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Title: History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 5
Author: Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794
Language: English
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Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 5

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part I.

     Introduction, Worship, And Persecution Of Images.--Revolt Of
     Italy And Rome.--Temporal Dominion Of The Popes.--Conquest
     Of Italy By The Franks.--Establishment Of Images.--Character
     And Coronation Of Charlemagne.--Restoration And Decay Of The
     Roman Empire In The West.--Independence Of Italy.--
     Constitution Of The Germanic Body.

In the connection of the church and state, I have considered the former
as subservient only, and relative, to the latter; a salutary maxim,
if in fact, as well as in narrative, it had ever been held sacred. The
Oriental philosophy of the Gnostics, the dark abyss of predestination
and grace, and the strange transformation of the Eucharist from the sign
to the substance of Christ's body, [1] I have purposely abandoned to the
curiosity of speculative divines. But I have reviewed, with diligence
and pleasure, the objects of ecclesiastical history, by which the
decline and fall of the Roman empire were materially affected, the
propagation of Christianity, the constitution of the Catholic church,
the ruin of Paganism, and the sects that arose from the mysterious
controversies concerning the Trinity and incarnation. At the head
of this class, we may justly rank the worship of images, so fiercely
disputed in the eighth and ninth centuries; since a question of popular
superstition produced the revolt of Italy, the temporal power of the
popes, and the restoration of the Roman empire in the West.

[Footnote 1: The learned Selden has given the history of
transubstantiation in a comprehensive and pithy sentence: "This opinion
is only rhetoric turned into logic," (his Works, vol. iii. p. 2037, in
his Table-Talk.)]

The primitive Christians were possessed with an unconquerable repugnance
to the use and abuse of images; and this aversion may be ascribed to
their descent from the Jews, and their enmity to the Greeks. The Mosaic
law had severely proscribed all representations of the Deity; and that
precept was firmly established in the principles and practice of the
chosen people. The wit of the Christian apologists was pointed against
the foolish idolaters, who bowed before the workmanship of their own
hands; the images of brass and marble, which, had they been endowed with
sense and motion, should have started rather from the pedestal to adore
the creative powers of the artist. [2] Perhaps some recent and imperfect
converts of the Gnostic tribe might crown the statues of Christ and St.
Paul with the profane honors which they paid to those of Aristotle and
Pythagoras; [3] but the public religion of the Catholics was uniformly
simple and spiritual; and the first notice of the use of pictures is in
the censure of the council of Illiberis, three hundred years after the
Christian aera. Under the successors of Constantine, in the peace and
luxury of the triumphant church, the more prudent bishops condescended
to indulge a visible superstition, for the benefit of the multitude;
and, after the ruin of Paganism, they were no longer restrained by the
apprehension of an odious parallel. The first introduction of a symbolic
worship was in the veneration of the cross, and of relics. The saints
and martyrs, whose intercession was implored, were seated on the right
hand if God; but the gracious and often supernatural favors, which,
in the popular belief, were showered round their tomb, conveyed an
unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims, who visited, and
touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the memorials of their
merits and sufferings. [4] But a memorial, more interesting than the
skull or the sandals of a departed worthy, is the faithful copy of his
person and features, delineated by the arts of painting or sculpture.
In every age, such copies, so congenial to human feelings, have been
cherished by the zeal of private friendship, or public esteem: the
images of the Roman emperors were adored with civil, and almost
religious, honors; a reverence less ostentatious, but more sincere, was
applied to the statues of sages and patriots; and these profane virtues,
these splendid sins, disappeared in the presence of the holy men, who
had died for their celestial and everlasting country. At first, the
experiment was made with caution and scruple; and the venerable pictures
were discreetly allowed to instruct the ignorant, to awaken the cold,
and to gratify the prejudices of the heathen proselytes. By a slow
though inevitable progression, the honors of the original were
transferred to the copy: the devout Christian prayed before the image of
a saint; and the Pagan rites of genuflection, luminaries, and incense,
again stole into the Catholic church. The scruples of reason, or piety,
were silenced by the strong evidence of visions and miracles; and the
pictures which speak, and move, and bleed, must be endowed with a
divine energy, and may be considered as the proper objects of religious
adoration. The most audacious pencil might tremble in the rash attempt
of defining, by forms and colors, the infinite Spirit, the eternal
Father, who pervades and sustains the universe. [5] But the
superstitious mind was more easily reconciled to paint and to worship
the angels, and, above all, the Son of God, under the human shape,
which, on earth, they have condescended to assume. The second person of
the Trinity had been clothed with a real and mortal body; but that body
had ascended into heaven: and, had not some similitude been presented
to the eyes of his disciples, the spiritual worship of Christ might
have been obliterated by the visible relics and representations of the
saints. A similar indulgence was requisite and propitious for the Virgin
Mary: the place of her burial was unknown; and the assumption of her
soul and body into heaven was adopted by the credulity of the Greeks and
Latins. The use, and even the worship, of images was firmly established
before the end of the sixth century: they were fondly cherished by the
warm imagination of the Greeks and Asiatics: the Pantheon and Vatican
were adorned with the emblems of a new superstition; but this semblance
of idolatry was more coldly entertained by the rude Barbarians and the
Arian clergy of the West. The bolder forms of sculpture, in brass or
marble, which peopled the temples of antiquity, were offensive to the
fancy or conscience of the Christian Greeks: and a smooth surface
of colors has ever been esteemed a more decent and harmless mode of
imitation. [6]

[Footnote 2: Nec intelligunt homines ineptissimi, quod si sentire
simulacra et moveri possent, adoratura hominem fuissent a quo sunt
expolita. (Divin. Institut. l. ii. c. 2.) Lactantius is the last, as
well as the most eloquent, of the Latin apologists. Their raillery of
idols attacks not only the object, but the form and matter.]

[Footnote 3: See Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Augustin, (Basnage, Hist.
des Eglises Reformees, tom. ii. p. 1313.) This Gnostic practice has
a singular affinity with the private worship of Alexander Severus,
(Lampridius, c. 29. Lardner, Heathen Testimonies, vol. iii. p. 34.)]

[Footnote 4: See this History, vol. ii. p. 261; vol. ii. p. 434; vol.
iii. p. 158-163.]

[Footnote 5: (Concilium Nicenum, ii. in Collect. Labb. tom. viii. p.
1025, edit. Venet.) Il seroit peut-etre a-propos de ne point souffrir
d'images de la Trinite ou de la Divinite; les defenseurs les plus zeles
des images ayant condamne celles-ci, et le concile de Trente ne parlant
que des images de Jesus Christ et des Saints, (Dupin, Bibliot. Eccles.
tom. vi. p. 154.)]

[Footnote 6: This general history of images is drawn from the xxiid book
of the Hist. des Eglises Reformees of Basnage, tom. ii. p. 1310-1337.
He was a Protestant, but of a manly spirit; and on this head the
Protestants are so notoriously in the right, that they can venture to
be impartial. See the perplexity of poor Friar Pagi, Critica, tom. i. p.

The merit and effect of a copy depends on its resemblance with the
original; but the primitive Christians were ignorant of the genuine
features of the Son of God, his mother, and his apostles: the statue
of Christ at Paneas in Palestine [7] was more probably that of
some temporal savior; the Gnostics and their profane monuments were
reprobated; and the fancy of the Christian artists could only be guided
by the clandestine imitation of some heathen model. In this distress, a
bold and dexterous invention assured at once the likeness of the image
and the innocence of the worship. A new super structure of fable was
raised on the popular basis of a Syrian legend, on the correspondence
of Christ and Abgarus, so famous in the days of Eusebius, so reluctantly
deserted by our modern advocates. The bishop of Caesarea [8] records the
epistle, [9] but he most strangely forgets the picture of Christ; [10]
the perfect impression of his face on a linen, with which he gratified
the faith of the royal stranger who had invoked his healing power, and
offered the strong city of Edessa to protect him against the malice of
the Jews. The ignorance of the primitive church is explained by the long
imprisonment of the image in a niche of the wall, from whence, after an
oblivion of five hundred years, it was released by some prudent bishop,
and seasonably presented to the devotion of the times. Its first and
most glorious exploit was the deliverance of the city from the arms of
Chosroes Nushirvan; and it was soon revered as a pledge of the divine
promise, that Edessa should never be taken by a foreign enemy. It is
true, indeed, that the text of Procopius ascribes the double deliverance
of Edessa to the wealth and valor of her citizens, who purchased
the absence and repelled the assaults of the Persian monarch. He was
ignorant, the profane historian, of the testimony which he is compelled
to deliver in the ecclesiastical page of Evagrius, that the Palladium
was exposed on the rampart, and that the water which had been sprinkled
on the holy face, instead of quenching, added new fuel to the flames
of the besieged. After this important service, the image of Edessa was
preserved with respect and gratitude; and if the Armenians rejected the
legend, the more credulous Greeks adored the similitude, which was not
the work of any mortal pencil, but the immediate creation of the divine
original. The style and sentiments of a Byzantine hymn will declare how
far their worship was removed from the grossest idolatry. "How can we
with mortal eyes contemplate this image, whose celestial splendor
the host of heaven presumes not to behold? He who dwells in heaven,
condescends this day to visit us by his venerable image; He who is
seated on the cherubim, visits us this day by a picture, which the
Father has delineated with his immaculate hand, which he has formed in
an ineffable manner, and which we sanctify by adoring it with fear and
love." Before the end of the sixth century, these images, made without
hands, (in Greek it is a single word, [11] were propagated in the camps
and cities of the Eastern empire: [12] they were the objects of worship,
and the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of danger or tumult,
their venerable presence could revive the hope, rekindle the courage,
or repress the fury, of the Roman legions. Of these pictures, the far
greater part, the transcripts of a human pencil, could only pretend to
a secondary likeness and improper title: but there were some of higher
descent, who derived their resemblance from an immediate contact with
the original, endowed, for that purpose, with a miraculous and prolific
virtue. The most ambitious aspired from a filial to a fraternal relation
with the image of Edessa; and such is the veronica of Rome, or Spain,
or Jerusalem, which Christ in his agony and bloody sweat applied to
his face, and delivered to a holy matron. The fruitful precedent was
speedily transferred to the Virgin Mary, and the saints and martyrs. In
the church of Diospolis, in Palestine, the features of the Mother of God
[13] were deeply inscribed in a marble column; the East and West have
been decorated by the pencil of St. Luke; and the Evangelist, who was
perhaps a physician, has been forced to exercise the occupation of a
painter, so profane and odious in the eyes of the primitive Christians.
The Olympian Jove, created by the muse of Homer and the chisel of
Phidias, might inspire a philosophic mind with momentary devotion; but
these Catholic images were faintly and flatly delineated by monkish
artists in the last degeneracy of taste and genius. [14]

[Footnote 7: After removing some rubbish of miracle and inconsistency,
it may be allowed, that as late as the year 300, Paneas in Palestine was
decorated with a bronze statue, representing a grave personage wrapped
in a cloak, with a grateful or suppliant female kneeling before him,
and that an inscription was perhaps inscribed on the pedestal. By the
Christians, this group was foolishly explained of their founder and
the poor woman whom he had cured of the bloody flux, (Euseb. vii. 18,
Philostorg. vii. 3, &c.) M. de Beausobre more reasonably conjectures
the philosopher Apollonius, or the emperor Vespasian: in the latter
supposition, the female is a city, a province, or perhaps the queen
Berenice, (Bibliotheque Germanique, tom. xiii. p. 1-92.)]

[Footnote 8: Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 13. The learned Assemannus
has brought up the collateral aid of three Syrians, St. Ephrem, Josua
Stylites, and James bishop of Sarug; but I do not find any notice of the
Syriac original or the archives of Edessa, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p.
318, 420, 554;) their vague belief is probably derived from the Greeks.]

[Footnote 9: The evidence for these epistles is stated and rejected by
the candid Lardner, (Heathen Testimonies, vol. i. p. 297-309.) Among
the herd of bigots who are forcibly driven from this convenient, but
untenable, post, I am ashamed, with the Grabes, Caves, Tillemonts, &c.,
to discover Mr. Addison, an English gentleman, (his Works, vol. i. p.
528, Baskerville's edition;) but his superficial tract on the Christian
religion owes its credit to his name, his style, and the interested
applause of our clergy.]

[Footnote 10: From the silence of James of Sarug, (Asseman. Bibliot.
Orient. p. 289, 318,) and the testimony of Evagrius, (Hist. Eccles. l.
iv. c. 27,) I conclude that this fable was invented between the years
521 and 594, most probably after the siege of Edessa in 540, (Asseman.
tom. i. p. 416. Procopius, de Bell. Persic. l. ii.) It is the sword and
buckler of, Gregory II., (in Epist. i. ad. Leon. Isaur. Concil. tom.
viii. p. 656, 657,) of John Damascenus, (Opera, tom. i. p. 281, edit.
Lequien,) and of the second Nicene Council, (Actio v. p. 1030.) The most
perfect edition may be found in Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 175-178.)]

[Footnote 11: See Ducange, in Gloss. Graec. et Lat. The subject is
treated with equal learning and bigotry by the Jesuit Gretser, (Syntagma
de Imaginibus non Manu factis, ad calcem Codini de Officiis, p.
289-330,) the ass, or rather the fox, of Ingoldstadt, (see the
Scaligerana;) with equal reason and wit by the Protestant Beausobre, in
the ironical controversy which he has spread through many volumes of the
Bibliotheque Germanique, (tom. xviii. p. 1-50, xx. p. 27-68, xxv. p.
1-36, xxvii. p. 85-118, xxviii. p. 1-33, xxxi. p. 111-148, xxxii. p.
75-107, xxxiv. p. 67-96.)]

[Footnote 12: Theophylact Simocatta (l. ii. c. 3, p. 34, l. iii. c. 1,
p. 63) celebrates it; yet it was no more than a copy, since he adds (of
Edessa). See Pagi, tom. ii. A.D. 588 No. 11.]

[Footnote 13: See, in the genuine or supposed works of John Damascenus,
two passages on the Virgin and St. Luke, which have not been noticed by
Gretser, nor consequently by Beausobre, (Opera Joh. Damascen. tom. i. p.
618, 631.)]

[Footnote 14: "Your scandalous figures stand quite out from the canvass:
they are as bad as a group of statues!" It was thus that the ignorance
and bigotry of a Greek priest applauded the pictures of Titian, which he
had ordered, and refused to accept.]

The worship of images had stolen into the church by insensible
degrees, and each petty step was pleasing to the superstitious mind, as
productive of comfort, and innocent of sin. But in the beginning of the
eighth century, in the full magnitude of the abuse, the more timorous
Greeks were awakened by an apprehension, that under the mask of
Christianity, they had restored the religion of their fathers: they
heard, with grief and impatience, the name of idolaters; the incessant
charge of the Jews and Mahometans, [15] who derived from the Law and the
Koran an immortal hatred to graven images and all relative worship.
The servitude of the Jews might curb their zeal, and depreciate their
authority; but the triumphant Mussulmans, who reigned at Damascus,
and threatened Constantinople, cast into the scale of reproach the
accumulated weight of truth and victory. The cities of Syria, Palestine,
and Egypt had been fortified with the images of Christ, his mother, and
his saints; and each city presumed on the hope or promise of miraculous
defence. In a rapid conquest of ten years, the Arabs subdued those
cities and these images; and, in their opinion, the Lord of Hosts
pronounced a decisive judgment between the adoration and contempt of
these mute and inanimate idols. [1511] For a while Edessa had braved
the Persian assaults; but the chosen city, the spouse of Christ, was
involved in the common ruin; and his divine resemblance became the slave
and trophy of the infidels. After a servitude of three hundred years,
the Palladium was yielded to the devotion of Constantinople, for a
ransom of twelve thousand pounds of silver, the redemption of two
hundred Mussulmans, and a perpetual truce for the territory of Edessa.
[16] In this season of distress and dismay, the eloquence of the monks
was exercised in the defence of images; and they attempted to prove,
that the sin and schism of the greatest part of the Orientals had
forfeited the favor, and annihilated the virtue, of these precious
symbols. But they were now opposed by the murmurs of many simple or
rational Christians, who appealed to the evidence of texts, of facts,
and of the primitive times, and secretly desired the reformation of
the church. As the worship of images had never been established by any
general or positive law, its progress in the Eastern empire had been
retarded, or accelerated, by the differences of men and manners, the
local degrees of refinement, and the personal characters of the bishops.
The splendid devotion was fondly cherished by the levity of the capital,
and the inventive genius of the Byzantine clergy; while the rude and
remote districts of Asia were strangers to this innovation of sacred
luxury. Many large congregations of Gnostics and Arians maintained,
after their conversion, the simple worship which had preceded their
separation; and the Armenians, the most warlike subjects of Rome, were
not reconciled, in the twelfth century, to the sight of images. [17]
These various denominations of men afforded a fund of prejudice and
aversion, of small account in the villages of Anatolia or Thrace, but
which, in the fortune of a soldier, a prelate, or a eunuch, might be
often connected with the powers of the church and state.

[Footnote 15: By Cedrenus, Zonaras, Glycas, and Manasses, the origin
of the Aconoclcasts is imprinted to the caliph Yezid and two Jews,
who promised the empire to Leo; and the reproaches of these hostile
sectaries are turned into an absurd conspiracy for restoring the purity
of the Christian worship, (see Spanheim, Hist. Imag. c. 2.)]

[Footnote 1511: Yezid, ninth caliph of the race of the Ommiadae, caused
all the images in Syria to be destroyed about the year 719; hence the
orthodox reproaches the sectaries with following the example of the
Saracens and the Jews Fragm. Mon. Johan. Jerosylym. Script. Byzant.
vol. xvi. p. 235. Hist. des Repub. Ital. par M. Sismondi, vol. i. p.

[Footnote 16: See Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 267,) Abulpharagius,
(Dynast. p. 201,) and Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 264,), and the
criticisms of Pagi, (tom. iii. A.D. 944.) The prudent Franciscan refuses
to determine whether the image of Edessa now reposes at Rome or Genoa;
but its repose is inglorious, and this ancient object of worship is no
longer famous or fashionable.]

[Footnote 17: (Nicetas, l. ii. p. 258.) The Armenian churches are still
content with the Cross, (Missions du Levant, tom. iii. p. 148;) but
surely the superstitious Greek is unjust to the superstition of the
Germans of the xiith century.]

Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the emperor Leo the Third,
[18] who, from the mountains of Isauria, ascended the throne of the
East. He was ignorant of sacred and profane letters; but his education,
his reason, perhaps his intercourse with the Jews and Arabs, had
inspired the martial peasant with a hatred of images; and it was held
to be the duty of a prince to impose on his subjects the dictates of
his own conscience. But in the outset of an unsettled reign, during ten
years of toil and danger, Leo submitted to the meanness of hypocrisy,
bowed before the idols which he despised, and satisfied the Roman
pontiff with the annual professions of his orthodoxy and zeal. In the
reformation of religion, his first steps were moderate and cautious:
he assembled a great council of senators and bishops, and enacted, with
their consent, that all the images should be removed from the sanctuary
and altar to a proper height in the churches where they might be visible
to the eyes, and inaccessible to the superstition, of the people. But it
was impossible on either side to check the rapid through adverse impulse
of veneration and abhorrence: in their lofty position, the sacred images
still edified their votaries, and reproached the tyrant. He was himself
provoked by resistance and invective; and his own party accused him
of an imperfect discharge of his duty, and urged for his imitation the
example of the Jewish king, who had broken without scruple the brazen
serpent of the temple. By a second edict, he proscribed the existence
as well as the use of religious pictures; the churches of Constantinople
and the provinces were cleansed from idolatry; the images of Christ, the
Virgin, and the saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of plaster
was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of the Iconoclasts
was supported by the zeal and despotism of six emperors, and the East
and West were involved in a noisy conflict of one hundred and
twenty years. It was the design of Leo the Isaurian to pronounce the
condemnation of images as an article of faith, and by the authority of
a general council: but the convocation of such an assembly was reserved
for his son Constantine; [19] and though it is stigmatized by triumphant
bigotry as a meeting of fools and atheists, their own partial and
mutilated acts betray many symptoms of reason and piety. The debates and
decrees of many provincial synods introduced the summons of the general
council which met in the suburbs of Constantinople, and was composed
of the respectable number of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops of
Europe and Anatolia; for the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria
were the slaves of the caliph, and the Roman pontiff had withdrawn the
churches of Italy and the West from the communion of the Greeks. This
Byzantine synod assumed the rank and powers of the seventh general
council; yet even this title was a recognition of the six preceding
assemblies, which had laboriously built the structure of the Catholic
faith. After a serious deliberation of six months, the three hundred and
thirty-eight bishops pronounced and subscribed a unanimous decree, that
all visible symbols of Christ, except in the Eucharist, were either
blasphemous or heretical; that image-worship was a corruption of
Christianity and a renewal of Paganism; that all such monuments of
idolatry should be broken or erased; and that those who should refuse
to deliver the objects of their private superstition, were guilty of
disobedience to the authority of the church and of the emperor. In
their loud and loyal acclamations, they celebrated the merits of their
temporal redeemer; and to his zeal and justice they intrusted the
execution of their spiritual censures. At Constantinople, as in the
former councils, the will of the prince was the rule of episcopal faith;
but on this occasion, I am inclined to suspect that a large majority of
the prelates sacrificed their secret conscience to the temptations of
hope and fear. In the long night of superstition, the Christians had
wandered far away from the simplicity of the gospel: nor was it easy for
them to discern the clew, and tread back the mazes, of the labyrinth.
The worship of images was inseparably blended, at least to a pious
fancy, with the Cross, the Virgin, the Saints and their relics; the holy
ground was involved in a cloud of miracles and visions; and the nerves
of the mind, curiosity and scepticism, were benumbed by the habits of
obedience and belief. Constantine himself is accused of indulging
a royal license to doubt, or deny, or deride the mysteries of the
Catholics, [20] but they were deeply inscribed in the public and private
creed of his bishops; and the boldest Iconoclast might assault with a
secret horror the monuments of popular devotion, which were consecrated
to the honor of his celestial patrons. In the reformation of the
sixteenth century, freedom and knowledge had expanded all the faculties
of man: the thirst of innovation superseded the reverence of antiquity;
and the vigor of Europe could disdain those phantoms which terrified the
sickly and servile weakness of the Greeks.

[Footnote 18: Our original, but not impartial, monuments of the
Iconoclasts must be drawn from the Acts of the Councils, tom. viii.
and ix. Collect. Labbe, edit. Venet. and the historical writings of
Theophanes, Nicephorus, Manasses, Cedrenus, Zonoras, &c. Of the modern
Catholics, Baronius, Pagi, Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Eccles. Seculum
viii. and ix.,) and Maimbourg, (Hist. des Iconoclasts,) have treated the
subject with learning, passion, and credulity. The Protestant labors
of Frederick Spanheim (Historia Imaginum restituta) and James Basnage
(Hist. des Eglises Reformees, tom. ii. l. xxiiii. p. 1339-1385) are
cast into the Iconoclast scale. With this mutual aid, and opposite
tendency, it is easy for us to poise the balance with philosophic
indifference. * Note: Compare Schlosser, Geschichte der
Bilder-sturmender Kaiser, Frankfurt am-Main 1812 a book of research and

[Footnote 19: Some flowers of rhetoric. By Damascenus is styled (Opera,
tom. i. p. 623.) Spanheim's Apology for the Synod of Constantinople (p.
171, &c.) is worked up with truth and ingenuity, from such materials
as he could find in the Nicene Acts, (p. 1046, &c.) The witty John of
Damascus converts it into slaves of their belly, &c. Opera, tom. i. p.

[Footnote 20: He is accused of proscribing the title of saint; styling
the Virgin, Mother of Christ; comparing her after her delivery to an
empty purse of Arianism, Nestorianism, &c. In his defence, Spanheim (c.
iv. p. 207) is somewhat embarrassed between the interest of a Protestant
and the duty of an orthodox divine.]

The scandal of an abstract heresy can be only proclaimed to the people
by the blast of the ecclesiastical trumpet; but the most ignorant can
perceive, the most torpid must feel, the profanation and downfall
of their visible deities. The first hostilities of Leo were directed
against a lofty Christ on the vestibule, and above the gate, of the
palace. A ladder had been planted for the assault, but it was furiously
shaken by a crowd of zealots and women: they beheld, with pious
transport, the ministers of sacrilege tumbling from on high and dashed
against the pavement: and the honors of the ancient martyrs were
prostituted to these criminals, who justly suffered for murder and
rebellion. [21] The execution of the Imperial edicts was resisted by
frequent tumults in Constantinople and the provinces: the person of Leo
was endangered, his officers were massacred, and the popular enthusiasm
was quelled by the strongest efforts of the civil and military power.
Of the Archipelago, or Holy Sea, the numerous islands were filled with
images and monks: their votaries abjured, without scruple, the enemy
of Christ, his mother, and the saints; they armed a fleet of boats and
galleys, displayed their consecrated banners, and boldly steered for the
harbor of Constantinople, to place on the throne a new favorite of God
and the people. They depended on the succor of a miracle: but their
miracles were inefficient against the Greek fire; and, after the defeat
and conflagration of the fleet, the naked islands were abandoned to the
clemency or justice of the conqueror. The son of Leo, in the first year
of his reign, had undertaken an expedition against the Saracens: during
his absence, the capital, the palace, and the purple, were occupied by
his kinsman Artavasdes, the ambitious champion of the orthodox faith.
The worship of images was triumphantly restored: the patriarch renounced
his dissimulation, or dissembled his sentiments and the righteous claims
of the usurper was acknowledged, both in the new, and in ancient, Rome.
Constantine flew for refuge to his paternal mountains; but he descended
at the head of the bold and affectionate Isaurians; and his final
victory confounded the arms and predictions of the fanatics. His long
reign was distracted with clamor, sedition, conspiracy, and mutual
hatred, and sanguinary revenge; the persecution of images was the motive
or pretence, of his adversaries; and, if they missed a temporal diadem,
they were rewarded by the Greeks with the crown of martyrdom. In every
act of open and clandestine treason, the emperor felt the unforgiving
enmity of the monks, the faithful slaves of the superstition to which
they owed their riches and influence. They prayed, they preached, they
absolved, they inflamed, they conspired; the solitude of Palestine
poured forth a torrent of invective; and the pen of St. John Damascenus,
[22] the last of the Greek fathers, devoted the tyrant's head, both in
this world and the next. [23] [2311] I am not at leisure to examine how
far the monks provoked, nor how much they have exaggerated, their real
and pretended sufferings, nor how many lost their lives or limbs, their
eyes or their beards, by the cruelty of the emperor. [2312] From the
chastisement of individuals, he proceeded to the abolition of the order;
and, as it was wealthy and useless, his resentment might be stimulated
by avarice, and justified by patriotism. The formidable name and
mission of the Dragon, [24] his visitor-general, excited the terror
and abhorrence of the black nation: the religious communities were
dissolved, the buildings were converted into magazines, or bar racks;
the lands, movables, and cattle were confiscated; and our modern
precedents will support the charge, that much wanton or malicious havoc
was exercised against the relics, and even the books of the monasteries.
With the habit and profession of monks, the public and private worship
of images was rigorously proscribed; and it should seem, that a solemn
abjuration of idolatry was exacted from the subjects, or at least from
the clergy, of the Eastern empire. [25]

[Footnote 21: The holy confessor Theophanes approves the principle
of their rebellion, (p. 339.) Gregory II. (in Epist. i. ad Imp. Leon.
Concil. tom. viii. p. 661, 664) applauds the zeal of the Byzantine women
who killed the Imperial officers.]

[Footnote 22: John, or Mansur, was a noble Christian of Damascus, who
held a considerable office in the service of the caliph. His zeal in the
cause of images exposed him to the resentment and treachery of the Greek
emperor; and on the suspicion of a treasonable correspondence, he was
deprived of his right hand, which was miraculously restored by the
Virgin. After this deliverance, he resigned his office, distributed
his wealth, and buried himself in the monastery of St. Sabas, between
Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The legend is famous; but his learned
editor, Father Lequien, has a unluckily proved that St. John Damascenus
was already a monk before the Iconoclast dispute, (Opera, tom. i. Vit.
St. Joan. Damascen. p. 10-13, et Notas ad loc.)]

[Footnote 23: After sending Leo to the devil, he introduces his heir,
(Opera, Damascen. tom. i. p. 625.) If the authenticity of this piece
be suspicious, we are sure that in other works, no longer extant,
Damascenus bestowed on Constantine the titles. (tom. i. p. 306.)]

[Footnote 2311: The patriarch Anastasius, an Iconoclast under Leo, an
image worshipper under Artavasdes, was scourged, led through the streets
on an ass, with his face to the tail; and, reinvested in his dignity,
became again the obsequious minister of Constantine in his Iconoclastic
persecutions. See Schlosser p. 211.--M.]

[Footnote 2312: Compare Schlosser, p. 228-234.--M.]

[Footnote 24: In the narrative of this persecution from Theophanes and
Cedreves, Spanheim (p. 235-238) is happy to compare the Draco of Leo
with the dragoons (Dracones) of Louis XIV.; and highly solaces himself
with the controversial pun.]

[Footnote 25: (Damascen. Op. tom. i. p. 625.) This oath and subscription
I do not remember to have seen in any modern compilation]

The patient East abjured, with reluctance, her sacred images; they were
fondly cherished, and vigorously defended, by the independent zeal of
the Italians. In ecclesiastical rank and jurisdiction, the patriarch
of Constantinople and the pope of Rome were nearly equal. But the Greek
prelate was a domestic slave under the eye of his master, at whose
nod he alternately passed from the convent to the throne, and from
the throne to the convent. A distant and dangerous station, amidst the
Barbarians of the West, excited the spirit and freedom of the Latin

Their popular election endeared them to the Romans: the public and
private indigence was relieved by their ample revenue; and the weakness
or neglect of the emperors compelled them to consult, both in peace and
war, the temporal safety of the city. In the school of adversity the
priest insensibly imbibed the virtues and the ambition of a prince; the
same character was assumed, the same policy was adopted, by the Italian,
the Greek, or the Syrian, who ascended the chair of St. Peter; and,
after the loss of her legions and provinces, the genius and fortune of
the popes again restored the supremacy of Rome. It is agreed, that in
the eighth century, their dominion was founded on rebellion, and
that the rebellion was produced, and justified, by the heresy of the
Iconoclasts; but the conduct of the second and third Gregory, in this
memorable contest, is variously interpreted by the wishes of their
friends and enemies. The Byzantine writers unanimously declare, that,
after a fruitless admonition, they pronounced the separation of the
East and West, and deprived the sacrilegious tyrant of the revenue
and sovereignty of Italy. Their excommunication is still more clearly
expressed by the Greeks, who beheld the accomplishment of the papal
triumphs; and as they are more strongly attached to their religion
than to their country, they praise, instead of blaming, the zeal and
orthodoxy of these apostolical men. [26] The modern champions of
Rome are eager to accept the praise and the precedent: this great and
glorious example of the deposition of royal heretics is celebrated by
the cardinals Baronius and Bellarmine; [27] and if they are asked,
why the same thunders were not hurled against the Neros and Julians of
antiquity, they reply, that the weakness of the primitive church was the
sole cause of her patient loyalty. [28] On this occasion the effects of
love and hatred are the same; and the zealous Protestants, who seek
to kindle the indignation, and to alarm the fears, of princes and
magistrates, expatiate on the insolence and treason of the two Gregories
against their lawful sovereign. [29] They are defended only by the
moderate Catholics, for the most part, of the Gallican church, [30] who
respect the saint, without approving the sin. These common advocates of
the crown and the mitre circumscribe the truth of facts by the rule
of equity, Scripture, and tradition, and appeal to the evidence of the
Latins, [31] and the lives [32] and epistles of the popes themselves.

[Footnote 26: Theophanes. (Chronograph. p. 343.) For this Gregory is
styled by Cedrenus. (p. 450.) Zonaras specifies the thunder, (tom. ii.
l. xv. p. 104, 105.) It may be observed, that the Greeks are apt to
confound the times and actions of two Gregories.]

[Footnote 27: See Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 730, No. 4, 5; dignum
exemplum! Bellarmin. de Romano Pontifice, l. v. c. 8: mulctavit eum
parte imperii. Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, l. iii. Opera, tom. ii. p.
169. Yet such is the change of Italy, that Sigonius is corrected by the
editor of Milan, Philipus Argelatus, a Bolognese, and subject of the

[Footnote 28: Quod si Christiani olim non deposuerunt Neronem aut
Julianum, id fuit quia deerant vires temporales Christianis, (honest
Bellarmine, de Rom. Pont. l. v. c. 7.) Cardinal Perron adds a
distinction more honorable to the first Christians, but not more
satisfactory to modern princes--the treason of heretics and apostates,
who break their oath, belie their coin, and renounce their allegiance to
Christ and his vicar, (Perroniana, p. 89.)]

[Footnote 29: Take, as a specimen, the cautious Basnage (Hist. d'Eglise,
p. 1350, 1351) and the vehement Spanheim, (Hist. Imaginum,) who, with a
hundred more, tread in the footsteps of the centuriators of Magdeburgh.]

[Footnote 30: See Launoy, (Opera, tom. v. pars ii. epist. vii. 7, p.
456-474,) Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Nov. Testamenti, secul. viii.
dissert. i. p. 92-98,) Pagi, (Critica, tom. iii. p. 215, 216,) and
Giannone, (Istoria Civile Napoli, tom. i. p. 317-320,) a disciple of the
Gallican school In the field of controversy I always pity the moderate
party, who stand on the open middle ground exposed to the fire of both

[Footnote 31: They appeal to Paul Warnefrid, or Diaconus, (de Gestis
Langobard. l. vi. c. 49, p. 506, 507, in Script. Ital. Muratori, tom. i.
pars i.,) and the nominal Anastasius, (de Vit. Pont. in Muratori, tom.
iii. pars i. Gregorius II. p. 154. Gregorius III. p. 158. Zacharias, p.
161. Stephanus III. p. 165.; Paulus, p. 172. Stephanus IV. p. 174.
Hadrianus, p. 179. Leo III. p. 195.) Yet I may remark, that the true
Anastasius (Hist. Eccles. p. 134, edit. Reg.) and the Historia Miscella,
(l. xxi. p. 151, in tom. i. Script. Ital.,) both of the ixth century,
translate and approve the Greek text of Theophanes.]

[Footnote 32: With some minute difference, the most learned critics,
Lucas Holstenius, Schelestrate, Ciampini, Bianchini, Muratori,
(Prolegomena ad tom. iii. pars i.,) are agreed that the Liber
Pontificalis was composed and continued by the apostolic librarians
and notaries of the viiith and ixth centuries; and that the last and
smallest part is the work of Anastasius, whose name it bears. The style
is barbarous, the narrative partial, the details are trifling--yet
it must be read as a curious and authentic record of the times. The
epistles of the popes are dispersed in the volumes of Councils.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part II.

Two original epistles, from Gregory the Second to the emperor Leo, are
still extant; [33] and if they cannot be praised as the most perfect
models of eloquence and logic, they exhibit the portrait, or at least
the mask, of the founder of the papal monarchy. "During ten pure and
fortunate years," says Gregory to the emperor, "we have tasted the
annual comfort of your royal letters, subscribed in purple ink, with
your own hand, the sacred pledges of your attachment to the orthodox
creed of our fathers. How deplorable is the change! how tremendous
the scandal! You now accuse the Catholics of idolatry; and, by the
accusation, you betray your own impiety and ignorance. To this ignorance
we are compelled to adapt the grossness of our style and arguments: the
first elements of holy letters are sufficient for your confusion; and
were you to enter a grammar-school, and avow yourself the enemy of our
worship, the simple and pious children would be provoked to cast
their horn-books at your head." After this decent salutation, the pope
attempts the usual distinction between the idols of antiquity and
the Christian images. The former were the fanciful representations of
phantoms or daemons, at a time when the true God had not manifested
his person in any visible likeness. The latter are the genuine forms
of Christ, his mother, and his saints, who had approved, by a crowd
of miracles, the innocence and merit of this relative worship. He must
indeed have trusted to the ignorance of Leo, since he could assert the
perpetual use of images, from the apostolic age, and their venerable
presence in the six synods of the Catholic church. A more specious
argument is drawn from present possession and recent practice the
harmony of the Christian world supersedes the demand of a general
council; and Gregory frankly confesses, than such assemblies can only
be useful under the reign of an orthodox prince. To the impudent and
inhuman Leo, more guilty than a heretic, he recommends peace, silence,
and implicit obedience to his spiritual guides of Constantinople and
Rome. The limits of civil and ecclesiastical powers are defined by the
pontiff. To the former he appropriates the body; to the latter, the
soul: the sword of justice is in the hands of the magistrate: the more
formidable weapon of excommunication is intrusted to the clergy; and in
the exercise of their divine commission a zealous son will not spare his
offending father: the successor of St. Peter may lawfully chastise
the kings of the earth. "You assault us, O tyrant! with a carnal and
military hand: unarmed and naked we can only implore the Christ, the
prince of the heavenly host, that he will send unto you a devil, for the
destruction of your body and the salvation of your soul. You declare,
with foolish arrogance, I will despatch my orders to Rome: I will break
in pieces the image of St. Peter; and Gregory, like his predecessor
Martin, shall be transported in chains, and in exile, to the foot of the
Imperial throne. Would to God that I might be permitted to tread in the
footsteps of the holy Martin! but may the fate of Constans serve as a
warning to the persecutors of the church! After his just condemnation
by the bishops of Sicily, the tyrant was cut off, in the fullness of his
sins, by a domestic servant: the saint is still adored by the nations of
Scythia, among whom he ended his banishment and his life. But it is our
duty to live for the edification and support of the faithful people; nor
are we reduced to risk our safety on the event of a combat. Incapable as
you are of defending your Roman subjects, the maritime situation of the
city may perhaps expose it to your depredation but we can remove to
the distance of four-and-twenty stadia, to the first fortress of the
Lombards, and then--you may pursue the winds. Are you ignorant that the
popes are the bond of union, the mediators of peace, between the East
and West? The eyes of the nations are fixed on our humility; and they
revere, as a God upon earth, the apostle St. Peter, whose image you
threaten to destroy. [35] The remote and interior kingdoms of the West
present their homage to Christ and his vicegerent; and we now prepare to
visit one of their most powerful monarchs, who desires to receive from
our hands the sacrament of baptism. [36] The Barbarians have submitted
to the yoke of the gospel, while you alone are deaf to the voice of the
shepherd. These pious Barbarians are kindled into rage: they thirst
to avenge the persecution of the East. Abandon your rash and fatal
enterprise; reflect, tremble, and repent. If you persist, we are
innocent of the blood that will be spilt in the contest; may it fall on
your own head!"

[Footnote 33: The two epistles of Gregory II. have been preserved in the
Acta of the Nicene Council, (tom. viii. p. 651-674.) They are without a
date, which is variously fixed, by Baronius in the year 726, by Muratori
(Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 120) in 729, and by Pagi in 730. Such is
the force of prejudice, that some papists have praised the good sense
and moderation of these letters.]

[Footnote 34: (Epist. i. p. 664.) This proximity of the Lombards is hard
of digestion. Camillo Pellegrini (Dissert. iv. de Ducatu Beneventi,
in the Script. Ital. tom. v. p. 172, 173) forcibly reckons the xxivth
stadia, not from Rome, but from the limits of the Roman duchy, to the
first fortress, perhaps Sora, of the Lombards. I rather believe that
Gregory, with the pedantry of the age, employs stadia for miles, without
much inquiry into the genuine measure.]

[Footnote 35: {Greek}]

[Footnote 36: (p. 665.) The pope appears to have imposed on the
ignorance of the Greeks: he lived and died in the Lateran; and in his
time all the kingdoms of the West had embraced Christianity. May not
this unknown Septetus have some reference to the chief of the Saxon
Heptarchy, to Ina king of Wessex, who, in the pontificate of Gregory the
Second, visited Rome for the purpose, not of baptism, but of pilgrimage!
(Pagi. A., 89, No. 2. A.D. 726, No. 15.)]

The first assault of Leo against the images of Constantinople had been
witnessed by a crowd of strangers from Italy and the West, who related
with grief and indignation the sacrilege of the emperor. But on the
reception of his proscriptive edict, they trembled for their domestic
deities: the images of Christ and the Virgin, of the angels, martyrs,
and saints, were abolished in all the churches of Italy; and a strong
alternative was proposed to the Roman pontiff, the royal favor as the
price of his compliance, degradation and exile as the penalty of his
disobedience. Neither zeal nor policy allowed him to hesitate; and
the haughty strain in which Gregory addressed the emperor displays his
confidence in the truth of his doctrine or the powers of resistance.
Without depending on prayers or miracles, he boldly armed against the
public enemy, and his pastoral letters admonished the Italians of their
danger and their duty. [37] At this signal, Ravenna, Venice, and
the cities of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, adhered to the cause of
religion; their military force by sea and land consisted, for the
most part, of the natives; and the spirit of patriotism and zeal was
transfused into the mercenary strangers. The Italians swore to live and
die in the defence of the pope and the holy images; the Roman people was
devoted to their father, and even the Lombards were ambitious to share
the merit and advantage of this holy war. The most treasonable act,
but the most obvious revenge, was the destruction of the statues of Leo
himself: the most effectual and pleasing measure of rebellion, was the
withholding the tribute of Italy, and depriving him of a power which he
had recently abused by the imposition of a new capitation. [38] A form
of administration was preserved by the election of magistrates and
governors; and so high was the public indignation, that the Italians
were prepared to create an orthodox emperor, and to conduct him with
a fleet and army to the palace of Constantinople. In that palace, the
Roman bishops, the second and third Gregory, were condemned as the
authors of the revolt, and every attempt was made, either by fraud or
force, to seize their persons, and to strike at their lives. The city
was repeatedly visited or assaulted by captains of the guards, and dukes
and exarchs of high dignity or secret trust; they landed with foreign
troops, they obtained some domestic aid, and the superstition of Naples
may blush that her fathers were attached to the cause of heresy. But
these clandestine or open attacks were repelled by the courage and
vigilance of the Romans; the Greeks were overthrown and massacred, their
leaders suffered an ignominious death, and the popes, however inclined
to mercy, refused to intercede for these guilty victims. At Ravenna,
[39] the several quarters of the city had long exercised a bloody and
hereditary feud; in religious controversy they found a new aliment of
faction: but the votaries of images were superior in numbers or spirit,
and the exarch, who attempted to stem the torrent, lost his life in
a popular sedition. To punish this flagitious deed, and restore his
dominion in Italy, the emperor sent a fleet and army into the Adriatic
Gulf. After suffering from the winds and waves much loss and delay,
the Greeks made their descent in the neighborhood of Ravenna: they
threatened to depopulate the guilty capital, and to imitate, perhaps to
surpass, the example of Justinian the Second, who had chastised a
former rebellion by the choice and execution of fifty of the principal
inhabitants. The women and clergy, in sackcloth and ashes, lay prostrate
in prayer: the men were in arms for the defence of their country; the
common danger had united the factions, and the event of a battle was
preferred to the slow miseries of a siege. In a hard-fought day, as the
two armies alternately yielded and advanced, a phantom was seen, a voice
was heard, and Ravenna was victorious by the assurance of victory. The
strangers retreated to their ships, but the populous sea-coast poured
forth a multitude of boats; the waters of the Po were so deeply infected
with blood, that during six years the public prejudice abstained
from the fish of the river; and the institution of an annual feast
perpetuated the worship of images, and the abhorrence of the Greek
tyrant. Amidst the triumph of the Catholic arms, the Roman pontiff
convened a synod of ninety-three bishops against the heresy of the
Iconoclasts. With their consent, he pronounced a general excommunication
against all who by word or deed should attack the tradition of the
fathers and the images of the saints: in this sentence the emperor was
tacitly involved, [40] but the vote of a last and hopeless remonstrance
may seem to imply that the anathema was yet suspended over his guilty
head. No sooner had they confirmed their own safety, the worship of
images, and the freedom of Rome and Italy, than the popes appear to
have relaxed of their severity, and to have spared the relics of the
Byzantine dominion. Their moderate councils delayed and prevented
the election of a new emperor, and they exhorted the Italians not to
separate from the body of the Roman monarchy. The exarch was permitted
to reside within the walls of Ravenna, a captive rather than a master;
and till the Imperial coronation of Charlemagne, the government of Rome
and Italy was exercised in the name of the successors of Constantine.

[Footnote 37: I shall transcribe the important and decisive passage
of the Liber Pontificalis. Respiciens ergo pius vir profanam principis
jussionem, jam contra Imperatorem quasi contra hostem se armavit,
renuens haeresim ejus, scribens ubique se cavere Christianos, eo quod
orta fuisset impietas talis. Igitur permoti omnes Pentapolenses, atque
Venetiarum exercitus contra Imperatoris jussionem restiterunt; dicentes
se nunquam in ejusdem pontificis condescendere necem, sed pro ejus magis
defensione viriliter decertare, (p. 156.)]

[Footnote 38: A census, or capitation, says Anastasius, (p. 156;) a
most cruel tax, unknown to the Saracens themselves, exclaims the zealous
Maimbourg, (Hist. des Iconoclastes, l. i.,) and Theophanes, (p. 344,)
who talks of Pharaoh's numbering the male children of Israel. This mode
of taxation was familiar to the Saracens; and, most unluckily for the
historians, it was imposed a few years afterwards in France by his
patron Louis XIV.]

[Footnote 39: See the Liber Pontificalis of Agnellus, (in the Scriptores
Rerum Italicarum of Muratori, tom. ii. pars i.,) whose deeper shade
of barbarism marks the difference between Rome and Ravenna. Yet we are
indebted to him for some curious and domestic facts--the quarters and
factions of Ravenna, (p. 154,) the revenge of Justinian II, (p. 160,
161,) the defeat of the Greeks, (p. 170, 171,) &c.]

[Footnote 40: Yet Leo was undoubtedly comprised in the si quis ....
imaginum sacrarum.... destructor.... extiterit, sit extorris a cor
pore D. N. Jesu Christi vel totius ecclesiae unitate. The canonists may
decide whether the guilt or the name constitutes the excommunication;
and the decision is of the last importance to their safety, since,
according to the oracle (Gratian, Caus. xxiii. q. 5, 47, apud Spanheim,
Hist. Imag. p. 112) homicidas non esse qui excommunicatos trucidant.]

[Footnote 41: Compescuit tale consilium Pontifex, sperans conversionem
principis, (Anastas. p. 156.) Sed ne desisterent ab amore et fide R.
J. admonebat, (p. 157.) The popes style Leo and Constantine Copronymus,
Imperatores et Domini, with the strange epithet of Piissimi. A famous
Mosaic of the Lateran (A.D. 798) represents Christ, who delivers the
keys to St. Peter and the banner to Constantine V. (Muratori, Annali
d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 337.)]

The liberty of Rome, which had been oppressed by the arms and arts of
Augustus, was rescued, after seven hundred and fifty years of servitude,
from the persecution of Leo the Isaurian. By the Caesars, the triumphs
of the consuls had been annihilated: in the decline and fall of the
empire, the god Terminus, the sacred boundary, had insensibly receded
from the ocean, the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates; and Rome was
reduced to her ancient territory from Viterbo to Terracina, and from
Narni to the mouth of the Tyber. [42] When the kings were banished,
the republic reposed on the firm basis which had been founded by their
wisdom and virtue. Their perpetual jurisdiction was divided between
two annual magistrates: the senate continued to exercise the powers
of administration and counsel; and the legislative authority was
distributed in the assemblies of the people, by a well-proportioned
scale of property and service. Ignorant of the arts of luxury, the
primitive Romans had improved the science of government and war: the
will of the community was absolute: the rights of individuals were
sacred: one hundred and thirty thousand citizens were armed for defence
or conquest; and a band of robbers and outlaws was moulded into a nation
deserving of freedom and ambitious of glory. [43] When the sovereignty
of the Greek emperors was extinguished, the ruins of Rome presented
the sad image of depopulation and decay: her slavery was a habit, her
liberty an accident; the effect of superstition, and the object of her
own amazement and terror. The last vestige of the substance, or even the
forms, of the constitution, was obliterated from the practice and memory
of the Romans; and they were devoid of knowledge, or virtue, again to
build the fabric of a commonwealth. Their scanty remnant, the offspring
of slaves and strangers, was despicable in the eyes of the victorious
Barbarians. As often as the Franks or Lombards expressed their most
bitter contempt of a foe, they called him a Roman; "and in this name,"
says the bishop Liutprand, "we include whatever is base, whatever is
cowardly, whatever is perfidious, the extremes of avarice and luxury,
and every vice that can prostitute the dignity of human nature." [44]
[441] By the necessity of their situation, the inhabitants of Rome
were cast into the rough model of a republican government: they were
compelled to elect some judges in peace, and some leaders in war: the
nobles assembled to deliberate, and their resolves could not be executed
without the union and consent of the multitude. The style of the Roman
senate and people was revived, [45] but the spirit was fled; and
their new independence was disgraced by the tumultuous conflict of
vicentiousness and oppression. The want of laws could only be supplied
by the influence of religion, and their foreign and domestic counsels
were moderated by the authority of the bishop. His alms, his sermons,
his correspondence with the kings and prelates of the West, his recent
services, their gratitude, and oath, accustomed the Romans to consider
him as the first magistrate or prince of the city. The Christian
humility of the popes was not offended by the name of Dominus, or Lord;
and their face and inscription are still apparent on the most ancient
coins. [46] Their temporal dominion is now confirmed by the reverence
of a thousand years; and their noblest title is the free choice of a
people, whom they had redeemed from slavery.

[Footnote 42: I have traced the Roman duchy according to the maps, and
the maps according to the excellent dissertation of father Beretti,
(de Chorographia Italiae Medii Aevi, sect. xx. p. 216-232.) Yet I must
nicely observe, that Viterbo is of Lombard foundation, (p. 211,) and
that Terracina was usurped by the Greeks.]

[Footnote 43: On the extent, population, &c., of the Roman kingdom,
the reader may peruse, with pleasure, the Discours Preliminaire to the
Republique Romaine of M. de Beaufort, (tom. i.,) who will not be accused
of too much credulity for the early ages of Rome.]

[Footnote 44: Quos (Romanos) nos, Longobardi scilicet, Saxones, Franci,
Locharingi, Bajoarii, Suevi, Burgundiones, tanto dedignamur ut inimicos
nostros commoti, nil aliud contumeliarum nisi Romane, dicamus: hoc solo,
id est Romanorum nomine, quicquid ignobilitatis, quicquid timiditatis,
quicquid avaritiae, quicquid luxuriae, quicquid mendacii, immo quicquid
vitiorum est comprehendentes, (Liutprand, in Legat Script. Ital. tom.
ii. para i. p. 481.) For the sins of Cato or Tully Minos might have
imposed as a fit penance the daily perusal of this barbarous passage.]

[Footnote 441: Yet this contumelious sentence, quoted by Robertson
(Charles V note 2) as well as Gibbon, was applied by the angry bishop
to the Byzantine Romans, whom, indeed, he admits to be the genuine
descendants of Romulus.--M.]

[Footnote 45: Pipino regi Francorum, omnis senatus, atque universa
populi generalitas a Deo servatae Romanae urbis. Codex Carolin. epist.
36, in Script. Ital. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 160. The names of senatus and
senator were never totally extinct, (Dissert. Chorograph. p. 216,
217;) but in the middle ages they signified little more than nobiles,
optimates, &c., (Ducange, Gloss. Latin.)]

[Footnote 46: See Muratori, Antiquit. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. ii.
Dissertat xxvii. p. 548. On one of these coins we read Hadrianus Papa
(A.D. 772;) on the reverse, Vict. Ddnn. with the word Conob, which
the Pere Joubert (Science des Medailles, tom. ii. p. 42) explains by
Constantinopoli Officina B (secunda.)]

In the quarrels of ancient Greece, the holy people of Elis enjoyed a
perpetual peace, under the protection of Jupiter, and in the exercise
of the Olympic games. [47] Happy would it have been for the Romans, if
a similar privilege had guarded the patrimony of St. Peter from the
calamities of war; if the Christians, who visited the holy threshold,
would have sheathed their swords in the presence of the apostle and his
successor. But this mystic circle could have been traced only by the
wand of a legislator and a sage: this pacific system was incompatible
with the zeal and ambition of the popes the Romans were not addicted,
like the inhabitants of Elis, to the innocent and placid labors of
agriculture; and the Barbarians of Italy, though softened by the
climate, were far below the Grecian states in the institutions of
public and private life. A memorable example of repentance and piety was
exhibited by Liutprand, king of the Lombards. In arms, at the gate of
the Vatican, the conqueror listened to the voice of Gregory the Second,
[48] withdrew his troops, resigned his conquests, respectfully visited
the church of St. Peter, and after performing his devotions, offered
his sword and dagger, his cuirass and mantle, his silver cross, and his
crown of gold, on the tomb of the apostle. But this religious fervor was
the illusion, perhaps the artifice, of the moment; the sense of interest
is strong and lasting; the love of arms and rapine was congenial to the
Lombards; and both the prince and people were irresistibly tempted
by the disorders of Italy, the nakedness of Rome, and the unwarlike
profession of her new chief. On the first edicts of the emperor, they
declared themselves the champions of the holy images: Liutprand invaded
the province of Romagna, which had already assumed that distinctive
appellation; the Catholics of the Exarchate yielded without reluctance
to his civil and military power; and a foreign enemy was introduced for
the first time into the impregnable fortress of Ravenna. That city and
fortress were speedily recovered by the active diligence and maritime
forces of the Venetians; and those faithful subjects obeyed the
exhortation of Gregory himself, in separating the personal guilt of Leo
from the general cause of the Roman empire. [49] The Greeks were
less mindful of the service, than the Lombards of the injury: the two
nations, hostile in their faith, were reconciled in a dangerous and
unnatural alliance: the king and the exarch marched to the conquest of
Spoleto and Rome: the storm evaporated without effect, but the policy
of Liutprand alarmed Italy with a vexatious alternative of hostility and
truce. His successor Astolphus declared himself the equal enemy of the
emperor and the pope: Ravenna was subdued by force or treachery, [50]
and this final conquest extinguished the series of the exarchs, who had
reigned with a subordinate power since the time of Justinian and
the ruin of the Gothic kingdom. Rome was summoned to acknowledge the
victorious Lombard as her lawful sovereign; the annual tribute of a
piece of gold was fixed as the ransom of each citizen, and the sword of
destruction was unsheathed to exact the penalty of her disobedience. The
Romans hesitated; they entreated; they complained; and the threatening
Barbarians were checked by arms and negotiations, till the popes had
engaged the friendship of an ally and avenger beyond the Alps. [51]

[Footnote 47: See West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games, (Pindar.
vol. ii. p. 32-36, edition in 12mo.,) and the judicious reflections of
Polybius (tom. i. l. iv. p. 466, edit Gronov.)]

[Footnote 48: The speech of Gregory to the Lombard is finely composed
by Sigonius, (de Regno Italiae, l. iii. Opera, tom. ii. p. 173,) who
imitates the license and the spirit of Sallust or Livy.]

[Footnote 49: The Venetian historians, John Sagorninus, (Chron. Venet.
p. 13,) and the doge Andrew Dandolo, (Scriptores Rer. Ital. tom. xii. p.
135,) have preserved this epistle of Gregory. The loss and recovery of
Ravenna are mentioned by Paulus Diaconus, (de Gest. Langobard, l. vi.
c. 42, 54, in Script. Ital. tom. i. pars i. p. 506, 508;) but our
chronologists, Pagi, Muratori, &c., cannot ascertain the date or

[Footnote 50: The option will depend on the various readings of the Mss.
of Anastasius--deceperat, or decerpserat, (Script. Ital. tom. iii. pars
i. p. 167.)]

[Footnote 51: The Codex Carolinus is a collection of the epistles of
the popes to Charles Martel, (whom they style Subregulus,) Pepin, and
Charlemagne, as far as the year 791, when it was formed by the last of
these princes. His original and authentic Ms. (Bibliothecae Cubicularis)
is now in the Imperial library of Vienna, and has been published by
Lambecius and Muratori, (Script. Rerum Ital. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 75,

In his distress, the first [511] Gregory had implored the aid of the
hero of the age, of Charles Martel, who governed the French monarchy
with the humble title of mayor or duke; and who, by his signal victory
over the Saracens, had saved his country, and perhaps Europe, from the
Mahometan yoke. The ambassadors of the pope were received by Charles
with decent reverence; but the greatness of his occupations, and the
shortness of his life, prevented his interference in the affairs of
Italy, except by a friendly and ineffectual mediation. His son Pepin,
the heir of his power and virtues, assumed the office of champion of
the Roman church; and the zeal of the French prince appears to have been
prompted by the love of glory and religion. But the danger was on the
banks of the Tyber, the succor on those of the Seine, and our sympathy
is cold to the relation of distant misery. Amidst the tears of the city,
Stephen the Third embraced the generous resolution of visiting in person
the courts of Lombardy and France, to deprecate the injustice of his
enemy, or to excite the pity and indignation of his friend. After
soothing the public despair by litanies and orations, he undertook this
laborious journey with the ambassadors of the French monarch and the
Greek emperor. The king of the Lombards was inexorable; but his threats
could not silence the complaints, nor retard the speed of the Roman
pontiff, who traversed the Pennine Alps, reposed in the abbey of St.
Maurice, and hastened to grasp the right hand of his protector; a hand
which was never lifted in vain, either in war or friendship. Stephen
was entertained as the visible successor of the apostle; at the next
assembly, the field of March or of May, his injuries were exposed to a
devout and warlike nation, and he repassed the Alps, not as a suppliant,
but as a conqueror, at the head of a French army, which was led by
the king in person. The Lombards, after a weak resistance, obtained an
ignominious peace, and swore to restore the possessions, and to respect
the sanctity, of the Roman church. But no sooner was Astolphus delivered
from the presence of the French arms, than he forgot his promise and
resented his disgrace. Rome was again encompassed by his arms; and
Stephen, apprehensive of fatiguing the zeal of his Transalpine allies
enforced his complaint and request by an eloquent letter in the name and
person of St. Peter himself. [52] The apostle assures his adopted sons,
the king, the clergy, and the nobles of France, that, dead in the flesh,
he is still alive in the spirit; that they now hear, and must obey, the
voice of the founder and guardian of the Roman church; that the Virgin,
the angels, the saints, and the martyrs, and all the host of heaven,
unanimously urge the request, and will confess the obligation; that
riches, victory, and paradise, will crown their pious enterprise, and
that eternal damnation will be the penalty of their neglect, if they
suffer his tomb, his temple, and his people, to fall into the hands of
the perfidious Lombards. The second expedition of Pepin was not less
rapid and fortunate than the first: St. Peter was satisfied, Rome
was again saved, and Astolphus was taught the lessons of justice
and sincerity by the scourge of a foreign master. After this double
chastisement, the Lombards languished about twenty years in a state
of languor and decay. But their minds were not yet humbled to their
condition; and instead of affecting the pacific virtues of the feeble,
they peevishly harassed the Romans with a repetition of claims,
evasions, and inroads, which they undertook without reflection, and
terminated without glory. On either side, their expiring monarchy was
pressed by the zeal and prudence of Pope Adrian the First, the genius,
the fortune, and greatness of Charlemagne, the son of Pepin; these
heroes of the church and state were united in public and domestic
friendship, and while they trampled on the prostrate, they varnished
their proceedings with the fairest colors of equity and moderation. [53]
The passes of the Alps, and the walls of Pavia, were the only defence
of the Lombards; the former were surprised, the latter were invested, by
the son of Pepin; and after a blockade of two years, [531] Desiderius,
the last of their native princes, surrendered his sceptre and his

Under the dominion of a foreign king, but in the possession of their
national laws, the Lombards became the brethren, rather than the
subjects, of the Franks; who derived their blood, and manners, and
language, from the same Germanic origin. [54]

[Footnote 511: Gregory I. had been dead above a century; read Gregory

[Footnote 52: See this most extraordinary letter in the Codex Carolinus,
epist iii. p. 92. The enemies of the popes have charged them with fraud
and blasphemy; yet they surely meant to persuade rather than deceive.
This introduction of the dead, or of immortals, was familiar to the
ancient orators, though it is executed on this occasion in the rude
fashion of the age.]

[Footnote 53: Except in the divorce of the daughter of Desiderius, whom
Charlemagne repudiated sine aliquo crimine. Pope Stephen IV. had most
furiously opposed the alliance of a noble Frank--cum perfida, horrida
nec dicenda, foetentissima natione Longobardorum--to whom he imputes the
first stain of leprosy, (Cod. Carolin. epist. 45, p. 178, 179.)
Another reason against the marriage was the existence of a first
wife, (Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 232, 233, 236, 237.) But
Charlemagne indulged himself in the freedom of polygamy or concubinage.]

[Footnote 531: Of fifteen months. James, Life of Charlemagne, p.

[Footnote 54: See the Annali d'Italia of Muratori, tom. vi., and the
three first Dissertations of his Antiquitates Italiae Medii Aevi, tom.

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part III.

The mutual obligations of the popes and the Carlovingian family form
the important link of ancient and modern, of civil and ecclesiastical,
history. In the conquest of Italy, the champions of the Roman church
obtained a favorable occasion, a specious title, the wishes of the
people, the prayers and intrigues of the clergy. But the most essential
gifts of the popes to the Carlovingian race were the dignities of
king of France, [55] and of patrician of Rome. I. Under the sacerdotal
monarchy of St. Peter, the nations began to resume the practice of
seeking, on the banks of the Tyber, their kings, their laws, and the
oracles of their fate. The Franks were perplexed between the name and
substance of their government. All the powers of royalty were exercised
by Pepin, mayor of the palace; and nothing, except the regal title,
was wanting to his ambition. His enemies were crushed by his valor;
his friends were multiplied by his liberality; his father had been the
savior of Christendom; and the claims of personal merit were repeated
and ennobled in a descent of four generations. The name and image of
royalty was still preserved in the last descendant of Clovis, the feeble
Childeric; but his obsolete right could only be used as an instrument
of sedition: the nation was desirous of restoring the simplicity of
the constitution; and Pepin, a subject and a prince, was ambitious to
ascertain his own rank and the fortune of his family. The mayor and the
nobles were bound, by an oath of fidelity, to the royal phantom: the
blood of Clovis was pure and sacred in their eyes; and their common
ambassadors addressed the Roman pontiff, to dispel their scruples, or
to absolve their promise. The interest of Pope Zachary, the successor of
the two Gregories, prompted him to decide, and to decide in their favor:
he pronounced that the nation might lawfully unite in the same person
the title and authority of king; and that the unfortunate Childeric, a
victim of the public safety, should be degraded, shaved, and confined
in a monastery for the remainder of his days. An answer so agreeable to
their wishes was accepted by the Franks as the opinion of a casuist, the
sentence of a judge, or the oracle of a prophet: the Merovingian race
disappeared from the earth; and Pepin was exalted on a buckler by the
suffrage of a free people, accustomed to obey his laws and to march
under his standard. His coronation was twice performed, with the
sanction of the popes, by their most faithful servant St. Boniface, the
apostle of Germany, and by the grateful hands of Stephen the Third,
who, in the monastery of St. Denys placed the diadem on the head of his
benefactor. The royal unction of the kings of Israel was dexterously
applied: [56] the successor of St. Peter assumed the character of a
divine ambassador: a German chieftain was transformed into the Lord's
anointed; and this Jewish rite has been diffused and maintained by the
superstition and vanity of modern Europe. The Franks were absolved from
their ancient oath; but a dire anathema was thundered against them
and their posterity, if they should dare to renew the same freedom of
choice, or to elect a king, except in the holy and meritorious race of
the Carlovingian princes. Without apprehending the future danger, these
princes gloried in their present security: the secretary of Charlemagne
affirms, that the French sceptre was transferred by the authority of
the popes; [57] and in their boldest enterprises, they insist, with
confidence, on this signal and successful act of temporal jurisdiction.

[Footnote 55: Besides the common historians, three French critics,
Launoy, (Opera, tom. v. pars ii. l. vii. epist. 9, p. 477-487,) Pagi,
(Critica, A.D. 751, No. 1-6, A.D. 752, No. 1-10,) and Natalis Alexander,
(Hist. Novi Testamenti, dissertat, ii. p. 96-107,) have treated this
subject of the deposition of Childeric with learning and attention, but
with a strong bias to save the independence of the crown. Yet they are
hard pressed by the texts which they produce of Eginhard, Theophanes,
and the old annals, Laureshamenses, Fuldenses, Loisielani]

[Footnote 56: Not absolutely for the first time. On a less conspicuous
theatre it had been used, in the vith and viith centuries, by
the provincial bishops of Britain and Spain. The royal unction of
Constantinople was borrowed from the Latins in the last age of the
empire. Constantine Manasses mentions that of Charlemagne as a foreign,
Jewish, incomprehensible ceremony. See Selden's Titles of Honor, in his
Works, vol. iii. part i. p. 234-249.]

[Footnote 57: See Eginhard, in Vita Caroli Magni, c. i. p. 9, &c.,
c. iii. p. 24. Childeric was deposed--jussu, the Carlovingians were
established--auctoritate, Pontificis Romani. Launoy, &c., pretend that
these strong words are susceptible of a very soft interpretation. Be
it so; yet Eginhard understood the world, the court, and the Latin

II. In the change of manners and language the patricians of Rome
[58] were far removed from the senate of Romulus, on the palace of
Constantine, from the free nobles of the republic, or the fictitious
parents of the emperor. After the recovery of Italy and Africa by the
arms of Justinian, the importance and danger of those remote provinces
required the presence of a supreme magistrate; he was indifferently
styled the exarch or the patrician; and these governors of Ravenna,
who fill their place in the chronology of princes, extended their
jurisdiction over the Roman city. Since the revolt of Italy and the loss
of the Exarchate, the distress of the Romans had exacted some sacrifice
of their independence. Yet, even in this act, they exercised the right
of disposing of themselves; and the decrees of the senate and people
successively invested Charles Martel and his posterity with the honors
of patrician of Rome. The leaders of a powerful nation would have
disdained a servile title and subordinate office; but the reign of the
Greek emperors was suspended; and, in the vacancy of the empire, they
derived a more glorious commission from the pope and the republic. The
Roman ambassadors presented these patricians with the keys of the shrine
of St. Peter, as a pledge and symbol of sovereignty; with a holy banner
which it was their right and duty to unfurl in the defence of the
church and city. [59] In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin, the
interposition of the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom, while it
threatened the safety, of Rome; and the patriciate represented only the
title, the service, the alliance, of these distant protectors. The power
and policy of Charlemagne annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master.
In his first visit to the capital, he was received with all the honors
which had formerly been paid to the exarch, the representative of the
emperor; and these honors obtained some new decorations from the joy and
gratitude of Pope Adrian the First. [60] No sooner was he informed of
the sudden approach of the monarch, than he despatched the magistrates
and nobles of Rome to meet him, with the banner, about thirty miles from
the city. At the distance of one mile, the Flaminian way was lined with
the schools, or national communities, of Greeks, Lombards, Saxons, &c.:
the Roman youth were under arms; and the children of a more tender age,
with palms and olive branches in their hands, chanted the praises of
their great deliverer. At the aspect of the holy crosses, and ensigns
of the saints, he dismounted from his horse, led the procession of his
nobles to the Vatican, and, as he ascended the stairs, devoutly kissed
each step of the threshold of the apostles. In the portico, Adrian
expected him at the head of his clergy: they embraced, as friends and
equals; but in their march to the altar, the king or patrician assumed
the right hand of the pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain
and empty demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that
elapsed between the conquest of Lombardy and his Imperial coronation,
Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own,
to the sceptre of Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person
and family: in his name money was coined, and justice was administered;
and the election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his
authority. Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty,
there was not any prerogative remaining, which the title of emperor
could add to the patrician of Rome. [61]

[Footnote 58: For the title and powers of patrician of Rome, see
Ducange, (Gloss. Latin. tom. v. p. 149-151,) Pagi, (Critica, A.D. 740,
No. 6-11,) Muratori, (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 308-329,) and St.
Marc, (Abrege Chronologique d'Italie, tom. i. p. 379-382.) Of these the
Franciscan Pagi is the most disposed to make the patrician a lieutenant
of the church, rather than of the empire.]

[Footnote 59: The papal advocates can soften the symbolic meaning of the
banner and the keys; but the style of ad regnum dimisimus, or direximus,
(Codex Carolin. epist. i. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 76,) seems to allow of
no palliation or escape. In the Ms. of the Vienna library, they read,
instead of regnum, rogum, prayer or request (see Ducange;) and the
royalty of Charles Martel is subverted by this important correction,
(Catalani, in his Critical Prefaces, Annali d'Italia, tom. xvii. p.

[Footnote 60: In the authentic narrative of this reception, the Liber
Pontificalis observes--obviam illi ejus sanctitas dirigens venerabiles
cruces, id est signa; sicut mos est ad exarchum, aut patricium
suscipiendum, sum cum ingenti honore suscipi fecit, (tom. iii. pars i.
p. 185.)]

[Footnote 61: Paulus Diaconus, who wrote before the empire of
Charlemagne describes Rome as his subject city--vestrae civitates
(ad Pompeium Festum) suis addidit sceptris, (de Metensis Ecclesiae
Episcopis.) Some Carlovingian medals, struck at Rome, have engaged
Le Blanc to write an elaborate, though partial, dissertation on their
authority at Rome, both as patricians and emperors, (Amsterdam, 1692, in

The gratitude of the Carlovingians was adequate to these obligations,
and their names are consecrated, as the saviors and benefactors of the
Roman church. Her ancient patrimony of farms and houses was transformed
by their bounty into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and
the donation of the Exarchate was the first-fruits of the conquests of
Pepin. [62] Astolphus with a sigh relinquished his prey; the keys
and the hostages of the principal cities were delivered to the French
ambassador; and, in his master's name, he presented them before the tomb
of St. Peter. The ample measure of the Exarchate [63] might comprise all
the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the emperor and his vicegerent;
but its strict and proper limits were included in the territories
of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara: its inseparable dependency was the
Pentapolis, which stretched along the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona,
and advanced into the midland-country as far as the ridges of the
Apennine. In this transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes
have been severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest
should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy for him
to govern without renouncing the virtues of his profession. Perhaps
a faithful subject, or even a generous enemy, would have been less
impatient to divide the spoils of the Barbarian; and if the emperor
had intrusted Stephen to solicit in his name the restitution of the
Exarchate, I will not absolve the pope from the reproach of treachery
and falsehood. But in the rigid interpretation of the laws, every one
may accept, without injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without
injustice. The Greek emperor had abdicated, or forfeited, his right to
the Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger
sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the Iconoclast
that Pepin has exposed his person and army in a double expedition beyond
the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully alienate, his conquests:
and to the importunities of the Greeks he piously replied that no human
consideration should tempt him to resume the gift which he had conferred
on the Roman Pontiff for the remission of his sins, and the salvation
of his soul. The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute
dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop
invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the choice of
magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and
the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the dissolution of the Lombard
kingdom, the inhabitants of the duchy of Spoleto [64] sought a refuge
from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared
themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by
this voluntary surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical
state. That mysterious circle was enlarged to an indefinite extent, by
the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne, [65] who, in the first
transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek emperor of
the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate.
But, in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with
an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical
ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was
respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the
inalienable rights of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna,
[66] as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan
cities. The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the
popes; they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic
rival: [67] the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest; and
in the disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an
ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and

[Footnote 62: Mosheim (Institution, Hist. Eccles. p. 263) weighs this
donation with fair and deliberate prudence. The original act has never
been produced; but the Liber Pontificalis represents, (p. 171,) and the
Codex Carolinus supposes, this ample gift. Both are contemporary records
and the latter is the more authentic, since it has been preserved, not
in the Papal, but the Imperial, library.]

[Footnote 63: Between the exorbitant claims, and narrow concessions, of
interest and prejudice, from which even Muratori (Antiquitat. tom. i. p.
63-68) is not exempt, I have been guided, in the limits of the Exarchate
and Pentapolis, by the Dissertatio Chorographica Italiae Medii Aevi,
tom. x. p. 160-180.]

[Footnote 64: Spoletini deprecati sunt, ut eos in servitio B. Petri
receperet et more Romanorum tonsurari faceret, (Anastasius, p. 185.)
Yet it may be a question whether they gave their own persons or their

[Footnote 65: The policy and donations of Charlemagne are carefully
examined by St. Marc, (Abrege, tom. i. p. 390-408,) who has well studied
the Codex Carolinus. I believe, with him, that they were only verbal.
The most ancient act of donation that pretends to be extant, is that of
the emperor Lewis the Pious, (Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, l. iv. Opera,
tom. ii. p. 267-270.) Its authenticity, or at least its integrity, are
much questioned, (Pagi, A.D. 817, No. 7, &c. Muratori, Annali, tom.
vi. p. 432, &c. Dissertat. Chorographica, p. 33, 34;) but I see no
reasonable objection to these princes so freely disposing of what was
not their own.]

[Footnote 66: Charlemagne solicited and obtained from the proprietor,
Hadrian I., the mosaics of the palace of Ravenna, for the decoration of
Aix-la-Chapelle, (Cod. Carolin. epist. 67, p. 223.)]

[Footnote 67: The popes often complain of the usurpations of Leo of
Ravenna, (Codex Carolin, epist. 51, 52, 53, p. 200-205.) Sir corpus St.
Andreae fratris germani St. Petri hic humasset, nequaquam nos Romani
pontifices sic subjugassent, (Agnellus, Liber Pontificalis, in
Scriptores Rerum Ital. tom. ii. pars. i. p. 107.)]

Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; and the strong, though
ignorant, Barbarian was often entangled in the net of sacerdotal
policy. The Vatican and Lateran were an arsenal and manufacture,
which, according to the occasion, have produced or concealed a various
collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they
tended to promote the interest of the Roman church. Before the end
of the eighth century, some apostolic scribe, perhaps the notorious
Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the
two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes.
This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of
Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and
revive the name, of the great Constantine. [68] According to the legend,
the first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and
purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop;
and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte
withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his
resolution of founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to
the popes the free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the
provinces of the West. [69] This fiction was productive of the most
beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt
of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful
inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and
the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and
irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state.
The sovereignty of Rome no longer depended on the choice of a fickle
people; and the successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested
with the purple and prerogatives of the Caesars. So deep was the
ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of fables was
received, with equal reverence, in Greece and in France, and is still
enrolled among the decrees of the canon law. [70] The emperors, and the
Romans, were incapable of discerning a forgery, that subverted their
rights and freedom; and the only opposition proceeded from a Sabine
monastery, which, in the beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the
truth and validity of the donation of Constantine. [71] In the revival
of letters and liberty, this fictitious deed was transpierced by the pen
of Laurentius Valla, the pen of an eloquent critic and a Roman patriot.
[72] His contemporaries of the fifteenth century were astonished at his
sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent and irresistible progress
of reason, that, before the end of the next age, the fable was rejected
by the contempt of historians [73] and poets, [74] and the tacit or
modest censure of the advocates of the Roman church. [75] The popes
themselves have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar; [76]
but a false and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the
same fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibylline oracles,
the edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been undermined.

[Footnote 68: Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S.
R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his Hesperiae
partibus largiri olignatus est.... Quia ecce novus Constantinus his
temporibus, &c., (Codex Carolin. epist. 49, in tom. iii. part ii. p.
195.) Pagi (Critica, A.D. 324, No. 16) ascribes them to an impostor of
the viiith century, who borrowed the name of St. Isidore: his humble
title of Peccator was ignorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator: his
merchandise was indeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold
for much wealth and power.]

[Footnote 69: Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 4-7) has enumerated
the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin. The copy which
Laurentius Valla recites and refutes, appears to be taken either from
the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from Gratian's Decree, to which,
according to him and others, it has been surreptitiously tacked.]

[Footnote 70: In the year 1059, it was believed (was it believed?)
by Pope Leo IX. Cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori places (Annali
d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 23, 24) the fictitious donations of Lewis the
Pious, the Othos, &c., de Donatione Constantini. See a Dissertation of
Natalis Alexander, seculum iv. diss. 25, p. 335-350.]

[Footnote 71: See a large account of the controversy (A.D. 1105) which
arose from a private lawsuit, in the Chronicon Farsense, (Script. Rerum
Italicarum, tom. ii. pars ii. p. 637, &c.,) a copious extract from the
archives of that Benedictine abbey. They were formerly accessible to
curious foreigners, (Le Blanc and Mabillon,) and would have enriched the
first volume of the Historia Monastica Italiae of Quirini. But they are
now imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. tom. ii. pars ii. p. 269) by
the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future cardinal yielded
to the voice of authority and the whispers of ambition, (Quirini,
Comment. pars ii. p. 123-136.)]

[Footnote 72: I have read in the collection of Schardius (de Potestate
Imperiali Ecclesiastica, p. 734-780) this animated discourse, which was
composed by the author, A.D. 1440, six years after the flight of Pope
Eugenius IV. It is a most vehement party pamphlet: Valla justifies and
animates the revolt of the Romans, and would even approve the use of a
dagger against their sacerdotal tyrant. Such a critic might expect the
persecution of the clergy; yet he made his peace, and is buried in the
Lateran, (Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Valla; Vossius, de Historicis
Latinis, p. 580.)]

[Footnote 73: See Guicciardini, a servant of the popes, in that long and
valuable digression, which has resumed its place in the last edition,
correctly published from the author's Ms. and printed in four volumes in
quarto, under the name of Friburgo, 1775, (Istoria d'Italia, tom. i. p.

[Footnote 74: The Paladin Astolpho found it in the moon, among the
things that were lost upon earth, (Orlando Furioso, xxxiv. 80.) Di vari
fiore ad un grand monte passa, Ch'ebbe gia buono odore, or puzza forte:
Questo era il dono (se pero dir lece) Che Constantino al buon Silvestro
fece. Yet this incomparable poem has been approved by a bull of Leo X.]

[Footnote 75: See Baronius, A.D. 324, No. 117-123, A.D. 1191, No. 51,
&c. The cardinal wishes to suppose that Rome was offered by Constantine,
and refused by Silvester. The act of donation he considers strangely
enough, as a forgery of the Greeks.]

[Footnote 76: Baronius n'en dit guerres contre; encore en a-t'il trop
dit, et l'on vouloit sans moi, (Cardinal du Perron,) qui l'empechai,
censurer cette partie de son histoire. J'en devisai un jour avec le
Pape, et il ne me repondit autre chose "che volete? i Canonici la
tengono," il le disoit en riant, (Perroniana, p. 77.)]

While the popes established in Italy their freedom and dominion, the
images, the first cause of their revolt, were restored in the Eastern
empire. [77] Under the reign of Constantine the Fifth, the union
of civil and ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without
extirpating the root, of superstition. The idols (for such they were
now held) were secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone
to devotion; and the fond alliance of the monks and females obtained
a final victory over the reason and authority of man. Leo the Fourth
maintained with less rigor the religion of his father and grandfather;
but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene, had imbibed the zeal of the
Athenians, the heirs of the Idolatry, rather than the philosophy, of
their ancestors. During the life of her husband, these sentiments
were inflamed by danger and dissimulation, and she could only labor
to protect and promote some favorite monks whom she drew from their
caverns, and seated on the metropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon
as she reigned in her own name and that of her son, Irene more seriously
undertook the ruin of the Iconoclasts; and the first step of her future
persecution was a general edict for liberty of conscience.

In the restoration of the monks, a thousand images were exposed to the
public veneration; a thousand legends were inverted of their sufferings
and miracles. By the opportunities of death or removal, the episcopal
seats were judiciously filled the most eager competitors for earthly
or celestial favor anticipated and flattered the judgment of their
sovereign; and the promotion of her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the
patriarch of Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church.
But the decrees of a general council could only be repealed by a
similar assembly: [78] the Iconoclasts whom she convened were bold in
possession, and averse to debate; and the feeble voice of the bishops
was reechoed by the more formidable clamor of the soldiers and people of
Constantinople. The delay and intrigues of a year, the separation of the
disaffected troops, and the choice of Nice for a second orthodox synod,
removed these obstacles; and the episcopal conscience was again, after
the Greek fashion, in the hands of the prince. No more than eighteen
days were allowed for the consummation of this important work: the
Iconoclasts appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents:
the scene was decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern
patriarchs, [79] the decrees were framed by the president Taracius,
and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and
fifty bishops. They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images
is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the
church: but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct;
whether the Godhead, and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same
mode of adoration. Of this second Nicene council the acts are still
extant; a curious monument of superstition and ignorance, of falsehood
and folly. I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the
comparative merit of image-worship and morality. A monk had concluded a
truce with the daemon of fornication, on condition of interrupting his
daily prayers to a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted
him to consult the abbot. "Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and
his Mother in their holy images, it would be better for you," replied
the casuist, "to enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in the
city." [80] For the honor of orthodoxy, at least the orthodoxy of the
Roman church, it is somewhat unfortunate, that the two princes who
convened the two councils of Nice are both stained with the blood of
their sons. The second of these assemblies was approved and rigorously
executed by the despotism of Irene, and she refused her adversaries the
toleration which at first she had granted to her friends. During the
five succeeding reigns, a period of thirty-eight years, the contest
was maintained, with unabated rage and various success, between the
worshippers and the breakers of the images; but I am not inclined
to pursue with minute diligence the repetition of the same events.
Nicephorus allowed a general liberty of speech and practice; and the
only virtue of his reign is accused by the monks as the cause of his
temporal and eternal perdition. Superstition and weakness formed the
character of Michael the First, but the saints and images were incapable
of supporting their votary on the throne. In the purple, Leo the Fifth
asserted the name and religion of an Armenian; and the idols, with their
seditious adherents, were condemned to a second exile. Their applause
would have sanctified the murder of an impious tyrant, but his assassin
and successor, the second Michael, was tainted from his birth with
the Phrygian heresies: he attempted to mediate between the contending
parties; and the intractable spirit of the Catholics insensibly cast him
into the opposite scale. His moderation was guarded by timidity; but his
son Theophilus, alike ignorant of fear and pity, was the last and most
cruel of the Iconoclasts. The enthusiasm of the times ran strongly
against them; and the emperors who stemmed the torrent were exasperated
and punished by the public hatred. After the death of Theophilus, the
final victory of the images was achieved by a second female, his widow
Theodora, whom he left the guardian of the empire. Her measures were
bold and decisive. The fiction of a tardy repentance absolved the fame
and the soul of her deceased husband; the sentence of the Iconoclast
patriarch was commuted from the loss of his eyes to a whipping of
two hundred lashes: the bishops trembled, the monks shouted, and the
festival of orthodoxy preserves the annual memory of the triumph of the
images. A single question yet remained, whether they are endowed with
any proper and inherent sanctity; it was agitated by the Greeks of
the eleventh century; [81] and as this opinion has the strongest
recommendation of absurdity, I am surprised that it was not more
explicitly decided in the affirmative. In the West, Pope Adrian the
First accepted and announced the decrees of the Nicene assembly, which
is now revered by the Catholics as the seventh in rank of the general
councils. Rome and Italy were docile to the voice of their father; but
the greatest part of the Latin Christians were far behind in the race
of superstition. The churches of France, Germany, England, and Spain,
steered a middle course between the adoration and the destruction
of images, which they admitted into their temples, not as objects of
worship, but as lively and useful memorials of faith and history. An
angry book of controversy was composed and published in the name of
Charlemagne: [82] under his authority a synod of three hundred
bishops was assembled at Frankfort: [83] they blamed the fury of the
Iconoclasts, but they pronounced a more severe censure against the
superstition of the Greeks, and the decrees of their pretended council,
which was long despised by the Barbarians of the West. [84] Among them
the worship of images advanced with a silent and insensible progress;
but a large atonement is made for their hesitation and delay, by the
gross idolatry of the ages which precede the reformation, and of the
countries, both in Europe and America, which are still immersed in the
gloom of superstition.

[Footnote 77: The remaining history of images, from Irene to Theodora,
is collected, for the Catholics, by Baronius and Pagi, (A.D. 780-840.)
Natalis Alexander, (Hist. N. T. seculum viii. Panoplia adversus
Haereticos p. 118-178,) and Dupin, (Bibliot. Eccles. tom. vi. p.
136-154;) for the Protestants, by Spanheim, (Hist. Imag. p. 305-639.)
Basnage, (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 556-572, tom. ii. p. 1362-1385,)
and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. secul. viii. et ix.) The
Protestants, except Mosheim, are soured with controversy; but the
Catholics, except Dupin, are inflamed by the fury and superstition of
the monks; and even Le Beau, (Hist. du Bas Empire,) a gentleman and a
scholar, is infected by the odious contagion.]

[Footnote 78: See the Acts, in Greek and Latin, of the second Council
of Nice, with a number of relative pieces, in the viiith volume of the
Councils, p. 645-1600. A faithful version, with some critical notes,
would provoke, in different readers, a sigh or a smile.]

[Footnote 79: The pope's legates were casual messengers, two priests
without any special commission, and who were disavowed on their return.
Some vagabond monks were persuaded by the Catholics to represent the
Oriental patriarchs. This curious anecdote is revealed by Theodore
Studites, (epist. i. 38, in Sirmond. Opp. tom. v. p. 1319,) one of the
warmest Iconoclasts of the age.]

[Footnote 80: These visits could not be innocent since the daemon of
fornication, &c. Actio iv. p. 901, Actio v. p. 1081]

[Footnote 81: See an account of this controversy in the Alexius of Anna
Compena, (l. v. p. 129,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 371,

[Footnote 82: The Libri Carolini, (Spanheim, p. 443-529,) composed in
the palace or winter quarters of Charlemagne, at Worms, A.D. 790, and
sent by Engebert to Pope Hadrian I., who answered them by a grandis et
verbosa epistola, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 1553.) The Carolines propose
120 objections against the Nicene synod and such words as these are the
flowers of their rhetoric--Dementiam.... priscae Gentilitatis obsoletum
errorem .... argumenta insanissima et absurdissima.... derisione dignas
naenias, &c., &c.]

[Footnote 83: The assemblies of Charlemagne were political, as well as
ecclesiastical; and the three hundred members, (Nat. Alexander, sec.
viii. p. 53,) who sat and voted at Frankfort, must include not only the
bishops, but the abbots, and even the principal laymen.]

[Footnote 84: Qui supra sanctissima patres nostri (episcopi et
sacerdotes) omnimodis servitium et adorationem imaginum renuentes
contempserunt, atque consentientes condemnaverunt, (Concil. tom. ix. p.
101, Canon. ii. Franckfurd.) A polemic must be hard-hearted indeed, who
does not pity the efforts of Baronius, Pagi, Alexander, Maimbourg, &c.,
to elude this unlucky sentence.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part IV.

It was after the Nycene synod, and under the reign of the pious Irene,
that the popes consummated the separation of Rome and Italy, by the
translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. They were
compelled to choose between the rival nations: religion was not the sole
motive of their choice; and while they dissembled the failings of
their friends, they beheld, with reluctance and suspicion, the Catholic
virtues of their foes. The difference of language and manners had
perpetuated the enmity of the two capitals; and they were alienated from
each other by the hostile opposition of seventy years. In that schism
the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty: their
submission would have exposed them to the revenge of a jealous tyrant;
and the revolution of Italy had betrayed the impotence, as well as the
tyranny, of the Byzantine court. The Greek emperors had restored the
images, but they had not restored the Calabrian estates [85] and the
Illyrian diocese, [86] which the Iconociasts had torn away from the
successors of St. Peter; and Pope Adrian threatens them with a sentence
of excommunication unless they speedily abjure this practical heresy.
[87] The Greeks were now orthodox; but their religion might be tainted
by the breath of the reigning monarch: the Franks were now contumacious;
but a discerning eye might discern their approaching conversion, from
the use, to the adoration, of images. The name of Charlemagne was
stained by the polemic acrimony of his scribes; but the conqueror
himself conformed, with the temper of a statesman, to the various
practice of France and Italy. In his four pilgrimages or visits to the
Vatican, he embraced the popes in the communion of friendship and
piety; knelt before the tomb, and consequently before the image, of the
apostle; and joined, without scruple, in all the prayers and processions
of the Roman liturgy. Would prudence or gratitude allow the pontiffs to
renounce their benefactor? Had they a right to alienate his gift of the
Exarchate? Had they power to abolish his government of Rome? The title
of patrician was below the merit and greatness of Charlemagne; and
it was only by reviving the Western empire that they could pay their
obligations or secure their establishment. By this decisive measure they
would finally eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement
of a provincial town, the majesty of Rome would be restored: the Latin
Christians would be united, under a supreme head, in their ancient
metropolis; and the conquerors of the West would receive their crown
from the successors of St. Peter. The Roman church would acquire
a zealous and respectable advocate; and, under the shadow of the
Carlovingian power, the bishop might exercise, with honor and safety,
the government of the city. [88]

[Footnote 85: Theophanes (p. 343) specifies those of Sicily and
Calabria, which yielded an annual rent of three talents and a half of
gold, (perhaps 7000 L. sterling.) Liutprand more pompously enumerates the
patrimonies of the Roman church in Greece, Judaea, Persia, Mesopotamia
Babylonia, Egypt, and Libya, which were detained by the injustice of the
Greek emperor, (Legat. ad Nicephorum, in Script. Rerum Italica rum, tom.
ii. pars i. p. 481.)]

[Footnote 86: The great diocese of the Eastern Illyricum, with Apulia,
Calabria, and Sicily, (Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p.
145: ) by the confession of the Greeks, the patriarch of Constantinople
had detached from Rome the metropolitans of Thessalonica, Athens
Corinth, Nicopolis, and Patrae, (Luc. Holsten. Geograph. Sacra, p. 22)
and his spiritual conquests extended to Naples and Amalphi (Istoria
Civile di Napoli, tom. i. p. 517-524, Pagi, A. D 780, No. 11.)]

[Footnote 87: In hoc ostenditur, quia ex uno capitulo ab errore
reversis, in aliis duobus, in eodem (was it the same?) permaneant
errore.... de diocessi S. R. E. seu de patrimoniis iterum increpantes
commonemus, ut si ea restituere noluerit hereticum eum pro hujusmodi
errore perseverantia decernemus, (Epist. Hadrian. Papae ad Carolum
Magnum, in Concil. tom. viii. p. 1598;) to which he adds a reason, most
directly opposite to his conduct, that he preferred the salvation of
souls and rule of faith to the goods of this transitory world.]

[Footnote 88: Fontanini considers the emperors as no more than the
advocates of the church, (advocatus et defensor S. R. E. See Ducange,
Gloss Lat. tom. i. p. 297.) His antagonist Muratori reduces the popes to
be no more than the exarchs of the emperor. In the more equitable view
of Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 264, 265,) they held Rome under
the empire as the most honorable species of fief or benefice--premuntur
nocte caliginosa!]

Before the ruin of Paganism in Rome, the competition for a wealthy
bishopric had often been productive of tumult and bloodshed. The people
was less numerous, but the times were more savage, the prize more
important, and the chair of St. Peter was fiercely disputed by the
leading ecclesiastics who aspired to the rank of sovereign. The reign of
Adrian the First [89] surpasses the measure of past or succeeding ages;
[90] the walls of Rome, the sacred patrimony, the ruin of the Lombards,
and the friendship of Charlemagne, were the trophies of his fame: he
secretly edified the throne of his successors, and displayed in a narrow
space the virtues of a great prince. His memory was revered; but in the
next election, a priest of the Lateran, Leo the Third, was preferred to
the nephew and the favorite of Adrian, whom he had promoted to the first
dignities of the church. Their acquiescence or repentance disguised,
above four years, the blackest intention of revenge, till the day of a
procession, when a furious band of conspirators dispersed the unarmed
multitude, and assaulted with blows and wounds the sacred person of
the pope. But their enterprise on his life or liberty was disappointed,
perhaps by their own confusion and remorse. Leo was left for dead on the
ground: on his revival from the swoon, the effect of his loss of blood,
he recovered his speech and sight; and this natural event was improved
to the miraculous restoration of his eyes and tongue, of which he had
been deprived, twice deprived, by the knife of the assassins. [91] From
his prison he escaped to the Vatican: the duke of Spoleto hastened to
his rescue, Charlemagne sympathized in his injury, and in his camp of
Paderborn in Westphalia accepted, or solicited, a visit from the Roman
pontiff. Leo repassed the Alps with a commission of counts and bishops,
the guards of his safety and the judges of his innocence; and it was not
without reluctance, that the conqueror of the Saxons delayed till the
ensuing year the personal discharge of this pious office. In his fourth
and last pilgrimage, he was received at Rome with the due honors of king
and patrician: Leo was permitted to purge himself by oath of the crimes
imputed to his charge: his enemies were silenced, and the sacrilegious
attempt against his life was punished by the mild and insufficient
penalty of exile. On the festival of Christmas, the last year of the
eighth century, Charlemagne appeared in the church of St. Peter; and,
to gratify the vanity of Rome, he had exchanged the simple dress of his
country for the habit of a patrician. [92] After the celebration of the
holy mysteries, Leo suddenly placed a precious crown on his head, [93]
and the dome resounded with the acclamations of the people, "Long life
and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God
the great and pacific emperor of the Romans!" The head and body of
Charlemagne were consecrated by the royal unction: after the example
of the Caesars, he was saluted or adored by the pontiff: his coronation
oath represents a promise to maintain the faith and privileges of the
church; and the first-fruits were paid in his rich offerings to the
shrine of his apostle. In his familiar conversation, the emperor
protested the ignorance of the intentions of Leo, which he would have
disappointed by his absence on that memorable day. But the preparations
of the ceremony must have disclosed the secret; and the journey of
Charlemagne reveals his knowledge and expectation: he had acknowledged
that the Imperial title was the object of his ambition, and a Roman
synod had pronounced, that it was the only adequate reward of his merit
and services. [94]

[Footnote 89: His merits and hopes are summed up in an epitaph of
thirty-eight-verses, of which Charlemagne declares himself the author,
(Concil. tom. viii. p. 520.) Post patrem lacrymans Carolus haec carmina
scripsi. Tu mihi dulcis amor, te modo plango pater... Nomina jungo simul
titulis, clarissime, nostra Adrianus, Carolus, rex ego, tuque pater. The
poetry might be supplied by Alcuin; but the tears, the most glorious
tribute, can only belong to Charlemagne.]

[Footnote 90: Every new pope is admonished--"Sancte Pater, non videbis
annos Petri," twenty-five years. On the whole series the average is
about eight years--a short hope for an ambitious cardinal.]

[Footnote 91: The assurance of Anastasius (tom. iii. pars i. p. 197,
198) is supported by the credulity of some French annalists; but
Eginhard, and other writers of the same age, are more natural and
sincere. "Unus ei oculus paullulum est laesus," says John the deacon of
Naples, (Vit. Episcop. Napol. in Scriptores Muratori, tom. i. pars ii.
p. 312.) Theodolphus, a contemporary bishop of Orleans, observes with
prudence (l. iii. carm. 3.)

     Reddita sunt? mirum est: mirum est auferre nequtsse.
     Est tamen in dubio, hinc mirer an inde magis.]

[Footnote 92: Twice, at the request of Hadrian and Leo, he appeared at
Rome,--longa tunica et chlamyde amictus, et calceamentis quoque
Romano more formatis. Eginhard (c. xxiii. p. 109-113) describes, like
Suetonius the simplicity of his dress, so popular in the nation,
that when Charles the Bald returned to France in a foreign habit, the
patriotic dogs barked at the apostate, (Gaillard, Vie de Charlemagne,
tom. iv. p. 109.)]

[Footnote 93: See Anastasius (p. 199) and Eginhard, (c.xxviii. p.
124-128.) The unction is mentioned by Theophanes, (p. 399,) the oath
by Sigonius, (from the Ordo Romanus,) and the Pope's adoration more
antiquorum principum, by the Annales Bertiniani, (Script. Murator. tom.
ii. pars ii. p. 505.)]

[Footnote 94: This great event of the translation or restoration of
the empire is related and discussed by Natalis Alexander, (secul. ix.
dissert. i. p. 390-397,) Pagi, (tom. iii. p. 418,) Muratori, (Annali
d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 339-352,) Sigonius, (de Regno Italiae, l. iv.
Opp. tom. ii. p. 247-251,) Spanheim, (de ficta Translatione Imperii,)
Giannone, (tom. i. p. 395-405,) St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique, tom.
i. p. 438-450,) Gaillard, (Hist. de Charlemagne, tom. ii. p. 386-446.)
Almost all these moderns have some religious or national bias.]

The appellation of great has been often bestowed, and sometimes
deserved; but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favor the title
has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the
addition of saint, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint,
by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians and
philosophers of an enlightened age. [95] His real merit is doubtless
enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he
emerged: but the apparent magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged by
an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual splendor
from the nakedness of the surrounding desert. Without injustice to his
fame, I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness of the
restorer of the Western empire. Of his moral virtues, chastity is
not the most conspicuous: [96] but the public happiness could not
be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various
indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his
bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and
licentious manners of his daughters, [97] whom the father was suspected
of loving with too fond a passion. [971] I shall be scarcely
permitted to accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal
retribution, the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes
of Aquitain, and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded
on the same spot, would have something to allege against the justice and
humanity of Charlemagne. His treatment of the vanquished Saxons [98]
was an abuse of the right of conquest; his laws were not less sanguinary
than his arms, and in the discussion of his motives, whatever is
subtracted from bigotry must be imputed to temper. The sedentary reader
is amazed by his incessant activity of mind and body; and his subjects
and enemies were not less astonished at his sudden presence, at the
moment when they believed him at the most distant extremity of the
empire; neither peace nor war, nor summer nor winter, were a season of
repose; and our fancy cannot easily reconcile the annals of his reign
with the geography of his expeditions. [981] But this activity was a
national, rather than a personal, virtue; the vagrant life of a Frank
was spent in the chase, in pilgrimage, in military adventures; and the
journeys of Charlemagne were distinguished only by a more numerous train
and a more important purpose. His military renown must be tried by
the scrutiny of his troops, his enemies, and his actions. Alexander
conquered with the arms of Philip, but the two heroes who preceded
Charlemagne bequeathed him their name, their examples, and the
companions of their victories. At the head of his veteran and superior
armies, he oppressed the savage or degenerate nations, who were
incapable of confederating for their common safety: nor did he ever
encounter an equal antagonist in numbers, in discipline, or in arms The
science of war has been lost and revived with the arts of peace; but
his campaigns are not illustrated by any siege or battle of singular
difficulty and success; and he might behold, with envy, the Saracen
trophies of his grandfather. After the Spanish expedition, his
rear-guard was defeated in the Pyrenaean mountains; and the soldiers,
whose situation was irretrievable, and whose valor was useless, might
accuse, with their last breath, the want of skill or caution of their
general. [99] I touch with reverence the laws of Charlemagne, so highly
applauded by a respectable judge. They compose not a system, but a
series, of occasional and minute edicts, for the correction of abuses,
the reformation of manners, the economy of his farms, the care of his
poultry, and even the sale of his eggs. He wished to improve the laws
and the character of the Franks; and his attempts, however feeble and
imperfect, are deserving of praise: the inveterate evils of the
times were suspended or mollified by his government; [100] but in his
institutions I can seldom discover the general views and the immortal
spirit of a legislator, who survives himself for the benefit of
posterity. The union and stability of his empire depended on the life
of a single man: he imitated the dangerous practice of dividing his
kingdoms among his sons; and after his numerous diets, the whole
constitution was left to fluctuate between the disorders of anarchy and
despotism. His esteem for the piety and knowledge of the clergy tempted
him to intrust that aspiring order with temporal dominion and civil
jurisdiction; and his son Lewis, when he was stripped and degraded
by the bishops, might accuse, in some measure, the imprudence of his
father. His laws enforced the imposition of tithes, because the daemons
had proclaimed in the air that the default of payment had been the
cause of the last scarcity. [101] The literary merits of Charlemagne
are attested by the foundation of schools, the introduction of arts, the
works which were published in his name, and his familiar connection with
the subjects and strangers whom he invited to his court to educate
both the prince and people. His own studies were tardy, laborious,
and imperfect; if he spoke Latin, and understood Greek, he derived the
rudiments of knowledge from conversation, rather than from books;
and, in his mature age, the emperor strove to acquire the practice
of writing, which every peasant now learns in his infancy. [102] The
grammar and logic, the music and astronomy, of the times, were only
cultivated as the handmaids of superstition; but the curiosity of
the human mind must ultimately tend to its improvement, and the
encouragement of learning reflects the purest and most pleasing lustre
on the character of Charlemagne. [103] The dignity of his person, [104]
the length of his reign, the prosperity of his arms, the vigor of his
government, and the reverence of distant nations, distinguish him from
the royal crowd; and Europe dates a new aera from his restoration of the
Western empire.

[Footnote 95: By Mably, (Observations sur l'Histoire de France,)
Voltaire, (Histoire Generale,) Robertson, (History of Charles V.,) and
Montesquieu, (Esprit des Loix, l. xxxi. c. 18.) In the year 1782, M.
Gaillard published his Histoire de Charlemagne, (in 4 vols. in 12mo.,)
which I have freely and profitably used. The author is a man of sense
and humanity; and his work is labored with industry and elegance. But I
have likewise examined the original monuments of the reigns of Pepin and
Charlemagne, in the 5th volume of the Historians of France.]

[Footnote 96: The vision of Weltin, composed by a monk, eleven years
after the death of Charlemagne, shows him in purgatory, with a vulture,
who is perpetually gnawing the guilty member, while the rest of his
body, the emblem of his virtues, is sound and perfect, (see Gaillard
tom. ii. p. 317-360.)]

[Footnote 97: The marriage of Eginhard with Imma, daughter of
Charlemagne, is, in my opinion, sufficiently refuted by the probum and
suspicio that sullied these fair damsels, without excepting his own
wife, (c. xix. p. 98-100, cum Notis Schmincke.) The husband must have
been too strong for the historian.]

[Footnote 971: This charge of incest, as Mr. Hallam justly observes,
"seems to have originated in a misinterpreted passage of Eginhard."
Hallam's Middle Ages, vol.i. p. 16.--M.]

[Footnote 98: Besides the massacres and transmigrations, the pain of
death was pronounced against the following crimes: 1. The refusal of
baptism. 2. The false pretence of baptism. 3. A relapse to idolatry. 4.
The murder of a priest or bishop. 5. Human sacrifices. 6. Eating meat
in Lent. But every crime might be expiated by baptism or penance,
(Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 241-247;) and the Christian Saxons became the
friends and equals of the Franks, (Struv. Corpus Hist. Germanicae,

[Footnote 981: M. Guizot (Cours d'Histoire Moderne, p. 270, 273) has
compiled the following statement of Charlemagne's military campaigns:--

     1. Against the Aquitanians.

     18.   "    the Saxons.

     5.    "    the Lombards.

     7.    "    the Arabs in Spain.

     1.    "    the Thuringians.

     4.    "    the Avars.

     2.    "    the Bretons.

     1.    "    the Bavarians.

     4.    "    the Slaves beyond the Elbe

     5.    "    the Saracens in Italy.

     3.    "    the Danes.

     2.    "    the Greeks.

     53 total.--M.]

[Footnote 99: In this action the famous Rutland, Rolando, Orlando,
was slain--cum compluribus aliis. See the truth in Eginhard, (c. 9, p.
51-56,) and the fable in an ingenious Supplement of M. Gaillard, (tom.
iii. p. 474.) The Spaniards are too proud of a victory, which history
ascribes to the Gascons, and romance to the Saracens. * Note: In
fact, it was a sudden onset of the Gascons, assisted by the Beaure
mountaineers, and possibly a few Navarrese.--M.]

[Footnote 100: Yet Schmidt, from the best authorities, represents the
interior disorders and oppression of his reign, (Hist. des Allemands,
tom. ii. p. 45-49.)]

[Footnote 101: Omnis homo ex sua proprietate legitimam decimam ad
ecclesiam conferat. Experimento enim didicimus, in anno, quo illa valida
fames irrepsit, ebullire vacuas annonas a daemonibus devoratas, et voces
exprobationis auditas. Such is the decree and assertion of the great
Council of Frankfort, (canon xxv. tom. ix. p. 105.) Both Selden (Hist.
of Tithes; Works, vol. iii. part ii. p. 1146) and Montesquieu (Esprit
des Loix, l. xxxi. c. 12) represent Charlemagne as the first legal
author of tithes. Such obligations have country gentlemen to his

[Footnote 102: Eginhard (c. 25, p. 119) clearly affirms, tentabat et
scribere... sed parum prospere successit labor praeposterus et sero
inchoatus. The moderns have perverted and corrected this obvious
meaning, and the title of M. Gaillard's dissertation (tom. iii. p.
247-260) betrays his partiality. * Note: This point has been contested;
but Mr. Hallam and Monsieur Sismondl concur with Gibbon. See Middle
Ages, iii. 330, Histoire de Francais, tom. ii. p. 318. The sensible
observations of the latter are quoted in the Quarterly Review, vol.
xlviii. p. 451. Fleury, I may add, quotes from Mabillon a remarkable
evidence that Charlemagne "had a mark to himself like an honest,
plain-dealing man." Ibid.--M.]

[Footnote 103: See Gaillard, tom. iii. p. 138-176, and Schmidt, tom.
ii. p. 121-129.]

[Footnote 104: M. Gaillard (tom. iii. p. 372) fixes the true stature of
Charlemagne (see a Dissertation of Marquard Freher ad calcem Eginhart,
p. 220, &c.) at five feet nine inches of French, about six feet one inch
and a fourth English, measure. The romance writers have increased it
to eight feet, and the giant was endowed with matchless strength and
appetite: at a single stroke of his good sword Joyeuse, he cut asunder
a horseman and his horse; at a single repast, he devoured a goose, two
fowls, a quarter of mutton, &c.]

That empire was not unworthy of its title; [105] and some of the fairest
kingdoms of Europe were the patrimony or conquest of a prince, who
reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary.
[106] I. The Roman province of Gaul had been transformed into the name
and monarchy of France; but, in the decay of the Merovingian line, its
limits were contracted by the independence of the Britons and the revolt
of Aquitain. Charlemagne pursued, and confined, the Britons on the
shores of the ocean; and that ferocious tribe, whose origin and language
are so different from the French, was chastised by the imposition of
tribute, hostages, and peace. After a long and evasive contest, the
rebellion of the dukes of Aquitain was punished by the forfeiture of
their province, their liberty, and their lives.

Harsh and rigorous would have been such treatment of ambitious
governors, who had too faithfully copied the mayors of the palace. But
a recent discovery [107] has proved that these unhappy princes were the
last and lawful heirs of the blood and sceptre of Clovis, and younger
branch, from the brother of Dagobert, of the Merovingian house. Their
ancient kingdom was reduced to the duchy of Gascogne, to the counties
of Fesenzac and Armagnac, at the foot of the Pyrenees: their race
was propagated till the beginning of the sixteenth century; and after
surviving their Carlovingian tyrants, they were reserved to feel
the injustice, or the favors, of a third dynasty. By the reunion of
Aquitain, France was enlarged to its present boundaries, with the
additions of the Netherlands and Spain, as far as the Rhine. II.

The Saracens had been expelled from France by the grandfather and father
of Charlemagne; but they still possessed the greatest part of Spain,
from the rock of Gibraltar to the Pyrenees. Amidst their civil
divisions, an Arabian emir of Saragossa implored his protection in the
diet of Paderborn. Charlemagne undertook the expedition, restored
the emir, and, without distinction of faith, impartially crushed the
resistance of the Christians, and rewarded the obedience and services
of the Mahometans. In his absence he instituted the Spanish march, [108]
which extended from the Pyrenees to the River Ebro: Barcelona was the
residence of the French governor: he possessed the counties of Rousillon
and Catalonia; and the infant kingdoms of Navarre and Arragon were
subject to his jurisdiction. III. As king of the Lombards, and patrician
of Rome, he reigned over the greatest part of Italy, [109] a tract of
a thousand miles from the Alps to the borders of Calabria. The duchy of
Beneventum, a Lombard fief, had spread, at the expense of the Greeks,
over the modern kingdom of Naples. But Arrechis, the reigning duke,
refused to be included in the slavery of his country; assumed the
independent title of prince; and opposed his sword to the Carlovingian
monarchy. His defence was firm, his submission was not inglorious, and
the emperor was content with an easy tribute, the demolition of his
fortresses, and the acknowledgement, on his coins, of a supreme lord.
The artful flattery of his son Grimoald added the appellation of father,
but he asserted his dignity with prudence, and Benventum insensibly
escaped from the French yoke. [110] IV. Charlemagne was the first who
united Germany under the same sceptre. The name of Oriental France
is preserved in the circle of Franconia; and the people of Hesse and
Thuringia were recently incorporated with the victors, by the conformity
of religion and government. The Alemanni, so formidable to the Romans,
were the faithful vassals and confederates of the Franks; and their
country was inscribed within the modern limits of Alsace, Swabia, and
Switzerland. The Bavarians, with a similar indulgence of their laws and
manners, were less patient of a master: the repeated treasons of Tasillo
justified the abolition of their hereditary dukes; and their power was
shared among the counts, who judged and guarded that important frontier.
But the north of Germany, from the Rhine and beyond the Elbe, was still
hostile and Pagan; nor was it till after a war of thirty-three years
that the Saxons bowed under the yoke of Christ and of Charlemagne.
The idols and their votaries were extirpated: the foundation of eight
bishoprics, of Munster, Osnaburgh, Paderborn, and Minden, of Bremen,
Verden, Hildesheim, and Halberstadt, define, on either side of the
Weser, the bounds of ancient Saxony these episcopal seats were the first
schools and cities of that savage land; and the religion and humanity
of the children atoned, in some degree, for the massacre of the parents.
Beyond the Elbe, the Slavi, or Sclavonians, of similar manners and
various denominations, overspread the modern dominions of Prussia,
Poland, and Bohemia, and some transient marks of obedience have tempted
the French historian to extend the empire to the Baltic and the Vistula.
The conquest or conversion of those countries is of a more recent age;
but the first union of Bohemia with the Germanic body may be justly
ascribed to the arms of Charlemagne. V. He retaliated on the Avars, or
Huns of Pannonia, the same calamities which they had inflicted on the
nations. Their rings, the wooden fortifications which encircled their
districts and villages, were broken down by the triple effort of a
French army, that was poured into their country by land and water,
through the Carpathian mountains and along the plain of the Danube.
After a bloody conflict of eight years, the loss of some French generals
was avenged by the slaughter of the most noble Huns: the relics of the
nation submitted the royal residence of the chagan was left desolate and
unknown; and the treasures, the rapine of two hundred and fifty years,
enriched the victorious troops, or decorated the churches of Italy and
Gaul. [111] After the reduction of Pannonia, the empire of Charlemagne
was bounded only by the conflux of the Danube with the Teyss and the
Save: the provinces of Istria, Liburnia, and Dalmatia, were an easy,
though unprofitable, accession; and it was an effect of his moderation,
that he left the maritime cities under the real or nominal sovereignty
of the Greeks. But these distant possessions added more to the
reputation than to the power of the Latin emperor; nor did he risk any
ecclesiastical foundations to reclaim the Barbarians from their vagrant
life and idolatrous worship. Some canals of communication between the
rivers, the Saone and the Meuse, the Rhine and the Danube, were faintly
attempted. [112] Their execution would have vivified the empire; and
more cost and labor were often wasted in the structure of a cathedral.

[Footnote 105: See the concise, but correct and original, work of
D'Anville, (Etats Formes en Europe apres la Chute de l'Empire Romain
en Occident, Paris, 1771, in 4to.,) whose map includes the empire of
Charlemagne; the different parts are illustrated, by Valesius (Notitia
Galliacum) for France, Beretti (Dissertatio Chorographica) for Italy, De
Marca (Marca Hispanica) for Spain. For the middle geography of Germany,
I confess myself poor and destitute.]

[Footnote 106: After a brief relation of his wars and conquests, (Vit.
Carol. c. 5-14,) Eginhard recapitulates, in a few words, (c. 15,) the
countries subject to his empire. Struvius, (Corpus Hist. German. p.
118-149) was inserted in his Notes the texts of the old Chronicles.]

[Footnote 107: On a charter granted to the monastery of Alaon (A.D. 845)
by Charles the Bald, which deduces this royal pedigree. I doubt whether
some subsequent links of the ixth and xth centuries are equally firm;
yet the whole is approved and defended by M. Gaillard, (tom. ii.
p.60-81, 203-206,) who affirms that the family of Montesquiou (not
of the President de Montesquieu) is descended, in the female line, from
Clotaire and Clovis--an innocent pretension!]

[Footnote 108: The governors or counts of the Spanish march revolted
from Charles the Simple about the year 900; and a poor pittance,
the Rousillon, has been recovered in 1642 by the kings of France,
(Longuerue, Description de la France, tom i. p. 220-222.) Yet the
Rousillon contains 188,900 subjects, and annually pays 2,600,000 livres,
(Necker, Administration des Finances, tom. i. p. 278, 279;) more people,
perhaps, and doubtless more money than the march of Charlemagne.]

[Footnote 109: Schmidt, Hist. des Allemands, tom. ii. p. 200, &c.]

[Footnote 110: See Giannone, tom. i. p 374, 375, and the Annals of

[Footnote 111: Quot praelia in eo gesta! quantum sanguinis effusum sit!
Testatur vacua omni habitatione Pannonia, et locus in quo regia Cagani
fuit ita desertus, ut ne vestigium quidem humanae habitationis appareat.
Tota in hoc bello Hunnorum nobilitas periit, tota gloria decidit, omnis
pecunia et congesti ex longo tempore thesauri direpti sunt. Eginhard,

[Footnote 112: The junction of the Rhine and Danube was undertaken only
for the service of the Pannonian war, (Gaillard, Vie de Charlemagne,
tom. ii. p. 312-315.) The canal, which would have been only two leagues
in length, and of which some traces are still extant in Swabia, was
interrupted by excessive rains, military avocations, and superstitious
fears, (Schaepflin, Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii. p.
256. Molimina fluviorum, &c., jungendorum, p. 59-62.)]

[Footnote 1121: I should doubt this in the time of Charlemagne, even if
the term "expended" were substituted for "wasted."--M.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part V.

If we retrace the outlines of this geographical picture, it will be seen
that the empire of the Franks extended, between east and west, from the
Ebro to the Elbe or Vistula; between the north and south, from the duchy
of Beneventum to the River Eyder, the perpetual boundary of Germany
and Denmark. The personal and political importance of Charlemagne
was magnified by the distress and division of the rest of Europe. The
islands of Great Britain and Ireland were disputed by a crowd of princes
of Saxon or Scottish origin: and, after the loss of Spain, the Christian
and Gothic kingdom of Alphonso the Chaste was confined to the narrow
range of the Asturian mountains. These petty sovereigns revered the
power or virtue of the Carlovingian monarch, implored the honor and
support of his alliance, and styled him their common parent, the sole
and supreme emperor of the West. [113] He maintained a more equal
intercourse with the caliph Harun al Rashid, [114] whose dominion
stretched from Africa to India, and accepted from his ambassadors a
tent, a water-clock, an elephant, and the keys of the Holy Sepulchre. It
is not easy to conceive the private friendship of a Frank and an Arab,
who were strangers to each other's person, and language, and religion:
but their public correspondence was founded on vanity, and their remote
situation left no room for a competition of interest. Two thirds of the
Western empire of Rome were subject to Charlemagne, and the deficiency
was amply supplied by his command of the inaccessible or invincible
nations of Germany. But in the choice of his enemies, [1141] we may be
reasonably surprised that he so often preferred the poverty of the north
to the riches of the south. The three-and-thirty campaigns laboriously
consumed in the woods and morasses of Germany would have sufficed to
assert the amplitude of his title by the expulsion of the Greeks from
Italy and the Saracens from Spain. The weakness of the Greeks would have
insured an easy victory; and the holy crusade against the Saracens
would have been prompted by glory and revenge, and loudly justified by
religion and policy. Perhaps, in his expeditions beyond the Rhine and
the Elbe, he aspired to save his monarchy from the fate of the Roman
empire, to disarm the enemies of civilized society, and to eradicate the
seed of future emigrations. But it has been wisely observed, that, in a
light of precaution, all conquest must be ineffectual, unless it could
be universal, since the increasing circle must be involved in a larger
sphere of hostility. [115] The subjugation of Germany withdrew the veil
which had so long concealed the continent or islands of Scandinavia
from the knowledge of Europe, and awakened the torpid courage of their
barbarous natives. The fiercest of the Saxon idolaters escaped from
the Christian tyrant to their brethren of the North; the Ocean and
Mediterranean were covered with their piratical fleets; and Charlemagne
beheld with a sigh the destructive progress of the Normans, who, in less
than seventy years, precipitated the fall of his race and monarchy.

[Footnote 113: See Eginhard, c. 16, and Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 361-385,
who mentions, with a loose reference, the intercourse of Charlemagne and
Egbert, the emperor's gift of his own sword, and the modest answer of
his Saxon disciple. The anecdote, if genuine, would have adorned our
English histories.]

[Footnote 114: The correspondence is mentioned only in the French
annals, and the Orientals are ignorant of the caliph's friendship for
the Christian dog--a polite appellation, which Harun bestows on the
emperor of the Greeks.]

[Footnote 1141: Had he the choice? M. Guizot has eloquently described
the position of Charlemagne towards the Saxons. Il y fit face par le
conquete; la guerre defensive prit la forme offensive: il transporta la
lutte sur le territoire des peuples qui voulaient envahir le sien: il
travailla a asservir les races etrangeres, et extirper les croyances
ennemies. De la son mode de gouvernement et la fondation de son empire:
la guerre offensive et la conquete voulaient cette vaste et redoutable
unite. Compare observations in the Quarterly Review, vol. xlviii., and
James's Life of Charlemagne.--M.]

[Footnote 115: Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 361-365, 471-476, 492. I have
borrowed his judicious remarks on Charlemagne's plan of conquest, and
the judicious distinction of his enemies of the first and the second
enceinte, (tom. ii. p. 184, 509, &c.)]

Had the pope and the Romans revived the primitive constitution, the
titles of emperor and Augustus were conferred on Charlemagne for
the term of his life; and his successors, on each vacancy, must have
ascended the throne by a formal or tacit election. But the association
of his son Lewis the Pious asserts the independent right of monarchy and
conquest, and the emperor seems on this occasion to have foreseen and
prevented the latent claims of the clergy. The royal youth was commanded
to take the crown from the altar, and with his own hands to place it on
his head, as a gift which he held from God, his father, and the nation.
[116] The same ceremony was repeated, though with less energy, in
the subsequent associations of Lothaire and Lewis the Second: the
Carlovingian sceptre was transmitted from father to son in a lineal
descent of four generations; and the ambition of the popes was reduced
to the empty honor of crowning and anointing these hereditary princes,
who were already invested with their power and dominions. The
pious Lewis survived his brothers, and embraced the whole empire
of Charlemagne; but the nations and the nobles, his bishops and his
children, quickly discerned that this mighty mass was no longer inspired
by the same soul; and the foundations were undermined to the centre,
while the external surface was yet fair and entire. After a war, or
battle, which consumed one hundred thousand Franks, the empire was
divided by treaty between his three sons, who had violated every filial
and fraternal duty. The kingdoms of Germany and France were forever
separated; the provinces of Gaul, between the Rhone and the Alps, the
Meuse and the Rhine, were assigned, with Italy, to the Imperial dignity
of Lothaire. In the partition of his share, Lorraine and Arles, two
recent and transitory kingdoms, were bestowed on the younger children;
and Lewis the Second, his eldest son, was content with the realm of
Italy, the proper and sufficient patrimony of a Roman emperor. On his
death without any male issue, the vacant throne was disputed by his
uncles and cousins, and the popes most dexterously seized the occasion
of judging the claims and merits of the candidates, and of bestowing on
the most obsequious, or most liberal, the Imperial office of advocate of
the Roman church. The dregs of the Carlovingian race no longer exhibited
any symptoms of virtue or power, and the ridiculous epithets of the
bard, the stammerer, the fat, and the simple, distinguished the tame and
uniform features of a crowd of kings alike deserving of oblivion. By the
failure of the collateral branches, the whole inheritance devolved to
Charles the Fat, the last emperor of his family: his insanity authorized
the desertion of Germany, Italy, and France: he was deposed in a diet,
and solicited his daily bread from the rebels by whose contempt his life
and liberty had been spared. According to the measure of their force,
the governors, the bishops, and the lords, usurped the fragments of
the falling empire; and some preference was shown to the female or
illegitimate blood of Charlemagne. Of the greater part, the title
and possession were alike doubtful, and the merit was adequate to the
contracted scale of their dominions. Those who could appear with an army
at the gates of Rome were crowned emperors in the Vatican; but their
modesty was more frequently satisfied with the appellation of kings of
Italy: and the whole term of seventy-four years may be deemed a vacancy,
from the abdication of Charles the Fat to the establishment of Otho the

[Footnote 116: Thegan, the biographer of Lewis, relates this coronation:
and Baronius has honestly transcribed it, (A.D. 813, No. 13, &c. See
Gaillard, tom. ii. p. 506, 507, 508,) howsoever adverse to the claims
of the popes. For the series of the Carlovingians, see the historians of
France, Italy, and Germany; Pfeffel, Schmidt, Velly, Muratori, and even
Voltaire, whose pictures are sometimes just, and always pleasing.]

Otho [117] was of the noble race of the dukes of Saxony; and if he truly
descended from Witikind, the adversary and proselyte of Charlemagne,
the posterity of a vanquished people was exalted to reign over their
conquerors. His father, Henry the Fowler, was elected, by the suffrage
of the nation, to save and institute the kingdom of Germany. Its limits
[118] were enlarged on every side by his son, the first and greatest of
the Othos. A portion of Gaul, to the west of the Rhine, along the banks
of the Meuse and the Moselle, was assigned to the Germans, by whose
blood and language it has been tinged since the time of Caesar and

Between the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Alps, the successors of Otho
acquired a vain supremacy over the broken kingdoms of Burgundy and
Arles. In the North, Christianity was propagated by the sword of Otho,
the conqueror and apostle of the Slavic nations of the Elbe and Oder:
the marches of Brandenburgh and Sleswick were fortified with German
colonies; and the king of Denmark, the dukes of Poland and Bohemia,
confessed themselves his tributary vassals. At the head of a victorious
army, he passed the Alps, subdued the kingdom of Italy, delivered the
pope, and forever fixed the Imperial crown in the name and nation of
Germany. From that memorable aera, two maxims of public jurisprudence
were introduced by force and ratified by time. I. That the prince, who
was elected in the German diet, acquired, from that instant, the subject
kingdoms of Italy and Rome. II. But that he might not legally assume the
titles of emperor and Augustus, till he had received the crown from the
hands of the Roman pontiff. [119]

[Footnote 117: He was the son of Otho, the son of Ludolph, in whose
favor the Duchy of Saxony had been instituted, A.D. 858. Ruotgerus, the
biographer of a St. Bruno, (Bibliot. Bunavianae Catalog. tom. iii. vol.
ii. p. 679,) gives a splendid character of his family. Atavorum atavi
usque ad hominum memoriam omnes nobilissimi; nullus in eorum stirpe
ignotus, nullus degener facile reperitur, (apud Struvium, Corp. Hist.
German. p. 216.) Yet Gundling (in Henrico Aucupe) is not satisfied of
his descent from Witikind.]

[Footnote 118: See the treatise of Conringius, (de Finibus Imperii
Germanici, Francofurt. 1680, in 4to.: ) he rejects the extravagant and
improper scale of the Roman and Carlovingian empires, and discusses with
moderation the rights of Germany, her vassals, and her neighbors.]

[Footnote 119: The power of custom forces me to number Conrad I. and
Henry I., the Fowler, in the list of emperors, a title which was never
assumed by those kings of Germany. The Italians, Muratori for instance,
are more scrupulous and correct, and only reckon the princes who have
been crowned at Rome.]

The Imperial dignity of Charlemagne was announced to the East by the
alteration of his style; and instead of saluting his fathers, the Greek
emperors, he presumed to adopt the more equal and familiar appellation
of brother. [120] Perhaps in his connection with Irene he aspired to
the name of husband: his embassy to Constantinople spoke the language of
peace and friendship, and might conceal a treaty of marriage with
that ambitious princess, who had renounced the most sacred duties of a
mother. The nature, the duration, the probable consequences of such a
union between two distant and dissonant empires, it is impossible to
conjecture; but the unanimous silence of the Latins may teach us to
suspect, that the report was invented by the enemies of Irene, to charge
her with the guilt of betraying the church and state to the strangers
of the West. [121] The French ambassadors were the spectators, and
had nearly been the victims, of the conspiracy of Nicephorus, and the
national hatred. Constantinople was exasperated by the treason and
sacrilege of ancient Rome: a proverb, "That the Franks were good friends
and bad neighbors," was in every one's mouth; but it was dangerous to
provoke a neighbor who might be tempted to reiterate, in the church of
St. Sophia, the ceremony of his Imperial coronation. After a tedious
journey of circuit and delay, the ambassadors of Nicephorus found him
in his camp, on the banks of the River Sala; and Charlemagne affected to
confound their vanity by displaying, in a Franconian village, the pomp,
or at least the pride, of the Byzantine palace. [122] The Greeks were
successively led through four halls of audience: in the first they were
ready to fall prostrate before a splendid personage in a chair of state,
till he informed them that he was only a servant, the constable, or
master of the horse, of the emperor. The same mistake, and the same
answer, were repeated in the apartments of the count palatine, the
steward, and the chamberlain; and their impatience was gradually
heightened, till the doors of the presence-chamber were thrown open,
and they beheld the genuine monarch, on his throne, enriched with
the foreign luxury which he despised, and encircled with the love and
reverence of his victorious chiefs. A treaty of peace and alliance was
concluded between the two empires, and the limits of the East and West
were defined by the right of present possession. But the Greeks [123]
soon forgot this humiliating equality, or remembered it only to hate the
Barbarians by whom it was extorted. During the short union of virtue
and power, they respectfully saluted the august Charlemagne, with the
acclamations of basileus, and emperor of the Romans. As soon as these
qualities were separated in the person of his pious son, the Byzantine
letters were inscribed, "To the king, or, as he styles himself, the
emperor of the Franks and Lombards." When both power and virtue were
extinct, they despoiled Lewis the Second of his hereditary title, and
with the barbarous appellation of rex or rega, degraded him among the
crowd of Latin princes. His reply [124] is expressive of his weakness:
he proves, with some learning, that, both in sacred and profane history,
the name of king is synonymous with the Greek word basileus: if, at
Constantinople, it were assumed in a more exclusive and imperial sense,
he claims from his ancestors, and from the popes, a just participation
of the honors of the Roman purple. The same controversy was revived
in the reign of the Othos; and their ambassador describes, in lively
colors, the insolence of the Byzantine court. [125] The Greeks affected
to despise the poverty and ignorance of the Franks and Saxons; and in
their last decline refused to prostitute to the kings of Germany the
title of Roman emperors.

[Footnote 120: Invidiam tamen suscepti nominis (C. P. imperatoribus
super hoc indignantibus) magna tulit patientia, vicitque eorum
contumaciam... mittendo ad eos crebras legationes, et in epistolis
fratres eos appellando. Eginhard, c. 28, p. 128. Perhaps it was on their
account that, like Augustus, he affected some reluctance to receive the

[Footnote 121: Theophanes speaks of the coronation and unction of
Charles (Chronograph. p. 399,) and of his treaty of marriage with
Irene, (p. 402,) which is unknown to the Latins. Gaillard relates his
transactions with the Greek empire, (tom. ii. p. 446-468.)]

[Footnote 122: Gaillard very properly observes, that this pageant was a
farce suitable to children only; but that it was indeed represented in
the presence, and for the benefit, of children of a larger growth.]

[Footnote 123: Compare, in the original texts collected by Pagi,
(tom. iii. A.D. 812, No. 7, A.D. 824, No. 10, &c.,) the contrast of
Charlemagne and his son; to the former the ambassadors of Michael (who
were indeed disavowed) more suo, id est lingua Graeca laudes dixerunt,
imperatorem eum et appellantes; to the latter, Vocato imperatori
Francorum, &c.]

[Footnote 124: See the epistle, in Paralipomena, of the anonymous writer
of Salerno, (Script. Ital. tom. ii. pars ii. p. 243-254, c. 93-107,)
whom Baronius (A.D. 871, No. 51-71) mistook for Erchempert, when he
transcribed it in his Annals.]

[Footnote 125: Ipse enim vos, non imperatorem, id est sua lingua, sed
ob indignationem, id est regem nostra vocabat, Liutprand, in Legat. in
Script. Ital. tom. ii. pars i. p. 479. The pope had exhorted Nicephorus,
emperor of the Greeks, to make peace with Otho, the august emperor of
the Romans--quae inscriptio secundum Graecos peccatoria et temeraria...
imperatorem inquiunt, universalem, Romanorum, Augustum, magnum, solum,
Nicephorum, (p. 486.)]

These emperors, in the election of the popes, continued to exercise the
powers which had been assumed by the Gothic and Grecian princes; and the
importance of this prerogative increased with the temporal estate
and spiritual jurisdiction of the Roman church. In the Christian
aristocracy, the principal members of the clergy still formed a senate
to assist the administration, and to supply the vacancy, of the bishop.
Rome was divided into twenty-eight parishes, and each parish was
governed by a cardinal priest, or presbyter, a title which, however
common or modest in its origin, has aspired to emulate the purple of
kings. Their number was enlarged by the association of the seven deacons
of the most considerable hospitals, the seven palatine judges of the
Lateran, and some dignitaries of the church. This ecclesiastical senate
was directed by the seven cardinal-bishops of the Roman province, who
were less occupied in the suburb dioceses of Ostia, Porto, Velitrae,
Tusculum, Praeneste, Tibur, and the Sabines, than by their weekly
service in the Lateran, and their superior share in the honors and
authority of the apostolic see. On the death of the pope, these bishops
recommended a successor to the suffrage of the college of cardinals,
[126] and their choice was ratified or rejected by the applause or
clamor of the Roman people. But the election was imperfect; nor could
the pontiff be legally consecrated till the emperor, the advocate of the
church, had graciously signified his approbation and consent. The
royal commissioner examined, on the spot, the form and freedom of
the proceedings; nor was it till after a previous scrutiny into the
qualifications of the candidates, that he accepted an oath of fidelity,
and confirmed the donations which had successively enriched the
patrimony of St. Peter. In the frequent schisms, the rival claims were
submitted to the sentence of the emperor; and in a synod of bishops he
presumed to judge, to condemn, and to punish, the crimes of a guilty
pontiff. Otho the First imposed a treaty on the senate and people, who
engaged to prefer the candidate most acceptable to his majesty: [127]
his successors anticipated or prevented their choice: they bestowed
the Roman benefice, like the bishoprics of Cologne or Bamberg, on their
chancellors or preceptors; and whatever might be the merit of a Frank or
Saxon, his name sufficiently attests the interposition of foreign power.
These acts of prerogative were most speciously excused by the vices of a
popular election. The competitor who had been excluded by the cardinals
appealed to the passions or avarice of the multitude; the Vatican and
the Lateran were stained with blood; and the most powerful senators, the
marquises of Tuscany and the counts of Tusculum, held the apostolic see
in a long and disgraceful servitude. The Roman pontiffs, of the ninth
and tenth centuries, were insulted, imprisoned, and murdered, by their
tyrants; and such was their indigence, after the loss and usurpation
of the ecclesiastical patrimonies, that they could neither support
the state of a prince, nor exercise the charity of a priest. [128] The
influence of two sister prostitutes, Marozia and Theodora, was founded
on their wealth and beauty, their political and amorous intrigues: the
most strenuous of their lovers were rewarded with the Roman mitre, and
their reign [129] may have suggested to the darker ages [130] the fable
[131] of a female pope. [132] The bastard son, the grandson, and the
great-grandson of Marozia, a rare genealogy, were seated in the chair
of St. Peter, and it was at the age of nineteen years that the second of
these became the head of the Latin church. [1321] His youth and manhood
were of a suitable complexion; and the nations of pilgrims could bear
testimony to the charges that were urged against him in a Roman synod,
and in the presence of Otho the Great. As John XII. had renounced the
dress and decencies of his profession, the soldier may not perhaps be
dishonored by the wine which he drank, the blood that he spilt, the
flames that he kindled, or the licentious pursuits of gaming and
hunting. His open simony might be the consequence of distress; and his
blasphemous invocation of Jupiter and Venus, if it be true, could not
possibly be serious. But we read, with some surprise, that the worthy
grandson of Marozia lived in public adultery with the matrons of Rome;
that the Lateran palace was turned into a school for prostitution, and
that his rapes of virgins and widows had deterred the female pilgrims
from visiting the tomb of St. Peter, lest, in the devout act, they
should be violated by his successor. [133] The Protestants have dwelt
with malicious pleasure on these characters of Antichrist; but to a
philosophic eye, the vices of the clergy are far less dangerous than
their virtues. After a long series of scandal, the apostolic see was
reformed and exalted by the austerity and zeal of Gregory VII. That
ambitious monk devoted his life to the execution of two projects. I.
To fix in the college of cardinals the freedom and independence of
election, and forever to abolish the right or usurpation of the emperors
and the Roman people. II. To bestow and resume the Western empire as
a fief or benefice [134] of the church, and to extend his temporal
dominion over the kings and kingdoms of the earth. After a contest of
fifty years, the first of these designs was accomplished by the firm
support of the ecclesiastical order, whose liberty was connected with
that of their chief. But the second attempt, though it was crowned with
some partial and apparent success, has been vigorously resisted by the
secular power, and finally extinguished by the improvement of human

[Footnote 126: The origin and progress of the title of cardinal may be
found in Themassin, (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 1261-1298,)
Muratori, (Antiquitat. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. vi. Dissert. lxi. p.
159-182,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 345-347,)
who accurately remarks the form and changes of the election. The
cardinal-bishops so highly exalted by Peter Damianus, are sunk to a
level with the rest of the sacred college.]

[Footnote 127: Firmiter jurantes, nunquam se papam electuros aut
audinaturos, praeter consensum et electionem Othonis et filii sui.
(Liutprand, l. vi. c. 6, p. 472.) This important concession may either
supply or confirm the decree of the clergy and people of Rome, so
fiercely rejected by Baronius, Pagi, and Muratori, (A.D. 964,) and so
well defended and explained by St. Marc, (Abrege, tom. ii. p. 808-816,
tom. iv. p. 1167-1185.) Consult the historical critic, and the Annals
of Muratori, for for the election and confirmation of each pope.]

[Footnote 128: The oppression and vices of the Roman church, in the xth
century, are strongly painted in the history and legation of Liutprand,
(see p. 440, 450, 471-476, 479, &c.;) and it is whimsical enough to
observe Muratori tempering the invectives of Baronius against the
popes. But these popes had been chosen, not by the cardinals, but by

[Footnote 129: The time of Pope Joan (papissa Joanna) is placed somewhat
earlier than Theodora or Marozia; and the two years of her imaginary
reign are forcibly inserted between Leo IV. and Benedict III. But the
contemporary Anastasius indissolubly links the death of Leo and
the elevation of Benedict, (illico, mox, p. 247;) and the accurate
chronology of Pagi, Muratori, and Leibnitz, fixes both events to the
year 857.]

[Footnote 130: The advocates for Pope Joan produce one hundred and fifty
witnesses, or rather echoes, of the xivth, xvth, and xvith centuries.
They bear testimony against themselves and the legend, by multiplying
the proof that so curious a story must have been repeated by writers
of every description to whom it was known. On those of the ixth and
xth centuries, the recent event would have flashed with a double force.
Would Photius have spared such a reproach? Could Liutprand have missed
such scandal? It is scarcely worth while to discuss the various readings
of Martinus Polonus, Sigeber of Gamblours, or even Marianus Scotus;
but a most palpable forgery is the passage of Pope Joan, which has been
foisted into some Mss. and editions of the Roman Anastasius.]

[Footnote 131: As false, it deserves that name; but I would not
pronounce it incredible. Suppose a famous French chevalier of our own
times to have been born in Italy, and educated in the church, instead
of the army: her merit or fortune might have raised her to St. Peter's
chair; her amours would have been natural: her delivery in the streets
unlucky, but not improbable.]

[Footnote 132: Till the reformation the tale was repeated and believed
without offence: and Joan's female statue long occupied her place among
the popes in the cathedral of Sienna, (Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p.
624-626.) She has been annihilated by two learned Protestants, Blondel
and Bayle, (Dictionnaire Critique, Papesse, Polonus, Blondel;) but their
brethren were scandalized by this equitable and generous criticism.
Spanheim and Lenfant attempt to save this poor engine of controversy,
and even Mosheim condescends to cherish some doubt and suspicion, (p.

[Footnote 1321: John XI. was the son of her husband Alberic, not of her
lover, Pope Sergius III., as Muratori has distinctly proved, Ann. ad
ann. 911, tom. p. 268. Her grandson Octavian, otherwise called John
XII., was pope; but a great-grandson cannot be discovered in any of
the succeeding popes; nor does our historian himself, in his subsequent
narration, (p. 202,) seem to know of one. Hobhouse, Illustrations of
Childe Harold, p. 309.--M.]

[Footnote 133: Lateranense palatium... prostibulum meretricum ... Testis
omnium gentium, praeterquam Romanorum, absentia mulierum, quae sanctorum
apostolorum limina orandi gratia timent visere, cum nonnullas ante dies
paucos, hunc audierint conjugatas, viduas, virgines vi oppressisse,
(Liutprand, Hist. l. vi. c. 6, p. 471. See the whole affair of John
XII., p. 471-476.)]

[Footnote 134: A new example of the mischief of equivocation is the
beneficium (Ducange, tom. i. p. 617, &c.,) which the pope conferred on
the emperor Frederic I., since the Latin word may signify either a legal
fief, or a simple favor, an obligation, (we want the word bienfait.)
(See Schmidt, Hist. des Allemands, tom. iii. p. 393-408. Pfeffel,
Abrege Chronologique, tom. i. p. 229, 296, 317, 324, 420, 430, 500, 505,
509, &c.)]

In the revival of the empire of empire of Rome, neither the bishop nor
the people could bestow on Charlemagne or Otho the provinces which were
lost, as they had been won, by the chance of arms. But the Romans were
free to choose a master for themselves; and the powers which had been
delegated to the patrician, were irrevocably granted to the French
and Saxon emperors of the West. The broken records of the times [135]
preserve some remembrance of their palace, their mint, their tribunal,
their edicts, and the sword of justice, which, as late as the thirteenth
century, was derived from Caesar to the praefect of the city. [136]
Between the arts of the popes and the violence of the people, this
supremacy was crushed and annihilated. Content with the titles of
emperor and Augustus, the successors of Charlemagne neglected to assert
this local jurisdiction. In the hour of prosperity, their ambition was
diverted by more alluring objects; and in the decay and division of
the empire, they were oppressed by the defence of their hereditary
provinces. Amidst the ruins of Italy, the famous Marozia invited one
of the usurpers to assume the character of her third husband; and Hugh,
king of Burgundy was introduced by her faction into the mole of Hadrian
or Castle of St. Angelo, which commands the principal bridge and
entrance of Rome. Her son by the first marriage, Alberic, was compelled
to attend at the nuptial banquet; but his reluctant and ungraceful
service was chastised with a blow by his new father. The blow was
productive of a revolution. "Romans," exclaimed the youth, "once you
were the masters of the world, and these Burgundians the most abject of
your slaves. They now reign, these voracious and brutal savages, and
my injury is the commencement of your servitude." [137] The alarum bell
rang to arms in every quarter of the city: the Burgundians retreated
with haste and shame; Marozia was imprisoned by her victorious son, and
his brother, Pope John XI., was reduced to the exercise of his spiritual
functions. With the title of prince, Alberic possessed above twenty
years the government of Rome; and he is said to have gratified the
popular prejudice, by restoring the office, or at least the title,
of consuls and tribunes. His son and heir Octavian assumed, with
the pontificate, the name of John XII.: like his predecessor, he was
provoked by the Lombard princes to seek a deliverer for the church
and republic; and the services of Otho were rewarded with the Imperial
dignity. But the Saxon was imperious, the Romans were impatient, the
festival of the coronation was disturbed by the secret conflict of
prerogative and freedom, and Otho commanded his sword-bearer not to stir
from his person, lest he should be assaulted and murdered at the foot of
the altar. [138] Before he repassed the Alps, the emperor chastised
the revolt of the people and the ingratitude of John XII. The pope was
degraded in a synod; the praefect was mounted on an ass, whipped through
the city, and cast into a dungeon; thirteen of the most guilty were
hanged, others were mutilated or banished; and this severe process was
justified by the ancient laws of Theodosius and Justinian. The voice
of fame has accused the second Otho of a perfidious and bloody act, the
massacre of the senators, whom he had invited to his table under the
fair semblance of hospitality and friendship. [139] In the minority of
his son Otho the Third, Rome made a bold attempt to shake off the Saxon
yoke, and the consul Crescentius was the Brutus of the republic. From
the condition of a subject and an exile, he twice rose to the command
of the city, oppressed, expelled, and created the popes, and formed a
conspiracy for restoring the authority of the Greek emperors. [1391] In
the fortress of St. Angelo, he maintained an obstinate siege, till the
unfortunate consul was betrayed by a promise of safety: his body was
suspended on a gibbet, and his head was exposed on the battlements of
the castle. By a reverse of fortune, Otho, after separating his troops,
was besieged three days, without food, in his palace; and a disgraceful
escape saved him from the justice or fury of the Romans. The senator
Ptolemy was the leader of the people, and the widow of Crescentius
enjoyed the pleasure or the fame of revenging her husband, by a poison
which she administered to her Imperial lover. It was the design of Otho
the Third to abandon the ruder countries of the North, to erect his
throne in Italy, and to revive the institutions of the Roman monarchy.
But his successors only once in their lives appeared on the banks of the
Tyber, to receive their crown in the Vatican. [140] Their absence was
contemptible, their presence odious and formidable. They descended
from the Alps, at the head of their barbarians, who were strangers and
enemies to the country; and their transient visit was a scene of tumult
and bloodshed. [141] A faint remembrance of their ancestors still
tormented the Romans; and they beheld with pious indignation the
succession of Saxons, Franks, Swabians, and Bohemians, who usurped the
purple and prerogatives of the Caesars.

[Footnote 135: For the history of the emperors in Rome and Italy, see
Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, Opp. tom. ii., with the Notes of Saxius, and
the Annals of Muratori, who might refer more distinctly to the authors
of his great collection.]

[Footnote 136: See the Dissertations of Le Blanc at the end of his
treatise des Monnoyes de France, in which he produces some Roman coins
of the French emperors.]

[Footnote 137: Romanorum aliquando servi, scilicet Burgundiones, Romanis
imperent?.... Romanae urbis dignitas ad tantam est stultitiam ducta,
ut meretricum etiam imperio pareat? (Liutprand, l. iii. c. 12, p.
450.) Sigonius (l. vi. p. 400) positively affirms the renovation of the
consulship; but in the old writers Albericus is more frequently styled
princeps Romanorum.]

[Footnote 138: Ditmar, p. 354, apud Schmidt, tom. iii. p. 439.]

[Footnote 139: This bloody feast is described in Leonine verse in the
Pantheon of Godfrey of Viterbo, (Script. Ital. tom. vii. p. 436, 437,)
who flourished towards the end of the xiith century, (Fabricius Bibliot.
Latin. Med. et Infimi Aevi, tom. iii. p. 69, edit. Mansi;) but his
evidence, which imposed on Sigonius, is reasonably suspected by Muratori
(Annali, tom. viii. p. 177.)]

[Footnote 1391: The Marquis Maffei's gallery contained a medal with Imp.
Caes August. P. P. Crescentius. Hence Hobhouse infers that he affected
the empire. Hobhouse, Illustrations of Childe Harold, p. 252.--M.]

[Footnote 140: The coronation of the emperor, and some original
ceremonies of the xth century are preserved in the Panegyric on
Berengarius, (Script. Ital. tom. ii. pars i. p. 405-414,) illustrated
by the Notes of Hadrian Valesius and Leibnitz. Sigonius has related
the whole process of the Roman expedition, in good Latin, but with some
errors of time and fact, (l. vii. p. 441-446.)]

[Footnote 141: In a quarrel at the coronation of Conrad II. Muratori
takes leave to observe--doveano ben essere allora, indisciplinati,
Barbari, e bestials Tedeschi. Annal. tom. viii. p. 368.]

Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.--Part VI.

There is nothing perhaps more adverse to nature and reason than to hold
in obedience remote countries and foreign nations, in opposition to
their inclination and interest. A torrent of Barbarians may pass over
the earth, but an extensive empire must be supported by a refined system
of policy and oppression; in the centre, an absolute power, prompt in
action and rich in resources; a swift and easy communication with the
extreme parts; fortifications to check the first effort of rebellion;
a regular administration to protect and punish; and a well-disciplined
army to inspire fear, without provoking discontent and despair. Far
different was the situation of the German Caesars, who were ambitious to
enslave the kingdom of Italy. Their patrimonial estates were stretched
along the Rhine, or scattered in the provinces; but this ample domain
was alienated by the imprudence or distress of successive princes;
and their revenue, from minute and vexatious prerogative, was scarcely
sufficient for the maintenance of their household. Their troops were
formed by the legal or voluntary service of their feudal vassals, who
passed the Alps with reluctance, assumed the license of rapine and
disorder, and capriciously deserted before the end of the campaign.
Whole armies were swept away by the pestilential influence of the
climate: the survivors brought back the bones of their princes and
nobles, [142] and the effects of their own intemperance were often
imputed to the treachery and malice of the Italians, who rejoiced at
least in the calamities of the Barbarians. This irregular tyranny might
contend on equal terms with the petty tyrants of Italy; nor can the
people, or the reader, be much interested in the event of the quarrel.
But in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Lombards rekindled the
flame of industry and freedom; and the generous example was at length
imitated by the republics of Tuscany. [1421] In the Italian cities a
municipal government had never been totally abolished; and their first
privileges were granted by the favor and policy of the emperors, who
were desirous of erecting a plebeian barrier against the independence of
the nobles. But their rapid progress, the daily extension of their power
and pretensions, were founded on the numbers and spirit of these rising
communities. [143] Each city filled the measure of her diocese or
district: the jurisdiction of the counts and bishops, of the marquises
and counts, was banished from the land; and the proudest nobles were
persuaded or compelled to desert their solitary castles, and to embrace
the more honorable character of freemen and magistrates. The legislative
authority was inherent in the general assembly; but the executive powers
were intrusted to three consuls, annually chosen from the three orders
of captains, valvassors, [144] and commons, into which the republic was
divided. Under the protection of equal law, the labors of agriculture
and commerce were gradually revived; but the martial spirit of the
Lombards was nourished by the presence of danger; and as often as the
bell was rung, or the standard [145] erected, the gates of the city
poured forth a numerous and intrepid band, whose zeal in their own cause
was soon guided by the use and discipline of arms. At the foot of these
popular ramparts, the pride of the Caesars was overthrown; and the
invincible genius of liberty prevailed over the two Frederics, the
greatest princes of the middle age; the first, superior perhaps in
military prowess; the second, who undoubtedly excelled in the softer
accomplishments of peace and learning.

[Footnote 142: After boiling away the flesh. The caldrons for that
purpose were a necessary piece of travelling furniture; and a German who
was using it for his brother, promised it to a friend, after it should
have been employed for himself, (Schmidt, tom. iii. p. 423, 424.) The
same author observes that the whole Saxon line was extinguished in
Italy, (tom. ii. p. 440.)]

[Footnote 1421: Compare Sismondi, Histoire des Republiques Italiannes.
Hallam Middle Ages. Raumer, Geschichte der Hohenstauffen. Savigny,
Geschichte des Romischen Rechts, vol. iii. p. 19 with the authors

[Footnote 143: Otho, bishop of Frisingen, has left an important passage
on the Italian cities, (l. ii. c. 13, in Script. Ital. tom. vi. p.
707-710: ) and the rise, progress, and government of these republics
are perfectly illustrated by Muratori, (Antiquitat. Ital. Medii Aevi,
tom. iv. dissert xlv.--lii. p. 1-675. Annal. tom. viii. ix. x.)]

[Footnote 144: For these titles, see Selden, (Titles of Honor, vol. iii.
part 1 p. 488.) Ducange, (Gloss. Latin. tom. ii. p. 140, tom. vi. p.
776,) and St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique, tom. ii. p. 719.)]

[Footnote 145: The Lombards invented and used the carocium, a standard
planted on a car or wagon, drawn by a team of oxen, (Ducange, tom. ii.
p. 194, 195. Muratori Antiquitat tom. ii. dis. xxvi. p. 489-493.)]

Ambitious of restoring the splendor of the purple, Frederic the First
invaded the republics of Lombardy, with the arts of a statesman, the
valor of a soldier, and the cruelty of a tyrant. The recent discovery of
the Pandects had renewed a science most favorable to despotism; and his
venal advocates proclaimed the emperor the absolute master of the lives
and properties of his subjects. His royal prerogatives, in a less odious
sense, were acknowledged in the diet of Roncaglia; and the revenue of
Italy was fixed at thirty thousand pounds of silver, [146] which were
multiplied to an indefinite demand by the rapine of the fiscal officers.
The obstinate cities were reduced by the terror or the force of his
arms: his captives were delivered to the executioner, or shot from
his military engines; and. after the siege and surrender of Milan,
the buildings of that stately capital were razed to the ground, three
hundred hostages were sent into Germany, and the inhabitants were
dispersed in four villages, under the yoke of the inflexible conqueror.
[147] But Milan soon rose from her ashes; and the league of Lombardy was
cemented by distress: their cause was espoused by Venice, Pope
Alexander the Third, and the Greek emperor: the fabric of oppression
was overturned in a day; and in the treaty of Constance, Frederic
subscribed, with some reservations, the freedom of four-and-twenty
cities. His grandson contended with their vigor and maturity; but
Frederic the Second [148] was endowed with some personal and peculiar
advantages. His birth and education recommended him to the Italians;
and in the implacable discord of the two factions, the Ghibelins were
attached to the emperor, while the Guelfs displayed the banner of
liberty and the church. The court of Rome had slumbered, when his father
Henry the Sixth was permitted to unite with the empire the kingdoms of
Naples and Sicily; and from these hereditary realms the son derived an
ample and ready supply of troops and treasure. Yet Frederic the Second
was finally oppressed by the arms of the Lombards and the thunders of
the Vatican: his kingdom was given to a stranger, and the last of his
family was beheaded at Naples on a public scaffold. During sixty years,
no emperor appeared in Italy, and the name was remembered only by the
ignominious sale of the last relics of sovereignty.

[Footnote 146: Gunther Ligurinus, l. viii. 584, et seq., apud Schmidt,
tom. iii. p. 399.]

[Footnote 147: Solus imperator faciem suam firmavit ut petram, (Burcard.
de Excidio Mediolani, Script. Ital. tom. vi. p. 917.) This volume of
Muratori contains the originals of the history of Frederic the First,
which must be compared with due regard to the circumstances and
prejudices of each German or Lombard writer. * Note: Von Raumer has
traced the fortunes of the Swabian house in one of the ablest historical
works of modern times. He may be compared with the spirited and
independent Sismondi.--M.]

[Footnote 148: For the history of Frederic II. and the house of Swabia
at Naples, see Giannone, Istoria Civile, tom. ii. l. xiv. -xix.]

The Barbarian conquerors of the West were pleased to decorate their
chief with the title of emperor; but it was not their design to invest
him with the despotism of Constantine and Justinian. The persons of the
Germans were free, their conquests were their own, and their
national character was animated by a spirit which scorned the servile
jurisprudence of the new or the ancient Rome. It would have been a vain
and dangerous attempt to impose a monarch on the armed freemen, who
were impatient of a magistrate; on the bold, who refused to obey; on the
powerful, who aspired to command. The empire of Charlemagne and Otho was
distributed among the dukes of the nations or provinces, the counts of
the smaller districts, and the margraves of the marches or frontiers,
who all united the civil and military authority as it had been delegated
to the lieutenants of the first Caesars. The Roman governors, who,
for the most part, were soldiers of fortune, seduced their mercenary
legions, assumed the Imperial purple, and either failed or succeeded in
their revolt, without wounding the power and unity of government. If the
dukes, margraves, and counts of Germany, were less audacious in
their claims, the consequences of their success were more lasting and
pernicious to the state. Instead of aiming at the supreme rank,
they silently labored to establish and appropriate their provincial
independence. Their ambition was seconded by the weight of their estates
and vassals, their mutual example and support, the common interest
of the subordinate nobility, the change of princes and families, the
minorities of Otho the Third and Henry the Fourth, the ambition of the
popes, and the vain pursuit of the fugitive crowns of Italy and Rome.
All the attributes of regal and territorial jurisdiction were gradually
usurped by the commanders of the provinces; the right of peace and war,
of life and death, of coinage and taxation, of foreign alliance and
domestic economy. Whatever had been seized by violence, was ratified
by favor or distress, was granted as the price of a doubtful vote or a
voluntary service; whatever had been granted to one could not, without
injury, be denied to his successor or equal; and every act of local or
temporary possession was insensibly moulded into the constitution of the
Germanic kingdom. In every province, the visible presence of the duke or
count was interposed between the throne and the nobles; the subjects of
the law became the vassals of a private chief; and the standard which he
received from his sovereign, was often raised against him in the field.
The temporal power of the clergy was cherished and exalted by the
superstition or policy of the Carlovingian and Saxon dynasties, who
blindly depended on their moderation and fidelity; and the bishoprics of
Germany were made equal in extent and privilege, superior in wealth and
population, to the most ample states of the military order. As long
as the emperors retained the prerogative of bestowing on every vacancy
these ecclesiastic and secular benefices, their cause was maintained
by the gratitude or ambition of their friends and favorites. But in the
quarrel of the investitures, they were deprived of their influence over
the episcopal chapters; the freedom of election was restored, and the
sovereign was reduced, by a solemn mockery, to his first prayers, the
recommendation, once in his reign, to a single prebend in each church.
The secular governors, instead of being recalled at the will of a
superior, could be degraded only by the sentence of their peers. In the
first age of the monarchy, the appointment of the son to the duchy
or county of his father, was solicited as a favor; it was gradually
obtained as a custom, and extorted as a right: the lineal succession was
often extended to the collateral or female branches; the states of the
empire (their popular, and at length their legal, appellation) were
divided and alienated by testament and sale; and all idea of a public
trust was lost in that of a private and perpetual inheritance. The
emperor could not even be enriched by the casualties of forfeiture and
extinction: within the term of a year, he was obliged to dispose of the
vacant fief; and, in the choice of the candidate, it was his duty to
consult either the general or the provincial diet.

After the death of Frederic the Second, Germany was left a monster with
a hundred heads. A crowd of princes and prelates disputed the ruins of
the empire: the lords of innumerable castles were less prone to obey,
than to imitate, their superiors; and, according to the measure of their
strength, their incessant hostilities received the names of conquest
or robbery. Such anarchy was the inevitable consequence of the laws and
manners of Europe; and the kingdoms of France and Italy were shivered
into fragments by the violence of the same tempest. But the Italian
cities and the French vassals were divided and destroyed, while the
union of the Germans has produced, under the name of an empire, a
great system of a federative republic. In the frequent and at last the
perpetual institution of diets, a national spirit was kept alive, and
the powers of a common legislature are still exercised by the three
branches or colleges of the electors, the princes, and the free and
Imperial cities of Germany. I. Seven of the most powerful feudatories
were permitted to assume, with a distinguished name and rank, the
exclusive privilege of choosing the Roman emperor; and these electors
were the king of Bohemia, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of
Brandenburgh, the count palatine of the Rhine, and the three archbishops
of Mentz, of Treves, and of Cologne. II. The college of princes and
prelates purged themselves of a promiscuous multitude: they reduced to
four representative votes the long series of independent counts, and
excluded the nobles or equestrian order, sixty thousand of whom, as in
the Polish diets, had appeared on horseback in the field of election.
III. The pride of birth and dominion, of the sword and the mitre, wisely
adopted the commons as the third branch of the legislature, and, in the
progress of society, they were introduced about the same aera into the
national assemblies of France England, and Germany.

The Hanseatic League commanded the trade and navigation of the north:
the confederates of the Rhine secured the peace and intercourse of the
inland country; the influence of the cities has been adequate to their
wealth and policy, and their negative still invalidates the acts of the
two superior colleges of electors and princes. [149]

[Footnote 149: In the immense labyrinth of the jus publicum of Germany,
I must either quote one writer or a thousand; and I had rather trust to
one faithful guide, than transcribe, on credit, a multitude of names
and passages. That guide is M. Pfeffel, the author of the best legal
and constitutional history that I know of any country, (Nouvel Abrege
Chronologique de l'Histoire et du Droit public Allemagne; Paris, 1776,
2 vols. in 4to.) His learning and judgment have discerned the most
interesting facts; his simple brevity comprises them in a narrow space.
His chronological order distributes them under the proper dates; and
an elaborate index collects them under their respective heads. To this
work, in a less perfect state, Dr. Robertson was gratefully indebted
for that masterly sketch which traces even the modern changes of the
Germanic body. The Corpus Historiae Germanicae of Struvius has been
likewise consulted, the more usefully, as that huge compilation is
fortified in every page with the original texts. * Note: For the rise
and progress of the Hanseatic League, consult the authoritative history
by Sartorius; Geschichte des Hanseatischen Bandes & Theile, Gottingen,
1802. New and improved edition by Lappenberg Elamburg, 1830. The
original Hanseatic League comprehended Cologne and many of the great
cities in the Netherlands and on the Rhine.--M.]

It is in the fourteenth century that we may view in the strongest light
the state and contrast of the Roman empire of Germany, which no longer
held, except on the borders of the Rhine and Danube, a single province
of Trajan or Constantine. Their unworthy successors were the counts of
Hapsburgh, of Nassau, of Luxemburgh, and Schwartzenburgh: the emperor
Henry the Seventh procured for his son the crown of Bohemia, and
his grandson Charles the Fourth was born among a people strange and
barbarous in the estimation of the Germans themselves. [150] After the
excommunication of Lewis of Bavaria, he received the gift or promise
of the vacant empire from the Roman pontiffs, who, in the exile and
captivity of Avignon, affected the dominion of the earth. The death
of his competitors united the electoral college, and Charles was
unanimously saluted king of the Romans, and future emperor; a title
which, in the same age, was prostituted to the Caesars of Germany and
Greece. The German emperor was no more than the elective and impotent
magistrate of an aristocracy of princes, who had not left him a village
that he might call his own. His best prerogative was the right of
presiding and proposing in the national senate, which was convened at
his summons; and his native kingdom of Bohemia, less opulent than the
adjacent city of Nuremberg, was the firmest seat of his power and the
richest source of his revenue. The army with which he passed the Alps
consisted of three hundred horse. In the cathedral of St. Ambrose,
Charles was crowned with the iron crown, which tradition ascribed to the
Lombard monarchy; but he was admitted only with a peaceful train; the
gates of the city were shut upon him; and the king of Italy was held
a captive by the arms of the Visconti, whom he confirmed in the
sovereignty of Milan. In the Vatican he was again crowned with the
golden crown of the empire; but, in obedience to a secret treaty, the
Roman emperor immediately withdrew, without reposing a single night
within the walls of Rome. The eloquent Petrarch, [151] whose fancy
revived the visionary glories of the Capitol, deplores and upbraids the
ignominious flight of the Bohemian; and even his contemporaries could
observe, that the sole exercise of his authority was in the lucrative
sale of privileges and titles. The gold of Italy secured the election
of his son; but such was the shameful poverty of the Roman emperor, that
his person was arrested by a butcher in the streets of Worms, and was
detained in the public inn, as a pledge or hostage for the payment of
his expenses.

[Footnote 150: Yet, personally, Charles IV. must not be considered as
a Barbarian. After his education at Paris, he recovered the use of the
Bohemian, his native, idiom; and the emperor conversed and wrote with
equal facility in French, Latin, Italian, and German, (Struvius, p. 615,
616.) Petrarch always represents him as a polite and learned prince.]

[Footnote 151: Besides the German and Italian historians, the expedition
of Charles IV. is painted in lively and original colors in the curious
Memoires sur la Vie de Petrarque, tom. iii. p. 376-430, by the Abbe de
Sade, whose prolixity has never been blamed by any reader of taste and

From this humiliating scene, let us turn to the apparent majesty of the
same Charles in the diets of the empire. The golden bull, which fixes
the Germanic constitution, is promulgated in the style of a sovereign
and legislator. A hundred princes bowed before his throne, and exalted
their own dignity by the voluntary honors which they yielded to their
chief or minister. At the royal banquet, the hereditary great officers,
the seven electors, who in rank and title were equal to kings, performed
their solemn and domestic service of the palace. The seals of the triple
kingdom were borne in state by the archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, and
Treves, the perpetual arch-chancellors of Germany, Italy, and Arles.
The great marshal, on horseback, exercised his function with a silver
measure of oats, which he emptied on the ground, and immediately
dismounted to regulate the order of the guests The great steward, the
count palatine of the Rhine, place the dishes on the table. The great
chamberlain, the margrave of Brandenburgh, presented, after the repast,
the golden ewer and basin, to wash. The king of Bohemia, as great
cup-bearer, was represented by the emperor's brother, the duke of
Luxemburgh and Brabant; and the procession was closed by the great
huntsmen, who introduced a boar and a stag, with a loud chorus of horns
and hounds. [152] Nor was the supremacy of the emperor confined
to Germany alone: the hereditary monarchs of Europe confessed the
preeminence of his rank and dignity: he was the first of the Christian
princes, the temporal head of the great republic of the West: [153] to
his person the title of majesty was long appropriated; and he disputed
with the pope the sublime prerogative of creating kings and assembling
councils. The oracle of the civil law, the learned Bartolus, was a
pensioner of Charles the Fourth; and his school resounded with the
doctrine, that the Roman emperor was the rightful sovereign of the
earth, from the rising to the setting sun. The contrary opinion was
condemned, not as an error, but as a heresy, since even the gospel had
pronounced, "And there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that
all the world should be taxed." [154]

[Footnote 152: See the whole ceremony in Struvius, p. 629]

[Footnote 153: The republic of Europe, with the pope and emperor at its
head, was never represented with more dignity than in the council of
Constance. See Lenfant's History of that assembly.]

[Footnote 154: Gravina, Origines Juris Civilis, p. 108.]

If we annihilate the interval of time and space between Augustus and
Charles, strong and striking will be the contrast between the two
Caesars; the Bohemian who concealed his weakness under the mask of
ostentation, and the Roman, who disguised his strength under the
semblance of modesty. At the head of his victorious legions, in his
reign over the sea and land, from the Nile and Euphrates to the Atlantic
Ocean, Augustus professed himself the servant of the state and the equal
of his fellow-citizens. The conqueror of Rome and her provinces assumed
a popular and legal form of a censor, a consul, and a tribune. His will
was the law of mankind, but in the declaration of his laws he borrowed
the voice of the senate and people; and from their decrees their
master accepted and renewed his temporary commission to administer the
republic. In his dress, his domestics, [155] his titles, in all the
offices of social life, Augustus maintained the character of a private
Roman; and his most artful flatterers respected the secret of his
absolute and perpetual monarchy.

[Footnote 155: Six thousand urns have been discovered of the slaves and
freedmen of Augustus and Livia. So minute was the division of office,
that one slave was appointed to weigh the wool which was spun by the
empress's maids, another for the care of her lap-dog, &c., (Camera
Sepolchrale, by Bianchini. Extract of his work in the Bibliotheque
Italique, tom. iv. p. 175. His Eloge, by Fontenelle, tom. vi. p. 356.)
But these servants were of the same rank, and possibly not more numerous
than those of Pollio or Lentulus. They only prove the general riches of
the city.]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part I.

     Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Birth,
     Character, And Doctrine Of Mahomet.--He Preaches At Mecca.--
     Flies To Medina.--Propagates His Religion By The Sword.--
     Voluntary Or Reluctant Submission Of The Arabs.--His Death
     And Successors.--The Claims And Fortunes Of All And His

After pursuing above six hundred years the fleeting Caesars of
Constantinople and Germany, I now descend, in the reign of Heraclius, on
the eastern borders of the Greek monarchy. While the state was exhausted
by the Persian war, and the church was distracted by the Nestorian and
Monophysite sects, Mahomet, with the sword in one hand and the Koran in
the other, erected his throne on the ruins of Christianity and of Rome.
The genius of the Arabian prophet, the manners of his nation, and the
spirit of his religion, involve the causes of the decline and fall of
the Eastern empire; and our eyes are curiously intent on one of the most
memorable revolutions, which have impressed a new and lasting character
on the nations of the globe. [1]

[Footnote 1: As in this and the following chapter I shall display much
Arabic learning, I must profess my total ignorance of the Oriental
tongues, and my gratitude to the learned interpreters, who have
transfused their science into the Latin, French, and English languages.
Their collections, versions, and histories, I shall occasionally

In the vacant space between Persia, Syria, Egypt, and Aethiopia, the
Arabian peninsula [2] may be conceived as a triangle of spacious but
irregular dimensions. From the northern point of Beles [3] on the
Euphrates, a line of fifteen hundred miles is terminated by the Straits
of Bebelmandel and the land of frankincense. About half this length may
be allowed for the middle breadth, from east to west, from Bassora
to Suez, from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. [4] The sides of the
triangle are gradually enlarged, and the southern basis presents a
front of a thousand miles to the Indian Ocean. The entire surface of the
peninsula exceeds in a fourfold proportion that of Germany or France;
but the far greater part has been justly stigmatized with the epithets
of the stony and the sandy. Even the wilds of Tartary are decked, by the
hand of nature, with lofty trees and luxuriant herbage; and the lonesome
traveller derives a sort of comfort and society from the presence of
vegetable life. But in the dreary waste of Arabia, a boundless level of
sand is intersected by sharp and naked mountains; and the face of the
desert, without shade or shelter, is scorched by the direct and intense
rays of a tropical sun. Instead of refreshing breezes, the winds,
particularly from the south-west, diffuse a noxious and even deadly
vapor; the hillocks of sand which they alternately raise and scatter,
are compared to the billows of the ocean, and whole caravans, whole
armies, have been lost and buried in the whirlwind. The common benefits
of water are an object of desire and contest; and such is the scarcity
of wood, that some art is requisite to preserve and propagate the
element of fire. Arabia is destitute of navigable rivers, which
fertilize the soil, and convey its produce to the adjacent regions: the
torrents that fall from the hills are imbibed by the thirsty earth: the
rare and hardy plants, the tamarind or the acacia, that strike their
roots into the clefts of the rocks, are nourished by the dews of the
night: a scanty supply of rain is collected in cisterns and aqueducts:
the wells and springs are the secret treasure of the desert; and the
pilgrim of Mecca, [5] after many a dry and sultry march, is disgusted by
the taste of the waters which have rolled over a bed of sulphur or salt.
Such is the general and genuine picture of the climate of Arabia.
The experience of evil enhances the value of any local or partial
enjoyments. A shady grove, a green pasture, a stream of fresh water, are
sufficient to attract a colony of sedentary Arabs to the fortunate spots
which can afford food and refreshment to themselves and their cattle,
and which encourage their industry in the cultivation of the palmtree
and the vine. The high lands that border on the Indian Ocean are
distinguished by their superior plenty of wood and water; the air is
more temperate, the fruits are more delicious, the animals and the human
race more numerous: the fertility of the soil invites and rewards the
toil of the husbandman; and the peculiar gifts of frankincense [6] and
coffee have attracted in different ages the merchants of the world. If
it be compared with the rest of the peninsula, this sequestered region
may truly deserve the appellation of the happy; and the splendid
coloring of fancy and fiction has been suggested by contrast, and
countenanced by distance. It was for this earthly paradise that Nature
had reserved her choicest favors and her most curious workmanship: the
incompatible blessings of luxury and innocence were ascribed to the
natives: the soil was impregnated with gold [7] and gems, and both the
land and sea were taught to exhale the odors of aromatic sweets. This
division of the sandy, the stony, and the happy, so familiar to the
Greeks and Latins, is unknown to the Arabians themselves; and it is
singular enough, that a country, whose language and inhabitants have
ever been the same, should scarcely retain a vestige of its ancient
geography. The maritime districts of Bahrein and Oman are opposite to
the realm of Persia. The kingdom of Yemen displays the limits, or at
least the situation, of Arabia Felix: the name of Neged is extended over
the inland space; and the birth of Mahomet has illustrated the province
of Hejaz along the coast of the Red Sea. [8]

[Footnote 2: The geographers of Arabia may be divided into three
classes: 1. The Greeks and Latins, whose progressive knowledge may be
traced in Agatharcides, (de Mari Rubro, in Hudson, Geograph. Minor. tom.
i.,) Diodorus Siculus, (tom. i. l. ii. p. 159-167, l. iii. p. 211-216,
edit. Wesseling,) Strabo, (l. xvi. p. 1112-1114, from Eratosthenes, p.
1122-1132, from Artemidorus,) Dionysius, (Periegesis, 927-969,) Pliny,
(Hist. Natur. v. 12, vi. 32,) and Ptolemy, (Descript. et Tabulae Urbium,
in Hudson, tom. iii.) 2. The Arabic writers, who have treated the
subject with the zeal of patriotism or devotion: the extracts of Pocock
(Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 125-128) from the Geography of the Sherif
al Edrissi, render us still more dissatisfied with the version or
abridgment (p. 24-27, 44-56, 108, &c., 119, &c.) which the Maronites
have published under the absurd title of Geographia Nubiensis, (Paris,
1619;) but the Latin and French translators, Greaves (in Hudson, tom.
iii.) and Galland, (Voyage de la Palestine par La Roque, p. 265-346,)
have opened to us the Arabia of Abulfeda, the most copious and correct
account of the peninsula, which may be enriched, however, from the
Bibliotheque Orientale of D'Herbelot, p. 120, et alibi passim. 3.
The European travellers; among whom Shaw (p. 438-455) and Niebuhr
(Description, 1773; Voyages, tom. i. 1776) deserve an honorable
distinction: Busching (Geographie par Berenger, tom. viii. p. 416-510)
has compiled with judgment, and D'Anville's Maps (Orbis Veteribus
Notus, and 1re Partie de l'Asie) should lie before the reader, with his
Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 208-231. * Note: Of modern travellers
may be mentioned the adventurer who called himself Ali Bey; but above
all, the intelligent, the enterprising the accurate Burckhardt.--M.]

[Footnote 3: Abulfed. Descript. Arabiae, p. 1. D'Anville, l'Euphrate et
le Tigre, p. 19, 20. It was in this place, the paradise or garden of
a satrap, that Xenophon and the Greeks first passed the Euphrates,
(Anabasis, l. i. c. 10, p. 29, edit. Wells.)]

[Footnote 4: Reland has proved, with much superfluous learning,

1. That our Red Sea (the Arabian Gulf) is no more than a part of the
Mare Rubrum, which was extended to the indefinite space of the Indian

2. That the synonymous words, allude to the color of the blacks or
negroes, (Dissert Miscell. tom. i. p. 59-117.)]

[Footnote 5: In the thirty days, or stations, between Cairo and Mecca,
there are fifteen destitute of good water. See the route of the Hadjees,
in Shaw's Travels, p. 477.]

[Footnote 6: The aromatics, especially the thus, or frankincense, of
Arabia, occupy the xiith book of Pliny. Our great poet (Paradise Lost,
l. iv.) introduces, in a simile, the spicy odors that are blown by the
north-east wind from the Sabaean coast:----Many a league, Pleased with
the grateful scent, old Ocean smiles. (Plin. Hist. Natur. xii. 42.)]

[Footnote 7: Agatharcides affirms, that lumps of pure gold were found,
from the size of an olive to that of a nut; that iron was twice, and
silver ten times, the value of gold, (de Mari Rubro, p. 60.) These real
or imaginary treasures are vanished; and no gold mines are at present
known in Arabia, (Niebuhr, Description, p. 124.) * Note: A brilliant
passage in the geographical poem of Dionysius Periegetes embodies the
notions of the ancients on the wealth and fertility of Yemen. Greek
mythology, and the traditions of the "gorgeous east," of India as well
as Arabia, are mingled together in indiscriminate splendor. Compare on
the southern coast of Arabia, the recent travels of Lieut. Wellsted--M.]

[Footnote 8: Consult, peruse, and study the Specimen Hostoriae Arabum of
Pocock, (Oxon. 1650, in 4to.) The thirty pages of text and version are
extracted from the Dynasties of Gregory Abulpharagius, which Pocock
afterwards translated, (Oxon. 1663, in 4to.;) the three hundred and
fifty-eight notes form a classic and original work on the Arabian

The measure of population is regulated by the means of subsistence;
and the inhabitants of this vast peninsula might be outnumbered by the
subjects of a fertile and industrious province. Along the shores of the
Persian Gulf, of the ocean, and even of the Red Sea, the Icthyophagi,
[9] or fish eaters, continued to wander in quest of their precarious
food. In this primitive and abject state, which ill deserves the name of
society, the human brute, without arts or laws, almost without sense or
language, is poorly distinguished from the rest of the animal creation.
Generations and ages might roll away in silent oblivion, and the
helpless savage was restrained from multiplying his race by the wants
and pursuits which confined his existence to the narrow margin of the
seacoast. But in an early period of antiquity the great body of the
Arabs had emerged from this scene of misery; and as the naked wilderness
could not maintain a people of hunters, they rose at once to the more
secure and plentiful condition of the pastoral life. The same life
is uniformly pursued by the roving tribes of the desert; and in the
portrait of the modern Bedoweens, we may trace the features of their
ancestors, [10] who, in the age of Moses or Mahomet, dwelt under similar
tents, and conducted their horses, and camels, and sheep, to the same
springs and the same pastures. Our toil is lessened, and our wealth
is increased, by our dominion over the useful animals; and the Arabian
shepherd had acquired the absolute possession of a faithful friend and
a laborious slave. [11] Arabia, in the opinion of the naturalist, is the
genuine and original country of the horse; the climate most propitious,
not indeed to the size, but to the spirit and swiftness, of that
generous animal. The merit of the Barb, the Spanish, and the English
breed, is derived from a mixture of Arabian blood: [12] the Bedoweens
preserve, with superstitious care, the honors and the memory of the
purest race: the males are sold at a high price, but the females are
seldom alienated; and the birth of a noble foal was esteemed among the
tribes, as a subject of joy and mutual congratulation. These horses are
educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a
tender familiarity, which trains them in the habits of gentleness
and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop: their
sensations are not blunted by the incessant abuse of the spur and the
whip: their powers are reserved for the moments of flight and pursuit:
but no sooner do they feel the touch of the hand or the stirrup, than
they dart away with the swiftness of the wind; and if their friend
be dismounted in the rapid career, they instantly stop till he has
recovered his seat. In the sands of Africa and Arabia, the camel is a
sacred and precious gift. That strong and patient beast of burden can
perform, without eating or drinking, a journey of several days; and a
reservoir of fresh water is preserved in a large bag, a fifth stomach
of the animal, whose body is imprinted with the marks of servitude: the
larger breed is capable of transporting a weight of a thousand pounds;
and the dromedary, of a lighter and more active frame, outstrips the
fleetest courser in the race. Alive or dead, almost every part of the
camel is serviceable to man: her milk is plentiful and nutritious: the
young and tender flesh has the taste of veal: [13] a valuable salt is
extracted from the urine: the dung supplies the deficiency of fuel;
and the long hair, which falls each year and is renewed, is coarsely
manufactured into the garments, the furniture, and the tents of the
Bedoweens. In the rainy seasons, they consume the rare and insufficient
herbage of the desert: during the heats of summer and the scarcity of
winter, they remove their encampments to the sea-coast, the hills of
Yemen, or the neighborhood of the Euphrates, and have often extorted the
dangerous license of visiting the banks of the Nile, and the villages
of Syria and Palestine. The life of a wandering Arab is a life of
danger and distress; and though sometimes, by rapine or exchange, he may
appropriate the fruits of industry, a private citizen in Europe is in
the possession of more solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir,
who marches in the field at the head of ten thousand horse.

[Footnote 9: Arrian remarks the Icthyophagi of the coast of Hejez,
(Periplus Maris Erythraei, p. 12,) and beyond Aden, (p. 15.) It seems
probable that the shores of the Red Sea (in the largest sense) were
occupied by these savages in the time, perhaps, of Cyrus; but I can
hardly believe that any cannibals were left among the savages in the
reign of Justinian. (Procop. de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 19.)]

[Footnote 10: See the Specimen Historiae Arabum of Pocock, p. 2, 5, 86,
&c. The journey of M. d'Arvieux, in 1664, to the camp of the emir of
Mount Carmel, (Voyage de la Palestine, Amsterdam, 1718,) exhibits a
pleasing and original picture of the life of the Bedoweens, which may
be illustrated from Niebuhr (Description de l'Arabie, p. 327-344) and
Volney, (tom. i. p. 343-385,) the last and most judicious of our Syrian

[Footnote 11: Read (it is no unpleasing task) the incomparable articles
of the Horse and the Camel, in the Natural History of M. de Buffon.]

[Footnote 12: For the Arabian horses, see D'Arvieux (p. 159-173) and
Niebuhr, (p. 142-144.) At the end of the xiiith century, the horses of
Neged were esteemed sure-footed, those of Yemen strong and serviceable,
those of Hejaz most noble. The horses of Europe, the tenth and last
class, were generally despised as having too much body and too little
spirit, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 339: ) their strength was
requisite to bear the weight of the knight and his armor]

[Footnote 13: Qui carnibus camelorum vesci solent odii tenaces sunt, was
the opinion of an Arabian physician, (Pocock, Specimen, p. 88.) Mahomet
himself, who was fond of milk, prefers the cow, and does not even
mention the camel; but the diet of Mecca and Medina was already more
luxurious, (Gagnier Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 404.)]

Yet an essential difference may be found between the hordes of Scythia
and the Arabian tribes; since many of the latter were collected into
towns, and employed in the labors of trade and agriculture. A part of
their time and industry was still devoted to the management of their
cattle: they mingled, in peace and war, with their brethren of the
desert; and the Bedoweens derived from their useful intercourse some
supply of their wants, and some rudiments of art and knowledge. Among
the forty-two cities of Arabia, [14] enumerated by Abulfeda, the most
ancient and populous were situate in the happy Yemen: the towers of
Saana, [15] and the marvellous reservoir of Merab, [16] were constructed
by the kings of the Homerites; but their profane lustre was eclipsed by
the prophetic glories of Medina [17] and Mecca, [18] near the Red Sea,
and at the distance from each other of two hundred and seventy miles.
The last of these holy places was known to the Greeks under the name
of Macoraba; and the termination of the word is expressive of its
greatness, which has not, indeed, in the most flourishing period,
exceeded the size and populousness of Marseilles. Some latent motive,
perhaps of superstition, must have impelled the founders, in the choice
of a most unpromising situation. They erected their habitations of mud
or stone, in a plain about two miles long and one mile broad, at the
foot of three barren mountains: the soil is a rock; the water even of
the holy well of Zemzem is bitter or brackish; the pastures are remote
from the city; and grapes are transported above seventy miles from the
gardens of Tayef. The fame and spirit of the Koreishites, who reigned in
Mecca, were conspicuous among the Arabian tribes; but their ungrateful
soil refused the labors of agriculture, and their position was favorable
to the enterprises of trade. By the seaport of Gedda, at the distance
only of forty miles, they maintained an easy correspondence with
Abyssinia; and that Christian kingdom afforded the first refuge to the
disciples of Mahomet. The treasures of Africa were conveyed over the
Peninsula to Gerrha or Katif, in the province of Bahrein, a city built,
as it is said, of rock-salt, by the Chaldaean exiles; [19] and from
thence with the native pearls of the Persian Gulf, they were floated on
rafts to the mouth of the Euphrates. Mecca is placed almost at an equal
distance, a month's journey, between Yemen on the right, and Syria on
the left hand. The former was the winter, the latter the summer, station
of her caravans; and their seasonable arrival relieved the ships of
India from the tedious and troublesome navigation of the Red Sea. In the
markets of Saana and Merab, in the harbors of Oman and Aden, the camels
of the Koreishites were laden with a precious cargo of aromatics; a
supply of corn and manufactures was purchased in the fairs of Bostra
and Damascus; the lucrative exchange diffused plenty and riches in the
streets of Mecca; and the noblest of her sons united the love of arms
with the profession of merchandise. [20]

[Footnote 14: Yet Marcian of Heraclea (in Periplo, p. 16, in tom. i.
Hudson, Minor. Geograph.) reckons one hundred and sixty-four towns in
Arabia Felix. The size of the towns might be small--the faith of the
writer might be large.]

[Footnote 15: It is compared by Abulfeda (in Hudson, tom. ii. p. 54) to
Damascus, and is still the residence of the Iman of Yemen, (Voyages
de Niebuhr, tom. i. p. 331-342.) Saana is twenty-four parasangs from
Dafar, (Abulfeda, p. 51,) and sixty-eight from Aden, (p. 53.)]

[Footnote 16: Pocock, Specimen, p. 57. Geograph. Nubiensis, p. 52.
Meriaba, or Merab, six miles in circumference, was destroyed by the
legions of Augustus, (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32,) and had not revived in
the xivth century, (Abulfed. Descript. Arab. p. 58.) * Note: See note
2 to chap. i. The destruction of Meriaba by the Romans is doubtful. The
town never recovered the inundation which took place from the bursting
of a large reservoir of water--an event of great importance in
the Arabian annals, and discussed at considerable length by modern

[Footnote 17: The name of city, Medina, was appropriated, to Yatreb.
(the Iatrippa of the Greeks,) the seat of the prophet. The distances
from Medina are reckoned by Abulfeda in stations, or days' journey of a
caravan, (p. 15: ) to Bahrein, xv.; to Bassora, xviii.; to Cufah, xx.;
to Damascus or Palestine, xx.; to Cairo, xxv.; to Mecca. x.; from Mecca
to Saana, (p. 52,) or Aden, xxx.; to Cairo, xxxi. days, or 412 hours,
(Shaw's Travels, p. 477;) which, according to the estimate of D'Anville,
(Mesures Itineraires, p. 99,) allows about twenty-five English miles
for a day's journey. From the land of frankincense (Hadramaut, in Yemen,
between Aden and Cape Fartasch) to Gaza in Syria, Pliny (Hist. Nat. xii.
32) computes lxv. mansions of camels. These measures may assist fancy
and elucidate facts.]

[Footnote 18: Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians,
(D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 368-371. Pocock, Specimen, p.
125-128. Abulfeda, p. 11-40.) As no unbeliever is permitted to enter
the city, our travellers are silent; and the short hints of Thevenot
(Voyages du Levant, part i. p. 490) are taken from the suspicious mouth
of an African renegado. Some Persians counted 6000 houses, (Chardin.
tom. iv. p. 167.) * Note: Even in the time of Gibbon, Mecca had not been
so inaccessible to Europeans. It had been visited by Ludovico Barthema,
and by one Joseph Pitts, of Exeter, who was taken prisoner by the Moors,
and forcibly converted to Mahometanism. His volume is a curious, though
plain, account of his sufferings and travels. Since that time Mecca has
been entered, and the ceremonies witnessed, by Dr. Seetzen, whose papers
were unfortunately lost; by the Spaniard, who called himself Ali Bey;
and, lastly, by Burckhardt, whose description leaves nothing wanting to
satisfy the curiosity.--M.]

[Footnote 19: Strabo, l. xvi. p. 1110. See one of these salt houses near
Bassora, in D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 6.]

[Footnote 20: Mirum dictu ex innumeris populis pars aequa in commerciis
aut in latrociniis degit, (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32.) See Sale's Koran,
Sura. cvi. p. 503. Pocock, Specimen, p. 2. D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient.
p. 361. Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 5. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom.
i. p. 72, 120, 126, &c.]

The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been the theme of praise
among strangers and natives; and the arts of controversy transform this
singular event into a prophecy and a miracle, in favor of the posterity
of Ismael. [21] Some exceptions, that can neither be dismissed
nor eluded, render this mode of reasoning as indiscreet as it is
superfluous; the kingdom of Yemen has been successively subdued by the
Abyssinians, the Persians, the sultans of Egypt, [22] and the Turks;
[23] the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have repeatedly bowed under
a Scythian tyrant; and the Roman province of Arabia [24] embraced the
peculiar wilderness in which Ismael and his sons must have pitched their
tents in the face of their brethren. Yet these exceptions are temporary
or local; the body of the nation has escaped the yoke of the most
powerful monarchies: the arms of Sesostris and Cyrus, of Pompey
and Trajan, could never achieve the conquest of Arabia; the present
sovereign of the Turks [25] may exercise a shadow of jurisdiction, but
his pride is reduced to solicit the friendship of a people, whom it is
dangerous to provoke, and fruitless to attack. The obvious causes of
their freedom are inscribed on the character and country of the Arabs.
Many ages before Mahomet, [26] their intrepid valor had been severely
felt by their neighbors in offensive and defensive war. The patient
and active virtues of a soldier are insensibly nursed in the habits
and discipline of a pastoral life. The care of the sheep and camels is
abandoned to the women of the tribe; but the martial youth, under the
banner of the emir, is ever on horseback, and in the field, to practise
the exercise of the bow, the javelin, and the cimeter. The long memory
of their independence is the firmest pledge of its perpetuity and
succeeding generations are animated to prove their descent, and to
maintain their inheritance. Their domestic feuds are suspended on the
approach of a common enemy; and in their last hostilities against the
Turks, the caravan of Mecca was attacked and pillaged by fourscore
thousand of the confederates. When they advance to battle, the hope of
victory is in the front; in the rear, the assurance of a retreat. Their
horses and camels, who, in eight or ten days, can perform a march of
four or five hundred miles, disappear before the conqueror; the secret
waters of the desert elude his search, and his victorious troops
are consumed with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, in the pursuit of an
invisible foe, who scorns his efforts, and safely reposes in the heart
of the burning solitude. The arms and deserts of the Bedoweens are not
only the safeguards of their own freedom, but the barriers also of the
happy Arabia, whose inhabitants, remote from war, are enervated by the
luxury of the soil and climate. The legions of Augustus melted away in
disease and lassitude; [27] and it is only by a naval power that the
reduction of Yemen has been successfully attempted. When Mahomet erected
his holy standard, [28] that kingdom was a province of the Persian
empire; yet seven princes of the Homerites still reigned in the
mountains; and the vicegerent of Chosroes was tempted to forget his
distant country and his unfortunate master. The historians of the age of
Justinian represent the state of the independent Arabs, who were divided
by interest or affection in the long quarrel of the East: the tribe of
Gassan was allowed to encamp on the Syrian territory: the princes of
Hira were permitted to form a city about forty miles to the southward
of the ruins of Babylon. Their service in the field was speedy and
vigorous; but their friendship was venal, their faith inconstant, their
enmity capricious: it was an easier task to excite than to disarm these
roving barbarians; and, in the familiar intercourse of war, they learned
to see, and to despise, the splendid weakness both of Rome and of
Persia. From Mecca to the Euphrates, the Arabian tribes [29] were
confounded by the Greeks and Latins, under the general appellation of
Saracens, [30] a name which every Christian mouth has been taught to
pronounce with terror and abhorrence.

[Footnote 21: A nameless doctor (Universal Hist. vol. xx. octavo
edition) has formally demonstrated the truth of Christianity by the
independence of the Arabs. A critic, besides the exceptions of fact,
might dispute the meaning of the text (Gen. xvi. 12,) the extent of the
application, and the foundation of the pedigree. * Note: See note 3 to
chap. xlvi. The atter point is probably the least contestable of the

[Footnote 22: It was subdued, A.D. 1173, by a brother of the great
Saladin, who founded a dynasty of Curds or Ayoubites, (Guignes, Hist.
des Huns, tom. i. p. 425. D'Herbelot, p. 477.)]

[Footnote 23: By the lieutenant of Soliman I. (A.D. 1538) and Selim
II., (1568.) See Cantemir's Hist. of the Othman Empire, p. 201, 221. The
pacha, who resided at Saana, commanded twenty-one beys; but no revenue
was ever remitted to the Porte, (Marsigli, Stato Militare dell' Imperio
Ottomanno, p. 124,) and the Turks were expelled about the year 1630,
(Niebuhr, p. 167, 168.)]

[Footnote 24: Of the Roman province, under the name of Arabia and the
third Palestine, the principal cities were Bostra and Petra, which
dated their aera from the year 105, when they were subdued by Palma, a
lieutenant of Trajan, (Dion. Cassius, l. lxviii.) Petra was the capital
of the Nabathaeans; whose name is derived from the eldest of the sons
of Ismael, (Gen. xxv. 12, &c., with the Commentaries of Jerom, Le Clerc,
and Calmet.) Justinian relinquished a palm country of ten days' journey
to the south of Aelah, (Procop. de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 19,) and the
Romans maintained a centurion and a custom-house, (Arrian in Periplo
Maris Erythraei, p. 11, in Hudson, tom. i.,) at a place (Pagus Albus,
Hawara) in the territory of Medina, (D'Anville, Memoire sur l'Egypte, p.
243.) These real possessions, and some naval inroads of Trajan, (Peripl.
p. 14, 15,) are magnified by history and medals into the Roman conquest
of Arabia. * Note: On the ruins of Petra, see the travels of Messrs.
Irby and Mangles, and of Leon de Laborde.--M.]

[Footnote 25: Niebuhr (Description de l'Arabie, p. 302, 303, 329-331)
affords the most recent and authentic intelligence of the Turkish empire
in Arabia. * Note: Niebuhr's, notwithstanding the multitude of later
travellers, maintains its ground, as the classical work on Arabia.--M.]

[Footnote 26: Diodorus Siculus (tom. ii. l. xix. p. 390-393, edit.
Wesseling) has clearly exposed the freedom of the Nabathaean Arabs, who
resisted the arms of Antigonus and his son.]

[Footnote 27: Strabo, l. xvi. p. 1127-1129. Plin. Hist. Natur. vi. 32.
Aelius Gallus landed near Medina, and marched near a thousand miles into
the part of Yemen between Mareb and the Ocean. The non ante devictis
Sabeae regibus, (Od. i. 29,) and the intacti Arabum thesanri (Od. iii.
24) of Horace, attest the virgin purity of Arabia.]

[Footnote 28: See the imperfect history of Yemen in Pocock, Specimen, p.
55-66, of Hira, p. 66-74, of Gassan, p. 75-78, as far as it could be
known or preserved in the time of ignorance. * Note: Compare the
Hist. Yemanae, published by Johannsen at Bonn 1880 particularly the
translator's preface.--M.]

[Footnote 29: They are described by Menander, (Excerpt. Legation p.
149,) Procopius, (de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 17, 19, l. ii. c. 10,) and,
in the most lively colors, by Ammianus Marcellinus, (l. xiv. c. 4,) who
had spoken of them as early as the reign of Marcus.]

[Footnote 30: The name which, used by Ptolemy and Pliny in a more
confined, by Ammianus and Procopius in a larger, sense, has been
derived, ridiculously, from Sarah, the wife of Abraham, obscurely from
the village of Saraka, (Stephan. de Urbibus,) more plausibly from the
Arabic words, which signify a thievish character, or Oriental situation,
(Hottinger, Hist. Oriental. l. i. c. i. p. 7, 8. Pocock, Specimen, p.
33, 35. Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 567.) Yet the last and
most popular of these etymologies is refuted by Ptolemy, (Arabia, p. 2,
18, in Hudson, tom. iv.,) who expressly remarks the western and southern
position of the Saracens, then an obscure tribe on the borders of Egypt.
The appellation cannot therefore allude to any national character; and,
since it was imposed by strangers, it must be found, not in the Arabic,
but in a foreign language. * Note: Dr. Clarke, (Travels, vol. ii. p.
491,) after expressing contemptuous pity for Gibbon's ignorance, derives
the word from Zara, Zaara, Sara, the Desert, whence Saraceni, the
children of the Desert. De Marles adopts the derivation from Sarrik, a
robber, (Hist. des Arabes, vol. i. p. 36, S.L. Martin from Scharkioun,
or Sharkun, Eastern, vol. xi. p. 55.)--M.]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part II.

The slaves of domestic tyranny may vainly exult in their national
independence: but the Arab is personally free; and he enjoys, in some
degree, the benefits of society, without forfeiting the prerogatives
of nature. In every tribe, superstition, or gratitude, or fortune,
has exalted a particular family above the heads of their equals. The
dignities of sheick and emir invariably descend in this chosen race; but
the order of succession is loose and precarious; and the most worthy or
aged of the noble kinsmen are preferred to the simple, though important,
office of composing disputes by their advice, and guiding valor by their
example. Even a female of sense and spirit has been permitted to command
the countrymen of Zenobia. [31] The momentary junction of several tribes
produces an army: their more lasting union constitutes a nation; and
the supreme chief, the emir of emirs, whose banner is displayed at their
head, may deserve, in the eyes of strangers, the honors of the kingly

If the Arabian princes abuse their power, they are quickly punished by
the desertion of their subjects, who had been accustomed to a mild and
parental jurisdiction. Their spirit is free, their steps are unconfined,
the desert is open, and the tribes and families are held together by a
mutual and voluntary compact. The softer natives of Yemen supported
the pomp and majesty of a monarch; but if he could not leave his palace
without endangering his life, [32] the active powers of government must
have been devolved on his nobles and magistrates. The cities of Mecca
and Medina present, in the heart of Asia, the form, or rather the
substance, of a commonwealth. The grandfather of Mahomet, and his lineal
ancestors, appear in foreign and domestic transactions as the princes of
their country; but they reigned, like Pericles at Athens, or the
Medici at Florence, by the opinion of their wisdom and integrity;
their influence was divided with their patrimony; and the sceptre was
transferred from the uncles of the prophet to a younger branch of the
tribe of Koreish. On solemn occasions they convened the assembly of
the people; and, since mankind must be either compelled or persuaded to
obey, the use and reputation of oratory among the ancient Arabs is the
clearest evidence of public freedom. [33] But their simple freedom was
of a very different cast from the nice and artificial machinery of the
Greek and Roman republics, in which each member possessed an undivided
share of the civil and political rights of the community. In the more
simple state of the Arabs, the nation is free, because each of her
sons disdains a base submission to the will of a master. His breast is
fortified by the austere virtues of courage, patience, and sobriety; the
love of independence prompts him to exercise the habits of self-command;
and the fear of dishonor guards him from the meaner apprehension of
pain, of danger, and of death. The gravity and firmness of the mind is
conspicuous in his outward demeanor; his speech is low, weighty, and
concise; he is seldom provoked to laughter; his only gesture is that of
stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood; and the sense of
his own importance teaches him to accost his equals without levity, and
his superiors without awe. [34] The liberty of the Saracens survived
their conquests: the first caliphs indulged the bold and familiar
language of their subjects; they ascended the pulpit to persuade and
edify the congregation; nor was it before the seat of empire was
removed to the Tigris, that the Abbasides adopted the proud and pompous
ceremonial of the Persian and Byzantine courts.

[Footnote 31: Saraceni... mulieres aiunt in eos regnare, (Expositio
totius Mundi, p. 3, in Hudson, tom. iii.) The reign of Mavia is famous
in ecclesiastical story Pocock, Specimen, p. 69, 83.]

[Footnote 32: The report of Agatharcides, (de Mari Rubro, p. 63, 64, in
Hudson, tom. i.) Diodorus Siculus, (tom. i. l. iii. c. 47, p. 215,) and
Strabo, (l. xvi. p. 1124.) But I much suspect that this is one of
the popular tales, or extraordinary accidents, which the credulity of
travellers so often transforms into a fact, a custom, and a law.]

[Footnote 33: Non gloriabantur antiquitus Arabes, nisi gladio, hospite,
et eloquentia (Sephadius apud Pocock, Specimen, p. 161, 162.) This gift
of speech they shared only with the Persians; and the sententious
Arabs would probably have disdained the simple and sublime logic of

[Footnote 34: I must remind the reader that D'Arvieux, D'Herbelot,
and Niebuhr, represent, in the most lively colors, the manners and
government of the Arabs, which are illustrated by many incidental
passages in the Life of Mahomet. * Note: See, likewise the curious
romance of Antar, the most vivid and authentic picture of Arabian

In the study of nations and men, we may observe the causes that render
them hostile or friendly to each other, that tend to narrow or enlarge,
to mollify or exasperate, the social character. The separation of the
Arabs from the rest of mankind has accustomed them to confound the ideas
of stranger and enemy; and the poverty of the land has introduced a
maxim of jurisprudence, which they believe and practise to the present
hour. They pretend, that, in the division of the earth, the rich and
fertile climates were assigned to the other branches of the human
family; and that the posterity of the outlaw Ismael might recover, by
fraud or force, the portion of inheritance of which he had been unjustly
deprived. According to the remark of Pliny, the Arabian tribes are
equally addicted to theft and merchandise; the caravans that traverse
the desert are ransomed or pillaged; and their neighbors, since the
remote times of Job and Sesostris, [35] have been the victims of
their rapacious spirit. If a Bedoween discovers from afar a solitary
traveller, he rides furiously against him, crying, with a loud voice,
"Undress thyself, thy aunt (my wife) is without a garment." A ready
submission entitles him to mercy; resistance will provoke the aggressor,
and his own blood must expiate the blood which he presumes to shed in
legitimate defence. A single robber, or a few associates, are branded
with their genuine name; but the exploits of a numerous band assume the
character of lawful and honorable war. The temper of a people thus armed
against mankind was doubly inflamed by the domestic license of rapine,
murder, and revenge. In the constitution of Europe, the right of peace
and war is now confined to a small, and the actual exercise to a much
smaller, list of respectable potentates; but each Arab, with impunity
and renown, might point his javelin against the life of his countrymen.
The union of the nation consisted only in a vague resemblance of
language and manners; and in each community, the jurisdiction of
the magistrate was mute and impotent. Of the time of ignorance which
preceded Mahomet, seventeen hundred battles [36] are recorded by
tradition: hostility was imbittered with the rancor of civil faction;
and the recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete feud, was sufficient
to rekindle the same passions among the descendants of the hostile
tribes. In private life every man, at least every family, was the judge
and avenger of his own cause. The nice sensibility of honor, which
weighs the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadly venom on the
quarrels of the Arabs: the honor of their women, and of their beards,
is most easily wounded; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be
expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient
inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of
revenge. A fine or compensation for murder is familiar to the Barbarians
of every age: but in Arabia the kinsmen of the dead are at liberty to
accept the atonement, or to exercise with their own hands the law of
retaliation. The refined malice of the Arabs refuses even the head
of the murderer, substitutes an innocent for the guilty person, and
transfers the penalty to the best and most considerable of the race
by whom they have been injured. If he falls by their hands, they are
exposed, in their turn, to the danger of reprisals, the interest and
principal of the bloody debt are accumulated: the individuals of
either family lead a life of malice and suspicion, and fifty years may
sometimes elapse before the account of vengeance be finally settled.
[37] This sanguinary spirit, ignorant of pity or forgiveness, has been
moderated, however, by the maxims of honor, which require in every
private encounter some decent equality of age and strength, of numbers
and weapons. An annual festival of two, perhaps of four, months, was
observed by the Arabs before the time of Mahomet, during which their
swords were religiously sheathed both in foreign and domestic hostility;
and this partial truce is more strongly expressive of the habits of
anarchy and warfare. [38]

[Footnote 35: Observe the first chapter of Job, and the long wall of
1500 stadia which Sesostris built from Pelusium to Heliopolis, (Diodor.
Sicul. tom. i. l. i. p. 67.) Under the name of Hycsos, the shepherd
kings, they had formerly subdued Egypt, (Marsham, Canon. Chron. p.
98-163) &c.) * Note: This origin of the Hycsos, though probable, is
by no means so certain here is some reason for supposing them

[Footnote 36: Or, according to another account, 1200, (D'Herbelot,
Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 75: ) the two historians who wrote of the
Ayam al Arab, the battles of the Arabs, lived in the 9th and 10th
century. The famous war of Dahes and Gabrah was occasioned by two
horses, lasted forty years, and ended in a proverb, (Pocock, Specimen,
p. 48.)]

[Footnote 37: The modern theory and practice of the Arabs in the revenge
of murder are described by Niebuhr, (Description, p. 26-31.) The harsher
features of antiquity may be traced in the Koran, c. 2, p. 20, c. 17, p.
230, with Sale's Observations.]

[Footnote 38: Procopius (de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 16) places the two
holy months about the summer solstice. The Arabians consecrate four
months of the year--the first, seventh, eleventh, and twelfth; and
pretend, that in a long series of ages the truce was infringed only four
or six times, (Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 147-150, and Notes
on the ixth chapter of the Koran, p. 154, &c. Casiri, Bibliot.
Hispano-Arabica, tom. ii. p. 20, 21.)]

But the spirit of rapine and revenge was attempered by the milder
influence of trade and literature. The solitary peninsula is encompassed
by the most civilized nations of the ancient world; the merchant is the
friend of mankind; and the annual caravans imported the first seeds
of knowledge and politeness into the cities, and even the camps of the
desert. Whatever may be the pedigree of the Arabs, their language is
derived from the same original stock with the Hebrew, the Syriac, and
the Chaldaean tongues; the independence of the tribes was marked by
their peculiar dialects; [39] but each, after their own, allowed a just
preference to the pure and perspicuous idiom of Mecca. In Arabia, as
well as in Greece, the perfection of language outstripped the refinement
of manners; and her speech could diversify the fourscore names of honey,
the two hundred of a serpent, the five hundred of a lion, the thousand
of a sword, at a time when this copious dictionary was intrusted to
the memory of an illiterate people. The monuments of the Homerites
were inscribed with an obsolete and mysterious character; but the Cufic
letters, the groundwork of the present alphabet, were invented on the
banks of the Euphrates; and the recent invention was taught at Mecca by
a stranger who settled in that city after the birth of Mahomet. The
arts of grammar, of metre, and of rhetoric, were unknown to the freeborn
eloquence of the Arabians; but their penetration was sharp, their
fancy luxuriant, their wit strong and sententious, [40] and their more
elaborate compositions were addressed with energy and effect to the
minds of their hearers. The genius and merit of a rising poet was
celebrated by the applause of his own and the kindred tribes. A solemn
banquet was prepared, and a chorus of women, striking their tymbals,
and displaying the pomp of their nuptials, sung in the presence of their
sons and husbands the felicity of their native tribe; that a champion
had now appeared to vindicate their rights; that a herald had raised
his voice to immortalize their renown. The distant or hostile tribes
resorted to an annual fair, which was abolished by the fanaticism of the
first Moslems; a national assembly that must have contributed to refine
and harmonize the Barbarians. Thirty days were employed in the exchange,
not only of corn and wine, but of eloquence and poetry. The prize
was disputed by the generous emulation of the bards; the victorious
performance was deposited in the archives of princes and emirs; and
we may read in our own language, the seven original poems which were
inscribed in letters of gold, and suspended in the temple of Mecca. [41]
The Arabian poets were the historians and moralists of the age; and
if they sympathized with the prejudices, they inspired and crowned the
virtues, of their countrymen. The indissoluble union of generosity and
valor was the darling theme of their song; and when they pointed
their keenest satire against a despicable race, they affirmed, in the
bitterness of reproach, that the men knew not how to give, nor the women
to deny. [42] The same hospitality, which was practised by Abraham, and
celebrated by Homer, is still renewed in the camps of the Arabs. The
ferocious Bedoweens, the terror of the desert, embrace, without inquiry
or hesitation, the stranger who dares to confide in their honor and to
enter their tent. His treatment is kind and respectful: he shares the
wealth, or the poverty, of his host; and, after a needful repose, he
is dismissed on his way, with thanks, with blessings, and perhaps with
gifts. The heart and hand are more largely expanded by the wants of a
brother or a friend; but the heroic acts that could deserve the public
applause, must have surpassed the narrow measure of discretion and
experience. A dispute had arisen, who, among the citizens of Mecca, was
entitled to the prize of generosity; and a successive application was
made to the three who were deemed most worthy of the trial. Abdallah,
the son of Abbas, had undertaken a distant journey, and his foot was in
the stirrup when he heard the voice of a suppliant, "O son of the uncle
of the apostle of God, I am a traveller, and in distress!" He instantly
dismounted to present the pilgrim with his camel, her rich caparison,
and a purse of four thousand pieces of gold, excepting only the sword,
either for its intrinsic value, or as the gift of an honored kinsman.
The servant of Kais informed the second suppliant that his master was
asleep: but he immediately added, "Here is a purse of seven thousand
pieces of gold, (it is all we have in the house,) and here is an order,
that will entitle you to a camel and a slave;" the master, as soon as
he awoke, praised and enfranchised his faithful steward, with a gentle
reproof, that by respecting his slumbers he had stinted his bounty.
The third of these heroes, the blind Arabah, at the hour of prayer, was
supporting his steps on the shoulders of two slaves. "Alas!" he replied,
"my coffers are empty! but these you may sell; if you refuse, I renounce
them." At these words, pushing away the youths, he groped along the wall
with his staff.

The character of Hatem is the perfect model of Arabian virtue: [43] he
was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet, and a successful robber; forty
camels were roasted at his hospitable feast; and at the prayer of a
suppliant enemy he restored both the captives and the spoil. The freedom
of his countrymen disdained the laws of justice; they proudly indulged
the spontaneous impulse of pity and benevolence.

[Footnote 39: Arrian, in the second century, remarks (in Periplo Maris
Erythraei, p. 12) the partial or total difference of the dialects of
the Arabs. Their language and letters are copiously treated by Pocock,
(Specimen, p. 150-154,) Casiri, (Bibliot. Hispano-Arabica, tom. i. p.
1, 83, 292, tom. ii. p. 25, &c.,) and Niebuhr, (Description de l'Arabie,
p. 72-36) I pass slightly; I am not fond of repeating words like a

[Footnote 40: A familiar tale in Voltaire's Zadig (le Chien et le
Cheval) is related, to prove the natural sagacity of the Arabs,
(D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 120, 121. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom.
i. p. 37-46: ) but D'Arvieux, or rather La Roque, (Voyage de Palestine,
p. 92,) denies the boasted superiority of the Bedoweens. The one hundred
and sixty-nine sentences of Ali (translated by Ockley, London, 1718)
afford a just and favorable specimen of Arabian wit. * Note: Compare the
Arabic proverbs translated by Burckhardt. London. 1830--M.]

[Footnote 41: Pocock (Specimen, p. 158-161) and Casiri (Bibliot.
Hispano-Arabica, tom. i. p. 48, 84, &c., 119, tom. ii. p. 17, &c.) speak
of the Arabian poets before Mahomet; the seven poems of the Caaba
have been published in English by Sir William Jones; but his honorable
mission to India has deprived us of his own notes, far more interesting
than the obscure and obsolete text.]

[Footnote 42: Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 29, 30]

[Footnote 43: D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 458. Gagnier, Vie de
Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 118. Caab and Hesnus (Pocock, Specimen, p. 43, 46,
48) were likewise conspicuous for their liberality; and the latter
is elegantly praised by an Arabian poet: "Videbis eum cum accesseris
exultantem, ac si dares illi quod ab illo petis." * Note: See the
translation of the amusing Persian romance of Hatim Tai, by Duncan
Forbes, Esq., among the works published by the Oriental Translation

The religion of the Arabs, [44] as well as of the Indians, consisted in
the worship of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars; a primitive and
specious mode of superstition. The bright luminaries of the sky display
the visible image of a Deity: their number and distance convey to a
philosophic, or even a vulgar, eye, the idea of boundless space:
the character of eternity is marked on these solid globes, that seem
incapable of corruption or decay: the regularity of their motions may
be ascribed to a principle of reason or instinct; and their real, or
imaginary, influence encourages the vain belief that the earth and
its inhabitants are the object of their peculiar care. The science of
astronomy was cultivated at Babylon; but the school of the Arabs was
a clear firmament and a naked plain. In their nocturnal marches, they
steered by the guidance of the stars: their names, and order, and daily
station, were familiar to the curiosity and devotion of the Bedoween;
and he was taught by experience to divide, in twenty-eight parts, the
zodiac of the moon, and to bless the constellations who refreshed, with
salutary rains, the thirst of the desert. The reign of the heavenly orbs
could not be extended beyond the visible sphere; and some metaphysical
powers were necessary to sustain the transmigration of souls and the
resurrection of bodies: a camel was left to perish on the grave, that he
might serve his master in another life; and the invocation of departed
spirits implies that they were still endowed with consciousness and
power. I am ignorant, and I am careless, of the blind mythology of the
Barbarians; of the local deities, of the stars, the air, and the earth,
of their sex or titles, their attributes or subordination. Each tribe,
each family, each independent warrior, created and changed the rites and
the object of his fantastic worship; but the nation, in every age, has
bowed to the religion, as well as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine
antiquity of the Caaba ascends beyond the Christian aera; in describing
the coast of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus [45] has
remarked, between the Thamudites and the Sabaeans, a famous temple,
whose superior sanctity was revered by all the Arabians; the linen or
silken veil, which is annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was first
offered by a pious king of the Homerites, who reigned seven hundred
years before the time of Mahomet. [46] A tent, or a cavern, might
suffice for the worship of the savages, but an edifice of stone and clay
has been erected in its place; and the art and power of the monarchs
of the East have been confined to the simplicity of the original model.
[47] A spacious portico encloses the quadrangle of the Caaba; a square
chapel, twenty-four cubits long, twenty-three broad, and twenty-seven
high: a door and a window admit the light; the double roof is supported
by three pillars of wood; a spout (now of gold) discharges the
rain-water, and the well Zemzen is protected by a dome from accidental
pollution. The tribe of Koreish, by fraud and force, had acquired the
custody of the Caaba: the sacerdotal office devolved through four
lineal descents to the grandfather of Mahomet; and the family of the
Hashemites, from whence he sprung, was the most respectable and sacred
in the eyes of their country. [48] The precincts of Mecca enjoyed the
rights of sanctuary; and, in the last month of each year, the city and
the temple were crowded with a long train of pilgrims, who presented
their vows and offerings in the house of God. The same rites which are
now accomplished by the faithful Mussulman, were invented and practised
by the superstition of the idolaters. At an awful distance they cast
away their garments: seven times, with hasty steps, they encircled the
Caaba, and kissed the black stone: seven times they visited and adored
the adjacent mountains; seven times they threw stones into the valley
of Mina; and the pilgrimage was achieved, as at the present hour, by a
sacrifice of sheep and camels, and the burial of their hair and nails
in the consecrated ground. Each tribe either found or introduced in the
Caaba their domestic worship: the temple was adorned, or defiled, with
three hundred and sixty idols of men, eagles, lions, and antelopes; and
most conspicuous was the statue of Hebal, of red agate, holding in
his hand seven arrows, without heads or feathers, the instruments and
symbols of profane divination. But this statue was a monument of Syrian
arts: the devotion of the ruder ages was content with a pillar or a
tablet; and the rocks of the desert were hewn into gods or altars, in
imitation of the black stone [49] of Mecca, which is deeply tainted with
the reproach of an idolatrous origin. From Japan to Peru, the use of
sacrifice has universally prevailed; and the votary has expressed his
gratitude, or fear, by destroying or consuming, in honor of the gods,
the dearest and most precious of their gifts. The life of a man [50] is
the most precious oblation to deprecate a public calamity: the altars of
Phoenicia and Egypt, of Rome and Carthage, have been polluted with human
gore: the cruel practice was long preserved among the Arabs; in the
third century, a boy was annually sacrificed by the tribe of the
Dumatians; [51] and a royal captive was piously slaughtered by the
prince of the Saracens, the ally and soldier of the emperor Justinian.
[52] A parent who drags his son to the altar, exhibits the most painful
and sublime effort of fanaticism: the deed, or the intention, was
sanctified by the example of saints and heroes; and the father of
Mahomet himself was devoted by a rash vow, and hardly ransomed for the
equivalent of a hundred camels. In the time of ignorance, the Arabs,
like the Jews and Egyptians, abstained from the taste of swine's flesh;
[53] they circumcised [54] their children at the age of puberty: the
same customs, without the censure or the precept of the Koran, have
been silently transmitted to their posterity and proselytes. It has
been sagaciously conjectured, that the artful legislator indulged the
stubborn prejudices of his countrymen. It is more simple to believe that
he adhered to the habits and opinions of his youth, without foreseeing
that a practice congenial to the climate of Mecca might become useless
or inconvenient on the banks of the Danube or the Volga.

[Footnote 44: Whatever can now be known of the idolatry of the ancient
Arabians may be found in Pocock, (Specimen, p. 89-136, 163, 164.) His
profound erudition is more clearly and concisely interpreted by Sale,
(Preliminary Discourse, p. 14-24;) and Assemanni (Bibliot. Orient tom.
iv. p. 580-590) has added some valuable remarks.]

[Footnote 45: (Diodor. Sicul. tom. i. l. iii. p. 211.) The character and
position are so correctly apposite, that I am surprised how this curious
passage should have been read without notice or application. Yet this
famous temple had been overlooked by Agatharcides, (de Mari Rubro,
p. 58, in Hudson, tom. i.,) whom Diodorus copies in the rest of the
description. Was the Sicilian more knowing than the Egyptian? Or was the
Caaba built between the years of Rome 650 and 746, the dates of their
respective histories? (Dodwell, in Dissert. ad tom. i. Hudson, p.
72. Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec. tom. ii. p. 770.) * Note: Mr. Forster
(Geography of Arabia, vol. ii. p. 118, et seq.) has raised an objection,
as I think, fatal to this hypothesis of Gibbon. The temple, situated in
the country of the Banizomeneis, was not between the Thamudites and
the Sabaeans, but higher up than the coast inhabited by the former. Mr.
Forster would place it as far north as Moiiah. I am not quite satisfied
that this will agree with the whole description of Diodorus--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 46: Pocock, Specimen, p. 60, 61. From the death of Mahomet we
ascend to 68, from his birth to 129, years before the Christian aera.
The veil or curtain, which is now of silk and gold, was no more than a
piece of Egyptian linen, (Abulfeda, in Vit. Mohammed. c. 6, p. 14.)]

[Footnote 47: The original plan of the Caaba (which is servilely copied
in Sale, the Universal History, &c.) was a Turkish draught, which Reland
(de Religione Mohammedica, p. 113-123) has corrected and explained
from the best authorities. For the description and legend of the Caaba,
consult Pocock, (Specimen, p. 115-122,) the Bibliotheque Orientale
of D'Herbelot, (Caaba, Hagir, Zemzem, &c.,) and Sale (Preliminary
Discourse, p. 114-122.)]

[Footnote 48: Cosa, the fifth ancestor of Mahomet, must have usurped the
Caaba A.D. 440; but the story is differently told by Jannabi, (Gagnier,
Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 65-69,) and by Abulfeda, (in Vit. Moham. c.
6, p. 13.)]

[Footnote 49: In the second century, Maximus of Tyre attributes to the
Arabs the worship of a stone, (Dissert. viii. tom. i. p. 142, edit.
Reiske;) and the reproach is furiously reechoed by the Christians,
(Clemens Alex. in Protreptico, p. 40. Arnobius contra Gentes, l. vi.
p. 246.) Yet these stones were no other than of Syria and Greece, so
renowned in sacred and profane antiquity, (Euseb. Praep. Evangel. l. i.
p. 37. Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 54-56.)]

[Footnote 50: The two horrid subjects are accurately discussed by
the learned Sir John Marsham, (Canon. Chron. p. 76-78, 301-304.)
Sanchoniatho derives the Phoenician sacrifices from the example of
Chronus; but we are ignorant whether Chronus lived before, or after,
Abraham, or indeed whether he lived at all.]

[Footnote 51: The reproach of Porphyry; but he likewise imputes to the
Roman the same barbarous custom, which, A. U. C. 657, had been finally
abolished. Dumaetha, Daumat al Gendai, is noticed by Ptolemy (Tabul.
p. 37, Arabia, p. 9-29) and Abulfeda, (p. 57,) and may be found in
D'Anville's maps, in the mid-desert between Chaibar and Tadmor.]

[Footnote 52: Prcoopius, (de Bell. Persico, l. i. c. 28,) Evagrius,
(l. vi. c. 21,) and Pocock, (Specimen, p. 72, 86,) attest the human
sacrifices of the Arabs in the vith century. The danger and escape of
Abdallah is a tradition rather than a fact, (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet,
tom. i. p. 82-84.)]

[Footnote 53: Suillis carnibus abstinent, says Solinus, (Polyhistor. c.
33,) who copies Pliny (l. viii. c. 68) in the strange supposition, that
hogs can not live in Arabia. The Egyptians were actuated by a natural
and superstitious horror for that unclean beast, (Marsham, Canon. p.
205.) The old Arabians likewise practised, post coitum, the rite of
ablution, (Herodot. l. i. c. 80,) which is sanctified by the Mahometan
law, (Reland, p. 75, &c., Chardin, or rather the Mollah of Shah Abbas,
tom. iv. p. 71, &c.)]

[Footnote 54: The Mahometan doctors are not fond of the subject; yet
they hold circumcision necessary to salvation, and even pretend that
Mahomet was miraculously born without a foreskin, (Pocock, Specimen, p.
319, 320. Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 106, 107.)]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part III.

Arabia was free: the adjacent kingdoms were shaken by the storms of
conquest and tyranny, and the persecuted sects fled to the happy land
where they might profess what they thought, and practise what they
professed. The religions of the Sabians and Magians, of the Jews and
Christians, were disseminated from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. In
a remote period of antiquity, Sabianism was diffused over Asia by the
science of the Chaldaeans [55] and the arms of the Assyrians. From
the observations of two thousand years, the priests and astronomers of
Babylon [56] deduced the eternal laws of nature and providence. They
adored the seven gods or angels, who directed the course of the seven
planets, and shed their irresistible influence on the earth. The
attributes of the seven planets, with the twelve signs of the zodiac,
and the twenty-four constellations of the northern and southern
hemisphere, were represented by images and talismans; the seven days of
the week were dedicated to their respective deities; the Sabians prayed
thrice each day; and the temple of the moon at Haran was the term of
their pilgrimage. [57] But the flexible genius of their faith was always
ready either to teach or to learn: in the tradition of the creation, the
deluge, and the patriarchs, they held a singular agreement with their
Jewish captives; they appealed to the secret books of Adam, Seth, and
Enoch; and a slight infusion of the gospel has transformed the last
remnant of the Polytheists into the Christians of St. John, in the
territory of Bassora. [58] The altars of Babylon were overturned by the
Magians; but the injuries of the Sabians were revenged by the sword of
Alexander; Persia groaned above five hundred years under a foreign yoke;
and the purest disciples of Zoroaster escaped from the contagion of
idolatry, and breathed with their adversaries the freedom of the desert.
[59] Seven hundred years before the death of Mahomet, the Jews were
settled in Arabia; and a far greater multitude was expelled from the
Holy Land in the wars of Titus and Hadrian. The industrious exiles
aspired to liberty and power: they erected synagogues in the cities, and
castles in the wilderness, and their Gentile converts were confounded
with the children of Israel, whom they resembled in the outward mark
of circumcision. The Christian missionaries were still more active and
successful: the Catholics asserted their universal reign; the sects
whom they oppressed, successively retired beyond the limits of the
Roman empire; the Marcionites and Manichaeans dispersed their fantastic
opinions and apocryphal gospels; the churches of Yemen, and the princes
of Hira and Gassan, were instructed in a purer creed by the Jacobite
and Nestorian bishops. [60] The liberty of choice was presented to the
tribes: each Arab was free to elect or to compose his private religion:
and the rude superstition of his house was mingled with the sublime
theology of saints and philosophers. A fundamental article of faith was
inculcated by the consent of the learned strangers; the existence of one
supreme God who is exalted above the powers of heaven and earth, but who
has often revealed himself to mankind by the ministry of his angels
and prophets, and whose grace or justice has interrupted, by seasonable
miracles, the order of nature. The most rational of the Arabs
acknowledged his power, though they neglected his worship; [61] and it
was habit rather than conviction that still attached them to the relics
of idolatry. The Jews and Christians were the people of the Book; the
Bible was already translated into the Arabic language, [62] and the
volume of the Old Testament was accepted by the concord of these
implacable enemies. In the story of the Hebrew patriarchs, the Arabs
were pleased to discover the fathers of their nation. They applauded the
birth and promises of Ismael; revered the faith and virtue of Abraham;
traced his pedigree and their own to the creation of the first man, and
imbibed, with equal credulity, the prodigies of the holy text, and the
dreams and traditions of the Jewish rabbis.

[Footnote 55: Diodorus Siculus (tom. i. l. ii. p. 142-145) has cast
on their religion the curious but superficial glance of a Greek. Their
astronomy would be far more valuable: they had looked through the
telescope of reason, since they could doubt whether the sun were in the
number of the planets or of the fixed stars.]

[Footnote 56: Simplicius, (who quotes Porphyry,) de Coelo, l. ii. com.
xlvi p. 123, lin. 18, apud Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 474, who doubts
the fact, because it is adverse to his systems. The earliest date of
the Chaldaean observations is the year 2234 before Christ. After the
conquest of Babylon by Alexander, they were communicated at the request
of Aristotle, to the astronomer Hipparchus. What a moment in the annals
of science!]

[Footnote 57: Pocock, (Specimen, p. 138-146,) Hottinger, (Hist. Orient.
p. 162-203,) Hyde, (de Religione Vet. Persarum, p. 124, 128, &c.,)
D'Herbelot, (Sabi, p. 725, 726,) and Sale, (Preliminary Discourse, p.
14, 15,) rather excite than gratify our curiosity; and the last of these
writers confounds Sabianism with the primitive religion of the Arabs.]

[Footnote 58: D'Anville (l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 130-137) will
fix the position of these ambiguous Christians; Assemannus (Bibliot.
Oriental. tom. iv. p. 607-614) may explain their tenets. But it is a
slippery task to ascertain the creed of an ignorant people afraid
and ashamed to disclose their secret traditions. * Note: The Codex
Nasiraeus, their sacred book, has been published by Norberg whose
researches contain almost all that is known of this singular people. But
their origin is almost as obscure as ever: if ancient, their creed
has been so corrupted with mysticism and Mahometanism, that its native
lineaments are very indistinct.--M.]

[Footnote 59: The Magi were fixed in the province of Bhrein, (Gagnier,
Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 114,) and mingled with the old Arabians,
(Pocock, Specimen, p. 146-150.)]

[Footnote 60: The state of the Jews and Christians in Arabia is
described by Pocock from Sharestani, &c., (Specimen, p. 60, 134, &c.,)
Hottinger, (Hist. Orient. p. 212-238,) D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient.
p. 474-476,) Basnage, (Hist. des Juifs, tom. vii. p. 185, tom. viii. p.
280,) and Sale, (Preliminary Discourse, p. 22, &c., 33, &c.)]

[Footnote 61: In their offerings, it was a maxim to defraud God for the
profit of the idol, not a more potent, but a more irritable, patron,
(Pocock, Specimen, p. 108, 109.)]

[Footnote 62: Our versions now extant, whether Jewish or Christian,
appear more recent than the Koran; but the existence of a prior
translation may be fairly inferred,--1. From the perpetual practice of
the synagogue of expounding the Hebrew lesson by a paraphrase in the
vulgar tongue of the country; 2. From the analogy of the Armenian,
Persian, Aethiopic versions, expressly quoted by the fathers of the
fifth century, who assert that the Scriptures were translated into all
the Barbaric languages, (Walton, Prolegomena ad Biblia Polyglot, p. 34,
93-97. Simon, Hist. Critique du V. et du N. Testament, tom. i. p. 180,
181, 282-286, 293, 305, 306, tom. iv. p. 206.)]

The base and plebeian origin of Mahomet is an unskilful calumny of
the Christians, [63] who exalt instead of degrading the merit of their
adversary. His descent from Ismael was a national privilege or fable;
but if the first steps of the pedigree [64] are dark and doubtful, he
could produce many generations of pure and genuine nobility: he sprung
from the tribe of Koreish and the family of Hashem, the most illustrious
of the Arabs, the princes of Mecca, and the hereditary guardians of the
Caaba. The grandfather of Mahomet was Abdol Motalleb, the son of Hashem,
a wealthy and generous citizen, who relieved the distress of famine with
the supplies of commerce. Mecca, which had been fed by the liberality
of the father, was saved by the courage of the son. The kingdom of Yemen
was subject to the Christian princes of Abyssinia; their vassal Abrahah
was provoked by an insult to avenge the honor of the cross; and the holy
city was invested by a train of elephants and an army of Africans. A
treaty was proposed; and, in the first audience, the grandfather of
Mahomet demanded the restitution of his cattle. "And why," said Abrahah,
"do you not rather implore my clemency in favor of your temple, which I
have threatened to destroy?" "Because," replied the intrepid chief, "the
cattle is my own; the Caaba belongs to the gods, and they will defend
their house from injury and sacrilege." The want of provisions, or
the valor of the Koreish, compelled the Abyssinians to a disgraceful
retreat: their discomfiture has been adorned with a miraculous flight
of birds, who showered down stones on the heads of the infidels; and the
deliverance was long commemorated by the aera of the elephant. [65] The
glory of Abdol Motalleb was crowned with domestic happiness; his life
was prolonged to the age of one hundred and ten years; and he became the
father of six daughters and thirteen sons. His best beloved Abdallah
was the most beautiful and modest of the Arabian youth; and in the first
night, when he consummated his marriage with Amina, [651] of the noble
race of the Zahrites, two hundred virgins are said to have expired of
jealousy and despair. Mahomet, or more properly Mohammed, the only son
of Abdallah and Amina, was born at Mecca, four years after the death
of Justinian, and two months after the defeat of the Abyssinians, [66]
whose victory would have introduced into the Caaba the religion of the
Christians. In his early infancy, he was deprived of his father, his
mother, and his grandfather; his uncles were strong and numerous; and,
in the division of the inheritance, the orphan's share was reduced to
five camels and an Aethiopian maid-servant. At home and abroad, in peace
and war, Abu Taleb, the most respectable of his uncles, was the guide
and guardian of his youth; in his twenty-fifth year, he entered into the
service of Cadijah, a rich and noble widow of Mecca, who soon rewarded
his fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage
contract, in the simple style of antiquity, recites the mutual love of
Mahomet and Cadijah; describes him as the most accomplished of the tribe
of Koreish; and stipulates a dowry of twelve ounces of gold and twenty
camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his uncle. [67] By
this alliance, the son of Abdallah was restored to the station of
his ancestors; and the judicious matron was content with his domestic
virtues, till, in the fortieth year of his age, [68] he assumed the
title of a prophet, and proclaimed the religion of the Koran.

[Footnote 63: In eo conveniunt omnes, ut plebeio vilique genere ortum,
&c, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 136.) Yet Theophanes, the most ancient
of the Greeks, and the father of many a lie, confesses that Mahomet was
of the race of Ismael, (Chronograph. p. 277.)]

[Footnote 64: Abulfeda (in Vit. Mohammed. c. 1, 2) and Gagnier (Vie de
Mahomet, p. 25-97) describe the popular and approved genealogy of the
prophet. At Mecca, I would not dispute its authenticity: at Lausanne,
I will venture to observe, 1. That from Ismael to Mahomet, a period of
2500 years, they reckon thirty, instead of seventy five, generations: 2.
That the modern Bedoweens are ignorant of their history, and careless
of their pedigree, (Voyage de D'Arvieux p. 100, 103.) * Note: The most
orthodox Mahometans only reckon back the ancestry of the prophet for
twenty generations, to Adnan. Weil, Mohammed der Prophet, p. 1.--M.

[Footnote 65: The seed of this history, or fable, is contained in the
cvth chapter of the Koran; and Gagnier (in Praefat. ad Vit. Moham. p.
18, &c.) has translated the historical narrative of Abulfeda, which may
be illustrated from D'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 12) and Pocock,
(Specimen, p. 64.) Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 48) calls it a lie of
the coinage of Mahomet; but Sale, (Koran, p. 501-503,) who is half a
Mussulman, attacks the inconsistent faith of the Doctor for believing
the miracles of the Delphic Apollo. Maracci (Alcoran, tom. i. part ii.
p. 14, tom. ii. p. 823) ascribes the miracle to the devil, and extorts
from the Mahometans the confession, that God would not have defended
against the Christians the idols of the Caaba. * Note: Dr. Weil says
that the small-pox broke out in the army of Abrahah, but he does not
give his authority, p. 10.--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 651: Amina, or Emina, was of Jewish birth. V. Hammer,
Geschichte der Assass. p. 10.--M.]

[Footnote 66: The safest aeras of Abulfeda, (in Vit. c. i. p. 2,) of
Alexander, or the Greeks, 882, of Bocht Naser, or Nabonassar, 1316,
equally lead us to the year 569. The old Arabian calendar is too dark
and uncertain to support the Benedictines, (Art. de Verifer les Dates,
p. 15,) who, from the day of the month and week, deduce a new mode of
calculation, and remove the birth of Mahomet to the year of Christ 570,
the 10th of November. Yet this date would agree with the year 882 of
the Greeks, which is assigned by Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 5) and
Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 101, and Errata, Pocock's version.) While we
refine our chronology, it is possible that the illiterate prophet was
ignorant of his own age. * Note: The date of the birth of Mahomet is not
yet fixed with precision. It is only known from Oriental authors that
he was born on a Monday, the 10th Reby 1st, the third month of the
Mahometan year; the year 40 or 42 of Chosroes Nushirvan, king of Persia;
the year 881 of the Seleucidan aera; the year 1316 of the aera of
Nabonassar. This leaves the point undecided between the years 569, 570,
571, of J. C. See the Memoir of M. Silv. de Sacy, on divers events in
the history of the Arabs before Mahomet, Mem. Acad. des Loscript. vol.
xlvii. p. 527, 531. St. Martin, vol. xi. p. 59.--M. ----Dr. Weil decides
on A.D. 571. Mahomet died in 632, aged 63; but the Arabs reckoned his
life by lunar years, which reduces his life nearly to 61 (p. 21.)--M.

[Footnote 67: I copy the honorable testimony of Abu Taleb to his family
and nephew. Laus Dei, qui nos a stirpe Abrahami et semine Ismaelis
constituit, et nobis regionem sacram dedit, et nos judices hominibus
statuit. Porro Mohammed filius Abdollahi nepotis mei (nepos meus) quo
cum ex aequo librabitur e Koraishidis quispiam cui non praeponderaturus
est, bonitate et excellentia, et intellectu et gloria, et acumine etsi
opum inops fuerit, (et certe opes umbra transiens sunt et depositum
quod reddi debet,) desiderio Chadijae filiae Chowailedi tenetur, et
illa vicissim ipsius, quicquid autem dotis vice petieritis, ego in me
suscipiam, (Pocock, Specimen, e septima parte libri Ebn Hamduni.)]

[Footnote 68: The private life of Mahomet, from his birth to his
mission, is preserved by Abulfeda, (in Vit. c. 3-7,) and the Arabian
writers of genuine or apocryphal note, who are alleged by Hottinger,
(Hist. Orient. p. 204-211) Maracci, (tom. i. p. 10-14,) and Gagnier,
(Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 97-134.)]

According to the tradition of his companions, Mahomet [69] was
distinguished by the beauty of his person, an outward gift which is
seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused. Before
he spoke, the orator engaged on his side the affections of a public or
private audience. They applauded his commanding presence, his majestic
aspect, his piercing eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his
countenance that painted every sensation of the soul, and his gestures
that enforced each expression of the tongue. In the familiar offices of
life he scrupulously adhered to the grave and ceremonious politeness
of his country: his respectful attention to the rich and powerful was
dignified by his condescension and affability to the poorest citizens of
Mecca: the frankness of his manner concealed the artifice of his views;
and the habits of courtesy were imputed to personal friendship or
universal benevolence. His memory was capacious and retentive; his wit
easy and social; his imagination sublime; his judgment clear, rapid,
and decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action; and,
although his designs might gradually expand with his success, the first
idea which he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of an
original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was educated in the
bosom of the noblest race, in the use of the purest dialect of Arabia;
and the fluency of his speech was corrected and enhanced by the practice
of discreet and seasonable silence. With these powers of eloquence,
Mahomet was an illiterate Barbarian: his youth had never been instructed
in the arts of reading and writing; [70] the common ignorance exempted
him from shame or reproach, but he was reduced to a narrow circle of
existence, and deprived of those faithful mirrors, which reflect to our
mind the minds of sages and heroes. Yet the book of nature and of man
was open to his view; and some fancy has been indulged in the political
and philosophical observations which are ascribed to the Arabian
traveller. [71] He compares the nations and the regions of the earth;
discovers the weakness of the Persian and Roman monarchies; beholds,
with pity and indignation, the degeneracy of the times; and resolves
to unite under one God and one king the invincible spirit and primitive
virtues of the Arabs. Our more accurate inquiry will suggest, that,
instead of visiting the courts, the camps, the temples, of the East, the
two journeys of Mahomet into Syria were confined to the fairs of Bostra
and Damascus; that he was only thirteen years of age when he accompanied
the caravan of his uncle; and that his duty compelled him to return as
soon as he had disposed of the merchandise of Cadijah. In these hasty
and superficial excursions, the eye of genius might discern some objects
invisible to his grosser companions; some seeds of knowledge might be
cast upon a fruitful soil; but his ignorance of the Syriac language
must have checked his curiosity; and I cannot perceive, in the life
or writings of Mahomet, that his prospect was far extended beyond the
limits of the Arabian world. From every region of that solitary world,
the pilgrims of Mecca were annually assembled, by the calls of devotion
and commerce: in the free concourse of multitudes, a simple citizen, in
his native tongue, might study the political state and character of the
tribes, the theory and practice of the Jews and Christians. Some
useful strangers might be tempted, or forced, to implore the rights of
hospitality; and the enemies of Mahomet have named the Jew, the Persian,
and the Syrian monk, whom they accuse of lending their secret aid to the
composition of the Koran. [72] Conversation enriches the understanding,
but solitude is the school of genius; and the uniformity of a work
denotes the hand of a single artist. From his earliest youth Mahomet
was addicted to religious contemplation; each year, during the month of
Ramadan, he withdrew from the world, and from the arms of Cadijah: in
the cave of Hera, three miles from Mecca, [73] he consulted the spirit
of fraud or enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens, but in
the mind of the prophet. The faith which, under the name of Islam, he
preached to his family and nation, is compounded of an eternal truth,
and a necessary fiction, That there is only one God, and that Mahomet is
the apostle of God.

[Footnote 69: Abulfeda, in Vit. c. lxv. lxvi. Gagnier, Vie de
Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 272-289. The best traditions of the person
and conversation of the prophet are derived from Ayesha, Ali, and Abu
Horaira, (Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 267. Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol.
ii. p. 149,) surnamed the Father of a Cat, who died in the year 59 of
the Hegira. * Note: Compare, likewise, the new Life of Mahomet (Mohammed
der prophet) by Dr. Weil, (Stuttgart, 1843.) Dr. Weil has a new
tradition, that Mahomet was at one time a shepherd. This assimilation
to the life of Moses, instead of giving probability to the story, as Dr.
Weil suggests, makes it more suspicious. Note, p. 34.--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 70: Those who believe that Mahomet could read or write are
incapable of reading what is written with another pen, in the Suras, or
chapters of the Koran, vii. xxix. xcvi. These texts, and the tradition
of the Sonna, are admitted, without doubt, by Abulfeda, (in Vit. vii.,)
Gagnier, (Not. ad Abulfed. p. 15,) Pocock, (Specimen, p. 151,) Reland,
(de Religione Mohammedica, p. 236,) and Sale, (Preliminary Discourse,
p. 42.) Mr. White, almost alone, denies the ignorance, to accuse the
imposture, of the prophet. His arguments are far from satisfactory. Two
short trading journeys to the fairs of Syria were surely not sufficient
to infuse a science so rare among the citizens of Mecca: it was not in
the cool, deliberate act of treaty, that Mahomet would have dropped
the mask; nor can any conclusion be drawn from the words of disease
and delirium. The lettered youth, before he aspired to the prophetic
character, must have often exercised, in private life, the arts of
reading and writing; and his first converts, of his own family, would
have been the first to detect and upbraid his scandalous hypocrisy,
(White's Sermons, p. 203, 204, Notes, p. xxxvi.--xxxviii.) * Note:
(Academ. des Inscript. I. p. 295) has observed that the text of the
seveth Sura implies that Mahomet could read, the tradition alone denies
it, and, according to Dr. Weil, (p. 46,) there is another reading of
the tradition, that "he could not read well." Dr. Weil is not quite so
successful in explaining away Sura xxix. It means, he thinks that he had
not read any books, from which he could have borrowed.--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 71: The count de Boulainvilliers (Vie de Mahomet, p. 202-228)
leads his Arabian pupil, like the Telemachus of Fenelon, or the Cyrus of
Ramsay. His journey to the court of Persia is probably a fiction nor
can I trace the origin of his exclamation, "Les Grecs sont pour tant des
hommes." The two Syrian journeys are expressed by almost all the Arabian
writers, both Mahometans and Christians, (Gagnier Abulfed. p. 10.)]

[Footnote 72: I am not at leisure to pursue the fables or conjectures
which name the strangers accused or suspected by the infidels of Mecca,
(Koran, c. 16, p. 223, c. 35, p. 297, with Sale's Remarks. Prideaux's
Life of Mahomet, p. 22-27. Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. p. 11, 74.
Maracci, tom. ii. p. 400.) Even Prideaux has observed, that the
transaction must have been secret, and that the scene lay in the heart
of Arabia.]

[Footnote 73: Abulfeda in Vit. c. 7, p. 15. Gagnier, tom. i. p. 133,
135. The situation of Mount Hera is remarked by Abulfeda (Geograph. Arab
p. 4.) Yet Mahomet had never read of the cave of Egeria, ubi nocturnae
Numa constituebat amicae, of the Idaean Mount, where Minos conversed
with Jove, &c.]

It is the boast of the Jewish apologists, that while the learned nations
of antiquity were deluded by the fables of polytheism, their simple
ancestors of Palestine preserved the knowledge and worship of the true
God. The moral attributes of Jehovah may not easily be reconciled with
the standard of human virtue: his metaphysical qualities are darkly
expressed; but each page of the Pentateuch and the Prophets is an
evidence of his power: the unity of his name is inscribed on the first
table of the law; and his sanctuary was never defiled by any visible
image of the invisible essence. After the ruin of the temple, the
faith of the Hebrew exiles was purified, fixed, and enlightened, by the
spiritual devotion of the synagogue; and the authority of Mahomet will
not justify his perpetual reproach, that the Jews of Mecca or Medina
adored Ezra as the son of God. [74] But the children of Israel had
ceased to be a people; and the religions of the world were guilty,
at least in the eyes of the prophet, of giving sons, or daughters, or
companions, to the supreme God. In the rude idolatry of the Arabs, the
crime is manifest and audacious: the Sabians are poorly excused by the
preeminence of the first planet, or intelligence, in their celestial
hierarchy; and in the Magian system the conflict of the two principles
betrays the imperfection of the conqueror. The Christians of the seventh
century had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of Paganism: their
public and private vows were addressed to the relics and images that
disgraced the temples of the East: the throne of the Almighty was
darkened by a cloud of martyrs, and saints, and angels, the objects of
popular veneration; and the Collyridian heretics, who flourished in
the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and
honors of a goddess. [75] The mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation
appear to contradict the principle of the divine unity. In their obvious
sense, they introduce three equal deities, and transform the man Jesus
into the substance of the Son of God: [76] an orthodox commentary will
satisfy only a believing mind: intemperate curiosity and zeal had torn
the veil of the sanctuary; and each of the Oriental sects was eager to
confess that all, except themselves, deserved the reproach of idolatry
and polytheism. The creed of Mahomet is free from suspicion or
ambiguity; and the Koran is a glorious testimony to the unity of God.
The prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and
planets, on the rational principle that whatever rises must set, that
whatever is born must die, that whatever is corruptible must decay and
perish. [77] In the Author of the universe, his rational enthusiasm
confessed and adored an infinite and eternal being, without form or
place, without issue or similitude, present to our most secret thoughts,
existing by the necessity of his own nature, and deriving from himself
all moral and intellectual perfection. These sublime truths, thus
announced in the language of the prophet, [78] are firmly held by his
disciples, and defined with metaphysical precision by the interpreters
of the Koran. A philosophic theist might subscribe the popular creed
of the Mahometans; [79] a creed too sublime, perhaps, for our present
faculties. What object remains for the fancy, or even the understanding,
when we have abstracted from the unknown substance all ideas of time
and space, of motion and matter, of sensation and reflection? The
first principle of reason and revolution was confirmed by the voice of
Mahomet: his proselytes, from India to Morocco, are distinguished by the
name of Unitarians; and the danger of idolatry has been prevented by
the interdiction of images. The doctrine of eternal decrees and
absolute predestination is strictly embraced by the Mahometans; and they
struggle, with the common difficulties, how to reconcile the prescience
of God with the freedom and responsibility of man; how to explain
the permission of evil under the reign of infinite power and infinite

[Footnote 74: Koran, c. 9, p. 153. Al Beidawi, and the other
commentators quoted by Sale, adhere to the charge; but I do not
understand that it is colored by the most obscure or absurd tradition of
the Talmud.]

[Footnote 75: Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 225-228. The Collyridian
heresy was carried from Thrace to Arabia by some women, and the name was
borrowed from the cake, which they offered to the goddess. This example,
that of Beryllus bishop of Bostra, (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. vi. c. 33,)
and several others, may excuse the reproach, Arabia haerese haersewn

[Footnote 76: The three gods in the Koran (c. 4, p. 81, c. 5, p. 92)
are obviously directed against our Catholic mystery: but the Arabic
commentators understand them of the Father, the Son, and the Virgin
Mary, an heretical Trinity, maintained, as it is said, by some
Barbarians at the Council of Nice, (Eutych. Annal. tom. i. p. 440.)
But the existence of the Marianites is denied by the candid Beausobre,
(Hist. de Manicheisme, tom. i. p. 532;) and he derives the mistake from
the word Roxah, the Holy Ghost, which in some Oriental tongues is of the
feminine gender, and is figuratively styled the mother of Christ in the
Gospel of the Nazarenes.]

[Footnote 77: This train of thought is philosophically exemplified in
the character of Abraham, who opposed in Chaldaea the first introduction
of idolatry, (Koran, c. 6, p. 106. D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 13.)]

[Footnote 78: See the Koran, particularly the second, (p. 30,) the
fifty-seventh, (p. 437,) the fifty-eighth (p. 441) chapters, which
proclaim the omnipotence of the Creator.]

[Footnote 79: The most orthodox creeds are translated by Pocock,
(Specimen, p. 274, 284-292,) Ockley, (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii.
p. lxxxii.--xcv.,) Reland, (de Religion. Moham. l. i. p. 7-13,) and
Chardin, (Voyages en Perse, tom. iv. p. 4-28.) The great truth, that
God is without similitude, is foolishly criticized by Maracci, (Alcoran,
tom. i. part iii. p. 87-94,) because he made man after his own image.]

The God of nature has written his existence on all his works, and his
law in the heart of man. To restore the knowledge of the one, and
the practice of the other, has been the real or pretended aim of
the prophets of every age: the liberality of Mahomet allowed to his
predecessors the same credit which he claimed for himself; and the chain
of inspiration was prolonged from the fall of Adam to the promulgation
of the Koran. [80] During that period, some rays of prophetic light
had been imparted to one hundred and twenty-four thousand of the elect,
discriminated by their respective measure of virtue and grace; three
hundred and thirteen apostles were sent with a special commission
to recall their country from idolatry and vice; one hundred and four
volumes have been dictated by the Holy Spirit; and six legislators of
transcendent brightness have announced to mankind the six successive
revelations of various rites, but of one immutable religion. The
authority and station of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and
Mahomet, rise in just gradation above each other; but whosoever hates
or rejects any one of the prophets is numbered with the infidels. The
writings of the patriarchs were extant only in the apocryphal copies of
the Greeks and Syrians: [81] the conduct of Adam had not entitled him
to the gratitude or respect of his children; the seven precepts of Noah
were observed by an inferior and imperfect class of the proselytes of
the synagogue; [82] and the memory of Abraham was obscurely revered by
the Sabians in his native land of Chaldaea: of the myriads of prophets,
Moses and Christ alone lived and reigned; and the remnant of the
inspired writings was comprised in the books of the Old and the New
Testament. The miraculous story of Moses is consecrated and embellished
in the Koran; [83] and the captive Jews enjoy the secret revenge of
imposing their own belief on the nations whose recent creeds they
deride. For the author of Christianity, the Mahometans are taught by
the prophet to entertain a high and mysterious reverence. [84] "Verily,
Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, is the apostle of God, and his word,
which he conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from him; honorable
in this world, and in the world to come, and one of those who approach
near to the presence of God." [85] The wonders of the genuine and
apocryphal gospels [86] are profusely heaped on his head; and the
Latin church has not disdained to borrow from the Koran the immaculate
conception [87] of his virgin mother. Yet Jesus was a mere mortal; and,
at the day of judgment, his testimony will serve to condemn both the
Jews, who reject him as a prophet, and the Christians, who adore him as
the Son of God. The malice of his enemies aspersed his reputation,
and conspired against his life; but their intention only was guilty;
a phantom or a criminal was substituted on the cross; and the innocent
saint was translated to the seventh heaven. [88] During six hundred
years the gospel was the way of truth and salvation; but the Christians
insensibly forgot both the laws and example of their founder; and
Mahomet was instructed by the Gnostics to accuse the church, as well as
the synagogue, of corrupting the integrity of the sacred text. [89]
The piety of Moses and of Christ rejoiced in the assurance of a future
prophet, more illustrious than themselves: the evangelical promise
of the Paraclete, or Holy Ghost, was prefigured in the name, and
accomplished in the person, of Mahomet, [90] the greatest and the last
of the apostles of God.

[Footnote 80: Reland, de Relig. Moham. l. i. p. 17-47. Sale's
Preliminary Discourse, p. 73-76. Voyage de Chardin, tom. iv. p. 28-37,
and 37-47, for the Persian addition, "Ali is the vicar of God!" Yet the
precise number of the prophets is not an article of faith.]

[Footnote 81: For the apocryphal books of Adam, see Fabricius, Codex
Pseudepigraphus V. T. p. 27-29; of Seth, p. 154-157; of Enoch, p.
160-219. But the book of Enoch is consecrated, in some measure, by
the quotation of the apostle St. Jude; and a long legendary fragment is
alleged by Syncellus and Scaliger. * Note: The whole book has since been
recovered in the Ethiopic language,--and has been edited and translated
by Archbishop Lawrence, Oxford, 1881--M.]

[Footnote 82: The seven precepts of Noah are explained by Marsham,
(Canon Chronicus, p. 154-180,) who adopts, on this occasion, the
learning and credulity of Selden.]

[Footnote 83: The articles of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, &c., in the
Bibliotheque of D'Herbelot, are gayly bedecked with the fanciful legends
of the Mahometans, who have built on the groundwork of Scripture and the

[Footnote 84: Koran, c. 7, p. 128, &c., c. 10, p. 173, &c. D'Herbelot,
p. 647, &c.]

[Footnote 85: Koran, c. 3, p. 40, c. 4. p. 80. D'Herbelot, p. 399, &c.]

[Footnote 86: See the Gospel of St. Thomas, or of the Infancy, in
the Codex Apocryphus N. T. of Fabricius, who collects the various
testimonies concerning it, (p. 128-158.) It was published in Greek by
Cotelier, and in Arabic by Sike, who thinks our present copy more recent
than Mahomet. Yet his quotations agree with the original about the
speech of Christ in his cradle, his living birds of clay, &c. (Sike, c.
i. p. 168, 169, c. 36, p. 198, 199, c. 46, p. 206. Cotelier, c. 2, p.
160, 161.)]

[Footnote 87: It is darkly hinted in the Koran, (c. 3, p. 39,) and more
clearly explained by the tradition of the Sonnites, (Sale's Note,
and Maracci, tom. ii. p. 112.) In the xiith century, the immaculate
conception was condemned by St. Bernard as a presumptuous novelty, (Fra
Paolo, Istoria del Concilio di Trento, l. ii.)]

[Footnote 88: See the Koran, c. 3, v. 53, and c. 4, v. 156, of Maracci's
edition. Deus est praestantissimus dolose agentium (an odd praise)...
nec crucifixerunt eum, sed objecta est eis similitudo; an expression
that may suit with the system of the Docetes; but the commentators
believe (Maracci, tom. ii. p. 113-115, 173. Sale, p. 42, 43, 79) that
another man, a friend or an enemy, was crucified in the likeness of
Jesus; a fable which they had read in the Gospel of St. Barnabus,
and which had been started as early as the time of Irenaeus, by some
Ebionite heretics, (Beausobre, Hist. du Manicheisme, tom. ii. p. 25,
Mosheim. de Reb. Christ. p. 353.)]

[Footnote 89: This charge is obscurely urged in the Koran, (c. 3, p.
45;) but neither Mahomet, nor his followers, are sufficiently versed in
languages and criticism to give any weight or color to their suspicions.
Yet the Arians and Nestorians could relate some stories, and the
illiterate prophet might listen to the bold assertions of the
Manichaeans. See Beausobre, tom. i. p. 291-305.]

[Footnote 90: Among the prophecies of the Old and New Testament, which
are perverted by the fraud or ignorance of the Mussulmans, they apply to
the prophet the promise of the Paraclete, or Comforter, which had been
already usurped by the Montanists and Manichaeans, (Beausobre, Hist.
Critique du Manicheisme, tom. i. p. 263, &c.;) and the easy change of
letters affords the etymology of the name of Mohammed, (Maracci, tom. i.
part i. p. 15-28.)]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part IV.

The communication of ideas requires a similitude of thought and
language: the discourse of a philosopher would vibrate without effect
on the ear of a peasant; yet how minute is the distance of their
understandings, if it be compared with the contact of an infinite and a
finite mind, with the word of God expressed by the tongue or the pen of
a mortal! The inspiration of the Hebrew prophets, of the apostles and
evangelists of Christ, might not be incompatible with the exercise of
their reason and memory; and the diversity of their genius is strongly
marked in the style and composition of the books of the Old and New
Testament. But Mahomet was content with a character, more humble, yet
more sublime, of a simple editor; the substance of the Koran, [91]
according to himself or his disciples, is uncreated and eternal;
subsisting in the essence of the Deity, and inscribed with a pen of
light on the table of his everlasting decrees. A paper copy, in a volume
of silk and gems, was brought down to the lowest heaven by the angel
Gabriel, who, under the Jewish economy, had indeed been despatched
on the most important errands; and this trusty messenger successively
revealed the chapters and verses to the Arabian prophet. Instead of a
perpetual and perfect measure of the divine will, the fragments of the
Koran were produced at the discretion of Mahomet; each revelation
is suited to the emergencies of his policy or passion; and all
contradiction is removed by the saving maxim, that any text of Scripture
is abrogated or modified by any subsequent passage. The word of God, and
of the apostle, was diligently recorded by his disciples on palm-leaves
and the shoulder-bones of mutton; and the pages, without order or
connection, were cast into a domestic chest, in the custody of one of
his wives. Two years after the death of Mahomet, the sacred volume was
collected and published by his friend and successor Abubeker: the work
was revised by the caliph Othman, in the thirtieth year of the Hegira;
and the various editions of the Koran assert the same miraculous
privilege of a uniform and incorruptible text. In the spirit of
enthusiasm or vanity, the prophet rests the truth of his mission on the
merit of his book; audaciously challenges both men and angels to imitate
the beauties of a single page; and presumes to assert that God alone
could dictate this incomparable performance. [92] This argument is most
powerfully addressed to a devout Arabian, whose mind is attuned to faith
and rapture; whose ear is delighted by the music of sounds; and whose
ignorance is incapable of comparing the productions of human genius.
[93] The harmony and copiousness of style will not reach, in a version,
the European infidel: he will peruse with impatience the endless
incoherent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which seldom
excites a sentiment or an idea, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and
is sometimes lost in the clouds. The divine attributes exalt the fancy
of the Arabian missionary; but his loftiest strains must yield to the
sublime simplicity of the book of Job, composed in a remote age, in the
same country, and in the same language. [94] If the composition of the
Koran exceed the faculties of a man to what superior intelligence should
we ascribe the Iliad of Homer, or the Philippics of Demosthenes? In all
religions, the life of the founder supplies the silence of his written
revelation: the sayings of Mahomet were so many lessons of truth; his
actions so many examples of virtue; and the public and private memorials
were preserved by his wives and companions. At the end of two hundred
years, the Sonna, or oral law, was fixed and consecrated by the
labors of Al Bochari, who discriminated seven thousand two hundred and
seventy-five genuine traditions, from a mass of three hundred thousand
reports, of a more doubtful or spurious character. Each day the pious
author prayed in the temple of Mecca, and performed his ablutions with
the water of Zemzem: the pages were successively deposited on the pulpit
and the sepulchre of the apostle; and the work has been approved by the
four orthodox sects of the Sonnites. [95]

[Footnote 91: For the Koran, see D'Herbelot, p. 85-88. Maracci, tom. i.
in Vit. Mohammed. p. 32-45. Sale, Preliminary Discourse, p. 58-70.]

[Footnote 92: Koran, c. 17, v. 89. In Sale, p. 235, 236. In Maracci, p.
410. * Note: Compare Von Hammer Geschichte der Assassinen p. 11.-M.]

[Footnote 93: Yet a sect of Arabians was persuaded, that it might be
equalled or surpassed by a human pen, (Pocock, Specimen, p. 221, &c.;)
and Maracci (the polemic is too hard for the translator) derides the
rhyming affectation of the most applauded passage, (tom. i. part ii. p.

[Footnote 94: Colloquia (whether real or fabulous) in media Arabia
atque ab Arabibus habita, (Lowth, de Poesi Hebraeorum. Praelect. xxxii.
xxxiii. xxxiv, with his German editor, Michaelis, Epimetron iv.)
Yet Michaelis (p. 671-673) has detected many Egyptian images, the
elephantiasis, papyrus, Nile, crocodile, &c. The language is ambiguously
styled Arabico-Hebraea. The resemblance of the sister dialects was much
more visible in their childhood, than in their mature age, (Michaelis,
p. 682. Schultens, in Praefat. Job.) * Note: The age of the book of Job
is still and probably will still be disputed. Rosenmuller thus states
his own opinion: "Certe serioribus reipublicae temporibus assignandum
esse librum, suadere videtur ad Chaldaismum vergens sermo." Yet the
observations of Kosegarten, which Rosenmuller has given in a note, and
common reason, suggest that this Chaldaism may be the native form of
a much earlier dialect; or the Chaldaic may have adopted the poetical
archaisms of a dialect, differing from, but not less ancient than, the
Hebrew. See Rosenmuller, Proleg. on Job, p. 41. The poetry appears to me
to belong to a much earlier period.--M.]

[Footnote 95: Ali Bochari died A. H. 224. See D'Herbelot, p. 208, 416,
827. Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. c. 19, p. 33.]

The mission of the ancient prophets, of Moses and of Jesus had been
confirmed by many splendid prodigies; and Mahomet was repeatedly urged,
by the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, to produce a similar evidence of
his divine legation; to call down from heaven the angel or the volume
of his revelation, to create a garden in the desert, or to kindle a
conflagration in the unbelieving city. As often as he is pressed by
the demands of the Koreish, he involves himself in the obscure boast of
vision and prophecy, appeals to the internal proofs of his doctrine, and
shields himself behind the providence of God, who refuses those signs
and wonders that would depreciate the merit of faith, and aggravate
the guilt of infidelity But the modest or angry tone of his apologies
betrays his weakness and vexation; and these passages of scandal
established, beyond suspicion, the integrity of the Koran. [96] The
votaries of Mahomet are more assured than himself of his miraculous
gifts; and their confidence and credulity increase as they are farther
removed from the time and place of his spiritual exploits. They believe
or affirm that trees went forth to meet him; that he was saluted by
stones; that water gushed from his fingers; that he fed the hungry,
cured the sick, and raised the dead; that a beam groaned to him; that a
camel complained to him; that a shoulder of mutton informed him of its
being poisoned; and that both animate and inanimate nature were equally
subject to the apostle of God. [97] His dream of a nocturnal journey is
seriously described as a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious
animal, the Borak, conveyed him from the temple of Mecca to that of
Jerusalem: with his companion Gabriel he successively ascended the seven
heavens, and received and repaid the salutations of the patriarchs,
the prophets, and the angels, in their respective mansions. Beyond the
seventh heaven, Mahomet alone was permitted to proceed; he passed the
veil of unity, approached within two bow-shots of the throne, and felt a
cold that pierced him to the heart, when his shoulder was touched by
the hand of God. After this familiar, though important conversation, he
again descended to Jerusalem, remounted the Borak, returned to Mecca,
and performed in the tenth part of a night the journey of many thousand
years. [98] According to another legend, the apostle confounded in a
national assembly the malicious challenge of the Koreish. His resistless
word split asunder the orb of the moon: the obedient planet stooped from
her station in the sky, accomplished the seven revolutions round the
Caaba, saluted Mahomet in the Arabian tongue, and, suddenly contracting
her dimensions, entered at the collar, and issued forth through the
sleeve, of his shirt. [99] The vulgar are amused with these marvellous
tales; but the gravest of the Mussulman doctors imitate the modesty of
their master, and indulge a latitude of faith or interpretation. [100]
They might speciously allege, that in preaching the religion it was
needless to violate the harmony of nature; that a creed unclouded with
mystery may be excused from miracles; and that the sword of Mahomet was
not less potent than the rod of Moses.

[Footnote 96: See, more remarkably, Koran, c. 2, 6, 12, 13, 17. Prideaux
(Life of Mahomet, p. 18, 19) has confounded the impostor. Maracci, with
a more learned apparatus, has shown that the passages which deny his
miracles are clear and positive, (Alcoran, tom. i. part ii. p. 7-12,)
and those which seem to assert them are ambiguous and insufficient, (p.

[Footnote 97: See the Specimen Hist. Arabum, the text of Abulpharagius,
p. 17, the notes of Pocock, p. 187-190. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque
Orientale, p. 76, 77. Voyages de Chardin, tom. iv. p. 200-203. Maracci
(Alcoran, tom. i. p. 22-64) has most laboriously collected and confuted
the miracles and prophecies of Mahomet, which, according to some
writers, amount to three thousand.]

[Footnote 98: The nocturnal journey is circumstantially related by
Abulfeda (in Vit. Mohammed, c. 19, p. 33,) who wishes to think it a
vision; by Prideaux, (p. 31-40,) who aggravates the absurdities; and
by Gagnier (tom. i. p. 252-343,) who declares, from the zealous Al
Jannabi, that to deny this journey, is to disbelieve the Koran. Yet the
Koran without naming either heaven, or Jerusalem, or Mecca, has only
dropped a mysterious hint: Laus illi qui transtulit servum suum ab
oratorio Haram ad oratorium remotissimum, (Koran, c. 17, v. 1; in
Maracci, tom. ii. p. 407; for Sale's version is more licentious.) A
slender basis for the aerial structure of tradition.]

[Footnote 99: In the prophetic style, which uses the present or past for
the future, Mahomet had said, Appropinquavit hora, et scissa est luna,
(Koran, c. 54, v. 1; in Maracci, tom. ii. p. 688.) This figure of
rhetoric has been converted into a fact, which is said to be attested
by the most respectable eye-witnesses, (Maracci, tom. ii. p. 690.) The
festival is still celebrated by the Persians, (Chardin, tom. iv. p.
201;) and the legend is tediously spun out by Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet,
tom. i. p. 183-234,) on the faith, as it should seem, of the credulous
Al Jannabi. Yet a Mahometan doctor has arraigned the credit of
the principal witness, (apud Pocock, Specimen, p. 187;) the best
interpreters are content with the simple sense of the Koran. (Al
Beidawi, apud Hottinger, Hist. Orient. l. ii. p. 302;) and the silence
of Abulfeda is worthy of a prince and a philosopher. * Note: Compare
Hamaker Notes to Inc. Auct. Lib. de Exped. Memphides, p. 62--M.]

[Footnote 100: Abulpharagius, in Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 17; and his
scepticism is justified in the notes of Pocock, p. 190-194, from the
purest authorities.]

The polytheist is oppressed and distracted by the variety of
superstition: a thousand rites of Egyptian origin were interwoven
with the essence of the Mosaic law; and the spirit of the gospel had
evaporated in the pageantry of the church. The prophet of Mecca was
tempted by prejudice, or policy, or patriotism, to sanctify the rites
of the Arabians, and the custom of visiting the holy stone of the
Caaba. But the precepts of Mahomet himself inculcates a more simple and
rational piety: prayer, fasting, and alms, are the religious duties of a
Mussulman; and he is encouraged to hope, that prayer will carry him half
way to God, fasting will bring him to the door of his palace, and alms
will gain him admittance. [101] I. According to the tradition of the
nocturnal journey, the apostle, in his personal conference with the
Deity, was commanded to impose on his disciples the daily obligation of
fifty prayers. By the advice of Moses, he applied for an alleviation
of this intolerable burden; the number was gradually reduced to five;
without any dispensation of business or pleasure, or time or place:
the devotion of the faithful is repeated at daybreak, at noon, in the
afternoon, in the evening, and at the first watch of the night; and in
the present decay of religious fervor, our travellers are edified by the
profound humility and attention of the Turks and Persians. Cleanliness
is the key of prayer: the frequent lustration of the hands, the face,
and the body, which was practised of old by the Arabs, is solemnly
enjoined by the Koran; and a permission is formally granted to
supply with sand the scarcity of water. The words and attitudes of
supplication, as it is performed either sitting, or standing, or
prostrate on the ground, are prescribed by custom or authority; but the
prayer is poured forth in short and fervent ejaculations; the measure of
zeal is not exhausted by a tedious liturgy; and each Mussulman for
his own person is invested with the character of a priest. Among the
theists, who reject the use of images, it has been found necessary
to restrain the wanderings of the fancy, by directing the eye and the
thought towards a kebla, or visible point of the horizon. The prophet
was at first inclined to gratify the Jews by the choice of Jerusalem;
but he soon returned to a more natural partiality; and five times every
day the eyes of the nations at Astracan, at Fez, at Delhi, are devoutly
turned to the holy temple of Mecca. Yet every spot for the service of
God is equally pure: the Mahometans indifferently pray in their chamber
or in the street. As a distinction from the Jews and Christians, the
Friday in each week is set apart for the useful institution of public
worship: the people is assembled in the mosch; and the imam, some
respectable elder, ascends the pulpit, to begin the prayer and pronounce
the sermon. But the Mahometan religion is destitute of priesthood or
sacrifice; and the independent spirit of fanaticism looks down with
contempt on the ministers and the slaves of superstition. [1011]

II. The voluntary [102] penance of the ascetics, the torment and glory
of their lives, was odious to a prophet who censured in his companions
a rash vow of abstaining from flesh, and women, and sleep; and firmly
declared, that he would suffer no monks in his religion. [103] Yet
he instituted, in each year, a fast of thirty days; and strenuously
recommended the observance as a discipline which purifies the soul and
subdues the body, as a salutary exercise of obedience to the will of
God and his apostle. During the month of Ramadan, from the rising to the
setting of the sun, the Mussulman abstains from eating, and drinking,
and women, and baths, and perfumes; from all nourishment that can
restore his strength, from all pleasure that can gratify his senses. In
the revolution of the lunar year, the Ramadan coincides, by turns, with
the winter cold and the summer heat; and the patient martyr, without
assuaging his thirst with a drop of water, must expect the close of
a tedious and sultry day. The interdiction of wine, peculiar to some
orders of priests or hermits, is converted by Mahomet alone into a
positive and general law; [104] and a considerable portion of the globe
has abjured, at his command, the use of that salutary, though dangerous,
liquor. These painful restraints are, doubtless, infringed by the
libertine, and eluded by the hypocrite; but the legislator, by whom they
are enacted, cannot surely be accused of alluring his proselytes by
the indulgence of their sensual appetites. III. The charity of the
Mahometans descends to the animal creation; and the Koran repeatedly
inculcates, not as a merit, but as a strict and indispensable duty, the
relief of the indigent and unfortunate. Mahomet, perhaps, is the only
lawgiver who has defined the precise measure of charity: the standard
may vary with the degree and nature of property, as it consists either
in money, in corn or cattle, in fruits or merchandise; but the Mussulman
does not accomplish the law, unless he bestows a tenth of his revenue;
and if his conscience accuses him of fraud or extortion, the tenth,
under the idea of restitution, is enlarged to a fifth. [105] Benevolence
is the foundation of justice, since we are forbid to injure those whom
we are bound to assist. A prophet may reveal the secrets of heaven and
of futurity; but in his moral precepts he can only repeat the lessons of
our own hearts.

[Footnote 101: The most authentic account of these precepts, pilgrimage,
prayer, fasting, alms, and ablutions, is extracted from the Persian and
Arabian theologians by Maracci, (Prodrom. part iv. p. 9-24,) Reland,
(in his excellent treatise de Religione Mohammedica, Utrecht, 1717, p.
67-123,) and Chardin, (Voyages in Perse, tom. iv. p. 47-195.) Marace
is a partial accuser; but the jeweller, Chardin, had the eyes of a
philosopher; and Reland, a judicious student, had travelled over the
East in his closet at Utrecht. The xivth letter of Tournefort (Voyage du
Levont, tom. ii. p. 325-360, in octavo) describes what he had seen of
the religion of the Turks.]

[Footnote 1011: Such is Mahometanism beyond the precincts of the Holy
City. But Mahomet retained, and the Koran sanctions, (Sale's Koran, c.
5, in inlt. c. 22, vol. ii. p. 171, 172,) the sacrifice of sheep and
camels (probably according to the old Arabian rites) at Mecca; and
the pilgrims complete their ceremonial with sacrifices, sometimes as
numerous and costly as those of King Solomon. Compare note, vol. iv. c.
xxiii. p. 96, and Forster's Mahometanism Unveiled, vol. i. p. 420. This
author quotes the questionable authority of Benjamin of Tudela, for the
sacrifice of a camel by the caliph at Bosra; but sacrifice undoubtedly
forms no part of the ordinary Mahometan ritual; nor will the sanctity of
the caliph, as the earthly representative of the prophet, bear any close
analogy to the priesthood of the Mosaic or Gentila religions.--M.]

[Footnote 102: Mahomet (Sale's Koran, c. 9, p. 153) reproaches the
Christians with taking their priests and monks for their lords, besides
God. Yet Maracci (Prodromus, part iii. p. 69, 70) excuses the worship,
especially of the pope, and quotes, from the Koran itself, the case of
Eblis, or Satan, who was cast from heaven for refusing to adore Adam.]

[Footnote 103: Koran, c. 5, p. 94, and Sale's note, which refers to
the authority of Jallaloddin and Al Beidawi. D'Herbelot declares,
that Mahomet condemned la vie religieuse; and that the first swarms of
fakirs, dervises, &c., did not appear till after the year 300 of the
Hegira, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 292, 718.)]

[Footnote 104: See the double prohibition, (Koran, c. 2, p. 25, c. 5,
p. 94;) the one in the style of a legislator, the other in that of a
fanatic. The public and private motives of Mahomet are investigated by
Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 62-64) and Sale, (Preliminary Discourse,
p. 124.)]

[Footnote 105: The jealousy of Maracci (Prodromus, part iv. p. 33)
prompts him to enumerate the more liberal alms of the Catholics of Rome.
Fifteen great hospitals are open to many thousand patients and pilgrims;
fifteen hundred maidens are annually portioned; fifty-six charity
schools are founded for both sexes; one hundred and twenty
confraternities relieve the wants of their brethren, &c. The benevolence
of London is still more extensive; but I am afraid that much more is to
be ascribed to the humanity, than to the religion, of the people.]

The two articles of belief, and the four practical duties, of Islam, are
guarded by rewards and punishments; and the faith of the Mussulman
is devoutly fixed on the event of the judgment and the last day.
The prophet has not presumed to determine the moment of that awful
catastrophe, though he darkly announces the signs, both in heaven and
earth, which will precede the universal dissolution, when life shall
be destroyed, and the order of creation shall be confounded in the
primitive chaos. At the blast of the trumpet, new worlds will start into
being: angels, genii, and men will arise from the dead, and the human
soul will again be united to the body. The doctrine of the resurrection
was first entertained by the Egyptians; [106] and their mummies were
embalmed, their pyramids were constructed, to preserve the ancient
mansion of the soul, during a period of three thousand years. But the
attempt is partial and unavailing; and it is with a more philosophic
spirit that Mahomet relies on the omnipotence of the Creator, whose word
can reanimate the breathless clay, and collect the innumerable atoms,
that no longer retain their form or substance. [107] The intermediate
state of the soul it is hard to decide; and those who most firmly
believe her immaterial nature, are at a loss to understand how she can
think or act without the agency of the organs of sense.

[Footnote 106: See Herodotus (l. ii. c. 123) and our learned countryman
Sir John Marsham, (Canon. Chronicus, p. 46.) The same writer (p.
254-274) is an elaborate sketch of the infernal regions, as they were
painted by the fancy of the Egyptians and Greeks, of the poets and
philosophers of antiquity.]

[Footnote 107: The Koran (c. 2, p. 259, &c.; of Sale, p. 32; of Maracci,
p. 97) relates an ingenious miracle, which satisfied the curiosity, and
confirmed the faith, of Abraham.]

The reunion of the soul and body will be followed by the final judgment
of mankind; and in his copy of the Magian picture, the prophet has too
faithfully represented the forms of proceeding, and even the slow
and successive operations, of an earthly tribunal. By his intolerant
adversaries he is upbraided for extending, even to themselves, the hope
of salvation, for asserting the blackest heresy, that every man who
believes in God, and accomplishes good works, may expect in the last day
a favorable sentence. Such rational indifference is ill adapted to the
character of a fanatic; nor is it probable that a messenger from heaven
should depreciate the value and necessity of his own revelation. In the
idiom of the Koran, [108] the belief of God is inseparable from that
of Mahomet: the good works are those which he has enjoined, and the two
qualifications imply the profession of Islam, to which all nations and
all sects are equally invited.

Their spiritual blindness, though excused by ignorance and crowned with
virtue, will be scourged with everlasting torments; and the tears which
Mahomet shed over the tomb of his mother for whom he was forbidden to
pray, display a striking contrast of humanity and enthusiasm. [109]
The doom of the infidels is common: the measure of their guilt and
punishment is determined by the degree of evidence which they have
rejected, by the magnitude of the errors which they have entertained:
the eternal mansions of the Christians, the Jews, the Sabians, the
Magians, and idolaters, are sunk below each other in the abyss; and the
lowest hell is reserved for the faithless hypocrites who have assumed
the mask of religion. After the greater part of mankind has been
condemned for their opinions, the true believers only will be judged by
their actions. The good and evil of each Mussulman will be accurately
weighed in a real or allegorical balance; and a singular mode of
compensation will be allowed for the payment of injuries: the aggressor
will refund an equivalent of his own good actions, for the benefit of
the person whom he has wronged; and if he should be destitute of any
moral property, the weight of his sins will be loaded with an adequate
share of the demerits of the sufferer. According as the shares of guilt
or virtue shall preponderate, the sentence will be pronounced, and all,
without distinction, will pass over the sharp and perilous bridge of
the abyss; but the innocent, treading in the footsteps of Mahomet, will
gloriously enter the gates of paradise, while the guilty will fall into
the first and mildest of the seven hells. The term of expiation will
vary from nine hundred to seven thousand years; but the prophet has
judiciously promised, that all his disciples, whatever may be their
sins, shall be saved, by their own faith and his intercession from
eternal damnation. It is not surprising that superstition should act
most powerfully on the fears of her votaries, since the human fancy can
paint with more energy the misery than the bliss of a future life. With
the two simple elements of darkness and fire, we create a sensation
of pain, which may be aggravated to an infinite degree by the idea of
endless duration. But the same idea operates with an opposite effect on
the continuity of pleasure; and too much of our present enjoyments is
obtained from the relief, or the comparison, of evil. It is natural
enough that an Arabian prophet should dwell with rapture on the groves,
the fountains, and the rivers of paradise; but instead of inspiring
the blessed inhabitants with a liberal taste for harmony and science,
conversation and friendship, he idly celebrates the pearls and diamonds,
the robes of silk, palaces of marble, dishes of gold, rich wines,
artificial dainties, numerous attendants, and the whole train of sensual
and costly luxury, which becomes insipid to the owner, even in the short
period of this mortal life. Seventy-two Houris, or black-eyed girls,
of resplendent beauty, blooming youth, virgin purity, and exquisite
sensibility, will be created for the use of the meanest believer;
a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years; and his
faculties will be increased a hundred fold, to render him worthy of his
felicity. Notwithstanding a vulgar prejudice, the gates of heaven will
be open to both sexes; but Mahomet has not specified the male companions
of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of their
former husbands, or disturb their felicity, by the suspicion of an
everlasting marriage. This image of a carnal paradise has provoked the
indignation, perhaps the envy, of the monks: they declaim against the
impure religion of Mahomet; and his modest apologists are driven to
the poor excuse of figures and allegories. But the sounder and more
consistent party adhere without shame, to the literal interpretation of
the Koran: useless would be the resurrection of the body, unless it were
restored to the possession and exercise of its worthiest faculties; and
the union of sensual and intellectual enjoyment is requisite to complete
the happiness of the double animal, the perfect man. Yet the joys of the
Mahometan paradise will not be confined to the indulgence of luxury
and appetite; and the prophet has expressly declared that all meaner
happiness will be forgotten and despised by the saints and martyrs, who
shall be admitted to the beatitude of the divine vision. [110]

[Footnote 108: The candid Reland has demonstrated, that Mahomet damns
all unbelievers, (de Religion. Moham. p. 128-142;) that devils will not
be finally saved, (p. 196-199;) that paradise will not solely consist
of corporeal delights, (p. 199-205;) and that women's souls are
immortal. (p. 205-209.)]

[Footnote 109: A Beidawi, apud Sale. Koran, c. 9, p. 164. The refusal to
pray for an unbelieving kindred is justified, according to Mahomet, by
the duty of a prophet, and the example of Abraham, who reprobated his
own father as an enemy of God. Yet Abraham (he adds, c. 9, v. 116.
Maracci, tom. ii. p. 317) fuit sane pius, mitis.]

[Footnote 110: For the day of judgment, hell, paradise, &c., consult
the Koran, (c. 2, v. 25, c. 56, 78, &c.;) with Maracci's virulent, but
learned, refutation, (in his notes, and in the Prodromus, part iv. p.
78, 120, 122, &c.;) D'Herbelot, (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 368, 375;)
Reland, (p. 47-61;) and Sale, (p. 76-103.) The original ideas of the
Magi are darkly and doubtfully explored by their apologist, Dr. Hyde,
(Hist. Religionis Persarum, c. 33, p. 402-412, Oxon. 1760.) In the
article of Mahomet, Bayle has shown how indifferently wit and philosophy
supply the absence of genuine information.]

The first and most arduous conquests of Mahomet [111] were those of his
wife, his servant, his pupil, and his friend; [112] since he presented
himself as a prophet to those who were most conversant with his
infirmities as a man. Yet Cadijah believed the words, and cherished the
glory, of her husband; the obsequious and affectionate Zeid was tempted
by the prospect of freedom; the illustrious Ali, the son of Abu Taleb,
embraced the sentiments of his cousin with the spirit of a youthful
hero; and the wealth, the moderation, the veracity of Abubeker confirmed
the religion of the prophet whom he was destined to succeed. By
his persuasion, ten of the most respectable citizens of Mecca were
introduced to the private lessons of Islam; they yielded to the voice
of reason and enthusiasm; they repeated the fundamental creed, "There is
but one God, and Mahomet is the apostle of God;" and their faith, even
in this life, was rewarded with riches and honors, with the command
of armies and the government of kingdoms. Three years were silently
employed in the conversion of fourteen proselytes, the first-fruits of
his mission; but in the fourth year he assumed the prophetic office, and
resolving to impart to his family the light of divine truth, he
prepared a banquet, a lamb, as it is said, and a bowl of milk, for
the entertainment of forty guests of the race of Hashem. "Friends and
kinsmen," said Mahomet to the assembly, "I offer you, and I alone can
offer, the most precious of gifts, the treasures of this world and of
the world to come. God has commanded me to call you to his service. Who
among you will support my burden? Who among you will be my companion
and my vizier?" [113] No answer was returned, till the silence of
astonishment, and doubt, and contempt, was at length broken by the
impatient courage of Ali, a youth in the fourteenth year of his age. "O
prophet, I am the man: whosoever rises against thee, I will dash out his
teeth, tear out his eyes, break his legs, rip up his belly. O prophet,
I will be thy vizier over them." Mahomet accepted his offer with
transport, and Abu Taled was ironically exhorted to respect the superior
dignity of his son. In a more serious tone, the father of Ali advised
his nephew to relinquish his impracticable design.

"Spare your remonstrances," replied the intrepid fanatic to his uncle
and benefactor; "if they should place the sun on my right hand, and
the moon on my left, they should not divert me from my course." He
persevered ten years in the exercise of his mission; and the religion
which has overspread the East and the West advanced with a slow and
painful progress within the walls of Mecca. Yet Mahomet enjoyed the
satisfaction of beholding the increase of his infant congregation of
Unitarians, who revered him as a prophet, and to whom he seasonably
dispensed the spiritual nourishment of the Koran. The number of
proselytes may be esteemed by the absence of eighty-three men and
eighteen women, who retired to Aethiopia in the seventh year of his
mission; and his party was fortified by the timely conversion of his
uncle Hamza, and of the fierce and inflexible Omar, who signalized
in the cause of Islam the same zeal, which he had exerted for its
destruction. Nor was the charity of Mahomet confined to the tribe of
Koreish, or the precincts of Mecca: on solemn festivals, in the days
of pilgrimage, he frequented the Caaba, accosted the strangers of every
tribe, and urged, both in private converse and public discourse, the
belief and worship of a sole Deity. Conscious of his reason and of his
weakness, he asserted the liberty of conscience, and disclaimed the use
of religious violence: [114] but he called the Arabs to repentance, and
conjured them to remember the ancient idolaters of Ad and Thamud, whom
the divine justice had swept away from the face of the earth. [115]

[Footnote 111: Before I enter on the history of the prophet, it is
incumbent on me to produce my evidence. The Latin, French, and English
versions of the Koran are preceded by historical discourses, and the
three translators, Maracci, (tom. i. p. 10-32,) Savary, (tom. i. p.
1-248,) and Sale, (Preliminary Discourse, p. 33-56,) had accurately
studied the language and character of their author. Two professed Lives
of Mahomet have been composed by Dr. Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, seventh
edition, London, 1718, in octavo) and the count de Boulainvilliers, (Vie
de Mahomed, Londres, 1730, in octavo: ) but the adverse wish of finding
an impostor or a hero, has too often corrupted the learning of the
doctor and the ingenuity of the count. The article in D'Herbelot
(Bibliot. Orient. p. 598-603) is chiefly drawn from Novairi and
Mirkond; but the best and most authentic of our guides is M. Gagnier, a
Frenchman by birth, and professor at Oxford of the Oriental tongues.
In two elaborate works, (Ismael Abulfeda de Vita et Rebus gestis
Mohammedis, &c. Latine vertit, Praefatione et Notis illustravit Johannes
Gagnier, Oxon. 1723, in folio. La Vie de Mahomet traduite et compilee
de l'Alcoran, des Traditions Authentiques de la Sonna et des meilleurs
Auteurs Arabes; Amsterdam, 1748, 3 vols. in 12mo.,) he has interpreted,
illustrated, and supplied the Arabic text of Abulfeda and Al Jannabi;
the first, an enlightened prince who reigned at Hamah, in Syria, A.D.
1310-1332, (see Gagnier Praefat. ad Abulfed.;) the second, a credulous
doctor, who visited Mecca A.D. 1556. (D'Herbelot, p. 397. Gagnier, tom.
iii. p. 209, 210.) These are my general vouchers, and the inquisitive
reader may follow the order of time, and the division of chapters. Yet
I must observe that both Abulfeda and Al Jannabi are modern historians,
and that they cannot appeal to any writers of the first century of the
Hegira. * Note: A new Life, by Dr. Weil, (Stuttgart. 1843,) has added
some few traditions unknown in Europe. Of Dr. Weil's Arabic scholarship,
which professes to correct many errors in Gagnier, in Maracci, and in
M. von Hammer, I am no judge. But it is remarkable that he does not
seem acquainted with the passage of Tabari, translated by Colonel Vans
Kennedy, in the Bombay Transactions, (vol. iii.,) the earliest and
most important addition made to the traditionary Life of Mahomet. I am
inclined to think Colonel Vans Kennedy's appreciation of the prophet's
character, which may be overlooked in a criticism on Voltaire's Mahomet,
the most just which I have ever read. The work of Dr. Weil appears to me
most valuable in its dissection and chronological view of the Koran.--M.

[Footnote 112: After the Greeks, Prideaux (p. 8) discloses the secret
doubts of the wife of Mahomet. As if he had been a privy counsellor
of the prophet, Boulainvilliers (p. 272, &c.) unfolds the sublime and
patriotic views of Cadijah and the first disciples.]

[Footnote 113: Vezirus, portitor, bajulus, onus ferens; and this
plebeian name was transferred by an apt metaphor to the pillars of the
state, (Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. p. 19.) I endeavor to preserve the
Arabian idiom, as far as I can feel it myself in a Latin or French

[Footnote 114: The passages of the Koran in behalf of toleration are
strong and numerous: c. 2, v. 257, c. 16, 129, c. 17, 54, c. 45, 15,
c. 50, 39, c. 88, 21, &c., with the notes of Maracci and Sale. This
character alone may generally decide the doubts of the learned, whether
a chapter was revealed at Mecca or Medina.]

[Footnote 115: See the Koran, (passim, and especially c. 7, p. 123, 124,
&c.,) and the tradition of the Arabs, (Pocock, Specimen, p. 35-37.)
The caverns of the tribe of Thamud, fit for men of the ordinary stature,
were shown in the midway between Medina and Damascus. (Abulfed Arabiae
Descript. p. 43, 44,) and may be probably ascribed to the Throglodytes
of the primitive world, (Michaelis, ad Lowth de Poesi Hebraeor. p.
131-134. Recherches sur les Egyptiens, tom. ii. p. 48, &c.)]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part V.

The people of Mecca were hardened in their unbelief by superstition and
envy. The elders of the city, the uncles of the prophet, affected to
despise the presumption of an orphan, the reformer of his country: the
pious orations of Mahomet in the Caaba were answered by the clamors of
Abu Taleb. "Citizens and pilgrims, listen not to the tempter, hearken
not to his impious novelties. Stand fast in the worship of Al Lata and
Al Uzzah." Yet the son of Abdallah was ever dear to the aged chief: and
he protected the fame and person of his nephew against the assaults of
the Koreishites, who had long been jealous of the preeminence of
the family of Hashem. Their malice was colored with the pretence of
religion: in the age of Job, the crime of impiety was punished by
the Arabian magistrate; [116] and Mahomet was guilty of deserting and
denying the national deities. But so loose was the policy of Mecca,
that the leaders of the Koreish, instead of accusing a criminal,
were compelled to employ the measures of persuasion or violence. They
repeatedly addressed Abu Taleb in the style of reproach and menace.
"Thy nephew reviles our religion; he accuses our wise forefathers of
ignorance and folly; silence him quickly, lest he kindle tumult and
discord in the city. If he persevere, we shall draw our swords against
him and his adherents, and thou wilt be responsible for the blood of
thy fellow-citizens." The weight and moderation of Abu Taleb eluded
the violence of religious faction; the most helpless or timid of the
disciples retired to Aethiopia, and the prophet withdrew himself to
various places of strength in the town and country. As he was still
supported by his family, the rest of the tribe of Koreish engaged
themselves to renounce all intercourse with the children of Hashem,
neither to buy nor sell, neither to marry not to give in marriage, but
to pursue them with implacable enmity, till they should deliver the
person of Mahomet to the justice of the gods. The decree was suspended
in the Caaba before the eyes of the nation; the messengers of the
Koreish pursued the Mussulman exiles in the heart of Africa: they
besieged the prophet and his most faithful followers, intercepted
their water, and inflamed their mutual animosity by the retaliation
of injuries and insults. A doubtful truce restored the appearances of
concord till the death of Abu Taleb abandoned Mahomet to the power of
his enemies, at the moment when he was deprived of his domestic comforts
by the loss of his faithful and generous Cadijah. Abu Sophian, the chief
of the branch of Ommiyah, succeeded to the principality of the republic
of Mecca. A zealous votary of the idols, a mortal foe of the line of
Hashem, he convened an assembly of the Koreishites and their allies,
to decide the fate of the apostle. His imprisonment might provoke the
despair of his enthusiasm; and the exile of an eloquent and popular
fanatic would diffuse the mischief through the provinces of Arabia. His
death was resolved; and they agreed that a sword from each tribe should
be buried in his heart, to divide the guilt of his blood, and baffle
the vengeance of the Hashemites. An angel or a spy revealed their
conspiracy; and flight was the only resource of Mahomet. [117] At the
dead of night, accompanied by his friend Abubeker, he silently escaped
from his house: the assassins watched at the door; but they were
deceived by the figure of Ali, who reposed on the bed, and was covered
with the green vestment of the apostle. The Koreish respected the piety
of the heroic youth; but some verses of Ali, which are still extant,
exhibit an interesting picture of his anxiety, his tenderness, and
his religious confidence. Three days Mahomet and his companion were
concealed in the cave of Thor, at the distance of a league from Mecca;
and in the close of each evening, they received from the son and
daughter of Abubeker a secret supply of intelligence and food. The
diligence of the Koreish explored every haunt in the neighborhood of the
city: they arrived at the entrance of the cavern; but the providential
deceit of a spider's web and a pigeon's nest is supposed to convince
them that the place was solitary and inviolate. "We are only two," said
the trembling Abubeker. "There is a third," replied the prophet; "it is
God himself." No sooner was the pursuit abated than the two fugitives
issued from the rock, and mounted their camels: on the road to Medina,
they were overtaken by the emissaries of the Koreish; they redeemed
themselves with prayers and promises from their hands. In this eventful
moment, the lance of an Arab might have changed the history of the
world. The flight of the prophet from Mecca to Medina has fixed
the memorable aera of the Hegira, [118] which, at the end of twelve
centuries, still discriminates the lunar years of the Mahometan nations.

[Footnote 116: In the time of Job, the crime of impiety was punished
by the Arabian magistrate, (c. 21, v. 26, 27, 28.) I blush for a
respectable prelate (de Poesi Hebraeorum, p. 650, 651, edit. Michaelis;
and letter of a late professor in the university of Oxford, p. 15-53,)
who justifies and applauds this patriarchal inquisition.]

[Footnote 117: D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 445. He quotes a
particular history of the flight of Mahomet.]

[Footnote 118: The Hegira was instituted by Omar, the second caliph, in
imitation of the aera of the martyrs of the Christians, (D'Herbelot,
p. 444;) and properly commenced sixty-eight days before the flight of
Mahomet, with the first of Moharren, or first day of that Arabian year
which coincides with Friday, July 16th, A.D. 622, (Abulfeda, Vit Moham,
c. 22, 23, p. 45-50; and Greaves's edition of Ullug Beg's Epochae
Arabum, &c., c. 1, p. 8, 10, &c.) * Note: Chronologists dispute between
the 15th and 16th of July. St. Martin inclines to the 8th, ch. xi. p.

[Footnote 119: Mahomet's life, from his mission to the Hegira, may
be found in Abulfeda (p. 14-45) and Gagnier, (tom. i. p. 134-251,
342-383.) The legend from p. 187-234 is vouched by Al Jannabi, and
disdained by Abulfeda.]

The religion of the Koran might have perished in its cradle, had not
Medina embraced with faith and reverence the holy outcasts of Mecca.
Medina, or the city, known under the name of Yathreb, before it was
sanctified by the throne of the prophet, was divided between the tribes
of the Charegites and the Awsites, whose hereditary feud was rekindled
by the slightest provocations: two colonies of Jews, who boasted a
sacerdotal race, were their humble allies, and without converting
the Arabs, they introduced the taste of science and religion, which
distinguished Medina as the city of the Book. Some of her noblest
citizens, in a pilgrimage to the Canaba, were converted by the preaching
of Mahomet; on their return, they diffused the belief of God and his
prophet, and the new alliance was ratified by their deputies in two
secret and nocturnal interviews on a hill in the suburbs of Mecca. In
the first, ten Charegites and two Awsites united in faith and love,
protested, in the name of their wives, their children, and their absent
brethren, that they would forever profess the creed, and observe the
precepts, of the Koran. The second was a political association, the
first vital spark of the empire of the Saracens. [120] Seventy-three
men and two women of Medina held a solemn conference with Mahomet, his
kinsman, and his disciples; and pledged themselves to each other by a
mutual oath of fidelity. They promised, in the name of the city, that if
he should be banished, they would receive him as a confederate, obey him
as a leader, and defend him to the last extremity, like their wives and
children. "But if you are recalled by your country," they asked with
a flattering anxiety, "will you not abandon your new allies?" "All
things," replied Mahomet with a smile, "are now common between us your
blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin. We are bound to each other
by the ties of honor and interest. I am your friend, and the enemy of
your foes." "But if we are killed in your service, what," exclaimed
the deputies of Medina, "will be our reward?" "Paradise," replied the
prophet. "Stretch forth thy hand." He stretched it forth, and they
reiterated the oath of allegiance and fidelity. Their treaty was
ratified by the people, who unanimously embraced the profession of
Islam; they rejoiced in the exile of the apostle, but they trembled for
his safety, and impatiently expected his arrival. After a perilous and
rapid journey along the sea-coast, he halted at Koba, two miles from
the city, and made his public entry into Medina, sixteen days after his
flight from Mecca. Five hundred of the citizens advanced to meet him;
he was hailed with acclamations of loyalty and devotion; Mahomet was
mounted on a she-camel, an umbrella shaded his head, and a turban was
unfurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard. His bravest
disciples, who had been scattered by the storm, assembled round
his person; and the equal, though various, merit of the Moslems was
distinguished by the names of Mohagerians and Ansars, the fugitives
of Mecca, and the auxiliaries of Medina. To eradicate the seeds of
jealousy, Mahomet judiciously coupled his principal followers with the
rights and obligations of brethren; and when Ali found himself without a
peer, the prophet tenderly declared, that he would be the companion and
brother of the noble youth. The expedient was crowned with success; the
holy fraternity was respected in peace and war, and the two parties vied
with each other in a generous emulation of courage and fidelity. Once
only the concord was slightly ruffled by an accidental quarrel: a
patriot of Medina arraigned the insolence of the strangers, but the
hint of their expulsion was heard with abhorrence; and his own son most
eagerly offered to lay at the apostle's feet the head of his father.

[Footnote 120: The triple inauguration of Mahomet is described by
Abulfeda (p. 30, 33, 40, 86) and Gagnier, (tom. i. p. 342, &c., 349,
&c., tom. ii. p. 223 &c.)]

From his establishment at Medina, Mahomet assumed the exercise of the
regal and sacerdotal office; and it was impious to appeal from a judge
whose decrees were inspired by the divine wisdom. A small portion of
ground, the patrimony of two orphans, was acquired by gift or purchase;
[121] on that chosen spot he built a house and a mosch, more venerable
in their rude simplicity than the palaces and temples of the Assyrian
caliphs. His seal of gold, or silver, was inscribed with the apostolic
title; when he prayed and preached in the weekly assembly, he leaned
against the trunk of a palm-tree; and it was long before he indulged
himself in the use of a chair or pulpit of rough timber. [122] After a
reign of six years, fifteen hundred Moslems, in arms and in the field,
renewed their oath of allegiance; and their chief repeated the
assurance of protection till the death of the last member, or the final
dissolution of the party. It was in the same camp that the deputy of
Mecca was astonished by the attention of the faithful to the words and
looks of the prophet, by the eagerness with which they collected his
spittle, a hair that dropped on the ground, the refuse water of his
lustrations, as if they participated in some degree of the prophetic
virtue. "I have seen," said he, "the Chosroes of Persia and the Caesar
of Rome, but never did I behold a king among his subjects like Mahomet
among his companions." The devout fervor of enthusiasm acts with more
energy and truth than the cold and formal servility of courts.

[Footnote 121: Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 44) reviles the wickedness
of the impostor, who despoiled two poor orphans, the sons of a
carpenter; a reproach which he drew from the Disputatio contra
Saracenos, composed in Arabic before the year 1130; but the honest
Gagnier (ad Abulfed. p. 53) has shown that they were deceived by the
word Al Nagjar, which signifies, in this place, not an obscure trade,
but a noble tribe of Arabs. The desolate state of the ground is
described by Abulfeda; and his worthy interpreter has proved, from Al
Bochari, the offer of a price; from Al Jannabi, the fair purchase; and
from Ahmeq Ben Joseph, the payment of the money by the generous Abubeker
On these grounds the prophet must be honorably acquitted.]

[Footnote 122: Al Jannabi (apud Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 246, 324) describes
the seal and pulpit, as two venerable relics of the apostle of God; and
the portrait of his court is taken from Abulfeda, (c. 44, p. 85.)]

In the state of nature, every man has a right to defend, by force of
arms, his person and his possessions; to repel, or even to prevent, the
violence of his enemies, and to extend his hostilities to a reasonable
measure of satisfaction and retaliation. In the free society of the
Arabs, the duties of subject and citizen imposed a feeble restraint; and
Mahomet, in the exercise of a peaceful and benevolent mission, had been
despoiled and banished by the injustice of his countrymen. The choice of
an independent people had exalted the fugitive of Mecca to the rank of
a sovereign; and he was invested with the just prerogative of forming
alliances, and of waging offensive or defensive war. The imperfection
of human rights was supplied and armed by the plenitude of divine power:
the prophet of Medina assumed, in his new revelations, a fiercer and
more sanguinary tone, which proves that his former moderation was the
effect of weakness: [123] the means of persuasion had been tried, the
season of forbearance was elapsed, and he was now commanded to propagate
his religion by the sword, to destroy the monuments of idolatry,
and, without regarding the sanctity of days or months, to pursue
the unbelieving nations of the earth. The same bloody precepts, so
repeatedly inculcated in the Koran, are ascribed by the author to the
Pentateuch and the Gospel. But the mild tenor of the evangelic style may
explain an ambiguous text, that Jesus did not bring peace on the earth,
but a sword: his patient and humble virtues should not be confounded
with the intolerant zeal of princes and bishops, who have disgraced
the name of his disciples. In the prosecution of religious war, Mahomet
might appeal with more propriety to the example of Moses, of the Judges,
and the kings of Israel. The military laws of the Hebrews are still
more rigid than those of the Arabian legislator. [124] The Lord of hosts
marched in person before the Jews: if a city resisted their summons, the
males, without distinction, were put to the sword: the seven nations
of Canaan were devoted to destruction; and neither repentance nor
conversion, could shield them from the inevitable doom, that no creature
within their precincts should be left alive. [1241] The fair option of
friendship, or submission, or battle, was proposed to the enemies of
Mahomet. If they professed the creed of Islam, they were admitted to
all the temporal and spiritual benefits of his primitive disciples,
and marched under the same banner to extend the religion which they had
embraced. The clemency of the prophet was decided by his interest: yet
he seldom trampled on a prostrate enemy; and he seems to promise,
that on the payment of a tribute, the least guilty of his unbelieving
subjects might be indulged in their worship, or at least in their
imperfect faith. In the first months of his reign he practised the
lessons of holy warfare, and displayed his white banner before the
gates of Medina: the martial apostle fought in person at nine battles or
sieges; [125] and fifty enterprises of war were achieved in ten years by
himself or his lieutenants. The Arab continued to unite the professions
of a merchant and a robber; and his petty excursions for the defence or
the attack of a caravan insensibly prepared his troops for the conquest
of Arabia. The distribution of the spoil was regulated by a divine law:
[126] the whole was faithfully collected in one common mass: a fifth
of the gold and silver, the prisoners and cattle, the movables and
immovables, was reserved by the prophet for pious and charitable uses;
the remainder was shared in adequate portions by the soldiers who had
obtained the victory or guarded the camp: the rewards of the slain
devolved to their widows and orphans; and the increase of cavalry was
encouraged by the allotment of a double share to the horse and to the
man. From all sides the roving Arabs were allured to the standard of
religion and plunder: the apostle sanctified the license of embracing
the female captives as their wives or concubines, and the enjoyment of
wealth and beauty was a feeble type of the joys of paradise prepared for
the valiant martyrs of the faith. "The sword," says Mahomet, "is the key
of heaven and of hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night
spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer:
whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven: at the day of judgment
his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as musk;
and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and
cherubim." The intrepid souls of the Arabs were fired with enthusiasm:
the picture of the invisible world was strongly painted on their
imagination; and the death which they had always despised became an
object of hope and desire. The Koran inculcates, in the most absolute
sense, the tenets of fate and predestination, which would extinguish
both industry and virtue, if the actions of man were governed by his
speculative belief. Yet their influence in every age has exalted the
courage of the Saracens and Turks. The first companions of Mahomet
advanced to battle with a fearless confidence: there is no danger where
there is no chance: they were ordained to perish in their beds; or they
were safe and invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy. [127]

[Footnote 123: The viiith and ixth chapters of the Koran are the loudest
and most vehement; and Maracci (Prodromus, part iv. p. 59-64) has
inveighed with more justice than discretion against the double dealing
of the impostor.]

[Footnote 124: The xth and xxth chapters of Deuteronomy, with the
practical comments of Joshua, David, &c., are read with more awe
than satisfaction by the pious Christians of the present age. But
the bishops, as well as the rabbis of former times, have beat the
drum-ecclesiastic with pleasure and success. (Sale's Preliminary
Discourse, p. 142, 143.)]

[Footnote 1241: The editor's opinions on this subject may be read in the
History of the Jews vol. i. p. 137.--M]

[Footnote 125: Abulfeda, in Vit. Moham. p. 156. The private arsenal
of the apostle consisted of nine swords, three lances, seven pikes or
half-pikes, a quiver and three bows, seven cuirasses, three shields,
and two helmets, (Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 328-334,) with a large white
standard, a black banner, (p. 335,) twenty horses, (p. 322, &c.) Two of
his martial sayings are recorded by tradition, (Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 88,

[Footnote 126: The whole subject de jure belli Mohammedanorum
is exhausted in a separate dissertation by the learned Reland,
(Dissertationes Miscellaneae, tom. iii. Dissertat. x. p. 3-53.)]

[Footnote 127: The doctrine of absolute predestination, on which few
religions can reproach each other, is sternly exposed in the Koran, (c.
3, p. 52, 53, c. 4, p. 70, &c., with the notes of Sale, and c. 17, p.
413, with those of Maracci.) Reland (de Relig. Moham. p. 61-64) and
Sale (Prelim. Discourse, p. 103) represent the opinions of the doctors,
and our modern travellers the confidence, the fading confidence, of the

Perhaps the Koreish would have been content with the dight of Mahomet,
had they not been provoked and alarmed by the vengeance of an enemy, who
could intercept their Syrian trade as it passed and repassed through
the territory of Medina. Abu Sophian himself, with only thirty or forty
followers, conducted a wealthy caravan of a thousand camels; the fortune
or dexterity of his march escaped the vigilance of Mahomet; but the
chief of the Koreish was informed that the holy robbers were placed in
ambush to await his return. He despatched a messenger to his brethren of
Mecca, and they were roused, by the fear of losing their merchandise and
their provisions, unless they hastened to his relief with the military
force of the city. The sacred band of Mahomet was formed of three
hundred and thirteen Moslems, of whom seventy-seven were fugitives, and
the rest auxiliaries; they mounted by turns a train of seventy camels,
(the camels of Yathreb were formidable in war;) but such was the poverty
of his first disciples, that only two could appear on horseback in
the field. [128] In the fertile and famous vale of Beder, [129] three
stations from Medina, he was informed by his scouts of the caravan that
approached on one side; of the Koreish, one hundred horse, eight hundred
and fifty foot, who advanced on the other. After a short debate, he
sacrificed the prospect of wealth to the pursuit of glory and revenge,
and a slight intrenchment was formed, to cover his troops, and a stream
of fresh water, that glided through the valley. "O God," he exclaimed,
as the numbers of the Koreish descended from the hills, "O God, if these
are destroyed, by whom wilt thou be worshipped on the earth?--Courage,
my children; close your ranks; discharge your arrows, and the day is
your own." At these words he placed himself, with Abubeker, on a throne
or pulpit, [130] and instantly demanded the succor of Gabriel and
three thousand angels. His eye was fixed on the field of battle: the
Mussulmans fainted and were pressed: in that decisive moment the prophet
started from his throne, mounted his horse, and cast a handful of sand
into the air: "Let their faces be covered with confusion." Both armies
heard the thunder of his voice: their fancy beheld the angelic warriors:
[131] the Koreish trembled and fled: seventy of the bravest were slain;
and seventy captives adorned the first victory of the faithful. The
dead bodies of the Koreish were despoiled and insulted: two of the most
obnoxious prisoners were punished with death; and the ransom of the
others, four thousand drams of silver, compensated in some degree the
escape of the caravan. But it was in vain that the camels of Abu Sophian
explored a new road through the desert and along the Euphrates: they
were overtaken by the diligence of the Mussulmans; and wealthy must
have been the prize, if twenty thousand drams could be set apart for
the fifth of the apostle. The resentment of the public and private loss
stimulated Abu Sophian to collect a body of three thousand men, seven
hundred of whom were armed with cuirasses, and two hundred were mounted
on horseback; three thousand camels attended his march; and his wife
Henda, with fifteen matrons of Mecca, incessantly sounded their timbrels
to animate the troops, and to magnify the greatness of Hobal, the most
popular deity of the Caaba. The standard of God and Mahomet was upheld
by nine hundred and fifty believers: the disproportion of numbers was
not more alarming than in the field of Beder; and their presumption of
victory prevailed against the divine and human sense of the apostle.
The second battle was fought on Mount Ohud, six miles to the north of
Medina; [132] the Koreish advanced in the form of a crescent; and the
right wing of cavalry was led by Caled, the fiercest and most successful
of the Arabian warriors. The troops of Mahomet were skilfully posted on
the declivity of the hill; and their rear was guarded by a detachment of
fifty archers. The weight of their charge impelled and broke the centre
of the idolaters: but in the pursuit they lost the advantage of their
ground: the archers deserted their station: the Mussulmans were tempted
by the spoil, disobeyed their general, and disordered their ranks. The
intrepid Caled, wheeling his cavalry on their flank and rear, exclaimed,
with a loud voice, that Mahomet was slain. He was indeed wounded in the
face with a javelin: two of his teeth were shattered with a stone; yet,
in the midst of tumult and dismay, he reproached the infidels with the
murder of a prophet; and blessed the friendly hand that stanched his
blood, and conveyed him to a place of safety Seventy martyrs died for
the sins of the people; they fell, said the apostle, in pairs, each
brother embracing his lifeless companion; [133] their bodies were
mangled by the inhuman females of Mecca; and the wife of Abu Sophian
tasted the entrails of Hamza, the uncle of Mahomet. They might applaud
their superstition, and satiate their fury; but the Mussulmans soon
rallied in the field, and the Koreish wanted strength or courage to
undertake the siege of Medina. It was attacked the ensuing year by an
army of ten thousand enemies; and this third expedition is variously
named from the nations, which marched under the banner of Abu Sophian,
from the ditch which was drawn before the city, and a camp of three
thousand Mussulmans. The prudence of Mahomet declined a general
engagement: the valor of Ali was signalized in single combat; and
the war was protracted twenty days, till the final separation of the
confederates. A tempest of wind, rain, and hail, overturned their tents:
their private quarrels were fomented by an insidious adversary; and
the Koreish, deserted by their allies, no longer hoped to subvert the
throne, or to check the conquests, of their invincible exile. [134]

[Footnote 128: Al Jannabi (apud Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 9) allows him
seventy or eighty horse; and on two other occasions, prior to the
battle of Ohud, he enlists a body of thirty (p. 10) and of 500 (p. 66)
troopers. Yet the Mussulmans, in the field of Ohud, had no more than two
horses, according to the better sense of Abulfeda, (in Vit. Moham. c.
xxxi. p. 65.) In the Stony province, the camels were numerous; but the
horse appears to have been less numerous than in the Happy or the Desert

[Footnote 129: Bedder Houneene, twenty miles from Medina, and forty from
Mecca, is on the high road of the caravan of Egypt; and the pilgrims
annually commemorate the prophet's victory by illuminations, rockets,
&c. Shaw's Travels, p. 477.]

[Footnote 130: The place to which Mahomet retired during the action is
styled by Gagnier (in Abulfeda, c. 27, p. 58. Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii.
p. 30, 33) Umbraculum, une loge de bois avec une porte. The same Arabic
word is rendered by Reiske (Annales Moslemici Abulfedae, p. 23) by
Solium, Suggestus editior; and the difference is of the utmost moment
for the honor both of the interpreter and of the hero. I am sorry
to observe the pride and acrimony with which Reiske chastises his
fellow-laborer. Saepi sic vertit, ut integrae paginae nequeant nisi una
litura corrigi Arabice non satis callebat, et carebat judicio critico.
J. J. Reiske, Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalisae Tabulas, p. 228, ad calcero
Abulfedae Syriae Tabulae; Lipsiae, 1766, in 4to.]

[Footnote 131: The loose expressions of the Koran (c. 3, p. 124, 125,
c. 8, p. 9) allow the commentators to fluctuate between the numbers of
1000, 3000, or 9000 angels; and the smallest of these might suffice for
the slaughter of seventy of the Koreish, (Maracci, Alcoran, tom. ii.
p. 131.) Yet the same scholiasts confess that this angelic band was not
visible to any mortal eye, (Maracci, p. 297.) They refine on the words
(c. 8, 16) "not thou, but God," &c. (D'Herbelot. Bibliot. Orientale p.
600, 601.)]

[Footnote 132: Geograph. Nubiensis, p. 47.]

[Footnote 133: In the iiid chapter of the Koran, (p. 50-53) with Sale's
notes, the prophet alleges some poor excuses for the defeat of Ohud. *
Note: Dr. Weil has added some curious circumstances, which he gives as
on good traditional authority, on the rescue of Mahomet. The prophet was
attacked by Ubeijj Ibn Challaf, whom he struck on the neck with a mortal
wound. This was the only time, it is added, that Mahomet personally
engaged in battle. (p. 128.)--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 134: For the detail of the three Koreish wars, of Beder, of
Ohud, and of the ditch, peruse Abulfeda, (p. 56-61, 64-69, 73-77,)
Gagnier (tom. i. p. 23-45, 70-96, 120-139,) with the proper articles
of D'Herbelot, and the abridgments of Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 6, 7)
and Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 102.)]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VI.

The choice of Jerusalem for the first kebla of prayer discovers the
early propensity of Mahomet in favor of the Jews; and happy would it
have been for their temporal interest, had they recognized, in the
Arabian prophet, the hope of Israel and the promised Messiah. Their
obstinacy converted his friendship into implacable hatred, with which he
pursued that unfortunate people to the last moment of his life; and in
the double character of an apostle and a conqueror, his persecution was
extended to both worlds. [135] The Kainoka dwelt at Medina under the
protection of the city; he seized the occasion of an accidental tumult,
and summoned them to embrace his religion, or contend with him in
battle. "Alas!" replied the trembling Jews, "we are ignorant of the use
of arms, but we persevere in the faith and worship of our fathers; why
wilt thou reduce us to the necessity of a just defence?" The unequal
conflict was terminated in fifteen days; and it was with extreme
reluctance that Mahomet yielded to the importunity of his allies, and
consented to spare the lives of the captives. But their riches were
confiscated, their arms became more effectual in the hands of the
Mussulmans; and a wretched colony of seven hundred exiles was driven,
with their wives and children, to implore a refuge on the confines
of Syria. The Nadhirites were more guilty, since they conspired, in
a friendly interview, to assassinate the prophet. He besieged their
castle, three miles from Medina; but their resolute defence obtained an
honorable capitulation; and the garrison, sounding their trumpets and
beating their drums, was permitted to depart with the honors of war. The
Jews had excited and joined the war of the Koreish: no sooner had the
nations retired from the ditch, than Mahomet, without laying aside his
armor, marched on the same day to extirpate the hostile race of the
children of Koraidha. After a resistance of twenty-five days, they
surrendered at discretion. They trusted to the intercession of their old
allies of Medina; they could not be ignorant that fanaticism obliterates
the feelings of humanity. A venerable elder, to whose judgment they
appealed, pronounced the sentence of their death; seven hundred Jews
were dragged in chains to the market-place of the city; they descended
alive into the grave prepared for their execution and burial; and the
apostle beheld with an inflexible eye the slaughter of his helpless
enemies. Their sheep and camels were inherited by the Mussulmans: three
hundred cuirasses, five hundred piles, a thousand lances, composed the
most useful portion of the spoil. Six days' journey to the north-east
of Medina, the ancient and wealthy town of Chaibar was the seat of the
Jewish power in Arabia: the territory, a fertile spot in the desert,
was covered with plantations and cattle, and protected by eight castles,
some of which were esteemed of impregnable strength. The forces of
Mahomet consisted of two hundred horse and fourteen hundred foot: in
the succession of eight regular and painful sieges they were exposed to
danger, and fatigue, and hunger; and the most undaunted chiefs despaired
of the event. The apostle revived their faith and courage by the example
of Ali, on whom he bestowed the surname of the Lion of God: perhaps we
may believe that a Hebrew champion of gigantic stature was cloven to the
chest by his irresistible cimeter; but we cannot praise the modesty of
romance, which represents him as tearing from its hinges the gate of
a fortress and wielding the ponderous buckler in his left hand. [136]
After the reduction of the castles, the town of Chaibar submitted to the
yoke. The chief of the tribe was tortured, in the presence of Mahomet,
to force a confession of his hidden treasure: the industry of the
shepherds and husbandmen was rewarded with a precarious toleration: they
were permitted, so long as it should please the conqueror, to improve
their patrimony, in equal shares, for his emolument and their own. Under
the reign of Omar, the Jews of Chaibar were transported to Syria; and
the caliph alleged the injunction of his dying master; that one and the
true religion should be professed in his native land of Arabia. [137]

[Footnote 135: The wars of Mahomet against the Jewish tribes of Kainoka,
the Nadhirites, Koraidha, and Chaibar, are related by Abulfeda (p. 61,
71, 77, 87, &c.) and Gagnier, (tom. ii. p. 61-65, 107-112, 139-148,

[Footnote 136: Abu Rafe, the servant of Mahomet, is said to affirm that
he himself, and seven other men, afterwards tried, without success, to
move the same gate from the ground, (Abulfeda, p. 90.) Abu Rafe was an
eye-witness, but who will be witness for Abu Rafe?]

[Footnote 137: The banishment of the Jews is attested by Elmacin (Hist.
Saracen, p. 9) and the great Al Zabari, (Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 285.)
Yet Niebuhr (Description de l'Arabie, p. 324) believes that the Jewish
religion, and Karaite sect, are still professed by the tribe of Chaibar;
and that, in the plunder of the caravans, the disciples of Moses are the
confederates of those of Mahomet.]

Five times each day the eyes of Mahomet were turned towards Mecca, [138]
and he was urged by the most sacred and powerful motives to revisit, as
a conqueror, the city and the temple from whence he had been driven as
an exile. The Caaba was present to his waking and sleeping fancy: an
idle dream was translated into vision and prophecy; he unfurled the holy
banner; and a rash promise of success too hastily dropped from the lips
of the apostle. His march from Medina to Mecca displayed the peaceful
and solemn pomp of a pilgrimage: seventy camels, chosen and bedecked for
sacrifice, preceded the van; the sacred territory was respected; and
the captives were dismissed without ransom to proclaim his clemency and
devotion. But no sooner did Mahomet descend into the plain, within
a day's journey of the city, than he exclaimed, "They have clothed
themselves with the skins of tigers:" the numbers and resolution of the
Koreish opposed his progress; and the roving Arabs of the desert might
desert or betray a leader whom they had followed for the hopes of spoil.
The intrepid fanatic sunk into a cool and cautious politician: he waived
in the treaty his title of apostle of God; concluded with the Koreish
and their allies a truce of ten years; engaged to restore the fugitives
of Mecca who should embrace his religion; and stipulated only, for the
ensuing year, the humble privilege of entering the city as a friend,
and of remaining three days to accomplish the rites of the pilgrimage.
A cloud of shame and sorrow hung on the retreat of the Mussulmans, and
their disappointment might justly accuse the failure of a prophet who
had so often appealed to the evidence of success. The faith and hope of
the pilgrims were rekindled by the prospect of Mecca: their swords
were sheathed; [1381] seven times in the footsteps of the apostle
they encompassed the Caaba: the Koreish had retired to the hills, and
Mahomet, after the customary sacrifice, evacuated the city on the fourth
day. The people was edified by his devotion; the hostile chiefs were
awed, or divided, or seduced; and both Kaled and Amrou, the future
conquerors of Syria and Egypt, most seasonably deserted the sinking
cause of idolatry. The power of Mahomet was increased by the submission
of the Arabian tribes; ten thousand soldiers were assembled for the
conquest of Mecca; and the idolaters, the weaker party, were easily
convicted of violating the truce. Enthusiasm and discipline impelled
the march, and preserved the secret till the blaze of ten thousand fires
proclaimed to the astonished Koreish the design, the approach, and the
irresistible force of the enemy. The haughty Abu Sophian presented the
keys of the city, admired the variety of arms and ensigns that passed
before him in review; observed that the son of Abdallah had acquired a
mighty kingdom, and confessed, under the cimeter of Omar, that he was
the apostle of the true God. The return of Marius and Scylla was stained
with the blood of the Romans: the revenge of Mahomet was stimulated by
religious zeal, and his injured followers were eager to execute or to
prevent the order of a massacre. Instead of indulging their passions and
his own, [139] the victorious exile forgave the guilt, and united the
factions, of Mecca. His troops, in three divisions, marched into the
city: eight-and-twenty of the inhabitants were slain by the sword of
Caled; eleven men and six women were proscribed by the sentence of
Mahomet; but he blamed the cruelty of his lieutenant; and several of the
most obnoxious victims were indebted for their lives to his clemency or
contempt. The chiefs of the Koreish were prostrate at his feet. "What
mercy can you expect from the man whom you have wronged?" "We confide
in the generosity of our kinsman." "And you shall not confide in vain:
begone! you are safe, you are free" The people of Mecca deserved their
pardon by the profession of Islam; and after an exile of seven years,
the fugitive missionary was enthroned as the prince and prophet of his
native country. [140] But the three hundred and sixty idols of the Caaba
were ignominiously broken: the house of God was purified and adorned: as
an example to future times, the apostle again fulfilled the duties of a
pilgrim; and a perpetual law was enacted that no unbeliever should dare
to set his foot on the territory of the holy city. [141]

[Footnote 138: The successive steps of the reduction of Mecca are
related by Abulfeda (p. 84-87, 97-100, 102-111) and Gagnier, (tom.
ii. p. 202-245, 309-322, tom. iii. p. 1-58,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen.
p. 8, 9, 10,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 103.)]

[Footnote 1381: This peaceful entrance into Mecca took place, according
to the treaty the following year. Weil, p. 202--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 139: After the conquest of Mecca, the Mahomet of Voltaire
imagines and perpetuates the most horrid crimes. The poet confesses,
that he is not supported by the truth of history, and can only allege,
que celui qui fait la guerre a sa patrie au nom de Dieu, est capable
de tout, (Oeuvres de Voltaire, tom. xv. p. 282.) The maxim is neither
charitable nor philosophic; and some reverence is surely due to the
fame of heroes and the religion of nations. I am informed that a Turkish
ambassador at Paris was much scandalized at the representation of this

[Footnote 140: The Mahometan doctors still dispute, whether Mecca was
reduced by force or consent, (Abulfeda, p. 107, et Gagnier ad locum;)
and this verbal controversy is of as much moment as our own about
William the Conqueror.]

[Footnote 141: In excluding the Christians from the peninsula of
Arabia, the province of Hejaz, or the navigation of the Red Sea, Chardin
(Voyages en Perse, tom. iv. p. 166) and Reland (Dissertat. Miscell.
tom. iii. p. 61) are more rigid than the Mussulmans themselves. The
Christians are received without scruple into the ports of Mocha, and
even of Gedda; and it is only the city and precincts of Mecca that are
inaccessible to the profane, (Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, p. 308,
309, Voyage en Arabie, tom. i. p. 205, 248, &c.)]

The conquest of Mecca determined the faith and obedience of the Arabian
tribes; [142] who, according to the vicissitudes of fortune, had obeyed,
or disregarded, the eloquence or the arms of the prophet. Indifference
for rites and opinions still marks the character of the Bedoweens; and
they might accept, as loosely as they hold, the doctrine of the Koran.
Yet an obstinate remnant still adhered to the religion and liberty of
their ancestors, and the war of Honain derived a proper appellation from
the idols, whom Mahomet had vowed to destroy, and whom the confederates
of Tayef had sworn to defend. [143] Four thousand Pagans advanced with
secrecy and speed to surprise the conqueror: they pitied and despised
the supine negligence of the Koreish, but they depended on the wishes,
and perhaps the aid, of a people who had so lately renounced their gods,
and bowed beneath the yoke of their enemy. The banners of Medina and
Mecca were displayed by the prophet; a crowd of Bedoweens increased
the strength or numbers of the army, and twelve thousand Mussulmans
entertained a rash and sinful presumption of their invincible strength.
They descended without precaution into the valley of Honain: the heights
had been occupied by the archers and slingers of the confederates; their
numbers were oppressed, their discipline was confounded, their courage
was appalled, and the Koreish smiled at their impending destruction. The
prophet, on his white mule, was encompassed by the enemies: he attempted
to rush against their spears in search of a glorious death: ten of his
faithful companions interposed their weapons and their breasts; three of
these fell dead at his feet: "O my brethren," he repeatedly cried, with
sorrow and indignation, "I am the son of Abdallah, I am the apostle of
truth! O man, stand fast in the faith! O God, send down thy succor!" His
uncle Abbas, who, like the heroes of Homer, excelled in the loudness
of his voice, made the valley resound with the recital of the gifts and
promises of God: the flying Moslems returned from all sides to the holy
standard; and Mahomet observed with pleasure that the furnace was again
rekindled: his conduct and example restored the battle, and he animated
his victorious troops to inflict a merciless revenge on the authors of
their shame. From the field of Honain, he marched without delay to the
siege of Tayef, sixty miles to the south-east of Mecca, a fortress of
strength, whose fertile lands produce the fruits of Syria in the midst
of the Arabian desert. A friendly tribe, instructed (I know not how)
in the art of sieges, supplied him with a train of battering-rams and
military engines, with a body of five hundred artificers. But it was in
vain that he offered freedom to the slaves of Tayef; that he violated
his own laws by the extirpation of the fruit-trees; that the ground was
opened by the miners; that the breach was assaulted by the troops. After
a siege of twenty-days, the prophet sounded a retreat; but he retreated
with a song of devout triumph, and affected to pray for the repentance
and safety of the unbelieving city. The spoils of this fortunate
expedition amounted to six thousand captives, twenty-four thousand
camels, forty thousand sheep, and four thousand ounces of silver: a
tribe who had fought at Hoinan redeemed their prisoners by the sacrifice
of their idols; but Mahomet compensated the loss, by resigning to the
soldiers his fifth of the plunder, and wished, for their sake, that he
possessed as many head of cattle as there were trees in the province
of Tehama. Instead of chastising the disaffection of the Koreish, he
endeavored to cut out their tongues, (his own expression,) and to secure
their attachment by a superior measure of liberality: Abu Sophian alone
was presented with three hundred camels and twenty ounces of silver; and
Mecca was sincerely converted to the profitable religion of the Koran.

[Footnote 142: Abulfeda, p. 112-115. Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 67-88.
D'Herbelot, Mohammed.]

[Footnote 143: The siege of Tayef, division of the spoil, &c., are
related by Abulfeda (p. 117-123) and Gagnier, (tom. iii. p. 88-111.)
It is Al Jannabi who mentions the engines and engineers of the tribe of
Daws. The fertile spot of Tayef was supposed to be a piece of the land
of Syria detached and dropped in the general deluge]

The fugitives and auxiliaries complained, that they who had borne the
burden were neglected in the season of victory "Alas!" replied their
artful leader, "suffer me to conciliate these recent enemies, these
doubtful proselytes, by the gift of some perishable goods. To your guard
I intrust my life and fortunes. You are the companions of my exile, of
my kingdom, of my paradise." He was followed by the deputies of Tayef,
who dreaded the repetition of a siege. "Grant us, O apostle of God! a
truce of three years, with the toleration of our ancient worship."
"Not a month, not an hour." "Excuse us at least from the obligation of
prayer." "Without prayer religion is of no avail." They submitted
in silence: their temples were demolished, and the same sentence of
destruction was executed on all the idols of Arabia. His lieutenants,
on the shores of the Red Sea, the Ocean, and the Gulf of Persia, were
saluted by the acclamations of a faithful people; and the ambassadors,
who knelt before the throne of Medina, were as numerous (says the
Arabian proverb) as the dates that fall from the maturity of a
palm-tree. The nation submitted to the God and the sceptre of Mahomet:
the opprobrious name of tribute was abolished: the spontaneous or
reluctant oblations of arms and tithes were applied to the service of
religion; and one hundred and fourteen thousand Moslems accompanied the
last pilgrimage of the apostle. [144]

[Footnote 144: The last conquests and pilgrimage of Mahomet are
contained in Abulfeda, (p. 121, 133,) Gagnier, (tom. iii. p. 119-219,)
Elmacin, (p. 10, 11,) Abulpharagius, (p. 103.) The ixth of the Hegira
was styled the Year of Embassies, (Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. p. 121.)]

When Heraclius returned in triumph from the Persian war, he entertained,
at Emesa, one of the ambassadors of Mahomet, who invited the princes and
nations of the earth to the profession of Islam. On this foundation the
zeal of the Arabians has supposed the secret conversion of the Christian
emperor: the vanity of the Greeks has feigned a personal visit of the
prince of Medina, who accepted from the royal bounty a rich domain, and
a secure retreat, in the province of Syria. [145] But the friendship
of Heraclius and Mahomet was of short continuance: the new religion had
inflamed rather than assuaged the rapacious spirit of the Saracens, and
the murder of an envoy afforded a decent pretence for invading, with
three thousand soldiers, the territory of Palestine, that extends to the
eastward of the Jordan. The holy banner was intrusted to Zeid; and such
was the discipline or enthusiasm of the rising sect, that the noblest
chiefs served without reluctance under the slave of the prophet. On the
event of his decease, Jaafar and Abdallah were successively substituted
to the command; and if the three should perish in the war, the troops
were authorized to elect their general. The three leaders were slain
in the battle of Muta, [146] the first military action, which tried the
valor of the Moslems against a foreign enemy. Zeid fell, like a soldier,
in the foremost ranks: the death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable: he
lost his right hand: he shifted the standard to his left: the left
was severed from his body: he embraced the standard with his bleeding
stumps, till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty honorable
wounds. [1461] "Advance," cried Abdallah, who stepped into the vacant
place, "advance with confidence: either victory or paradise is our own."
The lance of a Roman decided the alternative; but the falling standard
was rescued by Caled, the proselyte of Mecca: nine swords were broken in
his hand; and his valor withstood and repulsed the superior numbers of
the Christians. In the nocturnal council of the camp he was chosen to
command: his skilful evolutions of the ensuing day secured either the
victory or the retreat of the Saracens; and Caled is renowned among his
brethren and his enemies by the glorious appellation of the Sword of
God. In the pulpit, Mahomet described, with prophetic rapture, the
crowns of the blessed martyrs; but in private he betrayed the feelings
of human nature: he was surprised as he wept over the daughter of Zeid:
"What do I see?" said the astonished votary. "You see," replied the
apostle, "a friend who is deploring the loss of his most faithful
friend." After the conquest of Mecca, the sovereign of Arabia affected
to prevent the hostile preparations of Heraclius; and solemnly
proclaimed war against the Romans, without attempting to disguise
the hardships and dangers of the enterprise. [147] The Moslems were
discouraged: they alleged the want of money, or horses, or provisions;
the season of harvest, and the intolerable heat of the summer: "Hell is
much hotter," said the indignant prophet. He disdained to compel
their service: but on his return he admonished the most guilty, by an
excommunication of fifty days. Their desertion enhanced the merit of
Abubeker, Othman, and the faithful companions who devoted their lives
and fortunes; and Mahomet displayed his banner at the head of ten
thousand horse and twenty thousand foot. Painful indeed was the distress
of the march: lassitude and thirst were aggravated by the scorching and
pestilential winds of the desert: ten men rode by turns on one camel;
and they were reduced to the shameful necessity of drinking the water
from the belly of that useful animal. In the mid-way, ten days' journey
from Medina and Damascus, they reposed near the grove and fountain of
Tabuc. Beyond that place Mahomet declined the prosecution of the war:
he declared himself satisfied with the peaceful intentions, he was more
probably daunted by the martial array, of the emperor of the East. But
the active and intrepid Caled spread around the terror of his name; and
the prophet received the submission of the tribes and cities, from
the Euphrates to Ailah, at the head of the Red Sea. To his Christian
subjects, Mahomet readily granted the security of their persons, the
freedom of their trade, the property of their goods, and the toleration
of their worship. [148] The weakness of their Arabian brethren had
restrained them from opposing his ambition; the disciples of Jesus
were endeared to the enemy of the Jews; and it was the interest of a
conqueror to propose a fair capitulation to the most powerful religion
of the earth.

[Footnote 145: Compare the bigoted Al Jannabi (apud Gagnier, tom. ii.
p. 232-255) with the no less bigoted Greeks, Theophanes, (p. 276-227,)
Zonaras (tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 86,) and Cedrenus, (p. 421.)]

[Footnote 146: For the battle of Muta, and its consequences, see
Abulfeda (p 100-102) and Gagnier, (tom. ii. p. 327-343.).]

[Footnote 1461: To console the afflicted relatives of his kinsman
Jauffer, he (Mahomet) represented that, in Paradise, in exchange for
the arms which he had lost, he had been furnished with a pair of wings,
resplendent with the blushing glories of the ruby, and with which he
was become the inseparable companion of the archangal Gabriel, in
his volitations through the regions of eternal bliss. Hence, in the
catalogue of the martyrs, he has been denominated Jauffer teyaur, the
winged Jauffer. Price, Chronological Retrospect of Mohammedan History,
vol. i. p. 5.-M.]

[Footnote 147: The expedition of Tabuc is recorded by our ordinary
historians Abulfeda (Vit. Moham. p. 123-127) and Gagnier, (Vie de
Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 147-163: ) but we have the advantage of appealing
to the original evidence of the Koran, (c. 9, p. 154, 165,) with Sale's
learned and rational notes.]

[Footnote 148: The Diploma securitatis Ailensibus is attested by Ahmed
Ben Joseph, and the author Libri Splendorum, (Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfe
dam, p. 125;) but Abulfeda himself, as well as Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen.
p. 11,) though he owns Mahomet's regard for the Christians, (p 13,) only
mentions peace and tribute. In the year 1630, Sionita published at Paris
the text and version of Mahomet's patent in favor of the Christians;
which was admitted and reprobated by the opposite taste of Salmasius
and Grotius, (Bayle, Mahomet, Rem. Aa.) Hottinger doubts of its
authenticity, (Hist. Orient. p. 237;) Renaudot urges the consent of the
Mohametans, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 169;) but Mosheim (Hist. Eccles.
p. 244) shows the futility of their opinion and inclines to believe
it spurious. Yet Abulpharagius quotes the impostor's treaty with the
Nestorian patriarch, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 418;) but
Abulpharagius was primate of the Jacobites.]

Till the age of sixty-three years, the strength of Mahomet was equal to
the temporal and spiritual fatigues of his mission. His epileptic fits,
an absurd calumny of the Greeks, would be an object of pity rather than
abhorrence; [149] but he seriously believed that he was poisoned at
Chaibar by the revenge of a Jewish female. [150] During four years,
the health of the prophet declined; his infirmities increased; but
his mortal disease was a fever of fourteen days, which deprived him
by intervals of the use of reason. As soon as he was conscious of
his danger, he edified his brethren by the humility of his virtue or
penitence. "If there be any man," said the apostle from the pulpit,
"whom I have unjustly scourged, I submit my own back to the lash of
retaliation. Have I aspersed the reputation of a Mussulman? let him
proclaim my thoughts in the face of the congregation. Has any one been
despoiled of his goods? the little that I possess shall compensate the
principal and the interest of the debt." "Yes," replied a voice from
the crowd, "I am entitled to three drams of silver." Mahomet heard the
complaint, satisfied the demand, and thanked his creditor for accusing
him in this world rather than at the day of judgment. He beheld with
temperate firmness the approach of death; enfranchised his slaves
(seventeen men, as they are named, and eleven women;) minutely directed
the order of his funeral, and moderated the lamentations of his weeping
friends, on whom he bestowed the benediction of peace. Till the third
day before his death, he regularly performed the function of public
prayer: the choice of Abubeker to supply his place, appeared to mark
that ancient and faithful friend as his successor in the sacerdotal
and regal office; but he prudently declined the risk and envy of a
more explicit nomination. At a moment when his faculties were visibly
impaired, he called for pen and ink to write, or, more properly,
to dictate, a divine book, the sum and accomplishment of all his
revelations: a dispute arose in the chamber, whether he should be
allowed to supersede the authority of the Koran; and the prophet was
forced to reprove the indecent vehemence of his disciples. If the
slightest credit may be afforded to the traditions of his wives and
companions, he maintained, in the bosom of his family, and to the last
moments of his life, the dignity [1501] of an apostle, and the faith of
an enthusiast; described the visits of Gabriel, who bade an everlasting
farewell to the earth, and expressed his lively confidence, not only
of the mercy, but of the favor, of the Supreme Being. In a familiar
discourse he had mentioned his special prerogative, that the angel of
death was not allowed to take his soul till he had respectfully asked
the permission of the prophet. The request was granted; and Mahomet
immediately fell into the agony of his dissolution: his head was
reclined on the lap of Ayesha, the best beloved of all his wives; he
fainted with the violence of pain; recovering his spirits, he raised his
eyes towards the roof of the house, and, with a steady look, though a
faltering voice, uttered the last broken, though articulate, words:
"O God!..... pardon my sins....... Yes, ...... I come,...... among my
fellow-citizens on high;" and thus peaceably expired on a carpet spread
upon the floor. An expedition for the conquest of Syria was stopped by
this mournful event; the army halted at the gates of Medina; the chiefs
were assembled round their dying master. The city, more especially
the house, of the prophet, was a scene of clamorous sorrow of silent
despair: fanaticism alone could suggest a ray of hope and consolation.
"How can he be dead, our witness, our intercessor, our mediator, with
God? By God he is not dead: like Moses and Jesus, he is wrapped in a
holy trance, and speedily will he return to his faithful people." The
evidence of sense was disregarded; and Omar, unsheathing his cimeter,
threatened to strike off the heads of the infidels, who should dare
to affirm that the prophet was no more. The tumult was appeased by the
weight and moderation of Abubeker. "Is it Mahomet," said he to Omar and
the multitude, "or the God of Mahomet, whom you worship? The God of
Mahomet liveth forever; but the apostle was a mortal like ourselves, and
according to his own prediction, he has experienced the common fate of
mortality." He was piously interred by the hands of his nearest kinsman,
on the same spot on which he expired: [151] Medina has been sanctified
by the death and burial of Mahomet; and the innumerable pilgrims of
Mecca often turn aside from the way, to bow, in voluntary devotion,
[152] before the simple tomb of the prophet. [153]

[Footnote 149: The epilepsy, or falling-sickness, of Mahomet is asserted
by Theophanes, Zonaras, and the rest of the Greeks; and is greedily
swallowed by the gross bigotry of Hottinger, (Hist. Orient. p. 10, 11,)
Prideaux, (Life of Mahomet, p. 12,) and Maracci, (tom. ii. Alcoran, p.
762, 763.) The titles (the wrapped-up, the covered) of two chapters of
the Koran, (73, 74) can hardly be strained to such an interpretation:
the silence, the ignorance of the Mahometan commentators, is more
conclusive than the most peremptory denial; and the charitable side is
espoused by Ockley, (Hist. of the Saracens, tom. i. p. 301,) Gagnier,
(ad Abulfedam, p. 9. Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 118,) and Sale, (Koran,
p. 469-474.) * Note: Dr Weil believes in the epilepsy, and adduces
strong evidence for it; and surely it may be believed, in perfect
charity; and that the prophet's visions were connected, as they appear
to have been, with these fits. I have little doubt that he saw and
believed these visions, and visions they were. Weil, p. 43.--M. 1845.]

[Footnote 150: This poison (more ignominious since it was offered as
a test of his prophetic knowledge) is frankly confessed by his zealous
votaries, Abulfeda (p. 92) and Al Jannabi, (apud Gagnier, tom. ii. p.

[Footnote 1501: Major Price, who writes with the authority of one widely
conversant with the original sources of Eastern knowledge, and in a very
candid tone, takes a very different view of the prophet's death. "In
tracing the circumstances of Mahommed's illness, we look in vain for
any proofs of that meek and heroic firmness which might be expected to
dignify and embellish the last moments of the apostle of God. On some
occasions he betrayed such want of fortitude, such marks of childish
impatience, as are in general to be found in men only of the most
ordinary stamp; and such as extorted from his wife Ayesha, in
particular, the sarcastic remark, that in herself, or any of her
family, a similar demeanor would long since have incurred his severe
displeasure. * * * He said that the acuteness and violence of his
sufferings were necessarily in the proportion of those honors with which
it had ever pleased the hand of Omnipotence to distinguish its peculiar
favorites." Price, vol. i. p. 13.--M]

[Footnote 151: The Greeks and Latins have invented and propagated the
vulgar and ridiculous story, that Mahomet's iron tomb is suspended in
the air at Mecca, (Laonicus Chalcondyles, de Rebus Turcicis, l. iii.
p. 66,) by the action of equal and potent loadstones, (Dictionnaire de
Bayle, Mahomet, Rem. Ee. Ff.) Without any philosophical inquiries, it
may suffice, that, 1. The prophet was not buried at Mecca; and, 2. That
his tomb at Medina, which has been visited by millions, is placed on the
ground, (Reland, de Relig. Moham. l. ii. c. 19, p. 209-211. Gagnier,
Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 263-268.) * Note: According to the
testimony of all the Eastern authors, Mahomet died on Monday the 12th
Reby 1st, in the year 11 of the Hegira, which answers in reality to the
8th June, 632, of J. C. We find in Ockley (Hist. of Saracens) that it
was on Monday the 6th June, 632. This is a mistake; for the 6th June of
that year was a Saturday, not a Monday; the 8th June, therefore, was a
Monday. It is easy to discover that the lunar year, in this calculation
has been confounded with the solar. St. Martin vol. xi. p. 186.--M.]

[Footnote 152: Al Jannabi enumerates (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p.
372-391) the multifarious duties of a pilgrim who visits the tombs of
the prophet and his companions; and the learned casuist decides, that
this act of devotion is nearest in obligation and merit to a divine
precept. The doctors are divided which, of Mecca or Medina, be the most
excellent, (p. 391-394.)]

[Footnote 153: The last sickness, death, and burial of Mahomet, are
described by Abulfeda and Gagnier, (Vit. Moham. p. 133-142. --Vie
de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 220-271.) The most private and interesting
circumstances were originally received from Ayesha, Ali, the sons of
Abbas, &c.; and as they dwelt at Medina, and survived the prophet many
years, they might repeat the pious tale to a second or third generation
of pilgrims.]

At the conclusion of the life of Mahomet, it may perhaps be expected,
that I should balance his faults and virtues, that I should decide
whether the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to
that extraordinary man. Had I been intimately conversant with the son of
Abdallah, the task would still be difficult, and the success uncertain:
at the distance of twelve centuries, I darkly contemplate his shade
through a cloud of religious incense; and could I truly delineate the
portrait of an hour, the fleeting resemblance would not equally apply
to the solitary of Mount Hera, to the preacher of Mecca, and to the
conqueror of Arabia. The author of a mighty revolution appears to have
been endowed with a pious and contemplative disposition: so soon as
marriage had raised him above the pressure of want, he avoided the
paths of ambition and avarice; and till the age of forty he lived with
innocence, and would have died without a name. The unity of God is an
idea most congenial to nature and reason; and a slight conversation
with the Jews and Christians would teach him to despise and detest the
idolatry of Mecca. It was the duty of a man and a citizen to impart the
doctrine of salvation, to rescue his country from the dominion of sin
and error. The energy of a mind incessantly bent on the same object,
would convert a general obligation into a particular call; the warm
suggestions of the understanding or the fancy would be felt as the
inspirations of Heaven; the labor of thought would expire in rapture
and vision; and the inward sensation, the invisible monitor, would be
described with the form and attributes of an angel of God. [154] From
enthusiasm to imposture, the step is perilous and slippery: the daemon
of Socrates [155] affords a memorable instance, how a wise man may
deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience
may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and
voluntary fraud. Charity may believe that the original motives of
Mahomet were those of pure and genuine benevolence; but a human
missionary is incapable of cherishing the obstinate unbelievers who
reject his claims despise his arguments, and persecute his life; he
might forgive his personal adversaries, he may lawfully hate the enemies
of God; the stern passions of pride and revenge were kindled in the
bosom of Mahomet, and he sighed, like the prophet of Nineveh, for the
destruction of the rebels whom he had condemned. The injustice of Mecca
and the choice of Medina, transformed the citizen into a prince, the
humble preacher into the leader of armies; but his sword was consecrated
by the example of the saints; and the same God who afflicts a sinful
world with pestilence and earthquakes, might inspire for their
conversion or chastisement the valor of his servants. In the exercise
of political government, he was compelled to abate of the stern rigor of
fanaticism, to comply in some measure with the prejudices and passions
of his followers, and to employ even the vices of mankind as the
instruments of their salvation. The use of fraud and perfidy, of cruelty
and injustice, were often subservient to the propagation of the faith;
and Mahomet commanded or approved the assassination of the Jews and
idolaters who had escaped from the field of battle. By the repetition
of such acts, the character of Mahomet must have been gradually stained;
and the influence of such pernicious habits would be poorly compensated
by the practice of the personal and social virtues which are necessary
to maintain the reputation of a prophet among his sectaries and friends.
Of his last years, ambition was the ruling passion; and a politician
will suspect, that he secretly smiled (the victorious impostor!) at the
enthusiasm of his youth, and the credulity of his proselytes. [156] A
philosopher will observe, that their credulity and his success would
tend more strongly to fortify the assurance of his divine mission,
that his interest and religion were inseparably connected, and that
his conscience would be soothed by the persuasion, that he alone was
absolved by the Deity from the obligation of positive and moral laws. If
he retained any vestige of his native innocence, the sins of Mahomet may
be allowed as an evidence of his sincerity. In the support of truth, the
arts of fraud and fiction may be deemed less criminal; and he would have
started at the foulness of the means, had he not been satisfied of the
importance and justice of the end. Even in a conqueror or a priest, I
can surprise a word or action of unaffected humanity; and the decree
of Mahomet, that, in the sale of captives, the mothers should never be
separated from their children, may suspend, or moderate, the censure of
the historian. [157]

[Footnote 154: The Christians, rashly enough, have assigned to Mahomet a
tame pigeon, that seemed to descend from heaven and whisper in his ear.
As this pretended miracle is urged by Grotius, (de Veritate Religionis
Christianae,) his Arabic translator, the learned Pocock, inquired of him
the names of his authors; and Grotius confessed, that it is unknown to
the Mahometans themselves. Lest it should provoke their indignation and
laughter, the pious lie is suppressed in the Arabic version; but it has
maintained an edifying place in the numerous editions of the Latin
text, (Pocock, Specimen, Hist. Arabum, p. 186, 187. Reland, de Religion.
Moham. l. ii. c. 39, p. 259-262.)]

[Footnote 155: (Plato, in Apolog. Socrat. c. 19, p. 121, 122, edit.
Fischer.) The familiar examples, which Socrates urges in his Dialogue
with Theages, (Platon. Opera, tom. i. p. 128, 129, edit. Hen. Stephan.)
are beyond the reach of human foresight; and the divine inspiration of
the philosopher is clearly taught in the Memorabilia of Xenophon. The
ideas of the most rational Platonists are expressed by Cicero, (de
Divinat. i. 54,) and in the xivth and xvth Dissertations of Maximus of
Tyre, (p. 153-172, edit. Davis.)]

[Footnote 156: In some passage of his voluminous writings, Voltaire
compares the prophet, in his old age, to a fakir, "qui detache la chaine
de son cou pour en donner sur les oreilles a ses confreres."]

[Footnote 157: Gagnier relates, with the same impartial pen, this humane
law of the prophet, and the murders of Caab, and Sophian, which he
prompted and approved, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 69, 97, 208.)]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VII.

The good sense of Mahomet [158] despised the pomp of royalty: the
apostle of God submitted to the menial offices of the family: he kindled
the fire, swept the floor, milked the ewes, and mended with his own
hands his shoes and his woollen garment. Disdaining the penance and
merit of a hermit, he observed, without effort or vanity, the abstemious
diet of an Arab and a soldier. On solemn occasions he feasted his
companions with rustic and hospitable plenty; but in his domestic life,
many weeks would elapse without a tire being kindled on the hearth of
the prophet. The interdiction of wine was confirmed by his example;
his hunger was appeased with a sparing allowance of barley-bread:
he delighted in the taste of milk and honey; but his ordinary food
consisted of dates and water. Perfumes and women were the two sensual
enjoyments which his nature required, and his religion did not forbid;
and Mahomet affirmed, that the fervor of his devotion was increased by
these innocent pleasures. The heat of the climate inflames the blood
of the Arabs; and their libidinous complexion has been noticed by the
writers of antiquity. [159] Their incontinence was regulated by the
civil and religious laws of the Koran: their incestuous alliances were
blamed; the boundless license of polygamy was reduced to four legitimate
wives or concubines; their rights both of bed and of dowry were
equitably determined; the freedom of divorce was discouraged, adultery
was condemned as a capital offence; and fornication, in either sex, was
punished with a hundred stripes. [160] Such were the calm and rational
precepts of the legislator: but in his private conduct, Mahomet indulged
the appetites of a man, and abused the claims of a prophet. A special
revelation dispensed him from the laws which he had imposed on his
nation: the female sex, without reserve, was abandoned to his desires;
and this singular prerogative excited the envy, rather than the scandal,
the veneration, rather than the envy, of the devout Mussulmans. If we
remember the seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines of the
wise Solomon, we shall applaud the modesty of the Arabian, who espoused
no more than seventeen or fifteen wives; eleven are enumerated who
occupied at Medina their separate apartments round the house of the
apostle, and enjoyed in their turns the favor of his conjugal society.
What is singular enough, they were all widows, excepting only Ayesha,
the daughter of Abubeker. She was doubtless a virgin, since Mahomet
consummated his nuptials (such is the premature ripeness of the climate)
when she was only nine years of age. The youth, the beauty, the spirit
of Ayesha, gave her a superior ascendant: she was beloved and trusted
by the prophet; and, after his death, the daughter of Abubeker was long
revered as the mother of the faithful. Her behavior had been ambiguous
and indiscreet: in a nocturnal march she was accidentally left behind;
and in the morning Ayesha returned to the camp with a man. The temper of
Mahomet was inclined to jealousy; but a divine revelation assured him
of her innocence: he chastised her accusers, and published a law of
domestic peace, that no woman should be condemned unless four male
witnesses had seen her in the act of adultery. [161] In his adventures
with Zeineb, the wife of Zeid, and with Mary, an Egyptian captive, the
amorous prophet forgot the interest of his reputation. At the house of
Zeid, his freedman and adopted son, he beheld, in a loose undress, the
beauty of Zeineb, and burst forth into an ejaculation of devotion and
desire. The servile, or grateful, freedman understood the hint, and
yielded without hesitation to the love of his benefactor. But as the
filial relation had excited some doubt and scandal, the angel Gabriel
descended from heaven to ratify the deed, to annul the adoption, and
gently to reprove the apostle for distrusting the indulgence of his God.
One of his wives, Hafna, the daughter of Omar, surprised him on her own
bed, in the embraces of his Egyptian captive: she promised secrecy and
forgiveness, he swore that he would renounce the possession of Mary.
Both parties forgot their engagements; and Gabriel again descended with
a chapter of the Koran, to absolve him from his oath, and to exhort him
freely to enjoy his captives and concubines, without listening to the
clamors of his wives. In a solitary retreat of thirty days, he labored,
alone with Mary, to fulfil the commands of the angel. When his love and
revenge were satiated, he summoned to his presence his eleven wives,
reproached their disobedience and indiscretion, and threatened them with
a sentence of divorce, both in this world and in the next; a dreadful
sentence, since those who had ascended the bed of the prophet were
forever excluded from the hope of a second marriage. Perhaps the
incontinence of Mahomet may be palliated by the tradition of his natural
or preternatural gifts; [162] he united the manly virtue of thirty of
the children of Adam: and the apostle might rival the thirteenth labor
[163] of the Grecian Hercules. [164] A more serious and decent excuse
may be drawn from his fidelity to Cadijah. During the twenty-four years
of their marriage, her youthful husband abstained from the right of
polygamy, and the pride or tenderness of the venerable matron was never
insulted by the society of a rival. After her death, he placed her in
the rank of the four perfect women, with the sister of Moses, the mother
of Jesus, and Fatima, the best beloved of his daughters. "Was she not
old?" said Ayesha, with the insolence of a blooming beauty; "has not God
given you a better in her place?" "No, by God," said Mahomet, with an
effusion of honest gratitude, "there never can be a better! She believed
in me when men despised me; she relieved my wants, when I was poor and
persecuted by the world." [165]

[Footnote 158: For the domestic life of Mahomet, consult Gagnier, and
the corresponding chapters of Abulfeda; for his diet, (tom. iii. p.
285-288;) his children, (p. 189, 289;) his wives, (p. 290-303;) his
marriage with Zeineb, (tom. ii. p. 152-160;) his amour with Mary,
(p. 303-309;) the false accusation of Ayesha, (p. 186-199.) The most
original evidence of the three last transactions is contained in
the xxivth, xxxiiid, and lxvith chapters of the Koran, with Sale's
Commentary. Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 80-90) and Maracci (Prodrom.
Alcoran, part iv. p. 49-59) have maliciously exaggerated the frailties
of Mahomet.]

[Footnote 159: Incredibile est quo ardore apud eos in Venerem uterque
solvitur sexus, (Ammian. Marcellin. l. xiv. c. 4.)]

[Footnote 160: Sale (Preliminary Discourse, p. 133-137) has
recapitulated the laws of marriage, divorce, &c.; and the curious reader
of Selden's Uror Hebraica will recognize many Jewish ordinances.]

[Footnote 161: In a memorable case, the Caliph Omar decided that all
presumptive evidence was of no avail; and that all the four witnesses
must have actually seen stylum in pyxide, (Abulfedae Annales Moslemici,
p. 71, vers. Reiske.)]

[Footnote 162: Sibi robur ad generationem, quantum triginta viri habent,
inesse jacteret: ita ut unica hora posset undecim foeminis satisfacere,
ut ex Arabum libris refert Stus. Petrus Paschasius, c. 2., (Maracci,
Prodromus Alcoran, p. iv. p. 55. See likewise Observations de Belon,
l. iii. c. 10, fol. 179, recto.) Al Jannabi (Gagnier, tom. iii. p. 287)
records his own testimony, that he surpassed all men in conjugal vigor;
and Abulfeda mentions the exclamation of Ali, who washed the body after
his death, "O propheta, certe penis tuus coelum versus erectus est," in
Vit. Mohammed, p. 140.]

[Footnote 163: I borrow the style of a father of the church, (Greg.
Nazianzen, Orat. iii. p. 108.)]

[Footnote 164: The common and most glorious legend includes, in a single
night the fifty victories of Hercules over the virgin daughters of
Thestius, (Diodor. Sicul. tom. i. l. iv. p. 274. Pausanias, l. ix. p.
763. Statius Sylv. l. i. eleg. iii. v. 42.) But Athenaeus allows seven
nights, (Deipnosophist, l. xiii. p. 556,) and Apollodorus fifty, for
this arduous achievement of Hercules, who was then no more than eighteen
years of age, (Bibliot. l. ii. c. 4, p. 111, cum notis Heyne, part i. p.

[Footnote 165: Abulfeda in Vit. Moham. p. 12, 13, 16, 17, cum Notis

In the largest indulgence of polygamy, the founder of a religion and
empire might aspire to multiply the chances of a numerous posterity and
a lineal succession. The hopes of Mahomet were fatally disappointed. The
virgin Ayesha, and his ten widows of mature age and approved fertility,
were barren in his potent embraces. The four sons of Cadijah died in
their infancy. Mary, his Egyptian concubine, was endeared to him by the
birth of Ibrahim. At the end of fifteen months the prophet wept over his
grave; but he sustained with firmness the raillery of his enemies, and
checked the adulation or credulity of the Moslems, by the assurance that
an eclipse of the sun was not occasioned by the death of the infant.
Cadijah had likewise given him four daughters, who were married to
the most faithful of his disciples: the three eldest died before their
father; but Fatima, who possessed his confidence and love, became the
wife of her cousin Ali, and the mother of an illustrious progeny.
The merit and misfortunes of Ali and his descendants will lead me to
anticipate, in this place, the series of the Saracen caliphs, a title
which describes the commanders of the faithful as the vicars and
successors of the apostle of God. [166]

[Footnote 166: This outline of the Arabian history is drawn from the
Bibliotheque Orientale of D'Herbelot, (under the names of Aboubecre,
Omar Othman, Ali, &c.;) from the Annals of Abulfeda, Abulpharagius, and
Elmacin, (under the proper years of the Hegira,) and especially from
Ockley's History of the Saracens, (vol. i. p. 1-10, 115-122, 229, 249,
363-372, 378-391, and almost the whole of the second volume.) Yet we
should weigh with caution the traditions of the hostile sects; a stream
which becomes still more muddy as it flows farther from the source.
Sir John Chardin has too faithfully copied the fables and errors of the
modern Persians, (Voyages, tom. ii. p. 235-250, &c.)]

The birth, the alliance, the character of Ali, which exalted him above
the rest of his countrymen, might justify his claim to the vacant throne
of Arabia. The son of Abu Taleb was, in his own right, the chief of the
family of Hashem, and the hereditary prince or guardian of the city and
temple of Mecca. The light of prophecy was extinct; but the husband
of Fatima might expect the inheritance and blessing of her father:
the Arabs had sometimes been patient of a female reign; and the two
grandsons of the prophet had often been fondled in his lap, and shown
in his pulpit as the hope of his age, and the chief of the youth of
paradise. The first of the true believers might aspire to march before
them in this world and in the next; and if some were of a graver and
more rigid cast, the zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by
any recent proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier,
and a saint: his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and
religious sayings; [167] and every antagonist, in the combats of the
tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valor. From the
first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the apostle
was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his
brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses. The
son of Abu Taleb was afterwards reproached for neglecting to secure his
interest by a solemn declaration of his right, which would have silenced
all competition, and sealed his succession by the decrees of Heaven. But
the unsuspecting hero confided in himself: the jealousy of empire,
and perhaps the fear of opposition, might suspend the resolutions of
Mahomet; and the bed of sickness was besieged by the artful Ayesha, the
daughter of Abubeker, and the enemy of Ali. [1671]

[Footnote 167: Ockley (at the end of his second volume) has given
an English version of 169 sentences, which he ascribes, with some
hesitation, to Ali, the son of Abu Taleb. His preface is colored by
the enthusiasm of a translator; yet these sentences delineate a
characteristic, though dark, picture of human life.]

[Footnote 1671: Gibbon wrote chiefly from the Arabic or Sunnite account
of these transactions, the only sources accessible at the time when he
composed his History. Major Price, writing from Persian authorities,
affords us the advantage of comparing throughout what may be fairly
considered the Shiite Version. The glory of Ali is the constant burden
of their strain. He was destined, and, according to some accounts,
designated, for the caliphate by the prophet; but while the others were
fiercely pushing their own interests, Ali was watching the remains of
Mahomet with pious fidelity. His disinterested magnanimity, on each
separate occasion, declined the sceptre, and gave the noble example of
obedience to the appointed caliph. He is described, in retirement,
on the throne, and in the field of battle, as transcendently pious,
magnanimous, valiant, and humane. He lost his empire through his excess
of virtue and love for the faithful his life through his confidence in
God, and submission to the decrees of fate. Compare the curious account
of this apathy in Price, chapter ii. It is to be regretted, I must add,
that Major Price has contented himself with quoting the names of the
Persian works which he follows, without any account of their character,
age, and authority.--M.]

The silence and death of the prophet restored the liberty of the people;
and his companions convened an assembly to deliberate on the choice
of his successor. The hereditary claim and lofty spirit of Ali were
offensive to an aristocracy of elders, desirous of bestowing and
resuming the sceptre by a free and frequent election: the Koreish could
never be reconciled to the proud preeminence of the line of Hashem; the
ancient discord of the tribes was rekindled, the fugitives of Mecca and
the auxiliaries of Medina asserted their respective merits; and the rash
proposal of choosing two independent caliphs would have crushed in their
infancy the religion and empire of the Saracens. The tumult was appeased
by the disinterested resolution of Omar, who, suddenly renouncing his
own pretensions, stretched forth his hand, and declared himself the
first subject of the mild and venerable Abubeker. [1672] The urgency
of the moment, and the acquiescence of the people, might excuse this
illegal and precipitate measure; but Omar himself confessed from the
pulpit, that if any Mulsulman should hereafter presume to anticipate
the suffrage of his brethren, both the elector and the elected would be
worthy of death. [168] After the simple inauguration of Abubeker, he
was obeyed in Medina, Mecca, and the provinces of Arabia: the Hashemites
alone declined the oath of fidelity; and their chief, in his own house,
maintained, above six months, a sullen and independent reserve; without
listening to the threats of Omar, who attempted to consume with fire the
habitation of the daughter of the apostle. The death of Fatima, and
the decline of his party, subdued the indignant spirit of Ali: he
condescended to salute the commander of the faithful, accepted his
excuse of the necessity of preventing their common enemies, and wisely
rejected his courteous offer of abdicating the government of the
Arabians. After a reign of two years, the aged caliph was summoned by
the angel of death. In his testament, with the tacit approbation of his
companions, he bequeathed the sceptre to the firm and intrepid virtue of
Omar. "I have no occasion," said the modest candidate, "for the place."
"But the place has occasion for you," replied Abubeker; who expired with
a fervent prayer, that the God of Mahomet would ratify his choice, and
direct the Mussulmans in the way of concord and obedience. The prayer
was not ineffectual, since Ali himself, in a life of privacy and prayer,
professed to revere the superior worth and dignity of his rival; who
comforted him for the loss of empire, by the most flattering marks of
confidence and esteem. In the twelfth year of his reign, Omar received
a mortal wound from the hand of an assassin: he rejected with equal
impartiality the names of his son and of Ali, refused to load his
conscience with the sins of his successor, and devolved on six of the
most respectable companions the arduous task of electing a commander
of the faithful. On this occasion, Ali was again blamed by his friends
[169] for submitting his right to the judgment of men, for recognizing
their jurisdiction by accepting a place among the six electors. He might
have obtained their suffrage, had he deigned to promise a strict and
servile conformity, not only to the Koran and tradition, but likewise to
the determinations of two seniors. [170] With these limitations, Othman,
the secretary of Mahomet, accepted the government; nor was it till after
the third caliph, twenty-four years after the death of the prophet, that
Ali was invested, by the popular choice, with the regal and sacerdotal
office. The manners of the Arabians retained their primitive simplicity,
and the son of Abu Taleb despised the pomp and vanity of this world.
At the hour of prayer, he repaired to the mosch of Medina, clothed in a
thin cotton gown, a coarse turban on his head, his slippers in one hand,
and his bow in the other, instead of a walking-staff. The companions of
the prophet, and the chiefs of the tribes, saluted their new sovereign,
and gave him their right hands as a sign of fealty and allegiance.

[Footnote 1672: Abubeker, the father of the virgin Ayesha. St. Martin,
vol. XL, p. 88--M.]

[Footnote 168: Ockley, (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 5, 6,) from
an Arabian Ms., represents Ayesha as adverse to the substitution of her
father in the place of the apostle. This fact, so improbable in itself,
is unnoticed by Abulfeda, Al Jannabi, and Al Bochari, the last of whom
quotes the tradition of Ayesha herself, (Vit. Mohammed, p. 136 Vie de
Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 236.)]

[Footnote 169: Particularly by his friend and cousin Abdallah, the
son of Abbas, who died A.D. 687, with the title of grand doctor of the
Moslems. In Abulfeda he recapitulates the important occasions in which
Ali had neglected his salutary advice, (p. 76, vers. Reiske;) and
concludes, (p. 85,) O princeps fidelium, absque controversia tu quidem
vere fortis es, at inops boni consilii, et rerum gerendarum parum

[Footnote 170: I suspect that the two seniors (Abulpharagius, p. 115.
Ockley, tom. i. p. 371,) may signify not two actual counsellors, but his
two predecessors, Abubeker and Omar.]

The mischiefs that flow from the contests of ambition are usually
confined to the times and countries in which they have been agitated.
But the religious discord of the friends and enemies of Ali has been
renewed in every age of the Hegira, and is still maintained in the
immortal hatred of the Persians and Turks. [171] The former, who are
branded with the appellation of Shiites or sectaries, have enriched
the Mahometan creed with a new article of faith; and if Mahomet be
the apostle, his companion Ali is the vicar, of God. In their private
converse, in their public worship, they bitterly execrate the three
usurpers who intercepted his indefeasible right to the dignity of Imam
and Caliph; and the name of Omar expresses in their tongue the perfect
accomplishment of wickedness and impiety. [172] The Sonnites, who
are supported by the general consent and orthodox tradition of the
Mussulmans, entertain a more impartial, or at least a more decent,
opinion. They respect the memory of Abubeker, Omar, Othman, and Ali, the
holy and legitimate successors of the prophet. But they assign the last
and most humble place to the husband of Fatima, in the persuasion that
the order of succession was determined by the decrees of sanctity.
[173] An historian who balances the four caliphs with a hand unshaken by
superstition, will calmly pronounce that their manners were alike pure
and exemplary; that their zeal was fervent, and probably sincere; and
that, in the midst of riches and power, their lives were devoted to
the practice of moral and religious duties. But the public virtues
of Abubeker and Omar, the prudence of the first, the severity of the
second, maintained the peace and prosperity of their reigns. The feeble
temper and declining age of Othman were incapable of sustaining the
weight of conquest and empire. He chose, and he was deceived; he
trusted, and he was betrayed: the most deserving of the faithful
became useless or hostile to his government, and his lavish bounty was
productive only of ingratitude and discontent. The spirit of discord
went forth in the provinces: their deputies assembled at Medina; and
the Charegites, the desperate fanatics who disclaimed the yoke of
subordination and reason, were confounded among the free-born Arabs,
who demanded the redress of their wrongs and the punishment of their
oppressors. From Cufa, from Bassora, from Egypt, from the tribes of
the desert, they rose in arms, encamped about a league from Medina,
and despatched a haughty mandate to their sovereign, requiring him to
execute justice, or to descend from the throne. His repentance began to
disarm and disperse the insurgents; but their fury was rekindled by
the arts of his enemies; and the forgery of a perfidious secretary was
contrived to blast his reputation and precipitate his fall. The caliph
had lost the only guard of his predecessors, the esteem and confidence
of the Moslems: during a siege of six weeks his water and provisions
were intercepted, and the feeble gates of the palace were protected only
by the scruples of the more timorous rebels. Forsaken by those who had
abused his simplicity, the hopeless and venerable caliph expected the
approach of death: the brother of Ayesha marched at the head of the
assassins; and Othman, with the Koran in his lap, was pierced with
a multitude of wounds. [1731] A tumultuous anarchy of five days was
appeased by the inauguration of Ali: his refusal would have provoked a
general massacre. In this painful situation he supported the becoming
pride of the chief of the Hashemites; declared that he had rather serve
than reign; rebuked the presumption of the strangers; and required the
formal, if not the voluntary, assent of the chiefs of the nation. He
has never been accused of prompting the assassin of Omar; though Persia
indiscreetly celebrates the festival of that holy martyr. The quarrel
between Othman and his subjects was assuaged by the early mediation of
Ali; and Hassan, the eldest of his sons, was insulted and wounded in the
defence of the caliph. Yet it is doubtful whether the father of Hassan
was strenuous and sincere in his opposition to the rebels; and it is
certain that he enjoyed the benefit of their crime. The temptation was
indeed of such magnitude as might stagger and corrupt the most obdurate
virtue. The ambitious candidate no longer aspired to the barren sceptre
of Arabia; the Saracens had been victorious in the East and West; and
the wealthy kingdoms of Persia, Syria, and Egypt were the patrimony of
the commander of the faithful.

[Footnote 171: The schism of the Persians is explained by all our
travellers of the last century, especially in the iid and ivth volumes
of their master, Chardin. Niebuhr, though of inferior merit, has the
advantage of writing so late as the year 1764, (Voyages en Arabie, &c.,
tom. ii. p. 208-233,) since the ineffectual attempt of Nadir Shah to
change the religion of the nation, (see his Persian History translated
into French by Sir William Jones, tom. ii. p. 5, 6, 47, 48, 144-155.)]

[Footnote 172: Omar is the name of the devil; his murderer is a saint.
When the Persians shoot with the bow, they frequently cry, "May this
arrow go to the heart of Omar!" (Voyages de Chardin, tom. ii. p 239,
240, 259, &c.)]

[Footnote 173: This gradation of merit is distinctly marked in a creed
illustrated by Reland, (de Relig. Mohamm. l. i. p. 37;) and a Sonnite
argument inserted by Ockley, (Hist. of the Saracens, tom. ii. p. 230.)
The practice of cursing the memory of Ali was abolished, after forty
years, by the Ommiades themselves, (D'Herbelot, p. 690;) and there are
few among the Turks who presume to revile him as an infidel, (Voyages de
Chardin, tom. iv. p. 46.)]

[Footnote 1731: Compare Price, p. 180.--M.]

Chapter L: Description Of Arabia And Its Inhabitants.--Part VIII.

A life of prayer and contemplation had not chilled the martial activity
of Ali; but in a mature age, after a long experience of mankind, he
still betrayed in his conduct the rashness and indiscretion of youth.
[1732] In the first days of his reign, he neglected to secure, either
by gifts or fetters, the doubtful allegiance of Telha and Zobeir, two
of the most powerful of the Arabian chiefs. They escaped from Medina to
Mecca, and from thence to Bassora; erected the standard of revolt;
and usurped the government of Irak, or Assyria, which they had vainly
solicited as the reward of their services. The mask of patriotism is
allowed to cover the most glaring inconsistencies; and the enemies,
perhaps the assassins, of Othman now demanded vengeance for his blood.
They were accompanied in their flight by Ayesha, the widow of the
prophet, who cherished, to the last hour of her life, an implacable
hatred against the husband and the posterity of Fatima. The most
reasonable Moslems were scandalized, that the mother of the faithful
should expose in a camp her person and character; [1733] but the
superstitious crowd was confident that her presence would sanctify the
justice, and assure the success, of their cause. At the head of twenty
thousand of his loyal Arabs, and nine thousand valiant auxiliaries of
Cufa, the caliph encountered and defeated the superior numbers of the
rebels under the walls of Bassora. [1734] Their leaders, Telha and
Zobeir, [1735] were slain in the first battle that stained with civil
blood the arms of the Moslems. [1736] After passing through the ranks to
animate the troops, Ayesha had chosen her post amidst the dangers of the
field. In the heat of the action, seventy men, who held the bridle of
her camel, were successively killed or wounded; and the cage or litter,
in which she sat, was stuck with javelins and darts like the quills of a
porcupine. The venerable captive sustained with firmness the reproaches
of the conqueror, and was speedily dismissed to her proper station at
the tomb of Mahomet, with the respect and tenderness that was still due
to the widow of the apostle. [1737] After this victory, which was styled
the Day of the Camel, Ali marched against a more formidable adversary;
against Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sophian, who had assumed the title of
caliph, and whose claim was supported by the forces of Syria and the
interest of the house of Ommiyah. From the passage of Thapsacus, the
plain of Siffin [174] extends along the western bank of the Euphrates.
On this spacious and level theatre, the two competitors waged a
desultory war of one hundred and ten days. In the course of ninety
actions or skirmishes, the loss of Ali was estimated at twenty-five,
that of Moawiyah at forty-five, thousand soldiers; and the list of the
slain was dignified with the names of five-and-twenty veterans who
had fought at Beder under the standard of Mahomet. In this sanguinary
contest the lawful caliph displayed a superior character of valor and
humanity. [1741] His troops were strictly enjoined to await the first
onset of the enemy, to spare their flying brethren, and to respect
the bodies of the dead, and the chastity of the female captives. He
generously proposed to save the blood of the Moslems by a single
combat; but his trembling rival declined the challenge as a sentence of
inevitable death. The ranks of the Syrians were broken by the charge of
a hero who was mounted on a piebald horse, and wielded with irresistible
force his ponderous and two-edged sword. As often as he smote a rebel,
he shouted the Allah Acbar, "God is victorious!" and in the tumult of
a nocturnal battle, he was heard to repeat four hundred times that
tremendous exclamation. The prince of Damascus already meditated his
flight; but the certain victory was snatched from the grasp of Ali by
the disobedience and enthusiasm of his troops. Their conscience was awed
by the solemn appeal to the books of the Koran which Moawiyah exposed
on the foremost lances; and Ali was compelled to yield to a disgraceful
truce and an insidious compromise. He retreated with sorrow and
indignation to Cufa; his party was discouraged; the distant provinces
of Persia, of Yemen, and of Egypt, were subdued or seduced by his crafty
rival; and the stroke of fanaticism, which was aimed against the three
chiefs of the nation, was fatal only to the cousin of Mahomet. In the
temple of Mecca, three Charegites or enthusiasts discoursed of the
disorders of the church and state: they soon agreed, that the deaths of
Ali, of Moawiyah, and of his friend Amrou, the viceroy of Egypt, would
restore the peace and unity of religion. Each of the assassins chose his
victim, poisoned his dagger, devoted his life, and secretly repaired
to the scene of action. Their resolution was equally desperate: but the
first mistook the person of Amrou, and stabbed the deputy who occupied
his seat; the prince of Damascus was dangerously hurt by the second; the
lawful caliph, in the mosch of Cufa, received a mortal wound from the
hand of the third. He expired in the sixty-third year of his age, and
mercifully recommended to his children, that they would despatch the
murderer by a single stroke. [1742] The sepulchre of Ali [175] was
concealed from the tyrants of the house of Ommiyah; [176] but in the
fourth age of the Hegira, a tomb, a temple, a city, arose near the ruins
of Cufa. [177] Many thousands of the Shiites repose in holy ground at
the feet of the vicar of God; and the desert is vivified by the numerous
and annual visits of the Persians, who esteem their devotion not less
meritorious than the pilgrimage of Mecca.

[Footnote 1732: Ali had determined to supersede all the lieutenants in
the different provinces. Price, p. 191. Compare, on the conduct of Telha
and Zobeir, p. 193--M.]

[Footnote 1733: See the very curious circumstances which took place
before and during her flight. Price, p. 196.--M.]

[Footnote 1734: The reluctance of Ali to shed the blood of true
believers is strikingly described by Major Price's Persian historians.
Price, p. 222.--M.]

[Footnote 1735: See (in Price) the singular adventures of Zobeir. He was
murdered after having abandoned the army of the insurgents. Telha was
about to do the same, when his leg was pierced with an arrow by one of
his own party The wound was mortal. Price, p. 222.--M.]

[Footnote 1736: According to Price, two hundred and eighty of the Benni
Beianziel alone lost a right hand in this service, (p. 225.)--M]

[Footnote 1737: She was escorted by a guard of females disguised as
soldiers. When she discovered this, Ayesha was as much gratified by the
delicacy of the arrangement, as she had been offended by the familiar
approach of so many men. Price, p. 229.--M.]

[Footnote 174: The plain of Siffin is determined by D'Anville
(l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 29) to be the Campus Barbaricus of

[Footnote 1741: The Shiite authors have preserved a noble instance of
Ali's magnanimity. The superior generalship of Moawiyah had cut off the
army of Ali from the Euphrates; his soldiers were perishing from want
of water. Ali sent a message to his rival to request free access to the
river, declaring that under the same circumstances he would not allow
any of the faithful, though his adversaries, to perish from thirst.
After some debate, Moawiyah determined to avail himself of the advantage
of his situation, and to reject the demand of Ali. The soldiers of Ali
became desperate; forced their way through that part of the hostile army
which commanded the river, and in their turn entirely cut off the
troops of Moawiyah from the water. Moawiyah was reduced to make the same
supplication to Ali. The generous caliph instantly complied; and both
armies, with their cattle enjoyed free and unmolested access to the
river. Price, vol. i. p. 268, 272--M.]

[Footnote 1742: His son Hassan was recognized as caliph in Arabia and
Irak; but voluntarily abdicated the throne, after six or seven months,
in favor of Moawiyah St. Martin, vol. xi. p 375.--M.]

[Footnote 175: Abulfeda, a moderate Sonnite, relates the different
opinions concerning the burial of Ali, but adopts the sepulchre of Cufa,
hodie fama numeroque religiose frequentantium celebratum. This number is
reckoned by Niebuhr to amount annually to 2000 of the dead, and 5000 of
the living, (tom. ii. p. 208, 209.)]

[Footnote 176: All the tyrants of Persia, from Adhad el Dowlat (A.D.
977, D'Herbelot, p. 58, 59, 95) to Nadir Shah, (A.D. 1743, Hist. de
Nadir Shah, tom. ii. p. 155,) have enriched the tomb of Ali with the
spoils of the people. The dome is copper, with a bright and massy
gilding, which glitters to the sun at the distance of many a mile.]

[Footnote 177: The city of Meshed Ali, five or six miles from the ruins
of Cufa, and one hundred and twenty to the south of Bagdad, is of the
size and form of the modern Jerusalem. Meshed Hosein, larger and more
populous, is at the distance of thirty miles.]

The persecutors of Mahomet usurped the inheritance of his children; and
the champions of idolatry became the supreme heads of his religion and
empire. The opposition of Abu Sophian had been fierce and obstinate;
his conversion was tardy and reluctant; his new faith was fortified by
necessity and interest; he served, he fought, perhaps he believed; and
the sins of the time of ignorance were expiated by the recent merits
of the family of Ommiyah. Moawiyah, the son of Abu Sophian, and of the
cruel Henda, was dignified, in his early youth, with the office or title
of secretary of the prophet: the judgment of Omar intrusted him with the
government of Syria; and he administered that important province above
forty years, either in a subordinate or supreme rank. Without renouncing
the fame of valor and liberality, he affected the reputation of humanity
and moderation: a grateful people was attached to their benefactor;
and the victorious Moslems were enriched with the spoils of Cyprus and
Rhodes. The sacred duty of pursuing the assassins of Othman was the
engine and pretence of his ambition. The bloody shirt of the martyr
was exposed in the mosch of Damascus: the emir deplored the fate of his
injured kinsman; and sixty thousand Syrians were engaged in his service
by an oath of fidelity and revenge. Amrou, the conqueror of Egypt,
himself an army, was the first who saluted the new monarch, and
divulged the dangerous secret, that the Arabian caliphs might be created
elsewhere than in the city of the prophet. [178] The policy of
Moawiyah eluded the valor of his rival; and, after the death of Ali, he
negotiated the abdication of his son Hassan, whose mind was either above
or below the government of the world, and who retired without a
sigh from the palace of Cufa to an humble cell near the tomb of his
grandfather. The aspiring wishes of the caliph were finally crowned
by the important change of an elective to an hereditary kingdom. Some
murmurs of freedom or fanaticism attested the reluctance of the Arabs,
and four citizens of Medina refused the oath of fidelity; but the
designs of Moawiyah were conducted with vigor and address; and his son
Yezid, a feeble and dissolute youth, was proclaimed as the commander of
the faithful and the successor on the apostle of God.

[Footnote 178: I borrow, on this occasion, the strong sense and
expression of Tacitus, (Hist. i. 4: ) Evulgato imperii arcano posse
imperatorem alni quam Romae fieri.]

A familiar story is related of the benevolence of one of the sons of
Ali. In serving at table, a slave had inadvertently dropped a dish of
scalding broth on his master: the heedless wretch fell prostrate, to
deprecate his punishment, and repeated a verse of the Koran: "Paradise
is for those who command their anger: "--"I am not angry: "--"and for
those who pardon offences: "--"I pardon your offence: "--"and for those
who return good for evil: "--"I give you your liberty and four hundred
pieces of silver." With an equal measure of piety, Hosein, the younger
brother of Hassan, inherited a remnant of his father's spirit, and
served with honor against the Christians in the siege of Constantinople.
The primogeniture of the line of Hashem, and the holy character of
grandson of the apostle, had centred in his person, and he was at
liberty to prosecute his claim against Yezid, the tyrant of Damascus,
whose vices he despised, and whose title he had never deigned to
acknowledge. A list was secretly transmitted from Cufa to Medina, of one
hundred and forty thousand Moslems, who professed their attachment to
his cause, and who were eager to draw their swords so soon as he should
appear on the banks of the Euphrates. Against the advice of his wisest
friends, he resolved to trust his person and family in the hands of a
perfidious people. He traversed the desert of Arabia with a timorous
retinue of women and children; but as he approached the confines of
Irak he was alarmed by the solitary or hostile face of the country,
and suspected either the defection or ruin of his party. His fears
were just: Obeidollah, the governor of Cufa, had extinguished the first
sparks of an insurrection; and Hosein, in the plain of Kerbela, was
encompassed by a body of five thousand horse, who intercepted his
communication with the city and the river. He might still have escaped
to a fortress in the desert, that had defied the power of Caesar and
Chosroes, and confided in the fidelity of the tribe of Tai, which would
have armed ten thousand warriors in his defence.

In a conference with the chief of the enemy, he proposed the option
of three honorable conditions: that he should be allowed to return to
Medina, or be stationed in a frontier garrison against the Turks, or
safely conducted to the presence of Yezid. But the commands of the
caliph, or his lieutenant, were stern and absolute; and Hosein was
informed that he must either submit as a captive and a criminal to the
commander of the faithful, or expect the consequences of his rebellion.
"Do you think," replied he, "to terrify me with death?" And, during
the short respite of a night, [1781] he prepared with calm and solemn
resignation to encounter his fate. He checked the lamentations of
his sister Fatima, who deplored the impending ruin of his house. "Our
trust," said Hosein, "is in God alone. All things, both in heaven and
earth, must perish and return to their Creator. My brother, my father,
my mother, were better than me, and every Mussulman has an example in
the prophet." He pressed his friends to consult their safety by a timely
flight: they unanimously refused to desert or survive their beloved
master: and their courage was fortified by a fervent prayer and the
assurance of paradise. On the morning of the fatal day, he mounted on
horseback, with his sword in one hand and the Koran in the other: his
generous band of martyrs consisted only of thirty-two horse and forty
foot; but their flanks and rear were secured by the tent-ropes, and by a
deep trench which they had filled with lighted fagots, according to the
practice of the Arabs. The enemy advanced with reluctance, and one of
their chiefs deserted, with thirty followers, to claim the partnership
of inevitable death. In every close onset, or single combat, the despair
of the Fatimites was invincible; but the surrounding multitudes galled
them from a distance with a cloud of arrows, and the horses and men were
successively slain; a truce was allowed on both sides for the hour
of prayer; and the battle at length expired by the death of the last
companions of Hosein. Alone, weary, and wounded, he seated himself at
the door of his tent. As he tasted a drop of water, he was pierced in
the mouth with a dart; and his son and nephew, two beautiful youths,
were killed in his arms. He lifted his hands to heaven; they were full
of blood; and he uttered a funeral prayer for the living and the dead.
In a transport of despair his sister issued from the tent, and adjured
the general of the Cufians, that he would not suffer Hosein to be
murdered before his eyes: a tear trickled down his venerable beard; and
the boldest of his soldiers fell back on every side as the dying hero
threw himself among them. The remorseless Shamer, a name detested by the
faithful, reproached their cowardice; and the grandson of Mahomet was
slain with three-and-thirty strokes of lances and swords. After they had
trampled on his body, they carried his head to the castle of Cufa, and
the inhuman Obeidollah struck him on the mouth with a cane: "Alas,"
exclaimed an aged Mussulman, "on these lips have I seen the lips of the
apostle of God!" In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the
death of Hosein will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader. [179]
[1791] On the annual festival of his martyrdom, in the devout pilgrimage
to his sepulchre, his Persian votaries abandon their souls to the
religious frenzy of sorrow and indignation. [180]

[Footnote 1781: According to Major Price's authorities a much longer
time elapsed (p. 198 &c.)--M.]

[Footnote 179: I have abridged the interesting narrative of Ockley,
(tom. ii. p. 170-231.) It is long and minute: but the pathetic, almost
always, consists in the detail of little circumstances.]

[Footnote 1791: The account of Hosein's death, in the Persian Tarikh
Tebry, is much longer; in some circumstances, more pathetic, than that
of Ockley, followed by Gibbon. His family, after his defenders were all
slain, perished in succession before his eyes. They had been cut off
from the water, and suffered all the agonies of thirst. His eldest son,
Ally Akbar, after ten different assaults on the enemy, in each of which
he slew two or three, complained bitterly of his sufferings from heat
and thirst. "His father arose, and introducing his own tongue within
the parched lips of his favorite child, thus endeavored to alleviate his
sufferings by the only means of which his enemies had not yet been able
to deprive him." Ally was slain and cut to pieces in his sight: this
wrung from him his first and only cry; then it was that his sister
Zeyneb rushed from the tent. The rest, including his nephew, fell in
succession. Hosein's horse was wounded--he fell to the ground. The hour
of prayer, between noon and sunset, had arrived; the Imaun began the
religious duties:--as Hosein prayed, he heard the cries of his infant
child Abdallah, only twelve months old. The child was, at his desire,
placed on his bosom: as he wept over it, it was transfixed by an arrow.
Hosein dragged himself to the Euphrates: as he slaked his burning
thirst, his mouth was pierced by an arrow: he drank his own blood.
Wounded in four-and-thirty places, he still gallantly resisted. A
soldier named Zeraiah gave the fatal wound: his head was cut off by
Ziliousheng. Price, p. 402, 410.--M.]

[Footnote 180: Niebuhr the Dane (Voyages en Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p.
208, &c.) is, perhaps, the only European traveller who has dared to
visit Meshed Ali and Meshed Hosein. The two sepulchres are in the hands
of the Turks, who tolerate and tax the devotion of the Persian heretics.
The festival of the death of Hosein is amply described by Sir John
Chardin, a traveller whom I have often praised.]

When the sisters and children of Ali were brought in chains to the
throne of Damascus, the caliph was advised to extirpate the enmity of
a popular and hostile race, whom he had injured beyond the hope of
reconciliation. But Yezid preferred the councils of mercy; and the
mourning family was honorably dismissed to mingle their tears with
their kindred at Medina. The glory of martyrdom superseded the right of
primogeniture; and the twelve imams, [181] or pontiffs, of the Persian
creed, are Ali, Hassan, Hosein, and the lineal descendants of Hosein
to the ninth generation. Without arms, or treasures, or subjects, they
successively enjoyed the veneration of the people, and provoked the
jealousy of the reigning caliphs: their tombs, at Mecca or Medina, on
the banks of the Euphrates, or in the province of Chorasan, are still
visited by the devotion of their sect. Their names were often the
pretence of sedition and civil war; but these royal saints despised the
pomp of the world: submitted to the will of God and the injustice of
man; and devoted their innocent lives to the study and practice of
religion. The twelfth and last of the Imams, conspicuous by the title
of Mahadi, or the Guide, surpassed the solitude and sanctity of his
predecessors. He concealed himself in a cavern near Bagdad: the time and
place of his death are unknown; and his votaries pretend that he still
lives, and will appear before the day of judgment to overthrow the
tyranny of Dejal, or the Antichrist. [182] In the lapse of two or three
centuries, the posterity of Abbas, the uncle of Mahomet, had multiplied
to the number of thirty-three thousand: [183] the race of Ali might
be equally prolific: the meanest individual was above the first and
greatest of princes; and the most eminent were supposed to excel the
perfection of angels. But their adverse fortune, and the wide extent of
the Mussulman empire, allowed an ample scope for every bold and artful
imposture, who claimed affinity with the holy seed: the sceptre of the
Almohades, in Spain and Africa; of the Fatimites, in Egypt and Syria;
[184] of the Sultans of Yemen; and of the Sophis of Persia; [185] has
been consecrated by this vague and ambiguous title. Under their reigns
it might be dangerous to dispute the legitimacy of their birth; and one
of the Fatimite caliphs silenced an indiscreet question by drawing
his cimeter: "This," said Moez, "is my pedigree; and these," casting
a handful of gold to his soldiers,--"and these are my kindred and my
children." In the various conditions of princes, or doctors, or
nobles, or merchants, or beggars, a swarm of the genuine or fictitious
descendants of Mahomet and Ali is honored with the appellation
of sheiks, or sherifs, or emirs. In the Ottoman empire they are
distinguished by a green turban; receive a stipend from the treasury;
are judged only by their chief; and, however debased by fortune or
character, still assert the proud preeminence of their birth. A family
of three hundred persons, the pure and orthodox branch of the caliph
Hassan, is preserved without taint or suspicion in the holy cities of
Mecca and Medina, and still retains, after the revolutions of twelve
centuries, the custody of the temple, and the sovereignty of their
native land. The fame and merit of Mahomet would ennoble a plebeian
race, and the ancient blood of the Koreish transcends the recent majesty
of the kings of the earth. [186]

[Footnote 181: The general article of Imam, in D'Herbelot's
Bibliotheque, will indicate the succession; and the lives of the twelve
are given under their respective names.]

[Footnote 182: The name of Antichrist may seem ridiculous, but the
Mahometans have liberally borrowed the fables of every religion, (Sale's
Preliminary Discourse, p. 80, 82.) In the royal stable of Ispahan, two
horses were always kept saddled, one for the Mahadi himself, the other
for his lieutenant, Jesus the son of Mary.]

[Footnote 183: In the year of the Hegira 200, (A.D. 815.) See
D'Herbelot, p. 146]

[Footnote 184: D'Herbelot, p. 342. The enemies of the Fatimites
disgraced them by a Jewish origin. Yet they accurately deduced their
genealogy from Jaafar, the sixth Imam; and the impartial Abulfeda
allows (Annal. Moslem. p. 230) that they were owned by many, qui absque
controversia genuini sunt Alidarum, homines propaginum suae gentis
exacte callentes. He quotes some lines from the celebrated Scherif or
Rahdi, Egone humilitatem induam in terris hostium? (I suspect him to
be an Edrissite of Sicily,) cum in Aegypto sit Chalifa de gente Alii,
quocum ego communem habeo patrem et vindicem.]

[Footnote 185: The kings of Persia in the last century are descended
from Sheik Sefi, a saint of the xivth century, and through him, from
Moussa Cassem, the son of Hosein, the son of Ali, (Olearius, p. 957.
Chardin, tom. iii. p. 288.) But I cannot trace the intermediate degrees
in any genuine or fabulous pedigree. If they were truly Fatimites, they
might draw their origin from the princes of Mazanderan, who reigned in
the ixth century, (D'Herbelot, p. 96.)]

[Footnote 186: The present state of the family of Mahomet and Ali is
most accurately described by Demetrius Cantemir (Hist. of the Othmae
Empire, p. 94) and Niebuhr, (Description de l'Arabie, p. 9-16, 317
&c.) It is much to be lamented, that the Danish traveller was unable to
purchase the chronicles of Arabia.]

The talents of Mahomet are entitled to our applause; but his success
has, perhaps, too strongly attracted our admiration. Are we surprised
that a multitude of proselytes should embrace the doctrine and the
passions of an eloquent fanatic? In the heresies of the church, the same
seduction has been tried and repeated from the time of the apostles to
that of the reformers. Does it seem incredible that a private citizen
should grasp the sword and the sceptre, subdue his native country, and
erect a monarchy by his victorious arms? In the moving picture of the
dynasties of the East, a hundred fortunate usurpers have arisen from a
baser origin, surmounted more formidable obstacles, and filled a larger
scope of empire and conquest. Mahomet was alike instructed to preach and
to fight; and the union of these opposite qualities, while it enhanced
his merit, contributed to his success: the operation of force and
persuasion, of enthusiasm and fear, continually acted on each other,
till every barrier yielded to their irresistible power. His voice
invited the Arabs to freedom and victory, to arms and rapine, to the
indulgence of their darling passions in this world and the other: the
restraints which he imposed were requisite to establish the credit of
the prophet, and to exercise the obedience of the people; and the
only objection to his success was his rational creed of the unity and
perfections of God. It is not the propagation, but the permanency,
of his religion, that deserves our wonder: the same pure and perfect
impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina, is preserved, after
the revolutions of twelve centuries, by the Indian, the African, and the
Turkish proselytes of the Koran. If the Christian apostles, St. Peter or
St. Paul, could return to the Vatican, they might possibly inquire the
name of the Deity who is worshipped with such mysterious rites in that
magnificent temple: at Oxford or Geneva, they would experience less
surprise; but it might still be incumbent on them to peruse the
catechism of the church, and to study the orthodox commentators on their
own writings and the words of their Master. But the Turkish dome of St.
Sophia, with an increase of splendor and size, represents the humble
tabernacle erected at Medina by the hands of Mahomet. The Mahometans
have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their
faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. "I
believe in one God, and Mahomet the apostle of God," is the simple and
invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has
never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have
never transgressed the measure of human virtue; and his living precepts
have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of
reason and religion. The votaries of Ali have, indeed, consecrated
the memory of their hero, his wife, and his children; and some of the
Persian doctors pretend that the divine essence was incarnate in the
person of the Imams; but their superstition is universally condemned
by the Sonnites; and their impiety has afforded a seasonable warning
against the worship of saints and martyrs. The metaphysical questions on
the attributes of God, and the liberty of man, have been agitated in the
schools of the Mahometans, as well as in those of the Christians; but
among the former they have never engaged the passions of the people,
or disturbed the tranquillity of the state. The cause of this important
difference may be found in the separation or union of the regal
and sacerdotal characters. It was the interest of the caliphs, the
successors of the prophet and commanders of the faithful, to repress
and discourage all religious innovations: the order, the discipline,
the temporal and spiritual ambition of the clergy, are unknown to the
Moslems; and the sages of the law are the guides of their conscience and
the oracles of their faith. From the Atlantic to the Ganges, the Koran
is acknowledged as the fundamental code, not only of theology, but
of civil and criminal jurisprudence; and the laws which regulate the
actions and the property of mankind are guarded by the infallible and
immutable sanction of the will of God. This religious servitude is
attended with some practical disadvantage; the illiterate legislator had
been often misled by his own prejudices and those of his country; and
the institutions of the Arabian desert may be ill adapted to the wealth
and numbers of Ispahan and Constantinople. On these occasions, the
Cadhi respectfully places on his head the holy volume, and substitutes a
dexterous interpretation more apposite to the principles of equity, and
the manners and policy of the times.

His beneficial or pernicious influence on the public happiness is the
last consideration in the character of Mahomet. The most bitter or
most bigoted of his Christian or Jewish foes will surely allow that
he assumed a false commission to inculcate a salutary doctrine, less
perfect only than their own. He piously supposed, as the basis of his
religion, the truth and sanctity of their prior revolutions, the virtues
and miracles of their founders. The idols of Arabia were broken before
the throne of God; the blood of human victims was expiated by prayer,
and fasting, and alms, the laudable or innocent arts of devotion; and
his rewards and punishments of a future life were painted by the images
most congenial to an ignorant and carnal generation. Mahomet was,
perhaps, incapable of dictating a moral and political system for the
use of his countrymen: but he breathed among the faithful a spirit of
charity and friendship; recommended the practice of the social virtues;
and checked, by his laws and precepts, the thirst of revenge, and the
oppression of widows and orphans. The hostile tribes were united in
faith and obedience, and the valor which had been idly spent in domestic
quarrels was vigorously directed against a foreign enemy. Had the
impulse been less powerful, Arabia, free at home and formidable abroad,
might have flourished under a succession of her native monarchs.
Her sovereignty was lost by the extent and rapidity of conquest. The
colonies of the nation were scattered over the East and West, and their
blood was mingled with the blood of their converts and captives. After
the reign of three caliphs, the throne was transported from Medina to
the valley of Damascus and the banks of the Tigris; the holy cities
were violated by impious war; Arabia was ruled by the rod of a subject,
perhaps of a stranger; and the Bedoweens of the desert, awakening from
their dream of dominion, resumed their old and solitary independence.

[Footnote 187: The writers of the Modern Universal History (vols. i.
and ii.) have compiled, in 850 folio pages, the life of Mahomet and
the annals of the caliphs. They enjoyed the advantage of reading,
and sometimes correcting, the Arabic text; yet, notwithstanding their
high-sounding boasts, I cannot find, after the conclusion of my work,
that they have afforded me much (if any) additional information. The
dull mass is not quickened by a spark of philosophy or taste; and
the compilers indulge the criticism of acrimonious bigotry against
Boulainvilliers, Sale, Gagnier, and all who have treated Mahomet with
favor, or even justice.]

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part I.

     The Conquest Of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, And Spain, By
     The Arabs Or Saracens.--Empire Of The Caliphs, Or Successors
     Of Mahomet.--State Of The Christians, &c., Under Their

The revolution of Arabia had not changed the character of the Arabs: the
death of Mahomet was the signal of independence; and the hasty structure
of his power and religion tottered to its foundations. A small and
faithful band of his primitive disciples had listened to his eloquence,
and shared his distress; had fled with the apostle from the persecution
of Mecca, or had received the fugitive in the walls of Medina. The
increasing myriads, who acknowledged Mahomet as their king and prophet,
had been compelled by his arms, or allured by his prosperity. The
polytheists were confounded by the simple idea of a solitary and
invisible God; the pride of the Christians and Jews disdained the
yoke of a mortal and contemporary legislator. The habits of faith and
obedience were not sufficiently confirmed; and many of the new converts
regretted the venerable antiquity of the law of Moses, or the rites
and mysteries of the Catholic church; or the idols, the sacrifices, the
joyous festivals, of their Pagan ancestors. The jarring interests and
hereditary feuds of the Arabian tribes had not yet coalesced in a system
of union and subordination; and the Barbarians were impatient of the
mildest and most salutary laws that curbed their passions, or violated
their customs. They submitted with reluctance to the religious precepts
of the Koran, the abstinence from wine, the fast of the Ramadan, and the
daily repetition of five prayers; and the alms and tithes, which were
collected for the treasury of Medina, could be distinguished only by
a name from the payment of a perpetual and ignominious tribute. The
example of Mahomet had excited a spirit of fanaticism or imposture,
and several of his rivals presumed to imitate the conduct, and defy
the authority, of the living prophet. At the head of the fugitives
and auxiliaries, the first caliph was reduced to the cities of Mecca,
Medina, and Tayef; and perhaps the Koreish would have restored the
idols of the Caaba, if their levity had not been checked by a seasonable
reproof. "Ye men of Mecca, will ye be the last to embrace, and the
first to abandon, the religion of Islam?" After exhorting the Moslems
to confide in the aid of God and his apostle, Abubeker resolved, by a
vigorous attack, to prevent the junction of the rebels. The women
and children were safely lodged in the cavities of the mountains: the
warriors, marching under eleven banners, diffused the terror of their
arms; and the appearance of a military force revived and confirmed the
loyalty of the faithful. The inconstant tribes accepted, with humble
repentance, the duties of prayer, and fasting, and alms; and, after
some examples of success and severity, the most daring apostates fell
prostrate before the sword of the Lord and of Caled. In the fertile
province of Yemanah, [1] between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Persia,
in a city not inferior to Medina itself, a powerful chief (his name
was Moseilama) had assumed the character of a prophet, and the tribe of
Hanifa listened to his voice. A female prophetess [1111] was attracted
by his reputation; the decencies of words and actions were spurned by
these favorites of Heaven; [2] and they employed several days in mystic
and amorous converse. An obscure sentence of his Koran, or book, is yet
extant; [3] and in the pride of his mission, Moseilama condescended to
offer a partition of the earth. The proposal was answered by Mahomet
with contempt; but the rapid progress of the impostor awakened the
fears of his successor: forty thousand Moslems were assembled under the
standard of Caled; and the existence of their faith was resigned to
the event of a decisive battle. [3111] In the first action they
were repulsed by the loss of twelve hundred men; but the skill and
perseverance of their general prevailed; their defeat was avenged by the
slaughter of ten thousand infidels; and Moseilama himself was pierced by
an Aethiopian slave with the same javelin which had mortally wounded
the uncle of Mahomet. The various rebels of Arabia without a chief or
a cause, were speedily suppressed by the power and discipline of
the rising monarchy; and the whole nation again professed, and more
steadfastly held, the religion of the Koran. The ambition of the caliphs
provided an immediate exercise for the restless spirit of the Saracens:
their valor was united in the prosecution of a holy war; and their
enthusiasm was equally confirmed by opposition and victory.

[Footnote 1: See the description of the city and country of Al Yamanah,
in Abulfeda, Descript. Arabiae, p. 60, 61. In the xiiith century, there
were some ruins, and a few palms; but in the present century, the same
ground is occupied by the visions and arms of a modern prophet, whose
tenets are imperfectly known, (Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, p.

[Footnote 1111: This extraordinary woman was a Christian; she was at
the head of a numerous and flourishing sect; Moseilama professed to
recognize her inspiration. In a personal interview he proposed their
marriage and the union of their sects. The handsome person, the
impassioned eloquence, and the arts of Moseilama, triumphed over the
virtue of the prophetesa who was rejected with scorn by her lover, and
by her notorious unchastity ost her influence with her own followers.
Gibbon, with that propensity too common, especially in his later
volumes, has selected only the grosser part of this singular

[Footnote 2: The first salutation may be transcribed, but cannot be
translated. It was thus that Moseilama said or sung:--

 Surge tandem itaque strenue permolenda; nam stratus tibi thorus est.
 Aut in propatulo tentorio si velis, aut in abditiore cubiculo si malis;
 Aut supinam te humi exporrectam fustigabo, si velis,
 Aut si malis manibus pedibusque nixam.
 Aut si velis ejus (Priapi) gemino triente aut si malis totus veniam.
 Imo, totus venito, O Apostole Dei, clamabat foemina.
 Id ipsum, dicebat
 Moseilama, mihi quoque suggessit Deus.

The prophetess Segjah, after the fall of her lover, returned to
idolatry; but under the reign of Moawiyah, she became a Mussulman, and
died at Bassora, (Abulfeda, Annal. vers. Reiske, p. 63.)]

[Footnote 3: See this text, which demonstrates a God from the work of
generation, in Abulpharagius (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 13, and Dynast.
p. 103) and Abulfeda, (Annal. p. 63.)]

[Footnote 3111: Compare a long account of this battle in Price, p.

From the rapid conquests of the Saracens a presumption will naturally
arise, that the caliphs [311] commanded in person the armies of the
faithful, and sought the crown of martyrdom in the foremost ranks of
the battle. The courage of Abubeker, [4] Omar, [5] and Othman, [6] had
indeed been tried in the persecution and wars of the prophet; and the
personal assurance of paradise must have taught them to despise the
pleasures and dangers of the present world. But they ascended the
throne in a venerable or mature age; and esteemed the domestic cares of
religion and justice the most important duties of a sovereign.
Except the presence of Omar at the siege of Jerusalem, their longest
expeditions were the frequent pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca; and they
calmly received the tidings of victory as they prayed or preached before
the sepulchre of the prophet. The austere and frugal measure of
their lives was the effect of virtue or habit, and the pride of their
simplicity insulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth.
When Abubeker assumed the office of caliph, he enjoined his daughter
Ayesha to take a strict account of his private patrimony, that it might
be evident whether he were enriched or impoverished by the service of
the state. He thought himself entitled to a stipend of three pieces
of gold, with the sufficient maintenance of a single camel and a black
slave; but on the Friday of each week he distributed the residue of his
own and the public money, first to the most worthy, and then to the most
indigent, of the Moslems. The remains of his wealth, a coarse garment,
and five pieces of gold, were delivered to his successor, who lamented
with a modest sigh his own inability to equal such an admirable model.
Yet the abstinence and humility of Omar were not inferior to the virtues
of Abubeker: his food consisted of barley bread or dates; his drink was
water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places;
and the Persian satrap, who paid his homage to the conqueror, found him
asleep among the beggars on the steps of the mosch of Medina. Oeeconomy
is the source of liberality, and the increase of the revenue enabled
Omar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present
services of the faithful. Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to
Abbas, the uncle of the prophet, the first and most ample allowance of
twenty-five thousand drachms or pieces of silver. Five thousand were
allotted to each of the aged warriors, the relics of the field of Beder;
and the last and meanest of the companions of Mahomet was distinguished
by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. One thousand was the
stipend of the veterans who had fought in the first battles against the
Greeks and Persians; and the decreasing pay, as low as fifty pieces
of silver, was adapted to the respective merit and seniority of the
soldiers of Omar. Under his reign, and that of his predecessor, the
conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people;
the mass of the public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of
peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the
discipline of the Saracens, and they united, by a rare felicity, the
despatch and execution of despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of
a republican government. The heroic courage of Ali, [7] the consummate
prudence of Moawiyah, [8] excited the emulation of their subjects; and
the talents which had been exercised in the school of civil discord
were more usefully applied to propagate the faith and dominion of
the prophet. In the sloth and vanity of the palace of Damascus, the
succeeding princes of the house of Ommiyah were alike destitute of the
qualifications of statesmen and of saints. [9] Yet the spoils of unknown
nations were continually laid at the foot of their throne, and the
uniform ascent of the Arabian greatness must be ascribed to the spirit
of the nation rather than the abilities of their chiefs. A large
deduction must be allowed for the weakness of their enemies. The birth
of Mahomet was fortunately placed in the most degenerate and disorderly
period of the Persians, the Romans, and the Barbarians of Europe: the
empires of Trajan, or even of Constantine or Charlemagne, would
have repelled the assault of the naked Saracens, and the torrent of
fanaticism might have been obscurely lost in the sands of Arabia.

[Footnote 311: In Arabic, "successors." V. Hammer Geschichte der Assas.
p. 14--M.]

[Footnote 4: His reign in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 251. Elmacin, p. 18.
Abulpharagius, p. 108. Abulfeda, p. 60. D'Herbelot, p. 58.]

[Footnote 5: His reign in Eutychius, p. 264. Elmacin, p. 24.
Abulpharagius, p. 110. Abulfeda, p. 66. D'Herbelot, p. 686.]

[Footnote 6: His reign in Eutychius, p. 323. Elmacin, p. 36.
Abulpharagius, p. 115. Abulfeda, p. 75. D'Herbelot, p. 695.]

[Footnote 7: His reign in Eutychius, p. 343. Elmacin, p. 51.
Abulpharagius, p. 117. Abulfeda, p. 83. D'Herbelot, p. 89.]

[Footnote 8: His reign in Eutychius, p. 344. Elmacin, p. 54.
Abulpharagius, p. 123. Abulfeda, p. 101. D'Herbelot, p. 586.]

[Footnote 9: Their reigns in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 360-395. Elmacin,
p. 59-108. Abulpharagius, Dynast. ix. p. 124-139. Abulfeda, p.
111-141. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 691, and the particular
articles of the Ommiades.]

In the victorious days of the Roman republic, it had been the aim of
the senate to confine their councils and legions to a single war,
and completely to suppress a first enemy before they provoked the
hostilities of a second. These timid maxims of policy were disdained
by the magnanimity or enthusiasm of the Arabian caliphs. With the same
vigor and success they invaded the successors of Augustus and those of
Artaxerxes; and the rival monarchies at the same instant became the prey
of an enemy whom they had been so long accustomed to despise. In the
ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his
obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand
churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred
moschs for the exercise of the religion of Mahomet. One hundred years
after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors
extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant
provinces, which may be comprised under the names of, I. Persia;
II. Syria; III. Egypt; IV. Africa; and, V. Spain. Under this general
division, I shall proceed to unfold these memorable transactions;
despatching with brevity the remote and less interesting conquests of
the East, and reserving a fuller narrative for those domestic countries
which had been included within the pale of the Roman empire. Yet I
must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the blindness and
insufficiency of my guides. The Greeks, so loquacious in controversy,
have not been anxious to celebrate the triumphs of their enemies. [10]
After a century of ignorance, the first annals of the Mussulmans were
collected in a great measure from the voice of tradition. [11] Among
the numerous productions of Arabic and Persian literature, [12] our
interpreters have selected the imperfect sketches of a more recent
age. [13] The art and genius of history have ever been unknown to the
Asiatics; [14] they are ignorant of the laws of criticism; and our
monkish chronicle of the same period may be compared to their most
popular works, which are never vivified by the spirit of philosophy and

The Oriental library of a Frenchman [15] would instruct the most learned
mufti of the East; and perhaps the Arabs might not find in a single
historian so clear and comprehensive a narrative of their own exploits
as that which will be deduced in the ensuing sheets.

[Footnote 10: For the viith and viiith century, we have scarcely any
original evidence of the Byzantine historians, except the chronicles of
Theophanes (Theophanis Confessoris Chronographia, Gr. et Lat. cum notis
Jacobi Goar. Paris, 1665, in folio) and the Abridgment of Nicephorus,
(Nicephori Patriarchae C. P. Breviarium Historicum, Gr. et Lat. Paris,
1648, in folio,) who both lived in the beginning of the ixth century,
(see Hanckius de Scriptor. Byzant. p. 200-246.) Their contemporary,
Photius, does not seem to be more opulent. After praising the style of
Nicephorus, he adds, and only complains of his extreme brevity, (Phot.
Bibliot. Cod. lxvi. p. 100.) Some additions may be gleaned from the more
recent histories of Cedrenus and Zonaras of the xiith century.]

[Footnote 11: Tabari, or Al Tabari, a native of Taborestan, a famous
Imam of Bagdad, and the Livy of the Arabians, finished his general
history in the year of the Hegira 302, (A.D. 914.) At the request of his
friends, he reduced a work of 30,000 sheets to a more reasonable
size. But his Arabic original is known only by the Persian and Turkish
versions. The Saracenic history of Ebn Amid, or Elmacin, is said to be
an abridgment of the great Tabari, (Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol.
ii. preface, p. xxxix. and list of authors, D'Herbelot, p. 866, 870,

[Footnote 12: Besides the list of authors framed by Prideaux, (Life of
Mahomet, p. 179-189,) Ockley, (at the end of his second volume,) and
Petit de la Croix, (Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 525-550,) we find in the
Bibliotheque Orientale Tarikh, a catalogue of two or three hundred
histories or chronicles of the East, of which not more than three or
four are older than Tabari. A lively sketch of Oriental literature is
given by Reiske, (in his Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifae librum
memorialem ad calcem Abulfedae Tabulae Syriae, Lipsiae, 1776;) but his
project and the French version of Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Timur Bec,
tom. i. preface, p. xlv.) have fallen to the ground.]

[Footnote 13: The particular historians and geographers will be
occasionally introduced. The four following titles represent the Annals
which have guided me in this general narrative. 1. Annales Eutychii,
Patriarchoe Alexandrini, ab Edwardo Pocockio, Oxon. 1656, 2 vols. in
4to. A pompous edition of an indifferent author, translated by Pocock
to gratify the Presbyterian prejudices of his friend Selden. 2. Historia
Saracenica Georgii Elmacini, opera et studio Thomae Erpenii, in 4to.,
Lugd. Batavorum, 1625. He is said to have hastily translated a corrupt
Ms., and his version is often deficient in style and sense. 3. Historia
compendiosa Dynastiarum a Gregorio Abulpharagio, interprete Edwardo
Pocockio, in 4to., Oxon. 1663. More useful for the literary than the
civil history of the East. 4. Abulfedoe Annales Moslemici ad Ann.
Hegiroe ccccvi. a Jo. Jac. Reiske, in 4to., Lipsioe, 1754. The best of
our chronicles, both for the original and version, yet how far below the
name of Abulfeda! We know that he wrote at Hamah in the xivth century.
The three former were Christians of the xth, xiith, and xiiith
centuries; the two first, natives of Egypt; a Melchite patriarch, and a
Jacobite scribe.]

[Footnote 14: M. D. Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. pref. p. xix. xx.)
has characterized, with truth and knowledge, the two sorts of Arabian
historians--the dry annalist, and the tumid and flowery orator.]

[Footnote 15: Bibliotheque Orientale, par M. D'Herbelot, in folio,
Paris, 1697. For the character of the respectable author, consult his
friend Thevenot, (Voyages du Levant, part i. chap. 1.) His work is an
agreeable miscellany, which must gratify every taste; but I never can
digest the alphabetical order; and I find him more satisfactory in the
Persian than the Arabic history. The recent supplement from the papers
of Mm. Visdelou, and Galland, (in folio, La Haye, 1779,) is of a
different cast, a medley of tales, proverbs, and Chinese antiquities.]

I. In the first year of the first caliph, his lieutenant Caled, the
Sword of God, and the scourge of the infidels, advanced to the banks of
the Euphrates, and reduced the cities of Anbar and Hira. Westward of the
ruins of Babylon, a tribe of sedentary Arabs had fixed themselves on the
verge of the desert; and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who had
embraced the Christian religion, and reigned above six hundred years
under the shadow of the throne of Persia. [16] The last of the Mondars
[1611] was defeated and slain by Caled; his son was sent a captive to
Medina; his nobles bowed before the successor of the prophet; the people
was tempted by the example and success of their countrymen; and the
caliph accepted as the first-fruits of foreign conquest an annual
tribute of seventy thousand pieces of gold. The conquerors, and even
their historians, were astonished by the dawn of their future greatness:
"In the same year," says Elmacin, "Caled fought many signal battles: an
immense multitude of the infidels was slaughtered; and spoils infinite
and innumerable were acquired by the victorious Moslems." [17] But the
invincible Caled was soon transferred to the Syrian war: the invasion
of the Persian frontier was conducted by less active or less prudent
commanders: the Saracens were repulsed with loss in the passage of
the Euphrates; and, though they chastised the insolent pursuit of the
Magians, their remaining forces still hovered in the desert of Babylon.

[Footnote 16: Pocock will explain the chronology, (Specimen Hist.
Arabum, p. 66-74,) and D'Anville the geography, (l'Euphrate, et le
Tigre, p. 125,) of the dynasty of the Almondars. The English scholar
understood more Arabic than the mufti of Aleppo, (Ockley, vol. ii. p.
34: ) the French geographer is equally at home in every age and every
climate of the world.]

[Footnote 1611: Eichhorn and Silvestre de Sacy have written on the
obscure history of the Mondars.--M.]

[Footnote 17: Fecit et Chaled plurima in hoc anno praelia, in quibus
vicerunt Muslimi, et infidelium immensa multitudine occisa spolia
infinita et innumera sunt nacti, (Hist. Saracenica, p. 20.) The
Christian annalist slides into the national and compendious term of
infidels, and I often adopt (I hope without scandal) this characteristic
mode of expression.]

[Footnote 1711: Compare throughout Malcolm, vol. ii. p. 136.--M.]

The indignation and fears of the Persians suspended for a moment their
intestine divisions. By the unanimous sentence of the priests and
nobles, their queen Arzema was deposed; the sixth of the transient
usurpers, who had arisen and vanished in three or four years since the
death of Chosroes, and the retreat of Heraclius. Her tiara was placed
on the head of Yezdegerd, the grandson of Chosroes; and the same aera,
which coincides with an astronomical period, [18] has recorded the fall
of the Sassanian dynasty and the religion of Zoroaster. [19] The youth
and inexperience of the prince (he was only fifteen years of age)
declined a perilous encounter: the royal standard was delivered into the
hands of his general Rustam; and a remnant of thirty thousand regular
troops was swelled in truth, or in opinion, to one hundred and twenty
thousand subjects, or allies, of the great king. The Moslems, whose
numbers were reenforced from twelve to thirty thousand, had pitched
their camp in the plains of Cadesia: [20] and their line, though it
consisted of fewer men, could produce more soldiers, than the unwieldy
host of the infidels. I shall here observe, what I must often repeat,
that the charge of the Arabs was not, like that of the Greeks and
Romans, the effort of a firm and compact infantry: their military force
was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers; and the engagement, which
was often interrupted and often renewed by single combats and flying
skirmishes, might be protracted without any decisive event to the
continuance of several days. The periods of the battle of Cadesia
were distinguished by their peculiar appellations. The first, from
the well-timed appearance of six thousand of the Syrian brethren, was
denominated the day of succor. The day of concussion might express
the disorder of one, or perhaps of both, of the contending armies. The
third, a nocturnal tumult, received the whimsical name of the night
of barking, from the discordant clamors, which were compared to
the inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals. The morning of the
succeeding day [2011] determined the fate of Persia; and a seasonable
whirlwind drove a cloud of dust against the faces of the unbelievers.
The clangor of arms was reechoed to the tent of Rustam, who, far
unlike the ancient hero of his name, was gently reclining in a cool and
tranquil shade, amidst the baggage of his camp, and the train of mules
that were laden with gold and silver. On the sound of danger he started
from his couch; but his flight was overtaken by a valiant Arab, who
caught him by the foot, struck off his head, hoisted it on a lance, and
instantly returning to the field of battle, carried slaughter and dismay
among the thickest ranks of the Persians. The Saracens confess a loss
of seven thousand five hundred men; [2012] and the battle of Cadesia is
justly described by the epithets of obstinate and atrocious. [21] The
standard of the monarchy was overthrown and captured in the field--a
leathern apron of a blacksmith, who in ancient times had arisen the
deliverer of Persia; but this badge of heroic poverty was disguised,
and almost concealed, by a profusion of precious gems. [22] After this
victory, the wealthy province of Irak, or Assyria, submitted to
the caliph, and his conquests were firmly established by the speedy
foundation of Bassora, [23] a place which ever commands the trade and
navigation of the Persians. As the distance of fourscore miles from
the Gulf, the Euphrates and Tigris unite in a broad and direct current,
which is aptly styled the river of the Arabs. In the midway, between the
junction and the mouth of these famous streams, the new settlement was
planted on the western bank: the first colony was composed of eight
hundred Moslems; but the influence of the situation soon reared a
flourishing and populous capital. The air, though excessively hot, is
pure and healthy: the meadows are filled with palm-trees and cattle; and
one of the adjacent valleys has been celebrated among the four paradises
or gardens of Asia. Under the first caliphs the jurisdiction of this
Arabian colony extended over the southern provinces of Persia: the city
has been sanctified by the tombs of the companions and martyrs; and the
vessels of Europe still frequent the port of Bassora, as a convenient
station and passage of the Indian trade.

[Footnote 18: A cycle of 120 years, the end of which an intercalary
month of 30 days supplied the use of our Bissextile, and restored the
integrity of the solar year. In a great revolution of 1440 years this
intercalation was successively removed from the first to the twelfth
month; but Hyde and Freret are involved in a profound controversy,
whether the twelve, or only eight of these changes were accomplished
before the aera of Yezdegerd, which is unanimously fixed to the 16th
of June, A.D. 632. How laboriously does the curious spirit of Europe
explore the darkest and most distant antiquities! (Hyde de Religione
Persarum, c. 14-18, p. 181-211. Freret in the Mem. de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom. xvi. p. 233-267.)]

[Footnote 19: Nine days after the death of Mahomet (7th June, A.D. 632)
we find the aera of Yezdegerd, (16th June, A.D. 632,) and his accession
cannot be postponed beyond the end of the first year. His predecessors
could not therefore resist the arms of the caliph Omar; and these
unquestionable dates overthrow the thoughtless chronology of
Abulpharagius. See Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 130. *
Note: The Rezont Uzzuffa (Price, p. 105) has a strange account of an
embassy to Yezdegerd. The Oriental historians take great delight in
these embassies, which give them an opportunity of displaying their
Asiatic eloquence--M.]

[Footnote 20: Cadesia, says the Nubian geographer, (p. 121,) is in
margine solitudinis, 61 leagues from Bagdad, and two stations from Cufa.
Otter (Voyage, tom. i. p. 163) reckons 15 leagues, and observes, that
the place is supplied with dates and water.]

[Footnote 2011: The day of cormorants, or according to another reading
the day of reinforcements. It was the night which was called the night
of snarling. Price, p. 114.--M.]

[Footnote 2012: According to Malcolm's authorities, only three thousand;
but he adds "This is the report of Mahomedan historians, who have a
great disposition of the wonderful, in relating the first actions of the
faithful" Vol. i. p. 39.--M.]

[Footnote 21: Atrox, contumax, plus semel renovatum, are the well-chosen
expressions of the translator of Abulfeda, (Reiske, p. 69.)]

[Footnote 22: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 297, 348.]

[Footnote 23: The reader may satisfy himself on the subject of Bassora
by consulting the following writers: Geograph, Nubiens. p. 121.
D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 192. D'Anville, l'Euphrate et
le Tigre, p. 130, 133, 145. Raynal, Hist. Philosophique des deux
Indes, tom. ii. p. 92-100. Voyages di Pietro della Valle, tom. iv. p.
370-391. De Tavernier, tom. i. p. 240-247. De Thevenot, tom. ii.
p. 545-584. D Otter, tom. ii. p. 45-78. De Niebuhr, tom. ii. p.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part II.

After the defeat of Cadesia, a country intersected by rivers and canals
might have opposed an insuperable barrier to the victorious cavalry; and
the walls of Ctesiphon or Madayn, which had resisted the battering-rams
of the Romans, would not have yielded to the darts of the Saracens. But
the flying Persians were overcome by the belief, that the last day
of their religion and empire was at hand; the strongest posts were
abandoned by treachery or cowardice; and the king, with a part of his
family and treasures, escaped to Holwan at the foot of the Median hills.

In the third month after the battle, Said, the lieutenant of Omar,
passed the Tigris without opposition; the capital was taken by assault;
and the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the
sabres of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, "This is
the white palace of Chosroes; this is the promise of the apostle of
God!" The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly enriched beyond the
measure of their hope or knowledge. Each chamber revealed a new treasure
secreted with art, or ostentatiously displayed; the gold and silver, the
various wardrobes and precious furniture, surpassed (says Abulfeda) the
estimate of fancy or numbers; and another historian defines the untold
and almost infinite mass, by the fabulous computation of three thousands
of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold. [24] Some minute though
curious facts represent the contrast of riches and ignorance. From the
remote islands of the Indian Ocean a large provision of camphire [25]
had been imported, which is employed with a mixture of wax to illuminate
the palaces of the East. Strangers to the name and properties of that
odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for salt, mingled the
camphire in their bread, and were astonished at the bitterness of the
taste. One of the apartments of the palace was decorated with a carpet
of silk, sixty cubits in length, and as many in breadth: a paradise or
garden was depictured on the ground: the flowers, fruits, and shrubs,
were imitated by the figures of the gold embroidery, and the colors of
the precious stones; and the ample square was encircled by a variegated
and verdant border. [251] The Arabian general persuaded his soldiers
to relinquish their claim, in the reasonable hope that the eyes of the
caliph would be delighted with the splendid workmanship of nature and
industry. Regardless of the merit of art, and the pomp of royalty, the
rigid Omar divided the prize among his brethren of Medina: the picture
was destroyed; but such was the intrinsic value of the materials, that
the share of Ali alone was sold for twenty thousand drams. A mule that
carried away the tiara and cuirass, the belt and bracelets of Chosroes,
was overtaken by the pursuers; the gorgeous trophy was presented to
the commander of the faithful; and the gravest of the companions
condescended to smile when they beheld the white beard, the hairy arms,
and uncouth figure of the veteran, who was invested with the spoils of
the Great King. [26] The sack of Ctesiphon was followed by its desertion
and gradual decay. The Saracens disliked the air and situation of
the place, and Omar was advised by his general to remove the seat of
government to the western side of the Euphrates. In every age, the
foundation and ruin of the Assyrian cities has been easy and rapid: the
country is destitute of stone and timber; and the most solid structures
[27] are composed of bricks baked in the sun, and joined by a cement
of the native bitumen. The name of Cufa [28] describes a habitation of
reeds and earth; but the importance of the new capital was supported
by the numbers, wealth, and spirit, of a colony of veterans; and their
licentiousness was indulged by the wisest caliphs, who were apprehensive
of provoking the revolt of a hundred thousand swords: "Ye men of Cufa,"
said Ali, who solicited their aid, "you have been always conspicuous by
your valor. You conquered the Persian king, and scattered his forces,
till you had taken possession of his inheritance." This mighty conquest
was achieved by the battles of Jalula and Nehavend. After the loss of
the former, Yezdegerd fled from Holwan, and concealed his shame and
despair in the mountains of Farsistan, from whence Cyrus had descended
with his equal and valiant companions. The courage of the nation
survived that of the monarch: among the hills to the south of Ecbatana
or Hamadan, one hundred and fifty thousand Persians made a third and
final stand for their religion and country; and the decisive battle of
Nehavend was styled by the Arabs the victory of victories. If it be true
that the flying general of the Persians was stopped and overtaken in a
crowd of mules and camels laden with honey, the incident, however slight
and singular, will denote the luxurious impediments of an Oriental army.

[Footnote 24: Mente vix potest numerove comprehendi quanta spolia
nostris cesserint. Abulfeda, p. 69. Yet I still suspect, that the
extravagant numbers of Elmacin may be the error, not of the text, but of
the version. The best translators from the Greek, for instance, I find
to be very poor arithmeticians. * Note: Ockley (Hist. of Saracens,
vol. i. p. 230) translates in the same manner three thousand million of
ducats. See Forster's Mahometanism Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 462; who
makes this innocent doubt of Gibbon, in which, is to the amount of
the plunder, I venture to concur, a grave charge of inaccuracy and
disrespect to the memory of Erpenius. The Persian authorities of
Price (p. 122) make the booty worth three hundred and thirty millions

[Footnote 25: The camphire-tree grows in China and Japan; but many
hundred weight of those meaner sorts are exchanged for a single pound of
the more precious gum of Borneo and Sumatra, (Raynal, Hist. Philosoph.
tom. i. p. 362-365. Dictionnaire d'Hist. Naturelle par Bomare Miller's
Gardener's Dictionary.) These may be the islands of the first climate
from whence the Arabians imported their camphire (Geograph. Nub. p. 34,
35. D'Herbelot, p. 232.)]

[Footnote 251: Compare Price, p. 122.--M.]

[Footnote 26: See Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 376, 377. I may
credit the fact, without believing the prophecy.]

[Footnote 27: The most considerable ruins of Assyria are the tower of
Belus, at Babylon, and the hall of Chosroes, at Ctesiphon: they have
been visited by that vain and curious traveller Pietro della Valle,
(tom. i. p. 713-718, 731-735.) * Note: The best modern account is that
of Claudius Rich Esq. Two Memoirs of Babylon. London, 1818.--M.]

[Footnote 28: Consult the article of Coufah in the Bibliotheque of
D'Herbelot ( p. 277, 278,) and the second volume of Ockley's History,
particularly p. 40 and 153.]

[Footnote 29: See the article of Nehavend, in D'Herbelot, p. 667, 668;
and Voyages en Turquie et en Perse, par Otter, tom. i. 191. * Note:
Malcolm vol. i. p. 141.--M.]

The geography of Persia is darkly delineated by the Greeks and Latins;
but the most illustrious of her cities appear to be more ancient than
the invasion of the Arabs. By the reduction of Hamadan and Ispahan, of
Caswin, Tauris, and Rei, they gradually approached the shores of the
Caspian Sea: and the orators of Mecca might applaud the success and
spirit of the faithful, who had already lost sight of the northern
bear, and had almost transcended the bounds of the habitable world. [30]
Again, turning towards the West and the Roman empire, they repassed
the Tigris over the bridge of Mosul, and, in the captive provinces
of Armenia and Mesopotamia, embraced their victorious brethren of the
Syrian army. From the palace of Madayn their Eastern progress was not
less rapid or extensive. They advanced along the Tigris and the Gulf;
penetrated through the passes of the mountains into the valley of
Estachar or Persepolis, and profaned the last sanctuary of the Magian
empire. The grandson of Chosroes was nearly surprised among the falling
columns and mutilated figures; a sad emblem of the past and present
fortune of Persia: [31] he fled with accelerated haste over the desert
of Kirman, implored the aid of the warlike Segestans, and sought an
humble refuge on the verge of the Turkish and Chinese power. But a
victorious army is insensible of fatigue: the Arabs divided their forces
in the pursuit of a timorous enemy; and the caliph Othman promised the
government of Chorasan to the first general who should enter that
large and populous country, the kingdom of the ancient Bactrians. The
condition was accepted; the prize was deserved; the standard of Mahomet
was planted on the walls of Herat, Merou, and Balch; and the successful
leader neither halted nor reposed till his foaming cavalry had tasted
the waters of the Oxus. In the public anarchy, the independent governors
of the cities and castles obtained their separate capitulations: the
terms were granted or imposed by the esteem, the prudence, or the
compassion, of the victors; and a simple profession of faith established
the distinction between a brother and a slave. After a noble defence,
Harmozan, the prince or satrap of Ahwaz and Susa, was compelled to
surrender his person and his state to the discretion of the caliph;
and their interview exhibits a portrait of the Arabian manners. In the
presence, and by the command, of Omar, the gay Barbarian was despoiled
of his silken robes embroidered with gold, and of his tiara bedecked
with rubies and emeralds: "Are you now sensible," said the conqueror to
his naked captive--"are you now sensible of the judgment of God, and
of the different rewards of infidelity and obedience?" "Alas!" replied
Harmozan, "I feel them too deeply. In the days of our common ignorance,
we fought with the weapons of the flesh, and my nation was superior. God
was then neuter: since he has espoused your quarrel, you have subverted
our kingdom and religion." Oppressed by this painful dialogue,
the Persian complained of intolerable thirst, but discovered some
apprehension lest he should be killed whilst he was drinking a cup of
water. "Be of good courage," said the caliph; "your life is safe till
you have drunk this water:" the crafty satrap accepted the assurance,
and instantly dashed the vase against the ground. Omar would have
avenged the deceit, but his companions represented the sanctity of an
oath; and the speedy conversion of Harmozan entitled him not only to a
free pardon, but even to a stipend of two thousand pieces of gold.
The administration of Persia was regulated by an actual survey of the
people, the cattle, and the fruits of the earth; [32] and this monument,
which attests the vigilance of the caliphs, might have instructed the
philosophers of every age. [33]

[Footnote 30: It is in such a style of ignorance and wonder that the
Athenian orator describes the Arctic conquests of Alexander, who
never advanced beyond the shores of the Caspian. Aeschines contra
Ctesiphontem, tom. iii. p. 554, edit. Graec. Orator. Reiske. This
memorable cause was pleaded at Athens, Olymp. cxii. 3, (before Christ
330,) in the autumn, (Taylor, praefat. p. 370, &c.,) about a year after
the battle of Arbela; and Alexander, in the pursuit of Darius, was
marching towards Hyrcania and Bactriana.]

[Footnote 31: We are indebted for this curious particular to the
Dynasties of Abulpharagius, p. 116; but it is needless to prove the
identity of Estachar and Persepolis, (D'Herbelot, p. 327;) and still
more needless to copy the drawings and descriptions of Sir John Chardin,
or Corneillo le Bruyn.]

[Footnote 32: After the conquest of Persia, Theophanes adds,
(Chronograph p. 283.)]

[Footnote 33: Amidst our meagre relations, I must regret that D'Herbelot
has not found and used a Persian translation of Tabari, enriched, as he
says, with many extracts from the native historians of the Ghebers or
Magi, (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 1014.)]

The flight of Yezdegerd had carried him beyond the Oxus, and as far
as the Jaxartes, two rivers [34] of ancient and modern renown, which
descend from the mountains of India towards the Caspian Sea. He was
hospitably entertained by Takhan, prince of Fargana, [35] a fertile
province on the Jaxartes: the king of Samarcand, with the Turkish tribes
of Sogdiana and Scythia, were moved by the lamentations and promises of
the fallen monarch; and he solicited, by a suppliant embassy, the more
solid and powerful friendship of the emperor of China. [36] The virtuous
Taitsong, [37] the first of the dynasty of the Tang may be justly
compared with the Antonines of Rome: his people enjoyed the blessings
of prosperity and peace; and his dominion was acknowledged by forty-four
hordes of the Barbarians of Tartary. His last garrisons of Cashgar and
Khoten maintained a frequent intercourse with their neighbors of the
Jaxartes and Oxus; a recent colony of Persians had introduced into China
the astronomy of the Magi; and Taitsong might be alarmed by the rapid
progress and dangerous vicinity of the Arabs. The influence, and perhaps
the supplies, of China revived the hopes of Yezdegerd and the zeal
of the worshippers of fire; and he returned with an army of Turks to
conquer the inheritance of his fathers. The fortunate Moslems, without
unsheathing their swords, were the spectators of his ruin and death.
The grandson of Chosroes was betrayed by his servant, insulted by the
seditious inhabitants of Merou, and oppressed, defeated, and pursued by
his Barbarian allies. He reached the banks of a river, and offered his
rings and bracelets for an instant passage in a miller's boat. Ignorant
or insensible of royal distress, the rustic replied, that four drams of
silver were the daily profit of his mill, and that he would not suspend
his work unless the loss were repaid. In this moment of hesitation and
delay, the last of the Sassanian kings was overtaken and slaughtered by
the Turkish cavalry, in the nineteenth year of his unhappy reign. [38]
[3811] His son Firuz, an humble client of the Chinese emperor, accepted
the station of captain of his guards; and the Magian worship was long
preserved by a colony of loyal exiles in the province of Bucharia.
[3812] His grandson inherited the regal name; but after a faint and
fruitless enterprise, he returned to China, and ended his days in the
palace of Sigan. The male line of the Sassanides was extinct; but the
female captives, the daughters of Persia, were given to the conquerors
in servitude, or marriage; and the race of the caliphs and imams was
ennobled by the blood of their royal mothers. [39]

[Footnote 34: The most authentic accounts of the two rivers, the Sihon
(Jaxartes) and the Gihon, (Oxus,) may be found in Sherif al Edrisi
(Geograph. Nubiens. p. 138,) Abulfeda, (Descript. Chorasan. in Hudson,
tom. iii. p. 23,) Abulghazi Khan, who reigned on their banks, (Hist.
Genealogique des Tatars, p. 32, 57, 766,) and the Turkish Geographer,
a MS. in the king of France's library, (Examen Critique des Historiens
d'Alexandre, p. 194-360.)]

[Footnote 35: The territory of Fergana is described by Abulfeda, p. 76,

[Footnote 36: Eo redegit angustiarum eundem regem exsulem, ut Turcici
regis, et Sogdiani, et Sinensis, auxilia missis literis imploraret,
(Abulfed. Annal. p. 74) The connection of the Persian and Chinese
history is illustrated by Freret (Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xvi. p.
245-255) and De Guignes, (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 54-59,) and for
the geography of the borders, tom. ii. p. 1-43.]

[Footnote 37: Hist. Sinica, p. 41-46, in the iiid part of the Relations
Curieuses of Thevenot.]

[Footnote 38: I have endeavored to harmonize the various narratives
of Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 37,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 116,)
Abulfeda, (Annal. p. 74, 79,) and D'Herbelot, (p. 485.) The end of
Yezdegerd, was not only unfortunate but obscure.]

[Footnote 3811: The account of Yezdegerd's death in the Habeib 'usseyr
and Rouzut uzzuffa (Price, p. 162) is much more probable. On the demand
of the few dhirems, he offered to the miller his sword, and royal
girdle, of inesturable value. This awoke the cupidity of the miller, who
murdered him, and threw the body into the stream.--M.]

[Footnote 3812: Firouz died leaving a son called Ni-ni-cha by the
Chinese, probably Narses. Yezdegerd had two sons, Firouz and Bahram St.
Martin, vol. xi. p. 318.--M.]

[Footnote 39: The two daughters of Yezdegerd married Hassan, the son of
Ali, and Mohammed, the son of Abubeker; and the first of these was the
father of a numerous progeny. The daughter of Phirouz became the wife
of the caliph Walid, and their son Yezid derived his genuine or fabulous
descent from the Chosroes of Persia, the Caesars of Rome, and the
Chagans of the Turks or Avars, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orientale, p. 96,

After the fall of the Persian kingdom, the River Oxus divided the
territories of the Saracens and of the Turks. This narrow boundary was
soon overleaped by the spirit of the Arabs; the governors of Chorasan
extended their successive inroads; and one of their triumphs was adorned
with the buskin of a Turkish queen, which she dropped in her precipitate
flight beyond the hills of Bochara. [40] But the final conquest of
Transoxiana, [41] as well as of Spain, was reserved for the glorious
reign of the inactive Walid; and the name of Catibah, the camel driver,
declares the origin and merit of his successful lieutenant. While one of
his colleagues displayed the first Mahometan banner on the banks of
the Indus, the spacious regions between the Oxus, the Jaxartes, and the
Caspian Sea, were reduced by the arms of Catibah to the obedience of the
prophet and of the caliph. [42] A tribute of two millions of pieces of
gold was imposed on the infidels; their idols were burnt or broken; the
Mussulman chief pronounced a sermon in the new mosch of Carizme; after
several battles, the Turkish hordes were driven back to the desert; and
the emperors of China solicited the friendship of the victorious Arabs.
To their industry, the prosperity of the province, the Sogdiana of the
ancients, may in a great measure be ascribed; but the advantages of the
soil and climate had been understood and cultivated since the reign
of the Macedonian kings. Before the invasion of the Saracens, Carizme,
Bochara, and Samarcand were rich and populous under the yoke of the
shepherds of the north. [4211] These cities were surrounded with a
double wall; and the exterior fortification, of a larger circumference,
enclosed the fields and gardens of the adjacent district. The mutual
wants of India and Europe were supplied by the diligence of the Sogdian
merchants; and the inestimable art of transforming linen into paper has
been diffused from the manufacture of Samarcand over the western world.

[Footnote 40: It was valued at 2000 pieces of gold, and was the prize of
Obeidollah, the son of Ziyad, a name afterwards infamous by the murder
of Hosein, (Ockley's History of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 142, 143,) His
brother Salem was accompanied by his wife, the first Arabian woman (A.D.
680) who passed the Oxus: she borrowed, or rather stole, the crown and
jewels of the princess of the Sogdians, (p. 231, 232.)]

[Footnote 41: A part of Abulfeda's geography is translated by Greaves,
inserted in Hudson's collection of the minor geographers, (tom. iii.,)
and entitled Descriptio Chorasmiae et Mawaralnahroe, id est, regionum
extra fluvium, Oxum, p. 80. The name of Transoxiana, softer in sound,
equivalent in sense, is aptly used by Petit de la Croix, (Hist. de
Gengiscan, &c.,) and some modern Orientalists, but they are mistaken in
ascribing it to the writers of antiquity.]

[Footnote 42: The conquests of Catibah are faintly marked by Elmacin,
(Hist. Saracen. p. 84,) D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. Catbah, Samarcand
Valid.,) and De Guignes, (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 58, 59.)]

[Footnote 4211: The manuscripts Arabian and Persian writers in the royal
library contain very circumstantial details on the contest between the
Persians and Arabians. M. St. Martin declined this addition to the work
of Le Beau, as extending to too great a length. St. Martin vol. xi. p.

[Footnote 43: A curious description of Samarcand is inserted in the
Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 208, &c. The librarian Casiri
(tom. ii. 9) relates, from credible testimony, that paper was first
imported from China to Samarcand, A. H. 30, and invented, or rather
introduced, at Mecca, A. H. 88. The Escurial library contains paper Mss.
as old as the ivth or vth century of the Hegira.]

II. No sooner had Abubeker restored the unity of faith and government,
than he despatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes. "In the name
of the most merciful God, to the rest of the true believers. Health and
happiness, and the mercy and blessing of God, be upon you. I praise the
most high God, and I pray for his prophet Mahomet. This is to acquaint
you, that I intend to send the true believers into Syria [44] to take
it out of the hands of the infidels. And I would have you know, that
the fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God." His messengers
returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardor which they had
kindled in every province; and the camp of Medina was successively
filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action,
complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions,
and accused with impatient murmurs the delays of the caliph. As soon as
their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the
men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the
success of their undertaking. In person, and on foot, he accompanied the
first day's march; and when the blushing leaders attempted to dismount,
the caliph removed their scruples by a declaration, that those who
rode, and those who walked, in the service of religion, were equally
meritorious. His instructions [45] to the chiefs of the Syrian army were
inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects
to despise, the objects of earthly ambition. "Remember," said the
successor of the prophet, "that you are always in the presence of God,
on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of
paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren,
and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When
you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without
turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood
of women or children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of
corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such
as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it,
and be as good as your word. As you go on, you will find some religious
persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to
serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy
their monasteries: [46] And you will find another sort of people, that
belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; [47] be sure
you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn
Mahometans or pay tribute." All profane or frivolous conversation,
all dangerous recollection of ancient quarrels, was severely prohibited
among the Arabs: in the tumult of a camp, the exercises of religion
were assiduously practised; and the intervals of action were employed in
prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran. The abuse, or even the
use, of wine was chastised by fourscore strokes on the soles of the
feet, and in the fervor of their primitive zeal, many secret sinners
revealed their fault, and solicited their punishment. After some
hesitation, the command of the Syrian army was delegated to Abu Obeidah,
one of the fugitives of Mecca, and companions of Mahomet; whose zeal and
devotion was assuaged, without being abated, by the singular mildness
and benevolence of his temper. But in all the emergencies of war, the
soldiers demanded the superior genius of Caled; and whoever might be
the choice of the prince, the Sword of God was both in fact and fame the
foremost leader of the Saracens. He obeyed without reluctance; [4711] he
was consulted without jealousy; and such was the spirit of the man, or
rather of the times, that Caled professed his readiness to serve under
the banner of the faith, though it were in the hands of a child or an
enemy. Glory, and riches, and dominion, were indeed promised to the
victorious Mussulman; but he was carefully instructed, that if the goods
of this life were his only incitement, they likewise would be his only

[Footnote 44: A separate history of the conquest of Syria has been
composed by Al Wakidi, cadi of Bagdad, who was born A.D. 748, and died
A.D. 822; he likewise wrote the conquest of Egypt, of Diarbekir, &c.
Above the meagre and recent chronicles of the Arabians, Al Wakidi has
the double merit of antiquity and copiousness. His tales and traditions
afford an artless picture of the men and the times. Yet his narrative
is too often defective, trifling, and improbable. Till something better
shall be found, his learned and spiritual interpreter (Ockley, in
his History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 21-342) will not deserve
the petulant animadversion of Reiske, (Prodidagmata ad Magji Chalifae
Tabulas, p. 236.) I am sorry to think that the labors of Ockley were
consummated in a jail, (see his two prefaces to the 1st A.D. 1708, to
the 2d, 1718, with the list of authors at the end.) * Note: M. Hamaker
has clearly shown that neither of these works can be inscribed to Al
Wakidi: they are not older than the end of the xith century or
later than the middle of the xivth. Praefat. in Inc. Auct. LIb. de
Expugnatione Memphidis, c. ix. x.--M.]

[Footnote 45: The instructions, &c., of the Syrian war are described
by Al Wakidi and Ockley, tom. i. p. 22-27, &c. In the sequel it is
necessary to contract, and needless to quote, their circumstantial
narrative. My obligations to others shall be noticed.]

[Footnote 46: Notwithstanding this precept, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les
Egyptiens, tom. ii. p. 192, edit. Lausanne) represents the Bedoweens
as the implacable enemies of the Christian monks. For my own part, I
am more inclined to suspect the avarice of the Arabian robbers, and the
prejudices of the German philosopher. * Note: Several modern travellers
(Mr. Fazakerley, in Walpole's Travels in the East, vol. xi. 371) give
very amusing accounts of the terms on which the monks of Mount Sinai
live with the neighboring Bedoweens. Such, probably, was their
relative state in older times, wherever the Arab retained his Bedoween

[Footnote 47: Even in the seventh century, the monks were generally
laymen: 'hey wore their hair long and dishevelled, and shaved their
heads when they were ordained priests. The circular tonsure was sacred
and mysterious; it was the crown of thorns; but it was likewise a royal
diadem, and every priest was a king, &c., (Thomassin, Discipline de
l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 721-758, especially p. 737, 738.)]

[Footnote 4711: Compare Price, p. 90.--M.]

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part III.

Another expedition of the conquerors of Damascus will equally display
their avidity and their contempt for the riches of the present world.
They were informed that the produce and manufactures of the country were
annually collected in the fair of Abyla, [64] about thirty miles from
the city; that the cell of a devout hermit was visited at the same
time by a multitude of pilgrims; and that the festival of trade and
superstition would be ennobled by the nuptials of the daughter of the
governor of Tripoli. Abdallah, the son of Jaafar, a glorious and holy
martyr, undertook, with a banner of five hundred horse, the pious and
profitable commission of despoiling the infidels. As he approached the
fair of Abyla, he was astonished by the report of this mighty concourse
of Jews and Christians, Greeks, and Armenians, of natives of Syria and
of strangers of Egypt, to the number of ten thousand, besides a guard of
five thousand horse that attended the person of the bride. The Saracens
paused: "For my own part," said Abdallah, "I dare not go back: our foes
are many, our danger is great, but our reward is splendid and secure,
either in this life or in the life to come. Let every man, according
to his inclination, advance or retire." Not a Mussulman deserted his
standard. "Lead the way," said Abdallah to his Christian guide, "and you
shall see what the companions of the prophet can perform." They charged
in five squadrons; but after the first advantage of the surprise,
they were encompassed and almost overwhelmed by the multitude of their
enemies; and their valiant band is fancifully compared to a white spot
in the skin of a black camel. [65] About the hour of sunset, when their
weapons dropped from their hands, when they panted on the verge of
eternity, they discovered an approaching cloud of dust; they heard the
welcome sound of the tecbir, [66] and they soon perceived the standard
of Caled, who flew to their relief with the utmost speed of his cavalry.
The Christians were broken by his attack, and slaughtered in their
flight, as far as the river of Tripoli. They left behind them the
various riches of the fair; the merchandises that were exposed for sale,
the money that was brought for purchase, the gay decorations of
the nuptials, and the governor's daughter, with forty of her female

The fruits, provisions, and furniture, the money, plate, and jewels,
were diligently laden on the backs of horses, asses, and mules; and the
holy robbers returned in triumph to Damascus. The hermit, after a short
and angry controversy with Caled, declined the crown of martyrdom, and
was left alive in the solitary scene of blood and devastation.

[Footnote 64: Dair Abil Kodos. After retrenching the last word, the
epithet, holy, I discover the Abila of Lysanias between Damascus and
Heliopolis: the name (Abil signifies a vineyard) concurs with the
situation to justify my conjecture, (Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p 317,
tom. ii. p. 526, 527.)]

[Footnote 65: I am bolder than Mr. Ockley, (vol. i. p. 164,) who dares
not insert this figurative expression in the text, though he observes in
a marginal note, that the Arabians often borrow their similes from that
useful and familiar animal. The reindeer may be equally famous in the
songs of the Laplanders.]

[Footnote 66: We hear the tecbir; so the Arabs call Their shout of
onset, when with loud appeal They challenge heaven, as if demanding
conquest. This word, so formidable in their holy wars, is a verb active,
(says Ockley in his index,) of the second conjugation, from Kabbara,
which signifies saying Alla Acbar, God is most mighty!]

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part IV.

Syria, [67] one of the countries that have been improved by the most
early cultivation, is not unworthy of the preference. [68] The heat of
the climate is tempered by the vicinity of the sea and mountains, by the
plenty of wood and water; and the produce of a fertile soil affords the
subsistence, and encourages the propagation, of men and animals. From
the age of David to that of Heraclius, the country was overspread
with ancient and flourishing cities: the inhabitants were numerous and
wealthy; and, after the slow ravage of despotism and superstition, after
the recent calamities of the Persian war, Syria could still attract
and reward the rapacious tribes of the desert. A plain, of ten days'
journey, from Damascus to Aleppo and Antioch, is watered, on the western
side, by the winding course of the Orontes. The hills of Libanus and
Anti-Libanus are planted from north to south, between the Orontes and
the Mediterranean; and the epithet of hollow (Coelesyria) was applied to
a long and fruitful valley, which is confined in the same direction,
by the two ridges of snowy mountains. [69] Among the cities, which are
enumerated by Greek and Oriental names in the geography and conquest
of Syria, we may distinguish Emesa or Hems, Heliopolis or Baalbec, the
former as the metropolis of the plain, the latter as the capital of the
valley. Under the last of the Caesars, they were strong and populous;
the turrets glittered from afar: an ample space was covered with public
and private buildings; and the citizens were illustrious by their
spirit, or at least by their pride; by their riches, or at least by
their luxury. In the days of Paganism, both Emesa and Heliopolis were
addicted to the worship of Baal, or the sun; but the decline of their
superstition and splendor has been marked by a singular variety of
fortune. Not a vestige remains of the temple of Emesa, which was
equalled in poetic style to the summits of Mount Libanus, [70] while
the ruins of Baalbec, invisible to the writers of antiquity, excite the
curiosity and wonder of the European traveller. [71] The measure of the
temple is two hundred feet in length, and one hundred in breadth: the
front is adorned with a double portico of eight columns; fourteen may be
counted on either side; and each column, forty-five feet in height, is
composed of three massy blocks of stone or marble. The proportions
and ornaments of the Corinthian order express the architecture of the
Greeks: but as Baalbec has never been the seat of a monarch, we are at
a loss to conceive how the expense of these magnificent structures could
be supplied by private or municipal liberality. [72] From the conquest
of Damascus the Saracens proceeded to Heliopolis and Emesa: but I
shall decline the repetition of the sallies and combats which have been
already shown on a larger scale. In the prosecution of the war, their
policy was not less effectual than their sword. By short and separate
truces they dissolved the union of the enemy; accustomed the Syrians
to compare their friendship with their enmity; familiarized the idea
of their language, religion, and manners; and exhausted, by clandestine
purchase, the magazines and arsenals of the cities which they returned
to besiege. They aggravated the ransom of the more wealthy, or the more
obstinate; and Chalcis alone was taxed at five thousand ounces of gold,
five thousand ounces of silver, two thousand robes of silk, and as many
figs and olives as would load five thousand asses. But the terms of
truce or capitulation were faithfully observed; and the lieutenant
of the caliph, who had promised not to enter the walls of the captive
Baalbec, remained tranquil and immovable in his tent till the jarring
factions solicited the interposition of a foreign master. The conquest
of the plain and valley of Syria was achieved in less than two years.
Yet the commander of the faithful reproved the slowness of their
progress; and the Saracens, bewailing their fault with tears of rage and
repentance, called aloud on their chiefs to lead them forth to fight the
battles of the Lord. In a recent action, under the walls of Emesa,
an Arabian youth, the cousin of Caled, was heard aloud to exclaim,
"Methinks I see the black-eyed girls looking upon me; one of whom,
should she appear in this world, all mankind would die for love of her.
And I see in the hand of one of them a handkerchief of green silk, and
a cap of precious stones, and she beckons me, and calls out, Come hither
quickly, for I love thee." With these words, charging the Christians, he
made havoc wherever he went, till, observed at length by the governor of
Hems, he was struck through with a javelin.

[Footnote 67: In the Geography of Abulfeda, the description of Syria,
his native country, is the most interesting and authentic portion. It
was published in Arabic and Latin, Lipsiae, 1766, in quarto, with the
learned notes of Kochler and Reiske, and some extracts of geography and
natural history from Ibn Ol Wardii. Among the modern travels, Pocock's
Description of the East (of Syria and Mesopotamia, vol. ii. p. 88-209)
is a work of superior learning and dignity; but the author too often
confounds what he had seen and what he had read.]

[Footnote 68: The praises of Dionysius are just and lively. Syria, (in
Periegesi, v. 902, in tom. iv. Geograph. Minor. Hudson.) In another
place he styles the country differently, (v. 898.) This poetical
geographer lived in the age of Augustus, and his description of the
world is illustrated by the Greek commentary of Eustathius, who paid the
same compliment to Homer and Dionysius, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. l. iv.
c. 2, tom. iii. p. 21, &c.)]

[Footnote 69: The topography of the Libanus and Anti-Libanus is
excellently described by the learning and sense of Reland, (Palestin.
tom. i. p. 311-326)]

[Footnote 70:

 --Emesae fastigia celsa renident.
   Nam diffusa solo latus explicat; ac subit auras
   Turribus in coelum nitentibus: incola claris
   Cor studiis acuit...
   Denique flammicomo devoti pectora soli
   Vitam agitant.  Libanus frondosa cacumina turget.
   Et tamen his certant celsi fastigia templi.

These verses of the Latin version of Rufus Avienus are wanting in the
Greek original of Dionysius; and since they are likewise unnoticed by
Eustathius, I must, with Fabricius, (Bibliot. Latin. tom. iii. p. 153,
edit. Ernesti,) and against Salmasius, (ad Vopiscum, p. 366, 367, in
Hist. August.,) ascribed them to the fancy, rather than the Mss., of

[Footnote 71: I am much better satisfied with Maundrell's slight octavo,
(Journey, p. 134-139), than with the pompous folio of Dr. Pocock,
(Description of the East, vol. ii. p. 106-113;) but every preceding
account is eclipsed by the magnificent description and drawings of Mm.
Dawkins and Wood, who have transported into England the ruins of Pamyra
and Baalbec.]

[Footnote 72: The Orientals explain the prodigy by a never-failing
expedient. The edifices of Baalbec were constructed by the fairies or
the genii, (Hist. de Timour Bec, tom. iii. l. v. c. 23, p. 311, 312.
Voyage d'Otter, tom. i. p. 83.) With less absurdity, but with equal
ignorance, Abulfeda and Ibn Chaukel ascribe them to the Sabaeans or
Aadites Non sunt in omni Syria aedificia magnificentiora his, (Tabula
Syria p. 108.)]

It was incumbent on the Saracens to exert the full powers of their valor
and enthusiasm against the forces of the emperor, who was taught, by
repeated losses, that the rovers of the desert had undertaken, and would
speedily achieve, a regular and permanent conquest. From the provinces
of Europe and Asia, fourscore thousand soldiers were transported by sea
and land to Antioch and Caesarea: the light troops of the army consisted
of sixty thousand Christian Arabs of the tribe of Gassan. Under the
banner of Jabalah, the last of their princes, they marched in the
van; and it was a maxim of the Greeks, that for the purpose of cutting
diamond, a diamond was the most effectual. Heraclius withheld his person
from the dangers of the field; but his presumption, or perhaps his
despondency, suggested a peremptory order, that the fate of the province
and the war should be decided by a single battle. The Syrians were
attached to the standard of Rome and of the cross: but the noble, the
citizen, the peasant, were exasperated by the injustice and cruelty of
a licentious host, who oppressed them as subjects, and despised them
as strangers and aliens. [73] A report of these mighty preparations was
conveyed to the Saracens in their camp of Emesa, and the chiefs, though
resolved to fight, assembled a council: the faith of Abu Obeidah would
have expected on the same spot the glory of martyrdom; the wisdom
of Caled advised an honorable retreat to the skirts of Palestine and
Arabia, where they might await the succors of their friends, and the
attack of the unbelievers. A speedy messenger soon returned from the
throne of Medina, with the blessings of Omar and Ali, the prayers of the
widows of the prophet, and a reenforcement of eight thousand Moslems. In
their way they overturned a detachment of Greeks, and when they
joined at Yermuk the camp of their brethren, they found the pleasing
intelligence, that Caled had already defeated and scattered the
Christian Arabs of the tribe of Gassan. In the neighborhood of Bosra,
the springs of Mount Hermon descend in a torrent to the plain of
Decapolis, or ten cities; and the Hieromax, a name which has been
corrupted to Yermuk, is lost, after a short course, in the Lake of
Tiberias. [74] The banks of this obscure stream were illustrated by a
long and bloody encounter. [7411] On this momentous occasion, the public
voice, and the modesty of Abu Obeidah, restored the command to the most
deserving of the Moslems. Caled assumed his station in the front, his
colleague was posted in the rear, that the disorder of the fugitive
might be checked by his venerable aspect, and the sight of the yellow
banner which Mahomet had displayed before the walls of Chaibar. The last
line was occupied by the sister of Derar, with the Arabian women who had
enlisted in this holy war, who were accustomed to wield the bow and
the lance, and who in a moment of captivity had defended, against
the uncircumcised ravishers, their chastity and religion. [75] The
exhortation of the generals was brief and forcible: "Paradise is before
you, the devil and hell-fire in your rear." Yet such was the weight
of the Roman cavalry, that the right wing of the Arabs was broken and
separated from the main body. Thrice did they retreat in disorder, and
thrice were they driven back to the charge by the reproaches and blows
of the women. In the intervals of action, Abu Obeidah visited the tents
of his brethren, prolonged their repose by repeating at once the prayers
of two different hours, bound up their wounds with his own hands, and
administered the comfortable reflection, that the infidels partook of
their sufferings without partaking of their reward. Four thousand and
thirty of the Moslems were buried in the field of battle; and the skill
of the Armenian archers enabled seven hundred to boast that they had
lost an eye in that meritorious service. The veterans of the Syrian war
acknowledged that it was the hardest and most doubtful of the days which
they had seen. But it was likewise the most decisive: many thousands
of the Greeks and Syrians fell by the swords of the Arabs; many were
slaughtered, after the defeat, in the woods and mountains; many, by
mistaking the ford, were drowned in the waters of the Yermuk; and
however the loss may be magnified, [76] the Christian writers confess
and bewail the bloody punishment of their sins. [77] Manuel, the Roman
general, was either killed at Damascus, or took refuge in the monastery
of Mount Sinai. An exile in the Byzantine court, Jabalah lamented the
manners of Arabia, and his unlucky preference of the Christian cause.
[78] He had once inclined to the profession of Islam; but in the
pilgrimage of Mecca, Jabalah was provoked to strike one of his brethren,
and fled with amazement from the stern and equal justice of the caliph
These victorious Saracens enjoyed at Damascus a month of pleasure and
repose: the spoil was divided by the discretion of Abu Obeidah: an equal
share was allotted to a soldier and to his horse, and a double portion
was reserved for the noble coursers of the Arabian breed.

[Footnote 73: I have read somewhere in Tacitus, or Grotius, Subjectos
habent tanquam suos, viles tanquam alienos. Some Greek officers ravished
the wife, and murdered the child, of their Syrian landlord; and Manuel
smiled at his undutiful complaint.]

[Footnote 74: See Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 272, 283, tom. ii. p.
773, 775. This learned professor was equal to the task of describing
the Holy Land, since he was alike conversant with Greek and Latin, with
Hebrew and Arabian literature. The Yermuk, or Hieromax, is noticed by
Cellarius (Geograph. Antiq. tom. ii. p. 392) and D'Anville, (Geographie
Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 185.) The Arabs, and even Abulfeda himself, do not
seem to recognize the scene of their victory.]

[Footnote 7411: Compare Price, p. 79. The army of the Romans is swoller
to 400,000 men of which 70,000 perished.--M.]

[Footnote 75: These women were of the tribe of the Hamyarites, who
derived their origin from the ancient Amalekites. Their females were
accustomed to ride on horseback, and to fight like the Amazons of old,
(Ockley, vol. i. p. 67.)]

[Footnote 76: We killed of them, says Abu Obeidah to the caliph, one
hundred and fifty thousand, and made prisoners forty thousand, (Ockley
vol. i. p. 241.) As I cannot doubt his veracity, nor believe his
computation, I must suspect that the Arabic historians indulge
themselves in the practice of comparing speeches and letters for their

[Footnote 77: After deploring the sins of the Christians, Theophanes,
adds, (Chronograph. p. 276,) does he mean Aiznadin? His account is brief
and obscure, but he accuses the numbers of the enemy, the adverse wind,
and the cloud of dust. (Chronograph. p. 280.)]

[Footnote 78: See Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 70, 71,) who transcribes
the poetical complaint of Jabalah himself, and some panegyrical strains
of an Arabian poet, to whom the chief of Gassan sent from Constantinople
a gift of five hundred pieces of gold by the hands of the ambassador of

After the battle of Yermuk, the Roman army no longer appeared in the
field; and the Saracens might securely choose, among the fortified towns
of Syria, the first object of their attack. They consulted the caliph
whether they should march to Caesarea or Jerusalem; and the advice of
Ali determined the immediate siege of the latter. To a profane eye,
Jerusalem was the first or second capital of Palestine; but after Mecca
and Medina, it was revered and visited by the devout Moslems, as the
temple of the Holy Land which had been sanctified by the revelation of
Moses, of Jesus, and of Mahomet himself. The son of Abu Sophian was
sent with five thousand Arabs to try the first experiment of surprise
or treaty; but on the eleventh day, the town was invested by the whole
force of Abu Obeidah. He addressed the customary summons to the chief
commanders and people of Aelia. [79]

[Footnote 79: In the name of the city, the profane prevailed over the
sacred Jerusalem was known to the devout Christians, (Euseb. de Martyr
Palest. c xi.;) but the legal and popular appellation of Aelia (the
colony of Aelius Hadrianus) has passed from the Romans to the Arabs.
(Reland, Palestin. tom. i. p. 207, tom. ii. p. 835. D'Herbelot,
Bibliotheque Orientale, Cods, p. 269, Ilia, p. 420.) The epithet of Al
Cods, the Holy, is used as the proper name of Jerusalem.]

"Health and happiness to every one that follows the right way! We
require of you to testify that there is but one God, and that Mahomet is
his apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute, and be under us
forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better
than you do the drinking of wine or eating hog's flesh. Nor will I ever
stir from you, if it please God, till I have destroyed those that fight
for you, and made slaves of your children." But the city was defended
on every side by deep valleys and steep ascents; since the invasion of
Syria, the walls and towers had been anxiously restored; the bravest of
the fugitives of Yermuk had stopped in the nearest place of refuge; and
in the defence of the sepulchre of Christ, the natives and strangers
might feel some sparks of the enthusiasm, which so fiercely glowed in
the bosoms of the Saracens. The siege of Jerusalem lasted four months;
not a day was lost without some action of sally or assault; the military
engines incessantly played from the ramparts; and the inclemency of
the winter was still more painful and destructive to the Arabs. The
Christians yielded at length to the perseverance of the besiegers.
The patriarch Sophronius appeared on the walls, and by the voice of
an interpreter demanded a conference. [7911] After a vain attempt to
dissuade the lieutenant of the caliph from his impious enterprise, he
proposed, in the name of the people, a fair capitulation, with this
extraordinary clause, that the articles of security should be ratified
by the authority and presence of Omar himself. The question was debated
in the council of Medina; the sanctity of the place, and the advice
of Ali, persuaded the caliph to gratify the wishes of his soldiers and
enemies; and the simplicity of his journey is more illustrious than the
royal pageants of vanity and oppression. The conqueror of Persia and
Syria was mounted on a red camel, which carried, besides his person,
a bag of corn, a bag of dates, a wooden dish, and a leathern bottle of
water. Wherever he halted, the company, without distinction, was invited
to partake of his homely fare, and the repast was consecrated by the
prayer and exhortation of the commander of the faithful. [80] But
in this expedition or pilgrimage, his power was exercised in the
administration of justice: he reformed the licentious polygamy of
the Arabs, relieved the tributaries from extortion and cruelty, and
chastised the luxury of the Saracens, by despoiling them of their rich
silks, and dragging them on their faces in the dirt. When he came
within sight of Jerusalem, the caliph cried with a loud voice, "God is
victorious. O Lord, give us an easy conquest!" and, pitching his tent
of coarse hair, calmly seated himself on the ground. After signing
the capitulation, he entered the city without fear or precaution; and
courteously discoursed with the patriarch concerning its religious
antiquities. [81] Sophronius bowed before his new master, and secretly
muttered, in the words of Daniel, "The abomination of desolation is in
the holy place." [82] At the hour of prayer they stood together in
the church of the resurrection; but the caliph refused to perform his
devotions, and contented himself with praying on the steps of the church
of Constantine. To the patriarch he disclosed his prudent and honorable
motive. "Had I yielded," said Omar, "to your request, the Moslems of a
future age would have infringed the treaty under color of imitating
my example." By his command the ground of the temple of Solomon was
prepared for the foundation of a mosch; [83] and, during a residence
of ten days, he regulated the present and future state of his Syrian
conquests. Medina might be jealous, lest the caliph should be
detained by the sanctity of Jerusalem or the beauty of Damascus; her
apprehensions were dispelled by his prompt and voluntary return to the
tomb of the apostle. [84]

[Footnote 7911: See the explanation of this in Price, with the prophecy
which was hereby fulfilled, p 85.--M]

[Footnote 80: The singular journey and equipage of Omar are described
(besides Ockley, vol. i. p. 250) by Murtadi, (Merveilles de l'Egypte, p.

[Footnote 81: The Arabs boast of an old prophecy preserved at Jerusalem,
and describing the name, the religion, and the person of Omar, the
future conqueror. By such arts the Jews are said to have soothed the
pride of their foreign masters, Cyrus and Alexander, (Joseph. Ant. Jud.
l. xi c. 1, 8, p. 447, 579-582.)]

[Footnote 82: Theophan. Chronograph. p. 281. This prediction, which had
already served for Antiochus and the Romans, was again refitted for
the present occasion, by the economy of Sophronius, one of the deepest
theologians of the Monothelite controversy.]

[Footnote 83: According to the accurate survey of D'Anville,
(Dissertation sun l'ancienne Jerusalem, p. 42-54,) the mosch of Omar,
enlarged and embellished by succeeding caliphs, covered the ground of
the ancient temple, (says Phocas,) a length of 215, a breadth of 172,
toises. The Nubian geographer declares, that this magnificent structure
was second only in size and beauty to the great mosch of Cordova, (p.
113,) whose present state Mr. Swinburne has so elegantly represented,
(Travels into Spain, p. 296-302.)]

[Footnote 84: Of the many Arabic tarikhs or chronicles of Jerusalem,
(D'Herbelot, p. 867,) Ockley found one among the Pocock Mss. of Oxford,
(vol. i. p. 257,) which he has used to supply the defective narrative of
Al Wakidi.]

To achieve what yet remained of the Syrian war the caliph had formed two
separate armies; a chosen detachment, under Amrou and Yezid, was left in
the camp of Palestine; while the larger division, under the standard
of Abu Obeidah and Caled, marched away to the north against Antioch
and Aleppo. The latter of these, the Beraea of the Greeks, was not
yet illustrious as the capital of a province or a kingdom; and the
inhabitants, by anticipating their submission and pleading their
poverty, obtained a moderate composition for their lives and religion.
But the castle of Aleppo, [85] distinct from the city, stood erect on
a lofty artificial mound the sides were sharpened to a precipice, and
faced with free-stone; and the breadth of the ditch might be filled with
water from the neighboring springs. After the loss of three thousand
men, the garrison was still equal to the defence; and Youkinna, their
valiant and hereditary chief, had murdered his brother, a holy monk,
for daring to pronounce the name of peace. In a siege of four or five
months, the hardest of the Syrian war, great numbers of the Saracens
were killed and wounded: their removal to the distance of a mile could
not seduce the vigilance of Youkinna; nor could the Christians be
terrified by the execution of three hundred captives, whom they beheaded
before the castle wall. The silence, and at length the complaints,
of Abu Obeidah informed the caliph that their hope and patience were
consumed at the foot of this impregnable fortress. "I am variously
affected," replied Omar, "by the difference of your success; but I
charge you by no means to raise the siege of the castle. Your retreat
would diminish the reputation of our arms, and encourage the infidels
to fall upon you on all sides. Remain before Aleppo till God shall
determine the event, and forage with your horse round the adjacent
country." The exhortation of the commander of the faithful was fortified
by a supply of volunteers from all the tribes of Arabia, who arrived in
the camp on horses or camels. Among these was Dames, of a servile birth,
but of gigantic size and intrepid resolution. The forty-seventh day of
his service he proposed, with only thirty men, to make an attempt on the
castle. The experience and testimony of Caled recommended his offer; and
Abu Obeidah admonished his brethren not to despise the baser origin
of Dames, since he himself, could he relinquish the public care, would
cheerfully serve under the banner of the slave. His design was covered
by the appearance of a retreat; and the camp of the Saracens was pitched
about a league from Aleppo. The thirty adventurers lay in ambush at the
foot of the hill; and Dames at length succeeded in his inquiries, though
he was provoked by the ignorance of his Greek captives. "God curse these
dogs," said the illiterate Arab; "what a strange barbarous language they
speak!" At the darkest hour of the night, he scaled the most accessible
height, which he had diligently surveyed, a place where the stones
were less entire, or the slope less perpendicular, or the guard less
vigilant. Seven of the stoutest Saracens mounted on each other's
shoulders, and the weight of the column was sustained on the broad and
sinewy back of the gigantic slave. The foremost in this painful ascent
could grasp and climb the lowest part of the battlements; they silently
stabbed and cast down the sentinels; and the thirty brethren, repeating
a pious ejaculation, "O apostle of God, help and deliver us!" were
successively drawn up by the long folds of their turbans. With bold
and cautious footsteps, Dames explored the palace of the governor, who
celebrated, in riotous merriment, the festival of his deliverance. From
thence, returning to his companions, he assaulted on the inside the
entrance of the castle. They overpowered the guard, unbolted the gate,
let down the drawbridge, and defended the narrow pass, till the arrival
of Caled, with the dawn of day, relieved their danger and assured
their conquest. Youkinna, a formidable foe, became an active and useful
proselyte; and the general of the Saracens expressed his regard for the
most humble merit, by detaining the army at Aleppo till Dames was cured
of his honorable wounds. The capital of Syria was still covered by the
castle of Aazaz and the iron bridge of the Orontes. After the loss of
those important posts, and the defeat of the last of the Roman armies,
the luxury of Antioch [86] trembled and obeyed. Her safety was ransomed
with three hundred thousand pieces of gold; but the throne of the
successors of Alexander, the seat of the Roman government of the East,
which had been decorated by Caesar with the titles of free, and
holy, and inviolate was degraded under the yoke of the caliphs to the
secondary rank of a provincial town. [87]

[Footnote 85: The Persian historian of Timur (tom. iii. l. v. c. 21,
p. 300) describes the castle of Aleppo as founded on a rock one hundred
cubits in height; a proof, says the French translator, that he had never
visited the place. It is now in the midst of the city, of no strength
with a single gate; the circuit is about 500 or 600 paces, and the
ditch half full of stagnant water, (Voyages de Tavernier, tom. i. p.
149 Pocock, vol. ii. part i. p. 150.) The fortresses of the East are
contemptible to a European eye.]

[Footnote 86: The date of the conquest of Antioch by the Arabs is of
some importance. By comparing the years of the world in the chronography
of Theophanes with the years of the Hegira in the history of Elmacin, we
shall determine, that it was taken between January 23d and September 1st
of the year of Christ 638, (Pagi, Critica, in Baron. Annal. tom. ii.
p. 812, 813.) Al Wakidi (Ockley, vol. i. p. 314) assigns that event to
Tuesday, August 21st, an inconsistent date; since Easter fell that
year on April 5th, the 21st of August must have been a Friday, (see the
Tables of the Art de Verifier les Dates.)]

[Footnote 87: His bounteous edict, which tempted the grateful city to
assume the victory of Pharsalia for a perpetual aera, is given. John
Malala, in Chron. p. 91, edit. Venet. We may distinguish his authentic
information of domestic facts from his gross ignorance of general

In the life of Heraclius, the glories of the Persian war are clouded on
either hand by the disgrace and weakness of his more early and his later
days. When the successors of Mahomet unsheathed the sword of war and
religion, he was astonished at the boundless prospect of toil and
danger; his nature was indolent, nor could the infirm and frigid age of
the emperor be kindled to a second effort. The sense of shame, and the
importunities of the Syrians, prevented the hasty departure from the
scene of action; but the hero was no more; and the loss of Damascus and
Jerusalem, the bloody fields of Aiznadin and Yermuk, may be imputed in
some degree to the absence or misconduct of the sovereign. Instead of
defending the sepulchre of Christ, he involved the church and state in a
metaphysical controversy for the unity of his will; and while Heraclius
crowned the offspring of his second nuptials, he was tamely stripped
of the most valuable part of their inheritance. In the cathedral of
Antioch, in the presence of the bishops, at the foot of the crucifix,
he bewailed the sins of the prince and people; but his confession
instructed the world, that it was vain, and perhaps impious, to resist
the judgment of God. The Saracens were invincible in fact, since they
were invincible in opinion; and the desertion of Youkinna, his false
repentance and repeated perfidy, might justify the suspicion of
the emperor, that he was encompassed by traitors and apostates, who
conspired to betray his person and their country to the enemies of
Christ. In the hour of adversity, his superstition was agitated by
the omens and dreams of a falling crown; and after bidding an eternal
farewell to Syria, he secretly embarked with a few attendants, and
absolved the faith of his subjects. [88] Constantine, his eldest son,
had been stationed with forty thousand men at Caesarea, the civil
metropolis of the three provinces of Palestine. But his private interest
recalled him to the Byzantine court; and, after the flight of his
father, he felt himself an unequal champion to the united force of the
caliph. His vanguard was boldly attacked by three hundred Arabs and
a thousand black slaves, who, in the depth of winter, had climbed
the snowy mountains of Libanus, and who were speedily followed by the
victorious squadrons of Caled himself. From the north and south the
troops of Antioch and Jerusalem advanced along the sea-shore till their
banners were joined under the walls of the Phoenician cities: Tripoli
and Tyre were betrayed; and a fleet of fifty transports, which entered
without distrust the captive harbors, brought a seasonable supply of
arms and provisions to the camp of the Saracens. Their labors were
terminated by the unexpected surrender of Caesarea: the Roman prince had
embarked in the night; [89] and the defenceless citizens solicited their
pardon with an offering of two hundred thousand pieces of gold.
The remainder of the province, Ramlah, Ptolemais or Acre, Sichem or
Neapolis, Gaza, Ascalon, Berytus, Sidon, Gabala, Laodicea, Apamea,
Hierapolis, no longer presumed to dispute the will of the conqueror; and
Syria bowed under the sceptre of the caliphs seven hundred years after
Pompey had despoiled the last of the Macedonian kings. [90]

[Footnote 88: See Ockley, (vol. i. p. 308, 312,) who laughs at the
credulity of his author. When Heraclius bade farewell to Syria, Vale
Syria et ultimum vale, he prophesied that the Romans should never
reenter the province till the birth of an inauspicious child, the future
scourge of the empire. Abulfeda, p. 68. I am perfectly ignorant of the
mystic sense, or nonsense, of this prediction.]

[Footnote 89: In the loose and obscure chronology of the times, I am
guided by an authentic record, (in the book of ceremonies of Constantine
Porphyrogenitus,) which certifies that, June 4, A.D. 638, the emperor
crowned his younger son Heraclius, in the presence of his eldest,
Constantine, and in the palace of Constantinople; that January 1, A.D.
639, the royal procession visited the great church, and on the 4th of
the same month, the hippodrome.]

[Footnote 90: Sixty-five years before Christ, Syria Pontusque monumenta
sunt Cn. Pompeii virtutis, (Vell. Patercul. ii. 38,) rather of his
fortune and power: he adjudged Syria to be a Roman province, and the
last of the Seleucides were incapable of drawing a sword in the defence
of their patrimony (see the original texts collected by Usher, Annal. p.

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part V.

The sieges and battles of six campaigns had consumed many thousands
of the Moslems. They died with the reputation and the cheerfulness of
martyrs; and the simplicity of their faith may be expressed in the words
of an Arabian youth, when he embraced, for the last time, his sister and
mother: "It is not," said he, "the delicacies of Syria, or the fading
delights of this world, that have prompted me to devote my life in the
cause of religion. But I seek the favor of God and his apostle; and I
have heard, from one of the companions of the prophet, that the spirits
of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green birds, who shall
taste the fruits, and drink of the rivers, of paradise. Farewell, we
shall meet again among the groves and fountains which God has provided
for his elect." The faithful captives might exercise a passive and more
arduous resolution; and a cousin of Mahomet is celebrated for refusing,
after an abstinence of three days, the wine and pork, the only
nourishment that was allowed by the malice of the infidels. The frailty
of some weaker brethren exasperated the implacable spirit of fanaticism;
and the father of Amer deplored, in pathetic strains, the apostasy
and damnation of a son, who had renounced the promises of God, and the
intercession of the prophet, to occupy, with the priests and deacons,
the lowest mansions of hell. The more fortunate Arabs, who survived the
war and persevered in the faith, were restrained by their abstemious
leader from the abuse of prosperity. After a refreshment of three days,
Abu Obeidah withdrew his troops from the pernicious contagion of the
luxury of Antioch, and assured the caliph that their religion and virtue
could only be preserved by the hard discipline of poverty and labor. But
the virtue of Omar, however rigorous to himself, was kind and liberal
to his brethren. After a just tribute of praise and thanksgiving, he
dropped a tear of compassion; and sitting down on the ground, wrote
an answer, in which he mildly censured the severity of his lieutenant:
"God," said the successor of the prophet, "has not forbidden the use of
the good things of this worl to faithful men, and such as have performed
good works. Therefore you ought to have given them leave to rest
themselves, and partake freely of those good things which the country
affordeth. If any of the Saracens have no family in Arabia, they may
marry in Syria; and whosoever of them wants any female slaves, he may
purchase as many as he hath occasion for." The conquerors prepared
to use, or to abuse, this gracious permission; but the year of their
triumph was marked by a mortality of men and cattle; and twenty-five
thousand Saracens were snatched away from the possession of Syria.
The death of Abu Obeidah might be lamented by the Christians; but his
brethren recollected that he was one of the ten elect whom the prophet
had named as the heirs of paradise. [91] Caled survived his brethren
about three years: and the tomb of the Sword of God is shown in the
neighborhood of Emesa. His valor, which founded in Arabia and Syria
the empire of the caliphs, was fortified by the opinion of a special
providence; and as long as he wore a cap, which had been blessed
by Mahomet, he deemed himself invulnerable amidst the darts of the
infidels. [9111]

[Footnote 91: Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p. 73. Mahomet could artfully
vary the praises of his disciples. Of Omar he was accustomed to say,
that if a prophet could arise after himself, it would be Omar; and that
in a general calamity, Omar would be accepted by the divine justice,
(Ockley, vol. i. p. 221.)]

[Footnote 9111: Khaled, according to the Rouzont Uzzuffa, (Price, p.
90,) after having been deprived of his ample share of the plunder of
Syria by the jealousy of Omar, died, possessed only of his horse, his
arms, and a single slave. Yet Omar was obliged to acknowledge to his
lamenting parent. that never mother had produced a son like Khaled.--M.]

The place of the first conquerors was supplied by a new generation of
their children and countrymen: Syria became the seat and support of
the house of Ommiyah; and the revenue, the soldiers, the ships of that
powerful kingdom were consecrated to enlarge on every side the empire of
the caliphs. But the Saracens despise a superfluity of fame; and their
historians scarcely condescend to mention the subordinate conquests
which are lost in the splendor and rapidity of their victorious career.

To the north of Syria, they passed Mount Taurus, and reduced to their
obedience the province of Cilicia, with its capital Tarsus, the ancient
monument of the Assyrian kings. Beyond a second ridge of the same
mountains, they spread the flame of war, rather than the light of
religion, as far as the shores of the Euxine, and the neighborhood of
Constantinople. To the east they advanced to the banks and sources of
the Euphrates and Tigris: [92] the long disputed barrier of Rome and
Persia was forever confounded the walls of Edessa and Amida, of Dara and
Nisibis, which had resisted the arms and engines of Sapor or Nushirvan,
were levelled in the dust; and the holy city of Abgarus might vainly
produce the epistle or the image of Christ to an unbelieving conqueror.
To the west the Syrian kingdom is bounded by the sea: and the ruin of
Aradus, a small island or peninsula on the coast, was postponed during
ten years. But the hills of Libanus abounded in timber; the trade of
Phoenicia was populous in mariners; and a fleet of seventeen hundred
barks was equipped and manned by the natives of the desert. The Imperial
navy of the Romans fled before them from the Pamphylian rocks to the
Hellespont; but the spirit of the emperor, a grandson of Heraclius, had
been subdued before the combat by a dream and a pun. [93] The Saracens
rode masters of the sea; and the islands of Cyprus, Rhodes, and the
Cyclades, were successively exposed to their rapacious visits. Three
hundred years before the Christian aera, the memorable though fruitless
siege of Rhodes [94] by Demetrius had furnished that maritime republic
with the materials and the subject of a trophy. A gigantic statue
of Apollo, or the sun, seventy cubits in height, was erected at the
entrance of the harbor, a monument of the freedom and the arts of
Greece. After standing fifty-six years, the colossus of Rhodes was
overthrown by an earthquake; but the massy trunk, and huge fragments,
lay scattered eight centuries on the ground, and are often described
as one of the wonders of the ancient world. They were collected by the
diligence of the Saracens, and sold to a Jewish merchant of Edessa, who
is said to have laden nine hundred camels with the weight of the brass
metal; an enormous weight, though we should include the hundred
colossal figures, [95] and the three thousand statues, which adorned the
prosperity of the city of the sun.

[Footnote 92: Al Wakidi had likewise written a history of the conquest
of Diarbekir, or Mesopotamia, (Ockley, at the end of the iid vol.,)
which our interpreters do not appear to have seen. The Chronicle of
Dionysius of Telmar, the Jacobite patriarch, records the taking of
Edessa A.D. 637, and of Dara A.D. 641, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom.
ii. p. 103;) and the attentive may glean some doubtful information from
the Chronography of Theophanes, (p. 285-287.) Most of the towns of
Mesopotamia yielded by surrender, (Abulpharag. p. 112.) * Note: It has
been published in Arabic by M. Ewald St. Martin, vol. xi p 248; but its
authenticity is doubted.--M.]

[Footnote 93: He dreamt that he was at Thessalonica, a harmless and
unmeaning vision; but his soothsayer, or his cowardice, understood
the sure omen of a defeat concealed in that inauspicious word, Give to
another the victory, (Theoph. p. 286. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 88.)]

[Footnote 94: Every passage and every fact that relates to the isle, the
city, and the colossus of Rhodes, are compiled in the laborious treatise
of Meursius, who has bestowed the same diligence on the two larger
islands of the Crete and Cyprus. See, in the iiid vol. of his works, the
Rhodus of Meursius, (l. i. c. 15, p. 715-719.) The Byzantine writers,
Theophanes and Constantine, have ignorantly prolonged the term to 1360
years, and ridiculously divide the weight among 30,000 camels.]

[Footnote 95: Centum colossi alium nobilitaturi locum, says Pliny, with
his usual spirit. Hist. Natur. xxxiv. 18.]

II. The conquest of Egypt may be explained by the character of the
victorious Saracen, one of the first of his nation, in an age when the
meanest of the brethren was exalted above his nature by the spirit of
enthusiasm. The birth of Amrou was at once base and illustrious; his
mother, a notorious prostitute, was unable to decide among five of the
Koreish; but the proof of resemblance adjudged the child to Aasi,
the oldest of her lovers. [96] The youth of Amrou was impelled by the
passions and prejudices of his kindred: his poetic genius was exercised
in satirical verses against the person and doctrine of Mahomet; his
dexterity was employed by the reigning faction to pursue the religious
exiles who had taken refuge in the court of the Aethiopian king. [97]
Yet he returned from this embassy a secret proselyte; his reason or his
interest determined him to renounce the worship of idols; he escaped
from Mecca with his friend Caled; and the prophet of Medina enjoyed at
the same moment the satisfaction of embracing the two firmest champions
of his cause. The impatience of Amrou to lead the armies of the faithful
was checked by the reproof of Omar, who advised him not to seek
power and dominion, since he who is a subject to-day, may be a prince
to-morrow. Yet his merit was not overlooked by the two first successors
of Mahomet; they were indebted to his arms for the conquest of
Palestine; and in all the battles and sieges of Syria, he united with
the temper of a chief the valor of an adventurous soldier. In a visit
to Medina, the caliph expressed a wish to survey the sword which had cut
down so many Christian warriors; the son of Aasi unsheathed a short and
ordinary cimeter; and as he perceived the surprise of Omar, "Alas," said
the modest Saracen, "the sword itself, without the arm of its master, is
neither sharper nor more weighty than the sword of Pharezdak the poet."
[98] After the conquest of Egypt, he was recalled by the jealousy of
the caliph Othman; but in the subsequent troubles, the ambition of a
soldier, a statesman, and an orator, emerged from a private station.
His powerful support, both in council and in the field, established the
throne of the Ommiades; the administration and revenue of Egypt were
restored by the gratitude of Moawiyah to a faithful friend who had
raised himself above the rank of a subject; and Amrou ended his days in
the palace and city which he had founded on the banks of the Nile. His
dying speech to his children is celebrated by the Arabians as a model
of eloquence and wisdom: he deplored the errors of his youth but if the
penitent was still infected by the vanity of a poet, he might exaggerate
the venom and mischief of his impious compositions. [99]

[Footnote 96: We learn this anecdote from a spirited old woman, who
reviled to their faces, the caliph and his friend. She was encouraged
by the silence of Amrou and the liberality of Moawiyah, (Abulfeda, Annal
Moslem. p. 111.)]

[Footnote 97: Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 46, &c., who quotes
the Abyssinian history, or romance of Abdel Balcides. Yet the fact of
the embassy and ambassador may be allowed.]

[Footnote 98: This saying is preserved by Pocock, (Not. ad Carmen
Tograi, p 184,) and justly applauded by Mr. Harris, (Philosophical
Arrangements, p. 850.)]

[Footnote 99: For the life and character of Amrou, see Ockley (Hist. of
the Saracens, vol. i. p. 28, 63, 94, 328, 342, 344, and to the end of
the volume; vol. ii. p. 51, 55, 57, 74, 110-112, 162) and Otter, (Mem.
de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 131, 132.) The readers
of Tacitus may aptly compare Vespasian and Mucianus with Moawiyah and
Amrou. Yet the resemblance is still more in the situation, than in the
characters, of the men.]

From his camp in Palestine, Amrou had surprised or anticipated the
caliph's leave for the invasion of Egypt. [100] The magnanimous Omar
trusted in his God and his sword, which had shaken the thrones of
Chosroes and Caesar: but when he compared the slender force of the
Moslems with the greatness of the enterprise, he condemned his own
rashness, and listened to his timid companions. The pride and the
greatness of Pharaoh were familiar to the readers of the Koran; and a
tenfold repetition of prodigies had been scarcely sufficient to effect,
not the victory, but the flight, of six hundred thousand of the
children of Israel: the cities of Egypt were many and populous; their
architecture was strong and solid; the Nile, with its numerous branches,
was alone an insuperable barrier; and the granary of the Imperial city
would be obstinately defended by the Roman powers. In this perplexity,
the commander of the faithful resigned himself to the decision of
chance, or, in his opinion, of Providence. At the head of only four
thousand Arabs, the intrepid Amrou had marched away from his station of
Gaza when he was overtaken by the messenger of Omar. "If you are still
in Syria," said the ambiguous mandate, "retreat without delay; but if,
at the receipt of this epistle, you have already reached the frontiers
of Egypt, advance with confidence, and depend on the succor of God and
of your brethren." The experience, perhaps the secret intelligence,
of Amrou had taught him to suspect the mutability of courts; and he
continued his march till his tents were unquestionably pitched on
Egyptian ground. He there assembled his officers, broke the seal,
perused the epistle, gravely inquired the name and situation of the
place, and declared his ready obedience to the commands of the caliph.
After a siege of thirty days, he took possession of Farmah or Pelusium;
and that key of Egypt, as it has been justly named, unlocked the
entrance of the country as far as the ruins of Heliopolis and the
neighborhood of the modern Cairo.

[Footnote 100: Al Wakidi had likewise composed a separate history of
the conquest of Egypt, which Mr. Ockley could never procure; and his own
inquiries (vol. i. 344-362) have added very little to the original text
of Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 296-323, vers. Pocock,) the Melchite
patriarch of Alexandria, who lived three hundred years after the

On the Western side of the Nile, at a small distance to the east of the
Pyramids, at a small distance to the south of the Delta, Memphis, one
hundred and fifty furlongs in circumference, displayed the magnificence
of ancient kings. Under the reign of the Ptolemies and Caesars, the
seat of government was removed to the sea-coast; the ancient capital
was eclipsed by the arts and opulence of Alexandria; the palaces, and
at length the temples, were reduced to a desolate and ruinous condition:
yet, in the age of Augustus, and even in that of Constantine, Memphis
was still numbered among the greatest and most populous of the
provincial cities. [101] The banks of the Nile, in this place of the
breadth of three thousand feet, were united by two bridges of sixty and
of thirty boats, connected in the middle stream by the small island of
Rouda, which was covered with gardens and habitations. [102] The eastern
extremity of the bridge was terminated by the town of Babylon and the
camp of a Roman legion, which protected the passage of the river and the
second capital of Egypt. This important fortress, which might fairly be
described as a part of Memphis or Misrah, was invested by the arms of
the lieutenant of Omar: a reenforcement of four thousand Saracens soon
arrived in his camp; and the military engines, which battered the walls,
may be imputed to the art and labor of his Syrian allies. Yet the siege
was protracted to seven months; and the rash invaders were encompassed
and threatened by the inundation of the Nile. [103] Their last assault
was bold and successful: they passed the ditch, which had been fortified
with iron spikes, applied their scaling ladders, entered the fortress
with the shout of "God is victorious!" and drove the remnant of the
Greeks to their boats and the Isle of Rouda. The spot was afterwards
recommended to the conqueror by the easy communication with the gulf and
the peninsula of Arabia; the remains of Memphis were deserted; the tents
of the Arabs were converted into permanent habitations; and the first
mosch was blessed by the presence of fourscore companions of Mahomet.
[104] A new city arose in their camp, on the eastward bank of the Nile;
and the contiguous quarters of Babylon and Fostat are confounded in
their present decay by the appellation of old Misrah, or Cairo, of
which they form an extensive suburb. But the name of Cairo, the town of
victory, more strictly belongs to the modern capital, which was founded
in the tenth century by the Fatimite caliphs. [105] It has gradually
receded from the river; but the continuity of buildings may be traced
by an attentive eye from the monuments of Sesostris to those of Saladin.

[Footnote 101: Strabo, an accurate and attentive spectator, observes
of Heliopolis, (Geograph. l. xvii. p. 1158;) but of Memphis he notices,
however, the mixture of inhabitants, and the ruin of the palaces. In the
proper Egypt, Ammianus enumerates Memphis among the four cities, maximis
urbibus quibus provincia nitet, (xxii. 16;) and the name of Memphis
appears with distinction in the Roman Itinerary and episcopal lists.]

[Footnote 102: These rare and curious facts, the breadth (2946 feet)
and the bridge of the Nile, are only to be found in the Danish traveller
and the Nubian geographer, (p. 98.)]

[Footnote 103: From the month of April, the Nile begins imperceptibly to
rise; the swell becomes strong and visible in the moon after the summer
solstice, (Plin. Hist. Nat. v. 10,) and is usually proclaimed at Cairo
on St. Peter's day, (June 29.) A register of thirty successive years
marks the greatest height of the waters between July 25 and August
18, (Maillet, Description de l'Egypte, lettre xi. p. 67, &c. Pocock's
Description of the East, vol. i. p. 200. Shaw's Travels, p. 383.)]

[Footnote 104: Murtadi, Merveilles de l'Egypte, 243, 259. He expatiates
on the subject with the zeal and minuteness of a citizen and a bigot,
and his local traditions have a strong air of truth and accuracy.]

[Footnote 105: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 233.]

[Footnote 106: The position of New and of Old Cairo is well known, and
has been often described. Two writers, who were intimately acquainted
with ancient and modern Egypt, have fixed, after a learned inquiry,
the city of Memphis at Gizeh, directly opposite the Old Cairo, (Sicard,
Nouveaux Memoires des Missions du Levant, tom. vi. p. 5, 6. Shaw's
Observations and Travels, p. 296-304.) Yet we may not disregard the
authority or the arguments of Pocock, (vol. i. p. 25-41,) Niebuhr,
(Voyage, tom. i. p. 77-106,) and above all, of D'Anville, (Description
de l'Egypte, p. 111, 112, 130-149,) who have removed Memphis towards the
village of Mohannah, some miles farther to the south. In their heat, the
disputants have forgot that the ample space of a metropolis covers and
annihilates the far greater part of the controversy.]

Yet the Arabs, after a glorious and profitable enterprise, must have
retreated to the desert, had they not found a powerful alliance in the
heart of the country. The rapid conquest of Alexander was assisted by
the superstition and revolt of the natives: they abhorred their Persian
oppressors, the disciples of the Magi, who had burnt the temples of
Egypt, and feasted with sacrilegious appetite on the flesh of the god
Apis. [107] After a period of ten centuries, the same revolution was
renewed by a similar cause; and in the support of an incomprehensible
creed, the zeal of the Coptic Christians was equally ardent. I
have already explained the origin and progress of the Monophysite
controversy, and the persecution of the emperors, which converted a sect
into a nation, and alienated Egypt from their religion and government.
The Saracens were received as the deliverers of the Jacobite church;
and a secret and effectual treaty was opened during the siege of Memphis
between a victorious army and a people of slaves. A rich and noble
Egyptian, of the name of Mokawkas, had dissembled his faith to obtain
the administration of his province: in the disorders of the Persian
war he aspired to independence: the embassy of Mahomet ranked him among
princes; but he declined, with rich gifts and ambiguous compliments, the
proposal of a new religion. [108] The abuse of his trust exposed him to
the resentment of Heraclius: his submission was delayed by arrogance and
fear; and his conscience was prompted by interest to throw himself on
the favor of the nation and the support of the Saracens. In his first
conference with Amrou, he heard without indignation the usual option of
the Koran, the tribute, or the sword. "The Greeks," replied Mokawkas,
"are determined to abide the determination of the sword; but with the
Greeks I desire no communion, either in this world or in the next, and
I abjure forever the Byzantine tyrant, his synod of Chalcedon, and his
Melchite slaves. For myself and my brethren, we are resolved to live
and die in the profession of the gospel and unity of Christ. It is
impossible for us to embrace the revelations of your prophet; but we are
desirous of peace, and cheerfully submit to pay tribute and obedience to
his temporal successors." The tribute was ascertained at two pieces of
gold for the head of every Christian; but old men, monks, women, and
children, of both sexes, under sixteen years of age, were exempted
from this personal assessment: the Copts above and below Memphis swore
allegiance to the caliph, and promised a hospitable entertainment of
three days to every Mussulman who should travel through their country.
By this charter of security, the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny of the
Melchites was destroyed: [109] the anathemas of St. Cyril were thundered
from every pulpit; and the sacred edifices, with the patrimony of the
church, were restored to the national communion of the Jacobites, who
enjoyed without moderation the moment of triumph and revenge. At the
pressing summons of Amrou, their patriarch Benjamin emerged from his
desert; and after the first interview, the courteous Arab affected to
declare that he had never conversed with a Christian priest of more
innocent manners and a more venerable aspect. [110] In the march from
Memphis to Alexandria, the lieutenant of Omar intrusted his safety to
the zeal and gratitude of the Egyptians: the roads and bridges were
diligently repaired; and in every step of his progress, he could depend
on a constant supply of provisions and intelligence. The Greeks of
Egypt, whose numbers could scarcely equal a tenth of the natives, were
overwhelmed by the universal defection: they had ever been hated, they
were no longer feared: the magistrate fled from his tribunal, the bishop
from his altar; and the distant garrisons were surprised or starved by
the surrounding multitudes. Had not the Nile afforded a safe and ready
conveyance to the sea, not an individual could have escaped, who by
birth, or language, or office, or religion, was connected with their
odious name.

[Footnote 107: See Herodotus, l. iii. c. 27, 28, 29. Aelian, Hist. Var.
l. iv. c. 8. Suidas in, tom. ii. p. 774. Diodor. Sicul. tom. ii. l.
xvii. p. 197, edit. Wesseling. Says the last of these historians.]

[Footnote 108: Mokawkas sent the prophet two Coptic damsels, with two
maids and one eunuch, an alabaster vase, an ingot of pure gold, oil,
honey, and the finest white linen of Egypt, with a horse, a mule, and
an ass, distinguished by their respective qualifications. The embassy
of Mahomet was despatched from Medina in the seventh year of the Hegira,
(A.D. 628.) See Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. ii. p. 255, 256, 303,)
from Al Jannabi.]

[Footnote 109: The praefecture of Egypt, and the conduct of the war,
had been trusted by Heraclius to the patriarch Cyrus, (Theophan. p. 280,
281.) "In Spain," said James II., "do you not consult your priests?"
"We do," replied the Catholic ambassador, "and our affairs succeed
accordingly." I know not how to relate the plans of Cyrus, of paying
tribute without impairing the revenue, and of converting Omar by his
marriage with the Emperor's daughter, (Nicephor. Breviar. p. 17, 18.)]

[Footnote 110: See the life of Benjamin, in Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarch.
Alexandrin. p. 156-172,) who has enriched the conquest of Egypt with
some facts from the Arabic text of Severus the Jacobite historian]

By the retreat of the Greeks from the provinces of Upper Egypt, a
considerable force was collected in the Island of Delta; the natural
and artificial channels of the Nile afforded a succession of strong and
defensible posts; and the road to Alexandria was laboriously cleared by
the victory of the Saracens in two-and-twenty days of general or partial
combat. In their annals of conquest, the siege of Alexandria [111] is
perhaps the most arduous and important enterprise. The first trading
city in the world was abundantly replenished with the means of
subsistence and defence. Her numerous inhabitants fought for the dearest
of human rights, religion and property; and the enmity of the natives
seemed to exclude them from the common benefit of peace and toleration.
The sea was continually open; and if Heraclius had been awake to the
public distress, fresh armies of Romans and Barbarians might have been
poured into the harbor to save the second capital of the empire. A
circumference of ten miles would have scattered the forces of the
Greeks, and favored the stratagems of an active enemy; but the two sides
of an oblong square were covered by the sea and the Lake Maraeotis, and
each of the narrow ends exposed a front of no more than ten furlongs.
The efforts of the Arabs were not inadequate to the difficulty of the
attempt and the value of the prize. From the throne of Medina, the eyes
of Omar were fixed on the camp and city: his voice excited to arms the
Arabian tribes and the veterans of Syria; and the merit of a holy war
was recommended by the peculiar fame and fertility of Egypt. Anxious
for the ruin or expulsion of their tyrants, the faithful natives devoted
their labors to the service of Amrou: some sparks of martial spirit were
perhaps rekindled by the example of their allies; and the sanguine
hopes of Mokawkas had fixed his sepulchre in the church of St. John of
Alexandria. Eutychius the patriarch observes, that the Saracens fought
with the courage of lions: they repulsed the frequent and almost daily
sallies of the besieged, and soon assaulted in their turn the walls and
towers of the city. In every attack, the sword, the banner of Amrou,
glittered in the van of the Moslems. On a memorable day, he was betrayed
by his imprudent valor: his followers who had entered the citadel
were driven back; and the general, with a friend and slave, remained a
prisoner in the hands of the Christians. When Amrou was conducted before
the praefect, he remembered his dignity, and forgot his situation: a
lofty demeanor, and resolute language, revealed the lieutenant of the
caliph, and the battle-axe of a soldier was already raised to strike off
the head of the audacious captive. His life was saved by the readiness
of his slave, who instantly gave his master a blow on the face, and
commanded him, with an angry tone, to be silent in the presence of his
superiors. The credulous Greek was deceived: he listened to the offer
of a treaty, and his prisoners were dismissed in the hope of a more
respectable embassy, till the joyful acclamations of the camp announced
the return of their general, and insulted the folly of the infidels.
At length, after a siege of fourteen months, [112] and the loss of
three-and-twenty thousand men, the Saracens prevailed: the Greeks
embarked their dispirited and diminished numbers, and the standard
of Mahomet was planted on the walls of the capital of Egypt. "I have
taken," said Amrou to the caliph, "the great city of the West. It is
impossible for me to enumerate the variety of its riches and beauty; and
I shall content myself with observing, that it contains four thousand
palaces, four thousand baths, four hundred theatres or places of
amusement, twelve thousand shops for the sale of vegetable food, and
forty thousand tributary Jews. The town has been subdued by force of
arms, without treaty or capitulation, and the Moslems are impatient to
seize the fruits of their victory." [113] The commander of the faithful
rejected with firmness the idea of pillage, and directed his lieutenant
to reserve the wealth and revenue of Alexandria for the public service
and the propagation of the faith: the inhabitants were numbered; a
tribute was imposed, the zeal and resentment of the Jacobites were
curbed, and the Melchites who submitted to the Arabian yoke were
indulged in the obscure but tranquil exercise of their worship. The
intelligence of this disgraceful and calamitous event afflicted the
declining health of the emperor; and Heraclius died of a dropsy about
seven weeks after the loss of Alexandria. [114] Under the minority
of his grandson, the clamors of a people, deprived of their daily
sustenance, compelled the Byzantine court to undertake the recovery
of the capital of Egypt. In the space of four years, the harbor and
fortifications of Alexandria were twice occupied by a fleet and army of
Romans. They were twice expelled by the valor of Amrou, who was recalled
by the domestic peril from the distant wars of Tripoli and Nubia. But
the facility of the attempt, the repetition of the insult, and the
obstinacy of the resistance, provoked him to swear, that if a third
time he drove the infidels into the sea, he would render Alexandria as
accessible on all sides as the house of a prostitute. Faithful to his
promise, he dismantled several parts of the walls and towers; but the
people was spared in the chastisement of the city, and the mosch of
Mercy was erected on the spot where the victorious general had stopped
the fury of his troops.

[Footnote 111: The local description of Alexandria is perfectly
ascertained by the master hand of the first of geographers, (D'Anville,
Memoire sur l'Egypte, p. 52-63;) but we may borrow the eyes of the
modern travellers, more especially of Thevenot, (Voyage au Levant, part
i. p. 381-395,) Pocock, (vol. i. p. 2-13,) and Niebuhr, (Voyage en
Arabie, tom. i. p. 34-43.) Of the two modern rivals, Savary and Volmey,
the one may amuse, the other will instruct.]

[Footnote 112: Both Eutychius (Annal. tom. ii. p. 319) and Elmacin
(Hist. Saracen. p. 28) concur in fixing the taking of Alexandria to
Friday of the new moon of Moharram of the twentieth year of the Hegira,
(December 22, A.D. 640.) In reckoning backwards fourteen months spent
before Alexandria, seven months before Babylon, &c., Amrou might have
invaded Egypt about the end of the year 638; but we are assured that he
entered the country the 12th of Bayni, 6th of June, (Murtadi, Merveilles
de l'Egypte, p. 164. Severus, apud Renaudot, p. 162.) The Saracen, and
afterwards Lewis IX. of France, halted at Pelusium, or Damietta, during
the season of the inundation of the Nile.]

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

[Footnote 114: Notwithstanding some inconsistencies of Theophanes and
Cedrenus, the accuracy of Pagi (Critica, tom. ii. p. 824) has extracted
from Nicephorus and the Chronicon Orientale the true date of the death
of Heraclius, February 11th, A.D. 641, fifty days after the loss
of Alexandria. A fourth of that time was sufficient to convey the

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part VI.

I should deceive the expectation of the reader, if I passed in silence
the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the learned
Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amrou was more curious and liberal than
that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours, the Arabian chief was
pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius,
and who derived the surname of Philoponus from his laborious studies of
grammar and philosophy. [115] Emboldened by this familiar intercourse,
Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in his opinion,
contemptible in that of the Barbarians--the royal library, which alone,
among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit
and the seal of the conqueror.

Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of the grammarian, but his rigid
integrity refused to alienate the minutest object without the consent
of the caliph; and the well-known answer of Omar was inspired by the
ignorance of a fanatic. "If these writings of the Greeks agree with
the book of God, they are useless, and need not be preserved: if they
disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be destroyed." The sentence
was executed with blind obedience: the volumes of paper or parchment
were distributed to the four thousand baths of the city; and such was
their incredible multitude, that six months were barely sufficient
for the consumption of this precious fuel. Since the Dynasties of
Abulpharagius [116] have been given to the world in a Latin version,
the tale has been repeatedly transcribed; and every scholar, with pious
indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learning,
the arts, and the genius, of antiquity. For my own part, I am strongly
tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences. [1161] The fact is
indeed marvellous. "Read and wonder!" says the historian himself: and
the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end of six hundred
years on the confines of Media, is overbalanced by the silence of two
annalist of a more early date, both Christians, both natives of Egypt,
and the most ancient of whom, the patriarch Eutychius, has amply
described the conquest of Alexandria. [117] The rigid sentence of Omar
is repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mahometan casuists
they expressly declare, that the religious books of the Jews and
Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, should never
be committed to the flames; and that the works of profane science,
historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied
to the use of the faithful. [118] A more destructive zeal may perhaps be
attributed to the first successors of Mahomet; yet in this instance,
the conflagration would have speedily expired in the deficiency of
materials. I should not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian
library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Caesar in his own
defence, [119] or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians, who studied
to destroy the monuments of idolatry. [120] But if we gradually descend
from the age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall learn from
a chain of contemporary witnesses, that the royal palace and the temple
of Serapis no longer contained the four, or the seven, hundred thousand
volumes, which had been assembled by the curiosity and magnificence of
the Ptolemies. [121] Perhaps the church and seat of the patriarchs might
be enriched with a repository of books; but if the ponderous mass of
Arian and Monophysite controversy were indeed consumed in the public
baths, [122] a philosopher may allow, with a smile, that it was
ultimately devoted to the benefit of mankind. I sincerely regret the
more valuable libraries which have been involved in the ruin of the
Roman empire; but when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste
of ignorance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our
losses, are the objects of my surprise. Many curious and interesting
facts are buried in oblivion: the three great historians of Rome have
been transmitted to our hands in a mutilated state, and we are deprived
of many pleasing compositions of the lyric, iambic, and dramatic poetry
of the Greeks. Yet we should gratefully remember, that the mischances of
time and accident have spared the classic works to which the suffrage
of antiquity [123] had adjudged the first place of genius and glory:
the teachers of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had perused and
compared the writings of their predecessors; [124] nor can it fairly
be presumed that any important truth, any useful discovery in art or
nature, has been snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages.

[Footnote 115: Many treatises of this lover of labor are still extant,
but for readers of the present age, the printed and unpublished are
nearly in the same predicament. Moses and Aristotle are the chief
objects of his verbose commentaries, one of which is dated as early as
May 10th, A.D. 617, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. ix. p. 458-468.) A
modern, (John Le Clerc,) who sometimes assumed the same name was equal
to old Philoponus in diligence, and far superior in good sense and real

[Footnote 116: Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 114, vers. Pocock. Audi quid
factum sit et mirare. It would be endless to enumerate the moderns
who have wondered and believed, but I may distinguish with honor the
rational scepticism of Renaudot, (Hist. Alex. Patriarch, p. 170: )
historia... habet aliquid ut Arabibus familiare est.]

[Footnote 1161: Since this period several new Mahometan authorities
have been adduced to support the authority of Abulpharagius. That of,
I. Abdollatiph by Professor White: II. Of Makrizi; I have seen a Ms.
extract from this writer: III. Of Ibn Chaledun: and after them Hadschi
Chalfa. See Von Hammer, Geschichte der Assassinen, p. 17. Reinhard, in a
German Dissertation, printed at Gottingen, 1792, and St. Croix, (Magasin
Encyclop. tom. iv. p. 433,) have examined the question. Among Oriental
scholars, Professor White, M. St. Martin, Von Hammer. and Silv. de Sacy,
consider the fact of the burning the library, by the command of Omar,
beyond question. Compare St. Martin's note. vol. xi. p. 296. A Mahometan
writer brings a similar charge against the Crusaders. The library
of Tripoli is said to have contained the incredible number of three
millions of volumes. On the capture of the city, Count Bertram of St.
Giles, entering the first room, which contained nothing but the Koran,
ordered the whole to be burnt, as the works of the false prophet of
Arabia. See Wilken. Gesch der Kreux zuge, vol. ii. p. 211.--M.]

[Footnote 117: This curious anecdote will be vainly sought in the annals
of Eutychius, and the Saracenic history of Elmacin. The silence of
Abulfeda, Murtadi, and a crowd of Moslems, is less conclusive from their
ignorance of Christian literature.]

[Footnote 118: See Reland, de Jure Militari Mohammedanorum, in his iiid
volume of Dissertations, p. 37. The reason for not burning the religious
books of the Jews or Christians, is derived from the respect that is due
to the name of God.]

[Footnote 119: Consult the collections of Frensheim (Supplement. Livian,
c. 12, 43) and Usher, (Anal. p. 469.) Livy himself had styled the
Alexandrian library, elegantiae regum curaeque egregium opus; a liberal
encomium, for which he is pertly criticized by the narrow stoicism of
Seneca, (De Tranquillitate Animi, c. 9,) whose wisdom, on this occasion,
deviates into nonsense.]

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

[Footnote 121: Aulus Gellius, (Noctes Atticae, vi. 17,) Ammianus
Marcellinua, (xxii. 16,) and Orosius, (l. vi. c. 15.) They all speak in
the past tense, and the words of Ammianus are remarkably strong: fuerunt
Bibliothecae innumerabiles; et loquitum monumentorum veterum concinens
fides, &c.]

[Footnote 122: Renaudot answers for versions of the Bible, Hexapla,
Catenoe Patrum, Commentaries, &c., (p. 170.) Our Alexandrian Ms., if it
came from Egypt, and not from Constantinople or Mount Athos, (Wetstein,
Prolegom. ad N. T. p. 8, &c.,) might possibly be among them.]

[Footnote 123: I have often perused with pleasure a chapter of
Quintilian, (Institut. Orator. x. i.,) in which that judicious critic
enumerates and appreciates the series of Greek and Latin classics.]

[Footnote 124: Such as Galen, Pliny, Aristotle, &c. On this subject
Wotton (Reflections on Ancient and Modern Learning, p. 85-95) argues,
with solid sense, against the lively exotic fancies of Sir William
Temple. The contempt of the Greeks for Barbaric science would scarcely
admit the Indian or Aethiopic books into the library of Alexandria;
nor is it proved that philosophy has sustained any real loss from their

In the administration of Egypt, [125] Amrou balanced the demands of
justice and policy; the interest of the people of the law, who were
defended by God; and of the people of the alliance, who were protected
by man. In the recent tumult of conquest and deliverance, the tongue
of the Copts and the sword of the Arabs were most adverse to the
tranquillity of the province. To the former, Amrou declared, that
faction and falsehood would be doubly chastised; by the punishment of
the accusers, whom he should detest as his personal enemies, and by the
promotion of their innocent brethren, whom their envy had labored to
injure and supplant. He excited the latter by the motives of religion
and honor to sustain the dignity of their character, to endear
themselves by a modest and temperate conduct to God and the caliph,
to spare and protect a people who had trusted to their faith, and to
content themselves with the legitimate and splendid rewards of their
victory. In the management of the revenue, he disapproved the simple but
oppressive mode of a capitation, and preferred with reason a proportion
of taxes deducted on every branch from the clear profits of agriculture
and commerce. A third part of the tribute was appropriated to the annual
repairs of the dikes and canals, so essential to the public welfare.
Under his administration, the fertility of Egypt supplied the dearth of
Arabia; and a string of camels, laden with corn and provisions, covered
almost without an interval the long road from Memphis to Medina. [126]
But the genius of Amrou soon renewed the maritime communication which
had been attempted or achieved by the Pharaohs the Ptolemies, or the
Caesars; and a canal, at least eighty miles in length, was opened from
the Nile to the Red Sea. [1261] This inland navigation, which would have
joined the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, was soon discontinued as
useless and dangerous: the throne was removed from Medina to Damascus,
and the Grecian fleets might have explored a passage to the holy cities
of Arabia. [127]

[Footnote 125: This curious and authentic intelligence of Murtadi
(p. 284-289) has not been discovered either by Mr. Ockley, or by the
self-sufficient compilers of the Modern Universal History.]

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

[Footnote 1261: Many learned men have doubted the existence of a
communication by water between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean by
the Nile. Yet the fact is positively asserted by the ancients. Diodorus
Siculus (l. i. p. 33) speaks of it in the most distinct manner as
existing in his time. So, also, Strabo, (l. xvii. p. 805.) Pliny (vol.
vi. p. 29) says that the canal which united the two seas was navigable,
(alveus navigabilis.) The indications furnished by Ptolemy and by the
Arabic historian, Makrisi, show that works were executed under the
reign of Hadrian to repair the canal and extend the navigation; it then
received the name of the River of Trajan Lucian, (in his Pseudomantis,
p. 44,) says that he went by water from Alexandria to Clysma, on the
Red Sea. Testimonies of the 6th and of the 8th century show that
the communication was not interrupted at that time. See the French
translation of Strabo, vol. v. p. 382. St. Martin vol. xi. p. 299.--M.]

[Footnote 127: On these obscure canals, the reader may try to satisfy
himself from D'Anville, (Mem. sur l'Egypte, p. 108-110, 124, 132,) and
a learned thesis, maintained and printed at Strasburg in the year 1770,
(Jungendorum marium fluviorumque molimina, p. 39-47, 68-70.) Even
the supine Turks have agitated the old project of joining the two seas.
(Memoires du Baron de Tott, tom. iv.)]

Of his new conquest, the caliph Omar had an imperfect knowledge from
the voice of fame and the legends of the Koran. He requested that his
lieutenant would place before his eyes the realm of Pharaoh and the
Amalekites; and the answer of Amrou exhibits a lively and not unfaithful
picture of that singular country. [128] "O commander of the faithful,
Egypt is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a
pulverized mountain and a red sand. The distance from Syene to the sea
is a month's journey for a horseman. Along the valley descends a river,
on which the blessing of the Most High reposes both in the evening and
morning, and which rises and falls with the revolutions of the sun and
moon. When the annual dispensation of Providence unlocks the springs
and fountains that nourish the earth, the Nile rolls his swelling and
sounding waters through the realm of Egypt: the fields are overspread
by the salutary flood; and the villages communicate with each other
in their painted barks. The retreat of the inundation deposits a
fertilizing mud for the reception of the various seeds: the crowds
of husbandmen who blacken the land may be compared to a swarm of
industrious ants; and their native indolence is quickened by the lash
of the task-master, and the promise of the flowers and fruits of a
plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom deceived; but the riches which
they extract from the wheat, the barley, and the rice, the legumes,
the fruit-trees, and the cattle, are unequally shared between those
who labor and those who possess. According to the vicissitudes of
the seasons, the face of the country is adorned with a silver wave, a
verdant emerald, and the deep yellow of a golden harvest." [129] Yet
this beneficial order is sometimes interrupted; and the long delay and
sudden swell of the river in the first year of the conquest might afford
some color to an edifying fable. It is said, that the annual sacrifice
of a virgin [130] had been interdicted by the piety of Omar; and that
the Nile lay sullen and inactive in his shallow bed, till the mandate
of the caliph was cast into the obedient stream, which rose in a single
night to the height of sixteen cubits. The admiration of the Arabs for
their new conquest encouraged the license of their romantic spirit. We
may read, in the gravest authors, that Egypt was crowded with twenty
thousand cities or villages: [131] that, exclusive of the Greeks and
Arabs, the Copts alone were found, on the assessment, six millions of
tributary subjects, [132] or twenty millions of either sex, and of every
age: that three hundred millions of gold or silver were annually paid to
the treasury of the caliphs. [133] Our reason must be startled by these
extravagant assertions; and they will become more palpable, if we assume
the compass and measure the extent of habitable ground: a valley from
the tropic to Memphis seldom broader than twelve miles, and the triangle
of the Delta, a flat surface of two thousand one hundred square leagues,
compose a twelfth part of the magnitude of France. [134] A more accurate
research will justify a more reasonable estimate. The three hundred
millions, created by the error of a scribe, are reduced to the decent
revenue of four millions three hundred thousand pieces of gold, of which
nine hundred thousand were consumed by the pay of the soldiers. [135]
Two authentic lists, of the present and of the twelfth century, are
circumscribed within the respectable number of two thousand seven
hundred villages and towns. [136] After a long residence at Cairo, a
French consul has ventured to assign about four millions of Mahometans,
Christians, and Jews, for the ample, though not incredible, scope of the
population of Egypt. [137]

[Footnote 128: A small volume, des Merveilles, &c., de l'Egypte,
composed in the xiiith century by Murtadi of Cairo, and translated
from an Arabic Ms. of Cardinal Mazarin, was published by Pierre Vatier,
Paris, 1666. The antiquities of Egypt are wild and legendary; but the
writer deserves credit and esteem for his account of the conquest and
geography of his native country, (see the correspondence of Amrou and
Omar, p. 279-289.)]

[Footnote 129: In a twenty years' residence at Cairo, the consul Maillet
had contemplated that varying scene, the Nile, (lettre ii. particularly
p. 70, 75;) the fertility of the land, (lettre ix.) From a college
at Cambridge, the poetic eye of Gray had seen the same objects with a
keener glance:--

     What wonder in the sultry climes that spread,

     Where Nile, redundant o'er his summer bed,

     From his broad bosom life and verdure flings,

     And broods o'er Egypt with his watery wings:

     If with adventurous oar, and ready sail,

     The dusky people drive before the gale:

     Or on frail floats to neighboring cities ride.

     That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide.

     (Mason's Works and Memoirs of Gray, p. 199, 200.)]

[Footnote 130: Murtadi, p. 164-167. The reader will not easily credit
a human sacrifice under the Christian emperors, or a miracle of the
successors of Mahomet.]

[Footnote 131: Maillet, Description de l'Egypte, p. 22. He mentions this
number as the common opinion; and adds, that the generality of these
villages contain two or three thousand persons, and that many of them
are more populous than our large cities.]

[Footnote 132: Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 308, 311. The twenty millions
are computed from the following data: one twelfth of mankind above
sixty, one third below sixteen, the proportion of men to women as
seventeen or sixteen, (Recherches sur la Population de la France, p. 71,
72.) The president Goguet (Origine des Arts, &c., tom. iii. p. 26, &c.)
Bestows twenty-seven millions on ancient Egypt, because the seventeen
hundred companions of Sesostris were born on the same day.]

[Footnote 133: Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 218; and this gross lump is
swallowed without scruple by D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 1031,) Ar.
buthnot, (Tables of Ancient Coins, p. 262,) and De Guignes, (Hist. des
Huns, tom. iii. p. 135.) They might allege the not less extravagant
liberality of Appian in favor of the Ptolemies (in praefat.) of seventy
four myriads, 740,000 talents, an annual income of 185, or near 300
millions of pounds sterling, according as we reckon by the Egyptian or
the Alexandrian talent, (Bernard, de Ponderibus Antiq. p. 186.)]

[Footnote 134: See the measurement of D'Anville, (Mem. sur l'Egypte,
p. 23, &c.) After some peevish cavils, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les
Egyptiens, tom. i. p. 118-121) can only enlarge his reckoning to 2250
square leagues.]

[Footnote 135: Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexand. p. 334, who calls
the common reading or version of Elmacin, error librarii. His own
emendation, of 4,300,000 pieces, in the ixth century, maintains a
probable medium between the 3,000,000 which the Arabs acquired by the
conquest of Egypt, (idem, p. 168.) and the 2,400,000 which the sultan of
Constantinople levied in the last century, (Pietro della Valle, tom.
i. p. 352 Thevenot, part i. p. 824.) Pauw (Recherches, tom. ii. p.
365-373) gradually raises the revenue of the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies,
and the Caesars, from six to fifteen millions of German crowns.]

[Footnote 136: The list of Schultens (Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit.
Saladin. p. 5) contains 2396 places; that of D'Anville, (Mem. sur
l'Egypte, p. 29,) from the divan of Cairo, enumerates 2696.]

[Footnote 137: See Maillet, (Description de l'Egypte, p. 28,) who seems
to argue with candor and judgment. I am much better satisfied with the
observations than with the reading of the French consul. He was ignorant
of Greek and Latin literature, and his fancy is too much delighted
with the fictions of the Arabs. Their best knowledge is collected by
Abulfeda, (Descript. Aegypt. Arab. et Lat. a Joh. David Michaelis,
Gottingae, in 4to., 1776;) and in two recent voyages into Egypt, we
are amused by Savary, and instructed by Volney. I wish the latter could
travel over the globe.]

IV. The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, [138]
was first attempted by the arms of the caliph Othman.

The pious design was approved by the companions of Mahomet and the
chiefs of the tribes; and twenty thousand Arabs marched from Medina,
with the gifts and the blessing of the commander of the faithful.
They were joined in the camp of Memphis by twenty thousand of their
countrymen; and the conduct of the war was intrusted to Abdallah, [139]
the son of Said and the foster-brother of the caliph, who had lately
supplanted the conqueror and lieutenant of Egypt. Yet the favor of the
prince, and the merit of his favorite, could not obliterate the guilt of
his apostasy. The early conversion of Abdallah, and his skilful pen, had
recommended him to the important office of transcribing the sheets of
the Koran: he betrayed his trust, corrupted the text, derided the errors
which he had made, and fled to Mecca to escape the justice, and expose
the ignorance, of the apostle. After the conquest of Mecca, he fell
prostrate at the feet of Mahomet; his tears, and the entreaties of
Othman, extorted a reluctant pardon; out the prophet declared that he
had so long hesitated, to allow time for some zealous disciple to avenge
his injury in the blood of the apostate. With apparent fidelity and
effective merit, he served the religion which it was no longer his
interest to desert: his birth and talents gave him an honorable rank
among the Koreish; and, in a nation of cavalry, Abdallah was renowned as
the boldest and most dexterous horseman of Arabia. At the head of forty
thousand Moslems, he advanced from Egypt into the unknown countries of
the West. The sands of Barca might be impervious to a Roman legion but
the Arabs were attended by their faithful camels; and the natives of
the desert beheld without terror the familiar aspect of the soil and
climate. After a painful march, they pitched their tents before the
walls of Tripoli, [140] a maritime city in which the name, the wealth,
and the inhabitants of the province had gradually centred, and which now
maintains the third rank among the states of Barbary. A reenforcement
of Greeks was surprised and cut in pieces on the sea-shore; but the
fortifications of Tripoli resisted the first assaults; and the Saracens
were tempted by the approach of the praefect Gregory [141] to relinquish
the labors of the siege for the perils and the hopes of a decisive
action. If his standard was followed by one hundred and twenty thousand
men, the regular bands of the empire must have been lost in the naked
and disorderly crowd of Africans and Moors, who formed the strength, or
rather the numbers, of his host. He rejected with indignation the option
of the Koran or the tribute; and during several days the two armies were
fiercely engaged from the dawn of light to the hour of noon, when
their fatigue and the excessive heat compelled them to seek shelter and
refreshment in their respective camps. The daughter of Gregory, a maid
of incomparable beauty and spirit, is said to have fought by his side:
from her earliest youth she was trained to mount on horseback, to draw
the bow, and to wield the cimeter; and the richness of her arms and
apparel were conspicuous in the foremost ranks of the battle. Her hand,
with a hundred thousand pieces of gold, was offered for the head of the
Arabian general, and the youths of Africa were excited by the prospect
of the glorious prize. At the pressing solicitation of his brethren,
Abdallah withdrew his person from the field; but the Saracens were
discouraged by the retreat of their leader, and the repetition of these
equal or unsuccessful conflicts.

[Footnote 138: My conquest of Africa is drawn from two French
interpreters of Arabic literature, Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de
l'Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, tom. i. p. 8-55) and Otter,
(Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 111-125, and 136.)
They derive their principal information from Novairi, who composed,
A.D. 1331 an Encyclopaedia in more than twenty volumes. The five general
parts successively treat of, 1. Physics; 2. Man; 3. Animals; 4. Plants;
and, 5. History; and the African affairs are discussed in the vith
chapter of the vth section of this last part, (Reiske, Prodidagmata ad
Hagji Chalifae Tabulas, p. 232-234.) Among the older historians who are
quoted by Navairi we may distinguish the original narrative of a soldier
who led the van of the Moslems.]

[Footnote 139: See the history of Abdallah, in Abulfeda (Vit. Mohammed.
p. 108) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. 45-48.)]

[Footnote 140: The province and city of Tripoli are described by Leo
Africanus (in Navigatione et Viaggi di Ramusio, tom. i. Venetia, 1550,
fol. 76, verso) and Marmol, (Description de l'Afrique, tom. ii. p. 562.)
The first of these writers was a Moor, a scholar, and a traveller, who
composed or translated his African geography in a state of captivity
at Rome, where he had assumed the name and religion of Pope Leo X. In
a similar captivity among the Moors, the Spaniard Marmol, a soldier
of Charles V., compiled his Description of Africa, translated by
D'Ablancourt into French, (Paris, 1667, 3 vols. in 4to.) Marmol had read
and seen, but he is destitute of the curious and extensive observation
which abounds in the original work of Leo the African.]

[Footnote 141: Theophanes, who mentions the defeat, rather than the
death, of Gregory. He brands the praefect with the name: he had probably
assumed the purple, (Chronograph. p. 285.)]

A noble Arabian, who afterwards became the adversary of Ali, and the
father of a caliph, had signalized his valor in Egypt, and Zobeir
[142] was the first who planted the scaling-ladder against the walls
of Babylon. In the African war he was detached from the standard of
Abdallah. On the news of the battle, Zobeir, with twelve companions, cut
his way through the camp of the Greeks, and pressed forwards, without
tasting either food or repose, to partake of the dangers of his
brethren. He cast his eyes round the field: "Where," said he, "is our
general?" "In his tent." "Is the tent a station for the general of the
Moslems?" Abdallah represented with a blush the importance of his own
life, and the temptation that was held forth by the Roman praefect.
"Retort," said Zobeir, "on the infidels their ungenerous attempt.
Proclaim through the ranks that the head of Gregory shall be repaid with
his captive daughter, and the equal sum of one hundred thousand pieces
of gold." To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the lieutenant of the
caliph intrusted the execution of his own stratagem, which inclined the
long-disputed balance in favor of the Saracens. Supplying by activity
and artifice the deficiency of numbers, a part of their forces lay
concealed in their tents, while the remainder prolonged an irregular
skirmish with the enemy till the sun was high in the heavens. On both
sides they retired with fainting steps: their horses were unbridled,
their armor was laid aside, and the hostile nations prepared, or seemed
to prepare, for the refreshment of the evening, and the encounter of the
ensuing day. On a sudden the charge was sounded; the Arabian camp poured
forth a swarm of fresh and intrepid warriors; and the long line of
the Greeks and Africans was surprised, assaulted, overturned, by new
squadrons of the faithful, who, to the eye of fanaticism, might appear
as a band of angels descending from the sky. The praefect himself was
slain by the hand of Zobeir: his daughter, who sought revenge and death,
was surrounded and made prisoner; and the fugitives involved in their
disaster the town of Sufetula, to which they escaped from the sabres and
lances of the Arabs. Sufetula was built one hundred and fifty miles
to the south of Carthage: a gentle declivity is watered by a running
stream, and shaded by a grove of juniper-trees; and, in the ruins of
a triumpha arch, a portico, and three temples of the Corinthian order,
curiosity may yet admire the magnificence of the Romans. [143] After the
fall of this opulent city, the provincials and Barbarians implored on
all sides the mercy of the conqueror. His vanity or his zeal might be
flattered by offers of tribute or professions of faith: but his losses,
his fatigues, and the progress of an epidemical disease, prevented
a solid establishment; and the Saracens, after a campaign of fifteen
months, retreated to the confines of Egypt, with the captives and the
wealth of their African expedition. The caliph's fifth was granted to
a favorite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces
of gold; [144] but the state was doubly injured by this fallacious
transaction, if each foot-soldier had shared one thousand, and each
horseman three thousand, pieces, in the real division of the plunder.
The author of the death of Gregory was expected to have claimed the most
precious reward of the victory: from his silence it might be presumed
that he had fallen in the battle, till the tears and exclamations of
the praefect's daughter at the sight of Zobeir revealed the valor and
modesty of that gallant soldier. The unfortunate virgin was offered,
and almost rejected as a slave, by her father's murderer, who coolly
declared that his sword was consecrated to the service of religion; and
that he labored for a recompense far above the charms of mortal beauty,
or the riches of this transitory life. A reward congenial to his temper
was the honorable commission of announcing to the caliph Othman the
success of his arms. The companions the chiefs, and the people, were
assembled in the mosch of Medina, to hear the interesting narrative of
Zobeir; and as the orator forgot nothing except the merit of his own
counsels and actions, the name of Abdallah was joined by the Arabians
with the heroic names of Caled and Amrou. [145]

[Footnote 142: See in Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 45) the
death of Zobeir, which was honored with the tears of Ali, against whom
he had rebelled. His valor at the siege of Babylon, if indeed it be the
same person, is mentioned by Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 308)]

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

[Footnote 144: Mimica emptio, says Abulfeda, erat haec, et mira donatio;
quandoquidem Othman, ejus nomine nummos ex aerario prius ablatos aerario
praestabat, (Annal. Moslem. p. 78.) Elmacin (in his cloudy version, p.
39) seems to report the same job. When the Arabs be sieged the palace of
Othman, it stood high in their catalogue of grievances.`]

[Footnote 145: Theophan. Chronograph. p. 235 edit. Paris. His chronology
is loose and inaccurate.]

[A. D. 665-689.] The western conquests of the Saracens were suspended
near twenty years, till their dissensions were composed by the
establishment of the house of Ommiyah; and the caliph Moawiyah was
invited by the cries of the Africans themselves. The successors of
Heraclius had been informed of the tribute which they had been compelled
to stipulate with the Arabs; but instead of being moved to pity and
relieve their distress, they imposed, as an equivalent or a fine, a
second tribute of a similar amount. The ears of the zantine ministers
were shut against the complaints of their poverty and ruin their
despair was reduced to prefer the dominion of a single master; and the
extortions of the patriarch of Carthage, who was invested with civil and
military power, provoked the sectaries, and even the Catholics, of the
Roman province to abjure the religion as well as the authority of
their tyrants. The first lieutenant of Moawiyah acquired a just renown,
subdued an important city, defeated an army of thirty thousand Greeks,
swept away fourscore thousand captives, and enriched with their spoils
the bold adventurers of Syria and Egypt.[146] But the title of conqueror
of Africa is more justly due to his successor Akbah. He marched from
Damascus at the head of ten thousand of the bravest Arabs; and the
genuine force of the Moslems was enlarged by the doubtful aid and
conversion of many thousand Barbarians. It would be difficult, nor is
it necessary, to trace the accurate line of the progress of Akbah. The
interior regions have been peopled by the Orientals with fictitious
armies and imaginary citadels. In the warlike province of Zab or
Numidia, fourscore thousand of the natives might assemble in arms; but
the number of three hundred and sixty towns is incompatible with the
ignorance or decay of husbandry;[147] and a circumference of three
leagues will not be justified by the ruins of Erbe or Lambesa, the
ancient metropolis of that inland country. As we approach the seacoast,
the well-known titles of Bugia,[148] and Tangier[149] define the more
certain limits of the Saracen victories. A remnant of trade still
adheres to the commodious harbour of Bugia, which, in a more prosperous
age, is said to have contained about twenty thousand houses; and the
plenty of iron which is dug from the adjacent mountains might have
supplied a braver people with the instruments of defence. The remote
position and venerable antiquity of Tingi, or Tangier, have been
decorated by the Greek and Arabian fables; but the figurative
expressions of the latter, that the walls were constructed of brass, and
that the roofs were covered with gold and silver, may be interpreted as
the emblems of strength and opulence.

[Footnote 146: Theophanes (in Chronograph. p. 293.) inserts the vague
rumours that might reach Constantinople, of the western conquests of the
Arabs; and I learn from Paul Warnefrid, deacon of Aquileia (de Gestis
Langobard. 1. v. c. 13), that at this time they sent a fleet from
Alexandria into the Sicilian and African seas.]

[Footnote 147: See Novairi (apud Otter, p. 118), Leo Africanus (fol.
81, verso), who reckoned only cinque citta e infinite casal, Marmol
(Description de l'Afrique, tom. iii. p. 33,) and Shaw (Travels, p. 57,

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

[Footnote 149: Leo African. fol. 52. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 228.]

The province of Mauritania Tingitana,[150] which assumed the name of the
capital had been imperfectly discovered and settled by the Romans; the
five colonies were confined to a narrow pale, and the more southern
parts were seldom explored except by the agents of luxury, who searched
the forests for ivory and the citron wood,[151] and the shores of the
ocean for the purple shellfish. The fearless Akbah plunged into the
heart of the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors
erected the splendid capitals of Fez and Morocco,[152] and at length
penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert. The river
Suz descends from the western sides of mount Atlas, fertilizes, like the
Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the sea at a moderate distance
from the Canary, or adjacent islands. Its banks were inhabited by the
last of the Moors, a race of savages, without laws, or discipline, or
religion: they were astonished by the strange and irresistible terrors
of the Oriental arms; and as they possessed neither gold nor silver, the
richest spoil was the beauty of the female captives, some of whom were
afterward sold for a thousand pieces of gold. The career, though not
the zeal, of Akbah was checked by the prospect of a boundless ocean.
He spurred his horse into the waves, and raising his eyes to heaven,
exclaimed with the tone of a fanatic: "Great God! if my course were not
stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown kingdoms of the
West, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and putting to the sword the
rebellious nations who worship another gods than thee." [153] Yet this
Mahometan Alexander, who sighed for new worlds, was unable to preserve
his recent conquests. By the universal defection of the Greeks and
Africans he was recalled from the shores of the Atlantic, and the
surrounding multitudes left him only the resource of an honourable
death. The last scene was dignified by an example of national virtue. An
ambitious chief, who had disputed the command and failed in the attempt,
was led about as a prisoner in the camp of the Arabian general. The
insurgents had trusted to his discontent and revenge; he disdained their
offers and revealed their designs. In the hour of danger, the grateful
Akbah unlocked his fetters, and advised him to retire; he chose to die
under the banner of his rival. Embracing as friends and martyrs, they
unsheathed their scimeters, broke their scabbards, and maintained an
obstinate combat, till they fell by each other's side on the last of
their slaughtered countrymen. The third general or governor of Africa,
Zuheir, avenged and encountered the fate of his predecessor. He
vanquished the natives in many battles; he was overthrown by a powerful
army, which Constantinople had sent to the relief of Carthage.

[Footnote 150: Regio ignobilis, et vix quicquam illustre sortita, parvis
oppidis habitatur, parva flumina emittit, solo quam viris meleor et
segnitie gentis obscura. Pomponius Mela, i. 5, iii. 10. Mela deserves
the more credit, since his own Phoenician ancestors had migrated from
Tingitana to Spain (see, in ii. 6, a passage of that geographer so
cruelly tortured by Salmasius, Isaac Vossius, and the most virulent of
critics, James Gronovius). He lived at the time of the final reduction
of that country by the emperor Claudius: yet almost thirty years
afterward, Pliny (Hist. Nat. v. i.) complains of his authors, to lazy
to inquire, too proud to confess their ignorance of that wild and remote

[Footnote 151: The foolish fashion of this citron wood prevailed at Rome
among the men, as much as the taste for pearls among the women. A round
board or table, four or five feet in diameter, sold for the price of
an estate (latefundii taxatione), eight, ten, or twelve thousand pounds
sterling (Plin. Hist. Natur. xiii. 29). I conceive that I must not
confound the tree citrus, with that of the fruit citrum. But I am not
botanist enough to define the former (it is like the wild cypress) by
the vulgar or Linnaean name; nor will I decide whether the citrum be the
orange or the lemon. Salmasius appears to exhaust the subject, but
he too often involves himself in the web of his disorderly erudition.
(Flinian. Exercitat. tom. ii. p 666, &c.)]

[Footnote 152: Leo African. fol. 16, verso. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 28. This
province, the first scene of the exploits and greatness of the cherifs
is often mentioned in the curious history of that dynasty at the end of
the third volume of Marmol, Description de l'Afrique. The third vol. of
The Recherches Historiques sur les Maures (lately published at Paris)
illustrates the history and geography of the kingdoms of Fez and

[Footnote 153: Otter (p. 119,) has given the strong tone of fanaticism
to this exclamation, which Cardonne (p. 37,) has softened to a pious
wish of preaching the Koran. Yet they had both the same text of Novairi
before their eyes.]

[A. D. 670-675.] It had been the frequent practice of the Moorish tribes
to join the invaders, to share the plunder, to profess the faith, and to
revolt in their savage state of independence and idolatry, on the first
retreat or misfortune of the Moslems. The prudence of Akbah had proposed
to found an Arabian colony in the heart of Africa; a citadel that might
curb the levity of the Barbarians, a place of refuge to secure, against
the accidents of war, the wealth and the families of the Saracens. With
this view, and under the modest title of the station of a caravan, he
planted this colony in the fiftieth year of the Hegira. In its present
decay, Cairoan[154] still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis,
from which it is distant about fifty miles to the south;[155] its inland
situation, twelve miles westward of the sea, has protected the city from
the Greek and Sicilian fleets. When the wild beasts and serpents were
extirpated, when the forest, or rather wilderness, was cleared, the
vestiges of a Roman town were discovered in a sandy plain: the vegetable
food of Cairoan is brought from afar; and the scarcity of springs
constrains the inhabitants to collect in cisterns and reservoirs a
precarious supply of rain water. These obstacles were subdued by the
industry of Akbah; he traced a circumference of three thousand and six
hundred paces, which he encompassed with a brick wall; in the space
of five years, the governor's palace was surrounded with a sufficient
number of private habitations; a spacious mosque was supported by five
hundred columns of granite, porphyry, and Numidian marble; and Cairoan
became the seat of learning as well as of empire. But these were the
glories of a later age; the new colony was shaken by the successive
defeats of Akbah and Zuheir, and the western expeditions were again
interrupted by the civil discord of the Arabian monarchy. The son of the
valiant Zobeir maintained a war of twelve years, a siege of seven months
against the house of Ommiyah. Abdallah was said to unite the fierceness
of the lion with the subtlety of the fox; but if he inherited the
courage, he was devoid of the generosity, of his father.[156]

[A. D. 692-698.] The return of domestic peace allowed the caliph
Abdalmalek to resume the conquest of Africa; the standard was delivered
to Hassan governor of Egypt, and the revenue of that kingdom, with an
army of forty thousand men, was consecrated to the important service. In
the vicissitudes of war, the interior provinces had been alternately won
and lost by the Saracens. But the seacoast still remained in the hands
of the Greeks; the predecessors of Hassan had respected the name
and fortifications of Carthage; and the number of its defenders was
recruited by the fugitives of Cabes and Tripoli. The arms of Hassan were
bolder and more fortunate: he reduced and pillaged the metropolis of
Africa; and the mention of scaling-ladders may justify the suspicion,
that he anticipated, by a sudden assault, the more tedious operations of
a regular siege. But the joy of the conquerors was soon disturbed by the
appearance of the Christian succours. The praefect and patrician John, a
general of experience and renown, embarked at Constantinople the forces
of the Eastern empire;[157] they were joined by the ships and soldiers
of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths[158] was obtained from
the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch.

[Footnote 154: The foundation of Cairoan is mentioned by Ockley (Hist.
of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 129, 130); and the situation, mosque, &c.
of the city are described by Leo Africanus (fol. 75), Marmol (tom. ii.
p. 532), and Shaw (p. 115).]

[Footnote 155: A portentous, though frequent mistake, has been the
confounding, from a slight similitude of name, the Cyrene of the Greeks,
and the Cairoan of the Arabs, two cities which are separated by an
interval of a thousand miles along the seacoast. The great Thuanus has
not escaped this fault, the less excusable as it is connected with a
formal and elaborate description of Africa (Historiar. l. vii. c. 2, in
tom. i. p. 240, edit. Buckley).]

[Footnote 156: Besides the Arabic Chronicles of Abulfeda, Elmacin, and
Abulpharagius, under the lxxiiid year of the Hegira, we may consult
nd'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 7,) and Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens,
vol. ii. p. 339-349). The latter has given the last and pathetic
dialogue between Abdallah and his mother; but he has forgot a physical
effect of her grief for his death, the return, at the age of ninety, and
fatal consequences of her menses.]

[Footnote 157: The patriarch of Constantinople, with Theophanes
(Chronograph. p. 309,) have slightly mentioned this last attempt for
the relief or Africa. Pagi (Critica, tom. iii. p. 129. 141,) has nicely
ascertained the chronology by a strict comparison of the Arabic and
Byzantine historians, who often disagree both in time and fact. See
likewise a note of Otter (p. 121).]

[Footnote 158: Dove s'erano ridotti i nobili Romani e i Gotti; and
afterward, i Romani suggirono e i Gotti lasciarono Carthagine. (Leo
African. for. 72, recto) I know not from what Arabic writer the African
derived his Goths; but the fact, though new, is so interesting and so
probable, that I will accept it on the slightest authority.]

The weight of the confederate navy broke the chain that guarded the
entrance of the harbour; the Arabs retired to Cairoan, or Tripoli; the
Christians landed; the citizens hailed the ensign of the cross, and
the winter was idly wasted in the dream of victory or deliverance. But
Africa was irrecoverably lost: the zeal and resentment of the commander
of the faithful[159] prepared in the ensuing spring a more numerous
armament by sea and land; and the patrician in his turn was compelled
to evacuate the post and fortifications of Carthage. A second battle
was fought in the neighbourhood of Utica; and the Greeks and Goths were
again defeated; and their timely embarkation saved them from the sword
of Hassan, who had invested the slight and insufficient rampart of their
camp. Whatever yet remained of Carthage was delivered to the flames, and
the colony of Dido[160] and Cesar lay desolate above two hundred years,
till a part, perhaps a twentieth, of the old circumference was repeopled
by the first of the Fatimite caliphs. In the beginning of the sixteenth
century, the second capital of the West was represented by a mosque, a
college without students, twenty-five or thirty shops, and the huts
of five hundred peasants, who, in their abject poverty, displayed the
arrogance of the Punic senators. Even that paltry village was swept away
by the Spaniards whom Charles the Fifth had stationed in the fortress of
the Goletta. The ruins of Carthage have perished; and the place might be
unknown if some broken arches of an aqueduct did not guide the footsteps
of the inquisitive traveller.[161]

[A. D. 698-709.] The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not
yet masters of the country. In the interior provinces the Moors or
Berbers,[162] so feeble under the first Cesars, so formidable to the
Byzantine princes, maintained a disorderly resistance to the religion
and power of the successors of Mahomet. Under the standard of their
queen Cahina, the independent tribes acquired some degree of union and
discipline; and as the Moors respected in their females the character of
a prophetess, they attacked the invaders with an enthusiasm similar to
their own. The veteran bands of Hassan were inadequate to the defence
of Africa: the conquests of an age were lost in a single day; and the
Arabian chief, overwhelmed by the torrent, retired to the confines of
Egypt, and expected, five years, the promised succours of the caliph.
After the retreat of the Saracens, the victorious prophetess assembled
the Moorish chiefs, and recommended a measure of strange and savage
policy. "Our cities," said she, "and the gold and silver which they
contain, perpetually attract the arms of the Arabs. These vile metals
are not the objects of OUR ambition; we content ourselves with the
simple productions of the earth. Let us destroy these cities; let us
bury in their ruins those pernicious treasures; and when the avarice of
our foes shall be destitute of temptation, perhaps they will cease to
disturb the tranquillity of a warlike people." The proposal was accepted
with unanimous applause. From Tangier to Tripoli the buildings, or at
least the fortifications, were demolished, the fruit-trees were cut
down, the means of subsistence were extirpated, a fertile and populous
garden was changed into a desert, and the historians of a more
recent period could discern the frequent traces of the prosperity and
devastation of their ancestors.

[Footnote 159: This commander is styled by Nicephorus, -------- a vague
though not improper definition of the caliph. Theophanes introduces the
strange appellation of ----------, which his interpreter Goar explains
by Vizir Azem. They may approach the truth, in assigning the active
part to the minister, rather than the prince; but they forget that the
Ommiades had only a kaleb, or secretary, and that the office of
Vizir was not revived or instituted till the 132d year of the Hegira
(d'Herbelot, 912).]

[Footnote 160: According to Solinus (1.27, p. 36, edit. Salmas), the
Carthage of Dido stood either 677 or 737 years; a various reading,
which proceeds from the difference of MSS. or editions (Salmas, Plinian.
Exercit tom i. p. 228) The former of these accounts, which gives 823
years before Christ, is more consistent with the well-weighed testimony
of Velleius Paterculus: but the latter is preferred by our chronologists
(Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 398,) as more agreeable to the Hebrew and
Syrian annals.]

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

[Footnote 162: The history of the word Barbar may be classed under four
periods, 1. In the time of Homer, when the Greeks and Asiatics might
probably use a common idiom, the imitative sound of Barbar was applied
to the ruder tribes, whose pronunciation was most harsh, whose grammar
was most defective. 2. From the time, at least, of Herodotus, it was
extended to all the nations who were strangers to the language and
manners of the Greeks. 3. In the age, of Plautus, the Romans submitted
to the insult (Pompeius Festus, l. ii. p. 48, edit. Dacier), and freely
gave themselves the name of Barbarians. They insensibly claimed an
exemption for Italy, and her subject provinces; and at length removed
the disgraceful appellation to the savage or hostile nations beyond
the pale of the empire. 4. In every sense, it was due to the Moors; the
familiar word was borrowed from the Latin Provincials by the Arabian
conquerors, and has justly settled as a local denomination (Barbary)
along the northern coast of Africa.]

Such is the tale of the modern Arabians. Yet I strongly suspect that
their ignorance of antiquity, the love of the marvellous, and the
fashion of extolling the philosophy of Barbarians, has induced them to
describe, as one voluntary act, the calamities of three hundred years
since the first fury of the Donatists and Vandals. In the progress
of the revolt, Cahina had most probably contributed her share of
destruction; and the alarm of universal ruin might terrify and alienate
the cities that had reluctantly yielded to her unworthy yoke. They
no longer hoped, perhaps they no longer wished, the return of their
Byzantine sovereigns: their present servitude was not alleviated by the
benefits of order and justice; and the most zealous Catholic must prefer
the imperfect truths of the Koran to the blind and rude idolatry of the
Moors. The general of the Saracens was again received as the saviour of
the province; the friends of civil society conspired against the savages
of the land; and the royal prophetess was slain in the first battle
which overturned the baseless fabric of her superstition and empire.
The same spirit revived under the successor of Hassan; it was finally
quelled by the activity of Musa and his two sons; but the number of the
rebels may be presumed from that of three hundred thousand captives;
sixty thousand of whom, the caliph's fifth, were sold for the profit
of thee public treasury. Thirty thousand of the Barbarian youth were
enlisted in the troops; and the pious labours of Musa to inculcate the
knowledge and practice of the Koran, accustomed the Africans to obey the
apostle of God and the commander of the faithful. In their climate and
government, their diet and habitation, the wandering Moors resembled the
Bedoweens of the desert. With the religion, they were proud to adopt
the language, name, and origin of Arabs: the blood of the strangers and
natives was insensibly mingled; and from the Euphrates to the Atlantic
the same nation might seem to be diffused over the sandy plains of
Asia and Africa. Yet I will not deny that fifty thousand tents of pure
Arabians might be transported over the Nile, and scattered through the
Lybian desert: and I am not ignorant that five of the Moorish tribes
still retain their barbarous idiom, with the appellation and character
of white Africans.[163]

[A. D. 709.] V. In the progress of conquest from the north and south,
the Goths and the Saracens encountered each other on the confines of
Europe and Africa. In the opinion of the latter, the difference of
religion is a reasonable ground of enmity and warfare.[164] As early as
the time of Othman[165] their piratical squadrons had ravaged the coast
of Andalusia;[166] nor had they forgotten the relief of Carthage by the
Gothic succours. In that age, as well as in the present, the kings of
Spain were possessed of the fortress of Ceuta; one of the columns of
Hercules, which is divided by a narrow strait from the opposite pillar
or point of Europe. A small portion of Mauritania was still wanting to
the African conquest; but Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed
from the walls of Ceuta, by the vigilance and courage of count Julian,
the general of the Goths. From his disappointment and perplexity,
Musa was relieved by an unexpected message of the Christian chief,
who offered his place, his person, and his sword, to the successors of
Mahomet, and solicited the disgraceful honour of introducing their arms
into the heart of Spain.[167]

[Footnote 163: The first book of Leo Africanus, and the observations
of Dr. Shaw (p. 220. 223. 227. 247, &c.) will throw some light on the
roving tribes of Barbary, of Arabian or Moorish descent. But Shaw
had seen these savages with distant terror; and Leo, a captive in the
Vatican, appears to have lost more of his Arabic, than he could acquire
of Greek or Roman, learning. Many of his gross mistakes might be
detected in the first period of the Mahometan history.]

[Footnote 164: In a conference with a prince of the Greeks, Amrou
observed that their religion was different; upon which score it was
lawful for brothers to quarrel. Ockley's History of the Saracens, vol.
i. p. 328.]

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

[Footnote 166: The name of Andalusia is applied by the Arabs not only to
the modern province, but to the whole peninsula of Spain (Geograph. Nub.
p. 151, d'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 114, 115). The etymology has
been most improbably deduced from Vandalusia, country of the Vandals.
(d'Anville Etats de l'Europe, p. 146, 147, &c.) But the Handalusia of
Casiri, which signifies, in Arabic, the region of the evening, of the
West, in a word, the Hesperia of the Greeks, is perfectly apposite.
(Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 327, &c.)]

[Footnote 167: The fall and resurrection of the Gothic monarchy are
related by Mariana (tom. l. p. 238-260, l. vi. c. 19-26, l. vii. c. 1,
2). That historian has infused into his noble work (Historic de Rebus
Hispaniae, libri xxx. Hagae Comitum 1733, in four volumes, folio, with
the continuation of Miniana), the style and spirit of a Roman classic;
and after the twelfth century, his knowledge and judgment may be safely
trusted. But the Jesuit is not exempt from the prejudices of his order;
he adopts and adorns, like his rival Buchanan, the most absurd of the
national legends; he is too careless of criticism and chronology, and
supplies, from a lively fancy, the chasms of historical evidence. These
chasms are large and frequent; Roderic archbishop of Toledo, the father
of the Spanish history, lived five hundred years after the conquest
of the Arabs; and the more early accounts are comprised in some meagre
lines of the blind chronicles of Isidore of Badajoz (Pacensis,) and
of Alphonso III. king of Leon, which I have seen only in the Annals of

If we inquire into the cause of this treachery, the Spaniards will
repeat the popular story of his daughter Cava;[168] of a virgin who was
seduced, or ravished, by her sovereign; of a father who sacrificed his
religion and country to the thirst of revenge. The passions of princes
have often been licentious and destructive; but this well-known tale,
romantic in itself, is indifferently supported by external evidence; and
the history of Spain will suggest some motives of interest and policy
more congenial to the breast of a veteran statesman.[169] After the
decease or deposition of Witiza, his two sons were supplanted by the
ambition of Roderic, a noble Goth, whose father, the duke or governor of
a province, had fallen a victim to the preceding tyranny. The monarchy
was still elective; but the sons of Witiza, educated on the steps of the
throne, were impatient of a private station. Their resentment was the
more dangerous, as it was varnished with the dissimulation of courts:
their followers were excited by the remembrance of favours and the
promise of a revolution: and their uncle Oppas, archbishop of Toledo
and Seville, was the first person in the church, and the second in the
state. It is probable that Julian was involved in the disgrace of the
unsuccessful faction, that he had little to hope and much to fear from
the new reign; and that the imprudent king could not forget or forgive
the injuries which Roderic and his family had sustained. The merit and
influence of the count rendered him a useful or formidable subject:
his estates were ample, his followers bold and numerous, and it was too
fatally shown that, by his Andalusian and Mauritanian commands, he held
in his hands the keys of the Spanish monarchy. Too feeble, however, to
meet his sovereign in arms, he sought the aid of a foreign power; and
his rash invitation of the Moors and Arabs produced the calamities of
eight hundred years. In his epistles, or in a personal interview, he
revealed the wealth and nakedness of his country; the weakness of an
unpopular prince; the degeneracy of an effeminate people. The Goths were
no longer the victorious Barbarians, who had humbled the pride of Rome,
despoiled the queen of nations, and penetrated from the Danube to the
Atlantic ocean. Secluded from the world by the Pyrenean mountains, the
successors of Alaric had slumbered in a long peace: the walls of the
city were mouldered into dust: the youth had abandoned the exercise of
arms; and the presumption of their ancient renown would expose them in
a field of battle to the first assault of the invaders. The ambitious
Saracen was fired by the ease and importance of the attempt; but
the execution was delayed till he had consulted the commander of the
faithful; and his messenger returned with the permission of Walid to
annex the unknown kingdoms of the West to the religion and throne of the
caliphs. In his residence of Tangier, Musa, with secrecy and caution,
continued his correspondence and hastened his preparations. But the
remorse of the conspirators was soothed by the fallacious assurance that
he should content himself with the glory and spoil, without aspiring
to establish the Moslems beyond the sea that separates Africa from

[Footnote 168: Le viol (says Voltaire) est aussi difficile a faire
qu'a prouver. Des Eveques se seroient ils lignes pour une fille? (Hist.
Generale, c. xxvi.) His argument is not logically conclusive.]

[Footnote 169: In the story of Cava, Mariana (I. vi. c. 21, p. 241,
242,) seems to vie with the Lucretia of Livy. Like the ancients, he
seldom quotes; and the oldest testimony of Baronius (Annal. Eccles.
A.D. 713, No. 19), that of Lucus Tudensis, a Gallician deacon of the
thirteenth century, only says, Cava quam pro concubina utebatur.]

[Footnote 170: The Orientals, Elmacin, Abulpharagins, Abolfeda, pass
over the conquest of Spain in silence, or with a single word. The text
of Novairi, and the other Arabian writers, is represented, though
with some foreign alloy, by M. de Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de
l'Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, Paris, 1765, 3 vols. 12mo. tom.
i. p. 55-114), and more concisely by M. de Guignes (Hist. des Hune.
tom. i. p. 347-350). The librarian of the Escurial has not satisfied
my hopes: yet he appears to have searched with diligence his broken
materials; and the history of the conquest is illustrated by some
valuable fragments of the genuine Razis (who wrote at. Corduba, A. H.
300), of Ben Hazil, &c. See Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32.
105, 106. 182. 252. 315-332. On this occasion, the industry of Pagi has
been aided by the Arabic learning of his friend the Abbe de Longuerue,
and to their joint labours I am deeply indebted.]

[A. D. 710.] Before Musa would trust an army of the faithful to the
traitors and infidels of a foreign land, he made a less dangerous trial
of their strength and veracity. One hundred Arabs and four hundred
Africans, passed over, in four vessels, from Tangier or Ceuta; the place
of their descent on the opposite shore of the strait, is marked by the
name of Tarif their chief; and the date of this memorable event[171] is
fixed to the month of Ramandan, of the ninety-first year of the Hegira,
to the month of July, seven hundred and forty-eight years from the
Spanish era of Cesar,[172] seven hundred and ten after the birth of
Christ. From their first station, they marched eighteen miles through
a hilly country to the castle and town of Julian;[173] on which (it is
still called Algezire) they bestowed the name of the Green Island,
from a verdant cape that advances into the sea. Their hospitable
entertainment, the Christians who joined their standard, their inroad
into a fertile and unguarded province, the richness of their spoil
and the safety of their return, announced to their brethren the most
favourable omens of victory. In the ensuing spring, five thousand
veterans and volunteers were embarked under the command of Tarik, a
dauntless and skilful soldier, who surpassed the expectation of his
chief; and the necessary transports were provided by the industry of
their too faithful ally. The Saracens landed[174] at the pillar or point
of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of Gibraltar (Gebel el
Tarik) describes the mountain of Tarik; and the intrenchments of his
camp were the first outline of those fortifications, which, in the
hands of our countrymen, have resisted the art and power of the house
of Bourbon. The adjacent governors informed the court of Toledo of the
descent and progress of the Arabs; and the defeat of his lieutenant
Edeco, who had been commanded to seize and bind the presumptuous
strangers, admonished Roderic of the magnitude of the danger. At the
royal summons, the dukes and counts, the bishops and nobles of the
Gothic monarchy assembled at the head of their followers; and the title
of king of the Romans, which is employed by an Arabic historian, may
be excused by the close affinity of language, religion, and manners,
between the nations of Spain. His army consisted of ninety or a hundred
thousand men: a formidable power, if their fidelity and discipline had
been adequate to their numbers. The troops of Tarik had been augmented
to twelve thousand Saracens; but the Christian malecontents were
attracted by the influence of Julian, and a crowd of Africans
most greedily tasted the temporal blessings of the Koran. In the
neighbourhood of Cadiz, the town of Xeres[175] has been illustrated by
the encounter which determined the fate of the kingdom; the stream of
the Guadalete, which falls into the bay, divided the two camps, and
marked the advancing and retreating skirmishes of three successive and
bloody days.

[Footnote 171: A mistake of Roderic of Toledo, in comparing the lunar
years of the Hegira with the Julian years of the Era, has determined
Baronius, Mariana, and the crowd of Spanish historians, to place the
first invasion in the year 713, and the battle of Xeres in November,
714. This anachronism of three years has been detected by the more
correct industry of modern chronologists, above all, of Pagi (Critics,
tom. iii. p. 164. 171-174), who have restored the genuine state of the
revolution. At the present time, an Arabian scholar, like Cardonne, who
adopts the ancient error (tom. i. p. 75), is inexcusably ignorant or

[Footnote 172: The Era of Cesar, which in Spain was in legal and popular
use till the xivth century, begins thirty-eight years before the birth
of Christ. I would refer the origin to the general peace by sea and
land, which confirmed the power and partition of the triumvirs. (Dion.
Cassius, l. xlviii. p. 547. 553. Appian de Bell. Civil. l. v. p. 1034,
edit. fol.) Spain was a province of Cesar Octavian; and Tarragona, which
raised the first temple to Augustus (Tacit Annal. i. 78), might borrow
from the orientals this mode of flattery.]

[Footnote 173: The road, the country, the old castle of count Julian,
and the superstitious belief of the Spaniards of hidden treasures, &c.
are described by Pere Labat (Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, tom i. p.
207-217), with his usual pleasantry.]

[Footnote 174: The Nubian geographer (p. 154,) explains the topography
of the war; but it is highly incredible that the lieutenant of Musa
should execute the desperate and useless measure of burning his ships.]

[Footnote 175: Xeres (the Roman colony of Asta Regia) is only two
leagues from Cadiz. In the xvith century It was a granary of corn;
and the wine of Xeres is familiar to the nations of Europe (Lud. Nonii
Hispania, c. 13, p. 54-56, a work of correct and concise knowledge;
d'Anville, Etats de l'Europe &c p 154).]

On the fourth day, the two armies joined a more serious and decisive
issue; but Alaric would have blushed at the sight of his unworthy
successor, sustaining on his head a diadem of pearls, encumbered with a
flowing robe of gold and silken embroidery, and reclining on a litter,
or car of ivory, drawn by two white mules. Notwithstanding the valour of
the Saracens, they fainted under the weight of multitudes, and the plain
of Xeres was overspread with sixteen thousand of their dead bodies. "My
brethren," said Tarik to his surviving companions, "the enemy is before
you, the sea is behind; whither would ye fly? Follow your general I am
resolved either to lose my life, or to trample on the prostrate king of
the Romans." Besides the resource of despair, he confided in the secret
correspondence and nocturnal interviews of count Julian, with the sons
and the brother of Witiza. The two princes and the archbishop of Toledo
occupied the most important post; their well-timed defection broke the
ranks of the Christians; each warrior was prompted by fear or suspicion
to consult his personal safety; and the remains of the Gothic army were
scattered or destroyed to the flight and pursuit of the three following
days. Amidst the general disorder, Roderic started from his car, and
mounted Orelia, the fleetest of his Horses; but he escaped from a
soldier's death to perish more ignobly in the waters of the Boetis or
Guadalquiver. His diadem, his robes, and his courser, were found on the
bank; but as the body of the Gothic prince was lost in the waves, the
pride and ignorance of the caliph must have been gratified with some
meaner head, which was exposed in triumph before the palace of Damascus.
"And such," continues a valiant historian of the Arabs, "is the fate of
those kings who withdraw themselves from a field of battle." [176]

[A. D. 711.] Count Julian had plunged so deep into guilt and infamy,
that his only hope was in the ruin of his country. After the battle
of Xeres he recommended the most effectual measures to the victorious
Saracens. "The king of the Goths is slain; their princes are fled
before you, the army is routed, the nation is astonished. Secure with
sufficient detachments the cities of Boetica; but in person and without
delay, march to the royal city of Toledo, and allow not the distracted
Christians either time or tranquillity for the election of a new
monarch." Tarik listened to his advice. A Roman captive and proselyte,
who had been enfranchised by the caliph himself, assaulted Cordova with
seven hundred horse: he swam the river, surprised the town, and drove
the Christians into the great church, where they defended themselves
above three months. Another detachment reduced the seacoast of Boetica,
which in the last period of the Moorish power has comprised in a narrow
space the populous kingdom of Grenada. The march of Tarik from the
Boetis to the Tagus,[177] was directed through the Sierra Morena, that
separates Andalusia and Castille, till he appeared in arms under the
walls of Toledo.[178] The most zealous of the Catholics had escaped with
the relics of their saints; and if the gates were shut, it was only
till the victor had subscribed a fair and reasonable capitulation.
The voluntary exiles were allowed to depart with their effects; seven
churches were appropriated to the Christian worship; the archbishop and
his clergy were at liberty to exercise their functions, the monks to
practise or neglect their penance; and the Goths and Romans were left in
all civil or criminal cases to the subordinate jurisdiction of their
own laws and magistrates. But if the justice of Tarik protected the
Christians, his gratitude and policy rewarded the Jews, to whose
secret or open aid he was indebted for his most important acquisitions.
Persecuted by the kings and synods of Spain, who had often pressed the
alternative of banishment or baptism, that outcast nation embraced the
moment of revenge: the comparison of their past and present state was
the pledge of their fidelity; and the alliance between the disciples of
Moses and those of Mahomet, was maintained till the final era of their
common expulsion.

[Footnote 176: Id sane infortunii regibus pedem ex acie referentibus
saepe contingit. Den Hazil of Grenada, in Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana.
tom. ii. p. 337. Some credulous Spaniards believe that king Roderic, or
Rodrigo, escaped to a hermit's cell; and others, that he was cast alive
into a tub full of serpents, from whence he exclaimed with a lamentable
voice, "they devour the part with which I have so grievously sinned."
(Don Quixote, part ii. l. iii. c. 1.)]

[Footnote 177: The direct road from Corduba to Toledo was measured by
Mr. Swinburne's mules in 72 1/2 hours: but a larger computation must be
adopted for the slow and devious marches of an army. The Arabs traversed
the province of La Mancha, which the pen of Cervantes has transformed
into classic ground to the reader of every nation.]

[Footnote 178: The antiquities of Toledo, Urbs Parva in the Punic
wars, Urbs Regia in the sixth century, are briefly described by Nonius
(Hispania, c. 59, p. 181-136). He borrows from Roderic the fatale
palatium of Moorish portraits; but modestly insinuates, that it was no
more than a Roman amphitheatre.]

From the royal seat of Toledo, the Arabian leader spread his conquests
to the north, over the modern realms of Castille and Leon; but it is
heedless to enumerate the cities that yielded on his approach, or again
to describe the table of emerald,[179] transported from the East by the
Romans, acquired by the Goths among the spoils of Rome, and presented by
the Arabs to the throne of Damascus. Beyond the Asturian mountains, the
maritime town of Gijon was the term[180] of the lieutenant of Musa, who
had performed with the speed of a traveller, his victorious march of
seven hundred miles, from the rock of Gibraltar to the bay of Biscay.
The failure of land compelled him to retreat: and he was recalled to
Toledo, to excuse his presumption of subduing a kingdom in the absence
of his general. Spain, which in a more savage and disorderly state, had
resisted, two hundred years, the arms of the Romans, was overrun in
a few months by those of the Saracens; and such was the eagerness of
submission and treaty, that the governor of Cordova is recorded as the
only chief who fell, without conditions, a prisoner into their hands.
The cause of the Goths had been irrevocably judged in the field of
Xeres; and in the national dismay, each part of the monarchy declined
a contest with the antagonist who had vanquished the united strength of
the whole.[181] That strength had been wasted by two successive seasons
of famine and pestilence; and the governors, who were impatient to
surrender, might exaggerate the difficulty of collecting the provisions
of a siege. To disarm the Christians, superstition likewise contributed
her terrors: and the subtle Arab encouraged the report of dreams, omens,
and prophecies, and of the portraits of the destined conquerors of
Spain, that were discovered on the breaking open an apartment of the
royal palace. Yet a spark of the vital flame was still alive; some
invincible fugitives preferred a life of poverty and freedom in the
Asturian valleys; the hardy mountaineers repulsed the slaves of the
caliph; and the sword of Pelagius has been transformed into the sceptre
of the Catholic kings.[182]

[Footnote 179: In the Historia Arabum (c. 9, p. 17, ad calcem Elmacin),
Roderic of Toledo describes the emerald tables, and inserts the name of
Medinat Ahneyda in Arabic words and letters. He appears to be conversant
with the Mahometan writers; but I cannot agree with M. de Guignes (Hist.
des Huns, tom. i. p. 350) that he had read and transcribed Novairi;
because he was dead a hundred years before Novairi composed his
history. This mistake is founded on a still grosser error. M. de Guignes
confounds the governed historian Roderic Ximines, archbishop of Toledo,
in the xiiith century, with cardinal Ximines, who governed Spain in
the beginning of the xvith, and was the subject, not the author, of
historical compositions.]

[Footnote 180: Tarik might have inscribed on the last rock, the boast
of Regnard and his companions in their Lapland journey, "Hic tandem
stetimus, nobis ubi defuit orbis."]

[Footnote 181: Such was the argument of the traitor Oppas, and every
chief to whom it was addressed did not answer with the spirit of
Pelagius; Omnis Hispania dudum sub uno regimine Gothorum, omnis
exercitus Hispaniae in uno congregatus Ismaelitarum non valuit sustinere
impetum. Chron. Alphonsi Regis, apud Pagi, tom. iii. p. 177.]

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

Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.--Part VII.

On the intelligence of this rapid success, the applause of Musa
degenerated into envy; and he began, not to complain, but to fear, that
Tarik would leave him nothing to subdue. At the head of ten thousand
Arabs and eight thousand Africans, he passed over in person from
Mauritania to Spain: the first of his companions were the noblest of
the Koreish; his eldest son was left in the command of Africa; the
three younger brethren were of an age and spirit to second the boldest
enterprises of their father. At his landing in Algezire, he was
respectfully entertained by Count Julian, who stifled his inward
remorse, and testified, both in words and actions, that the victory of
the Arabs had not impaired his attachment to their cause. Some enemies
yet remained for the sword of Musa. The tardy repentance of the Goths
had compared their own numbers and those of the invaders; the cities
from which the march of Tarik had declined considered themselves as
impregnable; and the bravest patriots defended the fortifications of
Seville and Merida. They were successively besieged and reduced by the
labor of Musa, who transported his camp from the Boetis to the Anas,
from the Guadalquivir to the Guadiana. When he beheld the works of Roman
magnificence, the bridge, the aqueducts, the triumphal arches, and the
theatre, of the ancient metropolis of Lusitania, "I should imagine,"
said he to his four companions, "that the human race must have united
their art and power in the foundation of this city: happy is the man
who shall become its master!" He aspired to that happiness, but the
Emeritans sustained on this occasion the honor of their descent from
the veteran legionaries of Augustus [183] Disdaining the confinement
of their walls, they gave battle to the Arabs on the plain; but an
ambuscade rising from the shelter of a quarry, or a ruin, chastised
their indiscretion, and intercepted their return.

The wooden turrets of assault were rolled forwards to the foot of the
rampart; but the defence of Merida was obstinate and long; and the
castle of the martyrs was a perpetual testimony of the losses of the
Moslems. The constancy of the besieged was at length subdued by famine
and despair; and the prudent victor disguised his impatience under the
names of clemency and esteem. The alternative of exile or tribute was
allowed; the churches were divided between the two religions; and the
wealth of those who had fallen in the siege, or retired to Gallicia, was
confiscated as the reward of the faithful. In the midway between Merida
and Toledo, the lieutenant of Musa saluted the vicegerent of the
caliph, and conducted him to the palace of the Gothic kings. Their
first interview was cold and formal: a rigid account was exacted of the
treasures of Spain: the character of Tarik was exposed to suspicion
and obloquy; and the hero was imprisoned, reviled, and ignominiously
scourged by the hand, or the command, of Musa. Yet so strict was the
discipline, so pure the zeal, or so tame the spirit, of the primitive
Moslems, that, after this public indignity, Tarik could serve and
be trusted in the reduction of the Tarragonest province. A mosch was
erected at Saragossa, by the liberality of the Koreish: the port of
Barcelona was opened to the vessels of Syria; and the Goths were pursued
beyond the Pyrenaean mountains into their Gallic province of Septimania
or Languedoc. [184] In the church of St. Mary at Carcassone, Musa found,
but it is improbable that he left, seven equestrian statues of massy
silver; and from his term or column of Narbonne, he returned on his
footsteps to the Gallician and Lusitanian shores of the ocean. During
the absence of the father, his son Abdelaziz chastised the insurgents
of Seville, and reduced, from Malaga to Valentia, the sea-coast of
the Mediterranean: his original treaty with the discreet and valiant
Theodemir [185] will represent the manners and policy of the times. "The
conditions of peace agreed and sworn between Abdelaziz, the son of Musa,
the son of Nassir, and Theodemir prince of the Goths. In the name of
the most merciful God, Abdelaziz makes peace on these conditions: that
Theodemir shall not be disturbed in his principality; nor any injury be
offered to the life or property, the wives and children, the religion
and temples, of the Christians: that Theodemir shall freely deliver
his seven [1851] cities, Orihuela, Valentola, Alicanti Mola, Vacasora,
Bigerra, (now Bejar,) Ora, (or Opta,) and Lorca: that he shall not
assist or entertain the enemies of the caliph, but shall faithfully
communicate his knowledge of their hostile designs: that himself, and
each of the Gothic nobles, shall annually pay one piece of gold, four
measures of wheat, as many of barley, with a certain proportion of
honey, oil, and vinegar; and that each of their vassals shall be taxed
at one moiety of the said imposition. Given the fourth of Regeb, in the
year of the Hegira ninety-four, and subscribed with the names of four
Mussulman witnesses." [186] Theodemir and his subjects were treated with
uncommon lenity; but the rate of tribute appears to have fluctuated
from a tenth to a fifth, according to the submission or obstinacy of
the Christians. [187] In this revolution, many partial calamities were
inflicted by the carnal or religious passions of the enthusiasts: some
churches were profaned by the new worship: some relics or images were
confounded with idols: the rebels were put to the sword; and one
town (an obscure place between Cordova and Seville) was razed to its
foundations. Yet if we compare the invasion of Spain by the Goths, or
its recovery by the kings of Castile and Arragon, we must applaud the
moderation and discipline of the Arabian conquerors.

[Footnote 183: The honorable relics of the Cantabrian war (Dion Cassius,
l. liii p. 720) were planted in this metropolis of Lusitania, perhaps of
Spain, (submittit cui tota suos Hispania fasces.) Nonius (Hispania, c.
31, p. 106-110) enumerates the ancient structures, but concludes with
a sigh: Urbs haec olim nobilissima ad magnam incolarum infrequentiam
delapsa est, et praeter priscae claritatis ruinas nihil ostendit.]

[Footnote 184: Both the interpreters of Novairi, De Guignes (Hist. des
Huns, tom. i. p. 349) and Cardonne, (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne,
tom. i. p. 93, 94, 104, 135,) lead Musa into the Narbonnese Gaul. But I
find no mention of this enterprise, either in Roderic of Toledo, or the
Mss. of the Escurial, and the invasion of the Saracens is postponed by
a French chronicle till the ixth year after the conquest of Spain, A.D.
721, (Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 177, 195. Historians of France, tom.
iii.) I much question whether Musa ever passed the Pyrenees.]

[Footnote 185: Four hundred years after Theodemir, his territories of
Murcia and Carthagena retain in the Nubian geographer Edrisi (p, 154,
161) the name of Tadmir, (D'Anville, Etats de l'Europe, p. 156. Pagi,
tom. iii. p. 174.) In the present decay of Spanish agriculture, Mr.
Swinburne (Travels into Spain, p. 119) surveyed with pleasure the
delicious valley from Murcia to Orihuela, four leagues and a half of the
finest corn pulse, lucerne, oranges, &c.]

[Footnote 1851: Gibbon has made eight cities: in Conde's translation
Bigera does not appear.--M.]

[Footnote 186: See the treaty in Arabic and Latin, in the Bibliotheca
Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 105, 106. It is signed the 4th of the month
of Regeb, A. H. 94, the 5th of April, A.D. 713; a date which seems to
prolong the resistance of Theodemir, and the government of Musa.]

[Footnote 187: From the history of Sandoval, p. 87. Fleury (Hist.
Eccles. tom. ix. p. 261) has given the substance of another treaty
concluded A Ae. C. 782, A.D. 734, between an Arabian chief and the Goths
and Romans, of the territory of Conimbra in Portugal. The tax of the
churches is fixed at twenty-five pounds of gold; of the monasteries,
fifty; of the cathedrals, one hundred; the Christians are judged by
their count, but in capital cases he must consult the alcaide. The
church doors must be shut, and they must respect the name of Mahomet.
I have not the original before me; it would confirm or destroy a dark
suspicion, that the piece has been forged to introduce the immunity of a
neighboring convent.]

The exploits of Musa were performed in the evening of life, though he
affected to disguise his age by coloring with a red powder the whiteness
of his beard. But in the love of action and glory, his breast was
still fired with the ardor of youth; and the possession of Spain was
considered only as the first step to the monarchy of Europe. With
a powerful armament by sea and land, he was preparing to repass the
Pyrenees, to extinguish in Gaul and Italy the declining kingdoms of the
Franks and Lombards, and to preach the unity of God on the altar of the
Vatican. From thence, subduing the Barbarians of Germany, he proposed
to follow the course of the Danube from its source to the Euxine Sea,
to overthrow the Greek or Roman empire of Constantinople, and returning
from Europe to Asia, to unite his new acquisitions with Antioch and
the provinces of Syria. [188] But his vast enterprise, perhaps of
easy execution, must have seemed extravagant to vulgar minds; and the
visionary conqueror was soon reminded of his dependence and servitude.
The friends of Tarik had effectually stated his services and wrongs:
at the court of Damascus, the proceedings of Musa were blamed, his
intentions were suspected, and his delay in complying with the first
invitation was chastised by a harsher and more peremptory summons. An
intrepid messenger of the caliph entered his camp at Lugo in Gallicia,
and in the presence of the Saracens and Christians arrested the bridle
of his horse. His own loyalty, or that of his troops, inculcated the
duty of obedience: and his disgrace was alleviated by the recall of his
rival, and the permission of investing with his two governments his two
sons, Abdallah and Abdelaziz. His long triumph from Ceuta to Damascus
displayed the spoils of Africa and the treasures of Spain: four hundred
Gothic nobles, with gold coronets and girdles, were distinguished in his
train; and the number of male and female captives, selected for their
birth or beauty, was computed at eighteen, or even at thirty, thousand
persons. As soon as he reached Tiberias in Palestine, he was apprised
of the sickness and danger of the caliph, by a private message from
Soliman, his brother and presumptive heir; who wished to reserve for his
own reign the spectacle of victory.

Had Walid recovered, the delay of Musa would have been criminal: he
pursued his march, and found an enemy on the throne. In his trial before
a partial judge against a popular antagonist, he was convicted of vanity
and falsehood; and a fine of two hundred thousand pieces of gold
either exhausted his poverty or proved his rapaciousness. The unworthy
treatment of Tarik was revenged by a similar indignity; and the veteran
commander, after a public whipping, stood a whole day in the sun before
the palace gate, till he obtained a decent exile, under the pious name
of a pilgrimage to Mecca. The resentment of the caliph might have been
satiated with the ruin of Musa; but his fears demanded the extirpation
of a potent and injured family. A sentence of death was intimated with
secrecy and speed to the trusty servants of the throne both in Africa
and Spain; and the forms, if not the substance, of justice were
superseded in this bloody execution. In the mosch or palace of Cordova,
Abdelaziz was slain by the swords of the conspirators; they accused
their governor of claiming the honors of royalty; and his scandalous
marriage with Egilona, the widow of Roderic, offended the prejudices
both of the Christians and Moslems. By a refinement of cruelty, the
head of the son was presented to the father, with an insulting
question, whether he acknowledged the features of the rebel? "I know his
features," he exclaimed with indignation: "I assert his innocence; and
I imprecate the same, a juster fate, against the authors of his death."
The age and despair of Musa raised him above the power of kings; and he
expired at Mecca of the anguish of a broken heart. His rival was more
favorably treated: his services were forgiven; and Tarik was permitted
to mingle with the crowd of slaves. [189] I am ignorant whether Count
Julian was rewarded with the death which he deserved indeed, though not
from the hands of the Saracens; but the tale of their ingratitude to the
sons of Witiza is disproved by the most unquestionable evidence. The two
royal youths were reinstated in the private patrimony of their father;
but on the decease of Eba, the elder, his daughter was unjustly
despoiled of her portion by the violence of her uncle Sigebut. The
Gothic maid pleaded her cause before the caliph Hashem, and obtained the
restitution of her inheritance; but she was given in marriage to a noble
Arabian, and their two sons, Isaac and Ibrahim, were received in Spain
with the consideration that was due to their origin and riches.

[Footnote 188: This design, which is attested by several Arabian
historians, (Cardonne, tom. i. p. 95, 96,) may be compared with that of
Mithridates, to march from the Crimaea to Rome; or with that of Caesar,
to conquer the East, and return home by the North; and all three are
perhaps surpassed by the real and successful enterprise of Hannibal.]

[Footnote 189: I much regret our loss, or my ignorance, of two Arabic
works of the viiith century, a Life of Musa, and a poem on the exploits
of Tarik. Of these authentic pieces, the former was composed by a
grandson of Musa, who had escaped from the massacre of his kindred; the
latter, by the vizier of the first Abdalrahman, caliph of Spain,
who might have conversed with some of the veterans of the conqueror,
(Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 36, 139.)]

A province is assimilated to the victorious state by the introduction of
strangers and the imitative spirit of the natives; and Spain, which had
been successively tinctured with Punic, and Roman, and Gothic blood,
imbibed, in a few generations, the name and manners of the Arabs. The
first conquerors, and the twenty successive lieutenants of the caliphs,
were attended by a numerous train of civil and military followers, who
preferred a distant fortune to a narrow home: the private and public
interest was promoted by the establishment of faithful colonies; and the
cities of Spain were proud to commemorate the tribe or country of their
Eastern progenitors. The victorious though motley bands of Tarik
and Musa asserted, by the name of Spaniards, their original claim
of conquest; yet they allowed their brethren of Egypt to share their
establishments of Murcia and Lisbon. The royal legion of Damascus was
planted at Cordova; that of Emesa at Seville; that of Kinnisrin or
Chalcis at Jaen; that of Palestine at Algezire and Medina Sidonia. The
natives of Yemen and Persia were scattered round Toledo and the inland
country, and the fertile seats of Grenada were bestowed on ten thousand
horsemen of Syria and Irak, the children of the purest and most noble of
the Arabian tribes. [190] A spirit of emulation, sometimes beneficial,
more frequently dangerous, was nourished by these hereditary factions.
Ten years after the conquest, a map of the province was presented to
the caliph: the seas, the rivers, and the harbors, the inhabitants and
cities, the climate, the soil, and the mineral productions of the earth.
[191] In the space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved
by the agriculture, [192] the manufactures, and the commerce, of
an industrious people; and the effects of their diligence have been
magnified by the idleness of their fancy. The first of the Ommiades who
reigned in Spain solicited the support of the Christians; and in
his edict of peace and protection, he contents himself with a modest
imposition of ten thousand ounces of gold, ten thousand pounds of
silver, ten thousand horses, as many mules, one thousand cuirasses, with
an equal number of helmets and lances. [193] The most powerful of his
successors derived from the same kingdom the annual tribute of twelve
millions and forty-five thousand dinars or pieces of gold, about six
millions of sterling money; [194] a sum which, in the tenth century,
most probably surpassed the united revenues of the Christians monarchs.
His royal seat of Cordova contained six hundred moschs, nine hundred
baths, and two hundred thousand houses; he gave laws to eighty cities
of the first, to three hundred of the second and third order; and the
fertile banks of the Guadalquivir were adorned with twelve thousand
villages and hamlets. The Arabs might exaggerate the truth, but they
created and they describe the most prosperous aera of the riches, the
cultivation, and the populousness of Spain. [195]

[Footnote 190: Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32, 252. The former
of these quotations is taken from a Biographia Hispanica, by an Arabian
of Valentia, (see the copious Extracts of Casiri, tom. ii. p. 30-121;)
and the latter from a general Chronology of the Caliphs, and of the
African and Spanish Dynasties, with a particular History of the
kingdom of Grenada, of which Casiri has given almost an entire version,
(Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 177-319.) The author, Ebn
Khateb, a native of Grenada, and a contemporary of Novairi and Abulfeda,
(born A.D. 1313, died A.D. 1374,) was an historian, geographer,
physician, poet, &c., (tom. ii. p. 71, 72.)]

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

[Footnote 192: A copious treatise of husbandry, by an Arabian of
Seville, in the xiith century, is in the Escurial library, and Casiri
had some thoughts of translating it. He gives a list of the authors
quoted, Arabs as well as Greeks, Latins, &c.; but it is much if the
Andalusian saw these strangers through the medium of his countryman
Columella, (Casiri, Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 323-338.)]

[Footnote 193: Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 104. Casiri
translates the original testimony of the historian Rasis, as it is
alleged in the Arabic Biographia Hispanica, pars ix. But I am
most exceedingly surprised at the address, Principibus caeterisque
Christianis, Hispanis suis Castellae. The name of Castellae was unknown
in the viiith century; the kingdom was not erected till the year 1022,
a hundred years after the time of Rasis, (Bibliot. tom. ii. p. 330,) and
the appellation was always expressive, not of a tributary province, but
of a line of castles independent of the Moorish yoke, (D'Anville, Etats
de l'Europe, p. 166-170.) Had Casiri been a critic, he would have
cleared a difficulty, perhaps of his own making.]

[Footnote 194: Cardonne, tom. i. p. 337, 338. He computes the revenue at
130,000,000 of French livres. The entire picture of peace and prosperity
relieves the bloody uniformity of the Moorish annals.]

[Footnote 195: I am happy enough to possess a splendid and interesting
work which has only been distributed in presents by the court of Madrid
Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana Escurialensis, opera et studio Michaelis
Casiri, Syro Maronitoe. Matriti, in folio, tomus prior, 1760, tomus
posterior, 1770. The execution of this work does honor to the Spanish
press; the Mss., to the number of MDCCCLI., are judiciously classed by
the editor, and his copious extracts throw some light on the Mahometan
literature and history of Spain. These relics are now secure, but the
task has been supinely delayed, till, in the year 1671, a fire consumed
the greatest part of the Escurial library, rich in the spoils of Grenada
and Morocco. * Note: Compare the valuable work of Conde, Historia de la
Dominacion de las Arabes en Espana. Madrid, 1820.--M.]

The wars of the Moslems were sanctified by the prophet; but among the
various precepts and examples of his life, the caliphs selected the
lessons of toleration that might tend to disarm the resistance of the
unbelievers. Arabia was the temple and patrimony of the God of Mahomet;
but he beheld with less jealousy and affection the nations of the earth.
The polytheists and idolaters, who were ignorant of his name, might be
lawfully extirpated by his votaries; [196] but a wise policy supplied
the obligation of justice; and after some acts of intolerant zeal, the
Mahometan conquerors of Hindostan have spared the pagods of that devout
and populous country. The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of Jesus,
were solemnly invited to accept the more perfect revelation of Mahomet;
but if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they were
entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship. [197] In a
field of battle the forfeit lives of the prisoners were redeemed by the
profession of Islam; the females were bound to embrace the religion of
their masters, and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied
by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of African
and Asiatic converts, who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs,
must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief
in one God and the apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence and
the loss of a foreskin, the subject or the slave, the captive or
the criminal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the
victorious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was
dissolved: the vow of celibacy was superseded by the indulgence of
nature; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were awakened by
the trumpet of the Saracens; and in the convulsion of the world, every
member of a new society ascended to the natural level of his capacity
and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted by the invisible as
well as temporal blessings of the Arabian prophet; and charity will
hope that many of his proselytes entertained a serious conviction of
the truth and sanctity of his revelation. In the eyes of an inquisitive
polytheist, it must appear worthy of the human and the divine nature.
More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of
Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason
than the creed of mystery and superstition, which, in the seventh
century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospel.

[Footnote 196: The Harbii, as they are styled, qui tolerari nequeunt,
are, 1. Those who, besides God, worship the sun, moon, or idols. 2.
Atheists, Utrique, quamdiu princeps aliquis inter Mohammedanos superest,
oppugnari debent donec religionem amplectantur, nec requies iis
concedenda est, nec pretium acceptandum pro obtinenda conscientiae
libertate, (Reland, Dissertat. x. de Jure Militari Mohammedan. tom. iii.
p. 14;) a rigid theory!]

[Footnote 197: The distinction between a proscribed and a tolerated
sect, between the Harbii and the people of the Book, the believers in
some divine revelation, is correctly defined in the conversation of the
caliph Al Mamum with the idolaters or Sabaeans of Charrae, (Hottinger,
Hist. Orient. p. 107, 108.)]

In the extensive provinces of Persia and Africa, the national religion
has been eradicated by the Mahometan faith. The ambiguous theology
of the Magi stood alone among the sects of the East; but the profane
writings of Zoroaster [198] might, under the reverend name of Abraham,
be dexterously connected with the chain of divine revelation. Their evil
principle, the daemon Ahriman, might be represented as the rival, or as
the creature, of the God of light. The temples of Persia were devoid of
images; but the worship of the sun and of fire might be stigmatized as a
gross and criminal idolatry. [199] The milder sentiment was consecrated
by the practice of Mahomet [200] and the prudence of the caliphs; the
Magians or Ghebers were ranked with the Jews and Christians among the
people of the written law; [201] and as late as the third century of the
Hegira, the city of Herat will afford a lively contrast of private zeal
and public toleration. [202] Under the payment of an annual tribute, the
Mahometan law secured to the Ghebers of Herat their civil and religious
liberties: but the recent and humble mosch was overshadowed by the
antique splendor of the adjoining temple of fire. A fanatic Iman
deplored, in his sermons, the scandalous neighborhood, and accused the
weakness or indifference of the faithful. Excited by his voice, the
people assembled in tumult; the two houses of prayer were consumed
by the flames, but the vacant ground was immediately occupied by the
foundations of a new mosch. The injured Magi appealed to the sovereign
of Chorasan; he promised justice and relief; when, behold! four thousand
citizens of Herat, of a grave character and mature age, unanimously
swore that the idolatrous fane had never existed; the inquisition was
silenced and their conscience was satisfied (says the historian Mirchond
[203] with this holy and meritorious perjury. [204] But the greatest
part of the temples of Persia were ruined by the insensible and general
desertion of their votaries.

It was insensible, since it is not accompanied with any memorial of time
or place, of persecution or resistance. It was general, since the whole
realm, from Shiraz to Samarcand, imbibed the faith of the Koran; and the
preservation of the native tongue reveals the descent of the Mahometans
of Persia. [205] In the mountains and deserts, an obstinate race of
unbelievers adhered to the superstition of their fathers; and a faint
tradition of the Magian theology is kept alive in the province of
Kirman, along the banks of the Indus, among the exiles of Surat, and in
the colony which, in the last century, was planted by Shaw Abbas at
the gates of Ispahan. The chief pontiff has retired to Mount Elbourz,
eighteen leagues from the city of Yezd: the perpetual fire (if it
continues to burn) is inaccessible to the profane; but his residence is
the school, the oracle, and the pilgrimage of the Ghebers, whose hard
and uniform features attest the unmingled purity of their blood. Under
the jurisdiction of their elders, eighty thousand families maintain an
innocent and industrious life: their subsistence is derived from some
curious manufactures and mechanic trades; and they cultivate the earth
with the fervor of a religious duty. Their ignorance withstood the
despotism of Shaw Abbas, who demanded with threats and tortures the
prophetic books of Zoroaster; and this obscure remnant of the Magians is
spared by the moderation or contempt of their present sovereigns. [206]

[Footnote 198: The Zend or Pazend, the bible of the Ghebers, is reckoned
by themselves, or at least by the Mahometans, among the ten books which
Abraham received from heaven; and their religion is honorably styled
the religion of Abraham, (D'Herblot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 701; Hyde, de
Religione veterum Persarum, c, iii. p. 27, 28, &c.) I much fear that we
do not possess any pure and free description of the system of Zoroaster.
[1981] Dr. Prideaux (Connection, vol. i. p. 300, octavo) adopts the
opinion, that he had been the slave and scholar of some Jewish prophet
in the captivity of Babylon. Perhaps the Persians, who have been the
masters of the Jews, would assert the honor, a poor honor, of being
their masters.]

[Footnote 1981: Whatever the real age of the Zendavesta, published by
Anquetil du Perron, whether of the time of Ardeschir Babeghan, according
to Mr. Erskine, or of much higher antiquity, it may be considered, I
conceive, both a "pure and a free," though imperfect, description of
Zoroastrianism; particularly with the illustrations of the original
translator, and of the German Kleuker--M.]

[Footnote 199: The Arabian Nights, a faithful and amusing picture of the
Oriental world, represent in the most odious colors of the Magians, or
worshippers of fire, to whom they attribute the annual sacrifice of a
Mussulman. The religion of Zoroaster has not the least affinity with
that of the Hindoos, yet they are often confounded by the Mahometans;
and the sword of Timour was 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, 115.)]

[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

[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.

[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 Arabs.]

[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

[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 Turks.]

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,

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

[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, [1111] 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. [1112] 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. [1211] 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.
[1411] 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

[Footnote 1111: 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 1112: 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 1211: 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

[Footnote 1411: The Tarikh Tebry embellishes the retreat of Moslemah
with some extraordinary and incredible circumstances. Price, p.

[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

[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 research.]

[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 Lutrin.]

[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

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.

[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

[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 [3511] 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. 140.)]

[Footnote 3511: 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, 205.)]

[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 February.]

[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

[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 arithmetic.]

[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,

[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 geometry.]

[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 Abulpharagius.]

[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

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 philosophy.]

[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.

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

[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

[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

[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

[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 year of submission. But when the unnatural mother
of Constantine was deposed and banished, her successor, Nicephorus,
resolved to obliterate this badge of servitude and disgrace. The epistle
of the emperor to the caliph was pointed with an allusion to the game
of chess, which had already spread from Persia to Greece. "The queen (he
spoke of Irene) considered you as a rook, and herself as a pawn. That
pusillanimous female submitted to pay a tribute, the double of which she
ought to have exacted from the Barbarians. Restore therefore the fruits
of your injustice, or abide the determination of the sword." At these
words the ambassadors cast a bundle of swords before the foot of the
throne. The caliph smiled at the menace, and drawing his cimeter,
samsamah, a weapon of historic or fabulous renown, he cut asunder the
feeble arms of the Greeks, without turning the edge, or endangering the
temper, of his blade. He then dictated an epistle of tremendous brevity:
"In the name of the most merciful God, Harun al Rashid, commander of the
faithful, to Nicephorus, the Roman dog. I have read thy letter, O thou
son of an unbelieving mother. Thou shalt not hear, thou shalt behold, my
reply." It was written in characters of blood and fire on the plains of
Phrygia; and the warlike celerity of the Arabs could only be checked by
the arts of deceit and the show of repentance.

The triumphant caliph retired, after the fatigues of the campaign, to
his favorite palace of Racca on the Euphrates: [76] but the distance
of five hundred miles, and the inclemency of the season, encouraged his
adversary to violate the peace. Nicephorus was astonished by the bold
and rapid march of the commander of the faithful, who repassed, in the
depth of winter, the snows of Mount Taurus: his stratagems of policy and
war were exhausted; and the perfidious Greek escaped with three wounds
from a field of battle overspread with forty thousand of his subjects.
Yet the emperor was ashamed of submission, and the caliph was resolved
on victory. One hundred and thirty-five thousand regular soldiers
received pay, and were inscribed in the military roll; and above three
hundred thousand persons of every denomination marched under the black
standard of the Abbassides. They swept the surface of Asia Minor far
beyond Tyana and Ancyra, and invested the Pontic Heraclea, [77] once
a flourishing state, now a paltry town; at that time capable of
sustaining, in her antique walls, a month's siege against the forces of
the East. The ruin was complete, the spoil was ample; but if Harun had
been conversant with Grecian story, he would have regretted the statue
of Hercules, whose attributes, the club, the bow, the quiver, and the
lion's hide, were sculptured in massy gold. The progress of desolation
by sea and land, from the Euxine to the Isle of Cyprus, compelled the
emperor Nicephorus to retract his haughty defiance. In the new treaty,
the ruins of Heraclea were left forever as a lesson and a trophy; and
the coin of the tribute was marked with the image and superscription
of Harun and his three sons. [78] Yet this plurality of lords might
contribute to remove the dishonor of the Roman name. After the death of
their father, the heirs of the caliph were involved in civil discord,
and the conqueror, the liberal Almamon, was sufficiently engaged in the
restoration of domestic peace and the introduction of foreign science.

[Footnote 75: See the reign and character of Harun Al Rashid, in the
Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 431-433, under his proper title; and in the
relative articles to which M. D'Herbelot refers. That learned collector
has shown much taste in stripping the Oriental chronicles of their
instructive and amusing anecdotes.]

[Footnote 76: For the situation of Racca, the old Nicephorium, consult
D'Anville, (l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 24-27.) The Arabian Nights
represent Harun al Rashid as almost stationary in Bagdad. He respected
the royal seat of the Abbassides: but the vices of the inhabitants had
driven him from the city, (Abulfed. Annal. p. 167.)]

[Footnote 77: M. de Tournefort, in his coasting voyage from
Constantinople to Trebizond, passed a night at Heraclea or Eregri. His
eye surveyed the present state, his reading collected the antiquities,
of the city (Voyage du Levant, tom. iii. lettre xvi. p. 23-35.) We have
a separate history of Heraclea in the fragments of Memnon, which are
preserved by Photius.]

[Footnote 78: The wars of Harun al Rashid against the Roman empire are
related by Theophanes, (p. 384, 385, 391, 396, 407, 408.) Zonaras, (tom.
iii. l. xv. p. 115, 124,) Cedrenus, (p. 477, 478,) Eutycaius,
(Annal. tom. ii. p. 407,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen. p. 136, 151, 152,)
Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 147, 151,) and Abulfeda, (p. 156, 166-168.)]

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part IV.

Under the reign of Almamon at Bagdad, of Michael the Stammerer at
Constantinople, the islands of Crete [79] and Sicily were subdued by the
Arabs. The former of these conquests is disdained by their own writers,
who were ignorant of the fame of Jupiter and Minos, but it has not been
overlooked by the Byzantine historians, who now begin to cast a clearer
light on the affairs of their own times. [80] A band of Andalusian
volunteers, discontented with the climate or government of Spain,
explored the adventures of the sea; but as they sailed in no more than
ten or twenty galleys, their warfare must be branded with the name of
piracy. As the subjects and sectaries of the white party, they might
lawfully invade the dominions of the black caliphs. A rebellious faction
introduced them into Alexandria; [81] they cut in pieces both friends
and foes, pillaged the churches and the moschs, sold above six thousand
Christian captives, and maintained their station in the capital of
Egypt, till they were oppressed by the forces and the presence of
Almamon himself. From the mouth of the Nile to the Hellespont, the
islands and sea-coasts both of the Greeks and Moslems were exposed to
their depredations; they saw, they envied, they tasted the fertility of
Crete, and soon returned with forty galleys to a more serious attack.
The Andalusians wandered over the land fearless and unmolested; but when
they descended with their plunder to the sea-shore, their vessels were
in flames, and their chief, Abu Caab, confessed himself the author of
the mischief. Their clamors accused his madness or treachery. "Of what
do you complain?" replied the crafty emir. "I have brought you to a land
flowing with milk and honey. Here is your true country; repose from your
toils, and forget the barren place of your nativity." "And our wives and
children?" "Your beauteous captives will supply the place of your
wives, and in their embraces you will soon become the fathers of a new
progeny." The first habitation was their camp, with a ditch and rampart,
in the Bay of Suda; but an apostate monk led them to a more desirable
position in the eastern parts; and the name of Candax, their fortress
and colony, has been extended to the whole island, under the corrupt
and modern appellation of Candia. The hundred cities of the age of
Minos were diminished to thirty; and of these, only one, most probably
Cydonia, had courage to retain the substance of freedom and the
profession of Christianity. The Saracens of Crete soon repaired the loss
of their navy; and the timbers of Mount Ida were launched into the
main. During a hostile period of one hundred and thirty-eight years,
the princes of Constantinople attacked these licentious corsairs with
fruitless curses and ineffectual arms.

[Footnote 79: The authors from whom I have learned the most of the
ancient and modern state of Crete, are Belon, (Observations, &c., c.
3-20, Paris, 1555,) Tournefort, (Voyage du Levant, tom. i. lettre ii.
et iii.,) and Meursius, (Creta, in his works, tom. iii. p. 343-544.)
Although Crete is styled by Homer, by Dionysius, I cannot conceive
that mountainous island to surpass, or even to equal, in fertility the
greater part of Spain.]

[Footnote 80: The most authentic and circumstantial intelligence is
obtained from the four books of the Continuation of Theophanes, compiled
by the pen or the command of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, with the Life
of his father Basil, the Macedonian, (Scriptores post Theophanem, p.
1-162, a Francisc. Combefis, Paris, 1685.) The loss of Crete and Sicily
is related, l. ii. p. 46-52. To these we may add the secondary evidence
of Joseph Genesius, (l. ii. p. 21, Venet. 1733,) George Cedrenus,
(Compend. p. 506-508,) and John Scylitzes Curopalata, (apud Baron.
Annal. Eccles. A.D. 827, No. 24, &c.) But the modern Greeks are such
notorious plagiaries, that I should only quote a plurality of names.]

[Footnote 81: Renaudot (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 251-256, 268-270) had
described the ravages of the Andalusian Arabs in Egypt, but has forgot
to connect them with the conquest of Crete.]

The loss of Sicily [82] was occasioned by an act of superstitious rigor.
An amorous youth, who had stolen a nun from her cloister, was sentenced
by the emperor to the amputation of his tongue. Euphemius appealed to
the reason and policy of the Saracens of Africa; and soon returned with
the Imperial purple, a fleet of one hundred ships, and an army of seven
hundred horse and ten thousand foot. They landed at Mazara near the
ruins of the ancient Selinus; but after some partial victories, Syracuse
[83] was delivered by the Greeks, the apostate was slain before her
walls, and his African friends were reduced to the necessity of feeding
on the flesh of their own horses. In their turn they were relieved by a
powerful reenforcement of their brethren of Andalusia; the largest and
western part of the island was gradually reduced, and the commodious
harbor of Palermo was chosen for the seat of the naval and military
power of the Saracens. Syracuse preserved about fifty years the faith
which she had sworn to Christ and to Caesar. In the last and fatal
siege, her citizens displayed some remnant of the spirit which had
formerly resisted the powers of Athens and Carthage. They stood above
twenty days against the battering-rams and catapultoe, the mines and
tortoises of the besiegers; and the place might have been relieved,
if the mariners of the Imperial fleet had not been detained at
Constantinople in building a church to the Virgin Mary. The deacon
Theodosius, with the bishop and clergy, was dragged in chains from the
altar to Palermo, cast into a subterraneous dungeon, and exposed to
the hourly peril of death or apostasy. His pathetic, and not inelegant,
complaint may be read as the epitaph of his country. [84] From the Roman
conquest to this final calamity, Syracuse, now dwindled to the primitive
Isle of Ortygea, had insensibly declined. Yet the relics were still
precious; the plate of the cathedral weighed five thousand pounds of
silver; the entire spoil was computed at one million of pieces of gold,
(about four hundred thousand pounds sterling,) and the captives must
outnumber the seventeen thousand Christians, who were transported from
the sack of Tauromenium into African servitude. In Sicily, the religion
and language of the Greeks were eradicated; and such was the docility of
the rising generation, that fifteen thousand boys were circumcised and
clothed on the same day with the son of the Fatimite caliph. The Arabian
squadrons issued from the harbors of Palermo, Biserta, and Tunis; a
hundred and fifty towns of Calabria and Campania were attacked and
pillaged; nor could the suburbs of Rome be defended by the name of the
Caesars and apostles. Had the Mahometans been united, Italy must have
fallen an easy and glorious accession to the empire of the prophet.
But the caliphs of Bagdad had lost their authority in the West; the
Aglabites and Fatimites usurped the provinces of Africa, their emirs of
Sicily aspired to independence; and the design of conquest and dominion
was degraded to a repetition of predatory inroads. [85]

[Footnote 82: Theophanes, l. ii. p. 51. This history of the loss of
Sicily is no longer extant. Muratori (Annali d' Italia, tom. vii.
p. 719, 721, &c.) has added some circumstances from the Italian

[Footnote 83: The splendid and interesting tragedy of Tancrede would
adapt itself much better to this epoch, than to the date (A.D. 1005)
which Voltaire himself has chosen. But I must gently reproach the poet
for infusing into the Greek subjects the spirit of modern knights and
ancient republicans.]

[Footnote 84: The narrative or lamentation of Theodosius is transcribed
and illustrated by Pagi, (Critica, tom. iii. p. 719, &c.) Constantine
Porphyrogenitus (in Vit. Basil, c. 69, 70, p. 190-192) mentions the
loss of Syracuse and the triumph of the demons.]

[Footnote 85: The extracts from the Arabic histories of Sicily are given
in Abulfeda, (Annal' Moslem. p. 271-273,) and in the first volume of
Muratori's Scriptores Rerum Italicarum. M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns,
tom. i. p. 363, 364) has added some important facts.]

In the sufferings of prostrate Italy, the name of Rome awakens a solemn
and mournful recollection. A fleet of Saracens from the African coast
presumed to enter the mouth of the Tyber, and to approach a city which
even yet, in her fallen state, was revered as the metropolis of the
Christian world. The gates and ramparts were guarded by a trembling
people; but the tombs and temples of St. Peter and St. Paul were left
exposed in the suburbs of the Vatican and of the Ostian way. Their
invisible sanctity had protected them against the Goths, the Vandals,
and the Lombards; but the Arabs disdained both the gospel and the
legend; and their rapacious spirit was approved and animated by the
precepts of the Koran. The Christian idols were stripped of their costly
offerings; a silver altar was torn away from the shrine of St. Peter;
and if the bodies or the buildings were left entire, their deliverance
must be imputed to the haste, rather than the scruples, of the Saracens.
In their course along the Appian way, they pillaged Fundi and besieged
Gayeta; but they had turned aside from the walls of Rome, and by their
divisions, the Capitol was saved from the yoke of the prophet of Mecca.
The same danger still impended on the heads of the Roman people; and
their domestic force was unequal to the assault of an African emir. They
claimed the protection of their Latin sovereign; but the Carlovingian
standard was overthrown by a detachment of the Barbarians: they
meditated the restoration of the Greek emperors; but the attempt was
treasonable, and the succor remote and precarious. [86] Their distress
appeared to receive some aggravation from the death of their spiritual
and temporal chief; but the pressing emergency superseded the forms
and intrigues of an election; and the unanimous choice of Pope Leo the
Fourth [87] was the safety of the church and city. This pontiff was born
a Roman; the courage of the first ages of the republic glowed in his
breast; and, amidst the ruins of his country, he stood erect, like one
of the firm and lofty columns that rear their heads above the fragments
of the Roman forum. The first days of his reign were consecrated to the
purification and removal of relics, to prayers and processions, and to
all the solemn offices of religion, which served at least to heal the
imagination, and restore the hopes, of the multitude. The public defence
had been long neglected, not from the presumption of peace, but from the
distress and poverty of the times. As far as the scantiness of his means
and the shortness of his leisure would allow, the ancient walls were
repaired by the command of Leo; fifteen towers, in the most accessible
stations, were built or renewed; two of these commanded on either side
of the Tyber; and an iron chain was drawn across the stream to impede
the ascent of a hostile navy. The Romans were assured of a short respite
by the welcome news, that the siege of Gayeta had been raised, and that
a part of the enemy, with their sacrilegious plunder, had perished in
the waves.

[Footnote 86: One of the most eminent Romans (Gratianus, magister
militum et Romani palatii superista) was accused of declaring, Quia
Franci nihil nobis boni faciunt, neque adjutorium praebent, sed magis
quae nostra sunt violenter tollunt. Quare non advocamus Graecos, et cum
eis foedus pacis componentes, Francorum regem et gentem de nostro regno
et dominatione expellimus? Anastasius in Leone IV. p. 199.]

[Footnote 87: Voltaire (Hist. Generale, tom. ii. c. 38, p. 124) appears
to be remarkably struck with the character of Pope Leo IV. I have
borrowed his general expression, but the sight of the forum has
furnished me with a more distinct and lively image.]

But the storm, which had been delayed, soon burst upon them with
redoubled violence. The Aglabite, [88] who reigned in Africa, had
inherited from his father a treasure and an army: a fleet of Arabs and
Moors, after a short refreshment in the harbors of Sardinia, cast anchor
before the mouth of the Tyber, sixteen miles from the city: and their
discipline and numbers appeared to threaten, not a transient inroad, but
a serious design of conquest and dominion. But the vigilance of Leo had
formed an alliance with the vassals of the Greek empire, the free
and maritime states of Gayeta, Naples, and Amalfi; and in the hour of
danger, their galleys appeared in the port of Ostia under the command
of Caesarius, the son of the Neapolitan duke, a noble and valiant
youth, who had already vanquished the fleets of the Saracens. With his
principal companions, Caesarius was invited to the Lateran palace, and
the dexterous pontiff affected to inquire their errand, and to accept
with joy and surprise their providential succor. The city bands, in
arms, attended their father to Ostia, where he reviewed and blessed his
generous deliverers. They kissed his feet, received the communion with
martial devotion, and listened to the prayer of Leo, that the same God
who had supported St. Peter and St. Paul on the waves of the sea, would
strengthen the hands of his champions against the adversaries of his
holy name. After a similar prayer, and with equal resolution, the
Moslems advanced to the attack of the Christian galleys, which preserved
their advantageous station along the coast. The victory inclined to the
side of the allies, when it was less gloriously decided in their favor
by a sudden tempest, which confounded the skill and courage of the
stoutest mariners. The Christians were sheltered in a friendly harbor,
while the Africans were scattered and dashed in pieces among the rocks
and islands of a hostile shore. Those who escaped from shipwreck
and hunger neither found, nor deserved, mercy at the hands of their
implacable pursuers. The sword and the gibbet reduced the dangerous
multitude of captives; and the remainder was more usefully employed,
to restore the sacred edifices which they had attempted to subvert.
The pontiff, at the head of the citizens and allies, paid his grateful
devotion at the shrines of the apostles; and, among the spoils of this
naval victory, thirteen Arabian bows of pure and massy silver were
suspended round the altar of the fishermen of Galilee. The reign of Leo
the Fourth was employed in the defence and ornament of the Roman state.
The churches were renewed and embellished: near four thousand pounds
of silver were consecrated to repair the losses of St. Peter; and
his sanctuary was decorated with a plate of gold of the weight of two
hundred and sixteen pounds, embossed with the portraits of the pope
and emperor, and encircled with a string of pearls. Yet this vain
magnificence reflects less glory on the character of Leo than the
paternal care with which he rebuilt the walls of Horta and Ameria;
and transported the wandering inhabitants of Centumcellae to his new
foundation of Leopolis, twelve miles from the sea-shore. [89] By his
liberality, a colony of Corsicans, with their wives and children, was
planted in the station of Porto, at the mouth of the Tyber: the falling
city was restored for their use, the fields and vineyards were divided
among the new settlers: their first efforts were assisted by a gift of
horses and cattle; and the hardy exiles, who breathed revenge against
the Saracens, swore to live and die under the standard of St. Peter. The
nations of the West and North who visited the threshold of the apostles
had gradually formed the large and populous suburb of the Vatican, and
their various habitations were distinguished, in the language of the
times, as the schools of the Greeks and Goths, of the Lombards and
Saxons. But this venerable spot was still open to sacrilegious insult:
the design of enclosing it with walls and towers exhausted all that
authority could command, or charity would supply: and the pious labor
of four years was animated in every season, and at every hour, by the
presence of the indefatigable pontiff. The love of fame, a generous but
worldly passion, may be detected in the name of the Leonine city, which
he bestowed on the Vatican; yet the pride of the dedication was tempered
with Christian penance and humility. The boundary was trod by the bishop
and his clergy, barefoot, in sackcloth and ashes; the songs of triumph
were modulated to psalms and litanies; the walls were besprinkled with
holy water; and the ceremony was concluded with a prayer, that, under
the guardian care of the apostles and the angelic host, both the old and
the new Rome might ever be preserved pure, prosperous, and impregnable.

[Footnote 88: De Guignes, Hist. Generale des Huns, tom. i. p. 363, 364.
Cardonne, Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, sous la Domination
des Arabs, tom. ii. p. 24, 25. I observe, and cannot reconcile, the
difference of these writers in the succession of the Aglabites.]

[Footnote 89: Beretti (Chorographia Italiae Medii Evi, p. 106, 108)
has illustrated Centumcellae, Leopolis, Civitas Leonina, and the other
places of the Roman duchy.]

[Footnote 90: The Arabs and the Greeks are alike silent concerning the
invasion of Rome by the Africans. The Latin chronicles do not afford
much instruction, (see the Annals of Baronius and Pagi.) Our authentic
and contemporary guide for the popes of the ixth century is Anastasius,
librarian of the Roman church. His Life of Leo IV, contains twenty-four
pages, (p. 175-199, edit. Paris;) and if a great part consist of
superstitious trifles, we must blame or command his hero, who was much
oftener in a church than in a camp.]

The emperor Theophilus, son of Michael the Stammerer, was one of the
most active and high-spirited princes who reigned at Constantinople
during the middle age. In offensive or defensive war, he marched in
person five times against the Saracens, formidable in his attack,
esteemed by the enemy in his losses and defeats. In the last of these
expeditions he penetrated into Syria, and besieged the obscure town of
Sozopetra; the casual birthplace of the caliph Motassem, whose father
Harun was attended in peace or war by the most favored of his wives and
concubines. The revolt of a Persian impostor employed at that moment the
arms of the Saracen, and he could only intercede in favor of a place for
which he felt and acknowledged some degree of filial affection. These
solicitations determined the emperor to wound his pride in so sensible a
part. Sozopetra was levelled with the ground, the Syrian prisoners were
marked or mutilated with ignominious cruelty, and a thousand female
captives were forced away from the adjacent territory. Among these a
matron of the house of Abbas invoked, in an agony of despair, the name
of Motassem; and the insults of the Greeks engaged the honor of her
kinsman to avenge his indignity, and to answer her appeal. Under the
reign of the two elder brothers, the inheritance of the youngest
had been confined to Anatolia, Armenia, Georgia, and Circassia; this
frontier station had exercised his military talents; and among his
accidental claims to the name of Octonary, [91] the most meritorious are
the eight battles which he gained or fought against the enemies of the
Koran. In this personal quarrel, the troops of Irak, Syria, and Egypt,
were recruited from the tribes of Arabia and the Turkish hordes; his
cavalry might be numerous, though we should deduct some myriads from the
hundred and thirty thousand horses of the royal stables; and the expense
of the armament was computed at four millions sterling, or one hundred
thousand pounds of gold. From Tarsus, the place of assembly,
the Saracens advanced in three divisions along the high road of
Constantinople: Motassem himself commanded the centre, and the vanguard
was given to his son Abbas, who, in the trial of the first adventures,
might succeed with the more glory, or fail with the least reproach. In
the revenge of his injury, the caliph prepared to retaliate a similar
affront. The father of Theophilus was a native of Amorium [92] in
Phrygia: the original seat of the Imperial house had been adorned with
privileges and monuments; and, whatever might be the indifference of the
people, Constantinople itself was scarcely of more value in the eyes of
the sovereign and his court. The name of Amorium was inscribed on the
shields of the Saracens; and their three armies were again united
under the walls of the devoted city. It had been proposed by the wisest
counsellors, to evacuate Amorium, to remove the inhabitants, and to
abandon the empty structures to the vain resentment of the Barbarians.
The emperor embraced the more generous resolution of defending, in a
siege and battle, the country of his ancestors. When the armies drew
near, the front of the Mahometan line appeared to a Roman eye more
closely planted with spears and javelins; but the event of the action
was not glorious on either side to the national troops. The Arabs were
broken, but it was by the swords of thirty thousand Persians, who had
obtained service and settlement in the Byzantine empire. The Greeks
were repulsed and vanquished, but it was by the arrows of the Turkish
cavalry; and had not their bowstrings been damped and relaxed by the
evening rain, very few of the Christians could have escaped with the
emperor from the field of battle. They breathed at Dorylaeum, at
the distance of three days; and Theophilus, reviewing his trembling
squadrons, forgave the common flight both of the prince and people.
After this discovery of his weakness, he vainly hoped to deprecate
the fate of Amorium: the inexorable caliph rejected with contempt his
prayers and promises; and detained the Roman ambassadors to be the
witnesses of his great revenge. They had nearly been the witnesses of
his shame. The vigorous assaults of fifty-five days were encountered by
a faithful governor, a veteran garrison, and a desperate people; and
the Saracens must have raised the siege, if a domestic traitor had not
pointed to the weakest part of the wall, a place which was decorated
with the statues of a lion and a bull. The vow of Motassem was
accomplished with unrelenting rigor: tired, rather than satiated,
with destruction, he returned to his new palace of Samara, in the
neighborhood of Bagdad, while the unfortunate [93] Theophilus implored
the tardy and doubtful aid of his Western rival the emperor of the
Franks. Yet in the siege of Amorium about seventy thousand Moslems
had perished: their loss had been revenged by the slaughter of thirty
thousand Christians, and the sufferings of an equal number of captives,
who were treated as the most atrocious criminals. Mutual necessity could
sometimes extort the exchange or ransom of prisoners: [94] but in the
national and religious conflict of the two empires, peace was without
confidence, and war without mercy. Quarter was seldom given in the
field; those who escaped the edge of the sword were condemned to
hopeless servitude, or exquisite torture; and a Catholic emperor
relates, with visible satisfaction, the execution of the Saracens of
Crete, who were flayed alive, or plunged into caldrons of boiling oil.
[95] To a point of honor Motassem had sacrificed a flourishing city, two
hundred thousand lives, and the property of millions. The same caliph
descended from his horse, and dirtied his robe, to relieve the distress
of a decrepit old man, who, with his laden ass, had tumbled into a
ditch. On which of these actions did he reflect with the most pleasure,
when he was summoned by the angel of death? [96]

[Footnote 91: The same number was applied to the following circumstance
in the life of Motassem: he was the eight of the Abbassides; he reigned
eight years, eight months, and eight days; left eight sons, eight
daughters, eight thousand slaves, eight millions of gold.]

[Footnote 92: Amorium is seldom mentioned by the old geographers, and
to tally forgotten in the Roman Itineraries. After the vith century,
it became an episcopal see, and at length the metropolis of the new
Galatia, (Carol. Scto. Paulo, Geograph. Sacra, p. 234.) The city rose
again from its ruins, if we should read Ammeria, not Anguria, in the
text of the Nubian geographer. (p. 236.)]

[Footnote 93: In the East he was styled, (Continuator Theophan. l. iii.
p. 84;) but such was the ignorance of the West, that his ambassadors,
in public discourse, might boldly narrate, de victoriis, quas adversus
exteras bellando gentes coelitus fuerat assecutus, (Annalist. Bertinian.
apud Pagi, tom. iii. p. 720.)]

[Footnote 94: Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 167, 168) relates one of these
singular transactions on the bridge of the River Lamus in Cilicia, the
limit of the two empires, and one day's journey westward of Tarsus,
(D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 91.) Four thousand four
hundred and sixty Moslems, eight hundred women and children, one hundred
confederates, were exchanged for an equal number of Greeks. They passed
each other in the middle of the bridge, and when they reached their
respective friends, they shouted Allah Acbar, and Kyrie Eleison. Many of
the prisoners of Amorium were probably among them, but in the same year,
(A. H. 231,) the most illustrious of them, the forty two martyrs, were
beheaded by the caliph's order.]

[Footnote 95: Constantin. Porphyrogenitus, in Vit. Basil. c. 61, p. 186.
These Saracens were indeed treated with peculiar severity as pirates and

[Footnote 96: For Theophilus, Motassem, and the Amorian war, see the
Continuator of Theophanes, (l. iii. p. 77-84,) Genesius (l. iii. p.
24-34.) Cedrenus, (p. 528-532,) Elmacin, (Hist. Saracen, p. 180,)
Abulpharagius, (Dynast. p. 165, 166,) Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 191,)
D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 639, 640.)]

With Motassem, the eighth of the Abbassides, the glory of his family and
nation expired. When the Arabian conquerors had spread themselves over
the East, and were mingled with the servile crowds of Persia, Syria,
and Egypt, they insensibly lost the freeborn and martial virtues of the
desert. The courage of the South is the artificial fruit of discipline
and prejudice; the active power of enthusiasm had decayed, and the
mercenary forces of the caliphs were recruited in those climates of the
North, of which valor is the hardy and spontaneous production. Of the
Turks [97] who dwelt beyond the Oxus and Jaxartes, the robust youths,
either taken in war or purchased in trade, were educated in the
exercises of the field, and the profession of the Mahometan faith. The
Turkish guards stood in arms round the throne of their benefactor,
and their chiefs usurped the dominion of the palace and the provinces.
Motassem, the first author of this dangerous example, introduced
into the capital above fifty thousand Turks: their licentious conduct
provoked the public indignation, and the quarrels of the soldiers and
people induced the caliph to retire from Bagdad, and establish his
own residence and the camp of his Barbarian favorites at Samara on
the Tigris, about twelve leagues above the city of Peace. [98] His son
Motawakkel was a jealous and cruel tyrant: odious to his subjects, he
cast himself on the fidelity of the strangers, and these strangers,
ambitious and apprehensive, were tempted by the rich promise of a
revolution. At the instigation, or at least in the cause of his son,
they burst into his apartment at the hour of supper, and the caliph
was cut into seven pieces by the same swords which he had recently
distributed among the guards of his life and throne. To this throne, yet
streaming with a father's blood, Montasser was triumphantly led; but in
a reign of six months, he found only the pangs of a guilty conscience.
If he wept at the sight of an old tapestry which represented the crime
and punishment of the son of Chosroes, if his days were abridged by
grief and remorse, we may allow some pity to a parricide, who exclaimed,
in the bitterness of death, that he had lost both this world and the
world to come. After this act of treason, the ensigns of royalty, the
garment and walking-staff of Mahomet, were given and torn away by the
foreign mercenaries, who in four years created, deposed, and murdered,
three commanders of the faithful. As often as the Turks were inflamed
by fear, or rage, or avarice, these caliphs were dragged by the
feet, exposed naked to the scorching sun, beaten with iron clubs, and
compelled to purchase, by the abdication of their dignity, a short
reprieve of inevitable fate. [99] At length, however, the fury of the
tempest was spent or diverted: the Abbassides returned to the less
turbulent residence of Bagdad; the insolence of the Turks was curbed
with a firmer and more skilful hand, and their numbers were divided
and destroyed in foreign warfare. But the nations of the East had been
taught to trample on the successors of the prophet; and the blessings
of domestic peace were obtained by the relaxation of strength and
discipline. So uniform are the mischiefs of military despotism, that I
seem to repeat the story of the praetorians of Rome. [100]

[Footnote 97: M. de Guignes, who sometimes leaps, and sometimes
stumbles, in the gulf between Chinese and Mahometan story, thinks he
can see, that these Turks are the Hoei-ke, alias the Kao-tche, or
high-wagons; that they were divided into fifteen hordes, from China and
Siberia to the dominions of the caliphs and Samanides, &c., (Hist. des
Huns, tom. iii. p. 1-33, 124-131.)]

[Footnote 98: He changed the old name of Sumera, or Samara, into the
fanciful title of Sermen-rai, that which gives pleasure at first sight,
(D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 808. D'Anville, l'Euphrate et le
Tigre p. 97, 98.)]

[Footnote 99: Take a specimen, the death of the caliph Motaz: Correptum
pedibus pertrahunt, et sudibus probe permulcant, et spoliatum laceris
vestibus in sole collocant, prae cujus acerrimo aestu pedes alternos
attollebat et demittebat. Adstantium aliquis misero colaphos continuo
ingerebat, quos ille objectis manibus avertere studebat..... Quo facto
traditus tortori fuit, totoque triduo cibo potuque prohibitus.....
Suffocatus, &c. (Abulfeda, p. 206.) Of the caliph Mohtadi, he says,
services ipsi perpetuis ictibus contundebant, testiculosque pedibus
conculcabant, (p. 208.)]

[Footnote 100: See under the reigns of Motassem, Motawakkel, Montasser,
Mostain, Motaz, Mohtadi, and Motamed, in the Bibliotheque of D'Herbelot,
and the now familiar Annals of Elmacin, Abulpharagius, and Abulfeda.]

While the flame of enthusiasm was damped by the business, the pleasure,
and the knowledge, of the age, it burnt with concentrated heat in the
breasts of the chosen few, the congenial spirits, who were ambitious of
reigning either in this world or in the next. How carefully soever the
book of prophecy had been sealed by the apostle of Mecca, the wishes,
and (if we may profane the word) even the reason, of fanaticism might
believe that, after the successive missions of Adam, Noah, Abraham,
Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet, the same God, in the fulness of time, would
reveal a still more perfect and permanent law. In the two hundred and
seventy-seventh year of the Hegira, and in the neighborhood of Cufa,
an Arabian preacher, of the name of Carmath, assumed the lofty and
incomprehensible style of the Guide, the Director, the Demonstration,
the Word, the Holy Ghost, the Camel, the Herald of the Messiah, who had
conversed with him in a human shape, and the representative of Mohammed
the son of Ali, of St. John the Baptist, and of the angel Gabriel. In
his mystic volume, the precepts of the Koran were refined to a more
spiritual sense: he relaxed the duties of ablution, fasting, and
pilgrimage; allowed the indiscriminate use of wine and forbidden food;
and nourished the fervor of his disciples by the daily repetition of
fifty prayers. The idleness and ferment of the rustic crowd awakened the
attention of the magistrates of Cufa; a timid persecution assisted
the progress of the new sect; and the name of the prophet became more
revered after his person had been withdrawn from the world. His twelve
apostles dispersed themselves among the Bedoweens, "a race of men," says
Abulfeda, "equally devoid of reason and of religion;" and the success
of their preaching seemed to threaten Arabia with a new revolution. The
Carmathians were ripe for rebellion, since they disclaimed the title
of the house of Abbas, and abhorred the worldly pomp of the caliphs of
Bagdad. They were susceptible of discipline, since they vowed a blind
and absolute submission to their Imam, who was called to the prophetic
office by the voice of God and the people. Instead of the legal tithes,
he claimed the fifth of their substance and spoil; the most flagitious
sins were no more than the type of disobedience; and the brethren were
united and concealed by an oath of secrecy. After a bloody conflict,
they prevailed in the province of Bahrein, along the Persian Gulf:
far and wide, the tribes of the desert were subject to the sceptre,
or rather to the sword of Abu Said and his son Abu Taher; and these
rebellious imams could muster in the field a hundred and seven thousand
fanatics. The mercenaries of the caliph were dismayed at the approach
of an enemy who neither asked nor accepted quarter; and the difference
between, them in fortitude and patience, is expressive of the change
which three centuries of prosperity had effected in the character of the
Arabians. Such troops were discomfited in every action; the cities of
Racca and Baalbec, of Cufa and Bassora, were taken and pillaged; Bagdad
was filled with consternation; and the caliph trembled behind the veils
of his palace. In a daring inroad beyond the Tigris, Abu Taher advanced
to the gates of the capital with no more than five hundred horse. By
the special order of Moctader, the bridges had been broken down, and the
person or head of the rebel was expected every hour by the commander of
the faithful. His lieutenant, from a motive of fear or pity, apprised
Abu Taher of his danger, and recommended a speedy escape. "Your master,"
said the intrepid Carmathian to the messenger, "is at the head of thirty
thousand soldiers: three such men as these are wanting in his host:" at
the same instant, turning to three of his companions, he commanded the
first to plunge a dagger into his breast, the second to leap into the
Tigris, and the third to cast himself headlong down a precipice. They
obeyed without a murmur.

"Relate," continued the imam, "what you have seen: before the evening
your general shall be chained among my dogs." Before the evening, the
camp was surprised, and the menace was executed. The rapine of the
Carmathians was sanctified by their aversion to the worship of Mecca:
they robbed a caravan of pilgrims, and twenty thousand devout Moslems
were abandoned on the burning sands to a death of hunger and thirst.
Another year they suffered the pilgrims to proceed without interruption;
but, in the festival of devotion, Abu Taher stormed the holy city, and
trampled on the most venerable relics of the Mahometan faith. Thirty
thousand citizens and strangers were put to the sword; the sacred
precincts were polluted by the burial of three thousand dead bodies; the
well of Zemzem overflowed with blood; the golden spout was forced
from its place; the veil of the Caaba was divided among these impious
sectaries; and the black stone, the first monument of the nation, was
borne away in triumph to their capital. After this deed of sacrilege
and cruelty, they continued to infest the confines of Irak, Syria, and
Egypt: but the vital principle of enthusiasm had withered at the root.
Their scruples, or their avarice, again opened the pilgrimage of Mecca,
and restored the black stone of the Caaba; and it is needless to inquire
into what factions they were broken, or by whose swords they were
finally extirpated. The sect of the Carmathians may be considered as
the second visible cause of the decline and fall of the empire of the
caliphs. [101]

[Footnote 101: For the sect of the Carmathians, consult Elmacin, (Hist.
Sara cen, p. 219, 224, 229, 231, 238, 241, 243,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast.
p. 179-182,) Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem. p. 218, 219, &c., 245, 265,
274.) and D'Herbelot, (Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 256-258, 635.) I find
some inconsistencies of theology and chronology, which it would not be
easy nor of much importance to reconcile. * Note: Compare Von Hammer,
Geschichte der Assassinen, p. 44, &c.--M.]

Chapter LII: More Conquests By The Arabs.--Part V.

The third and most obvious cause was the weight and magnitude of the
empire itself. The caliph Almamon might proudly assert, that it
was easier for him to rule the East and the West, than to manage a
chess-board of two feet square: [102] yet I suspect that in both those
games he was guilty of many fatal mistakes; and I perceive, that in the
distant provinces the authority of the first and most powerful of the
Abbassides was already impaired. The analogy of despotism invests the
representative with the full majesty of the prince; the division and
balance of powers might relax the habits of obedience, might encourage
the passive subject to inquire into the origin and administration of
civil government. He who is born in the purple is seldom worthy to
reign; but the elevation of a private man, of a peasant, perhaps, or
a slave, affords a strong presumption of his courage and capacity.
The viceroy of a remote kingdom aspires to secure the property and
inheritance of his precarious trust; the nations must rejoice in the
presence of their sovereign; and the command of armies and treasures
are at once the object and the instrument of his ambition. A change was
scarcely visible as long as the lieutenants of the caliph were content
with their vicarious title; while they solicited for themselves or their
sons a renewal of the Imperial grant, and still maintained on the coin
and in the public prayers the name and prerogative of the commander of
the faithful. But in the long and hereditary exercise of power, they
assumed the pride and attributes of royalty; the alternative of peace
or war, of reward or punishment, depended solely on their will; and the
revenues of their government were reserved for local services or
private magnificence. Instead of a regular supply of men and money, the
successors of the prophet were flattered with the ostentatious gift of
an elephant, or a cast of hawks, a suit of silk hangings, or some pounds
of musk and amber. [103]

[Footnote 102: Hyde, Syntagma Dissertat. tom. ii. p. 57, in Hist.

[Footnote 103: The dynasties of the Arabian empire may be studied in the
Annals of Elmacin, Abulpharagius, and Abulfeda, under the proper years,
in the dictionary of D'Herbelot, under the proper names. The tables of
M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i.) exhibit a general chronology
of the East, interspersed with some historical anecdotes; but his
attachment to national blood has sometimes confounded the order of time
and place.]

After the revolt of Spain from the temporal and spiritual supremacy of
the Abbassides, the first symptoms of disobedience broke forth in the
province of Africa. Ibrahim, the son of Aglab, the lieutenant of the
vigilant and rigid Harun, bequeathed to the dynasty of the Aglabites
the inheritance of his name and power. The indolence or policy of the
caliphs dissembled the injury and loss, and pursued only with poison the
founder of the Edrisites, [104] who erected the kingdom and city of Fez
on the shores of the Western ocean. [105] In the East, the first dynasty
was that of the Taherites; [106] the posterity of the valiant Taher,
who, in the civil wars of the sons of Harun, had served with too much
zeal and success the cause of Almamon, the younger brother. He was
sent into honorable exile, to command on the banks of the Oxus; and the
independence of his successors, who reigned in Chorasan till the fourth
generation, was palliated by their modest and respectful demeanor, the
happiness of their subjects and the security of their frontier. They
were supplanted by one of those adventures so frequent in the annals
of the East, who left his trade of a brazier (from whence the name of
Soffarides) for the profession of a robber. In a nocturnal visit to the
treasure of the prince of Sistan, Jacob, the son of Leith, stumbled over
a lump of salt, which he unwarily tasted with his tongue. Salt, among
the Orientals, is the symbol of hospitality, and the pious robber
immediately retired without spoil or damage. The discovery of this
honorable behavior recommended Jacob to pardon and trust; he led an army
at first for his benefactor, at last for himself, subdued Persia, and
threatened the residence of the Abbassides. On his march towards Bagdad,
the conqueror was arrested by a fever. He gave audience in bed to the
ambassador of the caliph; and beside him on a table were exposed a naked
cimeter, a crust of brown bread, and a bunch of onions. "If I die,"
said he, "your master is delivered from his fears. If I live, this
must determine between us. If I am vanquished, I can return without
reluctance to the homely fare of my youth." From the height where he
stood, the descent would not have been so soft or harmless: a timely
death secured his own repose and that of the caliph, who paid with the
most lavish concessions the retreat of his brother Amrou to the palaces
of Shiraz and Ispahan. The Abbassides were too feeble to contend, too
proud to forgive: they invited the powerful dynasty of the Samanides,
who passed the Oxus with ten thousand horse so poor, that their stirrups
were of wood: so brave, that they vanquished the Soffarian army, eight
times more numerous than their own. The captive Amrou was sent in
chains, a grateful offering to the court of Bagdad; and as the victor
was content with the inheritance of Transoxiana and Chorasan, the realms
of Persia returned for a while to the allegiance of the caliphs. The
provinces of Syria and Egypt were twice dismembered by their Turkish
slaves of the race of Toulon and Ilkshid. [107] These Barbarians, in
religion and manners the countrymen of Mahomet, emerged from the bloody
factions of the palace to a provincial command and an independent
throne: their names became famous and formidable in their time; but the
founders of these two potent dynasties confessed, either in words or
actions, the vanity of ambition. The first on his death-bed implored the
mercy of God to a sinner, ignorant of the limits of his own power:
the second, in the midst of four hundred thousand soldiers and eight
thousand slaves, concealed from every human eye the chamber where he
attempted to sleep. Their sons were educated in the vices of kings;
and both Egypt and Syria were recovered and possessed by the Abbassides
during an interval of thirty years. In the decline of their empire,
Mesopotamia, with the important cities of Mosul and Aleppo, was occupied
by the Arabian princes of the tribe of Hamadan. The poets of their court
could repeat without a blush, that nature had formed their countenances
for beauty, their tongues for eloquence, and their hands for liberality
and valor: but the genuine tale of the elevation and reign of the
Hamadanites exhibits a scene of treachery, murder, and parricide.

At the same fatal period, the Persian kingdom was again usurped by
the dynasty of the Bowides, by the sword of three brothers, who, under
various names, were styled the support and columns of the state, and
who, from the Caspian Sea to the ocean, would suffer no tyrants but
themselves. Under their reign, the language and genius of Persia
revived, and the Arabs, three hundred and four years after the death of
Mahomet, were deprived of the sceptre of the East.

[Footnote 104: The Aglabites and Edrisites are the professed subject of
M. de Cardonne, (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne sous la Domination
des Arabes, tom. ii. p. 1-63.)]

[Footnote 105: To escape the reproach of error, I must criticize the
inaccuracies of M. de Guignes (tom. i. p. 359) concerning the Edrisites.
1. The dynasty and city of Fez could not be founded in the year of the
Hegira 173, since the founder was a posthumous child of a descendant of
Ali, who fled from Mecca in the year 168. 2. This founder, Edris, the
son of Edris, instead of living to the improbable age of 120 years, A.
H. 313, died A. H. 214, in the prime of manhood. 3. The dynasty ended A.
H. 307, twenty-three years sooner than it is fixed by the historian of
the Huns. See the accurate Annals of Abulfeda p. 158, 159, 185, 238.]

[Footnote 106: The dynasties of the Taherites and Soffarides, with the
rise of that of the Samanines, are described in the original history and
Latin version of Mirchond: yet the most interesting facts had already
been drained by the diligence of M. D'Herbelot.]

[Footnote 107: M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 124-154) has
exhausted the Toulunides and Ikshidites of Egypt, and thrown some light
on the Carmathians and Hamadanites.]

Rahadi, the twentieth of the Abbassides, and the thirty-ninth of the
successors of Mahomet, was the last who deserved the title of commander
of the faithful; [108] the last (says Abulfeda) who spoke to the people,
or conversed with the learned; the last who, in the expense of his
household, represented the wealth and magnificence of the ancient
caliphs. After him, the lords of the Eastern world were reduced to the
most abject misery, and exposed to the blows and insults of a servile
condition. The revolt of the provinces circumscribed their dominions
within the walls of Bagdad: but that capital still contained an
innumerable multitude, vain of their past fortune, discontented with
their present state, and oppressed by the demands of a treasury which
had formerly been replenished by the spoil and tribute of nations. Their
idleness was exercised by faction and controversy. Under the mask of
piety, the rigid followers of Hanbal [109] invaded the pleasures of
domestic life, burst into the houses of plebeians and princes, the wine,
broke the instruments, beat the musicians, and dishonored, with infamous
suspicions, the associates of every handsome youth. In each profession,
which allowed room for two persons, the one was a votary, the other an
antagonist, of Ali; and the Abbassides were awakened by the clamorous
grief of the sectaries, who denied their title, and cursed their
progenitors. A turbulent people could only be repressed by a military
force; but who could satisfy the avarice or assert the discipline of the
mercenaries themselves? The African and the Turkish guards drew their
swords against each other, and the chief commanders, the emirs al Omra,
[110] imprisoned or deposed their sovereigns, and violated the sanctuary
of the mosch and harem. If the caliphs escaped to the camp or court of
any neighboring prince, their deliverance was a change of servitude,
till they were prompted by despair to invite the Bowides, the sultans of
Persia, who silenced the factions of Bagdad by their irresistible arms.
The civil and military powers were assumed by Moezaldowlat, the second
of the three brothers, and a stipend of sixty thousand pounds sterling
was assigned by his generosity for the private expense of the commander
of the faithful. But on the fortieth day, at the audience of the
ambassadors of Chorasan, and in the presence of a trembling multitude,
the caliph was dragged from his throne to a dungeon, by the command
of the stranger, and the rude hands of his Dilamites. His palace was
pillaged, his eyes were put out, and the mean ambition of the Abbassides
aspired to the vacant station of danger and disgrace. In the school
of adversity, the luxurious caliphs resumed the grave and abstemious
virtues of the primitive times. Despoiled of their armor and silken
robes, they fasted, they prayed, they studied the Koran and the
tradition of the Sonnites: they performed, with zeal and knowledge,
the functions of their ecclesiastical character. The respect of nations
still waited on the successors of the apostle, the oracles of the law
and conscience of the faithful; and the weakness or division of their
tyrants sometimes restored the Abbassides to the sovereignty of
Bagdad. But their misfortunes had been imbittered by the triumph of
the Fatimites, the real or spurious progeny of Ali. Arising from the
extremity of Africa, these successful rivals extinguished, in Egypt and
Syria, both the spiritual and temporal authority of the Abbassides; and
the monarch of the Nile insulted the humble pontiff on the banks of the

[Footnote 108: Hic est ultimus chalifah qui multum atque saepius pro
concione peroraret.... Fuit etiam ultimus qui otium cum eruditis et
facetis hominibus fallere hilariterque agere soleret. Ultimus tandem
chalifarum cui sumtus, stipendia, reditus, et thesauri, culinae,
caeteraque omnis aulica pompa priorum chalifarum ad instar comparata
fuerint. Videbimus enim paullo post quam indignis et servilibius
ludibriis exagitati, quam ad humilem fortunam altimumque contemptum
abjecti fuerint hi quondam potentissimi totius terrarum Orientalium
orbis domini. Abulfed. Annal. Moslem. p. 261. I have given this passage
as the manner and tone of Abulfeda, but the cast of Latin eloquence
belongs more properly to Reiske. The Arabian historian (p. 255, 257,
261-269, 283, &c.) has supplied me with the most interesting facts of
this paragraph.]

[Footnote 109: Their master, on a similar occasion, showed himself of a
more indulgent and tolerating spirit. Ahmed Ebn Hanbal, the head of one
of the four orthodox sects, was born at Bagdad A. H. 164, and died there
A. H. 241. He fought and suffered in the dispute concerning the creation
of the Koran.]

[Footnote 110: The office of vizier was superseded by the emir al Omra,
Imperator Imperatorum, a title first instituted by Radhi, and which
merged at length in the Bowides and Seljukides: vectigalibus, et
tributis, et curiis per omnes regiones praefecit, jussitque in omnibus
suggestis nominis ejus in concionibus mentionem fieri, (Abulpharagius,
Dynart. p 199.) It is likewise mentioned by Elmacin, (p. 254, 255.)]

In the declining age of the caliphs, in the century which elapsed after
the war of Theophilus and Motassem, the hostile transactions of the two
nations were confined to some inroads by sea and land, the fruits of
their close vicinity and indelible hatred. But when the Eastern world
was convulsed and broken, the Greeks were roused from their lethargy
by the hopes of conquest and revenge. The Byzantine empire, since the
accession of the Basilian race, had reposed in peace and dignity; and
they might encounter with their entire strength the front of some petty
emir, whose rear was assaulted and threatened by his national foes of
the Mahometan faith. The lofty titles of the morning star, and the
death of the Saracens, [111] were applied in the public acclamations to
Nicephorus Phocas, a prince as renowned in the camp, as he was unpopular
in the city. In the subordinate station of great domestic, or general
of the East, he reduced the Island of Crete, and extirpated the nest
of pirates who had so long defied, with impunity, the majesty of the
empire. [112] His military genius was displayed in the conduct and
success of the enterprise, which had so often failed with loss and
dishonor. The Saracens were confounded by the landing of his troops on
safe and level bridges, which he cast from the vessels to the shore.
Seven months were consumed in the siege of Candia; the despair of the
native Cretans was stimulated by the frequent aid of their brethren of
Africa and Spain; and after the massy wall and double ditch had been
stormed by the Greeks a hopeless conflict was still maintained in the
streets and houses of the city. [1121] The whole island was subdued in
the capital, and a submissive people accepted, without resistance,
the baptism of the conqueror. [113] Constantinople applauded the
long-forgotten pomp of a triumph; but the Imperial diadem was the
sole reward that could repay the services, or satisfy the ambition, of

[Footnote 111: Liutprand, whose choleric temper was imbittered by his
uneasy situation, suggests the names of reproach and contempt more
applicable to Nicephorus than the vain titles of the Greeks, Ecce venit
stella matutina, surgit Eous, reverberat obtutu solis radios, pallida
Saracenorum mors, Nicephorus.]

[Footnote 112: Notwithstanding the insinuation of Zonaras, &c., (tom.
ii. l. xvi. p. 197,) it is an undoubted fact, that Crete was completely
and finally subdued by Nicephorus Phocas, (Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p.
873-875. Meursius, Creta, l. iii. c. 7, tom. iii. p. 464, 465.)]

[Footnote 1121: The Acroases of Theodorus, de expugnatione Cretae,
miserable iambics, relate the whole campaign. Whoever would fairly
estimate the merit of the poetic deacon, may read the description of the
slinging a jackass into the famishing city. The poet is in a transport
at the wit of the general, and revels in the luxury of antithesis.
Theodori Acroases, lib. iii. 172, in Niebuhr's Byzant. Hist.--M.]

[Footnote 113: A Greek Life of St. Nicon the Armenian was found in the
Sforza library, and translated into Latin by the Jesuit Sirmond, for the
use of Cardinal Baronius. This contemporary legend casts a ray of
light on Crete and Peloponnesus in the 10th century. He found the
newly-recovered island, foedis detestandae Agarenorum superstitionis
vestigiis adhuc plenam ac refertam.... but the victorious missionary,
perhaps with some carnal aid, ad baptismum omnes veraeque fidei
disciplinam pepulit. Ecclesiis per totam insulam aedificatis, &c.,
(Annal. Eccles. A.D. 961.)]

After the death of the younger Romanus, the fourth in lineal descent of
the Basilian race, his widow Theophania successively married Nicephorus
Phocas and his assassin John Zimisces, the two heroes of the age. They
reigned as the guardians and colleagues of her infant sons; and the
twelve years of their military command form the most splendid period of
the Byzantine annals. The subjects and confederates, whom they led to
war, appeared, at least in the eyes of an enemy, two hundred thousand
strong; and of these about thirty thousand were armed with cuirasses:
[114] a train of four thousand mules attended their march; and their
evening camp was regularly fortified with an enclosure of iron spikes.
A series of bloody and undecisive combats is nothing more than an
anticipation of what would have been effected in a few years by the
course of nature; but I shall briefly prosecute the conquests of the
two emperors from the hills of Cappadocia to the desert of Bagdad. The
sieges of Mopsuestia and Tarsus, in Cilicia, first exercised the skill
and perseverance of their troops, on whom, at this moment, I shall not
hesitate to bestow the name of Romans. In the double city of Mopsuestia,
which is divided by the River Sarus, two hundred thousand Moslems
were predestined to death or slavery, [115] a surprising degree of
population, which must at least include the inhabitants of the dependent
districts. They were surrounded and taken by assault; but Tarsus was
reduced by the slow progress of famine; and no sooner had the Saracens
yielded on honorable terms than they were mortified by the distant and
unprofitable view of the naval succors of Egypt. They were dismissed
with a safe-conduct to the confines of Syria: a part of the old
Christians had quietly lived under their dominion; and the vacant
habitations were replenished by a new colony. But the mosch was
converted into a stable; the pulpit was delivered to the flames; many
rich crosses of gold and gems, the spoils of Asiatic churches, were
made a grateful offering to the piety or avarice of the emperor; and he
transported the gates of Mopsuestia and Tarsus, which were fixed in the
walls of Constantinople, an eternal monument of his victory. After they
had forced and secured the narrow passes of Mount Amanus, the two Roman
princes repeatedly carried their arms into the heart of Syria. Yet,
instead of assaulting the walls of Antioch, the humanity or superstition
of Nicephorus appeared to respect the ancient metropolis of the East: he
contented himself with drawing round the city a line of circumvallation;
left a stationary army; and instructed his lieutenant to expect, without
impatience, the return of spring. But in the depth of winter, in a dark
and rainy night, an adventurous subaltern, with three hundred soldiers,
approached the rampart, applied his scaling-ladders, occupied two
adjacent towers, stood firm against the pressure of multitudes, and
bravely maintained his post till he was relieved by the tardy, though
effectual, support of his reluctant chief. The first tumult of slaughter
and rapine subsided; the reign of Caesar and of Christ was restored; and
the efforts of a hundred thousand Saracens, of the armies of Syria and
the fleets of Africa, were consumed without effect before the walls of
Antioch. The royal city of Aleppo was subject to Seifeddowlat, of
the dynasty of Hamadan, who clouded his past glory by the precipitate
retreat which abandoned his kingdom and capital to the Roman invaders.
In his stately palace, that stood without the walls of Aleppo, they
joyfully seized a well-furnished magazine of arms, a stable of fourteen
hundred mules, and three hundred bags of silver and gold. But the walls
of the city withstood the strokes of their battering-rams: and the
besiegers pitched their tents on the neighboring mountain of Jaushan.
Their retreat exasperated the quarrel of the townsmen and mercenaries;
the guard of the gates and ramparts was deserted; and while they
furiously charged each other in the market-place, they were surprised
and destroyed by the sword of a common enemy. The male sex was
exterminated by the sword; ten thousand youths were led into captivity;
the weight of the precious spoil exceeded the strength and number of
the beasts of burden; the superfluous remainder was burnt; and, after
a licentious possession of ten days, the Romans marched away from the
naked and bleeding city. In their Syrian inroads they commanded the
husbandmen to cultivate their lands, that they themselves, in the
ensuing season, might reap the benefit; more than a hundred cities were
reduced to obedience; and eighteen pulpits of the principal moschs were
committed to the flames to expiate the sacrilege of the disciples of
Mahomet. The classic names of Hierapolis, Apamea, and Emesa, revive for
a moment in the list of conquest: the emperor Zimisces encamped in the
paradise of Damascus, and accepted the ransom of a submissive people;
and the torrent was only stopped by the impregnable fortress of
Tripoli, on the sea-coast of Phoenicia. Since the days of Heraclius, the
Euphrates, below the passage of Mount Taurus, had been impervious, and
almost invisible, to the Greeks.

The river yielded a free passage to the victorious Zimisces; and the
historian may imitate the speed with which he overran the once famous
cities of Samosata, Edessa, Martyropolis, Amida, [116] and Nisibis, the
ancient limit of the empire in the neighborhood of the Tigris. His
ardor was quickened by the desire of grasping the virgin treasures of
Ecbatana, [117] a well-known name, under which the Byzantine writer
has concealed the capital of the Abbassides. The consternation of the
fugitives had already diffused the terror of his name; but the fancied
riches of Bagdad had already been dissipated by the avarice and
prodigality of domestic tyrants. The prayers of the people, and the
stern demands of the lieutenant of the Bowides, required the caliph to
provide for the defence of the city. The helpless Mothi replied, that
his arms, his revenues, and his provinces, had been torn from his hands,
and that he was ready to abdicate a dignity which he was unable to
support. The emir was inexorable; the furniture of the palace was sold;
and the paltry price of forty thousand pieces of gold was instantly
consumed in private luxury. But the apprehensions of Bagdad were
relieved by the retreat of the Greeks: thirst and hunger guarded the
desert of Mesopotamia; and the emperor, satiated with glory, and laden
with Oriental spoils, returned to Constantinople, and displayed, in his
triumph, the silk, the aromatics, and three hundred myriads of gold and
silver. Yet the powers of the East had been bent, not broken, by this
transient hurricane. After the departure of the Greeks, the fugitive
princes returned to their capitals; the subjects disclaimed their
involuntary oaths of allegiance; the Moslems again purified their
temples, and overturned the idols of the saints and martyrs; the
Nestorians and Jacobites preferred a Saracen to an orthodox master; and
the numbers and spirit of the Melchites were inadequate to the support
of the church and state.

Of these extensive conquests, Antioch, with the cities of Cilicia and
the Isle of Cyprus, was alone restored, a permanent and useful accession
to the Roman empire. [118]

[Footnote 114: Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 278, 279. Liutprand was
disposed to depreciate the Greek power, yet he owns that Nicephorus led
against Assyria an army of eighty thousand men.]

[Footnote 115: Ducenta fere millia hominum numerabat urbs (Abulfeda,
Annal. Moslem. p. 231) of Mopsuestia, or Masifa, Mampsysta, Mansista,
Mamista, as it is corruptly, or perhaps more correctly, styled in the
middle ages, (Wesseling, Itinerar. p. 580.) Yet I cannot credit this
extreme populousness a few years after the testimony of the emperor Leo,
(Tactica, c. xviii. in Meursii Oper. tom. vi. p. 817.)]

[Footnote 116: The text of Leo the deacon, in the corrupt names of
Emeta and Myctarsim, reveals the cities of Amida and Martyropolis, (Mia
farekin. See Abulfeda, Geograph. p. 245, vers. Reiske.) Of the former,
Leo observes, urbus munita et illustris; of the latter, clara atque
conspicua opibusque et pecore, reliquis ejus provinciis urbibus atque
oppidis longe praestans.]

[Footnote 117: Ut et Ecbatana pergeret Agarenorumque regiam
everteret.... aiunt enim urbium quae usquam sunt ac toto orbe existunt
felicissimam esse auroque ditissimam, (Leo Diacon. apud Pagium, tom.
iv. p. 34.) This splendid description suits only with Bagdad, and cannot
possibly apply either to Hamadan, the true Ecbatana, (D'Anville, Geog.
Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 237,) or Tauris, which has been commonly mistaken
for that city. The name of Ecbatana, in the same indefinite sense, is
transferred by a more classic authority (Cicero pro Lego Manilia, c. 4)
to the royal seat of Mithridates, king of Pontus.]

[Footnote 118: See the Annals of Elmacin, Abulpharagius, and Abulfeda,
from A. H. 351 to A. H. 361; and the reigns of Nicephorus Phocas and
John Zimisces, in the Chronicles of Zonaras (tom. ii. l. xvi. p. 199--l.
xvii. 215) and Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 649-684.) Their manifold defects
are partly supplied by the Ms. history of Leo the deacon, which Pagi
obtained from the Benedictines, and has inserted almost entire, in a
Latin version, (Critica, tom. iii. p. 873, tom. iv. 37.) * Note: The
whole original work of Leo the Deacon has been published by Hase, and
is inserted in the new edition of the Byzantine historians. M Lassen
has added to the Arabian authorities of this period some extracts from
Kemaleddin's account of the treaty for the surrender of Aleppo.--M.]

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part I.

     Fate Of The Eastern Empire In The Tenth Century.--Extent And
     Division.--Wealth And Revenue.--Palace Of Constantinople.--
     Titles And Offices.--Pride And Power Of The Emperors.--
     Tactics Of The Greeks, Arabs, And Franks.--Loss Of The Latin
     Tongue.--Studies And Solitude Of The Greeks.

A ray of historic light seems to beam from the darkness of the tenth
century. We open with curiosity and respect the royal volumes of
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, [1] which he composed at a mature age for
the instruction of his son, and which promise to unfold the state of the
eastern empire, both in peace and war, both at home and abroad. In the
first of these works he minutely describes the pompous ceremonies of the
church and palace of Constantinople, according to his own practice, and
that of his predecessors. [2] In the second, he attempts an accurate
survey of the provinces, the themes, as they were then denominated, both
of Europe and Asia. [3] The system of Roman tactics, the discipline and
order of the troops, and the military operations by land and sea, are
explained in the third of these didactic collections, which may be
ascribed to Constantine or his father Leo. [4] In the fourth, of the
administration of the empire, he reveals the secrets of the Byzantine
policy, in friendly or hostile intercourse with the nations of the
earth. The literary labors of the age, the practical systems of law,
agriculture, and history, might redound to the benefit of the subject
and the honor of the Macedonian princes. The sixty books of the
Basilics, [5] the code and pandects of civil jurisprudence, were
gradually framed in the three first reigns of that prosperous dynasty.
The art of agriculture had amused the leisure, and exercised the pens,
of the best and wisest of the ancients; and their chosen precepts are
comprised in the twenty books of the Geoponics [6] of Constantine. At
his command, the historical examples of vice and virtue were methodized
in fifty-three books, [7] and every citizen might apply, to his
contemporaries or himself, the lesson or the warning of past times. From
the august character of a legislator, the sovereign of the East
descends to the more humble office of a teacher and a scribe; and if his
successors and subjects were regardless of his paternal cares, we may
inherit and enjoy the everlasting legacy.

[Footnote 1: The epithet of Porphyrogenitus, born in the purple, is
elegantly defined by Claudian:--

     Ardua privatos nescit fortuna Penates;
     Et regnum cum luce dedit.
     Cognata potestas
     Excepit Tyrio venerabile pignus in ostro.

And Ducange, in his Greek and Latin Glossaries, produces many passages
expressive of the same idea.]

[Footnote 2: A splendid Ms. of Constantine, de Caeremoniis Aulae et
Ecclesiae Byzantinae, wandered from Constantinople to Buda, Frankfort,
and Leipsic, where it was published in a splendid edition by Leich and
Reiske, (A.D. 1751, in folio,) with such lavish praise as editors never
fail to bestow on the worthy or worthless object of their toil.]

[Footnote 3: See, in the first volume of Banduri's Imperium Orientale,
Constantinus de Thematibus, p. 1-24, de Administrando Imperio, p.
45-127, edit. Venet. The text of the old edition of Meursius is
corrected from a Ms. of the royal library of Paris, which Isaac Casaubon
had formerly seen, (Epist. ad Polybium, p. 10,) and the sense is
illustrated by two maps of William Deslisle, the prince of geographers
till the appearance of the greater D'Anville.]

[Footnote 4: The Tactics of Leo and Constantine are published with the
aid of some new Mss. in the great edition of the works of Meursius,
by the learned John Lami, (tom. vi. p. 531-920, 1211-1417, Florent.
1745,) yet the text is still corrupt and mutilated, the version is still
obscure and faulty. The Imperial library of Vienna would afford some
valuable materials to a new editor, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p.
369, 370.)]

[Footnote 5: On the subject of the Basilics, Fabricius, (Bibliot.
Graec. tom. xii. p. 425-514,) and Heineccius, (Hist. Juris Romani,
p. 396-399,) and Giannone, (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. i. p.
450-458,) as historical civilians, may be usefully consulted: xli.
books of this Greek code have been published, with a Latin version, by
Charles Annibal Frabrottus, (Paris, 1647,) in seven tomes in folio;
iv. other books have been since discovered, and are inserted in Gerard
Meerman's Novus Thesaurus Juris Civ. et Canon. tom. v. Of the whole
work, the sixty books, John Leunclavius has printed, (Basil, 1575,)
an eclogue or synopsis. The cxiii. novels, or new laws, of Leo, may be
found in the Corpus Juris Civilis.]

[Footnote 6: I have used the last and best edition of the Geoponics,
(by Nicolas Niclas, Leipsic, 1781, 2 vols. in octavo.) I read in the
preface, that the same emperor restored the long-forgotten systems
of rhetoric and philosophy; and his two books of Hippiatrica, or
Horse-physic, were published at Paris, 1530, in folio, (Fabric. Bibliot.
Graec. tom. vi. p. 493-500.)]

[Footnote 7: Of these LIII. books, or titles, only two have been
preserved and printed, de Legationibus (by Fulvius Ursinus, Antwerp,
1582, and Daniel Hoeschelius, August. Vindel. 1603) and de Virtutibus et
Vitiis, (by Henry Valesius, or de Valois, Paris, 1634.)]

A closer survey will indeed reduce the value of the gift, and the
gratitude of posterity: in the possession of these Imperial treasures we
may still deplore our poverty and ignorance; and the fading glories
of their authors will be obliterated by indifference or contempt. The
Basilics will sink to a broken copy, a partial and mutilated version, in
the Greek language, of the laws of Justinian; but the sense of the
old civilians is often superseded by the influence of bigotry: and the
absolute prohibition of divorce, concubinage, and interest for money,
enslaves the freedom of trade and the happiness of private life. In the
historical book, a subject of Constantine might admire the inimitable
virtues of Greece and Rome: he might learn to what a pitch of energy
and elevation the human character had formerly aspired. But a contrary
effect must have been produced by a new edition of the lives of the
saints, which the great logothete, or chancellor of the empire, was
directed to prepare; and the dark fund of superstition was enriched by
the fabulous and florid legends of Simon the Metaphrast. [8] The merits
and miracles of the whole calendar are of less account in the eyes of a
sage, than the toil of a single husbandman, who multiplies the gifts
of the Creator, and supplies the food of his brethren. Yet the royal
authors of the Geoponics were more seriously employed in expounding the
precepts of the destroying art, which had been taught since the days of
Xenophon, [9] as the art of heroes and kings. But the Tactics of Leo and
Constantine are mingled with the baser alloy of the age in which they
lived. It was destitute of original genius; they implicitly transcribe
the rules and maxims which had been confirmed by victories. It was
unskilled in the propriety of style and method; they blindly confound
the most distant and discordant institutions, the phalanx of Sparta
and that of Macedon, the legions of Cato and Trajan, of Augustus and
Theodosius. Even the use, or at least the importance, of these military
rudiments may be fairly questioned: their general theory is dictated
by reason; but the merit, as well as difficulty, consists in the
application. The discipline of a soldier is formed by exercise rather
than by study: the talents of a commander are appropriated to those
calm, though rapid, minds, which nature produces to decide the fate of
armies and nations: the former is the habit of a life, the latter the
glance of a moment; and the battles won by lessons of tactics may be
numbered with the epic poems created from the rules of criticism.
The book of ceremonies is a recital, tedious yet imperfect, of the
despicable pageantry which had infected the church and state since the
gradual decay of the purity of the one and the power of the other.
A review of the themes or provinces might promise such authentic and
useful information, as the curiosity of government only can obtain,
instead of traditionary fables on the origin of the cities, and
malicious epigrams on the vices of their inhabitants. [10] Such
information the historian would have been pleased to record; nor should
his silence be condemned if the most interesting objects, the population
of the capital and provinces, the amount of the taxes and revenues,
the numbers of subjects and strangers who served under the Imperial
standard, have been unnoticed by Leo the philosopher, and his son
Constantine. His treatise of the public administration is stained with
the same blemishes; yet it is discriminated by peculiar merit; the
antiquities of the nations may be doubtful or fabulous; but the
geography and manners of the Barbaric world are delineated with curious
accuracy. Of these nations, the Franks alone were qualified to observe
in their turn, and to describe, the metropolis of the East. The
ambassador of the great Otho, a bishop of Cremona, has painted the state
of Constantinople about the middle of the tenth century: his style
is glowing, his narrative lively, his observation keen; and even the
prejudices and passions of Liutprand are stamped with an original
character of freedom and genius. [11] From this scanty fund of foreign
and domestic materials, I shall investigate the form and substance of
the Byzantine empire; the provinces and wealth, the civil government and
military force, the character and literature, of the Greeks in a period
of six hundred years, from the reign of Heraclius to his successful
invasion of the Franks or Latins.

[Footnote 8: The life and writings of Simon Metaphrastes are described
by Hankius, (de Scriptoribus Byzant. p. 418-460.) This biographer
of the saints indulged himself in a loose paraphrase of the sense or
nonsense of more ancient acts. His Greek rhetoric is again paraphrased
in the Latin version of Surius, and scarcely a thread can be now visible
of the original texture.]

[Footnote 9: According to the first book of the Cyropaedia, professors
of tactics, a small part of the science of war, were already instituted
in Persia, by which Greece must be understood. A good edition of all the
Scriptores Tactici would be a task not unworthy of a scholar. His
industry might discover some new Mss., and his learning might illustrate
the military history of the ancients. But this scholar should be
likewise a soldier; and alas! Quintus Icilius is no more. * Note: M.
Guichardt, author of Memoires Militaires sur les Grecs et sur les
Romains. See Gibbon's Extraits Raisonnees de mes Lectures, Misc. Works
vol. v. p. 219.--M]

[Footnote 10: After observing that the demerit of the Cappadocians
rose in proportion to their rank and riches, he inserts a more pointed
epigram, which is ascribed to Demodocus. The sting is precisely the same
with the French epigram against Freron: Un serpent mordit Jean
Freron--Eh bien? Le serpent en mourut. But as the Paris wits are seldom
read in the Anthology, I should be curious to learn, through what
channel it was conveyed for their imitation, (Constantin. Porphyrogen.
de Themat. c. ii. Brunck Analect. Graec. tom. ii. p. 56. Brodaei
Anthologia, l. ii. p. 244.)]

[Footnote 11: The Legatio Liutprandi Episcopi Cremonensis ad Nicephorum
Phocam is inserted in Muratori, Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii.
pars i.]

After the final division between the sons of Theodosius, the swarms
of Barbarians from Scythia and Germany over-spread the provinces and
extinguished the empire of ancient Rome. The weakness of Constantinople
was concealed by extent of dominion: her limits were inviolate, or at
least entire; and the kingdom of Justinian was enlarged by the splendid
acquisition of Africa and Italy. But the possession of these new
conquests was transient and precarious; and almost a moiety of the
Eastern empire was torn away by the arms of the Saracens. Syria and
Egypt were oppressed by the Arabian caliphs; and, after the reduction of
Africa, their lieutenants invaded and subdued the Roman province which
had been changed into the Gothic monarchy of Spain. The islands of the
Mediterranean were not inaccessible to their naval powers; and it was
from their extreme stations, the harbors of Crete and the fortresses of
Cilicia, that the faithful or rebel emirs insulted the majesty of the
throne and capital. The remaining provinces, under the obedience of
the emperors, were cast into a new mould; and the jurisdiction of
the presidents, the consulars, and the counts were superseded by the
institution of the themes, [12] or military governments, which prevailed
under the successors of Heraclius, and are described by the pen of the
royal author. Of the twenty-nine themes, twelve in Europe and seventeen
in Asia, the origin is obscure, the etymology doubtful or capricious:
the limits were arbitrary and fluctuating; but some particular names,
that sound the most strangely to our ear, were derived from the
character and attributes of the troops that were maintained at the
expense, and for the guard, of the respective divisions. The vanity of
the Greek princes most eagerly grasped the shadow of conquest and the
memory of lost dominion. A new Mesopotamia was created on the western
side of the Euphrates: the appellation and praetor of Sicily were
transferred to a narrow slip of Calabria; and a fragment of the duchy of
Beneventum was promoted to the style and title of the theme of Lombardy.
In the decline of the Arabian empire, the successors of Constantine
might indulge their pride in more solid advantages. The victories of
Nicephorus, John Zimisces, and Basil the Second, revived the fame, and
enlarged the boundaries, of the Roman name: the province of Cilicia, the
metropolis of Antioch, the islands of Crete and Cyprus, were restored to
the allegiance of Christ and Caesar: one third of Italy was annexed to
the throne of Constantinople: the kingdom of Bulgaria was destroyed; and
the last sovereigns of the Macedonian dynasty extended their sway from
the sources of the Tigris to the neighborhood of Rome. In the eleventh
century, the prospect was again clouded by new enemies and new
misfortunes: the relics of Italy were swept away by the Norman
adventures; and almost all the Asiatic branches were dissevered from the
Roman trunk by the Turkish conquerors. After these losses, the
emperors of the Comnenian family continued to reign from the Danube
to Peloponnesus, and from Belgrade to Nice, Trebizond, and the winding
stream of the Meander. The spacious provinces of Thrace, Macedonia,
and Greece, were obedient to their sceptre; the possession of Cyprus,
Rhodes, and Crete, was accompanied by the fifty islands of the Aegean or
Holy Sea; [13] and the remnant of their empire transcends the measure of
the largest of the European kingdoms.

[Footnote 12: See Constantine de Thematibus, in Banduri, tom. i. p.
1-30. It is used by Maurice (Strata gem. l. ii. c. 2) for a legion,
from whence the name was easily transferred to its post or province,
(Ducange, Gloss. Graec. tom. i. p. 487-488.) Some etymologies are
attempted for the Opiscian, Optimatian, Thracesian, themes.]

[Footnote 13: It is styled by the modern Greeks, from which the corrupt
names of Archipelago, l'Archipel, and the Arches, have been transformed
by geographers and seamen, (D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p.
281. Analyse de la Carte de la Greece, p. 60.) The numbers of monks
or caloyers in all the islands and the adjacent mountain of Athos,
(Observations de Belon, fol. 32, verso,) monte santo, might justify the
epithet of holy, a slight alteration from the original, imposed by the
Dorians, who, in their dialect, gave the figurative name of goats, to
the bounding waves, (Vossius, apud Cellarium, Geograph. Antiq. tom. i.
p. 829.)]

The same princes might assert, with dignity and truth, that of all the
monarchs of Christendom they possessed the greatest city, [14] the most
ample revenue, the most flourishing and populous state. With the decline
and fall of the empire, the cities of the West had decayed and fallen;
nor could the ruins of Rome, or the mud walls, wooden hovels, and narrow
precincts of Paris and London, prepare the Latin stranger to contemplate
the situation and extent of Constantinople, her stately palaces
and churches, and the arts and luxury of an innumerable people. Her
treasures might attract, but her virgin strength had repelled, and still
promised to repel, the audacious invasion of the Persian and Bulgarian,
the Arab and the Russian. The provinces were less fortunate and
impregnable; and few districts, few cities, could be discovered which
had not been violated by some fierce Barbarian, impatient to despoil,
because he was hopeless to possess. From the age of Justinian the
Eastern empire was sinking below its former level; the powers of
destruction were more active than those of improvement; and the
calamities of war were imbittered by the more permanent evils of
civil and ecclesiastical tyranny. The captive who had escaped from the
Barbarians was often stripped and imprisoned by the ministers of his
sovereign: the Greek superstition relaxed the mind by prayer, and
emaciated the body by fasting; and the multitude of convents and
festivals diverted many hands and many days from the temporal service
of mankind. Yet the subjects of the Byzantine empire were still the most
dexterous and diligent of nations; their country was blessed by nature
with every advantage of soil, climate, and situation; and, in the
support and restoration of the arts, their patient and peaceful temper
was more useful than the warlike spirit and feudal anarchy of Europe.
The provinces that still adhered to the empire were repeopled and
enriched by the misfortunes of those which were irrecoverably lost.
From the yoke of the caliphs, the Catholics of Syria, Egypt, and Africa
retired to the allegiance of their prince, to the society of their
brethren: the movable wealth, which eludes the search of oppression,
accompanied and alleviated their exile, and Constantinople received
into her bosom the fugitive trade of Alexandria and Tyre. The chiefs
of Armenia and Scythia, who fled from hostile or religious persecution,
were hospitably entertained: their followers were encouraged to build
new cities and to cultivate waste lands; and many spots, both in Europe
and Asia, preserved the name, the manners, or at least the memory, of
these national colonies. Even the tribes of Barbarians, who had seated
themselves in arms on the territory of the empire, were gradually
reclaimed to the laws of the church and state; and as long as they were
separated from the Greeks, their posterity supplied a race of faithful
and obedient soldiers. Did we possess sufficient materials to survey
the twenty-nine themes of the Byzantine monarchy, our curiosity might
be satisfied with a chosen example: it is fortunate enough that the
clearest light should be thrown on the most interesting province,
and the name of Peloponnesus will awaken the attention of the classic

[Footnote 14: According to the Jewish traveller who had visited Europe
and Asia, Constantinople was equalled only by Bagdad, the great city of
the Ismaelites, (Voyage de Benjamin de Tudele, par Baratier, tom. l. c.
v. p. 46.)]

As early as the eighth century, in the troubled reign of the
Iconoclasts, Greece, and even Peloponnesus, [15] were overrun by some
Sclavonian bands who outstripped the royal standard of Bulgaria. The
strangers of old, Cadmus, and Danaus, and Pelops, had planted in that
fruitful soil the seeds of policy and learning; but the savages of the
north eradicated what yet remained of their sickly and withered roots.
In this irruption, the country and the inhabitants were transformed; the
Grecian blood was contaminated; and the proudest nobles of Peloponnesus
were branded with the names of foreigners and slaves. By the diligence
of succeeding princes, the land was in some measure purified from the
Barbarians; and the humble remnant was bound by an oath of obedience,
tribute, and military service, which they often renewed and often
violated. The siege of Patras was formed by a singular concurrence of
the Sclavonians of Peloponnesus and the Saracens of Africa. In their
last distress, a pious fiction of the approach of the praetor of
Corinth revived the courage of the citizens. Their sally was bold and
successful; the strangers embarked, the rebels submitted, and the glory
of the day was ascribed to a phantom or a stranger, who fought in the
foremost ranks under the character of St. Andrew the Apostle. The shrine
which contained his relics was decorated with the trophies of victory,
and the captive race was forever devoted to the service and vassalage
of the metropolitan church of Patras. By the revolt of two Sclavonian
tribes, in the neighborhood of Helos and Lacedaemon, the peace of the
peninsula was often disturbed. They sometimes insulted the weakness, and
sometimes resisted the oppression, of the Byzantine government, till at
length the approach of their hostile brethren extorted a golden bull
to define the rites and obligations of the Ezzerites and Milengi, whose
annual tribute was defined at twelve hundred pieces of gold. From
these strangers the Imperial geographer has accurately distinguished a
domestic, and perhaps original, race, who, in some degree, might derive
their blood from the much-injured Helots. The liberality of the Romans,
and especially of Augustus, had enfranchised the maritime cities from
the dominion of Sparta; and the continuance of the same benefit ennobled
them with the title of Eleuthero, or Free-Laconians. [16] In the time
of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, they had acquired the name of Mainotes,
under which they dishonor the claim of liberty by the inhuman pillage of
all that is shipwrecked on their rocky shores. Their territory, barren
of corn, but fruitful of olives, extended to the Cape of Malea: they
accepted a chief or prince from the Byzantine praetor, and a light
tribute of four hundred pieces of gold was the badge of their immunity,
rather than of their dependence. The freemen of Laconia assumed the
character of Romans, and long adhered to the religion of the Greeks.
By the zeal of the emperor Basil, they were baptized in the faith of
Christ: but the altars of Venus and Neptune had been crowned by these
rustic votaries five hundred years after they were proscribed in the
Roman world. In the theme of Peloponnesus, [17] forty cities were still
numbered, and the declining state of Sparta, Argos, and Corinth, may be
suspended in the tenth century, at an equal distance, perhaps, between
their antique splendor and their present desolation. The duty of
military service, either in person or by substitute, was imposed on the
lands or benefices of the province; a sum of five pieces of gold was
assessed on each of the substantial tenants; and the same capitation was
shared among several heads of inferior value. On the proclamation of
an Italian war, the Peloponnesians excused themselves by a voluntary
oblation of one hundred pounds of gold, (four thousand pounds sterling,)
and a thousand horses with their arms and trappings. The churches
and monasteries furnished their contingent; a sacrilegious profit was
extorted from the sale of ecclesiastical honors; and the indigent bishop
of Leucadia [18] was made responsible for a pension of one hundred
pieces of gold. [19]

[Footnote 15: Says Constantine, (Thematibus, l. ii. c. vi. p. 25,) in
a style as barbarous as the idea, which he confirms, as usual, by a
foolish epigram. The epitomizer of Strabo likewise observes, (l. vii. p.
98, edit. Hudson. edit. Casaub. 1251;) a passage which leads Dodwell
a weary dance (Geograph, Minor. tom. ii. dissert. vi. p. 170-191) to
enumerate the inroads of the Sclavi, and to fix the date (A.D. 980) of
this petty geographer.]

[Footnote 16: Strabon. Geograph. l. viii. p. 562. Pausanius, Graec.
Descriptio, l. c 21, p. 264, 265. Pliny, Hist. Natur. l. iv. c. 8.]

[Footnote 17: Constantin. de Administrando Imperio, l. ii. c. 50, 51,

[Footnote 18: The rock of Leucate was the southern promontory of his
island and diocese. Had he been the exclusive guardian of the Lover's
Leap so well known to the readers of Ovid (Epist. Sappho) and the
Spectator, he might have been the richest prelate of the Greek church.]

[Footnote 19: Leucatensis mihi juravit episcopus, quotannis ecclesiam
suam debere Nicephoro aureos centum persolvere, similiter et ceteras
plus minusve secundum vires suos, (Liutprand in Legat. p. 489.)]

But the wealth of the province, and the trust of the revenue, were
founded on the fair and plentiful produce of trade and manufacturers;
and some symptoms of liberal policy may be traced in a law which exempts
from all personal taxes the mariners of Peloponnesus, and the workmen
in parchment and purple. This denomination may be fairly applied or
extended to the manufacturers of linen, woollen, and more especially of
silk: the two former of which had flourished in Greece since the days
of Homer; and the last was introduced perhaps as early as the reign
of Justinian. These arts, which were exercised at Corinth, Thebes,
and Argos, afforded food and occupation to a numerous people: the
men, women, and children were distributed according to their age and
strength; and, if many of these were domestic slaves, their masters, who
directed the work and enjoyed the profit, were of a free and honorable
condition. The gifts which a rich and generous matron of Peloponnesus
presented to the emperor Basil, her adopted son, were doubtless
fabricated in the Grecian looms. Danielis bestowed a carpet of fine
wool, of a pattern which imitated the spots of a peacock's tail, of a
magnitude to overspread the floor of a new church, erected in the triple
name of Christ, of Michael the archangel, and of the prophet Elijah.
She gave six hundred pieces of silk and linen, of various use and
denomination: the silk was painted with the Tyrian dye, and adorned by
the labors of the needle; and the linen was so exquisitely fine, that
an entire piece might be rolled in the hollow of a cane. [20] In
his description of the Greek manufactures, an historian of Sicily
discriminates their price, according to the weight and quality of the
silk, the closeness of the texture, the beauty of the colors, and the
taste and materials of the embroidery. A single, or even a double or
treble thread was thought sufficient for ordinary sale; but the union
of six threads composed a piece of stronger and more costly workmanship.
Among the colors, he celebrates, with affectation of eloquence, the
fiery blaze of the scarlet, and the softer lustre of the green. The
embroidery was raised either in silk or gold: the more simple ornament
of stripes or circles was surpassed by the nicer imitation of flowers:
the vestments that were fabricated for the palace or the altar often
glittered with precious stones; and the figures were delineated in
strings of Oriental pearls. [21] Till the twelfth century, Greece alone,
of all the countries of Christendom, was possessed of the insect who
is taught by nature, and of the workmen who are instructed by art,
to prepare this elegant luxury. But the secret had been stolen by the
dexterity and diligence of the Arabs: the caliphs of the East and West
scorned to borrow from the unbelievers their furniture and apparel;
and two cities of Spain, Almeria and Lisbon, were famous for the
manufacture, the use, and, perhaps, the exportation, of silk. It was
first introduced into Sicily by the Normans; and this emigration of
trade distinguishes the victory of Roger from the uniform and fruitless
hostilities of every age. After the sack of Corinth, Athens, and Thebes,
his lieutenant embarked with a captive train of weavers and artificers
of both sexes, a trophy glorious to their master, and disgraceful to the
Greek emperor. [22] The king of Sicily was not insensible of the value
of the present; and, in the restitution of the prisoners, he excepted
only the male and female manufacturers of Thebes and Corinth, who labor,
says the Byzantine historian, under a barbarous lord, like the old
Eretrians in the service of Darius. [23] A stately edifice, in the
palace of Palermo, was erected for the use of this industrious colony;
[24] and the art was propagated by their children and disciples to
satisfy the increasing demand of the western world. The decay of the
looms of Sicily may be ascribed to the troubles of the island, and the
competition of the Italian cities. In the year thirteen hundred and
fourteen, Lucca alone, among her sister republics, enjoyed the lucrative
monopoly. [25] A domestic revolution dispersed the manufacturers to
Florence, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and even the countries beyond the
Alps; and thirteen years after this event the statutes of Modena enjoin
the planting of mulberry-trees, and regulate the duties on raw silk.
[26] The northern climates are less propitious to the education of the
silkworm; but the industry of France and England [27] is supplied and
enriched by the productions of Italy and China.

[Footnote 20: See Constantine, (in Vit. Basil. c. 74, 75, 76, p.
195, 197, in Script. post Theophanem,) who allows himself to use many
technical or barbarous words: barbarous, says he. Ducange labors on
some: but he was not a weaver.]

[Footnote 21: The manufactures of Palermo, as they are described by Hugo
Falcandus, (Hist. Sicula in proem. in Muratori Script. Rerum Italicarum,
tom. v. p. 256,) is a copy of those of Greece. Without transcribing
his declamatory sentences, which I have softened in the text, I shall
observe, that in this passage the strange word exarentasmata is very
properly changed for exanthemata by Carisius, the first editor Falcandus
lived about the year 1190.]

[Footnote 22: Inde ad interiora Graeciae progressi, Corinthum, Thebas,
Athenas, antiqua nobilitate celebres, expugnant; et, maxima ibidem
praeda direpta, opifices etiam, qui sericos pannos texere solent,
ob ignominiam Imperatoris illius, suique principis gloriam, captivos
deducunt. Quos Rogerius, in Palermo Siciliae, metropoli collocans, artem
texendi suos edocere praecepit; et exhinc praedicta ars illa, prius a
Graecis tantum inter Christianos habita, Romanis patere coepit ingeniis,
(Otho Frisingen. de Gestis Frederici I. l. i. c. 33, in Muratori Script.
Ital. tom. vi. p. 668.) This exception allows the bishop to celebrate
Lisbon and Almeria in sericorum pannorum opificio praenobilissimae, (in
Chron. apud Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 415.)]

[Footnote 23: Nicetas in Manuel, l. ii. c. 8. p. 65. He describes these
Greeks as skilled.]

[Footnote 24: Hugo Falcandus styles them nobiles officinas. The Arabs
had not introduced silk, though they had planted canes and made sugar in
the plain of Palermo.]

[Footnote 25: See the Life of Castruccio Casticani, not by Machiavel,
but by his more authentic biographer Nicholas Tegrimi. Muratori, who has
inserted it in the xith volume of his Scriptores, quotes this curious
passage in his Italian Antiquities, (tom. i. dissert. xxv. p. 378.)]

[Footnote 26: From the Ms. statutes, as they are quoted by Muratori in
his Italian Antiquities, (tom. ii. dissert. xxv. p. 46-48.)]

[Footnote 27: The broad silk manufacture was established in England in
the year 1620, (Anderson's Chronological Deduction, vol. ii. p. 4: )
but it is to the revocation of the edict of Nantes that we owe the
Spitalfields colony.]

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part II.

I must repeat the complaint that the vague and scanty memorials of the
times will not afford any just estimate of the taxes, the revenue, and
the resources of the Greek empire. From every province of Europe and
Asia the rivulets of gold and silver discharged into the Imperial
reservoir a copious and perennial stream. The separation of the branches
from the trunk increased the relative magnitude of Constantinople; and
the maxims of despotism contracted the state to the capital, the capital
to the palace, and the palace to the royal person. A Jewish traveller,
who visited the East in the twelfth century, is lost in his admiration
of the Byzantine riches. "It is here," says Benjamin of Tudela, "in
the queen of cities, that the tributes of the Greek empire are annually
deposited and the lofty towers are filled with precious magazines of
silk, purple, and gold. It is said, that Constantinople pays each day
to her sovereign twenty thousand pieces of gold; which are levied on the
shops, taverns, and markets, on the merchants of Persia and Egypt, of
Russia and Hungary, of Italy and Spain, who frequent the capital by
sea and land." [28] In all pecuniary matters, the authority of a Jew
is doubtless respectable; but as the three hundred and sixty-five days
would produce a yearly income exceeding seven millions sterling, I
am tempted to retrench at least the numerous festivals of the Greek
calendar. The mass of treasure that was saved by Theodora and Basil
the Second will suggest a splendid, though indefinite, idea of their
supplies and resources. The mother of Michael, before she retired to a
cloister, attempted to check or expose the prodigality of her ungrateful
son, by a free and faithful account of the wealth which he inherited;
one hundred and nine thousand pounds of gold, and three hundred thousand
of silver, the fruits of her own economy and that of her deceased
husband. [29] The avarice of Basil is not less renowned than his valor
and fortune: his victorious armies were paid and rewarded without
breaking into the mass of two hundred thousand pounds of gold, (about
eight millions sterling,) which he had buried in the subterraneous
vaults of the palace. [30] Such accumulation of treasure is rejected by
the theory and practice of modern policy; and we are more apt to compute
the national riches by the use and abuse of the public credit. Yet the
maxims of antiquity are still embraced by a monarch formidable to his
enemies; by a republic respectable to her allies; and both have attained
their respective ends of military power and domestic tranquillity.

[Footnote 28: Voyage de Benjamin de Tudele, tom. i. c. 5, p. 44-52. The
Hebrew text has been translated into French by that marvellous child
Baratier, who has added a volume of crude learning. The errors and
fictions of the Jewish rabbi are not a sufficient ground to deny the
reality of his travels. * Note: I am inclined, with Buegnot (Les
Juifs d'Occident, part iii. p. 101 et seqq.) and Jost (Geschichte
der Israeliter, vol. vi. anhang. p. 376) to consider this work a mere
compilation, and to doubt the reality of the travels.--M.]

[Footnote 29: See the continuator of Theophanes, (l. iv. p. 107,)
Cedremis, (p. 544,) and Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xvi. p. 157.)]

[Footnote 30: Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xvii. p. 225,) instead of pounds,
uses the more classic appellation of talents, which, in a literal
sense and strict computation, would multiply sixty fold the treasure of

Whatever might be consumed for the present wants, or reserved for the
future use, of the state, the first and most sacred demand was for the
pomp and pleasure of the emperor, and his discretion only could define
the measure of his private expense. The princes of Constantinople were
far removed from the simplicity of nature; yet, with the revolving
seasons, they were led by taste or fashion to withdraw to a purer air,
from the smoke and tumult of the capital. They enjoyed, or affected to
enjoy, the rustic festival of the vintage: their leisure was amused by
the exercise of the chase and the calmer occupation of fishing, and in
the summer heats, they were shaded from the sun, and refreshed by the
cooling breezes from the sea. The coasts and islands of Asia and Europe
were covered with their magnificent villas; but, instead of the modest
art which secretly strives to hide itself and to decorate the scenery of
nature, the marble structure of their gardens served only to expose
the riches of the lord, and the labors of the architect. The successive
casualties of inheritance and forfeiture had rendered the sovereign
proprietor of many stately houses in the city and suburbs, of which
twelve were appropriated to the ministers of state; but the great
palace, [31] the centre of the Imperial residence, was fixed during
eleven centuries to the same position, between the hippodrome, the
cathedral of St. Sophia, and the gardens, which descended by many a
terrace to the shores of the Propontis. The primitive edifice of the
first Constantine was a copy, or rival, of ancient Rome; the gradual
improvements of his successors aspired to emulate the wonders of the old
world, [32] and in the tenth century, the Byzantine palace excited the
admiration, at least of the Latins, by an unquestionable preeminence of
strength, size, and magnificence. [33] But the toil and treasure of so
many ages had produced a vast and irregular pile: each separate building
was marked with the character of the times and of the founder; and the
want of space might excuse the reigning monarch, who demolished, perhaps
with secret satisfaction, the works of his predecessors. The economy
of the emperor Theophilus allowed a more free and ample scope for his
domestic luxury and splendor. A favorite ambassador, who had astonished
the Abbassides themselves by his pride and liberality, presented on his
return the model of a palace, which the caliph of Bagdad had recently
constructed on the banks of the Tigris. The model was instantly copied
and surpassed: the new buildings of Theophilus [34] were accompanied
with gardens, and with five churches, one of which was conspicuous for
size and beauty: it was crowned with three domes, the roof of gilt brass
reposed on columns of Italian marble, and the walls were incrusted with
marbles of various colors. In the face of the church, a semicircular
portico, of the figure and name of the Greek sigma, was supported by
fifteen columns of Phrygian marble, and the subterraneous vaults were of
a similar construction. The square before the sigma was decorated with
a fountain, and the margin of the basin was lined and encompassed with
plates of silver. In the beginning of each season, the basin, instead
of water, was replenished with the most exquisite fruits, which were
abandoned to the populace for the entertainment of the prince. He
enjoyed this tumultuous spectacle from a throne resplendent with gold
and gems, which was raised by a marble staircase to the height of a
lofty terrace. Below the throne were seated the officers of his guards,
the magistrates, the chiefs of the factions of the circus; the inferior
steps were occupied by the people, and the place below was covered with
troops of dancers, singers, and pantomimes. The square was surrounded
by the hall of justice, the arsenal, and the various offices of
business and pleasure; and the purple chamber was named from the annual
distribution of robes of scarlet and purple by the hand of the empress
herself. The long series of the apartments was adapted to the seasons,
and decorated with marble and porphyry, with painting, sculpture, and
mosaics, with a profusion of gold, silver, and precious stones. His
fanciful magnificence employed the skill and patience of such artists
as the times could afford: but the taste of Athens would have despised
their frivolous and costly labors; a golden tree, with its leaves and
branches, which sheltered a multitude of birds warbling their artificial
notes, and two lions of massy gold, and of natural size, who looked and
roared like their brethren of the forest. The successors of Theophilus,
of the Basilian and Comnenian dynasties, were not less ambitious of
leaving some memorial of their residence; and the portion of the palace
most splendid and august was dignified with the title of the golden
triclinium. [35] With becoming modesty, the rich and noble Greeks
aspired to imitate their sovereign, and when they passed through the
streets on horseback, in their robes of silk and embroidery, they were
mistaken by the children for kings. [36] A matron of Peloponnesus,
[37] who had cherished the infant fortunes of Basil the Macedonian, was
excited by tenderness or vanity to visit the greatness of her adopted
son. In a journey of five hundred miles from Patras to Constantinople,
her age or indolence declined the fatigue of a horse or carriage: the
soft litter or bed of Danielis was transported on the shoulders of ten
robust slaves; and as they were relieved at easy distances, a band of
three hundred were selected for the performance of this service. She
was entertained in the Byzantine palace with filial reverence, and the
honors of a queen; and whatever might be the origin of her wealth, her
gifts were not unworthy of the regal dignity. I have already described
the fine and curious manufactures of Peloponnesus, of linen, silk, and
woollen; but the most acceptable of her presents consisted in three
hundred beautiful youths, of whom one hundred were eunuchs; [38] "for
she was not ignorant," says the historian, "that the air of the palace
is more congenial to such insects, than a shepherd's dairy to the flies
of the summer." During her lifetime, she bestowed the greater part of
her estates in Peloponnesus, and her testament instituted Leo, the
son of Basil, her universal heir. After the payment of the legacies,
fourscore villas or farms were added to the Imperial domain; and three
thousand slaves of Danielis were enfranchised by their new lord, and
transplanted as a colony to the Italian coast. From this example of
a private matron, we may estimate the wealth and magnificence of the
emperors. Yet our enjoyments are confined by a narrow circle; and,
whatsoever may be its value, the luxury of life is possessed with more
innocence and safety by the master of his own, than by the steward of
the public, fortune.

[Footnote 31: For a copious and minute description of the Imperial
palace, see the Constantinop. Christiana (l. ii. c. 4, p. 113-123) of
Ducange, the Tillemont of the middle ages. Never has laborious Germany
produced two antiquarians more laborious and accurate than these two
natives of lively France.]

[Footnote 32: The Byzantine palace surpasses the Capitol, the palace
of Pergamus, the Rufinian wood, the temple of Adrian at Cyzicus, the
pyramids, the Pharus, &c., according to an epigram (Antholog. Graec. l.
iv. p. 488, 489. Brodaei, apud Wechel) ascribed to Julian, ex-praefect
of Egypt. Seventy-one of his epigrams, some lively, are collected in
Brunck, (Analect. Graec. tom. ii. p. 493-510; but this is wanting.]

[Footnote 33: Constantinopolitanum Palatium non pulchritudine solum,
verum stiam fortitudine, omnibus quas unquam videram munitionibus
praestat, (Liutprand, Hist. l. v. c. 9, p. 465.)]

[Footnote 34: See the anonymous continuator of Theophanes, (p. 59, 61,
86,) whom I have followed in the neat and concise abstract of Le Beau,
(Hint. du Bas Empire, tom. xiv. p. 436, 438.)]

[Footnote 35: In aureo triclinio quae praestantior est pars
potentissimus (the usurper Romanus) degens caeteras partes (filiis)
distribuerat, (Liutprand. Hist. l. v. c. 9, p. 469.) For this last
signification of Triclinium see Ducange (Gloss. Graec. et Observations
sur Joinville, p. 240) and Reiske, (ad Constantinum de Ceremoniis, p.

[Footnote 36: In equis vecti (says Benjamin of Tudela) regum filiis
videntur persimiles. I prefer the Latin version of Constantine
l'Empereur (p. 46) to the French of Baratier, (tom. i. p. 49.)]

[Footnote 37: See the account of her journey, munificence, and
testament, in the life of Basil, by his grandson Constantine, (p. 74,
75, 76, p. 195-197.)]

[Footnote 38: Carsamatium. Graeci vocant, amputatis virilibus et virga,
puerum eunuchum quos Verdunenses mercatores obinmensum lucrum facere
solent et in Hispaniam ducere, (Liutprand, l. vi. c. 3, p. 470.)--The
last abomination of the abominable slave-trade! Yet I am surprised
to find, in the xth century, such active speculations of commerce in

In an absolute government, which levels the distinctions of noble and
plebeian birth, the sovereign is the sole fountain of honor; and the
rank, both in the palace and the empire, depends on the titles and
offices which are bestowed and resumed by his arbitrary will. Above a
thousand years, from Vespasian to Alexius Comnenus, [39] the Caesar
was the second person, or at least the second degree, after the supreme
title of Augustus was more freely communicated to the sons and brothers
of the reigning monarch. To elude without violating his promise to
a powerful associate, the husband of his sister, and, without giving
himself an equal, to reward the piety of his brother Isaac, the crafty
Alexius interposed a new and supereminent dignity. The happy flexibility
of the Greek tongue allowed him to compound the names of Augustus and
Emperor (Sebastos and Autocrator,) and the union produces the sonorous
title of Sebastocrator. He was exalted above the Caesar on the first
step of the throne: the public acclamations repeated his name; and he
was only distinguished from the sovereign by some peculiar ornaments
of the head and feet. The emperor alone could assume the purple or red
buskins, and the close diadem or tiara, which imitated the fashion of
the Persian kings. [40] It was a high pyramidal cap of cloth or silk,
almost concealed by a profusion of pearls and jewels: the crown was
formed by a horizontal circle and two arches of gold: at the summit,
the point of their intersection, was placed a globe or cross, and two
strings or lappets of pearl depended on either cheek. Instead of red,
the buskins of the Sebastocrator and Caesar were green; and on
their open coronets or crowns, the precious gems were more sparingly
distributed. Beside and below the Caesar the fancy of Alexius
created the Panhypersebastos and the Protosebastos, whose sound and
signification will satisfy a Grecian ear. They imply a superiority and
a priority above the simple name of Augustus; and this sacred and
primitive title of the Roman prince was degraded to the kinsmen and
servants of the Byzantine court. The daughter of Alexius applauds, with
fond complacency, this artful gradation of hopes and honors; but the
science of words is accessible to the meanest capacity; and this vain
dictionary was easily enriched by the pride of his successors. To their
favorite sons or brothers, they imparted the more lofty appellation
of Lord or Despot, which was illustrated with new ornaments, and
prerogatives, and placed immediately after the person of the emperor
himself. The five titles of, 1. Despot; 2. Sebastocrator; 3. Caesar; 4.
Panhypersebastos; and, 5. Protosebastos; were usually confined to the
princes of his blood: they were the emanations of his majesty; but as
they exercised no regular functions, their existence was useless, and
their authority precarious.

[Footnote 39: See the Alexiad (l. iii. p. 78, 79) of Anna Comnena, who,
except in filial piety, may be compared to Mademoiselle de Montpensier.
In her awful reverence for titles and forms, she styles her father, the
inventor of this royal art.]

[Footnote 40: See Reiske, and Ceremoniale, p. 14, 15. Ducange has given
a learned dissertation on the crowns of Constantinople, Rome, France,
&c., (sur Joinville, xxv. p. 289-303;) but of his thirty-four models,
none exactly tally with Anne's description.]

But in every monarchy the substantial powers of government must be
divided and exercised by the ministers of the palace and treasury, the
fleet and army. The titles alone can differ; and in the revolution of
ages, the counts and praefects, the praetor and quaestor, insensibly
descended, while their servants rose above their heads to the first
honors of the state. 1. In a monarchy, which refers every object to the
person of the prince, the care and ceremonies of the palace form the
most respectable department. The Curopalata, [41] so illustrious in the
age of Justinian, was supplanted by the Protovestiare, whose primitive
functions were limited to the custody of the wardrobe. From thence his
jurisdiction was extended over the numerous menials of pomp and luxury;
and he presided with his silver wand at the public and private audience.
2. In the ancient system of Constantine, the name of Logothete, or
accountant, was applied to the receivers of the finances: the principal
officers were distinguished as the Logothetes of the domain, of
the posts, the army, the private and public treasure; and the great
Logothete, the supreme guardian of the laws and revenues, is compared
with the chancellor of the Latin monarchies. [42] His discerning
eye pervaded the civil administration; and he was assisted, in due
subordination, by the eparch or praefect of the city, the first
secretary, and the keepers of the privy seal, the archives, and the red
or purple ink which was reserved for the sacred signature of the emperor
alone. [43] The introductor and interpreter of foreign ambassadors
were the great Chiauss [44] and the Dragoman, [45] two names of Turkish
origin, and which are still familiar to the Sublime Porte. 3. From the
humble style and service of guards, the Domestics insensibly rose to
the station of generals; the military themes of the East and West, the
legions of Europe and Asia, were often divided, till the great Domestic
was finally invested with the universal and absolute command of the land
forces. The Protostrator, in his original functions, was the assistant
of the emperor when he mounted on horseback: he gradually became the
lieutenant of the great Domestic in the field; and his jurisdiction
extended over the stables, the cavalry, and the royal train of hunting
and hawking. The Stratopedarch was the great judge of the camp: the
Protospathaire commanded the guards; the Constable, [46] the great
Aeteriarch, and the Acolyth, were the separate chiefs of the Franks, the
Barbarians, and the Varangi, or English, the mercenary strangers, who,
a the decay of the national spirit, formed the nerve of the Byzantine
armies. 4. The naval powers were under the command of the great Duke;
in his absence they obeyed the great Drungaire of the fleet; and, in
his place, the Emir, or Admiral, a name of Saracen extraction, [47] but
which has been naturalized in all the modern languages of Europe. Of
these officers, and of many more whom it would be useless to enumerate,
the civil and military hierarchy was framed. Their honors and
emoluments, their dress and titles, their mutual salutations and
respective preeminence, were balanced with more exquisite labor than
would have fixed the constitution of a free people; and the code was
almost perfect when this baseless fabric, the monument of pride and
servitude, was forever buried in the ruins of the empire. [48]

[Footnote 41: Par exstans curis, solo diademate dispar, Ordine pro rerum
vocitatus Cura-Palati, says the African Corippus, (de Laudibus Justini,
l. i. 136,) and in the same century (the vith) Cassiodorus represents
him, who, virga aurea decoratus, inter numerosa obsequia primus
ante pedes regis incederet (Variar. vii. 5.) But this great officer,
(unknown,) exercising no function, was cast down by the modern Greeks to
the xvth rank, (Codin. c. 5, p. 65.)]

[Footnote 42: Nicetas (in Manuel, l. vii. c. 1) defines him. Yet the
epithet was added by the elder Andronicus, (Ducange, tom. i. p. 822,

[Footnote 43: From Leo I. (A.D. 470) the Imperial ink, which is still
visible on some original acts, was a mixture of vermilion and cinnabar,
or purple. The emperor's guardians, who shared in this prerogative,
always marked in green ink the indiction and the month. See the
Dictionnaire Diplomatique, (tom. i. p. 511-513) a valuable abridgment.]

[Footnote 44: The sultan sent to Alexius, (Anna Comnena, l. vi. p. 170.
Ducange ad loc.;) and Pachymer often speaks, (l. vii. c. 1, l. xii.
c. 30, l. xiii. c. 22.) The Chiaoush basha is now at the head of 700
officers, (Rycaut's Ottoman Empire, p. 349, octavo edition.)]

[Footnote 45: Tagerman is the Arabic name of an interpreter,
(D'Herbelot, p. 854, 855;), says Codinus, (c. v. No. 70, p. 67.)
See Villehardouin, (No. 96,) Bus, (Epist. iv. p. 338,) and Ducange,
(Observations sur Villehardouin, and Gloss. Graec. et Latin)]

[Footnote 46: A corruption from the Latin Comes stabuli, or the French
Connetable. In a military sense, it was used by the Greeks in the
eleventh century, at least as early as in France.]

[Footnote 47: It was directly borrowed from the Normans. In the
xiith century, Giannone reckons the admiral of Sicily among the great

[Footnote 48: This sketch of honors and offices is drawn from George
Cordinus Curopalata, who survived the taking of Constantinople by the
Turks: his elaborate, though trifling, work (de Officiis Ecclesiae et
Aulae C. P.) has been illustrated by the notes of Goar, and the three
books of Gretser, a learned Jesuit.]

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part III.

The most lofty titles, and the most humble postures, which devotion has
applied to the Supreme Being, have been prostituted by flattery and fear
to creatures of the same nature with ourselves. The mode of adoration,
[49] of falling prostrate on the ground, and kissing the feet of the
emperor, was borrowed by Diocletian from Persian servitude; but it
was continued and aggravated till the last age of the Greek monarchy.
Excepting only on Sundays, when it was waived, from a motive of
religious pride, this humiliating reverence was exacted from all who
entered the royal presence, from the princes invested with the diadem
and purple, and from the ambassadors who represented their independent
sovereigns, the caliphs of Asia, Egypt, or Spain, the kings of France
and Italy, and the Latin emperors of ancient Rome. In his transactions
of business, Liutprand, bishop of Cremona, [50] asserted the free spirit
of a Frank and the dignity of his master Otho. Yet his sincerity cannot
disguise the abasement of his first audience. When he approached the
throne, the birds of the golden tree began to warble their notes, which
were accompanied by the roarings of the two lions of gold. With his two
companions Liutprand was compelled to bow and to fall prostrate; and
thrice to touch the ground with his forehead. He arose, but in the short
interval, the throne had been hoisted from the floor to the ceiling,
the Imperial figure appeared in new and more gorgeous apparel, and the
interview was concluded in haughty and majestic silence. In this honest
and curious narrative, the Bishop of Cremona represents the ceremonies
of the Byzantine court, which are still practised in the Sublime Porte,
and which were preserved in the last age by the dukes of Muscovy
or Russia. After a long journey by sea and land, from Venice to
Constantinople, the ambassador halted at the golden gate, till he was
conducted by the formal officers to the hospitable palace prepared for
his reception; but this palace was a prison, and his jealous keepers
prohibited all social intercourse either with strangers or natives.
At his first audience, he offered the gifts of his master, slaves, and
golden vases, and costly armor. The ostentatious payment of the officers
and troops displayed before his eyes the riches of the empire: he was
entertained at a royal banquet, [51] in which the ambassadors of the
nations were marshalled by the esteem or contempt of the Greeks: from
his own table, the emperor, as the most signal favor, sent the plates
which he had tasted; and his favorites were dismissed with a robe
of honor. [52] In the morning and evening of each day, his civil and
military servants attended their duty in the palace; their labors were
repaid by the sight, perhaps by the smile, of their lord; his commands
were signified by a nod or a sign: but all earthly greatness stood
silent and submissive in his presence. In his regular or extraordinary
processions through the capital, he unveiled his person to the public
view: the rites of policy were connected with those of religion, and his
visits to the principal churches were regulated by the festivals of the
Greek calendar. On the eve of these processions, the gracious or devout
intention of the monarch was proclaimed by the heralds. The streets were
cleared and purified; the pavement was strewed with flowers; the most
precious furniture, the gold and silver plate, and silken hangings,
were displayed from the windows and balconies, and a severe discipline
restrained and silenced the tumult of the populace. The march was opened
by the military officers at the head of their troops: they were followed
in long order by the magistrates and ministers of the civil government:
the person of the emperor was guarded by his eunuchs and domestics, and
at the church door he was solemnly received by the patriarch and
his clergy. The task of applause was not abandoned to the rude and
spontaneous voices of the crowd. The most convenient stations were
occupied by the bands of the blue and green factions of the circus; and
their furious conflicts, which had shaken the capital, were insensibly
sunk to an emulation of servitude. From either side they echoed in
responsive melody the praises of the emperor; their poets and musicians
directed the choir, and long life [53] and victory were the burden of
every song. The same acclamations were performed at the audience, the
banquet, and the church; and as an evidence of boundless sway, they were
repeated in the Latin, [54] Gothic, Persian, French, and even English
language, [55] by the mercenaries who sustained the real or fictitious
character of those nations. By the pen of Constantine Porphyrogenitus,
this science of form and flattery has been reduced into a pompous and
trifling volume, [56] which the vanity of succeeding times might enrich
with an ample supplement. Yet the calmer reflection of a prince
would surely suggest that the same acclamations were applied to every
character and every reign: and if he had risen from a private rank, he
might remember, that his own voice had been the loudest and most eager
in applause, at the very moment when he envied the fortune, or conspired
against the life, of his predecessor. [57]

[Footnote 49: The respectful salutation of carrying the hand to the
mouth, ad os, is the root of the Latin word adoro, adorare. See our
learned Selden, (vol. iii. p. 143-145, 942,) in his Titles of Honor. It
seems, from the 1st book of Herodotus, to be of Persian origin.]

[Footnote 50: The two embassies of Liutprand to Constantinople, all that
he saw or suffered in the Greek capital, are pleasantly described
by himself (Hist. l. vi. c. 1-4, p. 469-471. Legatio ad Nicephorum
Phocam, p. 479-489.)]

[Footnote 51: Among the amusements of the feast, a boy balanced, on his
forehead, a pike, or pole, twenty-four feet long, with a cross bar of
two cubits a little below the top. Two boys, naked, though cinctured,
(campestrati,) together, and singly, climbed, stood, played, descended,
&c., ita me stupidum reddidit: utrum mirabilius nescio, (p. 470.) At
another repast a homily of Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles was
read elata voce non Latine, (p. 483.)]

[Footnote 52: Gala is not improbably derived from Cala, or Caloat, in
Arabic a robe of honor, (Reiske, Not. in Ceremon. p. 84.)]

[Footnote 53: It is explained, (Codin, c. 7. Ducange, Gloss. Graec. tom.
i. p. 1199.)]

[Footnote 54: (Ceremon. c. 75, p. 215.) The want of the Latin 'V'
obliged the Greeks to employ their 'beta'; nor do they regard quantity.
Till he recollected the true language, these strange sentences might
puzzle a professor.]

[Footnote 55: (Codin.p. 90.) I wish he had preserved the words, however
corrupt, of their English acclamation.]

[Footnote 56: For all these ceremonies, see the professed work of
Constantine Porphyrogenitus with the notes, or rather dissertations,
of his German editors, Leich and Reiske. For the rank of standing
courtiers, p. 80, not. 23, 62; for the adoration, except on Sundays,
p. 95, 240, not. 131; the processions, p. 2, &c., not. p. 3, &c.;
the acclamations passim not. 25 &c.; the factions and Hippodrome, p.
177-214, not. 9, 93, &c.; the Gothic games, p. 221, not. 111; vintage,
p. 217, not 109: much more information is scattered over the work.]

[Footnote 57: Et privato Othoni et nuper eadem dicenti nota adulatio,
(Tacit. Hist. 1,85.)]

The princes of the North, of the nations, says Constantine, without
faith or fame, were ambitious of mingling their blood with the blood of
the Caesars, by their marriage with a royal virgin, or by the nuptials
of their daughters with a Roman prince. [58] The aged monarch, in his
instructions to his son, reveals the secret maxims of policy and pride;
and suggests the most decent reasons for refusing these insolent and
unreasonable demands. Every animal, says the discreet emperor, is
prompted by the distinction of language, religion, and manners. A just
regard to the purity of descent preserves the harmony of public and
private life; but the mixture of foreign blood is the fruitful source of
disorder and discord. Such had ever been the opinion and practice of the
sage Romans: their jurisprudence proscribed the marriage of a citizen
and a stranger: in the days of freedom and virtue, a senator would have
scorned to match his daughter with a king: the glory of Mark Antony was
sullied by an Egyptian wife: [59] and the emperor Titus was compelled,
by popular censure, to dismiss with reluctance the reluctant Berenice.
[60] This perpetual interdict was ratified by the fabulous sanction of
the great Constantine. The ambassadors of the nations, more especially
of the unbelieving nations, were solemnly admonished, that such strange
alliances had been condemned by the founder of the church and city.
The irrevocable law was inscribed on the altar of St. Sophia; and the
impious prince who should stain the majesty of the purple was excluded
from the civil and ecclesiastical communion of the Romans. If the
ambassadors were instructed by any false brethren in the Byzantine
history, they might produce three memorable examples of the violation
of this imaginary law: the marriage of Leo, or rather of his father
Constantine the Fourth, with the daughter of the king of the Chozars,
the nuptials of the granddaughter of Romanus with a Bulgarian prince,
and the union of Bertha of France or Italy with young Romanus, the
son of Constantine Porphyrogenitus himself. To these objections three
answers were prepared, which solved the difficulty and established the
law. I.

The deed and the guilt of Constantine Copronymus were acknowledged.
The Isaurian heretic, who sullied the baptismal font, and declared war
against the holy images, had indeed embraced a Barbarian wife. By this
impious alliance he accomplished the measure of his crimes, and was
devoted to the just censure of the church and of posterity. II. Romanus
could not be alleged as a legitimate emperor; he was a plebeian usurper,
ignorant of the laws, and regardless of the honor, of the monarchy. His
son Christopher, the father of the bride, was the third in rank in
the college of princes, at once the subject and the accomplice of a
rebellious parent. The Bulgarians were sincere and devout Christians;
and the safety of the empire, with the redemption of many thousand
captives, depended on this preposterous alliance. Yet no consideration
could dispense from the law of Constantine: the clergy, the senate, and
the people, disapproved the conduct of Romanus; and he was reproached,
both in his life and death, as the author of the public disgrace. III.
For the marriage of his own son with the daughter of Hugo, king
of Italy, a more honorable defence is contrived by the wise
Porphyrogenitus. Constantine, the great and holy, esteemed the fidelity
and valor of the Franks; [61] and his prophetic spirit beheld the vision
of their future greatness. They alone were excepted from the general
prohibition: Hugo, king of France, was the lineal descendant of
Charlemagne; [62] and his daughter Bertha inherited the prerogatives of
her family and nation. The voice of truth and malice insensibly betrayed
the fraud or error of the Imperial court. The patrimonial estate of Hugo
was reduced from the monarchy of France to the simple county of Arles;
though it was not denied, that, in the confusion of the times, he had
usurped the sovereignty of Provence, and invaded the kingdom of Italy.
His father was a private noble; and if Bertha derived her female descent
from the Carlovingian line, every step was polluted with illegitimacy
or vice. The grandmother of Hugo was the famous Valdrada, the concubine,
rather than the wife, of the second Lothair; whose adultery, divorce,
and second nuptials, had provoked against him the thunders of
the Vatican. His mother, as she was styled, the great Bertha, was
successively the wife of the count of Arles and of the marquis of
Tuscany: France and Italy were scandalized by her gallantries; and, till
the age of threescore, her lovers, of every degree, were the zealous
servants of her ambition. The example of maternal incontinence was
copied by the king of Italy; and the three favorite concubines of Hugo
were decorated with the classic names of Venus, Juno, and Semele. [63]
The daughter of Venus was granted to the solicitations of the Byzantine
court: her name of Bertha was changed to that of Eudoxia; and she was
wedded, or rather betrothed, to young Romanus, the future heir of
the empire of the East. The consummation of this foreign alliance was
suspended by the tender age of the two parties; and, at the end of five
years, the union was dissolved by the death of the virgin spouse. The
second wife of the emperor Romanus was a maiden of plebeian, but of
Roman, birth; and their two daughters, Theophano and Anne, were given
in marriage to the princes of the earth. The eldest was bestowed, as the
pledge of peace, on the eldest son of the great Otho, who had solicited
this alliance with arms and embassies. It might legally be questioned
how far a Saxon was entitled to the privilege of the French nation;
but every scruple was silenced by the fame and piety of a hero who had
restored the empire of the West. After the death of her father-in-law
and husband, Theophano governed Rome, Italy, and Germany, during the
minority of her son, the third Otho; and the Latins have praised the
virtues of an empress, who sacrificed to a superior duty the remembrance
of her country. [64] In the nuptials of her sister Anne, every prejudice
was lost, and every consideration of dignity was superseded, by
the stronger argument of necessity and fear. A Pagan of the North,
Wolodomir, great prince of Russia, aspired to a daughter of the Roman
purple; and his claim was enforced by the threats of war, the promise of
conversion, and the offer of a powerful succor against a domestic rebel.
A victim of her religion and country, the Grecian princess was torn
from the palace of her fathers, and condemned to a savage reign, and a
hopeless exile on the banks of the Borysthenes, or in the neighborhood
of the Polar circle. [65] Yet the marriage of Anne was fortunate and
fruitful: the daughter of her grandson Joroslaus was recommended by her
Imperial descent; and the king of France, Henry I., sought a wife on the
last borders of Europe and Christendom. [66]

[Footnote 58: The xiiith chapter, de Administratione Imperii, may be
explained and rectified by the Familiae Byzantinae of Ducange.]

[Footnote 59: Sequiturque nefas Aegyptia conjux, (Virgil, Aeneid, viii.
688.) Yet this Egyptian wife was the daughter of a long line of kings.
Quid te mutavit (says Antony in a private letter to Augustus) an quod
reginam ineo? Uxor mea est, (Sueton. in August. c. 69.) Yet I much
question (for I cannot stay to inquire) whether the triumvir ever dared
to celebrate his marriage either with Roman or Egyptian rites.]

[Footnote 60: Berenicem invitus invitam dimisit, (Suetonius in Tito, c.
7.) Have I observed elsewhere, that this Jewish beauty was at this
time above fifty years of age? The judicious Racine has most discreetly
suppressed both her age and her country.]

[Footnote 61: Constantine was made to praise the the Franks, with whom
he claimed a private and public alliance. The French writers (Isaac
Casaubon in Dedicat. Polybii) are highly delighted with these

[Footnote 62: Constantine Porphyrogenitus (de Administrat. Imp. c.
36) exhibits a pedigree and life of the illustrious King Hugo. A more
correct idea may be formed from the Criticism of Pagi, the Annals of
Muratori, and the Abridgment of St. Marc, A.D. 925-946.]

[Footnote 63: After the mention of the three goddesses, Luitprand very
naturally adds, et quoniam non rex solus iis abutebatur, earum nati
ex incertis patribus originera ducunt, (Hist. l. iv. c. 6: ) for
the marriage of the younger Bertha, see Hist. l. v. c. 5; for the
incontinence of the elder, dulcis exercipio Hymenaei, l. ii. c. 15; for
the virtues and vices of Hugo, l. iii. c. 5. Yet it must not be forgot,
that the bishop of Cremona was a lover of scandal.]

[Footnote 64: Licet illa Imperatrix Graeca sibi et aliis fuisset satis
utilis, et optima, &c., is the preamble of an inimical writer, apud
Pagi, tom. iv. A.D. 989, No. 3. Her marriage and principal actions may
be found in Muratori, Pagi, and St. Marc, under the proper years.]

[Footnote 65: Cedrenus, tom. ii. p. 699. Zonaras, tom. i. p. 221.
Elmacin, Hist. Saracenica, l. iii. c. 6. Nestor apud Levesque, tom. ii.
p. 112 Pagi, Critica, A.D. 987, No. 6: a singular concourse! Wolodomir
and Anne are ranked among the saints of the Russian church. Yet we know
his vices, and are ignorant of her virtues.]

[Footnote 66: Henricus primus duxit uxorem Scythicam, Russam, filiam
regis Jeroslai. An embassy of bishops was sent into Russia, and the
father gratanter filiam cum multis donis misit. This event happened in
the year 1051. See the passages of the original chronicles in Bouquet's
Historians of France, (tom. xi. p. 29, 159, 161, 319, 384, 481.)
Voltaire might wonder at this alliance; but he should not have owned
his ignorance of the country, religion, &c., of Jeroslaus--a name so
conspicuous in the Russian annals.]

In the Byzantine palace, the emperor was the first slave of the
ceremonies which he imposed, of the rigid forms which regulated each
word and gesture, besieged him in the palace, and violated the leisure
of his rural solitude. But the lives and fortunes of millions hung on
his arbitrary will; and the firmest minds, superior to the allurements
of pomp and luxury, may be seduced by the more active pleasure of
commanding their equals. The legislative and executive powers were
centred in the person of the monarch, and the last remains of the
authority of the senate were finally eradicated by Leo the philosopher.
[67] A lethargy of servitude had benumbed the minds of the Greeks: in
the wildest tumults of rebellion they never aspired to the idea of a
free constitution; and the private character of the prince was the only
source and measure of their public happiness. Superstition rivetted
their chains; in the church of St. Sophia he was solemnly crowned by
the patriarch; at the foot of the altar, they pledged their passive and
unconditional obedience to his government and family. On his side he
engaged to abstain as much as possible from the capital punishments of
death and mutilation; his orthodox creed was subscribed with his own
hand, and he promised to obey the decrees of the seven synods, and the
canons of the holy church. [68] But the assurance of mercy was loose and
indefinite: he swore, not to his people, but to an invisible judge; and
except in the inexpiable guilt of heresy, the ministers of heaven were
always prepared to preach the indefeasible right, and to absolve the
venial transgressions, of their sovereign. The Greek ecclesiastics were
themselves the subjects of the civil magistrate: at the nod of a tyrant,
the bishops were created, or transferred, or deposed, or punished with
an ignominious death: whatever might be their wealth or influence, they
could never succeed like the Latin clergy in the establishment of an
independent republic; and the patriarch of Constantinople condemned,
what he secretly envied, the temporal greatness of his Roman brother.
Yet the exercise of boundless despotism is happily checked by the laws
of nature and necessity. In proportion to his wisdom and virtue, the
master of an empire is confined to the path of his sacred and laborious
duty. In proportion to his vice and folly, he drops the sceptre too
weighty for his hands; and the motions of the royal image are ruled by
the imperceptible thread of some minister or favorite, who undertakes
for his private interest to exercise the task of the public oppression.
In some fatal moment, the most absolute monarch may dread the reason
or the caprice of a nation of slaves; and experience has proved, that
whatever is gained in the extent, is lost in the safety and solidity, of
regal power.

[Footnote 67: A constitution of Leo the Philosopher (lxxviii.) ne
senatus consulta amplius fiant, speaks the language of naked despotism.]

[Footnote 68: Codinus (de Officiis, c. xvii. p. 120, 121) gives an idea
of this oath so strong to the church, so weak to the people.]

Whatever titles a despot may assume, whatever claims he may assert, it
is on the sword that he must ultimately depend to guard him against his
foreign and domestic enemies. From the age of Charlemagne to that of the
Crusades, the world (for I overlook the remote monarchy of China) was
occupied and disputed by the three great empires or nations of the
Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks. Their military strength may be
ascertained by a comparison of their courage, their arts and riches, and
their obedience to a supreme head, who might call into action all the
energies of the state. The Greeks, far inferior to their rivals in the
first, were superior to the Franks, and at least equal to the Saracens,
in the second and third of these warlike qualifications.

The wealth of the Greeks enabled them to purchase the service of the
poorer nations, and to maintain a naval power for the protection of
their coasts and the annoyance of their enemies. [69] A commerce of
mutual benefit exchanged the gold of Constantinople for the blood
of Sclavonians and Turks, the Bulgarians and Russians: their valor
contributed to the victories of Nicephorus and Zimisces; and if a
hostile people pressed too closely on the frontier, they were recalled
to the defence of their country, and the desire of peace, by the
well-managed attack of a more distant tribe. [70] The command of the
Mediterranean, from the mouth of the Tanais to the columns of
Hercules, was always claimed, and often possessed, by the successors of
Constantine. Their capital was filled with naval stores and dexterous
artificers: the situation of Greece and Asia, the long coasts, deep
gulfs, and numerous islands, accustomed their subjects to the exercise
of navigation; and the trade of Venice and Amalfi supplied a nursery of
seamen to the Imperial fleet. [71] Since the time of the Peloponnesian
and Punic wars, the sphere of action had not been enlarged; and the
science of naval architecture appears to have declined. The art of
constructing those stupendous machines which displayed three, or six,
or ten, ranges of oars, rising above, or falling behind, each other,
was unknown to the ship-builders of Constantinople, as well as to the
mechanicians of modern days. [72] The Dromones, [73] or light galleys of
the Byzantine empire, were content with two tier of oars; each tier was
composed of five-and-twenty benches; and two rowers were seated on each
bench, who plied their oars on either side of the vessel. To these we
must add the captain or centurion, who, in time of action, stood erect
with his armor-bearer on the poop, two steersmen at the helm, and two
officers at the prow, the one to manage the anchor, the other to point
and play against the enemy the tube of liquid fire. The whole crew, as
in the infancy of the art, performed the double service of mariners and
soldiers; they were provided with defensive and offensive arms, with
bows and arrows, which they used from the upper deck, with long pikes,
which they pushed through the portholes of the lower tier. Sometimes,
indeed, the ships of war were of a larger and more solid construction;
and the labors of combat and navigation were more regularly divided
between seventy soldiers and two hundred and thirty mariners. But for
the most part they were of the light and manageable size; and as
the Cape of Malea in Peloponnesus was still clothed with its ancient
terrors, an Imperial fleet was transported five miles over land across
the Isthmus of Corinth. [74] The principles of maritime tactics had not
undergone any change since the time of Thucydides: a squadron of galleys
still advanced in a crescent, charged to the front, and strove to impel
their sharp beaks against the feeble sides of their antagonists. A
machine for casting stones and darts was built of strong timbers, in the
midst of the deck; and the operation of boarding was effected by a crane
that hoisted baskets of armed men. The language of signals, so clear and
copious in the naval grammar of the moderns, was imperfectly expressed
by the various positions and colors of a commanding flag. In the
darkness of the night, the same orders to chase, to attack, to halt, to
retreat, to break, to form, were conveyed by the lights of the leading
galley. By land, the fire-signals were repeated from one mountain to
another; a chain of eight stations commanded a space of five hundred
miles; and Constantinople in a few hours was apprised of the hostile
motions of the Saracens of Tarsus. [75] Some estimate may be formed of
the power of the Greek emperors, by the curious and minute detail of the
armament which was prepared for the reduction of Crete. A fleet of one
hundred and twelve galleys, and seventy-five vessels of the Pamphylian
style, was equipped in the capital, the islands of the Aegean Sea, and
the seaports of Asia, Macedonia, and Greece. It carried thirty-four
thousand mariners, seven thousand three hundred and forty soldiers,
seven hundred Russians, and five thousand and eighty-seven Mardaites,
whose fathers had been transplanted from the mountains of Libanus. Their
pay, most probably of a month, was computed at thirty-four centenaries
of gold, about one hundred and thirty-six thousand pounds sterling. Our
fancy is bewildered by the endless recapitulation of arms and engines,
of clothes and linen, of bread for the men and forage for the horses,
and of stores and utensils of every description, inadequate to the
conquest of a petty island, but amply sufficient for the establishment
of a flourishing colony. [76]

[Footnote 69: If we listen to the threats of Nicephorus to the
ambassador of Otho, Nec est in mari domino tuo classium numerus.
Navigantium fortitudo mihi soli inest, qui eum classibus aggrediar,
bello maritimas ejus civitates demoliar; et quae fluminibus sunt vicina
redigam in favillam. (Liutprand in Legat. ad Nicephorum Phocam, in
Muratori Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii. pars i. p. 481.) He
observes in another place, qui caeteris praestant Venetici sunt et

[Footnote 70: Nec ipsa capiet eum (the emperor Otho) in qua ortus est
pauper et pellicea Saxonia: pecunia qua pollemus omnes nationes super
eum invitabimus: et quasi Keramicum confringemus, (Liutprand in Legat.
p. 487.) The two books, de Administrando Imperio, perpetually inculcate
the same policy.]

[Footnote 71: The xixth chapter of the Tactics of Leo, (Meurs. Opera,
tom. vi. p. 825-848,) which is given more correct from a manuscript
of Gudius, by the laborious Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p.
372-379,) relates to the Naumachia, or naval war.]

[Footnote 72: Even of fifteen and sixteen rows of oars, in the navy
of Demetrius Poliorcetes. These were for real use: the forty rows of
Ptolemy Philadelphus were applied to a floating palace, whose tonnage,
according to Dr. Arbuthnot, (Tables of Ancient Coins, &c., p. 231-236,)
is compared as 4 1/2 to 1 with an English 100 gun ship.]

[Footnote 73: The Dromones of Leo, &c., are so clearly described with
two tier of oars, that I must censure the version of Meursius and
Fabricius, who pervert the sense by a blind attachment to the classic
appellation of Triremes. The Byzantine historians are sometimes guilty
of the same inaccuracy.]

[Footnote 74: Constantin. Porphyrogen. in Vit. Basil. c. lxi. p. 185.
He calmly praises the stratagem; but the sailing round Peloponnesus is
described by his terrified fancy as a circumnavigation of a thousand

[Footnote 75: The continuator of Theophanes (l. iv. p. 122, 123) names
the successive stations, the castle of Lulum near Tarsus, Mount Argaeus
Isamus, Aegilus, the hill of Mamas, Cyrisus, Mocilus, the hill of
Auxentius, the sun-dial of the Pharus of the great palace. He affirms
that the news were transmitted in an indivisible moment of time.
Miserable amplification, which, by saying too much, says nothing. How
much more forcible and instructive would have been the definition of
three, or six, or twelve hours!]

[Footnote 76: See the Ceremoniale of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, l. ii.
c. 44, p. 176-192. A critical reader will discern some inconsistencies
in different parts of this account; but they are not more obscure or
more stubborn than the establishment and effectives, the present and fit
for duty, the rank and file and the private, of a modern return, which
retain in proper hands the knowledge of these profitable mysteries.]

The invention of the Greek fire did not, like that of gun powder,
produce a total revolution in the art of war. To these liquid
combustibles the city and empire of Constantine owed their deliverance;
and they were employed in sieges and sea-fights with terrible effect.
But they were either less improved, or less susceptible of improvement:
the engines of antiquity, the catapultae, balistae, and battering-rams,
were still of most frequent and powerful use in the attack and defence
of fortifications; nor was the decision of battles reduced to the quick
and heavy fire of a line of infantry, whom it were fruitless to protect
with armor against a similar fire of their enemies. Steel and iron were
still the common instruments of destruction and safety; and the helmets,
cuirasses, and shields, of the tenth century did not, either in form
or substance, essentially differ from those which had covered the
companions of Alexander or Achilles. [77] But instead of accustoming the
modern Greeks, like the legionaries of old, to the constant and easy use
of this salutary weight, their armor was laid aside in light chariots,
which followed the march, till, on the approach of an enemy, they
resumed with haste and reluctance the unusual encumbrance. Their
offensive weapons consisted of swords, battle-axes, and spears; but the
Macedonian pike was shortened a fourth of its length, and reduced to the
more convenient measure of twelve cubits or feet. The sharpness of the
Scythian and Arabian arrows had been severely felt; and the emperors
lament the decay of archery as a cause of the public misfortunes, and
recommend, as an advice and a command, that the military youth, till the
age of forty, should assiduously practise the exercise of the bow. [78]
The bands, or regiments, were usually three hundred strong; and, as a
medium between the extremes of four and sixteen, the foot soldiers of
Leo and Constantine were formed eight deep; but the cavalry charged in
four ranks, from the reasonable consideration, that the weight of the
front could not be increased by any pressure of the hindmost horses.
If the ranks of the infantry or cavalry were sometimes doubled, this
cautious array betrayed a secret distrust of the courage of the troops,
whose numbers might swell the appearance of the line, but of whom only
a chosen band would dare to encounter the spears and swords of the
Barbarians. The order of battle must have varied according to the
ground, the object, and the adversary; but their ordinary disposition,
in two lines and a reserve, presented a succession of hopes and
resources most agreeable to the temper as well as the judgment of the
Greeks. [79] In case of a repulse, the first line fell back into the
intervals of the second; and the reserve, breaking into two divisions,
wheeled round the flanks to improve the victory or cover the retreat.
Whatever authority could enact was accomplished, at least in theory,
by the camps and marches, the exercises and evolutions, the edicts and
books, of the Byzantine monarch. [80] Whatever art could produce from
the forge, the loom, or the laboratory, was abundantly supplied by the
riches of the prince, and the industry of his numerous workmen. But
neither authority nor art could frame the most important machine, the
soldier himself; and if the ceremonies of Constantine always suppose the
safe and triumphal return of the emperor, [81] his tactics seldom soar
above the means of escaping a defeat, and procrastinating the war. [82]
Notwithstanding some transient success, the Greeks were sunk in their
own esteem and that of their neighbors. A cold hand and a loquacious
tongue was the vulgar description of the nation: the author of the
tactics was besieged in his capital; and the last of the Barbarians, who
trembled at the name of the Saracens, or Franks, could proudly exhibit
the medals of gold and silver which they had extorted from the feeble
sovereign of Constantinople. What spirit their government and character
denied, might have been inspired in some degree by the influence of
religion; but the religion of the Greeks could only teach them to suffer
and to yield. The emperor Nicephorus, who restored for a moment the
discipline and glory of the Roman name, was desirous of bestowing the
honors of martyrdom on the Christians who lost their lives in a holy
war against the infidels. But this political law was defeated by the
opposition of the patriarch, the bishops, and the principal senators;
and they strenuously urged the canons of St. Basil, that all who were
polluted by the bloody trade of a soldier should be separated, during
three years, from the communion of the faithful. [83]

[Footnote 77: See the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters, and, in
the Tactics of Leo, with the corresponding passages in those of

[Footnote 78: (Leo, Tactic. p. 581 Constantin. p 1216.) Yet such were
not the maxims of the Greeks and Romans, who despised the loose and
distant practice of archery.]

[Footnote 79: Compare the passages of the Tactics, p. 669 and 721, and
the xiith with the xviiith chapter.]

[Footnote 80: In the preface to his Tactics, Leo very freely deplores
the loss of discipline and the calamities of the times, and repeats,
without scruple, (Proem. p. 537,) the reproaches, nor does it appear
that the same censures were less deserved in the next generation by the
disciples of Constantine.]

[Footnote 81: See in the Ceremonial (l. ii. c. 19, p. 353) the form of
the emperor's trampling on the necks of the captive Saracens, while
the singers chanted, "Thou hast made my enemies my footstool!" and the
people shouted forty times the kyrie eleison.]

[Footnote 82: Leo observes (Tactic. p. 668) that a fair open battle
against any nation whatsoever: the words are strong, and the remark is
true: yet if such had been the opinion of the old Romans, Leo had never
reigned on the shores of the Thracian Bosphorus.]

[Footnote 83: Zonaras (tom. ii. l. xvi. p. 202, 203) and Cedrenus,
(Compend p. 668,) who relate the design of Nicephorus, most
unfortunately apply the epithet to the opposition of the patriarch.]

These scruples of the Greeks have been compared with the tears of
the primitive Moslems when they were held back from battle; and this
contrast of base superstition and high-spirited enthusiasm, unfolds to
a philosophic eye the history of the rival nations. The subjects of the
last caliphs [84] had undoubtedly degenerated from the zeal and faith of
the companions of the prophet. Yet their martial creed still represented
the Deity as the author of war: [85] the vital though latent spark of
fanaticism still glowed in the heart of their religion, and among
the Saracens, who dwelt on the Christian borders, it was frequently
rekindled to a lively and active flame. Their regular force was formed
of the valiant slaves who had been educated to guard the person and
accompany the standard of their lord: but the Mussulman people of Syria
and Cilicia, of Africa and Spain, was awakened by the trumpet which
proclaimed a holy war against the infidels. The rich were ambitious of
death or victory in the cause of God; the poor were allured by the hopes
of plunder; and the old, the infirm, and the women, assumed their share
of meritorious service by sending their substitutes, with arms and
horses, into the field. These offensive and defensive arms were similar
in strength and temper to those of the Romans, whom they far excelled
in the management of the horse and the bow: the massy silver of their
belts, their bridles, and their swords, displayed the magnificence of a
prosperous nation; and except some black archers of the South, the Arabs
disdained the naked bravery of their ancestors. Instead of wagons, they
were attended by a long train of camels, mules, and asses: the multitude
of these animals, whom they bedecked with flags and streamers, appeared
to swell the pomp and magnitude of their host; and the horses of the
enemy were often disordered by the uncouth figure and odious smell of
the camels of the East. Invincible by their patience of thirst and heat,
their spirits were frozen by a winter's cold, and the consciousness of
their propensity to sleep exacted the most rigorous precautions against
the surprises of the night. Their order of battle was a long square of
two deep and solid lines; the first of archers, the second of cavalry.
In their engagements by sea and land, they sustained with patient
firmness the fury of the attack, and seldom advanced to the charge till
they could discern and oppress the lassitude of their foes. But if
they were repulsed and broken, they knew not how to rally or renew the
combat; and their dismay was heightened by the superstitious prejudice,
that God had declared himself on the side of their enemies. The decline
and fall of the caliphs countenanced this fearful opinion; nor were
there wanting, among the Mahometans and Christians, some obscure
prophecies [86] which prognosticated their alternate defeats. The unity
of the Arabian empire was dissolved, but the independent fragments were
equal to populous and powerful kingdoms; and in their naval and military
armaments, an emir of Aleppo or Tunis might command no despicable fund
of skill, and industry, and treasure. In their transactions of peace and
war with the Saracens, the princes of Constantinople too often felt that
these Barbarians had nothing barbarous in their discipline; and that
if they were destitute of original genius, they had been endowed with
a quick spirit of curiosity and imitation. The model was indeed more
perfect than the copy; their ships, and engines, and fortifications,
were of a less skilful construction; and they confess, without shame,
that the same God who has given a tongue to the Arabians, had more
nicely fashioned the hands of the Chinese, and the heads of the Greeks.

[Footnote 84: The xviith chapter of the tactics of the different nations
is the most historical and useful of the whole collection of Leo. The
manners and arms of the Saracens (Tactic. p. 809-817, and a fragment
from the Medicean Ms. in the preface of the vith volume of Meursius) the
Roman emperor was too frequently called upon to study.]

[Footnote 85: Leon. Tactic. p. 809.]

[Footnote 86: Liutprand (p. 484, 485) relates and interprets the oracles
of the Greeks and Saracens, in which, after the fashion of prophecy,
the past is clear and historical, the future is dark, enigmatical, and
erroneous. From this boundary of light and shade an impartial critic may
commonly determine the date of the composition.]

[Footnote 87: The sense of this distinction is expressed by
Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 2, 62, 101;) but I cannot recollect the
passage in which it is conveyed by this lively apothegm.]

Chapter LIII: Fate Of The Eastern Empire.--Part IV.

A name of some German tribes between the Rhine and the Weser had spread
its victorious influence over the greatest part of Gaul, Germany, and
Italy; and the common appellation of Franks [88] was applied by the
Greeks and Arabians to the Christians of the Latin church, the nations
of the West, who stretched beyond their knowledge to the shores of the
Atlantic Ocean. The vast body had been inspired and united by the
soul of Charlemagne; but the division and degeneracy of his race soon
annihilated the Imperial power, which would have rivalled the Caesars
of Byzantium, and revenged the indignities of the Christian name. The
enemies no longer feared, nor could the subjects any longer trust, the
application of a public revenue, the labors of trade and manufactures
in the military service, the mutual aid of provinces and armies, and
the naval squadrons which were regularly stationed from the mouth of the
Elbe to that of the Tyber. In the beginning of the tenth century, the
family of Charlemagne had almost disappeared; his monarchy was broken
into many hostile and independent states; the regal title was assumed
by the most ambitious chiefs; their revolt was imitated in a long
subordination of anarchy and discord, and the nobles of every province
disobeyed their sovereign, oppressed their vassals, and exercised
perpetual hostilities against their equals and neighbors. Their private
wars, which overturned the fabric of government, fomented the martial
spirit of the nation. In the system of modern Europe, the power of the
sword is possessed, at least in fact, by five or six mighty potentates;
their operations are conducted on a distant frontier, by an order of men
who devote their lives to the study and practice of the military art:
the rest of the country and community enjoys in the midst of war the
tranquillity of peace, and is only made sensible of the change by the
aggravation or decrease of the public taxes. In the disorders of the
tenth and eleventh centuries, every peasant was a soldier, and every
village a fortification; each wood or valley was a scene of murder
and rapine; and the lords of each castle were compelled to assume the
character of princes and warriors. To their own courage and policy they
boldly trusted for the safety of their family, the protection of their
lands, and the revenge of their injuries; and, like the conquerors of a
larger size, they were too apt to transgress the privilege of defensive
war. The powers of the mind and body were hardened by the presence of
danger and necessity of resolution: the same spirit refused to desert
a friend and to forgive an enemy; and, instead of sleeping under the
guardian care of a magistrate, they proudly disdained the authority of
the laws. In the days of feudal anarchy, the instruments of agriculture
and art were converted into the weapons of bloodshed: the peaceful
occupations of civil and ecclesiastical society were abolished or
corrupted; and the bishop who exchanged his mitre for a helmet, was more
forcibly urged by the manners of the times than by the obligation of his
tenure. [89]

[Footnote 88: Ex Francis, quo nomine tam Latinos quam Teutones
comprehendit, ludum habuit, (Liutprand in Legat ad Imp. Nicephorum, p.
483, 484.) This extension of the name may be confirmed from Constantine
(de Administrando Imperio, l. 2, c. 27, 28) and Eutychius, (Annal. tom.
i. p. 55, 56,) who both lived before the Crusades. The testimonies of
Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 69) and Abulfeda (Praefat. ad Geograph.) are
more recent]

[Footnote 89: On this subject of ecclesiastical and beneficiary
discipline, Father Thomassin, (tom. iii. l. i. c. 40, 45, 46, 47) may
be usefully consulted. A general law of Charlemagne exempted the bishops
from personal service; but the opposite practice, which prevailed from
the ixth to the xvth century, is countenanced by the example or silence
of saints and doctors.... You justify your cowardice by the holy canons,
says Ratherius of Verona; the canons likewise forbid you to whore, and

The love of freedom and of arms was felt, with conscious pride, by the
Franks themselves, and is observed by the Greeks with some degree of
amazement and terror. "The Franks," says the emperor Constantine, "are
bold and valiant to the verge of temerity; and their dauntless spirit is
supported by the contempt of danger and death. In the field and in close
onset, they press to the front, and rush headlong against the enemy,
without deigning to compute either his numbers or their own. Their ranks
are formed by the firm connections of consanguinity and friendship; and
their martial deeds are prompted by the desire of saving or revenging
their dearest companions. In their eyes, a retreat is a shameful flight;
and flight is indelible infamy." [90] A nation endowed with such
high and intrepid spirit, must have been secure of victory if these
advantages had not been counter-balanced by many weighty defects. The
decay of their naval power left the Greeks and Saracens in possession
of the sea, for every purpose of annoyance and supply. In the age
which preceded the institution of knighthood, the Franks were rude
and unskilful in the service of cavalry; [91] and in all perilous
emergencies, their warriors were so conscious of their ignorance, that
they chose to dismount from their horses and fight on foot. Unpractised
in the use of pikes, or of missile weapons, they were encumbered by
the length of their swords, the weight of their armor, the magnitude of
their shields, and, if I may repeat the satire of the meagre Greeks, by
their unwieldy intemperance. Their independent spirit disdained the
yoke of subordination, and abandoned the standard of their chief, if
he attempted to keep the field beyond the term of their stipulation
or service. On all sides they were open to the snares of an enemy less
brave but more artful than themselves. They might be bribed, for the
Barbarians were venal; or surprised in the night, for they neglected the
precautions of a close encampment or vigilant sentinels. The fatigues of
a summer's campaign exhausted their strength and patience, and they sunk
in despair if their voracious appetite was disappointed of a plentiful
supply of wine and of food. This general character of the Franks was
marked with some national and local shades, which I should ascribe to
accident rather than to climate, but which were visible both to natives
and to foreigners. An ambassador of the great Otho declared, in the
palace of Constantinople, that the Saxons could dispute with swords
better than with pens, and that they preferred inevitable death to the
dishonor of turning their backs to an enemy. [92] It was the glory of
the nobles of France, that, in their humble dwellings, war and rapine
were the only pleasure, the sole occupation, of their lives. They
affected to deride the palaces, the banquets, the polished manner of the
Italians, who in the estimate of the Greeks themselves had degenerated
from the liberty and valor of the ancient Lombards. [93]

[Footnote 90: In the xviiith chapter of his Tactics, the emperor Leo
has fairly stated the military vices and virtues of the Franks
(whom Meursius ridiculously translates by Galli) and the Lombards
or Langobards. See likewise the xxvith Dissertation of Muratori de
Antiquitatibus Italiae Medii Aevi.]

[Footnote 91: Domini tui milites (says the proud Nicephorus) equitandi
ignari pedestris pugnae sunt inscii: scutorum magnitudo, loricarum
gravitudo, ensium longitudo galearumque pondus neutra parte pugnare
cossinit; ac subridens, impedit, inquit, et eos gastrimargia, hoc est
ventris ingluvies, &c. Liutprand in Legat. p. 480 481]

[Footnote 92: In Saxonia certe scio.... decentius ensibus pugnare quam
calanis, et prius mortem obire quam hostibus terga dare, (Liutprand, p

[Footnote 93: Leonis Tactica, c. 18, p. 805. The emperor Leo died A.D.
911: an historical poem, which ends in 916, and appears to have been
composed in 910, by a native of Venetia, discriminates in these verses
the manners of Italy and France:

     --Quid inertia bello

     Pectora (Ubertus ait) duris praetenditis armis,

     O Itali?  Potius vobis sacra pocula cordi;

     Saepius et stomachum nitidis laxare saginis

     Elatasque domos rutilo fulcire metallo.

     Non eadem Gallos similis vel cura remordet:

     Vicinas quibus est studium devincere terras,

     Depressumque larem spoliis hinc inde coactis


(Anonym. Carmen Panegyricum de Laudibus Berengarii Augusti, l. n. in
Muratori Script. Rerum Italic. tom. ii. pars i. p. 393.)]

By the well-known edict of Caracalla, his subjects, from Britain to
Egypt, were entitled to the name and privileges of Romans, and their
national sovereign might fix his occasional or permanent residence in
any province of their common country. In the division of the East and
West, an ideal unity was scrupulously observed, and in their titles,
laws, and statutes, the successors of Arcadius and Honorius announced
themselves as the inseparable colleagues of the same office, as the
joint sovereigns of the Roman world and city, which were bounded by the
same limits. After the fall of the Western monarchy, the majesty of the
purple resided solely in the princes of Constantinople; and of these,
Justinian was the first who, after a divorce of sixty years, regained
the dominion of ancient Rome, and asserted, by the right of conquest,
the august title of Emperor of the Romans. [94] A motive of vanity or
discontent solicited one of his successors, Constans the Second, to
abandon the Thracian Bosphorus, and to restore the pristine honors of
the Tyber: an extravagant project, (exclaims the malicious Byzantine,)
as if he had despoiled a beautiful and blooming virgin, to enrich, or
rather to expose, the deformity of a wrinkled and decrepit matron.
[95] But the sword of the Lombards opposed his settlement in Italy: he
entered Rome not as a conqueror, but as a fugitive, and, after a visit
of twelve days, he pillaged, and forever deserted, the ancient capital
of the world. [96] The final revolt and separation of Italy was
accomplished about two centuries after the conquests of Justinian, and
from his reign we may date the gradual oblivion of the Latin tongue.
That legislator had composed his Institutes, his Code, and his Pandects,
in a language which he celebrates as the proper and public style of
the Roman government, the consecrated idiom of the palace and senate of
Constantinople, of the campus and tribunals of the East. [97] But this
foreign dialect was unknown to the people and soldiers of the Asiatic
provinces, it was imperfectly understood by the greater part of the
interpreters of the laws and the ministers of the state. After a short
conflict, nature and habit prevailed over the obsolete institutions
of human power: for the general benefit of his subjects, Justinian
promulgated his novels in the two languages: the several parts of his
voluminous jurisprudence were successively translated; [98] the original
was forgotten, the version was studied, and the Greek, whose intrinsic
merit deserved indeed the preference, obtained a legal, as well as
popular establishment in the Byzantine monarchy. The birth and residence
of succeeding princes estranged them from the Roman idiom: Tiberius by
the Arabs, [99] and Maurice by the Italians, [100] are distinguished
as the first of the Greek Caesars, as the founders of a new dynasty
and empire: the silent revolution was accomplished before the death of
Heraclius; and the ruins of the Latin speech were darkly preserved in
the terms of jurisprudence and the acclamations of the palace. After
the restoration of the Western empire by Charlemagne and the Othos, the
names of Franks and Latins acquired an equal signification and extent;
and these haughty Barbarians asserted, with some justice, their superior
claim to the language and dominion of Rome. They insulted the alien
of the East who had renounced the dress and idiom of Romans; and their
reasonable practice will justify the frequent appellation of Greeks.
[101] But this contemptuous appellation was indignantly rejected by the
prince and people to whom it was applied. Whatsoever changes had been
introduced by the lapse of ages, they alleged a lineal and unbroken
succession from Augustus and Constantine; and, in the lowest period of
degeneracy and decay, the name of Romans adhered to the last fragments
of the empire of Constantinople. [102]

[Footnote 94: Justinian, says the historian Agathias, (l. v. p.
157,). Yet the specific title of Emperor of the Romans was not used
at Constantinople, till it had been claimed by the French and German
emperors of old Rome.]

[Footnote 95: Constantine Manasses reprobates this design in his
barbarous verse, and it is confirmed by Theophanes, Zonaras, Cedrenus,
and the Historia Miscella: voluit in urbem Romam Imperium transferre,
(l. xix. p. 157 in tom. i. pars i. of the Scriptores Rer. Ital. of

[Footnote 96: Paul. Diacon. l. v. c. 11, p. 480. Anastasius in Vitis
Pontificum, in Muratori's Collection, tom. iii. pars i. p. 141.]

[Footnote 97: Consult the preface of Ducange, (ad Gloss, Graec. Medii
Aevi) and the Novels of Justinian, (vii. lxvi.)]

[Footnote 98: (Matth. Blastares, Hist. Juris, apud Fabric. Bibliot.
Graec. tom. xii. p. 369.) The Code and Pandects (the latter by
Thalelaeus) were translated in the time of Justinian, (p. 358, 366.)
Theophilus one of the original triumvirs, has left an elegant, though
diffuse, paraphrase of the Institutes. On the other hand, Julian,
antecessor of Constantinople, (A.D. 570,) cxx. Novellas Graecas eleganti
Latinitate donavit (Heineccius, Hist. J. R. p. 396) for the use of Italy
and Africa.]

[Footnote 99: Abulpharagius assigns the viith Dynasty to the Franks
or Romans, the viiith to the Greeks, the ixth to the Arabs. A tempore
Augusti Caesaris donec imperaret Tiberius Caesar spatio circiter annorum
600 fuerunt Imperatores C. P. Patricii, et praecipua pars exercitus
Romani: extra quod, conciliarii, scribae et populus, omnes Graeci
fuerunt: deinde regnum etiam Graecanicum factum est, (p. 96, vers.
Pocock.) The Christian and ecclesiastical studies of Abulpharagius gave
him some advantage over the more ignorant Moslems.]

[Footnote 100: Primus ex Graecorum genere in Imperio confirmatus est; or
according to another Ms. of Paulus Diaconus, (l. iii. c. 15, p. 443,) in
Orasorum Imperio.]

[Footnote 101: Quia linguam, mores, vestesque mutastis, putavit
Sanctissimus Papa. (an audacious irony,) ita vos (vobis) displicere
Romanorum nomen. His nuncios, rogabant Nicephorum Imperatorem Graecorum,
ut cum Othone Imperatore Romanorum amicitiam faceret, (Liutprand in
Legatione, p. 486.) * Note: Sicut et vestem. These words follow in the
text of Liutprand, (apud Murat. Script. Ital. tom. ii. p. 486, to which
Gibbon refers.) But with some inaccuracy or confusion, which rarely
occurs in Gibbon's references, the rest of the quotation, which as it
stands is unintelligible, does not appear--M.]

[Footnote 102: By Laonicus Chalcocondyles, who survived the last siege
of Constantinople, the account is thus stated, (l. i. p. 3.) Constantine
transplanted his Latins of Italy to a Greek city of Thrace: they adopted
the language and manners of the natives, who were confounded with
them under the name of Romans. The kings of Constantinople, says the

While the government of the East was transacted in Latin, the Greek was
the language of literature and philosophy; nor could the masters of
this rich and perfect idiom be tempted to envy the borrowed learning and
imitative taste of their Roman disciples. After the fall of Paganism,
the loss of Syria and Egypt, and the extinction of the schools of
Alexandria and Athens, the studies of the Greeks insensibly retired
to some regular monasteries, and above all, to the royal college of
Constantinople, which was burnt in the reign of Leo the Isaurian. [103]
In the pompous style of the age, the president of that foundation was
named the Sun of Science: his twelve associates, the professors in the
different arts and faculties, were the twelve signs of the zodiac; a
library of thirty-six thousand five hundred volumes was open to their
inquiries; and they could show an ancient manuscript of Homer, on a roll
of parchment one hundred and twenty feet in length, the intestines, as
it was fabled, of a prodigious serpent. [104] But the seventh and eight
centuries were a period of discord and darkness: the library was burnt,
the college was abolished, the Iconoclasts are represented as the
foes of antiquity; and a savage ignorance and contempt of letters has
disgraced the princes of the Heraclean and Isaurian dynasties. [105]

[Footnote 103: See Ducange, (C. P. Christiana, l. ii. p. 150, 151,) who
collects the testimonies, not of Theophanes, but at least of Zonaras,
(tom. ii. l. xv. p. 104,) Cedrenus, (p. 454,) Michael Glycas, (p. 281,)
Constantine Manasses, (p. 87.) After refuting the absurd charge against
the emperor, Spanheim, (Hist. Imaginum, p. 99-111,) like a true
advocate, proceeds to doubt or deny the reality of the fire, and almost
of the library.]

[Footnote 104: According to Malchus, (apud Zonar. l. xiv. p. 53,) this
Homer was burnt in the time of Basiliscus. The Ms. might be renewed--But
on a serpent's skin? Most strange and incredible!]

[Footnote 105: The words of Zonaras, and of Cedrenus, are strong words,
perhaps not ill suited to those reigns.]

In the ninth century we trace the first dawnings of the restoration
of science. [106] After the fanaticism of the Arabs had subsided, the
caliphs aspired to conquer the arts, rather than the provinces, of the
empire: their liberal curiosity rekindled the emulation of the Greeks,
brushed away the dust from their ancient libraries, and taught them to
know and reward the philosophers, whose labors had been hitherto repaid
by the pleasure of study and the pursuit of truth. The Caesar Bardas,
the uncle of Michael the Third, was the generous protector of letters,
a title which alone has preserved his memory and excused his ambition. A
particle of the treasures of his nephew was sometimes diverted from
the indulgence of vice and folly; a school was opened in the palace
of Magnaura; and the presence of Bardas excited the emulation of the
masters and students. At their head was the philosopher Leo, archbishop
of Thessalonica: his profound skill in astronomy and the mathematics
was admired by the strangers of the East; and this occult science
was magnified by vulgar credulity, which modestly supposes that all
knowledge superior to its own must be the effect of inspiration
or magic. At the pressing entreaty of the Caesar, his friend, the
celebrated Photius, [107] renounced the freedom of a secular and
studious life, ascended the patriarchal throne, and was alternately
excommunicated and absolved by the synods of the East and West. By the
confession even of priestly hatred, no art or science, except poetry,
was foreign to this universal scholar, who was deep in thought,
indefatigable in reading, and eloquent in diction. Whilst he exercised
the office of protospathaire or captain of the guards, Photius was sent
ambassador to the caliph of Bagdad. [108] The tedious hours of exile,
perhaps of confinement, were beguiled by the hasty composition of his
Library, a living monument of erudition and criticism. Two hundred and
fourscore writers, historians, orators, philosophers, theologians, are
reviewed without any regular method: he abridges their narrative or
doctrine, appreciates their style and character, and judges even the
fathers of the church with a discreet freedom, which often breaks
through the superstition of the times. The emperor Basil, who lamented
the defects of his own education, intrusted to the care of Photius his
son and successor, Leo the philosopher; and the reign of that prince and
of his son Constantine Porphyrogenitus forms one of the most prosperous
aeras of the Byzantine literature. By their munificence the treasures
of antiquity were deposited in the Imperial library; by their pens,
or those of their associates, they were imparted in such extracts
and abridgments as might amuse the curiosity, without oppressing the
indolence, of the public. Besides the Basilics, or code of laws, the
arts of husbandry and war, of feeding or destroying the human species,
were propagated with equal diligence; and the history of Greece and Rome
was digested into fifty-three heads or titles, of which two only (of
embassies, and of virtues and vices) have escaped the injuries of time.
In every station, the reader might contemplate the image of the past
world, apply the lesson or warning of each page, and learn to admire,
perhaps to imitate, the examples of a brighter period. I shall not
expatiate on the works of the Byzantine Greeks, who, by the assiduous
study of the ancients, have deserved, in some measure, the remembrance
and gratitude of the moderns. The scholars of the present age may still
enjoy the benefit of the philosophical commonplace book of Stobaeus, the
grammatical and historical lexicon of Suidas, the Chiliads of Tzetzes,
which comprise six hundred narratives in twelve thousand verses, and the
commentaries on Homer of Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica, who,
from his horn of plenty, has poured the names and authorities of four
hundred writers. From these originals, and from the numerous tribe
of scholiasts and critics, [109] some estimate may be formed of the
literary wealth of the twelfth century: Constantinople was enlightened
by the genius of Homer and Demosthenes, of Aristotle and Plato: and
in the enjoyment or neglect of our present riches, we must envy the
generation that could still peruse the history of Theopompus, the
orations of Hyperides, the comedies of Menander, [110] and the odes of
Alcaeus and Sappho. The frequent labor of illustration attests not only
the existence, but the popularity, of the Grecian classics: the general
knowledge of the age may be deduced from the example of two learned
females, the empress Eudocia, and the princess Anna Comnena, who
cultivated, in the purple, the arts of rhetoric and philosophy. [111]
The vulgar dialect of the city was gross and barbarous: a more correct
and elaborate style distinguished the discourse, or at least the
compositions, of the church and palace, which sometimes affected to copy
the purity of the Attic models.

[Footnote 106: See Zonaras (l. xvi. p. 160, 161) and Cedrenus, (p. 549,
550.) Like Friar Bacon, the philosopher Leo has been transformed by
ignorance into a conjurer; yet not so undeservedly, if he be the author
of the oracles more commonly ascribed to the emperor of the same name.
The physics of Leo in Ms. are in the library of Vienna, (Fabricius,
Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p 366, tom. xii. p. 781.) Qui serant!]

[Footnote 107: The ecclesiastical and literary character of Photius is
copiously discussed by Hanckius (de Scriptoribus Byzant. p. 269, 396)
and Fabricius.]

[Footnote 108: It can only mean Bagdad, the seat of the caliphs and the
relation of his embassy might have been curious and instructive. But how
did he procure his books? A library so numerous could neither be found
at Bagdad, nor transported with his baggage, nor preserved in his
memory. Yet the last, however incredible, seems to be affirmed by
Photius himself. Camusat (Hist. Critique des Journaux, p. 87-94) gives
a good account of the Myriobiblon.]

[Footnote 109: Of these modern Greeks, see the respective articles in
the Bibliotheca Graeca of Fabricius--a laborious work, yet susceptible
of a better method and many improvements; of Eustathius, (tom. i. p.
289-292, 306-329,) of the Pselli, (a diatribe of Leo Allatius, ad
calcem tom. v., of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, tom. vi. p. 486-509)
of John Stobaeus, (tom. viii., 665-728,) of Suidas, (tom. ix. p.
620-827,) John Tzetzes, (tom. xii. p. 245-273.) Mr. Harris, in his
Philological Arrangements, opus senile, has given a sketch of this
Byzantine learning, (p. 287-300.)]

[Footnote 110: From the obscure and hearsay evidence, Gerard Vossius (de
Poetis Graecis, c. 6) and Le Clerc (Bibliotheque Choisie, tom. xix. p.
285) mention a commentary of Michael Psellus on twenty-four plays
of Menander, still extant in Ms. at Constantinople. Yet such classic
studies seem incompatible with the gravity or dulness of a schoolman,
who pored over the categories, (de Psellis, p. 42;) and Michael has
probably been confounded with Homerus Sellius, who wrote arguments to
the comedies of Menander. In the xth century, Suidas quotes fifty plays,
but he often transcribes the old scholiast of Aristophanes.]

[Footnote 111: Anna Comnena may boast of her Greek style, and Zonaras
her contemporary, but not her flatterer, may add with truth. The
princess was conversant with the artful dialogues of Plato; and had
studied quadrivium of astrology, geometry, arithmetic, and music, (see
he preface to the Alexiad, with Ducange's notes)]

In our modern education, the painful though necessary attainment of two
languages, which are no longer living, may consume the time and damp
the ardor of the youthful student. The poets and orators were long
imprisoned in the barbarous dialects of our Western ancestors, devoid
of harmony or grace; and their genius, without precept or example, was
abandoned to the rule and native powers of their judgment and fancy. But
the Greeks of Constantinople, after purging away the impurities of their
vulgar speech, acquired the free use of their ancient language, the most
happy composition of human art, and a familiar knowledge of the sublime
masters who had pleased or instructed the first of nations. But these
advantages only tend to aggravate the reproach and shame of a degenerate
people. They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers,
without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred
patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled, but their languid
souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action. In the revolution of
ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or
promote the happiness of mankind. Not a single idea has been added
to the speculative systems of antiquity, and a succession of patient
disciples became in their turn the dogmatic teachers of the next
servile generation. Not a single composition of history, philosophy, or
literature, has been saved from oblivion by the intrinsic beauties of
style or sentiment, of original fancy, or even of successful imitation.
In prose, the least offensive of the Byzantine writers are absolved from
censure by their naked and unpresuming simplicity: but the orators, most
eloquent [112] in their own conceit, are the farthest removed from the
models whom they affect to emulate. In every page our taste and reason
are wounded by the choice of gigantic and obsolete words, a stiff and
intricate phraseology, the discord of images, the childish play of false
or unseasonable ornament, and the painful attempt to elevate themselves,
to astonish the reader, and to involve a trivial meaning in the smoke
of obscurity and exaggeration. Their prose is soaring to the vicious
affectation of poetry: their poetry is sinking below the flatness and
insipidity of prose. The tragic, epic, and lyric muses, were silent and
inglorious: the bards of Constantinople seldom rose above a riddle or
epigram, a panegyric or tale; they forgot even the rules of prosody; and
with the melody of Homer yet sounding in their ears, they confound
all measure of feet and syllables in the impotent strains which have
received the name of political or city verses. [113] The minds of the
Greek were bound in the fetters of a base and imperious superstition
which extends her dominion round the circle of profane science. Their
understandings were bewildered in metaphysical controversy: in the
belief of visions and miracles, they had lost all principles of moral
evidence, and their taste was vitiates by the homilies of the monks,
an absurd medley of declamation and Scripture. Even these contemptible
studies were no longer dignified by the abuse of superior talents: the
leaders of the Greek church were humbly content to admire and copy the
oracles of antiquity, nor did the schools of pulpit produce any rivals
of the fame of Athanasius and Chrysostom. [114]

[Footnote 112: To censure the Byzantine taste. Ducange (Praefat. Gloss.
Graec. p. 17) strings the authorities of Aulus Gellius, Jerom, Petronius
George Hamartolus, Longinus; who give at once the precept and the

[Footnote 113: The versus politici, those common prostitutes, as, from
their easiness, they are styled by Leo Allatius, usually consist of
fifteen syllables. They are used by Constantine Manasses, John Tzetzes,
&c. (Ducange, Gloss. Latin. tom. iii. p. i. p. 345, 346, edit. Basil,

[Footnote 114: As St. Bernard of the Latin, so St. John Damascenus in
the viiith century is revered as the last father of the Greek, church.]

In all the pursuits of active and speculative life, the emulation of
states and individuals is the most powerful spring of the efforts and
improvements of mankind. The cities of ancient Greece were cast in the
happy mixture of union and independence, which is repeated on a larger
scale, but in a looser form, by the nations of modern Europe; the union
of language, religion, and manners, which renders them the spectators
and judges of each other's merit; [115] the independence of government
and interest, which asserts their separate freedom, and excites them
to strive for preeminence in the career of glory. The situation of the
Romans was less favorable; yet in the early ages of the republic, which
fixed the national character, a similar emulation was kindled among the
states of Latium and Italy; and in the arts and sciences, they aspired
to equal or surpass their Grecian masters. The empire of the Caesars
undoubtedly checked the activity and progress of the human mind; its
magnitude might indeed allow some scope for domestic competition; but
when it was gradually reduced, at first to the East and at last to
Greece and Constantinople, the Byzantine subjects were degraded to an
abject and languid temper, the natural effect of their solitary and
insulated state. From the North they were oppressed by nameless tribes
of Barbarians, to whom they scarcely imparted the appellation of
men. The language and religion of the more polished Arabs were an
insurmountable bar to all social intercourse. The conquerors of Europe
were their brethren in the Christian faith; but the speech of the Franks
or Latins was unknown, their manners were rude, and they were rarely
connected, in peace or war, with the successors of Heraclius. Alone in
the universe, the self-satisfied pride of the Greeks was not disturbed
by the comparison of foreign merit; and it is no wonder if they fainted
in the race, since they had neither competitors to urge their speed,
nor judges to crown their victory. The nations of Europe and Asia
were mingled by the expeditions to the Holy Land; and it is under the
Comnenian dynasty that a faint emulation of knowledge and military
virtue was rekindled in the Byzantine empire. [Footnote 115: Hume's
Essays, vol. i. p. 125]

Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Part I.

     Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Their Persecution By
     The Greek Emperors.--Revolt In Armenia &c.--Transplantation
     Into Thrace.--Propagation In The West.--The Seeds,
     Character, And Consequences Of The Reformation.

In the profession of Christianity, the variety of national characters
may be clearly distinguished. The natives of Syria and Egypt abandoned
their lives to lazy and contemplative devotion: Rome again aspired to
the dominion of the world; and the wit of the lively and loquacious
Greeks was consumed in the disputes of metaphysical theology. The
incomprehensible mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation, instead
of commanding their silent submission, were agitated in vehement and
subtile controversies, which enlarged their faith at the expense,
perhaps, of their charity and reason. From the council of Nice to
the end of the seventh century, the peace and unity of the church was
invaded by these spiritual wars; and so deeply did they affect the
decline and fall of the empire, that the historian has too often been
compelled to attend the synods, to explore the creeds, and to enumerate
the sects, of this busy period of ecclesiastical annals. From the
beginning of the eighth century to the last ages of the Byzantine
empire, the sound of controversy was seldom heard: curiosity was
exhausted, zeal was fatigued, and, in the decrees of six councils, the
articles of the Catholic faith had been irrevocably defined. The spirit
of dispute, however vain and pernicious, requires some energy and
exercise of the mental faculties; and the prostrate Greeks were content
to fast, to pray, and to believe in blind obedience to the patriarch
and his clergy. During a long dream of superstition, the Virgin and
the Saints, their visions and miracles, their relics and images, were
preached by the monks, and worshipped by the people; and the appellation
of people might be extended, without injustice, to the first ranks
of civil society. At an unseasonable moment, the Isaurian emperors
attempted somewhat rudely to awaken their subjects: under their
influence reason might obtain some proselytes, a far greater number was
swayed by interest or fear; but the Eastern world embraced or deplored
their visible deities, and the restoration of images was celebrated
as the feast of orthodoxy. In this passive and unanimous state the
ecclesiastical rulers were relieved from the toil, or deprived of the
pleasure, of persecution. The Pagans had disappeared; the Jews were
silent and obscure; the disputes with the Latins were rare and remote
hostilities against a national enemy; and the sects of Egypt and Syria
enjoyed a free toleration under the shadow of the Arabian caliphs. About
the middle of the seventh century, a branch of Manichaeans was selected
as the victims of spiritual tyranny; their patience was at length
exasperated to despair and rebellion; and their exile has scattered over
the West the seeds of reformation. These important events will justify
some inquiry into the doctrine and story of the Paulicians; [1] and, as
they cannot plead for themselves, our candid criticism will magnify
the good, and abate or suspect the evil, that is reported by their

[Footnote 1: The errors and virtues of the Paulicians are weighed,
with his usual judgment and candor, by the learned Mosheim, (Hist.
Ecclesiast. seculum ix. p. 311, &c.) He draws his original intelligence
from Photius (contra Manichaeos, l. i.) and Peter Siculus, (Hist.
Manichaeorum.) The first of these accounts has not fallen into my
hands; the second, which Mosheim prefers, I have read in a Latin version
inserted in the Maxima Bibliotheca Patrum, (tom. xvi. p. 754-764,) from
the edition of the Jesuit Raderus, (Ingolstadii, 1604, in 4to.) * Note:
Compare Hallam's Middle Ages, p. 461-471. Mr. Hallam justly observes
that this chapter "appears to be accurate as well as luminous, and is at
least far superior to any modern work on the subject."--M.]

The Gnostics, who had distracted the infancy, were oppressed by
the greatness and authority, of the church. Instead of emulating or
surpassing the wealth, learning, and numbers of the Catholics, their
obscure remnant was driven from the capitals of the East and West,
and confined to the villages and mountains along the borders of the
Euphrates. Some vestige of the Marcionites may be detected in the fifth
century; [2] but the numerous sects were finally lost in the odious name
of the Manichaeans; and these heretics, who presumed to reconcile the
doctrines of Zoroaster and Christ, were pursued by the two religions
with equal and unrelenting hatred. Under the grandson of Heraclius, in
the neighborhood of Samosata, more famous for the birth of Lucian than
for the title of a Syrian kingdom, a reformer arose, esteemed by the
Paulicians as the chosen messenger of truth. In his humble dwelling of
Mananalis, Constantine entertained a deacon, who returned from Syrian
captivity, and received the inestimable gift of the New Testament, which
was already concealed from the vulgar by the prudence of the Greek, and
perhaps of the Gnostic, clergy. [3] These books became the measure of
his studies and the rule of his faith; and the Catholics, who dispute
his interpretation, acknowledge that his text was genuine and sincere.
But he attached himself with peculiar devotion to the writings and
character of St. Paul: the name of the Paulicians is derived by their
enemies from some unknown and domestic teacher; but I am confident
that they gloried in their affinity to the apostle of the Gentiles.
His disciples, Titus, Timothy, Sylvanus, Tychicus, were represented by
Constantine and his fellow-laborers: the names of the apostolic churches
were applied to the congregations which they assembled in Armenia and
Cappadocia; and this innocent allegory revived the example and memory
of the first ages. In the Gospel, and the Epistles of St. Paul, his
faithful follower investigated the Creed of primitive Christianity;
and, whatever might be the success, a Protestant reader will applaud
the spirit, of the inquiry. But if the Scriptures of the Paulicians were
pure, they were not perfect. Their founders rejected the two Epistles of
St. Peter, [4] the apostle of the circumcision, whose dispute with their
favorite for the observance of the law could not easily be forgiven. [5]
They agreed with their Gnostic brethren in the universal contempt for
the Old Testament, the books of Moses and the prophets, which have been
consecrated by the decrees of the Catholic church. With equal boldness,
and doubtless with more reason, Constantine, the new Sylvanus,
disclaimed the visions, which, in so many bulky and splendid volumes,
had been published by the Oriental sects; [6] the fabulous productions
of the Hebrew patriarchs and the sages of the East; the spurious
gospels, epistles, and acts, which in the first age had overwhelmed the
orthodox code; the theology of Manes, and the authors of the kindred
heresies; and the thirty generations, or aeons, which had been created
by the fruitful fancy of Valentine. The Paulicians sincerely condemned
the memory and opinions of the Manichaean sect, and complained of the
injustice which impressed that invidious name on the simple votaries of
St. Paul and of Christ.

[Footnote 2: In the time of Theodoret, the diocese of Cyrrhus, in Syria,
contained eight hundred villages. Of these, two were inhabited by Arians
and Eunomians, and eight by Marcionites, whom the laborious bishop
reconciled to the Catholic church, (Dupin, Bibliot. Ecclesiastique, tom.
iv. p. 81, 82.)]

[Footnote 3: Nobis profanis ista (sacra Evangelia) legere non licet sed
sacerdotibus duntaxat, was the first scruple of a Catholic when he was
advised to read the Bible, (Petr. Sicul. p. 761.)]

[Footnote 4: In rejecting the second Epistle of St. Peter, the
Paulicians are justified by some of the most respectable of the ancients
and moderns, (see Wetstein ad loc., Simon, Hist. Critique du Nouveau
Testament, c. 17.) They likewise overlooked the Apocalypse, (Petr.
Sicul. p. 756;) but as such neglect is not imputed as a crime, the
Greeks of the ixth century must have been careless of the credit and
honor of the Revelations.]

[Footnote 5: This contention, which has not escaped the malice of
Porphyry, supposes some error and passion in one or both of the
apostles. By Chrysostom, Jerome, and Erasmus, it is represented as a
sham quarrel a pious fraud, for the benefit of the Gentiles and the
correction of the Jews, (Middleton's Works, vol. ii. p. 1-20.)]

[Footnote 6: Those who are curious of this heterodox library, may
consult the researches of Beausobre, (Hist. Critique du Manicheisme,
tom. i. p. 305-437.) Even in Africa, St. Austin could describe the
Manichaean books, tam multi, tam grandes, tam pretiosi codices, (contra
Faust. xiii. 14;) but he adds, without pity, Incendite omnes illas
membranas: and his advice had been rigorously followed.]

Of the ecclesiastical chain, many links had been broken by the Paulician
reformers; and their liberty was enlarged, as they reduced the number of
masters, at whose voice profane reason must bow to mystery and miracle.
The early separation of the Gnostics had preceded the establishment of
the Catholic worship; and against the gradual innovations of discipline
and doctrine they were as strongly guarded by habit and aversion, as by
the silence of St. Paul and the evangelists. The objects which had been
transformed by the magic of superstition, appeared to the eyes of the
Paulicians in their genuine and naked colors. An image made without
hands was the common workmanship of a mortal artist, to whose skill
alone the wood and canvas must be indebted for their merit or value. The
miraculous relics were a heap of bones and ashes, destitute of life or
virtue, or of any relation, perhaps, with the person to whom they were
ascribed. The true and vivifying cross was a piece of sound or rotten
timber, the body and blood of Christ, a loaf of bread and a cup of wine,
the gifts of nature and the symbols of grace. The mother of God was
degraded from her celestial honors and immaculate virginity; and the
saints and angels were no longer solicited to exercise the laborious
office of meditation in heaven, and ministry upon earth. In the
practice, or at least in the theory, of the sacraments, the Paulicians
were inclined to abolish all visible objects of worship, and the words
of the gospel were, in their judgment, the baptism and communion of the
faithful. They indulged a convenient latitude for the interpretation of
Scripture: and as often as they were pressed by the literal sense, they
could escape to the intricate mazes of figure and allegory. Their utmost
diligence must have been employed to dissolve the connection between the
Old and the New Testament; since they adored the latter as the oracles
of God, and abhorred the former as the fabulous and absurd invention of
men or daemons. We cannot be surprised, that they should have found
in the Gospel the orthodox mystery of the Trinity: but, instead of
confessing the human nature and substantial sufferings of Christ, they
amused their fancy with a celestial body that passed through the virgin
like water through a pipe; with a fantastic crucifixion, that eluded the
vain and important malice of the Jews. A creed thus simple and spiritual
was not adapted to the genius of the times; [7] and the rational
Christian, who might have been contented with the light yoke and
easy burden of Jesus and his apostles, was justly offended, that the
Paulicians should dare to violate the unity of God, the first article of
natural and revealed religion. Their belief and their trust was in the
Father, of Christ, of the human soul, and of the invisible world.

But they likewise held the eternity of matter; a stubborn and rebellious
substance, the origin of a second principle of an active being, who has
created this visible world, and exercises his temporal reign till the
final consummation of death and sin. [8] The appearances of moral
and physical evil had established the two principles in the ancient
philosophy and religion of the East; from whence this doctrine was
transfused to the various swarms of the Gnostics. A thousand shades may
be devised in the nature and character of Ahriman, from a rival god to
a subordinate daemon, from passion and frailty to pure and perfect
malevolence: but, in spite of our efforts, the goodness, and the power,
of Ormusd are placed at the opposite extremities of the line; and every
step that approaches the one must recede in equal proportion from the
other. [9]

[Footnote 7: The six capital errors of the Paulicians are defined by
Peter (p. 756,) with much prejudice and passion.]

[Footnote 8: Primum illorum axioma est, duo rerum esse principia; Deum
malum et Deum bonum, aliumque hujus mundi conditorem et princi pem, et
alium futuri aevi, (Petr. Sicul. 765.)]

[Footnote 9: Two learned critics, Beausobre (Hist. Critique du
Manicheisme, l. i. iv. v. vi.) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. and
de Rebus Christianis ante Constantinum, sec. i. ii. iii.,) have labored
to explore and discriminate the various systems of the Gnostics on the
subject of the two principles.]

The apostolic labors of Constantine Sylvanus soon multiplied the number
of his disciples, the secret recompense of spiritual ambition. The
remnant of the Gnostic sects, and especially the Manichaeans of Armenia,
were united under his standard; many Catholics were converted or seduced
by his arguments; and he preached with success in the regions of Pontus
[10] and Cappadocia, which had long since imbibed the religion of
Zoroaster. The Paulician teachers were distinguished only by their
Scriptural names, by the modest title of Fellow-pilgrims, by the
austerity of their lives, their zeal or knowledge, and the credit of
some extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. But they were incapable
of desiring, or at least of obtaining, the wealth and honors of the
Catholic prelacy; such anti-Christian pride they bitterly censured; and
even the rank of elders or presbyters was condemned as an institution of
the Jewish synagogue. The new sect was loosely spread over the provinces
of Asia Minor to the westward of the Euphrates; six of their principal
congregations represented the churches to which St. Paul had addressed
his epistles; and their founder chose his residence in the neighborhood
of Colonia, [11] in the same district of Pontus which had been
celebrated by the altars of Bellona [12] and the miracles of Gregory.
[13] After a mission of twenty-seven years, Sylvanus, who had retired
from the tolerating government of the Arabs, fell a sacrifice to Roman
persecution. The laws of the pious emperors, which seldom touched the
lives of less odious heretics, proscribed without mercy or disguise the
tenets, the books, and the persons of the Montanists and Manichaeans:
the books were delivered to the flames; and all who should presume to
secrete such writings, or to profess such opinions, were devoted to an
ignominious death. [14] A Greek minister, armed with legal and military
powers, appeared at Colonia to strike the shepherd, and to reclaim, if
possible, the lost sheep. By a refinement of cruelty, Simeon placed the
unfortunate Sylvanus before a line of his disciples, who were commanded,
as the price of their pardon and the proof of their repentance, to
massacre their spiritual father. They turned aside from the impious
office; the stones dropped from their filial hands, and of the whole
number, only one executioner could be found, a new David, as he is
styled by the Catholics, who boldly overthrew the giant of heresy.
This apostate (Justin was his name) again deceived and betrayed his
unsuspecting brethren, and a new conformity to the acts of St. Paul may
be found in the conversion of Simeon: like the apostle, he embraced the
doctrine which he had been sent to persecute, renounced his honors and
fortunes, and required among the Paulicians the fame of a missionary and
a martyr. They were not ambitious of martyrdom, [15] but in a calamitous
period of one hundred and fifty years, their patience sustained
whatever zeal could inflict; and power was insufficient to eradicate the
obstinate vegetation of fanaticism and reason. From the blood and
ashes of the first victims, a succession of teachers and congregations
repeatedly arose: amidst their foreign hostilities, they found leisure
for domestic quarrels: they preached, they disputed, they suffered;
and the virtues, the apparent virtues, of Sergius, in a pilgrimage
of thirty-three years, are reluctantly confessed by the orthodox
historians. [16] The native cruelty of Justinian the Second was
stimulated by a pious cause; and he vainly hoped to extinguish, in a
single conflagration, the name and memory of the Paulicians. By their
primitive simplicity, their abhorrence of popular superstition,
the Iconoclast princes might have been reconciled to some erroneous
doctrines; but they themselves were exposed to the calumnies of the
monks, and they chose to be the tyrants, lest they should be accused
as the accomplices, of the Manichaeans. Such a reproach has sullied the
clemency of Nicephorus, who relaxed in their favor the severity of
the penal statutes, nor will his character sustain the honor of a
more liberal motive. The feeble Michael the First, the rigid Leo the
Armenian, were foremost in the race of persecution; but the prize
must doubtless be adjudged to the sanguinary devotion of Theodora, who
restored the images to the Oriental church. Her inquisitors explored
the cities and mountains of the Lesser Asia, and the flatterers of
the empress have affirmed that, in a short reign, one hundred thousand
Paulicians were extirpated by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames. Her
guilt or merit has perhaps been stretched beyond the measure of truth:
but if the account be allowed, it must be presumed that many simple
Iconoclasts were punished under a more odious name; and that some who
were driven from the church, unwillingly took refuge in the bosom of

[Footnote 10: The countries between the Euphrates and the Halys were
possessed above 350 years by the Medes (Herodot. l. i. c. 103) and
Persians; and the kings of Pontus were of the royal race of the
Achaemenides, (Sallust. Fragment. l. iii. with the French supplement and
notes of the president de Brosses.)]

[Footnote 11: Most probably founded by Pompey after the conquest of
Pontus. This Colonia, on the Lycus, above Neo-Caesarea, is named by
the Turks Coulei-hisar, or Chonac, a populous town in a strong country,
(D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 34. Tournefort, Voyage du
Levant, tom. iii. lettre xxi. p. 293.)]

[Footnote 12: The temple of Bellona, at Comana in Pontus was a powerful
and wealthy foundation, and the high priest was respected as the second
person in the kingdom. As the sacerdotal office had been occupied by
his mother's family, Strabo (l. xii. p. 809, 835, 836, 837) dwells with
peculiar complacency on the temple, the worship, and festival, which was
twice celebrated every year. But the Bellona of Pontus had the features
and character of the goddess, not of war, but of love.]

[Footnote 13: Gregory, bishop of Neo-Caesarea, (A.D. 240-265,) surnamed
Thaumaturgus, or the Wonder-worker. An hundred years afterwards, the
history or romance of his life was composed by Gregory of Nyssa, his
namesake and countryman, the brother of the great St. Basil.]

[Footnote 14: Hoc caeterum ad sua egregia facinora, divini atque
orthodoxi Imperatores addiderunt, ut Manichaeos Montanosque capitali
puniri sententia juberent, eorumque libros, quocunque in loco
inventi essent, flammis tradi; quod siquis uspiam eosdem occultasse
deprehenderetur, hunc eundem mortis poenae addici, ejusque bona in
fiscum inferri, (Petr. Sicul. p. 759.) What more could bigotry and
persecution desire?]

[Footnote 15: It should seem, that the Paulicians allowed themselves
some latitude of equivocation and mental reservation; till the Catholics
discovered the pressing questions, which reduced them to the alternative
of apostasy or martyrdom, (Petr. Sicul. p. 760.)]

[Footnote 16: The persecution is told by Petrus Siculus (p. 579-763)
with satisfaction and pleasantry. Justus justa persolvit. See likewise
Cedrenus, (p. 432-435.)]

The most furious and desperate of rebels are the sectaries of a religion
long persecuted, and at length provoked. In a holy cause they are no
longer susceptible of fear or remorse: the justice of their arms hardens
them against the feelings of humanity; and they revenge their fathers'
wrongs on the children of their tyrants. Such have been the Hussites of
Bohemia and the Calvinists of France, and such, in the ninth century,
were the Paulicians of Armenia and the adjacent provinces. [17] They
were first awakened to the massacre of a governor and bishop, who
exercised the Imperial mandate of converting or destroying the heretics;
and the deepest recesses of Mount Argaeus protected their independence
and revenge. A more dangerous and consuming flame was kindled by the
persecution of Theodora, and the revolt of Carbeas, a valiant Paulician,
who commanded the guards of the general of the East. His father had been
impaled by the Catholic inquisitors; and religion, or at least nature,
might justify his desertion and revenge. Five thousand of his brethren
were united by the same motives; they renounced the allegiance of
anti-Christian Rome; a Saracen emir introduced Carbeas to the caliph;
and the commander of the faithful extended his sceptre to the implacable
enemy of the Greeks. In the mountains between Siwas and Trebizond he
founded or fortified the city of Tephrice, [18] which is still occupied
by a fierce or licentious people, and the neighboring hills were covered
with the Paulician fugitives, who now reconciled the use of the Bible
and the sword. During more than thirty years, Asia was afflicted by the
calamities of foreign and domestic war; in their hostile inroads,
the disciples of St. Paul were joined with those of Mahomet; and
the peaceful Christians, the aged parent and tender virgin, who were
delivered into barbarous servitude, might justly accuse the intolerant
spirit of their sovereign. So urgent was the mischief, so intolerable
the shame, that even the dissolute Michael, the son of Theodora, was
compelled to march in person against the Paulicians: he was defeated
under the walls of Samosata; and the Roman emperor fled before the
heretics whom his mother had condemned to the flames. The Saracens
fought under the same banners, but the victory was ascribed to Carbeas;
and the captive generals, with more than a hundred tribunes, were either
released by his avarice, or tortured by his fanaticism. The valor and
ambition of Chrysocheir, [19] his successor, embraced a wider circle
of rapine and revenge. In alliance with his faithful Moslems, he boldly
penetrated into the heart of Asia; the troops of the frontier and
the palace were repeatedly overthrown; the edicts of persecution were
answered by the pillage of Nice and Nicomedia, of Ancyra and Ephesus;
nor could the apostle St. John protect from violation his city and
sepulchre. The cathedral of Ephesus was turned into a stable for mules
and horses; and the Paulicians vied with the Saracens in their contempt
and abhorrence of images and relics. It is not unpleasing to observe
the triumph of rebellion over the same despotism which had disdained
the prayers of an injured people. The emperor Basil, the Macedonian,
was reduced to sue for peace, to offer a ransom for the captives, and
to request, in the language of moderation and charity, that Chrysocheir
would spare his fellow-Christians, and content himself with a royal
donative of gold and silver and silk garments. "If the emperor," replied
the insolent fanatic, "be desirous of peace, let him abdicate the East,
and reign without molestation in the West. If he refuse, the servants
of the Lord will precipitate him from the throne." The reluctant Basil
suspended the treaty, accepted the defiance, and led his army into the
land of heresy, which he wasted with fire and sword. The open country
of the Paulicians was exposed to the same calamities which they had
inflicted; but when he had explored the strength of Tephrice, the
multitude of the Barbarians, and the ample magazines of arms and
provisions, he desisted with a sigh from the hopeless siege. On his
return to Constantinople, he labored, by the foundation of convents and
churches, to secure the aid of his celestial patrons, of Michael the
archangel and the prophet Elijah; and it was his daily prayer that he
might live to transpierce, with three arrows, the head of his impious
adversary. Beyond his expectations, the wish was accomplished: after a
successful inroad, Chrysocheir was surprised and slain in his retreat;
and the rebel's head was triumphantly presented at the foot of the
throne. On the reception of this welcome trophy, Basil instantly called
for his bow, discharged three arrows with unerring aim, and accepted the
applause of the court, who hailed the victory of the royal archer. With
Chrysocheir, the glory of the Paulicians faded and withered: [20] on the
second expedition of the emperor, the impregnable Tephrice, was deserted
by the heretics, who sued for mercy or escaped to the borders. The city
was ruined, but the spirit of independence survived in the mountains:
the Paulicians defended, above a century, their religion and liberty,
infested the Roman limits, and maintained their perpetual alliance with
the enemies of the empire and the gospel.

[Footnote 17: Petrus Siculus, (p. 763, 764,) the continuator of
Theophanes, (l. iv. c. 4, p. 103, 104,) Cedrenus, (p. 541, 542, 545,)
and Zonaras, (tom. ii. l. xvi. p. 156,) describe the revolt and exploits
of Carbeas and his Paulicians.]

[Footnote 18: Otter (Voyage en Turquie et en Perse, tom. ii.) is
probably the only Frank who has visited the independent Barbarians of
Tephrice now Divrigni, from whom he fortunately escaped in the train of
a Turkish officer.]

[Footnote 19: In the history of Chrysocheir, Genesius (Chron. p. 67-70,
edit. Venet.) has exposed the nakedness of the empire. Constantine
Porphyrogenitus (in Vit. Basil. c. 37-43, p. 166-171) has displayed
the glory of his grandfather. Cedrenus (p. 570-573) is without their
passions or their knowledge.]

[Footnote 20: How elegant is the Greek tongue, even in the mouth of

Chapter LIV: Origin And Doctrine Of The Paulicians.--Part II.

About the middle of the eight century, Constantine, surnamed Copronymus
by the worshippers of images, had made an expedition into Armenia, and
found, in the cities of Melitene and Theodosiopolis, a great number
of Paulicians, his kindred heretics. As a favor, or punishment, he
transplanted them from the banks of the Euphrates to Constantinople
and Thrace; and by this emigration their doctrine was introduced and
diffused in Europe. [21] If the sectaries of the metropolis were soon
mingled with the promiscuous mass, those of the country struck a deep
root in a foreign soil. The Paulicians of Thrace resisted the storms
of persecution, maintained a secret correspondence with their Armenian
brethren, and gave aid and comfort to their preachers, who solicited,
not without success, the infant faith of the Bulgarians. [22] In the
tenth century, they were restored and multiplied by a more powerful
colony, which John Zimisces [23] transported from the Chalybian hills
to the valleys of Mount Haemus. The Oriental clergy who would have
preferred the destruction, impatiently sighed for the absence, of the
Manichaeans: the warlike emperor had felt and esteemed their valor:
their attachment to the Saracens was pregnant with mischief; but, on
the side of the Danube, against the Barbarians of Scythia, their service
might be useful, and their loss would be desirable. Their exile in a
distant land was softened by a free toleration: the Paulicians held the
city of Philippopolis and the keys of Thrace; the Catholics were their
subjects; the Jacobite emigrants their associates: they occupied a
line of villages and castles in Macedonia and Epirus; and many native
Bulgarians were associated to the communion of arms and heresy. As long
as they were awed by power and treated with moderation, their voluntary
bands were distinguished in the armies of the empire; and the courage of
these dogs, ever greedy of war, ever thirsty of human blood, is noticed
with astonishment, and almost with reproach, by the pusillanimous
Greeks. The same spirit rendered them arrogant and contumacious: they
were easily provoked by caprice or injury; and their privileges were
often violated by the faithless bigotry of the government and clergy.
In the midst of the Norman war, two thousand five hundred Manichaeans
deserted the standard of Alexius Comnenus, [24] and retired to their
native homes. He dissembled till the moment of revenge; invited the
chiefs to a friendly conference; and punished the innocent and guilty
by imprisonment, confiscation, and baptism. In an interval of peace, the
emperor undertook the pious office of reconciling them to the church
and state: his winter quarters were fixed at Philippopolis; and the
thirteenth apostle, as he is styled by his pious daughter, consumed
whole days and nights in theological controversy. His arguments were
fortified, their obstinacy was melted, by the honors and rewards which
he bestowed on the most eminent proselytes; and a new city, surrounded
with gardens, enriched with immunities, and dignified with his own name,
was founded by Alexius for the residence of his vulgar converts. The
important station of Philippopolis was wrested from their hands; the
contumacious leaders were secured in a dungeon, or banished from their
country; and their lives were spared by the prudence, rather than the
mercy, of an emperor, at whose command a poor and solitary heretic was
burnt alive before the church of St. Sophia. [25] But the proud hope of
eradicating the prejudices of a nation was speedily overturned by the
invincible zeal of the Paulicians, who ceased to dissemble or refused to
obey. After the departure and death of Alexius, they soon resumed their
civil and religious laws. In the beginning of the thirteenth century,
their pope or primate (a manifest corruption) resided on the confines of
Bulgaria, Croatia, and Dalmatia, and governed, by his vicars, the
filial congregations of Italy and France. [26] From that aera, a minute
scrutiny might prolong and perpetuate the chain of tradition. At the end
of the last age, the sect or colony still inhabited the valleys of Mount
Haemus, where their ignorance and poverty were more frequently
tormented by the Greek clergy than by the Turkish government. The modern
Paulicians have lost all memory of their origin; and their religion
is disgraced by the worship of the cross, and the practice of bloody
sacrifice, which some captives have imported from the wilds of Tartary.

[Footnote 21: Copronymus transported his heretics; and thus says
Cedrenus, (p. 463,) who has copied the annals of Theophanes.]

[Footnote 22: Petrus Siculus, who resided nine months at Tephrice
(A.D. 870) for the ransom of captives, (p. 764,) was informed of
their intended mission, and addressed his preservative, the Historia
Manichaeorum to the new archbishop of the Bulgarians, (p. 754.)]

[Footnote 23: The colony of Paulicians and Jacobites transplanted by
John Zimisces (A.D. 970) from Armenia to Thrace, is mentioned by Zonaras
(tom. ii. l. xvii. p. 209) and Anna Comnena, (Alexiad, l. xiv. p. 450,

[Footnote 24: The Alexiad of Anna Comnena (l. v. p. 131, l. vi. p. 154,
155, l. xiv. p. 450-457, with the Annotations of Ducange) records
the transactions of her apostolic father with the Manichaeans, whose
abominable heresy she was desirous of refuting.]

[Footnote 25: Basil, a monk, and the author of the Bogomiles, a sect of
Gnostics, who soon vanished, (Anna Comnena, Alexiad, l. xv. p. 486-494
Mosheim, Hist. Ecclesiastica, p. 420.)]

[Footnote 26: Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, p. 267. This passage of
our English historian is alleged by Ducange in an excellent note on
Villehardouin (No. 208,) who found the Paulicians at Philippopolis the
friends of the Bulgarians.]

[Footnote 27: See Marsigli, Stato Militare dell' Imperio Ottomano, p.

In the West, the first teachers of the Manichaean theology had been
repulsed by the people, or suppressed by the prince. The favor and
success of the Paulicians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries must be
imputed to the strong, though secret, discontent which armed the most
pious Christians against the church of Rome. Her avarice was oppressive,
her despotism odious; less degenerate perhaps than the Greeks in the
worship of saints and images, her innovations were more rapid and
scandalous: she had rigorously defined and imposed the doctrine of
transubstantiation: the lives of the Latin clergy were more corrupt, and
the Eastern bishops might pass for the successors of the apostles, if
they were compared with the lordly prelates, who wielded by turns
the crosier, the sceptre, and the sword. Three different roads might
introduce the Paulicians into the heart of Europe. After the conversion
of Hungary, the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem might safely follow the
course of the Danube: in their journey and return they passed through
Philippopolis; and the sectaries, disguising their name and heresy,
might accompany the French or German caravans to their respective
countries. The trade and dominion of Venice pervaded the coast of the
Adriatic, and the hospitable republic opened her bosom to foreigners of
every climate and religion. Under the Byzantine standard, the Paulicians
were often transported to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily: in
peace and war, they freely conversed with strangers and natives, and
their opinions were silently propagated in Rome, Milan, and the kingdoms
beyond the Alps. [28] It was soon discovered, that many thousand
Catholics of every rank, and of either sex, had embraced the Manichaean
heresy; and the flames which consumed twelve canons of Orleans was the
first act and signal of persecution. The Bulgarians, [29] a name so
innocent in its origin, so odious in its application, spread their
branches over the face of Europe. United in common hatred of idolatry
and Rome, they were connected by a form of episcopal and presbyterian
government; their various sects were discriminated by some fainter
or darker shades of theology; but they generally agreed in the two
principles, the contempt of the Old Testament and the denial of the
body of Christ, either on the cross or in the eucharist. A confession of
simple worship and blameless manners is extorted from their enemies;
and so high was their standard of perfection, that the increasing
congregations were divided into two classes of disciples, of those
who practised, and of those who aspired. It was in the country of the
Albigeois, [30] in the southern provinces of France, that the Paulicians
were most deeply implanted; and the same vicissitudes of martyrdom and
revenge which had been displayed in the neighborhood of the Euphrates,
were repeated in the thirteenth century on the banks of the Rhone. The
laws of the Eastern emperors were revived by Frederic the Second. The
insurgents of Tephrice were represented by the barons and cities of
Languedoc: Pope Innocent III. surpassed the sanguinary fame of Theodora.
It was in cruelty alone that her soldiers could equal the heroes of
the Crusades, and the cruelty of her priests was far excelled by the
founders of the Inquisition; [31] an office more adapted to confirm,
than to refute, the belief of an evil principle. The visible assemblies
of the Paulicians, or Albigeois, were extirpated by fire and sword;
and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment, or Catholic
conformity. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled still lived
and breathed in the Western world. In the state, in the church, and even
in the cloister, a latent succession was preserved of the disciples of
St. Paul; who protested against the tyranny of Rome, embraced the Bible
as the rule of faith, and purified their creed from all the visions of
the Gnostic theology. [3111] The struggles of Wickliff in England,
of Huss in Bohemia, were premature and ineffectual; but the names of
Zuinglius, Luther, and Calvin, are pronounced with gratitude as the
deliverers of nations.

[Footnote 28: The introduction of the Paulicians into Italy and France
is amply discussed by Muratori (Antiquitat. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. v.
dissert. lx. p. 81-152) and Mosheim, (p. 379-382, 419-422.) Yet both
have overlooked a curious passage of William the Apulian, who clearly
describes them in a battle between the Greeks and Normans, A.D. 1040,
(in Muratori, Script. Rerum Ital. tom. v. p. 256:)

     Cum Graecis aderant quidam, quos pessimus error

     Fecerat amentes, et ab ipso nomen habebant.

But he is so ignorant of their doctrine as to make them a kind of
Sabellians or Patripassians.]

[Footnote 29: Bulgari, Boulgres, Bougres, a national appellation,
has been applied by the French as a term of reproach to usurers and
unnatural sinners. The Paterini, or Patelini, has been made to signify
a smooth and flattering hypocrite, such as l'Avocat Patelin of that
original and pleasant farce, (Ducange, Gloss. Latinitat. Medii et Infimi
Aevi.) The Manichaeans were likewise named Cathari or the pure, by
corruption. Gazari, &c.]

[Footnote 30: Of the laws, crusade, and persecution against the
Albigeois, a just, though general, idea is expressed by Mosheim, (p.
477-481.) The detail may be found in the ecclesiastical historians,
ancient and modern, Catholics and Protestants; and amongst these Fleury
is the most impartial and moderate.]

[Footnote 31: The Acts (Liber Sententiarum) of the Inquisition
of Tholouse (A.D. 1307-1323) have been published by Limborch,
(Amstelodami, 1692,) with a previous History of the Inquisition in
general. They deserved a more learned and critical editor. As we must
not calumniate even Satan, or the Holy Office, I will observe, that of a
list of criminals which fills nineteen folio pages, only fifteen men and
four women were delivered to the secular arm.]

[Footnote 3111: The popularity of "Milner's History of the Church"
with some readers, may make it proper to observe, that his attempt to
exculpate the Paulicians from the charge of Gnosticism or Manicheism
is in direct defiance, if not in ignorance, of all the original
authorities. Gibbon himself, it appears, was not acquainted with the
work of Photius, "Contra Manicheos Repullulantes," the first book of
which was edited by Montfaucon, Bibliotheca Coisliniana, pars ii. p.
349, 375, the whole by Wolf, in his Anecdota Graeca. Hamburg 1722.
Compare a very sensible tract. Letter to Rev. S. R. Maitland, by J G.
Dowling, M. A. London, 1835.--M.]

A philosopher, who calculates the degree of their merit and the value of
their reformation, will prudently ask from what articles of faith, above
or against our reason, they have enfranchised the Christians; for such
enfranchisement is doubtless a benefit so far as it may be compatible
with truth and piety. After a fair discussion, we shall rather be
surprised by the timidity, than scandalized by the freedom, of our first
reformers. [32] With the Jews, they adopted the belief and defence of
all the Hebrew Scriptures, with all their prodigies, from the garden of
Eden to the visions of the prophet Daniel; and they were bound, like the
Catholics, to justify against the Jews the abolition of a divine law.
In the great mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation the reformers were
severely orthodox: they freely adopted the theology of the four, or the
six first councils; and with the Athanasian creed, they pronounced
the eternal damnation of all who did not believe the Catholic faith.
Transubstantiation, the invisible change of the bread and wine into the
body and blood of Christ, is a tenet that may defy the power of argument
and pleasantry; but instead of consulting the evidence of their senses,
of their sight, their feeling, and their taste, the first Protestants
were entangled in their own scruples, and awed by the words of Jesus
in the institution of the sacrament. Luther maintained a corporeal, and
Calvin a real, presence of Christ in the eucharist; and the opinion
of Zuinglius, that it is no more than a spiritual communion, a simple
memorial, has slowly prevailed in the reformed churches. [33] But the
loss of one mystery was amply compensated by the stupendous doctrines of
original sin, redemption, faith, grace, and predestination, which have
been strained from the epistles of St. Paul. These subtile questions had
most assuredly been prepared by the fathers and schoolmen; but the final
improvement and popular use may be attributed to the first reformers,
who enforced them as the absolute and essential terms of salvation.
Hitherto the weight of supernatural belief inclines against the
Protestants; and many a sober Christian would rather admit that a wafer
is God, than that God is a cruel and capricious tyrant.

[Footnote 32: The opinions and proceedings of the reformers are exposed
in the second part of the general history of Mosheim; but the balance,
which he has held with so clear an eye, and so steady a hand, begins to
incline in favor of his Lutheran brethren.]

[Footnote 33: Under Edward VI. our reformation was more bold and
perfect, but in the fundamental articles of the church of England,
a strong and explicit declaration against the real presence was
obliterated in the original copy, to please the people or the Lutherans,
or Queen Elizabeth, (Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p.
82, 128, 302.)]

Yet the services of Luther and his rivals are solid and