniel, “The abomination of desolation is in the holy place.” 82 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 honorable motive. “Had I yielded,” said Omar, “to your request, the Moslems of a future age would have infringed the treaty under color of imitating my example.” By his command the ground of the temple of Solomon was prepared for the foundation of a mosch; 83 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. 84
* See the explanation of this in Price, with the prophecy which was hereby fulfilled, p 85. — M]
80 The singular journey and equipage of Omar are described (besides Ockley, vol. i. p. 250) by Murtadi, (Merveilles de l’Egypte, p. 200 — 202.)]
81 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. 447, 579 — 582.)]
82 Theophan. Chronograph. p. 281. This prediction, which had already served for Antiochus and the Romans, was again refitted for the present occasion, by the economy of Sophronius, one of the deepest theologians of the Monothelite controversy.]
83 According to the accurate survey of D’Anville, (Dissertation sun l’ancienne Jerusalem, p. 42 — 54,) the mosch of Omar, enlarged and embellished by succeeding caliphs, covered the ground of the ancient temple, (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.)]
84 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.]
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. The latter of these, the Beraea 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, 85 distinct from the city, stood erect on a lofty artificial mound the sides were sharpened to a precipice, and faced with free-stone; and the breadth of the ditch might be filled with water from the neighboring springs. After the loss of three thousand men, the garrison was still equal to the defence; and Youkinna, their valiant and hereditary chief, had murdered his brother, a 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 honorable 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 Antioch 86 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 of the East, which had been decorated by Caesar 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. 87
85 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 a European eye.]
86 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 Verifier les Dates.)]
87 His bounteous edict, which tempted the grateful city to assume the victory of Pharsalia for a perpetual aera, is given. John Malala, in Chron. p. 91, edit. Venet. We may distinguish his authentic information of domestic facts from his gross ignorance of general history.]
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 the 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. 88 Constantine, his eldest son, had been stationed with forty thousand men at Caesarea, 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 Phoenician cities: Tripoli and Tyre were betrayed; and a fleet of fifty transports, which entered without distrust the captive harbors, brought a seasonable supply of arms and provisions to the camp of the Saracens. Their labors were terminated by the unexpected surrender of Caesarea: the Roman prince had embarked in the night; 89 and the defenceless citizens solicited their pardon with an offering of two hundred thousand pieces of gold. The remainder of the province, Ramlah, 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. 90
88 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 reenter 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.]
89 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, A.D. 638, the emperor crowned his younger son Heraclius, in the presence of his eldest, Constantine, and in the palace of Constantinople; that January 1, A.D. 639, the royal procession visited the great church, and on the 4th of the same month, the hippodrome.]
90 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 the defence of their patrimony (see the original texts collected by Usher, Annal. p. 420)]
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 favor 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 apostasy 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 labor. 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 worl 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. 91 Caled survived his brethren about three years: and the tomb of the Sword of God is shown in the neighborhood of Emesa. His valor, 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. *
91 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 accepted by the divine justice, (Ockley, vol. i. p. 221.)]
* Khaled, according to the Rouzont Uzzuffa, (Price, p. 90,) after having been deprived of his ample share of the plunder of Syria by the jealousy of Omar, died, possessed only of his horse, his arms, and a single slave. Yet Omar was obliged to acknowledge to his lamenting parent. that never mother had produced a son like Khaled. — M.]
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 splendor 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 neighborhood of Constantinople. To the east they advanced to the banks and sources of the Euphrates and Tigris: 92 the long disputed barrier of Rome and Persia was forever 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 or 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 Phoenicia 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. 93 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 aera, the memorable though fruitless siege of Rhodes 94 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 harbor, 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 figures, 95 and the three thousand statues, which adorned the prosperity of the city of the sun.
92 Al Wakidi had likewise written a 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 Chronicle of Dionysius of Telmar, the Jacobite patriarch, records the taking of Edessa A.D. 637, and of Dara A.D. 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.)
Note: It has been published in Arabic by M. Ewald St. Martin, vol. xi p 248; but its authenticity is doubted. — M.]
93 He dreamt that he was at Thessalonica, a harmless and unmeaning vision; but his soothsayer, or his cowardice, understood the sure omen of a defeat concealed in that inauspicious word, Give to another the victory, (Theoph. p. 286. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 88.)]
94 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 the Crete and Cyprus. See, in the iiid vol. of his works, the Rhodus of Meursius, (l. i. c. 15, p. 715 — 719.) The Byzantine writers, Theophanes and Constantine, have ignorantly prolonged the term to 1360 years, and ridiculously divide the weight among 30,000 camels.]
95 Centum colossi alium nobilitaturi locum, says Pliny, with his usual spirit. Hist. Natur. xxxiv. 18.]
II. 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. 96 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 Aethiopian king. 97 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 valor 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 cimeter; 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.” 98 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. 99
96 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.)]
97 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.]
98 This saying is preserved by Pocock, (Not. ad Carmen Tograi, p 184,) and justly applauded by Mr. Harris, (Philosophical Arrangements, p. 850.)]
99 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, (Mem. de l’Academie 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.]
From his camp in Palestine, Amrou had surprised or anticipated the caliph’s leave for the invasion of Egypt. 100 The magnanimous Omar trusted in his God and his sword, which had shaken the thrones of Chosroes and Caesar: 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 succor 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 neighborhood of the modern Cairo.
100 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. 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.]
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 Caesars, 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. 101 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. 102 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 reenforcement of four thousand Saracens soon arrived in his camp; and the military engines, which battered the walls, may be imputed to the art and labor 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. 103 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. 104 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. 105 It has gradually receded from the river; but the continuity of buildings may be traced by an attentive eye from the monuments of Sesostris to those of Saladin. 106
101 Strabo, an accurate and attentive spectator, observes of Heliopolis, (Geograph. l. xvii. p. 1158;) but of Memphis 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.]
102 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.)]
103 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.)]
104 Murtadi, Merveilles de l’Egypte, 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.]
105 D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 233.]
106 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 Memoires 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. p. 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.]
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. 107 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. 108 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 favor 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 forever 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; 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 a hospitable entertainment of three days to every Mussulman who should travel through their country. By this charter of security, the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny of the Melchites was destroyed: 109 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. 110 In the march from Memphis to Alexandria, the lieutenant of Omar intrusted 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.
107 See Herodotus, l. iii. c. 27, 28, 29. Aelian, Hist. Var. l. iv. c. 8. Suidas in, tom. ii. p. 774. Diodor. Sicul. tom. ii. l. xvii. p. 197, edit. Wesseling. Says the last of these historians.]
108 Mokawkas sent the prophet two Coptic damsels, with two maids and one eunuch, an alabaster vase, an ingot of pure gold, oil, honey, and the finest white linen of Egypt, with a 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, (A.D. 628.) See Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 255, 256, 303,) from Al Jannabi.]
109 The praefecture of Egypt, and the conduct of the war, had been trusted by Heraclius to the patriarch Cyrus, (Theophan. p. 280, 281.) “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.)]
110 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]
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 Alexandria 111 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 harbor to save the second capital of the empire. A circumference of ten miles would have scattered the forces of the Greeks, and favored the stratagems of an active enemy; but the two sides of an oblong square were covered by the sea and the Lake Maraeotis, 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 a 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 labors 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 valor: his followers who had entered the citadel were driven back; and the general, with a friend and slave, remained a prisoner in the hands of the Christians. When Amrou was conducted before the praefect, he remembered his dignity, and forgot his situation: a lofty demeanor, 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. At length, after a siege of fourteen months, 112 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.” 113 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. 114 Under the minority of his grandson, the clamors 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 harbor and fortifications of Alexandria were twice occupied by a fleet and army of Romans. They were twice expelled by the valor 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.
111 The local description of Alexandria is perfectly ascertained by the master hand of the first of geographers, (D’Anville, Memoire sur l’Egypte, p. 52 — 63;) but we may borrow the eyes of the modern travellers, more especially of Thevenot, (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 Volmey, the one may amuse, the other will instruct.]
112 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, A.D. 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.]
113 Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 316, 319.]
114 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, A.D. 641, fifty days after the loss of Alexandria. A fourth of that time was sufficient to convey the intelligence.]
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. 115 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 Abulpharagius 116 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 annalist 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. 117 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. 118 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 should not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Caesar in his own defence, 119 or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians, who studied to destroy the monuments of idolatry. 120 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. 121 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, 122 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 objects 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 antiquity 123 had adjudged the first place of genius and glory: the teachers of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had perused and compared the writings of their predecessors; 124 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.
115 Many treatises of this lover of labor 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, A.D. 617, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. 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.]
116 Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 114, vers. Pocock. Audi quid factum sit et mirare. It would be endless to enumerate the moderns who have wondered and believed, but I may distinguish with honor the rational scepticism of Renaudot, (Hist. Alex. Patriarch, p. 170: ) historia . . . habet aliquid ut Arabibus familiare est.]
* Since this period several new Mahometan authorities have been adduced to support the authority of Abulpharagius. That of, I. Abdollatiph by Professor White: II. Of Makrizi; I have seen a Ms. extract from this writer: III. Of Ibn Chaledun: and after them Hadschi Chalfa. See Von Hammer, Geschichte der Assassinen, p. 17. Reinhard, in a German Dissertation, printed at Gottingen, 1792, and St. Croix, (Magasin Encyclop. tom. iv. p. 433,) have examined the question. Among Oriental scholars, Professor White, M. St. Martin, Von Hammer. and Silv. de Sacy, consider the fact of the burning the library, by the command of Omar, beyond question. Compare St. Martin’s note. vol. xi. p. 296. A Mahometan writer brings a similar charge against the Crusaders. The library of Tripoli is said to have contained the incredible number of three millions of volumes. On the capture of the city, Count Bertram of St. Giles, entering the first room, which contained nothing but the Koran, ordered the whole to be burnt, as the works of the false prophet of Arabia. See Wilken. Gesch der Kreux zuge, vol. ii. p. 211. — M.]
117 This curious anecdote will be vainly sought in the annals of Eutychius, and the Saracenic history of Elmacin. The silence of Abulfeda, Murtadi, and a crowd of Moslems, is less conclusive from their ignorance of Christian literature.]
118 See Reland, de Jure Militari Mohammedanorum, in his iiid 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.]
119 Consult the collections of Frensheim (Supplement. Livian, c. 12, 43) and Usher, (Anal. p. 469.) Livy himself had styled the Alexandrian library, elegantiae regum curaeque egregium opus; a liberal encomium, for which he is pertly criticized by the narrow stoicism of Seneca, (De Tranquillitate Animi, c. 9,) whose wisdom, on this occasion, deviates into nonsense.]
120 See this History, vol. iii. p. 146.]
121 Aulus Gellius, (Noctes Atticae, vi. 17,) Ammianus Marcellinua, (xxii. 16,) and Orosius, (l. vi. c. 15.) They all speak in the past tense, and the words of Ammianus are remarkably strong: fuerunt Bibliothecae innumerabiles; et loquitum monumentorum veterum concinens fides, &c.]
122 Renaudot answers for versions of the Bible, Hexapla, Catenoe 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.]
123 I have often perused with pleasure a chapter of Quintilian, (Institut. Orator. x. i.,) in which that judicious critic enumerates and appreciates the series of Greek and Latin classics.]
124 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 Aethiopic books into the library of Alexandria; nor is it proved that philosophy has sustained any real loss from their exclusion.]
In the administration of Egypt, 125 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 labored to injure and supplant. He excited the latter by the motives of religion and honor 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 a 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 dikes 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. 126 But the genius of Amrou soon renewed the maritime communication which had been attempted or achieved by the Pharaohs the Ptolemies, or the Caesars; 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. 127
125 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.]
126 Eutychius, Annal. tom. ii. p. 320. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 35.]
* Many learned men have doubted the existence of a communication by water between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean by the Nile. Yet the fact is positively asserted by the ancients. Diodorus Siculus (l. i. p. 33) speaks of it in the most distinct manner as existing in his time. So, also, Strabo, (l. xvii. p. 805.) Pliny (vol. vi. p. 29) says that the canal which united the two seas was navigable, (alveus navigabilis.) The indications furnished by Ptolemy and by the Arabic historian, Makrisi, show that works were executed under the reign of Hadrian to repair the canal and extend the navigation; it then received the name of the River of Trajan Lucian, (in his Pseudomantis, p. 44,) says that he went by water from Alexandria to Clysma, on the Red Sea. Testimonies of the 6th and of the 8th century show that the communication was not interrupted at that time. See the French translation of Strabo, vol. v. p. 382. St. Martin vol. xi. p. 299. — M.]
127 On these obscure canals, the reader may try to satisfy himself from D’Anville, (Mem. 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. (Memoires du Baron de Tott, tom. iv.)]
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. 128 “O commander of the faithful, Egypt is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a pulverized mountain and a red sand. The distance from Syene to the sea is a month’s journey for a 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 fertilizing 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 labor 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.” 129 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 color to an edifying fable. It is said, that the annual sacrifice of a virgin 130 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 license of their romantic spirit. We may read, in the gravest authors, that Egypt was crowded with twenty thousand cities or villages: 131 that, exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone were found, on the assessment, six millions of tributary subjects, 132 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 caliphs. 133 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. 134 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. 135 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. 136 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. 137
128 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.)]
129 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:—
What wonder in the sultry climes that spread,
Where Nile, redundant o’er his summer bed,
From his broad bosom life and verdure flings,
And broods o’er Egypt with his watery wings:
If with adventurous oar, and ready sail,
The dusky people drive before the gale:
Or on frail floats to neighboring cities ride.
That rise and glitter o’er the ambient tide.
(Mason’s Works and Memoirs of Gray, p. 199, 200.)]
130 Murtadi, p. 164 — 167. The reader will not easily credit a human sacrifice under the Christian emperors, or a miracle of the successors of Mahomet.]
131 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.]
132 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 or 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.]
133 Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 218; and this gross lump is swallowed without scruple by D’Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 1031,) Ar. buthnot, (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 favor of the Ptolemies (in praefat.) 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.)]
134 See the measurement of D’Anville, (Mem. 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.]
135 Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexand. p. 334, who calls the common reading or version of Elmacin, error librarii. 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 Thevenot, part i. p. 824.) Pauw (Recherches, tom. ii. p. 365 — 373) gradually raises the revenue of the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, and the Caesars, from six to fifteen millions of German crowns.]
136 The list of Schultens (Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit. Saladin. p. 5) contains 2396 places; that of D’Anville, (Mem. sur l’Egypte, p. 29,) from the divan of Cairo, enumerates 2696.]
137 See Maillet, (Description de l’Egypte, p. 28,) who seems to argue with candor 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. Aegypt. Arab. et Lat. a Joh. David Michaelis, Gottingae, 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.]
IV. The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, 138 was first attempted by the arms of the caliph Othman.
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 intrusted to Abdallah, 139 the son of Said and the foster-brother of the caliph, who had lately supplanted the conqueror and lieutenant of Egypt. Yet the favor of the prince, and the merit of his favorite, 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; out 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 honorable 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, 140 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 reenforcement 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 praefect Gregory 141 to relinquish the labors 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 cimeter; and the richness of her arms and apparel were conspicuous in the foremost ranks of the battle. Her hand, with a 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.
138 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, (Hist. de l’Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 111 — 125, and 136.) They derive their principal information from Novairi, who composed, A.D. 1331 an Encyclopaedia 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 Chalifae Tabulas, p. 232 — 234.) Among the older historians who are quoted by Navairi we may distinguish the original narrative of a soldier who led the van of the Moslems.]
139 See the history of Abdallah, in Abulfeda (Vit. Mohammed. p. 108) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. 45 — 48.)]
140 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. 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.]
141 Theophanes, who mentions the defeat, rather than the death, of Gregory. He brands the praefect with the name: he had probably assumed the purple, (Chronograph. p. 285.)]
A noble Arabian, who afterwards became the adversary of Ali, and the father of a caliph, had signalized his valor in Egypt, and Zobeir 142 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 praefect. “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.” To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the lieutenant of the caliph intrusted the execution of his own stratagem, which inclined the long-disputed balance in favor 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 armor 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 praefect 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 triumpha arch, a portico, and three temples of the Corinthian order, curiosity may yet admire the magnificence of the Romans. 143 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 favorite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces of gold; 144 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 praefect’s daughter at the sight of Zobeir revealed the valor 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 labored for a recompense far above the charms of mortal beauty, or the riches of this transitory life. A reward congenial to his temper was the honorable 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. 145
142 See in Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 45) the death of Zobeir, which was honored with the tears of Ali, against whom he had rebelled. His valor at the siege of Babylon, if indeed it be the same person, is mentioned by Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 308)]
143 Shaw’s Travels, p. 118, 119.]
144 Mimica emptio, says Abulfeda, erat haec, et mira donatio; quandoquidem Othman, ejus nomine nummos ex aerario prius ablatos aerario praestabat, (Annal. Moslem. p. 78.) Elmacin (in his cloudy version, p. 39) seems to report the same job. When the Arabs be sieged the palace of Othman, it stood high in their catalogue of grievances.‘]
145 Theophan. Chronograph. p. 235 edit. Paris. His chronology is loose and inaccurate.]
[A. D. 665-689.] 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 zantine 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 patriarch 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 lieutenant 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.146 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. 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;147 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 seacoast, the well-known titles of Bugia,148 and Tangier149 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.
146 Theophanes (in Chronograph. p. 293.) 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. 1. v. c. 13), that at this time they sent a fleet from Alexandria into the Sicilian and African seas.]
147 See Novairi (apud Otter, p. 118), Leo Africanus (fol. 81, verso), who reckoned only cinque citta e infinite casal, Marmol (Description de l’Afrique, tom. iii. p. 33,) and Shaw (Travels, p. 57, 65-68)]
148 Leo African. fol. 58, verso, 59, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 415. Shaw, p. 43]
149 Leo African. fol. 52. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 228.]
The province of Mauritania Tingitana,150 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,151 and the shores of the ocean for the purple shellfish. 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,152 and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert. The river Suz descends from the western sides of mount Atlas, fertilizes, like the Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the sea at a moderate distance from the Canary, or adjacent 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 afterward 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 another gods than thee.”153 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 scimeters, broke their scabbards, and maintained an obstinate combat, till they fell by each other’s side on the last of their slaughtered countrymen. 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.
150 Regio ignobilis, et vix quicquam illustre sortita, parvis oppidis habitatur, parva flumina emittit, solo quam viris meleor et segnitie gentis obscura. Pomponius Mela, i. 5, iii. 10. Mela deserves the more credit, since his own Phoenician 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 afterward, Pliny (Hist. Nat. v. i.) complains of his authors, to lazy to inquire, too proud to confess their ignorance of that wild and remote province.]
151 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 (latefundii 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 Linnaean 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. (Flinian. Exercitat. tom. ii. p 666, &c.)]
152 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 third volume of Marmol, Description de l’Afrique. The third vol. of The Recherches Historiques sur les Maures (lately published at Paris) illustrates the history and geography of the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco.]
153 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.]
[A. D. 670-675.] 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 in 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, Cairoan154 still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis, from which it is distant about fifty miles to the south;155 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 mosque 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. 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.156
[A. D. 692-698.] 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 seacoast 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 praefect and patrician John, a general of experience and renown, embarked at Constantinople the forces of the Eastern empire;157 they were joined by the ships and soldiers of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths158 was obtained from the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch.
154 The foundation of Cairoan is mentioned by Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 129, 130); and the situation, mosque, &c. of the city are described by Leo Africanus (fol. 75), Marmol (tom. ii. p. 532), and Shaw (p. 115).]
155 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 seacoast. 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).]
156 Besides the Arabic Chronicles of Abulfeda, Elmacin, and Abulpharagius, under the lxxiiid year of the Hegira, we may consult nd’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 has forgot a physical effect of her grief for his death, the return, at the age of ninety, and fatal consequences of her menses.]
157 The patriarch of Constantinople, with Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 309,) have slightly mentioned this last attempt for the relief or 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).]
158 Dove s’erano ridotti i nobili Romani e i Gotti; and afterward, i Romani suggirono e i Gotti lasciarono Carthagine. (Leo African. for. 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.]
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 faithful159 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; and 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 Dido160 and Cesar 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 mosque, 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.161
[A. D. 698-709.] The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not yet masters of the country. In the interior provinces the Moors or Berbers,162 so feeble under the first Cesars, 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; 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.
159 This commander is styled by Nicephorus, ———— a vague though not improper definition of the caliph. Theophanes introduces the strange appellation of ————— which his interpreter Goar explains by Vizir Azem. They may approach the truth, in assigning the active part to the minister, rather than the prince; but they forget that the Ommiades had only a kaleb, or secretary, and that the office of Vizir was not revived or instituted till the 132d year of the Hegira (d’Herbelot, 912).]
160 According to Solinus (1.27, 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 Velleius Paterculus: but the latter is preferred by our chronologists (Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 398,) as more agreeable to the Hebrew and Syrian annals.]
161 Leo African. fo1. 71, verso; 72, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p.445-447. Shaw, p.80.]
162 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. 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.]
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 Musa 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 thee 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 Lybian 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.163
[A. D. 709.] 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.164 As early as the time of Othman165 their piratical squadrons had ravaged the coast of Andalusia;166 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. 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.167
163 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.]
164 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.]
165 Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p 78, vers. Reiske.]
166 The name of Andalusia 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.)]
167 The fall and resurrection of the Gothic monarchy are related by Mariana (tom. l. p. 238-260, l. vi. c. 19 — 26, l. vii. c. 1, 2). That historian has infused into his noble work (Historic de Rebus Hispaniae, libri xxx. Hagae Comitum 1733, in four volumes, folio, with the continuation of Miniana), the style and spirit of a Roman classic; and after the twelfth 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.]
If we inquire into the cause of this treachery, the Spaniards will repeat the popular story of his daughter Cava;168 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.169 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 a useful or formidable subject: his estates were ample, his followers bold and numerous, and it was too fatally shown that, by his Andalusian and Mauritanian commands, he held in his hands 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 city 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.170
168 Le viol (says Voltaire) est aussi difficile a faire qu’a prouver. Des Eveques se seroient ils lignes pour une fille? (Hist. Generale, c. xxvi.) His argument is not logically conclusive.]
169 In the story of Cava, Mariana (I. 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. A.D. 713, No. 19), that of Lucus Tudensis, a Gallician deacon of the thirteenth century, only says, Cava quam pro concubina utebatur.]
170 The Orientals, Elmacin, Abulpharagins, Abolfeda, 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. 12mo. tom. i. p. 55-114), and more concisely by M. de Guignes (Hist. des Hune. tom. i. p. 347-350). 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. 315 — 332. On this occasion, the industry of Pagi has been aided by the Arabic learning of his friend the Abbe de Longuerue, and to their joint labours I am deeply indebted.]
[A. D. 710.] 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 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 event171 is fixed to the month of Ramandan, of the ninety-first year of the Hegira, to the month of July, seven hundred and forty-eight years from the Spanish era of Cesar,172 seven hundred and ten after the birth of Christ. From their first station, they marched eighteen miles through a hilly country to the castle and town of Julian;173 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 landed174 at the pillar or point of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of Gibraltar (Gebel el 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 a 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 malecontents 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 Xeres175 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.
171 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 (Critics, tom. iii. p. 164. 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.]
172 The Era of Cesar, 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. 553. Appian de Bell. Civil. l. v. p. 1034, edit. fol.) Spain was a province of Cesar Octavian; and Tarragona, which raised the first temple to Augustus (Tacit Annal. i. 78), might borrow from the orientals this mode of flattery.]
173 The road, the country, the old castle of count Julian, and the superstitious belief of the Spaniards of hidden treasures, &c. are described by Pere Labat (Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, tom i. p. 207-217), with his usual pleasantry.]
174 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.]
175 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).]
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 to 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 Boetis or Guadalquiver. 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.”176.
[A. D. 711.] 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 Saracens. “The king of the Goths is slain; their princes are fled before you, the army is routed, the nation is astonished. Secure with sufficient detachments the cities of Boetica; 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 seacoast of Boetica, 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 Boetis to the Tagus,177 was directed through the Sierra Morena, that separates Andalusia and Castille, till he appeared in arms under the walls of Toledo.178 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 or 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 those of Mahomet, was maintained till the final era of their common expulsion.
176 Id sane infortunii regibus pedem ex acie referentibus saepe contingit. Den Hazil of Grenada, in Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana. tom. ii. p. 337. Some credulous Spaniards believe that king Roderic, or Rodrigo, escaped to a 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. 1.)]
177 The direct road from Corduba to Toledo was measured by Mr. Swinburne’s mules in 72 1/2 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.]
178 The antiquities of Toledo, Urbs Parva in the Punic wars, Urbs Regia in the sixth century, are briefly described by Nonius (Hispania, c. 59, p. 181-136). He borrows from Roderic the fatale palatium of Moorish portraits; but modestly insinuates, that it was no more than a Roman amphitheatre.]
From the royal seat of Toledo, the Arabian leader spread his conquests to the north, over the modern realms of Castille and Leon; but it is heedless to enumerate the cities that yielded on his approach, or again to describe the table of emerald,179 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 term180 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.181 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 the 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.182
179 In the Historia Arabum (c. 9, p. 17, ad calcem Elmacin), Roderic of Toledo describes the emerald tables, and inserts the name of Medinat Ahneyda in Arabic words and letters. He appears to be conversant with the 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 a hundred years before Novairi composed his history. This mistake is founded on a still grosser error. M. de Guignes confounds the governed historian Roderic Ximines, archbishop of Toledo, in the xiiith century, with cardinal Ximines, who governed Spain in the beginning of the xvith, and was the subject, not the author, of historical compositions.]
180 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.”]
181 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 Hispaniae in uno congregatus Ismaelitarum non valuit sustinere impetum. Chron. Alphonsi Regis, apud Pagi, tom. iii. p. 177.]
182 The revival of tire Gothic kingdom in the Asturias is distinctly though concisely noticed by d’Anville (Etats de l’Europe, p. 159)]
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 labor of Musa, who transported his camp from the Boetis 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 honor of their descent from the veteran legionaries of Augustus 183 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 Tarragonest 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 Pyrenaean mountains into their Gallic province of Septimania or Languedoc. 184 In the church of St. Mary at Carcassone, 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 Theodemir 185 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, Alicanti 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 Mussulman witnesses.” 186 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. 187 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.
183 The honorable relics of the Cantabrian war (Dion Cassius, l. liii p. 720) 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 haec olim nobilissima ad magnam incolarum infrequentiam delapsa est, et praeter priscae claritatis ruinas nihil ostendit.]
184 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, 135,) 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, A.D. 721, (Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 177, 195. Historians of France, tom. iii.) I much question whether Musa ever passed the Pyrenees.]
185 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, lucerne, oranges, &c.]
* Gibbon has made eight cities: in Conde’s translation Bigera does not appear. — M.]
186 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, A.D. 713; a date which seems to prolong the resistance of Theodemir, and the government of Musa.]
187 From the history of Sandoval, p. 87. Fleury (Hist. Eccles. tom. ix. p. 261) has given the substance of another treaty concluded A Ae. C. 782, A.D. 734, between an Arabian chief and the Goths and Romans, of the territory of Conimbra 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 neighboring convent.]
The exploits of Musa were performed in the evening of life, though he affected to disguise his age by coloring with a red powder the whiteness of his beard. But in the love of action and glory, his breast was still fired with the ardor 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. 188 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 a 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 honors 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 favorably treated: his services were forgiven; and Tarik was permitted to mingle with the crowd of slaves. 189 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.
188 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 Crimaea to Rome; or with that of Caesar, to conquer the East, and return home by the North; and all three are perhaps surpassed by the real and successful enterprise of Hannibal.]
189 I much regret our loss, or my ignorance, of two Arabic works of the viiith 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 vizier 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.)]
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. 190 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 harbors, the inhabitants and cities, the climate, the soil, and the mineral productions of the earth. 191 In the space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved by the agriculture, 192 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. 193 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; 194 a sum which, in the tenth century, most probably surpassed the united revenues of the Christians 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 aera of the riches, the cultivation, and the populousness of Spain. 195
190 Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32, 252. The former of these quotations is taken 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 A.D. 1313, died A.D. 1374,) was an historian, geographer, physician, poet, &c., (tom. ii. p. 71, 72.)]
191 Cardonne, Hist. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne, tom. i. p. 116, 117.]
192 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.)]
193 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 caeterisque Christianis, Hispanis suis Castellae. The name of Castellae was unknown in the viiith century; the kingdom was not erected till the year 1022, a 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.]
194 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.]
195 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, opera et studio Michaelis Casiri, Syro Maronitoe. Matriti, in folio, tomus prior, 1760, tomus posterior, 1770. The execution of this work does honor 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.
Note: Compare the valuable work of Conde, Historia de la Dominacion de las Arabes en Espana. Madrid, 1820. — M.]
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; 196 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. 197 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.
196 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 obtinenda conscientiae libertate, (Reland, Dissertat. x. de Jure Militari Mohammedan. tom. iii. p. 14;) a rigid theory!]
197 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 Mamum with the idolaters or Sabaeans of Charrae, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 107, 108.)]
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 Zoroaster 198 might, under the reverend name of Abraham, be dexterously connected with the chain of divine revelation. Their evil principle, the daemon 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 stigmatized as a gross and criminal idolatry. 199 The milder sentiment was consecrated by the practice of Mahomet 200 and the prudence of the caliphs; the Magians or Ghebers were ranked with the Jews and Christians among the people of the written law; 201 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. 202 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 splendor of the adjoining temple of fire. A fanatic Iman deplored, in his sermons, the scandalous neighborhood, 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 Mirchond 203) with this holy and meritorious perjury. 204 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. 205 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 continues 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 fervor 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. 206
198 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 honorably styled the religion of Abraham, (D’Herblot, 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 honor, a poor honor, of being their masters.
* Whatever the real age of the Zendavesta, published by Anquetil du Perron, whether of the time of Ardeschir Babeghan, according to Mr. Erskine, or of much higher antiquity, it may be considered, I conceive, both a “pure and a free,” though imperfect, description of Zoroastrianism; particularly with the illustrations of the original translator, and of the German Kleuker — M.]
199 The Arabian Nights, a faithful and amusing picture of the Oriental world, represent in the most odious colors of the Magians, or worshippers of fire, to whom they attribute the annual sacrifice of a Mussulman. 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.]
200 Vie de Mahomet, par Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 114, 115.)]
201 Hae tres sectae, Judaei, Christiani, et qui inter Persas Magorum institutis addicti sunt, populi libri dicuntur, (Reland, Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 15.) The caliph Al Mamun confirms this honorable distinction in favor of the three sects, with the vague and equivocal religion of the Sabaeans, under which the ancient polytheists of Charrae were allowed to shelter their idolatrous worship, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient p. 167, 168.)]
202 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.)]
203 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, (A.D. 1471.) In the year 904 (A.D. 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. 927, A.D. 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, (Viennae, 1782, in 4to., cum notis Bernard de Jenisch;) and the editor allows us to hope for a continuation of Mirchond.]
204 Quo testimonio boni se quidpiam praestitisse 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.]
205 The last Magian of name and power appears to be Mardavige the Dilemite, who, in the beginning of the 10th century, reigned in the northern provinces of Persia, near the Caspian Sea, (D’Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 355.) But his soldiers and successors, the Bowides either professed or embraced the Mahometan faith; and under their dynasty (A.D. 933 — 1020) I should say the fall of the religion of Zoroaster.]
206 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, Thevenot, Tavernier, &c., whom I have fruitlessly searched, had neither eyes nor attention for this interesting people.]
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 Augustin 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; 207 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: 208 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 Seventh 209 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 complaint 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 Mozarabes 210 (adoptive Arabs) was applied to their civil or religious conformity. 211 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. 212 The throne of the Almohades, or Unitarians, was founded on the blindest fanaticism, and their extraordinary rigor might be provoked or justified by the recent victories and intolerant zeal of the princes of Sicily and Castille, 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 Tripoli to the Atlantic has lost all memory of the language and religion of Rome. 213
207 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. de l’Afrique et de l’Espagne, tom. i. p. 168.)]
208 Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 66. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 287, 288.]
209 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. A.D. 1053, No. 14, A.D. 1073, No. 13,) who investigates the name and family of the Moorish prince, with whom the proudest of the Roman pontiffs so politely corresponds.]
210 Mozarabes, or Mostarabes, 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. Ae. C. 1687, A.D. 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.]
211 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, Hist. Eccles. tom. xii. p. 91.)]
212 Pagi, Critica, tom. iv. A.D. 1149, No. 8, 9. He justly observes, that when Seville, &c., were retaken by Ferdinand of Castille, no Christians, except captives, were found in the place; and that the Mozarabic churches of Africa and Spain, described by James a Vitriaco, A.D. 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 (A.D. 1278) must apply to the copy, not the composition, of a treatise of a jurisprudence, which states the civil rights of the Christians of Cordova, (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 471;) and that the Jews were the only dissenters whom Abul Waled, king of Grenada, (A.D. 1313,) could either discountenance or tolerate, (tom. ii. p. 288.)]
213 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.]
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. 214 Yet this partial jealousy was healed by time and submission; the churches of Egypt were shared with the Catholics; 215 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.” 216 But the slaves of despotism are exposed to the alternatives of favor 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. 217 About two hundred years after Mahomet, they were separated from their fellow — subjects by a turban or girdle of a less honorable color; instead of horses or mules. they were condemned to ride on asses, in the attitude of women. Their public and private building 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 Mussulman, 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 upon 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. 218
214 Absit (said the Catholic to the vizier of Bagdad) ut pari loco habeas Nestorianos, quorum praeter Arabas nullus alius rex est, et Graecos 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.]
215 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.]
216 Motadhed, who reigned from A.D. 892 to 902. The Magians still held their name and rank among the religions of the empire, (Assemanni, Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 97.)]
217 Reland explains the general restraints of the Mahometan policy and jurisprudence, (Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 16 — 20.) The oppressive edicts of the caliph Motawakkel, (A.D. 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.)]
218 The martyrs of Cordova (A.D. 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’autorite de l’eglise, &c. (Fleury, Hist. Eccles. 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.]
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. 219 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. 220
219 See the article Eslamiah, (as we say Christendom,) in the Bibliotheque Orientale, (p. 325.) This chart of the Mahometan world is suited by the author, Ebn Alwardi, to the year of the Hegira 385 (A.D. 995.) Since that time, the losses in Spain have been overbalanced by the conquests in India, Tartary, and the European Turkey.]
220 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 Provencal, Spanish, and Portuguese, (Niebuhr, Description de l’Arabie, p. 74, &c.)]
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