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37
CALIPHATE

propaganda of the Shi‛a by the Abbasids was continued in these years with great zeal.

In India several provinces which had been converted to Islam under the Caliphate of Omar II. declared themselves independent, because the promise of equal rights for all Moslems was not kept under the reign of his successors. This led to the evacuation of the eastern part of India (called Hind by the Arabs, Sind being the name of the western part), and to the founding of the strong cities of Maḥfūẓa and Manṣūra for the purpose of controlling the land.

In the north and north-west of the empire there were no internal disorders, but the Moslems had hard work to maintain themselves against the Alans and the Khazars. In the year 112 (A.D. 730) they suffered a severe defeat, in which the general Jarrāh perished. But the illustrious Maslama b. Abdalmalik, and Merwan b. Mahommed (afterwards caliph), governor of Armenia and Azerbaijan (Adherbaijan), succeeded in repelling the Khazars, imposing peace on the petty princes of the eastern Caucasus, and consolidating the Arab power in that quarter. The war against the Byzantines was continued with energy during the whole of Hisham’s reign. Moawiya, the son of Hisham, whose descendants reigned later in Spain, was in command till 118 (A.D. 736), when he met his death accidentally in Asia Minor by a fall from his horse. After his death, Suleiman, another son of the caliph, had the supreme command. Both were eager and valiant warriors. But the hero of all the battles was Abdallah b. Hosain, surnamed al-Battāl (the brave). He has been the subject of many romantic tales. Tabarī tells how he took the emperor Constantine prisoner in the year 114 (A.D. 732; but Constantine V. Copronymus only began to reign in 740 or 741 A.D.); another Arabic author places this event in the year 122, adding that al-Battāl, having defeated the Greeks, was attacked and slain in returning with his captives. The Greek historians say nothing about Constantine having been made prisoner. It is probable that the Arabs took another Greek soldier for the prince.[1] The victories of the Moslems had no lasting results. During the troubles that began in the reign of Walid II., the Greeks reconquered Marash (Germanicia), Malatia (Malatiyeh) and Erzerum (Theodosiopolis).

In Spain the attention of the Moslems was principally turned to avenge the defeat of Samḥ beyond the Pyrenees. As early as the second year of the reign of Hisham, ‛Anbasa, the governor of Spain, crossed the Pyrenees, and pushed on military operations vigorously. Carcassonne and Nîmes were taken, Autun sacked. The death of ‛Anbasa in A.D. 725 and internal troubles put a stop to further hostilities. The Berbers were the chief contingent of the Moslem troops, but were treated by their Arab masters as inferior people. They began to resent this, and one of their chiefs, Munisa (Munuza), made himself independent in the north and allied himself with Odo, king of Aquitaine, who gave him his daughter in marriage. In the year 113 Abdarrahman b. Abdallah subdued Munisa, crossed the mountains and penetrated into Gascony by the valley of Roncesvalles. The Moslems beat Odo, gained possession of Bordeaux, and overran the whole of southern Gaul nearly as far as the Loire. But in October 732 their march was checked between Tours and Poitiers by Charles Martel and after some days of skirmishing a fierce but indecisive battle was fought. Abdarrahman was among the slain and the Moslems retreated hastily in the night, leaving their camp to the Franks. They were, however, not yet discouraged. In 739 the new governor of Spain, Oqba (Aucupa) b. Hajjāj, a man of high qualities, re-entered Gaul and pushed forward his raids as far as Lyons, but the Franks again drove back the Arabs as far as Narbonne. Thenceforth the continual revolts of the Berbers in Africa, and the internal troubles which disturbed Spain until the reign of Abdarrahman I., effectually checked the ambition of the Moslems.

In Africa the hand of government pressed heavily. The Berbers, though they had pledged themselves to Islam and had furnished the latest contingents for the Holy War, were treated as tributary serfs, notwithstanding the promises given by Omar II. The Kharijites, of whom a great many had emigrated to Africa, found them eager listeners. Still, they could not believe that it was according to the will of the caliph that they were thus treated, until a certain number of their chiefs went as a deputation to Hisham, but failed to obtain an audience. Thereupon a fierce insurrection broke out, against which the governor of Africa was powerless. Hisham at once sent an army of more than 30,000 men, under the command of Kolthum al-Qoshairī, and Balj b. Bishr. Not far from the river Sabu in Algeria,[2] the meeting with the army of the insurgents took place (A.D. 740). Kolthūm was beaten and killed; Balj b. Bishr led the rest of the Syrian army to Ceuta, and thence, near the end of 741, to Spain, where they aided in the suppression of the dangerous revolt of the peninsular Berbers. Balj died in 742. A year later the governor, Abu’l-Khaṭṭār, assigned to his troops for settlement divers countries belonging to the public domain.[3] An effort of the African Berbers to make themselves masters of Kairawan failed, their army being utterly defeated by the governor Ḥanẓala.

Hisham died in February 743, after a reign of twenty years. He had not been wanting in energy and ability, and kept the reins of the government in his own hands. He was a correct Moslem and tolerant towards Christians and Jews. His financial administration was sound and he guarded against any misuse of the revenues of the state. But he was not popular. His residence was at Roṣāfa on the border of the desert, and he rarely admitted visitors into his presence; as a rule they were received by his chamberlain Abrash. Hisham tried to keep himself free from and above the rival parties, but as his vicegerents were inexorable in the exaction of tribute, the Qaisites against the Yemenites, the Yemenites against the Qaisites, both parties alternately had reason to complain, whilst the non-Arabic Moslems suffered under the pressure and were dissatisfied. He caused a large extent of land to be brought into cultivation, and many public works to be executed, and he was accused of overburdening his subjects for these purposes. Therefore, Yazid III. (as also the Abbasids) on taking office undertook to abstain from spending money on building and digging. The principle that a well-filled treasury is the basis of a prosperous government was pushed by him too far. Notwithstanding his activity and his devotion to the management of affairs, the Moslem power declined rather than advanced, and signs of the decay of the Omayyad dynasty began to show themselves. The history of his four successors, Walid II., Yazid III., Ibrahim and Merwan II., is but the history of the fall of the Omayyads.

11. Reign of Walid II.—Walid II. was a handsome man, possessed of extraordinary physical strength, and a distinguished poet. But Hisham, to whom he was successor-designate, foolishly kept him in the background, and even made earnest efforts to get his own son Maslama acknowledged as his successor. Walid therefore retired to the country, and passed his time there in hunting, cultivating poetry, music and the like, waiting with impatience for the death of Hisham and planning vengeance on all those whom he suspected of having opposed him. His first public action was to increase the pay of all soldiers by 10 dirhems, that of the Syrians by 20. The Omayyads who came to pay their respects to him received large donations. Many philanthropic institutions were founded. As to the family of his predecessor, he contented himself with confiscating their possessions, with the single exception of Suleiman b. Hisham, whom he had whipped and put in prison. But the Makhzūmites, who were related to Hisham by his mother, he deprived of all their power and had them tortured to death. The vicegerents of Hisham were replaced by Qaisites; Yusuf b. Omar, the governor of Irak, being a Qaisite, was not only confirmed in his office, but received with it the supreme command of Khorasan. He made use of it immediately by ordering Naṣr b. Sayyār to collect a rich present of horses, falcons, musical instruments, golden and silver vessels and to offer it to the caliph in person, but before the present was ready the news came that Walid had been murdered.

  1. Cf. Wellhausen, Die Kampfe der Araber mit den Rom. in der Zeit der Umaijiden (Göttingen, 1901), p. 31.
  2. Bayān i. p. 42; Dozy, Histoire des musulmans d’Espagne, i. p. 246, names the place Bacdoura or Nafdoura, the Spanish chronist Nauam.
  3. Dozy i. p. 268.