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

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sharpened by this mistake, (Hist. de Timour Bec, par Cherefeddin
Ali Yezdi, l. v.]

[Footnote 200: Vie de Mahomet, par Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 114,

[Footnote 201: Hae tres sectae, Judaei, Christiani, et qui inter
Persas Magorum institutis addicti sunt, populi libri dicuntur,
(Reland, Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 15.) The caliph Al Mamun
confirms this honorable distinction in favor of the three sects,
with the vague and equivocal religion of the Sabaeans, under
which the ancient polytheists of Charrae were allowed to shelter
their idolatrous worship, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient p. 167, 168.)]

[Footnote 202: This singular story is related by D'Herbelot,
(Bibliot. Orient. p 448, 449,) on the faith of Khondemir, and by
Mirchond himself, (Hist priorum Regum Persarum, &c., p. 9, 10,
not. p. 88, 89.)]

[Footnote 203: Mirchond, (Mohammed Emir Khoondah Shah,) a native
of Herat, composed in the Persian language a general history of
the East, from the creation to the year of the Hegira 875, (A.D.
1471.) In the year 904 (A.D. 1498) the historian obtained the
command of a princely library, and his applauded work, in seven
or twelve parts, was abbreviated in three volumes by his son
Khondemir, A. H. 927, A.D. 1520. The two writers, most
accurately distinguished by Petit de la Croix, (Hist. de
Genghizcan, p.537, 538, 544, 545,) are loosely confounded by
D'Herbelot, (p. 358, 410, 994, 995: ) but his numerous extracts,
under the improper name of Khondemir, belong to the father rather
than the son. The historian of Genghizcan refers to a Ms. of
Mirchond, which he received from the hands of his friend
D'Herbelot himself. A curious fragment (the Taherian and
Soffarian Dynasties) has been lately published in Persic and
Latin, (Viennae, 1782, in 4to., cum notis Bernard de Jenisch;)
and the editor allows us to hope for a continuation of Mirchond.]

[Footnote 204: Quo testimonio boni se quidpiam praestitisse
opinabantur. Yet Mirchond must have condemned their zeal, since
he approved the legal toleration of the Magi, cui (the fire
temple) peracto singulis annis censu uti sacra Mohammedis lege
cautum, ab omnibus molestiis ac oneribus libero esse licuit.]

[Footnote 205: The last Magian of name and power appears to be
Mardavige the Dilemite, who, in the beginning of the 10th
century, reigned in the northern provinces of Persia, near the
Caspian Sea, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 355.) But his
soldiers and successors, the Bowides either professed or embraced
the Mahometan faith; and under their dynasty (A.D. 933 - 1020) I
should say the fall of the religion of Zoroaster.]

[Footnote 206: The present state of the Ghebers in Persia is
taken from Sir John Chardin, not indeed the most learned, but the
most judicious and inquisitive of our modern travellers, (Voyages
en Perse, tom. ii. p. 109, 179 - 187, in 4to.) His brethren,
Pietro della Valle, Olearius, Thevenot, Tavernier, &c., whom I
have fruitlessly searched, had neither eyes nor attention for
this interesting people.]

The Northern coast of Africa is the only land in which the
light of the gospel, after a long and perfect establishment, has
been totally extinguished. The arts, which had been taught by
Carthage and Rome, were involved in a cloud of ignorance; the
doctrine of Cyprian and Augustin was no longer studied. Five
hundred episcopal churches were overturned by the hostile fury of
the Donatists, the Vandals, and the Moors. The zeal and numbers
of the clergy declined; and the people, without discipline, or
knowledge, or hope, submissively sunk under the yoke of the
Arabian prophet Within fifty years after the expulsion of the
Greeks, a lieutenant of Africa informed the caliph that the
tribute of the infidels was abolished by their conversion; ^207
and, though he sought to disguise his fraud and rebellion, his
specious pretence was drawn from the rapid and extensive progress
of the Mahometan faith. In the next age, an extraordinary
mission of five bishops was detached from Alexandria to Cairoan.
They were ordained by the Jacobite patriarch to cherish and
revive the dying embers of Christianity: ^208 but the
interposition of a foreign prelate, a stranger to the Latins, an
enemy to the Catholics, supposes the decay and dissolution of the
African hierarchy. It was no longer the time when the successor
of St. Cyprian, at the head of a numerous synod, could maintain
an equal contest with the ambition of the Roman pontiff. In the
eleventh century, the unfortunate priest who was seated on the
ruins of Carthage implored the arms and the protection of the
Vatican; and he bitterly complains that his naked body had been
scourged by the Saracens, and that his authority was disputed by
the four suffragans, the tottering pillars of his throne. Two
epistles of Gregory the Seventh ^209 are destined to soothe the
distress of the Catholics and the pride of a Moorish prince. The
pope assures the sultan that they both worship the same God, and
may hope to meet in the bosom of Abraham; but the complaint that
three bishops could no longer be found to consecrate a brother,
announces the speedy and inevitable ruin of the episcopal order.
The Christians of Africa and Spain had long since submitted to
the practice of circumcision and the legal abstinence from wine
and pork; and the name of Mozarabes ^210 (adoptive Arabs) was
applied to their civil or religious conformity. ^211 About the
middle of the twelfth century, the worship of Christ and the
succession of pastors were abolished along the coast of Barbary,
and in the kingdoms of Cordova and Seville, of Valencia and
Grenada. ^212 The throne of the Almohades, or Unitarians, was
founded on the blindest fanaticism, and their extraordinary rigor
might be provoked or justified by the recent victories and
intolerant zeal of the princes of Sicily and Castille, of Arragon
and Portugal. The faith of the Mozarabes was occasionally
revived by the papal missionaries; and, on the landing of Charles
the Fifth, some families of Latin Christians were encouraged to
rear their heads at Tunis and Algiers. But the seed of the gospel
was quickly eradicated, and the long province from Tripoli to the
Atlantic has lost all memory of the language and religion of
Rome. ^213

[Footnote 207: The letter of Abdoulrahman, governor or tyrant of
Africa, to the caliph Aboul Abbas, the first of the Abbassides,
is dated A. H. 132 Cardonne, Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne,
tom. i. p. 168.)]

[Footnote 208: Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 66. Renaudot, Hist.
Patriarch. Alex. p. 287, 288.]

[Footnote 209: Among the Epistles of the Popes, see Leo IX.
epist. 3; Gregor. VII. l. i. epist. 22, 23, l. iii. epist. 19,
20, 21; and the criticisms of Pagi, (tom. iv. A.D. 1053, No. 14,
A.D. 1073, No. 13,) who investigates the name and family of the
Moorish prince, with whom the proudest of the Roman pontiffs so
politely corresponds.]

[Footnote 210: Mozarabes, or Mostarabes, adscititii, as it is
interpreted in Latin, (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 39, 40.
Bibliot. Arabico- Hispana, tom. ii. p. 18.) The Mozarabic
liturgy, the ancient ritual of the church of Toledo, has been
attacked by the popes, and exposed to the doubtful trials of the
sword and of fire, (Marian. Hist. Hispan. tom. i. l. ix. c. 18,
p. 378.) It was, or rather it is, in the Latin tongue; yet in the
xith century it was found necessary (A. Ae. C. 1687, A.D. 1039)
to transcribe an Arabic version of the canons of the councils of
Spain, (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 547,) for the use of the
bishops and clergy in the Moorish kingdoms.]

[Footnote 211: About the middle of the xth century, the clergy of
Cordova was reproached with this criminal compliance, by the
intrepid envoy of the Emperor Otho I., (Vit. Johan. Gorz, in
Secul. Benedict. V. No. 115, apud Fleury, Hist. Eccles. tom. xii.
p. 91.)]

[Footnote 212: Pagi, Critica, tom. iv. A.D. 1149, No. 8, 9. He
justly observes, that when Seville, &c., were retaken by
Ferdinand of Castille, no Christians, except captives, were found
in the place; and that the Mozarabic churches of Africa and
Spain, described by James a Vitriaco, A.D. 1218, (Hist. Hierosol.
c. 80, p. 1095, in Gest. Dei per Francos,) are copied from some
older book. I shall add, that the date of the Hegira 677 (A.D.
1278) must apply to the copy, not the composition, of a treatise
of a jurisprudence, which states the civil rights of the
Christians of Cordova, (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 471;) and
that the Jews were the only dissenters whom Abul Waled, king of
Grenada, (A.D. 1313,) could either discountenance or tolerate,
(tom. ii. p. 288.)]

[Footnote 213: Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 288. Leo
Africanus would have flattered his Roman masters, could he have
discovered any latent relics of the Christianity of Africa.]

After the revolution of eleven centuries, the Jews and
Christians of the Turkish empire enjoy the liberty of conscience
which was granted by the Arabian caliphs. During the first age
of the conquest, they suspected the loyalty of the Catholics,
whose name of Melchites betrayed their secret attachment to the
Greek emperor, while the Nestorians and Jacobites, his inveterate
enemies, approved themselves the sincere and voluntary friends of
the Mahometan government. ^214 Yet this partial jealousy was
healed by time and submission; the churches of Egypt were shared
with the Catholics; ^215 and all the Oriental sects were included
in the common benefits of toleration. The rank, the immunities,
the domestic jurisdiction of the patriarchs, the bishops, and the
clergy, were protected by the civil magistrate: the learning of
individuals recommended them to the employments of secretaries
and physicians: they were enriched by the lucrative collection of
the revenue; and their merit was sometimes raised to the command
of cities and provinces. A caliph of the house of Abbas was
heard to declare that the Christians were most worthy of trust in
the administration of Persia. "The Moslems," said he, "will
abuse their present fortune; the Magians regret their fallen
greatness; and the Jews are impatient for their approaching
deliverance." ^216 But the slaves of despotism are exposed to the
alternatives of favor and disgrace. The captive churches of the
East have been afflicted in every age by the avarice or bigotry
of their rulers; and the ordinary and legal restraints must be
offensive to the pride, or the zeal, of the Christians. ^217
About two hundred years after Mahomet, they were separated from
their fellow- subjects by a turban or girdle of a less honorable
color; instead of horses or mules. they were condemned to ride on
asses, in the attitude of women. Their public and private
building were measured by a diminutive standard; in the streets
or the baths it is their duty to give way or bow down before the
meanest of the people; and their testimony is rejected, if it may
tend to the prejudice of a true believer. The pomp of
processions, the sound of bells or of psalmody, is interdicted in
their worship; a decent reverence for the national faith is
imposed on their sermons and conversations; and the sacrilegious
attempt to enter a mosch, or to seduce a Mussulman, will not be
suffered to escape with impunity. In a time, however, of
tranquillity and justice, the Christians have never been
compelled to renounce the Gospel, or to embrace the Koran; but
the punishment of death is inflicted upon the apostates who have
professed and deserted the law of Mahomet. The martyrs of
Cordova provoked the sentence of the cadhi, by the public
confession of their inconstancy, or their passionate invectives
against the person and religion of the prophet. ^218

[Footnote 214: Absit (said the Catholic to the vizier of Bagdad)
ut pari loco habeas Nestorianos, quorum praeter Arabas nullus
alius rex est, et Graecos quorum reges amovendo Arabibus bello
non desistunt, &c. See in the Collections of Assemannus
(Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 94 - 101) the state of the
Nestorians under the caliphs. That of the Jacobites is more
concisely exposed in the Preliminary Dissertation of the second
volume of Assemannus.]

[Footnote 215: Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 384, 387, 388.
Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 205, 206, 257, 332. A taint
of the Monothelite heresy might render the first of these Greek
patriarchs less loyal to the emperors and less obnoxious to the

[Footnote 216: Motadhed, who reigned from A.D. 892 to 902. The
Magians still held their name and rank among the religions of the
empire, (Assemanni, Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 97.)]

[Footnote 217: Reland explains the general restraints of the
Mahometan policy and jurisprudence, (Dissertat. tom. iii. p. 16 -
20.) The oppressive edicts of the caliph Motawakkel, (A.D. 847 -
861,) which are still in force, are noticed by Eutychius, (Annal.
tom. ii. p. 448,) and D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 640.) A
persecution of the caliph Omar II. is related, and most probably
magnified, by the Greek Theophanes (Chron p. 334.)]

[Footnote 218: The martyrs of Cordova (A.D. 850, &c.) are
commemorated and justified by St. Eulogius, who at length fell a
victim himself. A synod, convened by the caliph, ambiguously
censured their rashness. The moderate Fleury cannot reconcile
their conduct with the discipline of antiquity, toutefois
l'autorite de l'eglise, &c. (Fleury, Hist. Eccles. tom. x. p.
415 - 522, particularly p. 451, 508, 509.) Their authentic acts
throw a strong, though transient, light on the Spanish church in
the ixth century.]

At the end of the first century of the Hegira, the caliphs
were the most potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. Their
prerogative was not circumscribed, either in right or in fact, by
the power of the nobles, the freedom of the commons, the
privileges of the church, the votes of a senate, or the memory of
a free constitution. The authority of the companions of Mahomet
expired with their lives; and the chiefs or emirs of the Arabian
tribes left behind, in the desert, the spirit of equality and
independence. The regal and sacerdotal characters were united in
the successors of Mahomet; and if the Koran was the rule of their
actions, they were the supreme judges and interpreters of that
divine book. They reigned by the right of conquest over the
nations of the East, to whom the name of liberty was unknown, and
who were accustomed to applaud in their tyrants the acts of
violence and severity that were exercised at their own expense.
Under the last of the Ommiades, the Arabian empire extended two
hundred days' journey from east to west, from the confines of
Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. And if we
retrench the sleeve of the robe, as it is styled by their
writers, the long and narrow province of Africa, the solid and
compact dominion from Fargana to Aden, from Tarsus to Surat, will
spread on every side to the measure of four or five months of the
march of a caravan. ^219 We should vainly seek the indissoluble
union and easy obedience that pervaded the government of Augustus
and the Antonines; but the progress of the Mahometan religion
diffused over this ample space a general resemblance of manners
and opinions. The language and laws of the Koran were studied
with equal devotion at Samarcand and Seville: the Moor and the
Indian embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of
Mecca; and the Arabian language was adopted as the popular idiom
in all the provinces to the westward of the Tigris. ^220

[Footnote 219: See the article Eslamiah, (as we say Christendom,)
in the Bibliotheque Orientale, (p. 325.) This chart of the
Mahometan world is suited by the author, Ebn Alwardi, to the year
of the Hegira 385 (A.D. 995.) Since that time, the losses in
Spain have been overbalanced by the conquests in India, Tartary,
and the European Turkey.]

[Footnote 220: The Arabic of the Koran is taught as a dead
language in the college of Mecca. By the Danish traveller, this
ancient idiom is compared to the Latin; the vulgar tongue of
Hejaz and Yemen to the Italian; and the Arabian dialects of
Syria, Egypt, Africa, &c., to the Provencal, Spanish, and
Portuguese, (Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, p. 74, &c.)]

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.

Part I.

The Two Sieges Of Constantinople By The Arabs. - Their
Invasion Of France, And Defeat By Charles Martel. - Civil War Of
The Ommiades And Abbassides. - Learning Of The Arabs. - Luxury Of
The Caliphs. - Naval Enterprises On Crete, Sicily, And Rome. -
Decay And Division Of The Empire Of The Caliphs. - Defeats And
Victories Of The Greek Emperors.

When the Arabs first issued from the desert, they must have
been surprised at the ease and rapidity of their own success.
But when they advanced in the career of victory to the banks of
the Indus and the summit of the Pyrenees; when they had
repeatedly tried the edge of their cimeters and the energy of
their faith, they might be equally astonished that any nation
could resist their invincible arms; that any boundary should
confine the dominion of the successor of the prophet. The
confidence of soldiers and fanatics may indeed be excused, since
the calm historian of the present hour, who strives to follow the
rapid course of the Saracens, must study to explain by what means
the church and state were saved from this impending, and, as it
should seem, from this inevitable, danger. The deserts of
Scythia and Sarmatia might be guarded by their extent, their
climate, their poverty, and the courage of the northern
shepherds; China was remote and inaccessible; but the greatest
part of the temperate zone was subject to the Mahometan
conquerors, the Greeks were exhausted by the calamities of war
and the loss of their fairest provinces, and the Barbarians of
Europe might justly tremble at the precipitate fall of the Gothic
monarchy. In this inquiry I shall unfold the events that rescued
our ancestors of Britain, and our neighbors of Gaul, from the
civil and religious yoke of the Koran; that protected the majesty
of Rome, and delayed the servitude of Constantinople; that
invigorated the defence of the Christians, and scattered among
their enemies the seeds of division and decay.

Forty-six years after the flight of Mahomet from Mecca, his
disciples appeared in arms under the walls of Constantinople. ^1
They were animated by a genuine or fictitious saying of the
prophet, that, to the first army which besieged the city of the
Caesars, their sins were forgiven: the long series of Roman
triumphs would be meritoriously transferred to the conquerors of
New Rome; and the wealth of nations was deposited in this
well-chosen seat of royalty and commerce. No sooner had the
caliph Moawiyah suppressed his rivals and established his throne,
than he aspired to expiate the guilt of civil blood, by the
success and glory of this holy expedition; ^2 his preparations by
sea and land were adequate to the importance of the object; his
standard was intrusted to Sophian, a veteran warrior, but the
troops were encouraged by the example and presence of Yezid, the
son and presumptive heir of the commander of the faithful. The
Greeks had little to hope, nor had their enemies any reason of
fear, from the courage and vigilance of the reigning emperor, who
disgraced the name of Constantine, and imitated only the
inglorious years of his grandfather Heraclius. Without delay or
opposition, the naval forces of the Saracens passed through the
unguarded channel of the Hellespont, which even now, under the
feeble and disorderly government of the Turks, is maintained as
the natural bulwark of the capital. ^3 The Arabian fleet cast
anchor, and the troops were disembarked near the palace of
Hebdomon, seven miles from the city. During many days, from the
dawn of light to the evening, the line of assault was extended
from the golden gate to the eastern promontory and the foremost
warriors were impelled by the weight and effort of the succeeding
columns. But the besiegers had formed an insufficient estimate
of the strength and resources of Constantinople. The solid and
lofty walls were guarded by numbers and discipline: the spirit of
the Romans was rekindled by the last danger of their religion and
empire: the fugitives from the conquered provinces more
successfully renewed the defence of Damascus and Alexandria; and
the Saracens were dismayed by the strange and prodigious effects
of artificial fire. This firm and effectual resistance diverted
their arms to the more easy attempt of plundering the European
and Asiatic coasts of the Propontis; and, after keeping the sea
from the month of April to that of September, on the approach of
winter they retreated fourscore miles from the capital, to the
Isle of Cyzicus, in which they had established their magazine of
spoil and provisions. So patient was their perseverance, or so
languid were their operations, that they repeated in the six
following summers the same attack and retreat, with a gradual
abatement of hope and vigor, till the mischances of shipwreck and
disease, of the sword and of fire, compelled them to relinquish
the fruitless enterprise. They might bewail the loss, or
commemorate the martyrdom, of thirty thousand Moslems, who fell
in the siege of Constantinople; and the solemn funeral of Abu
Ayub, or Job, excited the curiosity of the Christians themselves.

That venerable Arab, one of the last of the companions of
Mahomet, was numbered among the ansars, or auxiliaries, of
Medina, who sheltered the head of the flying prophet. In his
youth he fought, at Beder and Ohud, under the holy standard: in
his mature age he was the friend and follower of Ali; and the
last remnant of his strength and life was consumed in a distant
and dangerous war against the enemies of the Koran. His memory
was revered; but the place of his burial was neglected and
unknown, during a period of seven hundred and eighty years, till
the conquest of Constantinople by Mahomet the Second. A
seasonable vision (for such are the manufacture of every
religion) revealed the holy spot at the foot of the walls and the
bottom of the harbor; and the mosch of Ayub has been deservedly
chosen for the simple and martial inauguration of the Turkish
sultans. ^4

[Footnote 1: Theophanes places the seven years of the siege of
Constantinople in the year of our Christian aera, 673 (of the
Alexandrian 665, Sept. 1,) and the peace of the Saracens, four
years afterwards; a glaring inconsistency! which Petavius, Goar,
and Pagi, (Critica, tom. iv. p. 63, 64,) have struggled to
remove. Of the Arabians, the Hegira 52 (A.D. 672, January 8) is
assigned by Elmacin, the year 48 (A.D. 688, Feb. 20) by Abulfeda,
whose testimony I esteem the most convenient and credible.]

[Footnote 2: For this first siege of Constantinople, see
Nicephorus, (Breviar. p. 21, 22;) Theophanes, (Chronograph. p.
294;) Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 437;) Zonaras, (Hist. tom. ii. l.
xiv. p. 89;) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 56, 57;) Abulfeda,
(Annal. Moslem. p. 107, 108, vers. Reiske;) D'Herbelot, (Bibliot.
Orient. Constantinah;) Ockley's History of the Saracens, vol. ii.
p. 127, 128.]

[Footnote 3: The state and defence of the Dardanelles is exposed
in the Memoirs of the Baron de Tott, (tom. iii. p. 39 - 97,) who
was sent to fortify them against the Russians. From a principal
actor, I should have expected more accurate details; but he seems
to write for the amusement, rather than the instruction, of his
reader. Perhaps, on the approach of the enemy, the minister of
Constantine was occupied, like that of Mustapha, in finding two
Canary birds who should sing precisely the same note.]

[Footnote 4: Demetrius Cantemir's Hist. of the Othman Empire, p.
105, 106. Rycaut's State of the Ottoman Empire, p. 10, 11.
Voyages of Thevenot, part i. p. 189. The Christians, who suppose
that the martyr Abu Ayub is vulgarly confounded with the
patriarch Job, betray their own ignorance rather than that of the

The event of the siege revived, both in the East and West,
the reputation of the Roman arms, and cast a momentary shade over
the glories of the Saracens. The Greek ambassador was favorably
received at Damascus, a general council of the emirs or Koreish:
a peace, or truce, of thirty years was ratified between the two
empires; and the stipulation of an annual tribute, fifty horses
of a noble breed, fifty slaves, and three thousand pieces of
gold, degraded the majesty of the commander of the faithful. ^5
The aged caliph was desirous of possessing his dominions, and
ending his days in tranquillity and repose: while the Moors and
Indians trembled at his name, his palace and city of Damascus was
insulted by the Mardaites, or Maronites, of Mount Libanus, the
firmest barrier of the empire, till they were disarmed and
transplanted by the suspicious policy of the Greeks. ^6 After the
revolt of Arabia and Persia, the house of Ommiyah was reduced to
the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt: their distress and fear enforced
their compliance with the pressing demands of the Christians; and
the tribute was increased to a slave, a horse, and a thousand
pieces of gold, for each of the three hundred and sixty-five days
of the solar year. But as soon as the empire was again united by
the arms and policy of Abdalmalek, he disclaimed a badge of
servitude not less injurious to his conscience than to his pride;
he discontinued the payment of the tribute; and the resentment of
the Greeks was disabled from action by the mad tyranny of the
second Justinian, the just rebellion of his subjects, and the
frequent change of his antagonists and successors. Till the
reign of Abdalmalek, the Saracens had been content with the free
possession of the Persian and Roman treasures, in the coins of
Chosroes and Caesar. By the command of that caliph, a national
mint was established, both for silver and gold, and the
inscription of the Dinar, though it might be censured by some
timorous casuists, proclaimed the unity of the God of Mahomet. ^8
Under the reign of the caliph Walid, the Greek language and
characters were excluded from the accounts of the public revenue.
^9 If this change was productive of the invention or familiar use
of our present numerals, the Arabic or Indian ciphers, as they
are commonly styled, a regulation of office has promoted the most
important discoveries of arithmetic, algebra, and the
mathematical sciences. ^10

[Footnote 5: Theophanes, though a Greek, deserves credit for
these tributes, (Chronograph. p. 295, 296, 300, 301,) which are
confirmed, with some variation, by the Arabic History of
Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 128, vers. Pocock.)]

[Footnote 6: The censure of Theophanes is just and pointed,
(Chronograph. p. 302, 303.) The series of these events may be
traced in the Annals of Theophanes, and in the Abridgment of the
patriarch Nicephorus, p. 22, 24.]

[Footnote 7: These domestic revolutions are related in a clear
and natural style, in the second volume of Ockley's History of
the Saracens, p. 253 - 370. Besides our printed authors, he draws
his materials from the Arabic Mss. of Oxford, which he would have
more deeply searched had he been confined to the Bodleian library
instead of the city jail a fate how unworthy of the man and of
his country!]

[Footnote 8: Elmacin, who dates the first coinage A. H. 76, A.D.
695, five or six years later than the Greek historians, has
compared the weight of the best or common gold dinar to the
drachm or dirhem of Egypt, (p. 77,) which may be equal to two
pennies (48 grains) of our Troy weight, (Hooper's Inquiry into
Ancient Measures, p. 24 - 36,) and equivalent to eight shillings
of our sterling money. From the same Elmacin and the Arabian
physicians, some dinars as high as two dirhems, as low as half a
dirhem, may be deduced. The piece of silver was the dirhem, both
in value and weight; but an old, though fair coin, struck at
Waset, A. H. 88, and preserved in the Bodleian library, wants
four grains of the Cairo standard, (see the Modern Universal
History, tom. i. p. 548 of the French translation.)

Note: Up to this time the Arabs had used the Roman or the
Persian coins or had minted others which resembled them.
Nevertheless, it has been admitted of late years, that the
Arabians, before this epoch, had caused coin to be minted, on
which, preserving the Roman or the Persian dies, they added
Arabian names or inscriptions. Some of these exist in different
collections. We learn from Makrizi, an Arabian author of great
learning and judgment, that in the year 18 of the Hegira, under
the caliphate of Omar, the Arabs had coined money of this
description. The same author informs us that the caliph
Abdalmalek caused coins to be struck representing himself with a
sword by his side. These types, so contrary to the notions of
the Arabs, were disapproved by the most influential persons of
the time, and the caliph substituted for them, after the year 76
of the Hegira, the Mahometan coins with which we are acquainted.
Consult, on the question of Arabic numismatics, the works of
Adler, of Fraehn, of Castiglione, and of Marsden, who have
treated at length this interesting point of historic antiquities.

See, also, in the Journal Asiatique, tom. ii. p. 257, et seq., a
paper of M. Silvestre de Sacy, entitled Des Monnaies des Khalifes
avant l'An 75 de l'Hegire. See, also the translation of a German
paper on the Arabic medals of the Chosroes, by M. Fraehn. in the
same Journal Asiatique tom. iv. p. 331 - 347. St. Martin, vol.
xii. p. 19 - M.]

[Footnote 9: Theophan. Chronograph. p. 314. This defect, if it
really existed, must have stimulated the ingenuity of the Arabs
to invent or borrow.]

[Footnote 10: According to a new, though probable, notion,
maintained by M de Villoison, (Anecdota Graeca, tom. ii. p. 152 -
157,) our ciphers are not of Indian or Arabic invention. They
were used by the Greek and Latin arithmeticians long before the
age of Boethius. After the extinction of science in the West,
they were adopted by the Arabic versions from the original Mss.,
and restored to the Latins about the xith century.

Note: Compare, on the Introduction of the Arabic numerals,
Hallam's Introduction to the Literature of Europe, p. 150, note,
and the authors quoted therein. - M.]

Whilst the caliph Walid sat idle on the throne of Damascus,
whilst his lieutenants achieved the conquest of Transoxiana and
Spain, a third army of Saracens overspread the provinces of Asia
Minor, and approached the borders of the Byzantine capital. But
the attempt and disgrace of the second siege was reserved for his
brother Soliman, whose ambition appears to have been quickened by
a more active and martial spirit. In the revolutions of the
Greek empire, after the tyrant Justinian had been punished and
avenged, an humble secretary, Anastasius or Artemius, was
promoted by chance or merit to the vacant purple. He was alarmed
by the sound of war; and his ambassador returned from Damascus
with the tremendous news, that the Saracens were preparing an
armament by sea and land, such as would transcend the experience
of the past, or the belief of the present age. The precautions of
Anastasius were not unworthy of his station, or of the impending
danger. He issued a peremptory mandate, that all persons who
were not provided with the means of subsistence for a three
years' siege should evacuate the city: the public granaries and
arsenals were abundantly replenished; the walls were restored and
strengthened; and the engines for casting stones, or darts, or
fire, were stationed along the ramparts, or in the brigantines of
war, of which an additional number was hastily constructed. To
prevent is safer, as well as more honorable, than to repel, an
attack; and a design was meditated, above the usual spirit of the
Greeks, of burning the naval stores of the enemy, the cypress
timber that had been hewn in Mount Libanus, and was piled along
the sea-shore of Phoenicia, for the service of the Egyptian
fleet. This generous enterprise was defeated by the cowardice or
treachery of the troops, who, in the new language of the empire,
were styled of the Obsequian Theme. ^11 They murdered their
chief, deserted their standard in the Isle of Rhodes, dispersed
themselves over the adjacent continent, and deserved pardon or
reward by investing with the purple a simple officer of the
revenue. The name of Theodosius might recommend him to the
senate and people; but, after some months, he sunk into a
cloister, and resigned, to the firmer hand of Leo the Isaurian,
the urgent defence of the capital and empire. The most
formidable of the Saracens, Moslemah, the brother of the caliph,
was advancing at the head of one hundred and twenty thousand
Arabs and Persians, the greater part mounted on horses or camels;
and the successful sieges of Tyana, Amorium, and Pergamus, were
of sufficient duration to exercise their skill and to elevate
their hopes. At the well-known passage of Abydus, on the
Hellespont, the Mahometan arms were transported, for the first
time, ^* from Asia to Europe. From thence, wheeling round the
Thracian cities of the Propontis, Moslemah invested
Constantinople on the land side, surrounded his camp with a ditch
and rampart, prepared and planted his engines of assault, and
declared, by words and actions, a patient resolution of expecting
the return of seed-time and harvest, should the obstinacy of the
besieged prove equal to his own. ^! The Greeks would gladly have
ransomed their religion and empire, by a fine or assessment of a
piece of gold on the head of each inhabitant of the city; but the
liberal offer was rejected with disdain, and the presumption of
Moslemah was exalted by the speedy approach and invincible force
of the natives of Egypt and Syria. They are said to have
amounted to eighteen hundred ships: the number betrays their
inconsiderable size; and of the twenty stout and capacious
vessels, whose magnitude impeded their progress, each was manned
with no more than one hundred heavy-armed soldiers. This huge
armada proceeded on a smooth sea, and with a gentle gale, towards
the mouth of the Bosphorus; the surface of the strait was
overshadowed, in the language of the Greeks, with a moving
forest, and the same fatal night had been fixed by the Saracen
chief for a general assault by sea and land. To allure the
confidence of the enemy, the emperor had thrown aside the chain
that usually guarded the entrance of the harbor; but while they
hesitated whether they should seize the opportunity, or apprehend
the snare, the ministers of destruction were at hand. The
fire-ships of the Greeks were launched against them; the Arabs,
their arms, and vessels, were involved in the same flames; the
disorderly fugitives were dashed against each other or
overwhelmed in the waves; and I no longer find a vestige of the
fleet, that had threatened to extirpate the Roman name. A still
more fatal and irreparable loss was that of the caliph Soliman,
who died of an indigestion, ^12 in his camp near Kinnisrin or
Chalcis in Syria, as he was preparing to lead against
Constantinople the remaining forces of the East. The brother of
Moslemah was succeeded by a kinsman and an enemy; and the throne
of an active and able prince was degraded by the useless and
pernicious virtues of a bigot. ^!! While he started and satisfied
the scruples of a blind conscience, the siege was continued
through the winter by the neglect, rather than by the resolution
of the caliph Omar. ^13 The winter proved uncommonly rigorous:
above a hundred days the ground was covered with deep snow, and
the natives of the sultry climes of Egypt and Arabia lay torpid
and almost lifeless in their frozen camp. They revived on the
return of spring; a second effort had been made in their favor;
and their distress was relieved by the arrival of two numerous
fleets, laden with corn, and arms, and soldiers; the first from
Alexandria, of four hundred transports and galleys; the second of
three hundred and sixty vessels from the ports of Africa. But
the Greek fires were again kindled; and if the destruction was
less complete, it was owing to the experience which had taught
the Moslems to remain at a safe distance, or to the perfidy of
the Egyptian mariners, who deserted with their ships to the
emperor of the Christians. The trade and navigation of the
capital were restored; and the produce of the fisheries supplied
the wants, and even the luxury, of the inhabitants. But the
calamities of famine and disease were soon felt by the troops of
Moslemah, and as the former was miserably assuaged, so the latter
was dreadfully propagated, by the pernicious nutriment which
hunger compelled them to extract from the most unclean or
unnatural food. The spirit of conquest, and even of enthusiasm,
was extinct: the Saracens could no longer struggle, beyond their
lines, either single or in small parties, without exposing
themselves to the merciless retaliation of the Thracian peasants.

An army of Bulgarians was attracted from the Danube by the gifts
and promises of Leo; and these savage auxiliaries made some
atonement for the evils which they had inflicted on the empire,
by the defeat and slaughter of twenty-two thousand Asiatics. A
report was dexterously scattered, that the Franks, the unknown
nations of the Latin world, were arming by sea and land in the
defence of the Christian cause, and their formidable aid was
expected with far different sensations in the camp and city. At
length, after a siege of thirteen months, ^14 the hopeless
Moslemah received from the caliph the welcome permission of
retreat. ^* The march of the Arabian cavalry over the Hellespont
and through the provinces of Asia, was executed without delay or
molestation; but an army of their brethren had been cut in pieces
on the side of Bithynia, and the remains of the fleet were so
repeatedly damaged by tempest and fire, that only five galleys
entered the port of Alexandria to relate the tale of their
various and almost incredible disasters. ^15

[Footnote 11: In the division of the Themes, or provinces
described by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, (de Thematibus, l. i.
p. 9, 10,) the Obsequium, a Latin appellation of the army and
palace, was the fourth in the public order. Nice was the
metropolis, and its jurisdiction extended from the Hellespont
over the adjacent parts of Bithynia and Phrygia, (see the two
maps prefixed by Delisle to the Imperium Orientale of Banduri.)]

[Footnote *: Compare page 274. It is singular that Gibbon should
thus contradict himself in a few pages. By his own account this
was the second time. - M.]

[Footnote !: The account of this siege in the Tarikh Tebry is a
very unfavorable specimen of Asiatic history, full of absurd
fables, and written with total ignorance of the circumstances of
time and place. Price, vol. i. p. 498 - M.]

[Footnote 12: The caliph had emptied two baskets of eggs and of
figs, which he swallowed alternately, and the repast was
concluded with marrow and sugar. In one of his pilgrimages to
Mecca, Soliman ate, at a single meal, seventy pomegranates, a
kid, six fowls, and a huge quantity of the grapes of Tayef. If
the bill of fare be correct, we must admire the appetite, rather
than the luxury, of the sovereign of Asia, (Abulfeda, Annal.
Moslem. p. 126.)

Note: The Tarikh Tebry ascribes the death of Soliman to a
pleurisy. The same gross gluttony in which Soliman indulged,
though not fatal to the life, interfered with the military
duties, of his brother Moslemah. Price, vol. i. p. 511. - M.]

[Footnote !!: Major Price's estimate of Omar's character is much
more favorable. Among a race of sanguinary tyrants, Omar was
just and humane. His virtues as well as his bigotry were active.
- M.]

[Footnote 13: See the article of Omar Ben Abdalaziz, in the
Bibliotheque Orientale, (p. 689, 690,) praeferens, says Elmacin,
(p. 91,) religionem suam rebus suis mundanis. He was so desirous
of being with God, that he would not have anointed his ear (his
own saying) to obtain a perfect cure of his last malady. The
caliph had only one shirt, and in an age of luxury, his annual
expense was no more than two drachms, (Abulpharagius, p. 131.)
Haud diu gavisus eo principe fuit urbis Muslemus, (Abulfeda, p.

[Footnote 14: Both Nicephorus and Theophanes agree that the siege
of Constantinople was raised the 15th of August, (A.D. 718;) but
as the former, our best witness, affirms that it continued
thirteen months, the latter must be mistaken in supposing that it
began on the same day of the preceding year. I do not find that
Pagi has remarked this inconsistency.]

[Footnote *: The Tarikh Tebry embellishes the retreat of Moslemah
with some extraordinary and incredible circumstances. Price, p.
514. - M.]

[Footnote 15: In the second siege of Constantinople, I have
followed Nicephorus, (Brev. p. 33 - 36,) Theophanes,
(Chronograph, p. 324 - 334,) Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 449 - 452,)
Zonaras, (tom. ii. p. 98 - 102,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen, p. 88,)
Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 126,) and Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p.
130,) the most satisfactory of the Arabs.]

In the two sieges, the deliverance of Constantinople may be
chiefly ascribed to the novelty, the terrors, and the real
efficacy of the Greek fire. ^16 The important secret of
compounding and directing this artificial flame was imparted by
Callinicus, a native of Heliopolis in Syria, who deserted from
the service of the caliph to that of the emperor. ^17 The skill
of a chemist and engineer was equivalent to the succor of fleets
and armies; and this discovery or improvement of the military art
was fortunately reserved for the distressful period, when the
degenerate Romans of the East were incapable of contending with
the warlike enthusiasm and youthful vigor of the Saracens. The
historian who presumes to analyze this extraordinary composition
should suspect his own ignorance and that of his Byzantine
guides, so prone to the marvellous, so careless, and, in this
instance, so jealous of the truth. From their obscure, and
perhaps fallacious, hints it should seem that the principal
ingredient of the Greek fire was the naphtha, ^18 or liquid
bitumen, a light, tenacious, and inflammable oil, ^19 which
springs from the earth, and catches fire as soon as it comes in
contact with the air. The naphtha was mingled, I know not by
what methods or in what proportions, with sulphur and with the
pitch that is extracted from evergreen firs. ^20 From this
mixture, which produced a thick smoke and a loud explosion,
proceeded a fierce and obstinate flame, which not only rose in
perpendicular ascent, but likewise burnt with equal vehemence in
descent or lateral progress; instead of being extinguished, it
was nourished and quickened by the element of water; and sand,
urine, or vinegar, were the only remedies that could damp the
fury of this powerful agent, which was justly denominated by the
Greeks the liquid, or the maritime, fire. For the annoyance of
the enemy, it was employed with equal effect, by sea and land, in
battles or in sieges. It was either poured from the rampart in
large boilers, or launched in red-hot balls of stone and iron, or
darted in arrows and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow,
which had deeply imbibed the inflammable oil; sometimes it was
deposited in fire-ships, the victims and instruments of a more
ample revenge, and was most commonly blown through long tubes of
copper which were planted on the prow of a galley, and fancifully
shaped into the mouths of savage monsters, that seemed to vomit a
stream of liquid and consuming fire. This important art was
preserved at Constantinople, as the palladium of the state: the
galleys and artillery might occasionally be lent to the allies of
Rome; but the composition of the Greek fire was concealed with
the most jealous scruple, and the terror of the enemies was
increased and prolonged by their ignorance and surprise. In the
treaties of the administration of the empire, the royal author
^21 suggests the answers and excuses that might best elude the
indiscreet curiosity and importunate demands of the Barbarians.
They should be told that the mystery of the Greek fire had been
revealed by an angel to the first and greatest of the
Constantines, with a sacred injunction, that this gift of Heaven,
this peculiar blessing of the Romans, should never be
communicated to any foreign nation; that the prince and the
subject were alike bound to religious silence under the temporal
and spiritual penalties of treason and sacrilege; and that the
impious attempt would provoke the sudden and supernatural
vengeance of the God of the Christians. By these precautions,
the secret was confined, above four hundred years, to the Romans
of the East; and at the end of the eleventh century, the Pisans,
to whom every sea and every art were familiar, suffered the
effects, without understanding the composition, of the Greek
fire. It was at length either discovered or stolen by the
Mahometans; and, in the holy wars of Syria and Egypt, they
retorted an invention, contrived against themselves, on the heads
of the Christians. A knight, who despised the swords and lances
of the Saracens, relates, with heartfelt sincerity, his own
fears, and those of his companions, at the sight and sound of the
mischievous engine that discharged a torrent of the Greek fire,
the feu Gregeois, as it is styled by the more early of the French
writers. It came flying through the air, says Joinville, ^22
like a winged long-tailed dragon, about the thickness of a
hogshead, with the report of thunder and the velocity of
lightning; and the darkness of the night was dispelled by this
deadly illumination. The use of the Greek, or, as it might now be
called, of the Saracen fire, was continued to the middle of the
fourteenth century, ^23 when the scientific or casual compound of
nitre, sulphur, and charcoal, effected a new revolution in the
art of war and the history of mankind. ^24

[Footnote 16: Our sure and indefatigable guide in the middle ages
and Byzantine history, Charles du Fresne du Cange, has treated in
several places of the Greek fire, and his collections leave few
gleanings behind. See particularly Glossar. Med. et Infim.
Graecitat. p. 1275, sub voce. Glossar. Med. et Infim. Latinitat.

Ignis Groecus. Observations sur Villehardouin, p. 305, 306.
Observations sur Joinville, p. 71, 72.]

[Footnote 17: Theophanes styles him, (p. 295.) Cedrenus (p. 437)
brings this artist from (the ruins of) Heliopolis in Egypt; and
chemistry was indeed the peculiar science of the Egyptians.]

[Footnote 18: The naphtha, the oleum incendiarium of the history
of Jerusalem, (Gest. Dei per Francos, p. 1167,) the Oriental
fountain of James de Vitry, (l. iii. c. 84,) is introduced on
slight evidence and strong probability. Cinanmus (l. vi. p. 165)
calls the Greek fire: and the naphtha is known to abound between
the Tigris and the Caspian Sea. According to Pliny, (Hist. Natur.
ii. 109,) it was subservient to the revenge of Medea, and in
either etymology, (Procop. de Bell. Gothic. l. iv. c. 11,) may
fairly signify this liquid bitumen.

Note: It is remarkable that the Syrian historian Michel
gives the name of naphtha to the newly-invented Greek fire, which
seems to indicate that this substance formed the base of the
destructive compound. St. Martin, tom. xi. p. 420. - M.]

[Footnote 19: On the different sorts of oils and bitumens, see
Dr. Watson's (the present bishop of Llandaff's) Chemical Essays,
vol. iii. essay i., a classic book, the best adapted to infuse
the taste and knowledge of chemistry. The less perfect ideas of
the ancients may be found in Strabo (Geograph. l. xvi. p. 1078)
and Pliny, (Hist. Natur. ii. 108, 109.) Huic (Naphthae) magna
cognatio est ignium, transiliuntque protinus in eam undecunque
visam. Of our travellers I am best pleased with Otter, (tom. i.
p. 153, 158.)]

[Footnote 20: Anna Comnena has partly drawn aside the curtain.
(Alexiad. l. xiii. p. 383.) Elsewhere (l. xi. p. 336) she
mentions the property of burning. Leo, in the xixth chapter of
his Tactics, (Opera Meursii, tom. vi. p. 843, edit. Lami,
Florent. 1745,) speaks of the new invention. These are genuine
and Imperial testimonies.]

[Footnote 21: Constantin. Porphyrogenit. de Administrat. Imperii,
c. xiii. p. 64, 65.]

[Footnote 22: Histoire de St. Louis, p. 39. Paris, 1668, p. 44.
Paris, de l'Imprimerie Royale, 1761. The former of these
editions is precious for the observations of Ducange; the latter
for the pure and original text of Joinville. We must have
recourse to that text to discover, that the feu Gregeois was shot
with a pile or javelin, from an engine that acted like a sling.]

[Footnote 23: The vanity, or envy, of shaking the established
property of Fame, has tempted some moderns to carry gunpowder
above the xivth, (see Sir William Temple, Dutens, &c.,) and the
Greek fire above the viith century, (see the Saluste du President
des Brosses, tom. ii. p. 381.) But their evidence, which precedes
the vulgar aera of the invention, is seldom clear or
satisfactory, and subsequent writers may be suspected of fraud or
credulity. In the earliest sieges, some combustibles of oil and
sulphur have been used, and the Greek fire has some affinities
with gunpowder both in its nature and effects: for the antiquity
of the first, a passage of Procopius, (de Bell. Goth. l. iv. c.
11,) for that of the second, some facts in the Arabic history of
Spain, (A.D. 1249, 1312, 1332. Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. ii. p.
6, 7, 8,) are the most difficult to elude.]

[Footnote 24: That extraordinary man, Friar Bacon, reveals two of
the ingredients, saltpetre and sulphur, and conceals the third in
a sentence of mysterious gibberish, as if he dreaded the
consequences of his own discovery, (Biog. Brit. vol. i. p. 430,
new edition.)]

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.

Part II.

Constantinople and the Greek fire might exclude the Arabs
from the eastern entrance of Europe; but in the West, on the side
of the Pyrenees, the provinces of Gaul were threatened and
invaded by the conquerors of Spain. ^25 The decline of the French
monarchy invited the attack of these insatiate fanatics. The
descendants of Clovis had lost the inheritance of his martial and
ferocious spirit; and their misfortune or demerit has affixed the
epithet of lazy to the last kings of the Merovingian race. ^26
They ascended the throne without power, and sunk into the grave
without a name. A country palace, in the neighborhood of
Compiegne ^27 was allotted for their residence or prison: but
each year, in the month of March or May, they were conducted in a
wagon drawn by oxen to the assembly of the Franks, to give
audience to foreign ambassadors, and to ratify the acts of the
mayor of the palace. That domestic officer was become the
minister of the nation and the master of the prince. A public
employment was converted into the patrimony of a private family:
the elder Pepin left a king of mature years under the
guardianship of his own widow and her child; and these feeble
regents were forcibly dispossessed by the most active of his
bastards. A government, half savage and half corrupt, was almost
dissolved; and the tributary dukes, and provincial counts, and
the territorial lords, were tempted to despise the weakness of
the monarch, and to imitate the ambition of the mayor. Among
these independent chiefs, one of the boldest and most successful
was Eudes, duke of Aquitain, who in the southern provinces of
Gaul usurped the authority, and even the title of king. The
Goths, the Gascons, and the Franks, assembled under the standard
of this Christian hero: he repelled the first invasion of the
Saracens; and Zama, lieutenant of the caliph, lost his army and
his life under the walls of Thoulouse. The ambition of his
successors was stimulated by revenge; they repassed the Pyrenees
with the means and the resolution of conquest. The advantageous
situation which had recommended Narbonne ^28 as the first Roman
colony, was again chosen by the Moslems: they claimed the
province of Septimania or Languedoc as a just dependence of the
Spanish monarchy: the vineyards of Gascony and the city of
Bourdeaux were possessed by the sovereign of Damascus and
Samarcand; and the south of France, from the mouth of the Garonne
to that of the Rhone, assumed the manners and religion of Arabia.

[Footnote 25: For the invasion of France and the defeat of the
Arabs by Charles Martel, see the Historia Arabum (c. 11, 12, 13,
14) of Roderic Ximenes, archbishop of Toledo, who had before him
the Christian chronicle of Isidore Pacensis, and the Mahometan
history of Novairi. The Moslems are silent or concise in the
account of their losses; but M Cardonne (tom. i. p. 129, 130,
131) has given a pure and simple account of all that he could
collect from Ibn Halikan, Hidjazi, and an anonymous writer. The
texts of the chronicles of France, and lives of saints, are
inserted in the Collection of Bouquet, (tom. iii.,) and the
Annals of Pagi, who (tom. iii. under the proper years) has
restored the chronology, which is anticipated six years in the
Annals of Baronius. The Dictionary of Bayle (Abderame and
Munuza) has more merit for lively reflection than original

[Footnote 26: Eginhart, de Vita Caroli Magni, c. ii. p. 13 - 78,
edit. Schmink, Utrecht, 1711. Some modern critics accuse the
minister of Charlemagne of exaggerating the weakness of the
Merovingians; but the general outline is just, and the French
reader will forever repeat the beautiful lines of Boileau's

[Footnote 27: Mamaccae, on the Oyse, between Compiegne and Noyon,
which Eginhart calls perparvi reditus villam, (see the notes, and
the map of ancient France for Dom. Bouquet's Collection.)
Compendium, or Compiegne, was a palace of more dignity, (Hadrian.
Valesii Notitia Galliarum, p. 152,) and that laughing
philosopher, the Abbe Galliani, (Dialogues sur le Commerce des
Bleds,) may truly affirm, that it was the residence of the rois
tres Chretiens en tres chevelus.]

[Footnote 28: Even before that colony, A. U. C. 630, (Velleius
Patercul. i. 15,) In the time of Polybius, (Hist. l. iii. p. 265,
edit. Gronov.) Narbonne was a Celtic town of the first eminence,
and one of the most northern places of the known world,
(D'Anville, Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p. 473.)]

But these narrow limits were scorned by the spirit of
Abdalraman, or Abderame, who had been restored by the caliph
Hashem to the wishes of the soldiers and people of Spain. That
veteran and daring commander adjudged to the obedience of the
prophet whatever yet remained of France or of Europe; and
prepared to execute the sentence, at the head of a formidable
host, in the full confidence of surmounting all opposition either
of nature or of man. His first care was to suppress a domestic
rebel, who commanded the most important passes of the Pyrenees:
Manuza, a Moorish chief, had accepted the alliance of the duke of
Aquitain; and Eudes, from a motive of private or public interest,
devoted his beauteous daughter to the embraces of the African
misbeliever. But the strongest fortresses of Cerdagne were
invested by a superior force; the rebel was overtaken and slain
in the mountains; and his widow was sent a captive to Damascus,
to gratify the desires, or more probably the vanity, of the
commander of the faithful. From the Pyrenees, Abderame proceeded
without delay to the passage of the Rhone and the siege of Arles.

An army of Christians attempted the relief of the city: the tombs
of their leaders were yet visible in the thirteenth century; and
many thousands of their dead bodies were carried down the rapid
stream into the Mediterranean Sea. The arms of Abderame were not
less successful on the side of the ocean. He passed without
opposition the Garonne and Dordogne, which unite their waters in
the Gulf of Bourdeaux; but he found, beyond those rivers, the
camp of the intrepid Eudes, who had formed a second army and
sustained a second defeat, so fatal to the Christians, that,
according to their sad confession, God alone could reckon the
number of the slain. The victorious Saracen overran the
provinces of Aquitain, whose Gallic names are disguised, rather
than lost, in the modern appellations of Perigord, Saintonge, and
Poitou: his standards were planted on the walls, or at least
before the gates, of Tours and of Sens; and his detachments
overspread the kingdom of Burgundy as far as the well-known
cities of Lyons and Besancon. The memory of these devastations
(for Abderame did not spare the country or the people) was long
preserved by tradition; and the invasion of France by the Moors
or Mahometans affords the groundwork of those fables, which have
been so wildly disfigured in the romances of chivalry, and so
elegantly adorned by the Italian muse. In the decline of society
and art, the deserted cities could supply a slender booty to the
Saracens; their richest spoil was found in the churches and
monasteries, which they stripped of their ornaments and delivered
to the flames: and the tutelar saints, both Hilary of Poitiers
and Martin of Tours, forgot their miraculous powers in the
defence of their own sepulchres. ^29 A victorious line of march
had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of
Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal
space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland
and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable
than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have
sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames.
Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in
the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a
circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of
Mahomet. ^30

[Footnote 29: With regard to the sanctuary of St. Martin of
Tours, Roderic Ximenes accuses the Saracens of the deed. Turonis
civitatem, ecclesiam et palatia vastatione et incendio simili
diruit et consumpsit. The continuator of Fredegarius imputes to
them no more than the intention. Ad domum beatissimi Martini
evertendam destinant. At Carolus, &c. The French annalist was
more jealous of the honor of the saint.]

[Footnote 30: Yet I sincerely doubt whether the Oxford mosch
would have produced a volume of controversy so elegant and
ingenious as the sermons lately preached by Mr. White, the Arabic
professor, at Mr. Bampton's lecture. His observations on the
character and religion of Mahomet are always adapted to his
argument, and generally founded in truth and reason. He sustains
the part of a lively and eloquent advocate; and sometimes rises
to the merit of an historian and philosopher.]

From such calamities was Christendom delivered by the genius
and fortune of one man. Charles, the illegitimate son of the
elder Pepin, was content with the titles of mayor or duke of the
Franks; but he deserved to become the father of a line of kings.
In a laborious administration of twenty-four years, he restored
and supported the dignity of the throne, and the rebels of
Germany and Gaul were successively crushed by the activity of a
warrior, who, in the same campaign, could display his banner on
the Elbe, the Rhone, and the shores of the ocean. In the public
danger he was summoned by the voice of his country; and his
rival, the duke of Aquitain, was reduced to appear among the
fugitives and suppliants. "Alas!" exclaimed the Franks, "what a
misfortune! what an indignity! We have long heard of the name
and conquests of the Arabs: we were apprehensive of their attack
from the East; they have now conquered Spain, and invade our
country on the side of the West. Yet their numbers, and (since
they have no buckler) their arms, are inferior to our own." "If
you follow my advice," replied the prudent mayor of the palace,
"you will not interrupt their march, nor precipitate your attack.

They are like a torrent, which it is dangerous to stem in its
career. The thirst of riches, and the consciousness of success,
redouble their valor, and valor is of more avail than arms or
numbers. Be patient till they have loaded themselves with the
encumbrance of wealth. The possession of wealth will divide
their councils and assure your victory." This subtile policy is
perhaps a refinement of the Arabian writers; and the situation of
Charles will suggest a more narrow and selfish motive of
procrastination - the secret desire of humbling the pride and
wasting the provinces of the rebel duke of Aquitain. It is yet
more probable, that the delays of Charles were inevitable and
reluctant. A standing army was unknown under the first and
second race; more than half the kingdom was now in the hands of
the Saracens: according to their respective situation, the Franks
of Neustria and Austrasia were to conscious or too careless of
the impending danger; and the voluntary aids of the Gepidae and
Germans were separated by a long interval from the standard of
the Christian general. No sooner had he collected his forces,
than he sought and found the enemy in the centre of France,
between Tours and Poitiers. His well-conducted march was covered
with a range of hills, and Abderame appears to have been
surprised by his unexpected presence. The nations of Asia,
Africa, and Europe, advanced with equal ardor to an encounter
which would change the history of the world. In the six first
days of desultory combat, the horsemen and archers of the East
maintained their advantage: but in the closer onset of the
seventh day, the Orientals were oppressed by the strength and
stature of the Germans, who, with stout hearts and iron hands,
^31 asserted the civil and religious freedom of their posterity.
The epithet of Martel. the Hammer, which has been added to the
name of Charles, is expressive of his weighty and irresistible
strokes: the valor of Eudes was excited by resentment and
emulation; and their companions, in the eye of history, are the
true Peers and Paladins of French chivalry. After a bloody
field, in which Abderame was slain, the Saracens, in the close of
the evening, retired to their camp. In the disorder and despair
of the night, the various tribes of Yemen and Damascus, of Africa
and Spain, were provoked to turn their arms against each other:
the remains of their host were suddenly dissolved, and each emir
consulted his safety by a hasty and separate retreat. At the
dawn of the day, the stillness of a hostile camp was suspected by
the victorious Christians: on the report of their spies, they
ventured to explore the riches of the vacant tents; but if we
except some celebrated relics, a small portion of the spoil was
restored to the innocent and lawful owners. The joyful tidings
were soon diffused over the Catholic world, and the monks of
Italy could affirm and believe that three hundred and fifty, or
three hundred and seventy-five, thousand of the Mahometans had
been crushed by the hammer of Charles, ^32 while no more than
fifteen hundred Christians were slain in the field of Tours. But
this incredible tale is sufficiently disproved by the caution of
the French general, who apprehended the snares and accidents of a
pursuit, and dismissed his German allies to their native forests.

The inactivity of a conqueror betrays the loss of strength and
blood, and the most cruel execution is inflicted, not in the
ranks of battle, but on the backs of a flying enemy. Yet the
victory of the Franks was complete and final; Aquitain was
recovered by the arms of Eudes; the Arabs never resumed the
conquest of Gaul, and they were soon driven beyond the Pyrenees
by Charles Martel and his valiant race. ^33 It might have been
expected that the savior of Christendom would have been
canonized, or at least applauded, by the gratitude of the clergy,
who are indebted to his sword for their present existence. But
in the public distress, the mayor of the palace had been
compelled to apply the riches, or at least the revenues, of the
bishops and abbots, to the relief of the state and the reward of
the soldiers. His merits were forgotten, his sacrilege alone was
remembered, and, in an epistle to a Carlovingian prince, a Gallic
synod presumes to declare that his ancestor was damned; that on
the opening of his tomb, the spectators were affrighted by a
smell of fire and the aspect of a horrid dragon; and that a saint
of the times was indulged with a pleasant vision of the soul and
body of Charles Martel, burning, to all eternity, in the abyss of
hell. ^34

[Footnote 31: Gens Austriae membrorum pre-eminentia valida, et
gens Germana corde et corpore praestantissima, quasi in ictu
oculi, manu ferrea, et pectore arduo, Arabes extinxerunt,
(Roderic. Toletan. c. xiv.)]

[Footnote 32: These numbers are stated by Paul Warnefrid, the
deacon of Aquileia, (de Gestis Langobard. l. vi. p. 921, edit.
Grot.,) and Anastasius, the librarian of the Roman church, (in
Vit. Gregorii II.,) who tells a miraculous story of three
consecrated sponges, which rendered invulnerable the French
soldiers, among whom they had been shared It should seem, that in
his letters to the pope, Eudes usurped the honor of the victory,
from which he is chastised by the French annalists, who, with
equal falsehood, accuse him of inviting the Saracens.]

[Footnote 33: Narbonne, and the rest of Septimania, was recovered
by Pepin the son of Charles Martel, A.D. 755, (Pagi, Critica,
tom. iii. p. 300.) Thirty-seven years afterwards, it was pillaged
by a sudden inroad of the Arabs, who employed the captives in the
construction of the mosch of Cordova, (De Guignes, Hist. des
Huns, tom. i. p. 354.)]

[Footnote 34: This pastoral letter, addressed to Lewis the
Germanic, the grandson of Charlemagne, and most probably composed
by the pen of the artful Hincmar, is dated in the year 858, and
signed by the bishops of the provinces of Rheims and Rouen,
(Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 741. Fleury, Hist. Eccles. tom.
x. p. 514 - 516.) Yet Baronius himself, and the French critics,
reject with contempt this episcopal fiction.]

The loss of an army, or a province, in the Western world,
was less painful to the court of Damascus, than the rise and
progress of a domestic competitor. Except among the Syrians, the
caliphs of the house of Ommiyah had never been the objects of the
public favor. The life of Mahomet recorded their perseverance in
idolatry and rebellion: their conversion had been reluctant,
their elevation irregular and factious, and their throne was
cemented with the most holy and noble blood of Arabia. The best
of their race, the pious Omar, was dissatisfied with his own
title: their personal virtues were insufficient to justify a
departure from the order of succession; and the eyes and wishes
of the faithful were turned towards the line of Hashem, and the
kindred of the apostle of God. Of these the Fatimites were
either rash or pusillanimous; but the descendants of Abbas
cherished, with courage and discretion, the hopes of their rising
fortunes. From an obscure residence in Syria, they secretly
despatched their agents and missionaries, who preached in the
Eastern provinces their hereditary indefeasible right; and
Mohammed, the son of Ali, the son of Abdallah, the son of Abbas,
the uncle of the prophet, gave audience to the deputies of
Chorasan, and accepted their free gift of four hundred thousand
pieces of gold. After the death of Mohammed, the oath of
allegiance was administered in the name of his son Ibrahim to a
numerous band of votaries, who expected only a signal and a
leader; and the governor of Chorasan continued to deplore his
fruitless admonitions and the deadly slumber of the caliphs of
Damascus, till he himself, with all his adherents, was driven
from the city and palace of Meru, by the rebellious arms of Abu
Moslem. ^35 That maker of kings, the author, as he is named, of
the call of the Abbassides, was at length rewarded for his
presumption of merit with the usual gratitude of courts. A mean,
perhaps a foreign, extraction could not repress the aspiring
energy of Abu Moslem. Jealous of his wives, liberal of his
wealth, prodigal of his own blood and of that of others, he could
boast with pleasure, and possibly with truth, that he had
destroyed six hundred thousand of his enemies; and such was the
intrepid gravity of his mind and countenance, that he was never
seen to smile except on a day of battle. In the visible
separation of parties, the green was consecrated to the
Fatimites; the Ommiades were distinguished by the white; and the
black, as the most adverse, was naturally adopted by the
Abbassides. Their turbans and garments were stained with that
gloomy color: two black standards, on pike staves nine cubits
long, were borne aloft in the van of Abu Moslem; and their
allegorical names of the night and the shadow obscurely
represented the indissoluble union and perpetual succession of
the line of Hashem. From the Indus to the Euphrates, the East
was convulsed by the quarrel of the white and the black factions:
the Abbassides were most frequently victorious; but their public
success was clouded by the personal misfortune of their chief.
The court of Damascus, awakening from a long slumber, resolved to
prevent the pilgrimage of Mecca, which Ibrahim had undertaken
with a splendid retinue, to recommend himself at once to the
favor of the prophet and of the people. A detachment of cavalry
intercepted his march and arrested his person; and the unhappy
Ibrahim, snatched away from the promise of untasted royalty,
expired in iron fetters in the dungeons of Haran. His two younger
brothers, Saffah ^* and Almansor, eluded the search of the
tyrant, and lay concealed at Cufa, till the zeal of the people
and the approach of his Eastern friends allowed them to expose
their persons to the impatient public. On Friday, in the dress
of a caliph, in the colors of the sect, Saffah proceeded with
religious and military pomp to the mosch: ascending the pulpit,
he prayed and preached as the lawful successor of Mahomet; and
after his departure, his kinsmen bound a willing people by an
oath of fidelity. But it was on the banks of the Zab, and not in
the mosch of Cufa, that this important controversy was
determined. Every advantage appeared to be on the side of the
white faction: the authority of established government; an army
of a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers, against a sixth part
of that number; and the presence and merit of the caliph Mervan,
the fourteenth and last of the house of Ommiyah. Before his
accession to the throne, he had deserved, by his Georgian
warfare, the honorable epithet of the ass of Mesopotamia; ^36 and
he might have been ranked amongst the greatest princes, had not,
says Abulfeda, the eternal order decreed that moment for the ruin
of his family; a decree against which all human fortitude and
prudence must struggle in vain. The orders of Mervan were
mistaken, or disobeyed: the return of his horse, from which he
had dismounted on a necessary occasion, impressed the belief of
his death; and the enthusiasm of the black squadrons was ably
conducted by Abdallah, the uncle of his competitor. After an
irretrievab defeat, the caliph escaped to Mosul; but the colors
of the Abbassides were displayed from the rampart; he suddenly
repassed the Tigris, cast a melancholy look on his palace of
Haran, crossed the Euphrates, abandoned the fortifications of
Damascus, and, without halting in Palestine, pitched his last and
fatal camp at Busir, on the banks of the Nile. ^37 His speed was
urged by the incessant diligence of Abdallah, who in every step
of the pursuit acquired strength and reputation: the remains of
the white faction were finally vanquished in Egypt; and the
lance, which terminated the life and anxiety of Mervan, was not
less welcome perhaps to the unfortunate than to the victorious
chief. The merciless inquisition of the conqueror eradicated the
most distant branches of the hostile race: their bones were
scattered, their memory was accursed, and the martyrdom of
Hossein was abundantly revenged on the posterity of his tyrants.
Fourscore of the Ommiades, who had yielded to the faith or
clemency of their foes, were invited to a banquet at Damascus.
The laws of hospitality were violated by a promiscuous massacre:
the board was spread over their fallen bodies; and the festivity
of the guests was enlivened by the music of their dying groans.
By the event of the civil war, the dynasty of the Abbassides was
firmly established; but the Christians only could triumph in the
mutual hatred and common loss of the disciples of Mahomet. ^38

[Footnote 35: The steed and the saddle which had carried any of
his wives were instantly killed or burnt, lest they should
afterwards be mounted by a male. Twelve hundred mules or camels
were required for his kitchen furniture; and the daily
consumption amounted to three thousand cakes, a hundred sheep,
besides oxen, poultry, &c., (Abul pharagius, Hist. Dynast. p.

[Footnote *: He is called Abdullah or Abul Abbas in the Tarikh
Tebry. Price vol. i. p. 600. Saffah or Saffauh (the Sanguinary)
was a name which be required after his bloody reign, (vol. ii. p.
1.) - M.]

[Footnote 36: Al Hemar. He had been governor of Mesopotamia, and
the Arabic proverb praises the courage of that warlike breed of
asses who never fly from an enemy. The surname of Mervan may
justify the comparison of Homer, (Iliad, A. 557, &c.,) and both
will silence the moderns, who consider the ass as a stupid and
ignoble emblem, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 558.)]

[Footnote 37: Four several places, all in Egypt, bore the name of
Busir, or Busiris, so famous in Greek fable. The first, where
Mervan was slain was to the west of the Nile, in the province of
Fium, or Arsinoe; the second in the Delta, in the Sebennytic
nome; the third near the pyramids; the fourth, which was
destroyed by Dioclesian, (see above, vol. ii. p. 130,) in the
Thebais. I shall here transcribe a note of the learned and
orthodox Michaelis: Videntur in pluribus Aegypti superioris
urbibus Busiri Coptoque arma sumpsisse Christiani, libertatemque
de religione sentiendi defendisse, sed succubuisse quo in bello
Coptus et Busiris diruta, et circa Esnam magna strages edita.
Bellum narrant sed causam belli ignorant scriptores Byzantini,
alioqui Coptum et Busirim non rebellasse dicturi, sed causam
Christianorum suscepturi, (Not. 211, p. 100.) For the geography
of the four Busirs, see Abulfeda, (Descript. Aegypt. p. 9, vers.
Michaelis, Gottingae, 1776, in 4to.,) Michaelis, (Not. 122 - 127,
p. 58 - 63,) and D'Anville, (Memoire sua l'Egypte, p. 85, 147,

[Footnote 38: See Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 136 - 145,)
Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 392, vers. Pocock,) Elmacin,
(Hist. Saracen. p. 109 - 121,) Abulpharagius, (Hist. Dynast. p.
134 - 140,) Roderic of Toledo, (Hist. Arabum, c. xviii. p. 33,)
Theophanes, (Chronograph. p. 356, 357, who speaks of the
Abbassides) and the Bibliotheque of D'Herbelot, in the articles
Ommiades, Abbassides, Moervan, Ibrahim, Saffah, Abou Moslem.]

Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of war
might have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding generation,
if the consequences of the revolution had not tended to dissolve
the power and unity of the empire of the Saracens. In the
proscription of the Ommiades, a royal youth of the name of
Abdalrahman alone escaped the rage of his enemies, who hunted the
wandering exile from the banks of the Euphrates to the valleys of
Mount Atlas. His presence in the neighborhood of Spain revived
the zeal of the white faction. The name and cause of the
Abbassides had been first vindicated by the Persians: the West
had been pure from civil arms; and the servants of the abdicated
family still held, by a precarious tenure, the inheritance of
their lands and the offices of government. Strongly prompted by
gratitude, indignation, and fear, they invited the grandson of
the caliph Hashem to ascend the throne of his ancestors; and, in
his desperate condition, the extremes of rashness and prudence
were almost the same. The acclamations of the people saluted his
landing on the coast of Andalusia: and, after a successful
struggle, Abdalrahman established the throne of Cordova, and was
the father of the Ommiades of Spain, who reigned above two
hundred and fifty years from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees. ^39 He
slew in battle a lieutenant of the Abbassides, who had invaded
his dominions with a fleet and army: the head of Ala, in salt and
camphire, was suspended by a daring messenger before the palace
of Mecca; and the caliph Almansor rejoiced in his safety, that he
was removed by seas and lands from such a formidable adversary.
Their mutual designs or declarations of offensive war evaporated
without effect; but instead of opening a door to the conquest of
Europe, Spain was dissevered from the trunk of the monarchy,
engaged in perpetual hostility with the East, and inclined to
peace and friendship with the Christian sovereigns of
Constantinople and France. The example of the Ommiades was
imitated by the real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the Edrissites
of Mauritania, and the more powerful fatimites of Africa and
Egypt. In the tenth century, the chair of Mahomet was disputed
by three caliphs or commanders of the faithful, who reigned at
Bagdad, Cairoan, and Cordova, excommunicating each other, and
agreed only in a principle of discord, that a sectary is more
odious and criminal than an unbeliever. ^40

[Footnote 39: For the revolution of Spain, consult Roderic of
Toledo, (c. xviii. p. 34, &c.,) the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana,
(tom. ii. p. 30, 198,) and Cardonne, (Hist. de l'Afrique et de
l'Espagne, tom. i. p. 180 - 197, 205, 272, 323, &c.)]

[Footnote 40: I shall not stop to refute the strange errors and
fancies of Sir William Temple (his Works, vol. iii. p. 371 - 374,
octavo edition) and Voltaire (Histoire Generale, c. xxviii. tom.
ii. p. 124, 125, edition de Lausanne) concerning the division of
the Saracen empire. The mistakes of Voltaire proceeded from the
want of knowledge or reflection; but Sir William was deceived by
a Spanish impostor, who has framed an apocryphal history of the
conquest of Spain by the Arabs.]

Mecca was the patrimony of the line of Hashem, yet the
Abbassides were never tempted to reside either in the birthplace
or the city of the prophet. Damascus was disgraced by the choice,
and polluted with the blood, of the Ommiades; and, after some
hesitation, Almansor, the brother and successor of Saffah, laid
the foundations of Bagdad, ^41 the Imperial seat of his posterity
during a reign of five hundred years. ^42 The chosen spot is on
the eastern bank of the Tigris, about fifteen miles above the
ruins of Modain: the double wall was of a circular form; and such
was the rapid increase of a capital, now dwindled to a provincial
town, that the funeral of a popular saint might be attended by
eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women of Bagdad and
the adjacent villages. In this city of peace, ^43 amidst the
riches of the East, the Abbassides soon disdained the abstinence
and frugality of the first caliphs, and aspired to emulate the
magnificence of the Persian kings. After his wars and buildings,
Almansor left behind him in gold and silver about thirty millions
sterling: ^44 and this treasure was exhausted in a few years by
the vices or virtues of his children. His son Mahadi, in a
single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of
gold. A pious and charitable motive may sanctify the foundation
of cisterns and caravanseras, which he distributed along a
measured road of seven hundred miles; but his train of camels,
laden with snow, could serve only to astonish the natives of
Arabia, and to refresh the fruits and liquors of the royal
banquet. ^45 The courtiers would surely praise the liberality of
his grandson Almamon, who gave away four fifths of the income of
a province, a sum of two millions four hundred thousand gold
dinars, before he drew his foot from the stirrup. At the
nuptials of the same prince, a thousand pearls of the largest
size were showered on the head of the bride, ^46 and a lottery of
lands and houses displayed the capricious bounty of fortune. The
glories of the court were brightened, rather than impaired, in
the decline of the empire, and a Greek ambassador might admire,
or pity, the magnificence of the feeble Moctader. "The caliph's
whole army," says the historian Abulfeda, "both horse and foot,
was under arms, which together made a body of one hundred and
sixty thousand men. His state officers, the favorite slaves,
stood near him in splendid apparel, their belts glittering with
gold and gems. Near them were seven thousand eunuchs, four
thousand of them white, the remainder black. The porters or
door-keepers were in number seven hundred. Barges and boats,
with the most superb decorations, were seen swimming upon the
Tigris. Nor was the palace itself less splendid, in which were
hung up thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, twelve thousand
five hundred of which were of silk embroidered with gold. The
carpets on the floor were twenty-two thousand. A hundred lions
were brought out, with a keeper to each lion. ^47 Among the other
spectacles of rare and stupendous luxury was a tree of gold and
silver spreading into eighteen large branches, on which, and on
the lesser boughs, sat a variety of birds made of the same
precious metals, as well as the leaves of the tree. While the
machinery affected spontaneous motions, the several birds warbled
their natural harmony. Through this scene of magnificence, the
Greek ambassador was led by the vizier to the foot of the
caliph's throne." ^48 In the West, the Ommiades of Spain
supported, with equal pomp, the title of commander of the
faithful. Three miles from Cordova, in honor of his favorite
sultana, the third and greatest of the Abdalrahmans constructed
the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra. Twenty-five years, and
above three millions sterling, were employed by the founder: his
liberal taste invited the artists of Constantinople, the most
skilful sculptors and architects of the age; and the buildings
were sustained or adorned by twelve hundred columns of Spanish
and African, of Greek and Italian marble. The hall of audience
was incrusted with gold and pearls, and a great basin in the
centre was surrounded with the curious and costly figures of
birds and quadrupeds. In a lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of
these basins and fountains, so delightful in a sultry climate,
was replenished not with water, but with the purest quicksilver.
The seraglio of Abdalrahman, his wives, concubines, and black
eunuchs, amounted to six thousand three hundred persons: and he
was attended to the field by a guard of twelve thousand horse,
whose belts and cimeters were studded with gold. ^49

[Footnote 41: The geographer D'Anville, (l'Euphrate et le Tigre,
p. 121 - 123,) and the Orientalist D'Herbelot, (Bibliotheque, p.
167, 168,) may suffice for the knowledge of Bagdad. Our
travellers, Pietro della Valle, (tom. i. p. 688 - 698,)
Tavernier, (tom. i. p. 230 - 238,) Thevenot, (part ii. p. 209 -
212,) Otter, (tom. i. p. 162 - 168,) and Niebuhr, (Voyage en
Arabie, tom. ii. p. 239 - 271,) have seen only its decay; and the
Nubian geographer, (p. 204,) and the travelling Jew, Benjamin of
Tuleda (Itinerarium, p. 112 - 123, a Const. l'Empereur, apud
Elzevir, 1633,) are the only writers of my acquaintance, who have
known Bagdad under the reign of the Abbassides.]

[Footnote 42: The foundations of Bagdad were laid A. H. 145, A.D.
762. Mostasem, the last of the Abbassides, was taken and put to
death by the Tartars, A. H. 656, A.D. 1258, the 20th of

[Footnote 43: Medinat al Salem, Dar al Salem. Urbs pacis, or, as
it is more neatly compounded by the Byzantine writers,
(Irenopolis.) There is some dispute concerning the etymology of
Bagdad, but the first syllable is allowed to signify a garden in
the Persian tongue; the garden of Dad, a Christian hermit, whose
cell had been the only habitation on the spot.]

[Footnote 44: Reliquit in aerario sexcenties millies mille
stateres. et quater et vicies millies mille aureos aureos.
Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 126. I have reckoned the gold pieces
at eight shillings, and the proportion to the silver as twelve to
one. But I will never answer for the numbers of Erpenius; and
the Latins are scarcely above the savages in the language of

[Footnote 45: D'Herbelot, p. 530. Abulfeda, p. 154. Nivem
Meccam apportavit, rem ibi aut nunquam aut rarissime visam.]

[Footnote 46: Abulfeda (p. 184, 189) describes the splendor and
liberality of Almamon. Milton has alluded to this Oriental
custom: -

Or where the gorgeous East, with richest hand,

Showers on her kings Barbaric pearls and gold.

I have used the modern word lottery to express the word of the
Roman emperors, which entitled to some prize the person who
caught them, as they were thrown among the crowd.]

[Footnote 47: When Bell of Antermony (Travels, vol. i. p. 99)
accompanied the Russian ambassador to the audience of the
unfortunate Shah Hussein of Persia, two lions were introduced, to
denote the power of the king over the fiercest animals.]

[Footnote 48: Abulfeda, p. 237. D'Herbelot, p. 590. This
embassy was received at Bagdad, A. H. 305, A.D. 917. In the
passage of Abulfeda, I have used, with some variations, the
English translation of the learned and amiable Mr. Harris of
Salisbury, (Philological Enquiries p. 363, 364.)]

[Footnote 49: Cardonne, Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne,
tom. i. p. 330 - 336. A just idea of the taste and architecture
of the Arabians of Spain may be conceived from the description
and plates of the Alhambra of Grenada, (Swinburne's Travels, p.
171 - 188.)]

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.

Part III.

In a private condition, our desires are perpetually
repressed by poverty and subordination; but the lives and labors
of millions are devoted to the service of a despotic prince,
whose laws are blindly obeyed, and whose wishes are instantly
gratified. Our imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture;
and whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there are few
among us who would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and
the cares of royalty. It may therefore be of some use to borrow
the experience of the same Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has
perhaps excited our admiration and envy, and to transcribe an
authentic memorial which was found in the closet of the deceased
caliph. "I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or
peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and
respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure,
have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to
have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have
diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which
have fallen to my lot: they amount to Fourteen: - O man! place
not thy confidence in this present world!" ^50 The luxury of the
caliphs, so useless to their private happiness, relaxed the
nerves, and terminated the progress, of the Arabian empire.
Temporal and spiritual conquest had been the sole occupation of
the first successors of Mahomet; and after supplying themselves
with the necessaries of life, the whole revenue was scrupulously
devoted to that salutary work. The Abbassides were impoverished
by the multitude of their wants, and their contempt of oeconomy.
Instead of pursuing the great object of ambition, their leisure,
their affections, the powers of their mind, were diverted by pomp
and pleasure: the rewards of valor were embezzled by women and
eunuchs, and the royal camp was encumbered by the luxury of the
palace. A similar temper was diffused among the subjects of the
caliph. Their stern enthusiasm was softened by time and
prosperity. they sought riches in the occupations of industry,
fame in the pursuits of literature, and happiness in the
tranquillity of domestic life. War was no longer the passion of
the Saracens; and the increase of pay, the repetition of
donatives, were insufficient to allure the posterity of those
voluntary champions who had crowded to the standard of Abubeker
and Omar for the hopes of spoil and of paradise.

[Footnote 50: Cardonne, tom. i. p. 329, 330. This confession,
the complaints of Solomon of the vanity of this world, (read
Prior's verbose but eloquent poem,) and the happy ten days of the
emperor Seghed, (Rambler, No. 204, 205,) will be triumphantly
quoted by the detractors of human life. Their expectations are
commonly immoderate, their estimates are seldom impartial. If I
may speak of myself, (the only person of whom I can speak with
certainty,) my happy hours have far exceeded, and far exceed, the
scanty numbers of the caliph of Spain; and I shall not scruple to
add, that many of them are due to the pleasing labor of the
present composition.]

Under the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of the Moslems
were confined to the interpretation of the Koran, and the
eloquence and poetry of their native tongue. A people
continually exposed to the dangers of the field must esteem the
healing powers of medicine, or rather of surgery; but the
starving physicians of Arabia murmured a complaint that exercise
and temperance deprived them of the greatest part of their
practice. ^51 After their civil and domestic wars, the subjects
of the Abbassides, awakening from this mental lethargy, found
leisure and felt curiosity for the acquisition of profane
science. This spirit was first encouraged by the caliph
Almansor, who, besides his knowledge of the Mahometan law, had
applied himself with success to the study of astronomy. But when
the sceptre devolved to Almamon, the seventh of the Abbassides,
he completed the designs of his grandfather, and invited the
muses from their ancient seats. His ambassadors at
Constantinople, his agents in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt,
collected the volumes of Grecian science at his command they were
translated by the most skilful interpreters into the Arabic
language: his subjects were exhorted assiduously to peruse these
instructive writings; and the successor of Mahomet assisted with
pleasure and modesty at the assemblies and disputations of the
learned. "He was not ignorant," says Abulpharagius, "that they
are the elect of God, his best and most useful servants, whose
lives are devoted to the improvement of their rational faculties.

The mean ambition of the Chinese or the Turks may glory in the
industry of their hands or the indulgence of their brutal
appetites. Yet these dexterous artists must view, with hopeless
emulation, the hexagons and pyramids of the cells of a beehive:
^52 these fortitudinous heroes are awed by the superior
fierceness of the lions and tigers; and in their amorous
enjoyments they are much inferior to the vigor of the grossest
and most sordid quadrupeds. The teachers of wisdom are the true
luminaries and legislators of a world, which, without their aid,
would again sink in ignorance and barbarism." ^53 The zeal and
curiosity of Almamon were imitated by succeeding princes of the
line of Abbas: their rivals, the Fatimites of Africa and the
Ommiades of Spain, were the patrons of the learned, as well as
the commanders of the faithful; the same royal prerogative was
claimed by their independent emirs of the provinces; and their
emulation diffused the taste and the rewards of science from
Samarcand and Bochara to Fez and Cordova. The vizier of a sultan
consecrated a sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold to the
foundation of a college at Bagdad, which he endowed with an
annual revenue of fifteen thousand dinars. The fruits of
instruction were communicated, perhaps at different times, to six
thousand disciples of every degree, from the son of the noble to
that of the mechanic: a sufficient allowance was provided for the
indigent scholars; and the merit or industry of the professors
was repaid with adequate stipends. In every city the productions
of Arabic literature were copied and collected by the curiosity
of the studious and the vanity of the rich. A private doctor
refused the invitation of the sultan of Bochara, because the
carriage of his books would have required four hundred camels.
The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of one hundred
thousand manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splendidly bound,
which were lent, without jealousy or avarice, to the students of
Cairo. Yet this collection must appear moderate, if we can
believe that the Ommiades of Spain had formed a library of six
hundred thousand volumes, forty-four of which were employed in
the mere catalogue. Their capital, Cordova, with the adjacent
towns of Malaga, Almeria, and Murcia, had given birth to more
than three hundred writers, and above seventy public libraries
were opened in the cities of the Andalusian kingdom. The age of
Arabian learning continued about five hundred years, till the
great eruption of the Moguls, and was coeval with the darkest and
most slothful period of European annals; but since the sun of
science has arisen in the West, it should seem that the Oriental
studies have languished and declined. ^54

[Footnote 51: The Guliston (p. 29) relates the conversation of
Mahomet and a physician, (Epistol. Renaudot. in Fabricius,
Bibliot. Graec. tom. i. p. 814.) The prophet himself was skilled
in the art of medicine; and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p.
394 - 405) has given an extract of the aphorisms which are extant
under his name.]

[Footnote 52: See their curious architecture in Reaumur (Hist.
des Insectes, tom. v. Memoire viii.) These hexagons are closed by
a pyramid; the angles of the three sides of a similar pyramid,
such as would accomplish the given end with the smallest quantity
possible of materials, were determined by a mathematician, at 109
degrees 26 minutes for the larger, 70 degrees 34 minutes for the
smaller. The actual measure is 109 degrees 28 minutes, 70
degrees 32 minutes. Yet this perfect harmony raises the work at
the expense of the artist he bees are not masters of transcendent

[Footnote 53: Saed Ebn Ahmed, cadhi of Toledo, who died A. H.
462, A.D. 069, has furnished Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 160) with
this curious passage, as well as with the text of Pocock's
Specimen Historiae Arabum. A number of literary anecdotes of
philosophers, physicians, &c., who have flourished under each
caliph, form the principal merit of the Dynasties of

[Footnote 54: These literary anecdotes are borrowed from the
Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana, (tom. ii. p. 38, 71, 201, 202,) Leo
Africanus, (de Arab. Medicis et Philosophis, in Fabric. Bibliot.
Graec. tom. xiii. p. 259 - 293, particularly p. 274,) and
Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 274, 275, 536, 537,) besides
the chronological remarks of Abulpharagius.]

In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, the
far greater part of the innumerable volumes were possessed only
of local value or imaginary merit. ^55 The shelves were crowded
with orators and poets, whose style was adapted to the taste and
manners of their countrymen; with general and partial histories,
which each revolving generation supplied with a new harvest of
persons and events; with codes and commentaries of jurisprudence,
which derived their authority from the law of the prophet; with
the interpreters of the Koran, and orthodox tradition; and with
the whole theological tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and
moralists, the first or the last of writers, according to the
different estimates of sceptics or believers. The works of
speculation or science may be reduced to the four classes of
philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and physic. The sages of
Greece were translated and illustrated in the Arabic language,
and some treatises, now lost in the original, have been recovered
in the versions of the East, ^56 which possessed and studied the
writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Euclid and Apollonius, of
Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen. ^57 Among the ideal systems
which have varied with the fashion of the times, the Arabians
adopted the philosophy of the Stagirite, alike intelligible or
alike obscure for the readers of every age. Plato wrote for the
Athenians, and his allegorical genius is too closely blended with
the language and religion of Greece. After the fall of that
religion, the Peripatetics, emerging from their obscurity,
prevailed in the controversies of the Oriental sects, and their
founder was long afterwards restored by the Mahometans of Spain
to the Latin schools. ^58 The physics, both of the Academy and
the Lycaeum, as they are built, not on observation, but on
argument, have retarded the progress of real knowledge. The
metaphysics of infinite, or finite, spirit, have too often been
enlisted in the service of superstition. But the human faculties
are fortified by the art and practice of dialectics; the ten
predicaments of Aristotle collect and methodize our ideas, ^59
and his syllogism is the keenest weapon of dispute. It was
dexterously wielded in the schools of the Saracens, but as it is
more effectual for the detection of error than for the
investigation of truth, it is not surprising that new generations
of masters and disciples should still revolve in the same circle
of logical argument. The mathematics are distinguished by a
peculiar privilege, that, in the course of ages, they may always
advance, and can never recede. But the ancient geometry, if I am
not misinformed, was resumed in the same state by the Italians of
the fifteenth century; and whatever may be the origin of the
name, the science of algebra is ascribed to the Grecian
Diophantus by the modest testimony of the Arabs themselves. ^60
They cultivated with more success the sublime science of
astronomy, which elevates the mind of man to disdain his
diminutive planet and momentary existence. The costly
instruments of observation were supplied by the caliph Almamon,
and the land of the Chaldaeans still afforded the same spacious
level, the same unclouded horizon. In the plains of Sinaar, and a
second time in those of Cufa, his mathematicians accurately
measured a degree of the great circle of the earth, and
determined at twenty-four thousand miles the entire circumference
of our globe. ^61 From the reign of the Abbassides to that of the
grandchildren of Tamerlane, the stars, without the aid of
glasses, were diligently observed; and the astronomical tables of
Bagdad, Spain, and Samarcand, ^62 correct some minute errors,
without daring to renounce the hypothesis of Ptolemy, without
advancing a step towards the discovery of the solar system. In
the Eastern courts, the truths of science could be recommended
only by ignorance and folly, and the astronomer would have been
disregarded, had he not debased his wisdom or honesty by the vain
predictions of astrology. ^63 But in the science of medicine, the
Arabians have been deservedly applauded. The names of Mesua and
Geber, of Razis and Avicenna, are ranked with the Grecian
masters; in the city of Bagdad, eight hundred and sixty
physicians were licensed to exercise their lucrative profession:
^64 in Spain, the life of the Catholic princes was intrusted to
the skill of the Saracens, ^65 and the school of Salerno, their
legitimate offspring, revived in Italy and Europe the precepts of
the healing art. ^66 The success of each professor must have been
influenced by personal and accidental causes; but we may form a
less fanciful estimate of their general knowledge of anatomy, ^67
botany, ^68 and chemistry, ^69 the threefold basis of their
theory and practice. A superstitious reverence for the dead
confined both the Greeks and the Arabians to the dissection of
apes and quadrupeds; the more solid and visible parts were known
in the time of Galen, and the finer scrutiny of the human frame
was reserved for the microscope and the injections of modern
artists. Botany is an active science, and the discoveries of the
torrid zone might enrich the herbal of Dioscorides with two
thousand plants. Some traditionary knowledge might be secreted
in the temples and monasteries of Egypt; much useful experience
had been acquired in the practice of arts and manufactures; but
the science of chemistry owes its origin and improvement to the
industry of the Saracens. They first invented and named the
alembic for the purposes of distillation, analyzed the substances
of the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction and
affinities of alcalis and acids, and converted the poisonous
minerals into soft and salutary medicines. But the most eager
search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals, and
the elixir of immortal health: the reason and the fortunes of
thousands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchemy, and the
consummation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of
mystery, fable, and superstition.

[Footnote 55: The Arabic catalogue of the Escurial will give a
just idea of the proportion of the classes. In the library of
Cairo, the Mss of astronomy and medicine amounted to 6500, with
two fair globes, the one of brass, the other of silver, (Bibliot.
Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 417.)]

[Footnote 56: As, for instance, the fifth, sixth, and seventh
books (the eighth is still wanting) of the Conic Sections of
Apollonius Pergaeus, which were printed from the Florence Ms.
1661, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. ii. p. 559.) Yet the fifth
book had been previously restored by the mathematical divination
of Viviani, (see his Eloge in Fontenelle, tom. v. p. 59, &c.)]

[Footnote 57: The merit of these Arabic versions is freely
discussed by Renaudot, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. i. p. 812 -
816,) and piously defended by Casiri, (Bibliot. Arab. Hispana,
tom. i. p. 238 - 240.) Most of the versions of Plato, Aristotle,
Hippocrates, Galen, &c., are ascribed to Honain, a physician of
the Nestorian sect, who flourished at Bagdad in the court of the
caliphs, and died A.D. 876. He was at the head of a school or
manufacture of translations, and the works of his sons and
disciples were published under his name. See Abulpharagius,
(Dynast. p. 88, 115, 171 - 174, and apud Asseman. Bibliot.
Orient. tom. ii. p. 438,) D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orientale, p.
456,) Asseman. (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii. p. 164,) and Casiri,
(Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 238, &c. 251, 286 - 290, 302,
304, &c.)]

[Footnote 58: See Mosheim, Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 181, 214,
236, 257, 315, 388, 396, 438, &c.]

[Footnote 59: The most elegant commentary on the Categories or
Predicaments of Aristotle may be found in the Philosophical
Arrangements of Mr. James Harris, (London, 1775, in octavo,) who
labored to revive the studies of Grecian literature and

[Footnote 60: Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 81, 222. Bibliot. Arab.
Hisp. tom. i. p. 370, 371. In quem (says the primate of the
Jacobites) si immiserit selector, oceanum hoc in genere
(algebrae) inveniet. The time of Diophantus of Alexandria is
unknown; but his six books are still extant, and have been
illustrated by the Greek Planudes and the Frenchman Meziriac,
(Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. iv. p. 12 - 15.)]

[Footnote 61: Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 210, 211, vers. Reiske)
describes this operation according to Ibn Challecan, and the best
historians. This degree most accurately contains 200,000 royal
or Hashemite cubits which Arabia had derived from the sacred and
legal practice both of Palestine and Egypt. This ancient cubit is
repeated 400 times in each basis of the great pyramid, and seems
to indicate the primitive and universal measures of the East.
See the Metrologie of the laborions. M. Paucton, p. 101 - 195.]

[Footnote 62: See the Astronomical Tables of Ulugh Begh, with the
preface of Dr. Hyde in the first volume of his Syntagma
Dissertationum, Oxon. 1767.]

[Footnote 63: The truth of astrology was allowed by Albumazar,
and the best of the Arabian astronomers, who drew their most
certain predictions, not from Venus and Mercury, but from Jupiter
and the sun, (Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 161 - 163.) For the state
and science of the Persian astronomers, see Chardin, (Voyages en
Perse, tom. iii. p. 162 - 203.)]

[Footnote 64: Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 438. The
original relates a pleasant tale of an ignorant, but harmless,

[Footnote 65: In the year 956, Sancho the Fat, king of Leon, was
cured by the physicians of Cordova, (Mariana, l. viii. c. 7, tom.
i. p. 318.)]

[Footnote 66: The school of Salerno, and the introduction of the
Arabian sciences into Italy, are discussed with learning and
judgment by Muratori (Antiquitat. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. iii.
p. 932 - 940) and Giannone, (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. ii.
p. 119 - 127.)]

[Footnote 67: See a good view of the progress of anatomy in
Wotton, (Reflections on Ancient and Modern Learning, p. 208 -
256.) His reputation has been unworthily depreciated by the wits
in the controversy of Boyle and Bentley.]

[Footnote 68: Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 275. Al
Beithar, of Malaga, their greatest botanist, had travelled into
Africa, Persia, and India.]

[Footnote 69: Dr. Watson, (Elements of Chemistry, vol. i. p. 17,
&c.) allows the original merit of the Arabians. Yet he quotes
the modest confession of the famous Geber of the ixth century,
(D'Herbelot, p. 387,) that he had drawn most of his science,
perhaps the transmutation of metals, from the ancient sages.
Whatever might be the origin or extent of their knowledge, the
arts of chemistry and alchemy appear to have been known in Egypt
at least three hundred years before Mahomet, (Wotton's
Reflections, p. 121 - 133. Pauw, Recherches sur les Egyptiens et
les Chinois, tom. i. p. 376 - 429.)

Note: Mr. Whewell (Hist. of Inductive Sciences, vol. i. p.
336) rejects the claim of the Arabians as inventors of the
science of chemistry. "The formation and realization of the
notions of analysis and affinity were important steps in chemical
science; which, as I shall hereafter endeavor to show it remained
for the chemists of Europe to make at a much later period." - M.]

But the Moslems deprived themselves of the principal
benefits of a familiar intercourse with Greece and Rome, the
knowledge of antiquity, the purity of taste, and the freedom of
thought. Confident in the riches of their native tongue, the
Arabians disdained the study of any foreign idiom. The Greek
interpreters were chosen among their Christian subjects; they
formed their translations, sometimes on the original text, more
frequently perhaps on a Syriac version; and in the crowd of
astronomers and physicians, there is no example of a poet, an
orator, or even an historian, being taught to speak the language
of the Saracens. ^70 The mythology of Homer would have provoked
the abhorrence of those stern fanatics: they possessed in lazy
ignorance the colonies of the Macedonians, and the provinces of
Carthage and Rome: the heroes of Plutarch and Livy were buried in
oblivion; and the history of the world before Mahomet was reduced
to a short legend of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the
Persian kings. Our education in the Greek and Latin schools may
have fixed in our minds a standard of exclusive taste; and I am
not forward to condemn the literature and judgment of nations, of
whose language I am ignorant. Yet I know that the classics have
much to teach, and I believe that the Orientals have much to
learn; the temperate dignity of style, the graceful proportions
of art, the forms of visible and intellectual beauty, the just
delineation of character and passion, the rhetoric of narrative
and argument, the regular fabric of epic and dramatic poetry. ^71
The influence of truth and reason is of a less ambiguous
complexion. The philosophers of Athens and Rome enjoyed the
blessings, and asserted the rights, of civil and religious
freedom. Their moral and political writings might have gradually
unlocked the fetters of Eastern despotism, diffused a liberal
spirit of inquiry and toleration, and encouraged the Arabian
sages to suspect that their caliph was a tyrant, and their
prophet an impostor. ^72 The instinct of superstition was alarmed
by the introduction even of the abstract sciences; and the more
rigid doctors of the law condemned the rash and pernicious
curiosity of Almamon. ^73 To the thirst of martyrdom, the vision
of paradise, and the belief of predestination, we must ascribe
the invincible enthusiasm of the prince and people. And the
sword of the Saracens became less formidable when their youth was
drawn away from the camp to the college, when the armies of the
faithful presumed to read and to reflect. Yet the foolish vanity
of the Greeks was jealous of their studies, and reluctantly
imparted the sacred fire to the Barbarians of the East. ^74

[Footnote 70: Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 26, 148) mentions a
Syriac version of Homer's two poems, by Theophilus, a Christian
Maronite of Mount Libanus, who professed astronomy at Roha or
Edessa towards the end of the viiith century. His work would be a
literary curiosity. I have read somewhere, but I do not believe,
that Plutarch's Lives were translated into Turkish for the use of
Mahomet the Second.]

[Footnote 71: I have perused, with much pleasure, Sir William
Jones's Latin Commentary on Asiatic Poetry, (London, 1774, in
octavo,) which was composed in the youth of that wonderful
linguist. At present, in the maturity of his taste and judgment,
he would perhaps abate of the fervent, and even partial, praise
which he has bestowed on the Orientals.]

[Footnote 72: Among the Arabian philosophers, Averroes has been
accused of despising the religions of the Jews, the Christians,
and the Mahometans, (see his article in Bayle's Dictionary.) Each
of these sects would agree, that in two instances out of three,
his contempt was reasonable.]

[Footnote 73: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque, Orientale, p. 546.]

[Footnote 74: Cedrenus, p. 548, who relates how manfully the
emperor refused a mathematician to the instances and offers of
the caliph Almamon. This absurd scruple is expressed almost in
the same words by the continuator of Theophanes, (Scriptores post
Theophanem, p. 118.)]

In the bloody conflict of the Ommiades and Abbassides, the
Greeks had stolen the opportunity of avenging their wrongs and
enlarging their limits. But a severe retribution was exacted by
Mohadi, the third caliph of the new dynasty, who seized, in his
turn, the favorable opportunity, while a woman and a child, Irene
and Constantine, were seated on the Byzantine throne. An army of
ninety-five thousand Persians and Arabs was sent from the Tigris
to the Thracian Bosphorus, under the command of Harun, ^75 or
Aaron, the second son of the commander of the faithful. His
encampment on the opposite heights of Chrysopolis, or Scutari,
informed Irene, in her palace of Constantinople, of the loss of
her troops and provinces. With the consent or connivance of
their sovereign, her ministers subscribed an ignominious peace;
and the exchange of some royal gifts could not disguise the
annual tribute of seventy thousand dinars of gold, which was
imposed on the Roman empire. The Saracens had too rashly
advanced into the midst of a distant and hostile land: their
retreat was solicited by the promise of faithful guides and
plentiful markets; and not a Greek had courage to whisper, that
their weary forces might be surrounded and destroyed in their
necessary passage between a slippery mountain and the River
Sangarius. Five years after this expedition, Harun ascended the
throne of his father and his elder brother; the most powerful and
vigorous monarch of his race, illustrious in the West, as the
ally of Charlemagne, and familiar to the most childish readers,
as the perpetual hero of the Arabian tales. His title to the
name of Al Rashid (the Just) is sullied by the extirpation of the
generous, perhaps the innocent, Barmecides; yet he could listen
to the complaint of a poor widow who had been pillaged by his
troops, and who dared, in a passage of the Koran, to threaten the
inattentive despot with the judgment of God and posterity. His
court was adorned with luxury and science; but, in a reign of
three-and-twenty years, Harun repeatedly visited his provinces
from Chorasan to Egypt; nine times he performed the pilgrimage of
Mecca; eight times he invaded the territories of the Romans; and
as often as they declined the payment of the tribute, they were
taught to feel that a month of depredation was more costly than a

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