The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18h – Abd al-Malik, Al-Walid and Suleiman

The remaining Ummayad caliphs are dealt with briefly by Eutychius.  Muslim seizures of churches begin.

CALIPHATE OF ABD AL-MALIK IBN MARWĀN (65-86/685-705)

1. The bay’ah was given to Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan b. al-Hakam b. Abi’l-`Ās – his mother was Aisha, daughter of Mu’awiya b. al-Mughira b. Abi’-`Ās b. Umayya b. Abd Shams -, in the sixty-fifth year of the Hegira.

2. He sent some of his men to Jerusalem with the task of extending the mosque to include the area of the Rock.  People then began to make the ritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, because Abd al-Malik had forbidden them to do so to Mecca because of Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr.  Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan summoned the Christians of Damascus and asked them to give him the Mar Yuhanna Church [= church of St John] which was located next to the main mosque.  The Christians presented themselves, bearing the letter of Khalid ibn al-Walid.  He then offered them a lot of money so that they could build a church of equal size in any other part of Damascus that they wanted.  But Christians did not consent, and he let them go.  After holding his office for twenty years, Thomas, Patriarch of Antioch, died.  In the first year of the caliphate of Abd al-Malik George was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for twenty years and died.  In the same year John was made patriarch of Constantinople. He held the office for thirty-five years and died.

3. Justinian, king of Rum, died.  After him there reigned Leo for three years and he died.  After him there reigned over Rum Tiberius, for seven years, in the thirteenth year of the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.  Abd al-Malik sent al-Haggag ibn Yusuf to Mecca to fight against Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, who had become entrenched in the sacred Ka’bah of Allāh.  Al-Haggag subjected the Ka’bah to stone throwing and demolished a balcony.  Fearing he might be trapped under the rubble of the temple, Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr went out.  It was then that his mother said: “My son, if you are fighting for a just cause, you have right on your side.  Go then to meet them, and if you are killed you will be a martyr, because you will be killed for a just cause.”  He replied: “Mother, it is not death that I fear, but it disgusts me to think that they can make a fool of me, pointing me out as an example.”  His mother said: “My son, a lamb that is slaughtered is not afraid of being skinned!”  It is said that his mother made him drink a ratl of musk.  Then he went out against al-Haggag and fought until he was killed.  He was crucified at Mecca, and for many days the people could smell the odour of musk that emanated from his stomach.

4. Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was killed in the month of ğumādà al-awwal in the seventy-third year of the Hegira.  During the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan there was, on the Monday at the end of al-ğumādà awwal of the seventy-fourth year of the Hegira, an eclipse of the sun so intense that the stars appeared.  Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan, brother of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, governed Egypt.  He demolished the great mosque of Fustat and built a new one.  There were already visible in him the signs of elephantiasis and the doctors advised him to settle in the city of Hulwān, where he built assembly rooms.  He then build at Hulwān a great pool, and brought water from springs that flowed upstream of the mountain of al-Muqattam, channeling it into aqueducts, which he had built, to make it flow into the pool.  Over it he made a throne entirely of glass.  He spent a thousand thousands of dinars at Hulwan and he planted date palms.  Every Thursday he used to ride to Fustat where he spent the rest of the day and night.  On Friday he returned to Hulwān, after having performed the morning prayer.  At Hulwān he built a hydrometer with which to monitor the rising of the waters of the Nile.  He had with him some Melkite Christians who asked for permission to build a church.  He granted this to them, and they built at Hulwān the church of St George:  it was a small church and was called “the church of the upholsterers”.  He ruled that the kharag [=land tax] in Egypt should be paid every Friday by groups of citizens, in rotation, for fear that in the event of a summons by the king he might need money.  This continued until Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was killed and Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan brought the situation under his control.  In the seventy-fourth year [of the Hegira], Abd al-Aziz went to Alexandria, took the notable personalities of the city and exiled them into villages and rural districts, requiring each rural district [to supply] a specified amount depending on the funds, vineyards and species of cereal that it possessed.  He built the bridge that is on the canal of the prince of the believers.  He wanted to tear down the bridge of Fustat and erect it at Hulwān, and that he wanted to transfer to Hulwān also the ports, markets and merchants and stop any activity at Fustat, but he was unable to do this.  He had with him a Jacobite ‘Katib‘ [= scribe] named Athanasius who asked him for permission to build a church at Qasr ash-Shama.  He granted this and he built the church of St. George and the church of Abu Qir, which is inside the citadel next to Ashab ar-Ribat (?).  It is said that the church of Abu Qir was built with the remains of the church of St. George.

5. At that time there died in al-Fustat, where he was also buried, Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan, on Monday night of the twelfth day of the month of ğumādà al-ula of the eighty-sixth year of the Hegira, at the age of twenty-two.

6.  Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan died on the tenth of the month of Shawwal in the eighty-fourth year of the Hegira, at the age of sixty-two.  He was caliph for twenty years.  He was of dark complexion, of medium height, he had a long beard and a big belly.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leaders of his bodyguard were Yazid ibn Abi Habasa as-Saksaki and, after him, Abd Allah ibn Yazid al-Hakami.  His hāgib was the freedman Abu ar-Rughayragha [= Abū’z-Zu’ayzi’a?]

CALIPHATE OF AL-WALĪD IBN ‘ABD AL-MALIK (86-96/705-715)

1.   The bay’ah was given to al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan – his mother was Wallada, daughter of Abbas ibn al-Harbi b. Harith al-Absi -, at the same time that Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan died.  He ruled for nine years and nine months.

2. He sent his men to Jerusalem, and there he built the mosque in Jerusalem,  having the rock at the centre of the mosque.  There he built other buildings around it, and decorated it with marbles.  He then took away a ciborium from the church of the Christians of Baalbek – it was of copper covered with gold -, and had it put on the Rock, in order to do the ritual pilgrimage to the Rock.

3. He sent then to Qurra ibn al-Shibl al-Absi, who at that time was his governor in Egypt, telling him to demolish all of the great mosque and to rebuild it from scratch.  And in fact he rebuilt it, decorated it and covered with gold the capitals of the columns that were in the audience chamber of Qays: in the mosque there was no column with gilded capitals except for the ones which were in the chamber of Qays.  While the mosque was being demolished, Qurra had the ‘minbar’ [= the pulpit] carried to Qaysāriyyat al-Asal, where the people went to pray and to gather for Friday prayers until he had completed the construction of the mosque.  The dome was left at al-Qaysāriyyah until that time.

4. Al-Walid planned to rebuild the mosque, which was in Damascus, and he therefore summoned the Christians, telling them: “We want to expand our mosque annexing to it your church, i.e. the church of St. John” – it was in fact an extremely beautiful church, and there was none like it in all of Syria – “We will give you enough money to build wherever you like a church equal to it.  If you want we will give you as a price in exchange for it forty thousand dinars”.  But Christians refused saying: “We have a pact of security,” and so saying they exhibited a letter of Khalid ibn al-Walid.  Al-Walid was angry, stood up and with one hand he broke a piece of timber and with the other a brick, so ​​that the people began the demolition, following his example.  So it was that they extended the eastern part of the mosque and the whole ‘maqsūrah’, taking the material from the church which was left as it is today.  In the third year of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Theodore.  He held the office for thirty-five years and died.  In his day Justinian was king of the Rum.  He reigned six years and died.

5. Al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik died in the month of ğumādà al-Akhar in the ninety-sixth year of the Hegira, at the age of forty-three years.  He was of perfect stature, he had a thick and graying beard.  He was buried in Damascus.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Hazim al-Absi and his ‘hāgib’ the freedman Sa’d.

CALIPHATE OF SULAYMĀN IBN ‘ABD AL-MALIK (96-99/715-717)

1. The bay’ah was given to Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan – his mother was Wallada, daughter of al-Abbas ibn al-Bahri al-Absi -, in the month of gumādà al-akhar in the ninety-sixth year of the Hegira.  He ruled two years and six months.

2. In his day Philip was king of the Rum.  He was a Maronite.  He reigned two and a half years.  In Egypt the kharag was being received in the name of Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik, by Osama ibn Zayd at-Tanūkhi.  Osama wrote to Suleiman to inform him that the Nilometer built by Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Marwan at Hulwān to measure the level of the water was out of order.  [The Caliph] answered him, ordering him to build a hydrometer in the island which was in the river near Fustat and Giza.  Osama built the Nilometer which is at the entrance of Giza, which is the one still in operation today and they call “al-qadim” [= the old], in the ninety-seventh year of the Hegira.  In the third year of the caliphate of Suleiman Stephen was made Patriarch of Antioch.  He held the office for thirty-seven years and died.

3. Suleiman ibn Abd al-Malik died in the month of Safar in the ninety-ninth year of the Hegira, at the age of thirty-nine, nominating as his successor Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz.  He was handsome, plump and had a black beard.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ka’b ibn Khalid al-Absi and his hāgìb the freedman Abu Obayda.

2 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18h – Abd al-Malik, Al-Walid and Suleiman

  1. Could you check your Italian base text for “At Hulwān he built a hydrometer with which to control the rising of the waters of the Nile.” I don’t think “control” is the word intended here.

    Egypt might have been the easiest province on the planet for taxation purposes. The hydrometer / nilometer is meant to measure the Nile flood. Its deviation from an ideal is how the Egyptian government decided how to set the tax-rate for that year.

  2. It’s “Ad Hulwān fece costruire un idrometro con cui controllare l’alzarsi dell’acqua del Nilo.” – but I suspect controllare is a false friend, and should be rendered “monitor”.

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