The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 19b – Abbasids part 2

We continue with a couple more caliphs.

CALIPHATE OF HARUN AR-RASHID (170-193 / 786-809).

1. The bay’ah was given to Harun ar-Rashid b. al-Mahdi – his mother was al-al-Khayzuran – in the same night that Musa al-Hadi died, the night of Friday 14 Rabi al-awwal in the year 170.  That night his son al-Ma’mun was born.  He entrusted the management of his business in Yahya b. Khalid b. Barmak.  During his caliphate he made the pilgrimage to Mecca  nine times and he invaded the territories of Rum eight times.  He removed his favour from the Barmakees in the month of Safar of the year 187 of the Hegira. His caliphate lasted twenty-three years, two months and sixteen days.

2. Leo (IV), son of Constantine, son of Leo, king of Rum, died.  After him there was made king of Rum Nicephorus (I), son of Istirāq[1], who asked for a truce from [Harun] ar-Rashid.  Ar-Rashid gave him a respite of three years.  There ruled in Egypt, in the name of ar-Rashid, Musa b. Isa al-Hashimi, who extended the Great Mosque of Misr at the rear of the building which may still be seen.  Ar-Rashid then deposed Musa ibn Isa and entrusted the government of Egypt to Abd Allah ibn al-Mahdi.  Abd Allah sent as a gift to ar-Rashid a young girl of his choice from among the Yemenis who lived in the south of Egypt.  She was very beautiful and ar-Rashid fell intensely in love.  The young girl was then hit by a serious disease.  The doctors cared for her but no medicine was effective.  They said to ar-Rashid: “Send word to your governor in Egypt, Abd Allah, to send you an Egyptian doctor.  The Egyptian doctors are more able than those of Irāq to cure this young girl.”  Ar-Rashid sent word to Abd Allah ibn al-Mahdi to choose the most skillful Egyptian doctor and send him to him, telling him about the young girl and of what had happened.  Abd Allah sent for Politianus, the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria, expert in medicine, made him aware of the young girl and the disease that had struck her, and sent him to ar-Rashid.  [Politianus] brought with him some Egyptian durum “ka’k”[2], and some pilchards.  When he arrived in Baghdad and presented himself to the young girl, he gave her some rustic ka’k and pilchards to eat.  The young girl recovered her health at once, and the pain disappeared.  After that [ar-Rashid] began to order from Egypt, for the sultan’s use, durum ka’k and pilchards.  Ar-Rashid gave lots of money to the patriarch Politianus and gave him in writing an order which provided that all the churches that the Jacobites had taken away from the Melkites and of which they had taken possesion, should be returned.  The patriarch Politianus returned to Egypt and got back his churches.  The patriarch Politianus died after having held the patriarchal seat for forty six years.  After him there was made patriarch of Alexandria Eustathius[3], in the sixteenth year of the Caliphate of ar-Rashid.  Eustace was a linen-maker and had found a treasure in the house in which he used to prepare linen.  He had embraced the monastic life at “Dayr al Qusayr”, later becoming the superior.  He built at “Dayr al-Qusayr” the church of the Apostles, and a residence for the bishops.  Later he was made patriarch of Alexandria, held the office for four years and died.  After him there was made patriarch of Alexandria Christopher[4] in the twentieth year of the Caliphate of ar-Rashid.  The patriarch Christopher was hit by hemiplegia and could only move if supported.  There was therefore appointed a bishop named Peter after a vote whom the bishops put in place of the patriarch.  Christopher held the office for thirty-two years and died.  In the eighth year of the Caliphate of ar-Rashid there was made patriarch of Antioch Theodoret.  He held the office for seventeen years and died.  During the caliphate of ar-Rashid there was, after the afternoon prayer, an eclipse of the sun so intense that you could see the stars, and people stood screaming at the sky imploring God – may His name be glorious!  In Khurasan there rebelled against ar-Rashid, Rafi ibn al-Layth and occupied it.  Ar-Rashid invaded Khurasan, but at Gurgan he became ill and stopped at Tus, sending al-Ma’mun to Merv to the head of a large army.

3. Ar-Rashid died in the month of Jumādà al-Akhar in the year 193 [of the Hegira], at the age of forty-six.  He was buried in Tus, in the city of an-Nirāt [5].  The sons who were with him, those of his family and his commanders gave the bay’ah to his son Muhammad ibn Zubaydah.  Al-Fadl ibn ar-Rabi returned with his men to Baghdād.  Ar-Rashid was of perfect stature, handsome of face, with a black and flowing beard which he used to cut when he went on pilgrimage.  The leaders of his bodyguard were al-Qasim ibn Nasr b. Malik first, then Hamza ibn Hazim b. Obayd Allah b. Malik, then Hafs ibn Umar b. ash-Shugayr.  His hāgib was Bishr ibn Maymun b. Muhammad b. Khalid b. Barmak.  Then al-Fadl ibn Rabi regained this position.

CALIPHATE OF MUHAMMAD AL-AMIN (193-198 / 809-814).

1. The news of the death of ar-Rashid arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday, twelve days before the end of Jumāda al-Akhar.  The crowds gathered, his son Muhammad went out in the pulpit, and invited them to mourn his death.  The people gave him the bay’ah on that day.  Then there appeared strong differences between him and his brother al-Ma’mun.  The mother of Muhammad al-Amin was called Umm Jaffar[6], and was the daughter of Abu Jaffar al-Mansur.  Muhammad al-Amin sent Ali ibn Isa b. Mahan to Khurasan to fight against al-Ma’mun, who sent against him, from Merv, Zahir ibn al-Husayn b. Sa’b al-Būsagi.  Zahir killed Ali ibn Isa, put to flight the armies of Muhammad al-Amin and came to Baghdad, where he was joined by Hartama ibn A’yan and Humayd ibn Abd al-Hamid at-Tusi. Al-Ma’mun was hailed as caliph in Khurasan in the year 196.  The civil war then moved to Baghdād.

2. Muhammad al-Amin was killed in Baghdad on Saturday, five days before the end of the month of Muharram of the year 198 [of the Hegira].  His caliphate, until the day of his murder, had lasted four years, eight months and six days. He was killed at the age of twenty-eight years.

3. Nicephorus, son of Istabraq, king of Rum, died.  After him there reigned over Rum  Istabraq[7], son of Nicephorus, son of Istabraq.

4. In the third year of the caliphate of Muhammad al-Amin there was made patriarch of Jerusalem Thomas, nicknamed Tamriq[8].  He held the office for ten years.

5. Muhammad al-Amin was handsome, with a perfect constitution, white-skinned, fat, strongly built, with thin fingers.  His body was buried at Baghdād and his head brought to Khurasan.  The leader of his bodyguard was Ali ibn Isa b. Mahan and his hāgib al-Fadl ibn ar-Rabi, who was also his confidential adviser.

  1. [1]Elsewhere “Istabrāq”; i.e. Stauracius.
  2. [2]A collective term for various pastries and pretzels.
  3. [3]813-817 AD
  4. [4]817-848.
  5. [5]Possibly means “Iran”?
  6. [6]I.e. Zubaydah, the wife of Harun ar-Rashid.
  7. [7]Stauracius, emperor of the East from 26 July 811 to 2 October 811.
  8. [8]807-821.

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