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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 5 by Edward Gibbon

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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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 113: Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 316, 319.]

[Footnote 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.]

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.

Part VII.

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.

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote *: 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 120: See this History, vol. iii. p. 146.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 126: Eutychius, Annal. tom. ii. p. 320. Elmacin, Hist.
Saracen. p. 35.]

[Footnote *: 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 139: See the history of Abdallah, in Abulfeda (Vit.
Mohammed. p. 108) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. 45 -

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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)]

[Footnote 143: Shaw's Travels, p. 118, 119.]

[Footnote 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.`]

[Footnote 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 Tangier^149 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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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)]

[Footnote 148: Leo African. fol. 58, verso, 59, recto. Marmol,
tom. ii. p. 415. Shaw, p. 43]

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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, Cairoan^154 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

[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 Goths^158 was obtained from
the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch.

[Footnote 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).]

[Footnote 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).]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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).]

[Footnote 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 faithful^159 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 Dido^160 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

[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.

[Footnote 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).]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 161: Leo African. fo1. 71, verso; 72, recto. Marmol,
tom. ii. p.445-447. Shaw, p.80.]

[Footnote 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

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 Othman^165 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 165: Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p 78, vers. Reiske.]

[Footnote 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,

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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 event^171 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 landed^174 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 Xeres^175 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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
term^180 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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."]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 182: The revival of tire Gothic kingdom in the Asturias is
distinctly though concisely noticed by d'Anville (Etats de l'Europe,
p. 159)]

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.

Part IX.

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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote *: Gibbon has made eight cities: in Conde's translation
Bigera does not appear. - M.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 191: Cardonne, Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, tom.
i. p. 116, 117.]

[Footnote 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.)]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.]

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote 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!]

[Footnote 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

[Footnote 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.

[Footnote *: 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.]

[Footnote 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

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