More from Eutychius

Heraclius has conquered the Persians, and they have killed their king Qavad and are also suffering an outbreak of cholera.  Now read on.  Dates in [] are the era of Diocletian.

[276] After him many kings reigned – men and women – until the reign of Yezdegerd, the son of Kesra (A)Brawez, who began to prevail at the age of 25 (or 15?). Abu Bakr sent his armies into Iraq and Khalid went down to Hira. Their dignitaries came out to meet him and he gave them the `Aman and concluded a Solh (peace in return for payment) with them for 70 thousand dirhams. This was the first tribute in Iraq and the first money to be brought from Iraq to Abu Bakr. Then the Arabs joined with him (= Abu Bakr). Then he sent ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and Surahbil ibn Husna and Abi ‘Obeyda ibn al Garrah and Yazid ibn abi Sufian — he gave them the army (whose commander was ‘Amr ibn al-‘As) — and ordered them to go in the direction of Sam on the way to Ayla. And he gave them the following instructions:

— Not to kill any gray-haired old man, woman or little child;
— Not to attack the wounded;
— Not to chop down any fruit-tree;
— Not to destroy any building;
— Not to set fire to any palm trees nor to cut the bark (so that they would die);
— Not to kill any sheep or cow.

They went to a village called Tadun, a city of Gaza near the Hijaz, and there encamped. It was reported to them that the armies of Heraclius were gathered in the city of Gaza. Heraclius himself was then in Damascus. ‘Amr ibn al-‘As wrote to Abu Bakr and (begged) for reinforcements. And Abu Bakr wrote to Khalid ibn al-Walid (and ordered him) to go with all his followers to ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and provide him assistance. Khalid marched there on the desert road, to Hira, and reached ‘Amr ibn al-‘As. The armies of Heraclius had based themselves in Gaza. When (the Arabs) reached Gaza, the patrician, the leader of the army of Heraclius – sent to the Army of the Muslims (a messenger) and asked them to send one of their military leaders. They said to ‘Amr ibn al-‘As: This is your (task)! ‘Amr disguised himself, and the gates of Gaza were opened and he entered.

When he stood before the patrician, he received him well and said (to him): What drives you to our country and what do you want? ‘Amr ibn al-‘As said to him: “Our Master (= leader) ordered us to fight you until you accept our religion: you will be due what is due to us, and you will then be our brothers, and we will no longer allow ourselves to harm or threaten you. If you reject this, pay us a tribute that pleases us and you, every year, as long as we and you live. Then we will fight for you against all who attack you, or in any way jeopardize your lands, towns, or wealth. We will do it instead of you, because you will be on our conscience and will have an agreement from us for this. If you (also) reject this, there remains only fighting with us with the sword until we all die, or we get from you what we want.”

Next time we’ll see how the Roman patrician responded to these arrogant “terms”.

Interestingly it looks as if the first Islamic army was quite small, and relied on the Arabs outside Arabia joining them, doubtless in hope of plunder.

3 thoughts on “More from Eutychius

  1. Heraclius had financed Mohammed and the Muslim state during his war against the Persians to recover the recently lost eastern provinces and the Holy Cross, in the traditional way of war by proxy. In the preislamic era Arabia was controlled by Persia’s proxies, the Empire was very willing to pay its own proxy. When after the end of the war money dried up, the Muslims needed a source to replenish them. They undertook the “Campaign of Need” against Gaza, invited by the Christian Arabs who were the majority of those living in Gaza. At the eve of the Arab conquest of Palestine, in 2 of the 4 cities of Palestine the majority of the population was Arab

  2. I don’t know if the terms were so arrogant. If the tables had been turned and it was the Europeans conquering the Arabs I doubt there would have even been any wiggle room at all with regards to converting to the conquerer’s religion.

    Do really think that the subjugated Arabs would have been allowed to subsist in the “error” of Islam? Like I said I’ve always thought the terms of the Islamic conquest were relatively humane by ancient standards.

    It’s hard to argue against the idea that they were actively assisted and greeted as liberators by the native non-Greek population of Syria and Egypt especially

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