The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19j – Abbasids part 10

The decay of the Abbasid caliphate continues.  Egypt is almost an independent country; and the caliphate is also troubled by the Qarmatian revolt – a group of Shia fanatics who end up stealing the Black stone from Mecca. 

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUKTAFĪ BI’LLĀH (289-295/902-908).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Muktafī, i.e. Abū Muhammad [‘Ali] b. Ahmad al-Mu’tadid, in Baghdad, on the same day that al-Mu’tadid died.  Al-Muktafi was in ar-Raqqah.  Letters and missives were sent to him to travel to Baghdad.  He went, and settled there.  His mother was Bakhtagiknah, and she was the daughter of al-Qāsim b. ‘Ubayd Allah b. Sulaymān b. Dhahb.  He named his secretary al-‘Abbās b. Al-Hasan al-Mādarāni, and restored things to order.

2. In the second year of the caliphate of al-Muktafī, in 290 [of the Hegira], the Nile of Egypt reached the height of thirteen cubits and two fingers.  The Muslims, Christians and Jews went out in procession, praying to God for rain, but the level of water remained as we mentioned, and the water continued to flow.  In the third year of al-Muktafi’s caliphate there was made patriarch of Antioch Elias.  He was a kātib.  He held office for twenty-eight years and died.  In the month of Rabī ‘al-ākhar, the town of Seleucia, in Byzantine territory, was conquered, and the loot was brought to Egypt in the month of Ragab of the year 290 [of the Hegira].  In the second year of the caliphate of al-Muktafi died Michael, patriarch of Alexandria, on Sunday, six days before the end of the month of Ramadan of the year 290 [of the Hegira], after having been patriarch for thirty-four years.  After him the see of Alexandria remained without a patriarch for four years.  In the fifth year of the caliphate of al-Muktafi, there was made patriarch of Alexandria Cristodulos, originally from Aleppo.  He was consecrated in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the 4th of the month of Nīsān, that is, the 7th of Barmūdah, 19th of the month of ğumādā al-ākhar.  Elias, the son of Mansūr, patriarch of Jerusalem, consecrated him and he went to Alexandria.  But the inhabitants of Alexandria said, “We will not accept him unless the prayer making him patriarch is repeated.”  The prayer of patriarchs was prayed over him on the 4th of Ramadan of the year 294 [of the Hegira].  He held office for twenty-six years and six months and died.  He was buried in the church of [Saint] Michael at Fustāt-Misr.  In the sixth year of al-Muktafi’s caliphate there was made patriarch of Jerusalem George, son of Da’ğān.  He held office for four years and eight months and died.

3. There arose in Syria a rebel called Ismā’il the Qarmatian[1].  In Damascus the governor, in the name of Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn, was Tughğ b. Khaff al-Far’āni.  After several battles, Tughğ was put to flight at the hand of Ismā’īl the Qarmatian, and many of his men fell on the field.  Tughğ then wrote to Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh, informing him of the fact.  Hārūn sent a large army to him, all of which belonged to the men of the Tulūnids.  The battle between the army of Hārūn and the Qarmatian took place near a village called “Kenākir”, in the province of Damascus, in the area known as “al-Askafiyyah” in the month of Ragab of the year 289 [of the Hegira].  After a fierce battle, the Qarmatian was killed, and on both sides about twenty thousand men fell, while the others were fleeing.  The survivors of the forces of Hārūn went to Damascus and Tiberias, while those of the Qarmatian army headed to Homs.  Then Hārūn’s soldiers returned to Egypt, but part of them remained in Damascus with Badr, called al-Ğamāmi.  The Qarmatian had a brother named an-Nāgim.  He gathered the survivors of his brother’s forces, and formed an army by recruiting his own people, and began his rebellion in the area around Homs.  When al-Muktafi learned that the Egyptian hosts had been cut to pieces and decimated by the Qarmatian and that the Egyptian soldiers had been killed, he decided to occupy Egypt, and he sent Muhammad ibn Sulaymān at the head of his most illustrious commanders and with a huge army.  Al-Muktafi then went to ar-Raqqah and stopped there.  When he came to Homs, Muhammad ibn Sulayman put to flight the troops of the Qarmatian an-Nāgim and captured seven hundred of his men.  The Qarmatian escaped but he was caught in a place called “ad-Dāliyyah”.  Muhammad ibn Sulaymān brought him to al-Muktafī, at ar-Raqqah, along with the seven hundred men.  Al-Muktafi took him with him to Baghdad where, after torturing him for a long time, he had him decapitated on a scaffold, then hanged his body on a cross.  He then ordered the killing of the seven hundred men: some were decapitated on the scaffold and then crucified, others had their hands and feet cut off.

4. Al-Muktafi’s armies progressed with Muhammad ibn Sulaymān even to Damascus.  Badr al-Hammāmi, along with the soldiers who were with him, asked for a promise of safety from Muhammad ibn Sulaymān.  Muhammad ibn Sulayman then left for Palestine with the intent of invading Egypt.  Knowing that the soldiers and armies had him as their target, Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh went to a place called “al-‘Abbāsiyyah”, an Egyptian territory of the province of al-Hawf, and camped there with his commanders and many men, to wait for Muhammad ibn Sulayman and to fight against him.  Al-Muktafi’s ships followed the route to Tinnis and entered the province of Egypt.  The Greek Damian commanded the fleet.  Then some of Hārūn’s commanders[2] came to meet Damian in a village of al-Fustāt called “Tanūhah”.  The battle between the two sides was violent, but Hārūn’s officers went over to the other side and fled.

5. Shaybān ibn Muhammad b. Tūlūn, the uncle of Hārūn, attacked Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh and killed him, on Sunday 18th of the month of Safar of the year 292.  Shaybān b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn was the arbiter of the situation only for a few days.  For Hārūn’s officers wrote a letter to Muhammad ibn Sulaymān asking him to grant them protection.  Granting them what they asked, Muhammad ibn Sulaymān entered Misr without finding any opposition and no objection on Thursday, two days before the end of the month of Safar of the year 292.  Faced with this event, and seeing that Muhammad ibn Sulayman had already deployed his battle-ready soldiers in a place called “ar-Riyah” at the gate of the city of Misr, Shaybān and his brothers sought a guarantee of their lives and property .  This was granted, and Shaybān’s forces disbanded.  Muhammad ibn Sulayman ordered all the officers and secretaries of Hārūn who were with him to go to Baghdad.  They went to Baghdad, while Muhammad ibn Sulaymān stayed in Egypt for six months, and the scribes and the officers with them collected thousands of thousands of dinars.  Then he returned to Iraq, leaving Is’ān an-Nūshari in Egypt, after having stayed for six months and having collected from the provinces thousands of thousands of dinars destined for the sultan.  Al-Muktafi took Muhammad ibn Sulaymān and threw him into prison, demanding the restitution of the goods that he had collected in Egypt.

6. In Syria one of Hārūn’s officers, known under the name of Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Khalīğ, one of those who remained with Muhammad ibn Sulaymān in Syria, rebelled, and, having gathered around him a multitude of men of every sort, had set up their seat in the city of ar-Ramlah.  Learning of this, Isa an-Nūshari joined with al-Husayn ibn Ahmad al-Mādarāni, called Abū Zaynūn, and the soldiers who were in Egypt and came out together to fight against Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khaliğ.  When they learned that he had a large number of men with him, they returned, together with the officers, to al-Fustāt.  From here they went down to al-Gizah, broke the two bridges then gave them to the flames, so that Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khalīğ could not reach them, and continued marching about, now to Alexandria, now to upper Egypt.  So the city of al-Fustāt remained without authority and without anyone [as governor].  The citizens protected themselves, and took care of each other for five days.

7. Muhammad ibn [Ali] al-Khalīg entered Misr on a Thursday, fourteen days before the end of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 292.  He stayed there for eight months, accumulating riches and strengthening his position.  Then the armies of al-Muktafī arrived, under the command of his freedman Fātik, and a group of officers.  Muhammad ibn Ali al-Khalīg came out against him, retreated on al-Fustāt with his men and engaged in a violent battle.  Muhammad ibn Ali was beaten and succeeded in returning to al-Fustāt, where he hid himself.  Fātik made his entry into al-Fustāt together with his officers.  The man with whom Muhammad bin Ali al-Khalīg was hiding went to Isā an-Nūshari and told him that he was with him.  He was arrested – it was the month of Rağab of the year 293 [of the Hegira] – and he carried him with him back to Irāq together with his men, his family, his officers and scribes, and those who had helped him.

8. Al-Muktafi died on Sunday 13th of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 295 [of the Hegira].  His caliphate lasted six years, nine months and two days.  His influential advisers and administrators of his affairs were his minister al-‘Abbās ibn al-Husayn and his freeman Fātik.

  1. [1]From what follows, the name of this rebel was actually Abū’l-Qāsim, as is clear from the battle in which Tughğ was defeated.  Eutychius has confused him with Ismā’īl, son of the 6th Imam Ga’far as-Sādiq (d. 765), from whom the Ismailites take their name.  The latter are easy to confuse with the Qarmatians. (Pirone).  The “Qarmata” or “Qarmatians” or “Qaramita” were a Shia group best known for taking the black stone from Mecca.
  2. [2]Perhaps “officers” would be a better word?

A fragment of Bede’s “De ratione temporum” from his own lifetime?

Here’s a fun item!  Inside the binding of a book, somebody found a really early fragment of a manuscript of Bede’s De ratione temporum.  (This is the only work which mentions “Eostre”, and includes all his calculations of dates and events.)

Even more fun – it’s online in a nice high-resolution image at Darmstadt!  It can be found here, where it is manuscript 4262.  The piece originates at Wearmouth – i.e. in Bede’s own monastery – around 725, in his own lifetime.

It’s amazing to consider that Bede may have seen this being copied!

But there is more.  This is a chunk of chapter 27, De magnitudine, vel defectu solis et lunae, as you may verify from this old edition here.  In this passage, he quotes Pliny the Elder book 37.  You can see the red heading of Bede’s chapter in the left hand column; and the name of “Plinius” on the third line underneath.

Here’s one side of the folium:

And here’s the other (which plainly needs a bit of work with a graphics tool):

Here’s some of the Latin text:

CAPUT XXVII. DE MAGNITUDINE, VEL DEFECTU SOLIS ET LUNAE.
De magnitudine, vel defectu solis, sive lunae, Plinius secundus in opere pulcherrimo naturalis historiae ita describit: Manifestum est solem interventu lunas occultari, lunamque terrae objectu, ac vices reddi, eosdem solis radios luna interpositu suo auferente terrae, terraeque lunae.

The “eosdem solis radios luna” is particularly clear in the right-hand column, two lines down.

Here’s the same bit in the Liverpool University translation by Faith Wallis, p.78-79:

27. ON THE SIZE,OR ECLIPSE,OF THE SUN AND MOON
Pliny relates the following information concerning the size or eclipse of the Sun and Moon in that most delightful book, the Natural History: “It is obvious that the Sun is obscured by the intervention of the Moon, and the Moon by the interposition of the Earth, and each affects the other. The Moon takes away by its interposition the very same rays of the Sun which the Earth takes away from the Moon.”

Isn’t it amazing that a page of a copy contemporary with the author, and from the same monastery, is still extant?  It does demonstrate the importance of looking in these 16th century bindings.

Well done Darmstadt, for making that accessible online!  (They ask that I mention their reference of urn:nbn:de:tuda-tudigit-51806)

The awful history of Brockelmann’s GAL (and why it is in the state it is)

Six years ago, I wrote a post in which I roundly attacked Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Literatur for its copious failings.  Today I discovered online a piece which explained exactly why it is the mess it is.

Would you believe: it’s because of German copyright law?

The article that I found by Jan Just Witkam, “Brockelmann’s Geschichte revisited”, turns out to be the preface to a 1996 reprint of Brockelmann.  The story is rather a racy one!

Carl Brockelmann had always wanted to publish an updated reprint of the first edition of GAL. Alongside his numerous other activities he had recorded additions and corrections in his interleaved copy of the edition of 1898-1902. That first edition was published by E. Felber, a small publisher in Weimar and later in Berlin. He had agreed to publish Brockelmann’s edition of Ibn Qutayba’s ‘Uyun al-Akhbar on the condition that he would have the right to publish another work by Brockelmann which would yield him more profit than Ibn Qutayba. Brockelmann agreed and offered him his GAL, a project about which he had already been thinking for quite a while. This decision would have far-reaching consequences for generations of students of Arabic literature. Felber proved to be a crook and Brockelmann was not his first or only victim. When the typesetting and printing of half of the first volume of Ibn Qutayba’s text had been completed, the work was stopped and Felber disappeared. Some time later he re-emerged and fulfilled his engagements albeit in a reduced form, restricting the publication to four volumes, whereas Brockelmann had had ten volumes in mind. Brockelmann was forced to pay if he wanted the work to proceed, a classic trick. To appease Brockelmann’s anger for a while Felber gave him a typewriter, his first. Brockelmann grudgingly accepted it. GAL, which in the contract with Felber was Brockelmann’s subsidy to finance the Ibn Qutayba edition, was printed more or less simultaneously with the Ibn Qutayba edition, but instead of the one thousand copies which he was allowed to produce. Felber had three thousand copies printed, thereby cashing in for himself on a possible second and third edition. Three thousand copies is quite exceptional for any Orientalist publication where print runs usually do not exceed a few hundred copies. But there was more mishap to come. During several involuntary peregrinations. Felber (who was always on the run from his creditors and authors) had lost part of his stock, the printed sheets of about half of the second volume of GAL. Complete copies of GAL. became a rare item and it took a long time before Felber made a photographic reprint of those lost sheets. GAL thereby became a work that, for many years, one could only procure through the antiquarian book trade, if at all. Later on. it was also Felber who hindered the publication of a new edition, since he had so much old stock left. Recourse to juridical action by Brockelmann was to no avail. The German copyright law apparently could not be applied. The book was considered a commodity that, once sold, transferred ownership. The author, who in such a situation was considered to be the former owner, could never again exercise a right to his work. The only way to regain the rights on the book was if someone was to buy the entire remaining stock. During Felber’s lifetime this proved to be impossible, and also after Felber’s death the successors to his estate asked such an extravagant price for the remaining copies of GAL that this possibility proved to be impractical.

Brockelmann then found the director of Brill’s of Leiden, Mr. Th. Folkers, ready to publish the additional data in three supplementary volumes, which appeared between 1937-1942. In order to maintain the connection between the original two volumes and the three supplements, the page-numbers of the original edition were constantly referred to. At the end of each supplementary volume, additions and corrections to the original edition were included. The indexes in the third supplement had references to both the original two volumes of 1898-1902 and the three newly published supplements.

It was only after the publication of the third supplementary volume that it became possible for Brill’s to acquire the rights to the original work. Then nothing stood in the way of an updated second edition of the two original volumes. With ample reference to the supplementary volumes these were published in 1943-1949.

The pagination of the first edition of GAL had been the source of reference for the supplementary volumes and they had been included in the indexes of the supplements. Now, in the new edition of the two original volumes, it was to be that same, old, pagination that would be used. This is why the new edition of the two original volumes has the page-numbers of the first edition retained in the margins. And it is to those marginal page numbers that the indexes of the entire new set refer. It is all perfectly logical if one takes the printing history of the book into account, but for the newly initiated bibliographer it is a source of bewilderment and confusion.  The use of the marginal page-numbers is, therefore, not just an innocent peculiarity in which Carl Brockelmann indulged, but a complication imposed upon each and every user of the book, now and in the future.

As I have commented before, German copyright law is a menace.  It is a menace because it appears to be drafted entirely with the interests of publishers in mind, and with no regard to the public interest.   The dominance of Germany in the EU means that this evil system has been exported throughout that unhappy region.

We still need an English language translation of Brockelmann.  But who would do it?  And who, given the copyright nasties, could do it?

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19i – Abbasids part 9

The events of the Abbasid caliphs continue.  This reign is interesting for a curious storm that affected Egypt in 284 AH / 897 AD.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MU`TADID (279-289/892-902).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Mu’tadid bi’llāh Abū’l-‘Abbās, i.e. Ahmad b. Abū Ahmad al-Muwaffaq bi’llāh b. Ga’far al-Mutawakkil ‘alā’llāh – his mother was an umm walad named Sirār.  The bay’ah was given to him on the same day that al-Mu’tamid died, eleven days before the end of the month of Rağab of the year 279 [of the Hegira].  The revolts ceased, the countries returned to order, the wars stopped, each rebel accepted peace, and prices fell sharply.

2. Al-Mu’tadid sent to ask Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn to give him his daughter in marriage.  Khumārawayh consented, and sent her with great riches, slaves, and maidservants.  They made peace and order was restored.  Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn left Egypt for Syria and stopped at Damascus.  He had built, outside Damascus, below the dayr Murrān, on the “Thawrah” River, a palace that used to be his residence.  Khumārawayh was killed in this palace that he built, near Damascus, on Sunday night, three days before the end of the month of dhū’l-qa’da of the year 282 [of the Hegira].  His servants, Zāhir, Sābūr, Lu’lu ‘, Natīf, Shafi` ash-Sharābi and Ghanā’im, were charged with his killing.  These servants were then killed and their heads were taken to Egypt, while their bodies were crucified at Damascus.  Khumārawayh was taken in a coffin from Damascus to Egypt, and was buried on mount al-Muqattam.  Egypt was shaken by violent riots because of Khumārawayh and his death.

3. After him there was appointed governor of Egypt Gaysh ibn Khumārawayh.  Gaysh returned from Damascus to Egypt and stayed there for eight months. Then there were serious dissensions between him and the commanders.  They rose up against him and killed him.  His brother Hārūn ibn Khumārawayh took his place, at the age of ten years, in the month of rağab of the year 283 [of the Hegira].

4. Al-Mu’tadid wrote a letter to Hārūn b. Khumārawayh, in which he entrusted him with the rule of Egypt.  Hārūn was ten years old and his regent was Abū Ga’far b. Muhammad b. Abā at-Turki.

5.  On the night of Thursday, two days before the end of the month of Rabī’al-awwal of the year 284 [of the Hegira], a strange phenomenon happened in Egypt.  The Christians were intent on celebrating the feast of the Ascension into heaven of our Lord Christ, when wild and violent winds blasted them, from dinner time until midnight.  At midnight, then, there came such a thick darkness that nobody could see their fingers even if they were in their eyes.  Then the harsh winds of earlier returned, taking off the roofs of many houses.  On the heads of people, gathered in their homes, there was a rain of red sand.  At the four corners of the heavens there were flaming columns of fire.  This lasted until dawn.  Then the wind calmed a little and the sky became intensely red, like a flame of fire, with a cold wind.  The earth, the mountains, the trees, the people and their clothes, and all that they could see, looked red because of the intensity of the red sky.  The red [sky] lasted for two hours, then turned yellow until noon.  Then the yellow vanished and the sky became black all day and until noon the day after, before dissolving.  The sun did not appear for a day and a half, from when the winds began to blow, until the black clouds broke.

6. On the morning of Wednesday, 9th of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 288, there was also, in Egypt, from midnight to dawn, a violent movement of the stars, which the vulgar called falling stars.  The sky was full of such stars coming down from east, west, south and north.  No one could watch the heavens because of the many falling stars.[1] In the first year of the caliphate of al-Mu’tadid, there became patriarch of Antioch Simeon, son of Zarnāq. He held office for twelve years and died.

7. As for Leo, king of the Rūm, his wife died without having children.  He decided to remarry, but the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nicolas, forbade him, saying, “You are not allowed to marry, because you have been consecrated as an anagnoste [= a reader] and you have to fulfill the priestly prayer. If you marry, you will not be allowed to come to the altar.”  King Leo replied: “I decided to marry only in order to have a son who can inherit the kingdom after me.” But the patriarch did not allow him to marry.  Then King Leo wrote to the patriarch of Rome, to Michael, the patriarch of Alexandria, to Elijah, son of Mansur, patriarch of Jerusalem, and to Simeon son of Zarnach, patriarch of Antioch, asking them to go to him in order to examine whether he was allowed to get married or not.  None of them could go in person to the king, but each one sent their own messenger.  The bishops gathered together with the messengers at Constantinople to examine the case of the king and pronounced in favour of his marriage.  King Leo married and had a son called Constantine.  Nicholas was removed from his office and Anthimus was made patriarch of Constantinople.

8. Al-Mu’tadid bi’llāh died on Sunday, nine days before the end of the month of al-ākkar of the year 289.  His caliphate lasted seven years, nine months and two days.  He died at the age of forty-seven.  The administrators of his property were the freedman Badr and `Ubayd Allah b. Sulaymān, who was succeeded in the place that he occupied by his son al-Qasim b. ‘Ubayd Allah (204). Al-Mu’tadid was handsome in his face and body, and he spent much time accumulating riches.

  1. [1]Does he perhaps mean that astronomy became impossible?  There is no explanation of these interesting events in the notes of the Italian.  I find discussion of this, however, in Richard B. Stothers, “Cloudy and clear stratospheres before A.D. 1000 inferred from written sources“, Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (2002), online here: “2.14. A.D. 897 [26] Red skies in Egypt made the outdoor surroundings appear red (Eutychius of Alexandria, Annals, Migne, PG, 111, 1144; al-Tabari, Annals, A.H. 284; Elias of Nisibis, Chronicle, p. 92, Brooks). This event, which occurred only on 5 May and only near Alexandria, was apparently caused by a red sandstorm, as mentioned by the chroniclers.”.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19h – Abbasids part 8

We’re getting to what for Eutychius is modern times.  The next caliph, al-Mutamid, seems to be almost a figurehead, in the account that Eutychius gives.  Real power is in the hands of Abu Ahmad al-Muwaffaq, and he is challenged by the ruler of Egypt.  The Abbasid caliphate is becoming merely a convention.

Eusebius in his chronicle paused at various important points to reckon up the total years from various critical events.  The power of the Eusebian tradition is still strong, even in Eutychius.  He retains this, but modestly considers the date of his own birth to be such an important point!

CALIPHATE OF AL-MU`TAMID BI’LLĀH (256-279/870-893).

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Mu’tamid bi’llāh, i.e. Ahmad ibn Ga’far al-Mutawakkil – his mother was an umm walad named Qiyān, in the month of Rağab of the year 256. His minister, Abd Allah ibn Yahya, was the son of that Khāqān who was previously the minister of al-Mutawakkil.

2.  Wars and revolts followed, in regions and provinces the disorder increased and throughout the territory the number of contenders multiplied. The days of his caliphate were a continuous succession of revolts and wars.  The management of internal affairs was entrusted to Abu Ahmad al-Muwaffaq bi’llāh, al-Mu’tamid’s brother.  Al-Mu’tamid named as his successor his son Ga’far, calling him al-Mufawwid ilà’llāh, and after him, his brother Abū Ahmad b. al-Mutawakkil, giving him the name of al-Muwaffaq bi’llāh.  Abū Ahmad personally headed the military campaigns and made tiring and fatiguing journeys from country to country, while al-Mu’tamid enjoyed himself with pleasures and amusements.

3.  At Basra, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad b. Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Yazīd b. ‘Ali b. Al-Husayn b. ‘Ali b. Abi Tālib revolted against him, on Monday, two days before the end of the month of Ramadan of the year 256.  He killed all the inhabitants of Basra, took possession of their property and captured their women and children, dividing them among his men. He defeated Basra, and occupied its surroundings and the province.  Abū Ahmad al-Muwaffaq marched against him in the direction of Basra, and there was a war between them for fourteen years.  Then the descendant of Ali was killed at Basra, on the Abū Safyān River at the confluence of the Abū’l-Khasib River on which was built the city called “al-Mukhtārah”, on Wednesday, in the cool of the evening, of the 4th of the month of Safar of the year 270.  From the day when he arose and his banner was raised to the day when he was killed, fourteen and four months and six days elapsed.

4. Muhammad (sic!) Ibn Tūlūn had occupied Egypt and Syria and captured Antioch while Abū Ahmad al-Mutawaffaq (sic!) was preoccupied with the war against the descendant of Ali in Basra.  In the first year of al-Mu’tamid’s caliphate there became patriarch of Antioch Stephen.  He held office for one day and died on the same day after having celebrated Mass.  After him there became patriarch of Antioch Theodosius.  He held office for twenty-one years and died.  In the tenth year of his caliphate there became patriarch of Jerusalem Elijah, son of that Mansūr who had helped the Muslims to conquer Damascus and was accursed all over the world.  He held office for twenty-two years and died.

5. The Patriarch of Alexandria Michael, son of Bukām, died in the year 256 and was buried in the city of Būrah.  After him there became patriarch of Alessandria Michael, originally from Rome (in another text it is said “from Ghazza”), in the third year of the caliphate of al-Mu’tamid, i.e. in 258.  He held office thirty-four years and died in 292, and was buried in Alexandria.

6. Basil, King of the Rūm, died.  After him reigned his son Leo.  He was a wise man and a philosopher.  In the eighth year of the caliphate of al-Mu’tamid, Sa’id ibn Batrīq the physician was born on Sunday, three days before the end of the month of Dhū’l-hiğğa, in the lunar year 263.  From the Hegira until the day of his birth, there elapsed two hundred and fifty-four solar years, years with which he was dating history.  From Diocletian to the birth of Sa’id ibn Batrīq the physician, there elapsed 568 years (in another text “592”); from our Lord Jesus Christ to the birth of Sa’id ibn Batrīq, there elapsed 868 years; from Alexander to his birth, there elapsed 1,199 years; from the captivity of Babylon to his birth, there elapsed 1,450 years; from David until his birth, there elapsed 1,927 years; from the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt until his birth, there elapsed 2,535 years; from Abraham to his birth, there elapsed 3,040 years; from Fāliq until his birth, there elapsed 3,540 years; from the flood until his birth, there elapsed 4,160 years; from Adam until his birth, there elapsed 6,368 years.  It was sixty years from his birth when he was made patriarch of Alexandria and was called anba Eutychius.[1]

7. As for Ahmad ibn Tūlūn, he occupied Antioch and then returned to Egypt. In Misr he built the great mosque that looked out over the lake, built a hospital and a construction bringing water from the lake called “al-Habas”, so that it could serve the Ma’āqir. Ahmad ibn Tūlūn contracted the illness from which he would subsequently die, that is, gastroenteritis, and ordered Muslims, Christians and Jews to climb the mountain called “al-Muqattam” to invoke the help of God upon him. And so they did, going up to the mountain in groups and invoking on him the blessing of God.  However he died of that illness, on the night of Sunday, ten days before the end of the month of Dhū’l-qa’da of the year 270 and was buried on mount al-Muqattam. His commanders gathered together, killed his elder son at Abbas and chose as their leader his younger son, Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn. He was then twenty years old.  He marched on Damascus at the head of his soldiers and was faced by Abū’l-`Abbās b. Al-Muwaffaq: they met at “at-Tawwāhin”, in the province of Palestine.  Khumārawayh b. Ahmad b. Tūlūn was put to flight and returned to Egypt alone.  During the journey he lost five horses and many of his people were killed.  Abū’l-`Abbās took over all that he found among the soldiers of Khumārawayh b. Ahmad [b. Tulun].  Khumārawayh ibn Ahmad had some men in ambush, completely unaware of the defeat [suffered by their comrades].  As Abu’l-‘Abbās and his men became burdened by all the property that they had taken, they were put to flight and a great slaughter was made.  Then the men of Khumārawayh returned, recaptured the army, returned to Egypt and celebrated the victory with Khumārawayh.  Abu’l-`Abbās returned defeated to Baghdad where he received the blame of his father al-Muwaffaq for what he had done.  Khumārawayh had a large army in Syria.  In the seventeenth year of the caliphate of al-Mu’tamid, that is, in 273, there was a terrible earthquake in Egypt: many houses collapsed and many people lost their lives. That year the grain reached the price of a dinar per mudd. The populace died out from hunger, and even the lynx came to eat them. The markets of Egypt were full of the dead.  They were carried away on camels – on each camel were stacked up to eight corpses – they dug a big ditch and threw them inside.  When Khumārawayh learned that Muhammad ibn Diyūdād, i.e. Abū’s-Sāg, had arrived in Syria at the head of a large army heading for Egypt, he gathered his troops and moved against him.  There was a terrible battle between them at a place called al-Bathaniyyah, in the province of Damascus, and Muhammad ibn ad-Diyūdād, i.e. Ibn as-Sāg, was put to flight.  Many of his forces were killed, but many others sought to be spared by pleading for the protection of Khumārawayh, who continued his journey until he came to the Euphrates.  His men entered the city of ar-Raqqah, buying and selling. Al-Muwaffaq was afraid of him.  Then Khumārawayh returned to Egypt after imposing his sovereignty over the territories from the Euphrates to Nubia, leaving in each country a man as his deputy.  It was the year 276 [of the Hegira].  Al-Muwaffaq died in the month of Safar of the year 278.  His son Abū’l-`Abbās was recognised as his legitimate successor.  Ga’far ibn al-Mu’tamid (194) was deprived of the right of succession to the throne and the management of business went into the hands of Abū’l-‘Abbās ibn al-Muwaffaq who was called al-Mu’tadid.

8. Al-Mu’tamid died at Baghdad on Sunday, eleven days before the end of the the month of Rağab of the year 279 [of the Hegira].  His caliphate lasted twenty-three years and six days.  He died at the age of forty-six.  He was taken to Surramanra’à and was buried there.

  1. [1]I became aware part way through this that Google translate was generating random numbers for these large numerals.  I went back and rechecked, but it is possible that I have been silently deceived for some earlier numbers.

From my diary

Hmm.  I wrote a long post yesterday “From my diary”, and published it; and it vanished, and there is no sign of it.  That hasn’t happened before, or not for a very long time.   Deeply worrying when that sort of thing happens.  Let me see what I can recall of the updates that I posted…

Firstly, yesterday was the first day of the 2017 conference of the National Association of Patristics Studies (NAPS) in the USA.  My best wishes to the organisers and everyone attending, and I hope that it is fun as well as interesting.  If you have a twitter account – a great timewaster – there are updates from the conference.  Find them by searching twitter for “#NAPS2017”.

Meanwhile on this continent I am plodding away with the translation of Eutychius.  The material about the Muslim era is really rather later than I like, and it’s hard to take a lot of interest in it.  But in fact I have had more encouragement to proceed, from correspondents reading the Muslim sections, than for any other part of the Annals.  Anyway there are only five caliphs left, before Eutychius closes his account.

I started working on Eutychius in his chapter 10, with the events around the life of Jesus.  There is a very good reason for doing this, with any late Chronicle.  The “world chronicles” of the Byzantine, Syriac and Arabic worlds invariably start with Creation.  Unfortunately this means that you end up with many chapters of recycled crud from Genesis, interlarded with fairytales.  None of it is interesting.  It can be very hard indeed not to lose your motivation on this stuff.

Instead it is far better to start in Jesus’ time, and work forward through the familiar Roman emperors.  Once you get to the end, then go back to the beginning.  The material at the start will still be the tedious sub-Genesis stuff, but you will be motivated to trudge through it because you’ve already invested such a lot of time in the translation!  “Know thyself” is a good rule in life.

Will I go back to the start of Eutychius?  I don’t know.  Let’s see how I feel!

The Muslim-era stuff really needs copious footnotes.  After all, which of us knows who these people are?  But I have felt that the value of my translation – if it has any – consists in making the text of Eutychius accessible, and therefore better  known, by means of an English translation.  Once people start to work on Eutychius, we should get a proper translation, and with it, inevitably, notes and commentary.  If I stopped to worry about footnotes, I would lose all momentum.

I have finally recovered from the three-week long virus that I mentioned in previous updates.  I would like to thank everyone who prayed and wished me well.  While not serious, it seemed interminable.  Thank you everyone.

I have also reordered my library.  I find that a very large portion of my books consists of novels.  Many of these novels belong to a series.  What I have done is to gather together all the volumes of each series.  This means that, if I look for a book, and I know that it is part of a series of collection, then I don’t have to hunt through my shelves for one volume.  There will be several volumes, or a shelf or two, to locate.  It’s easier on the eyes.  The non-series material has been  gathered into a few shelves.  This too should make it easier to locate.

But with all this, I am forced to conclude that the original volume, for which I hunted in vain, is gone.  This was my 1980 paperback of C. S. Lewis, Voyage to Venus.  But thanks to the miracle of Abebooks, I have placed an order for that very same volume, and it will arrive sometime in the next week.

Abebooks is a miracle.  I remember the pre-internet days very well.  If you wanted to obtain a particular volume in this way, you had only two choices.

On the one hand, I could (and did) haunt second-hand bookshops.  The locations of these were not easy to find, even if you had a paper handbook like Driff’s.  This might give an idea of the sort of stock and location.  But usually your search would be futile.  On the positive side, you had the chance to drive to many a small country town on summery days, and the bookshops made a useful destination for such a drive.  I have many happy memories of driving through Norfolk, looking for this or that shop as listed in Driff.

On the other hand there were ingenious gentlemen who advertised a “book search” service – for a fee – in trade magazines.  I remember going into my local bookshop and asking them to find me a book, and they did so, using such a service.  No doubt I was charged several times the price  that the seller received.  These services probably made use of auctions in London.

But that was your lot.  Your chances of finding a particular edition were slim.  Indeed if your interests were specialised, your chances of finding an author were slim.  I always used to look for Tertullian, back in the 1980s.  I never encountered even one!

So services like Abebooks, which we take for granted, are indeed marvellous.  Indeed it was only through an online search that I acquired the extremely rare translation of Eutychius that I have been translating into English.

There is much bad news in the world, now as always.  But if we can step aside from the follies of rulers and ruled, we may remember that we live in an era of unprecedented plenty.  These are days of wonder, and we must be grateful.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19g – Abbasids part 7

We’re not that far from the close of Eutychius’ Annals, in his own times.  But we still have a few Abbasid caliphs to go through.  None of the next few caliphs lasted very long. Ominously the Turks start to appear as the king-makers.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUNTASIR BI’LLAH (247-248/861-862).

1.  The bay’ah was given to al-Muntasir bi’llāh/Abū Ğa‘far/ Muhammad b. /Ğa‘far/ al-Mutawakkil – his mother was an umm walad named Hasanah – on the same night that al-Mutawakkil was killed.  Five days after he obtained the caliphate, he moved from al-Ga’fariyyah to Surramanra’ah, destroying al-Ga’fariyyah and abandoning al-Gawsaq.  He deprived his two brothers, Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Mu’tazz bi’llāh and Ibrāhim al-Mu’ayyad bi’llāh, of the right of succession, and wrote letters about this to every part of his territory.  His caliphate lasted one year, six months and three days.  He died at the age of twenty-eight and was buried at Surramanra’a.  His mother raised his tomb: for no caliph before him was a tomb erected.  Al-Muntasir was of medium stature, handsome of body, brown and obese. The chief of his bodyguard was Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zāhir and his huğğāb were Abū Nāsirat-Turki and Ahmad ibn al-Hasīb.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUSTA`IN (248-252/862-866).

1. The commanders of the Turks got together to choose the one to whom to give the bay`ah.  They rejected al-Mutawakkil’s son and their choice fell on Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Mu’tasim – his mother was an umm walad named Mukhādiq. They gave him the bay’ah and called him al-Musta`in bi’llāh. But as a result of an uprising within the army and a turmoil among the Mawāli[1], al-Musta`in fled, along with the Turks Wasif and Bughā, to Baghdad.  The Mawāli and the forces who were at Surramanra’a placed on the throne Abū ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mu’tazz b. al-Mutawakkil – his mother was an umm walad named Fabtahah – and gave him the bay’ah at the beginning of the month of al-Muharram of the year 251.  Great disagreements and fighting broke out between the men of al-Musta`in, of al-Mu’tazz, and of Abū Ahmad ibn al-Mutawakkil, in charge of al-Mu’tazz’s military affairs.  They continued to fight until the beginning of the month of al-Muharram of the year 252. Then al-Musta`in abdicated and there was peace.  Al-Musta`in wrote of his decision to al-Mu’tazz, who answered him by guaranteeing his safety with an oath.  Then he retired to Iraq, to Wāsit.  His caliphate lasted three years and eight months until the day of abdication.

2. In the first year of the caliphate of al-Musta`in, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Theodorus, called al-Miqlāti.  He held the office for nineteen years and died.  Al-Musta`in was fat, handsome in body, and had a black beard.  The chief of the bodyguard was Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zāhir, and his huğgāb were the Turks Wasif and Bughā.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MU`TAZZ (252-255/866-869).

1. All the Turks, and the others who were in Surramanra’a, gave the bay’ah to al-Mu’tazz, in the month of al-Muharram of the year 251, while al-Musta`in was in Baghdad, and the countries were at the mercy of tumults, and most people were on the side of al-Musta`in.  So when al-Musta`in abdicated, at the beginning of the month of al-Muharram of the year 252, the people made submission to [al-Mu’tazz].  Al-Mu’tazz restored the right of succession to the throne to Ibrāhim al-Mu’ayyad bi’llāh (156) but then took it away.  Ibrāhim al-Mu’ayyad bi’llāh died.  Abu Ahmad conceived a violent hatred against al-Mu’tazz because of what had happened to his brother.  Al-Mu’tazz then exiled him to Basra, and killed Wasīf and Bughā. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir, chief of the guards, died.  [Al-Mu’tazz] recalled al-Musta`in  from Wāsit and gave the job of killing him to his hāgib, Sa`īd ibn Sālih.

2. Theophilus, son of Michael, son of Theophilus, king of the Rūm, died.  After him, his son Michael, son of Theophilus, son of Michael, reigned.  There was at that time a general named Basil, whom the king had preferred to all the others, giving him command over all his men and generals.  One day, King Michael went out for a walk on the island opposite Constantinople, in the middle of the sea called Pontus.  The general Basil attacked him, killed him inside the church on the island, got rid of all those who were on the island and took over the kingdom.  Basil did not belong to the royal family, because he was of Slavic origin.  When asked why he had killed the king, he replied, “Michael had fallen madly in love with a woman and had ordered me to marry her but never to approach her.  The woman would be mine in words, but he would be sleeping with her.” He had resorted to this expedient for fear that his wife knew him,[2] and also because he was not allowed to marry another woman in addition to his wife.  “First I followed him, then I felt repentance, I was afraid of God, and I thought it best to kill him.”  Thus Basil became king of the Rūm.

3. Al-Mu’tazz appointed as governor of Egypt the Turk Bākbāk, who appointed as his lieutenant Ahmad ibn Tulūn and sent him to Egypt.  Bākbāk had given his daughter in marriage to Ahmad ibn Tūlūn.  Ahmad ibn Tūlūn entered Egypt in the month of Ramadan in the year 254.  Between al-Mu’tazz and the Mawāli there were strong disagreements.

4. Al-Mu`tazz died on Tuesday, three days before the end of the month of Ragab of the year 255.  His caliphate had lasted, from al-Musta`in’s abdication, three years, nine months and eight days.  He died at the age of twenty-two and was buried at Surramanra’a.  His mother erected his tomb near that of al-Muntasir.  Al-Mu’tazz was of a fair complexion, handsome, with a handsome face and a graceful body.  There had never been one equal to him for the grace of face and beauty. The chief of his bodyguard was Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir, and, on  his death, ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir.  Then the guard passed to the command of Sulaymān ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir (167), and was later entrusted to Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir.  His huğgāb were Wasif and Bughā, then Sālih took the place of his father [Wasīf] and Bākbāk at-Turki took that of Bughā.

CALIPHATE OF AL-MUHTADĪ (255-256/869-870).

1.  The bay’ah was given to al-Muhtadī, i.e. Muhammad ibn Hārūn al-Wāthiq bi’llāh b. al-Mu’tasim bi’llāh – his mother was an umm walad named Qurb – on Tuesday, three days before the end of the month of Rağab of the year 255.  His caliphate lasted only one year. He was killed at the age of thirty-nine and was buried at Surramanra’a. Al-Muhtadī was of medium stature, handsome in body and face, and had a black curly beard.  The chief of his bodyguard was Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abd Allah and his hāgib was Sālih ibn Wasif. Then Sālih was killed and Takin at-Turki took the place.

  1. [1]The freed slaves.
  2. [2]Not sure that I have this right: the Italian is “Era ricorso a questo espediente per paura che lo sapesse sua moglie, …”.

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19f – Abbasids part 6

Let’s carry on with the Annals of Eutychius.  In the Islamic world, the second-class status of the Christians means that they hold their property only at the whim of the caliph.  This starts to become an increasing problem.  Meanwhile in Constantinople the talk is all about iconoclasm.

CALIPHATE OF ĞA‘FAR AL-MUTAWAKKIL (232-247/847-861).

1. The bay’ah was given to Ga’far al-Mutawakkil, son of al-Mu’tasim – his mother was an umm walad named Shuğā ‘al-Khwārizmiyyah – on the same day that al- Wathiq died.  He released those who had been imprisoned because of the question of the creation of the Qur’an, and withdrew his favour from Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik, minister of al-Mu’tasim, and disapproved of the actions of al-Mu’tasim, of al-Wāthiq, of Umar ibn al-Farah az-Zugahi, of Itāh at-Turki and of Ahmad ibn Abi Dāwūd, the supreme qādi.  He gave the bay’ah to his three sons, namely Muhammad al-Muntasir bi’llāh, Ibrāhim al-Mu’ayyad min Allah and Abū ‘Abd Allah al-Mu’tazz bi’llāh, designating the latter as his successor from the beginning of the year 236 of the Hegira.  Public affairs were restored, the countries returned to order and the streets made safe.

2. It was reported to al-Mutawakkil that the nilometer, built by Sulaymān ibn ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān on the island at Fustāt-Misr, was out of order.  He then sent an Iraqi geometrician, chosen by Muhammad ibn Mūsa the astrologer, who went to Egypt where Yazīd ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Nādān b. Farah was responsible for providing all forms of assistance, and where Sulaymān ibn Wahb was in charge of collecting taxes, and he made a nilometer at Gizat-Misr in Year 245.  It was called “al-Miqyās al-ğadid” [= the new hydrometer] because the old one was out of order.  Al-Mutawakkil built a city called “al-Ga’fariyyah”.  He withdrew his favour from the physician Bukhtishū’, and sent letters to all countries, ordering that Christians should wear clothes of the same pattern and with patches, as well as surcoats with a front and back flap, that they were prohibited from riding horses, carrying ropes on their saddles, or using wooden brackets, and that the images of the devils should be drawn on their doors. (In another text it says “pigs and monkeys”). This order brought serious harm, pain and concern upon the Christians.

3. Michael, son of Theophilus, king of the Rūm, died.  After him there was made king over Rūm his son Theophilus.  He removed the images from the churches, sanded down the bas-reliefs and broke the statues, and ordered that there were to be no more images in the churches.  The reason that caused him to take the images away from the churches was this.  One of his ministers told him that, in a certain place in Byzantine territory, there was a church dedicated to the Blessed Mary, in which a picture was worshiped, from whose breast a drop of milk came out on her feast day.  King Theophilus found this a strange thing and made inquiries.  It was then discovered that the clerk of the church had made a hole in the wall behind the image, at the height of the breast of the image, and had inserted a thin tube of lead.  He then covered the place with clay and lime so that it could not be seen.  When then the day of the feast of the Blessed Mary’ came, he poured milk into that hole, and a small drop dripped from the breast of the image.  People made pilgrimage to that church, and the clerk earned much money that way.  King Theophilus therefore sent to destroy that image, to bring things back to normal, and ordered that there should be no more images in the churches.  He then ordered the execution of the clerk and took away the pictures from the churches saying, “Images are like idols: he who adores an image is like the one who adores idols.”  Then there were disputes among the Rūm about the images and they ended up accusing each other of impiety. Some said: “He who prostrates himself in front of an image is impious!” While others said, “Whoever does not prostrate himself in front of the image is impious!” The news came to Sophronius, patriarch of Alexandria, who wrote a long sermon in which he took up the defense of the cult of images using the following argument: “God – to whom be the highest praise and holy be his name! – ordered Moses to portray the cherubim in gold on the ark of the covenant and to put it in the Temple.” And he carried on, saying: “When Solomon, son of David, built the Temple and had completed the construction, he put the golden image of the cherubim inside.” And again he said, “When the king wrote a letter to his lieutenant, and he added the seal with his ring, he [the lieutenant] said to the people, “This is the seal of the king and his letter,” did not he stand up to take the letter in his hands and kiss it and lower his head and eyes?  Certainly he stood up, and kissed the letter; not to honor the paper, or the stamp of the seal on the paper, or the ink on the letter, nor did he stand up to honour the letter of itself. No, for my life, for none of these things. It was only an act of honor that he intended to make to the king and to the king’s name, it being his [the king’s] letter.  In this sense, we must kiss this image and worship it, because it is not for us to kiss and venerate a cult made to idols.[1] It is for us a pure and simple act of honor and veneration, made in the name of that martyr depicted in that image and in that particular way.”  Then he sent what he had written to King Theophilus.  The king welcomed it, rejoiced and refused to forbid the worship of images, as he had done at first.  Among those who defended the cult of the images was Abū Qurra, who wrote in this regard a treatise that he called “Mayāmir as-Suğūd li’s-suwar” [= “Sermons on the Cult of Images”].

4. Sophronius, patriarch of Alexandria, died of dropsy- he had not been able to drink mandrake juice – in the year 233 of the Hegira.  After him there was made patriarch of Alexandria Michael.  He held the office for twenty-four years.  He belonged to the Bukām family and came from the town of Būrah.  The caliphate of al-Mutawakkil lasted fourteen years, nine months and nine days.  In the tenth year of the caliphate of al-Mutawakkil, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Salmūn, son of Zarqūn.  He held the office for five years and died.

5. Al-Mutawakkil died in his palace, in the city he had built and called “al-Ga’fariyyah”.  His murder took place on the night of 3 March of the month of Shawwāl of the year 247. He was forty-four.  He was buried at “al-Ga’fariyyah”.  Al-Mutawakkil was brown, with a delicate, almost yellowish, complexion, handsome in face, and had a little beard on his cheeks, and big eyes.  The chief of his bodyguard was Ishāq ibn Ibrāhim and, on his death, Muhammad ibn Ishāq. When he [also] died, there came back from Khurāsān Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah b. Zāhir and became chief of the guards. His huğgāb were Wasīf at-Turkī, then Sa`īd ibn Sālih and Bughā at-Turki.  His huğgāb, for the audience of the people, were Ya’qūb ibn Ibrāhim, then Qawsara and ‘Attāb ibn’ Attāb.  His influential advisers were al-Fath ibn Khāqān and the kātib ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Yahyā b. Khāqān.

  1. [1]Not at all sure that I have this right!  The Italian is: “In questo senso dobbiamo baciare questa immagine e venerarla, non essendo affatto il nostro baciarla e venerarla un culto reso agli idoli.”

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19e – Abbasids part 5

CALIPHATE OF AL-WĀTHIQ (227-232/842-847)

1. The bay’ah was given to al-Wāthiq, i.e. Hārūn ibn al-Mu’tasim – his mother was a umm walad named Qarātis, on the same day that al-Mu’tasim died. He left the internal affairs as they were in the days of al-Mu’tasim, He built the palace known by the name of al-Hārūni, and moved there.  Al-Wāthiq argued that the Qur’an was created, and this theory he inculcated, until it was accepted by Ahmad ibn Abi Dāwūd and Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik az-Zayyāt, his minister.  Al-Wāthiq sent letters to all the provinces in which he asked [his governors] to induce all Muslims to support the creation of the Koran by writing to the mosques.  But the Muslims considered that such a proposal was insolent and oppressive, and they vigorously refused to accept it.  All those who rejected this claim, or who did not approve, or who did not support it, were flogged, imprisoned or killed.  His caliphate lasted five years, seven months and thirteen days.

2. Theophilus, king of the Rūm, died.  After him Michael, son of Theophilus, was made king.  In the second year of the caliphate of al-Wāthiq, there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Sergius, son of that Mansūr who had helped the Muslims to conquer Damascus and had been hit by anathema everywhere in the world.  He held the office for sixteen years and died.  In the sixth year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Antioch Nicholas.  He held the office for twenty-three years and died.

3. Al-Wāthiq died on Wednesday, six days before the end of the month of Dhū’l-hiğğa of the year 232, at the age of thirty-four.  Al-Wāthiq was of medium stature, fair in body, and had a wide chest, a thick beard and a bit of white in the eye. The chief of his bodyguard was Ishāq ibn Ibrāhim and his huğğāb were the freedman Itāh at-Turkī, the freedman Bughā at-Turkī, the freedman Wasif at-Turkī, Muhammad ibn Hammād b. Danqash and Muhammad ibn ‘Āsim al-Gabalī. His huğgāb for the audience of the people were also Ya’qūb ibn Ibrāhim, Qawsara  and Attāb ibn ‘Attāb.  His influential advisers were Ahmad ibn Abi Dāwūd and Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Malik az-Zayyāt.

 

From my diary

Interesting.  I’ve received two emails from this blog in the past week, saying that I requested a change of password.  I did not, of course.  So either it’s a scam, or somebody is trying to hack this blog.  Time for a backup, methinks.

For the last two and a half weeks, I have been laid low with a virus.  Today I find that I am finally starting to feel better.  Apparently this one lasts three weeks.  You get a raging headache, and feel very weak, but that’s all the symptoms.  If you get it, prepare for a long wait.

I have started to reorder my books.  This was spurred by my inability to locate my copy of C.S. Lewis, Perelandra / Voyage to Venus.  Back in autumn 2016, I had to pack up all my books into crates, so that the room could be repainted.  But, like a fool, I didn’t photograph the shelves before I removed the books.  So the books all went back on the nearest shelf; and I no longer remember where anything is.

I find that I have large numbers of paperback novels.  I think perhaps the best thing to do is to group the series of these together.  After all, if I had all the C.S.Lewis together, then at least I would know where to look for Perelandra!

Another problem is that some series are now “spent”.  That is, I have read and reread them as many times as I am going to.  I don’t want to dispose of them; but I really don’t think I shall consult them much if at all.  So I want to put these on the bottom shelves, rather than at eye-level.

If a series is still “open” – the author is still writing books, and I still want to buy them – then of course I need to allow for more volumes.  This applies to various series by L.E. Modesitt, for instance.  On the other hand I will never own any more Roger Zelazny novels than I do, as Mr Z is no longer with us.  The latter can be positioned lower down.

Today I have been pulling the novels off the shelves, and piling them together by author.  It seems that I was an avid buyer of the TSR Forgotten Realms novels, back in the day!  I have more of those than any other single collection.  I also seem to have an intimidating number of Garfield cartoon books.  But I also bought, perhaps in the 80s or even 90s, a number of Biggles books, which now leave me cold.  The ones that I owned as a child have sentimental value; many of the newer ones do not.  I have added the latter to the pile of books to go to a charity shop.

In some cases, one can double-bank the books.  I built most of my shelves from 7″ furnitureboard, so it is entirely possible to put a row of novels behind another on one shelf.  But this causes other problems, unless you know exactly what is behind, without looking.  It also acts as an even worse dust trap than normal.  But if all the books, front and back, are by the same author, perhaps that would work?  I shall have to experiment.  Having taller books in the back row can also work.  We shall have to see.

All the same, I do wish that I had fewer books; or rather, that I had some form of interdimensional cupboard, into which they could all go, and from which I could retrieve them at a thought.  I don’t really want to live in a library.  The novels are there to allow me to lose myself for a few hours pleasantly. They are not there to take over my life.

What do you do with a novel, that was once an old friend, but now is dead to you?

I have disposed of a lot of books in the last year, more than ever before.  I haven’t missed most of them in any way.  Somehow I feel restless.  Maybe it is just me.  Maybe it is a mood.  Maybe I shall wake up one day and think “Arrgh!”  Maybe not.