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.

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