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49
CALIPHATE

the devil nailed to the door, excluding them at the same time from all public employments, and forbidding them to send their children to Moslem schools. Nevertheless, he kept his Christian medical men, some of whom were high in favour. He showed his hatred for the Shi‛ites by causing the mausoleum erected over the tomb of Hosain at Kerbela, together with all the buildings surrounding it, to be levelled to the ground and the site to be ploughed up, and by forbidding any one to visit the spot. A year before, a descendant of Hosain, Yahyā b. Omar, had been arrested and flogged on his orders. He escaped afterwards, rose in rebellion at Kufa in 864, and was killed in battle. It is reported that the caliph even permitted one of his buffoons to turn the person of Ali into mockery.

In the year 848-849 Ibn Ba‛īth, who had rendered good service in the war against Bābak, but had for some cause been arrested, fled from Sāmarrā to Marand in Azerbaijan and revolted. Not without great difficulty Boghā, the Turkish general, succeeded in taking the town and making Ibn Ba‛īth prisoner. He was brought before Motawakkil and died in prison. In the year 237 (A.D. 851-852) a revolt broke out in Armenia. Notwithstanding a vigorous resistance, Boghā subdued and pacified the province in the following year. In that same year, 852-853, the Byzantines made a descent on Egypt with 300 vessels. ‛Anbasa the governor had ordered the garrison of Damietta to parade at the capital Fostāt. The denuded town was taken, plundered and burned. The Greeks then destroyed all the fortifications at the mouth of the Nile near Tinnis, and returned with prisoners and booty. The annual raids of Moslems and Greeks in the border districts of Asia Minor were attended with alternate successes, though on the whole the Greeks had the upper hand. In 856 they penetrated as far as Amid (Diārbekr), and returned with 10,000 prisoners. But in the year 859 the Greeks suffered a heavy defeat with losses of men and cattle, the emperor Michael himself was in danger, whilst the fleet of the Moslems captured and sacked Antalia. This was followed by a truce and an exchange of prisoners in the following year.

In 855 a revolt broke out in Homs (Emesa), where the harsh conditions imposed by the caliph on the Christians and Jews had caused great discontent. It was repressed after a vigorous resistance. A great many leading men were flogged to death, all churches and synagogues were destroyed and all the Christians banished.

In the year 851 the Boja (or Beja), a wild people living between the Red Sea and the Nile of Upper Egypt, the Blemmyes of the ancients, refused to pay the annual tribute, and invaded the land of the gold and emerald mines, so that the working of the mines was stopped. The caliph sent against them Mahommed al-Qommī, who subdued them in 856 and brought their king Ali Bābā to Sāmarrā before Motawakkil, on condition that he should be restored to his kingdom.

About this time Sijistan liberated itself from the supremacy of the Ṭāhirids. Ya’qūb b. Laith al-Saffār proclaimed himself amīr of that province in the year 860, and was soon after confirmed in this dignity by the caliph.

In 858 Motawakkil, hoping to escape from the arrogant patronage of Waṣīf, who had taken the place of Itākh as head of the Turkish guard, transferred his residence to Damascus. But the place did not agree with him, and he returned to Sāmarrā, where he caused a magnificent quarter to be built 3 m. from the city, which he called after his own name Ja‛farīya, and on which he spent more than two millions of dinars (about £900,000). He found the means by following the example of his predecessor in depriving many officials of their ill-gotten gains. He contrived to enrol in his service nearly 12,000 men, for the greater part Arabs, in order to crush the Turks. In the year of his elevation to the Caliphate, he had regulated the succession to the empire in his own family by designating as future caliphs his three sons, al-Montaṣir billāh (“he who seeks help in God”), al-Mo’tazz billāh (“he whose strength is of God”), and al-Mowayyad billāh (“he who is assisted by God”). By and by he conceived an aversion to his eldest son, and wished to supplant him by Motazz, the son of his favourite wife Qabīha. The day had been fixed on which Montasir, Waṣīf and several other Turkish generals were to be assassinated. But Waṣīf and Montasir had been informed, and resolved to anticipate him. In the night before, Shawwāl A.H. 247 (December 861), Motawakkil, after one of his wonted orgies, was murdered, together with his confidant, Fatḥ b. Khāqān. The official report, promulgated by his successor, was that Fatḥ b. Khāqān had murdered his master and had been punished for it by death. For the administrative system in this reign see Mahommedan Institutions.

11. Reign of Montasir.—On the very night of his father’s assassination Montasir had himself proclaimed caliph. He was a man of very feeble character, and a mere puppet in the hands of his vizier Ahmad b. Khaṣīb and the Turkish generals. He was compelled to send Wasif, the personal enemy of Ibn Khaṣīb, to the frontier for a term of four years, and then to deprive his two brothers Motazz and Mowayyad, who were not agreeable to them, of their right of succession. He died six months after, by poison, it is said.

12. Reign of Mosta‛īn.—The Turkish soldiery, now the chief power in the state, chose, by the advice of Ibn Khaṣīb, in succession to Montasir, his cousin Ahmad, who took the title of al-Mosta‛īn billāh (“he who looks for help to God”). In the reign of this feeble prince the Greeks inflicted serious losses on the Moslems in Asia Minor. A great many volunteers from all parts, who offered their services, were hunted down as rioters by the Turkish generals, who were wholly absorbed by their own interests. The party which had placed Mosta‛īn on the throne, led by Ibn Khaṣīb and Otāmish, were soon overpowered by Waṣīf and Boghā. Ibn Khaṣīb was banished to Crete, Otāmish murdered. The superior party, however, maintained Mosta‛īn on the throne, because they feared lest Motazz should take vengeance upon them for the murder of his father Motawakkil. But in the year 865 Waṣīf and Boghā fled with Mosta‛īn to Bagdad, and Motazz was proclaimed caliph at Sāmarrā. A terrible war ensued; Mosta‛īn was obliged to abdicate, and was killed in the following year.

In 864 a descendant of Ali, named Hasan b. Zaid, gained possession of Tabaristan and occupied the great city of Rai (Rey) near Teheran. A year later the province was reconquered by the Ṭāhirid governor of Khorasan, so that Hasan was obliged to retreat for refuge to the land of the Dailam. But he returned soon, and after many reverses ruled over Tabaristan and Jorjān for many years.

13. Reign of Motazz.—Motazz, proclaimed caliph at Bagdad in the first month of 252 (January 866), devoted himself to the object of freeing himself from the omnipotent Turkish generals, especially Waṣīf and Boghā, who had opposed his election. But such a task demanded an ability and energy which he did not possess. He was obliged to grant them amnesty and to recall them to Sāmarrā. He mistrusted also his brothers Mowayyad and Mowaffaq, who had interceded for them. He put the former to death and drove the latter into exile to Bagdad. Some time after he had the satisfaction of seeing Waṣīf killed by his own troops, and succeeded, a year later, in having Boghā assassinated. But a more difficult problem was the payment of the Turkish, Persian and African guards, which was said to have amounted in A.H. 252 to 200,000,000 dirhems[1] (about £6,500,000), or apparently twice the revenue derived from the land tax. As the provincial revenues annually decreased, it became impossible to pay this sum, and Ṣāliḥ the son of Waṣīf, in spite of the remonstrances of the caliph, confiscated the property of state officials. Upon a further demand, Motazz, having failed to procure money from his mother Qabīha, who was enormously rich, was seized upon and tortured, and died of starvation in prison (Shaaban 255, July 868).

The dismemberment of the empire continued fast in these years, and the caliph was compelled to recognize the virtual independence of the governors Ya’qūb the Saffārid (see Saffārids and Persia, History, § B) in Seistan, and Ahmad b. Tūlūn in Egypt.

  1. “Dinars” in the text of Tabari iii. 1685, must be an error for “dirhems.”