Slike stranica

imported from the lands beyond the Oxus, and so many came from Farghana that they were all alike known as Farghanese. We may suspect that many of these soldiers entered the Caliph's service voluntarily, and it is remarkable that much about the same time as the formation of the Turkish bodyguard of the Caliph we meet the earliest mention of Farghanese in the service of the Roman Empire.1 The unpopularity of the insolent Turkish guards among the inhabitants of Baghdad drove Mutasim into leaving the capital, and during the secession to Samarra, which lasted for sixty years, they tyrannized over their masters, like the Praetorians of past and the Janissaries of future history. Yet a fifth class of troops was added about the same time to the military forces of the Caliphate; it consisted of Egyptian Beduins, Berbers, and negroes, and was known as the African corps. The Saracens adopted the tactical divisions of the Roman army.2 The regiment of 1000 men, commanded by a kaid, was subdivided into hundreds and tens, and there were normally ten such regiments under the emir, who corresponded to the stratêgos of a Theme.

§ 2. Baghdad

The capital city of the Abbasids, from which they governed or misgoverned Western Asia, was the second city in the world. In size and splendour, Baghdad was surpassed only by Constantinople. There is a certain resemblance between the circumstances in which these two great centres of power were founded. Saffah, the first sovran of the new dynasty, had seen the necessity of translating the seat of government from Syria to Mesopotamia. A capital on the navigable waters of the Tigris or the Euphrates would be most favourably situated for ocean commerce with the far East; it would be at a safe distance from Syria, where the numerous adherents of the fallen house of the Omayyads were a source of danger; it would be near Persia, on whose support the risen house of the

1 Cp. Simeon, Cont. Georg. 815 Θεοφάνης ὁ ἐκ Φαργάνων.

2 Kremer, ib. 237.

3 The following description is derived from Le Strange's exhaustive

work, Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate, where references to the authorities are given throughout, and the topography is elucidated by numerous plans.

Abbasids especially depended. Perhaps, too, it may have been thought that Damascus was perilously near the frontier of the Roman Empire, whose strength and vigour had revived under its warlike Isaurian rulers.1 It was impossible to choose Kufah on the Euphrates, with its turbulent and fanatical population, and Saffah built himself a palace near the old Persian town of Anbar, a hundred miles further up the river. But his successor Mansur, having just essayed a new residence on the same stream, discerned the advantages of a situation on the Tigris. For the Tigris flows through fruitful country, whereas the desert approaches the western banks of the Euphrates; and in the eighth century it flowed alone into the Persian Gulf, while the Euphrates lost itself in a great swamp, instead of uniting with its companion river, as at the present day. Mansur did not choose the place of his new capital in haste. He explored the banks of the Tigris far to the north, and thought that he had discovered a suitable site not far from Mosul. But finally he fixed his choice on the village of Baghdad. Bricks bearing the name of Nebuchadnezzar show that the spot was inhabited in the days of the Assyrian monarchy; when Mansur inspected it, he found it occupied by monasteries of Nestorian Christians, who extolled the coolness of the place and its freedom from gnats. The wisdom of the Caliph's decision may be justified by the fact that Baghdad has remained unchallenged, till this day, the principal city of Mesopotamia. The experiments preliminary to its foundation remind us of the prologue to the foundation of Constantinople. When Diocletian determined to reside himself in the East, he chose Nicomedia, and Nicomedia corresponds to the tentative establishments of Saffah and Mansur on the Euphrates. When Constantine decided that Nicomedia would not suit the requirements of a new Rome, he was no less at a loss than Mansur, and we are told that various sites competed for his choice before he discovered Byzantium.

But the tasks which confronted the two founders were widely different. Constantine had to renew and extend an ancient city; and his plans were conditioned by the hilly

1 Le Strange, 4-5.

2 In the last portion of its course it entered the great swamp, but the

lagoons which marked its stream were navigable (ib.).

nature of the ground. The architectural inventiveness of Mansur and his engineers was hampered by no pre-existing town; when they had cleared away a miserable hamlet and the abodes of infidel monks, they had a tabula rasa, level and unencumbered, on which they could work their will, confined only by the Isa canal and the Tigris itself. The architects used the opportunity and built a wonderful city of a new type. It was in the form of a perfect circle, four miles in circumference, surrounded by three concentric walls constructed of huge sun-dried bricks. In the centre stood the Palace of Mansur, known as the Golden Gate, and close to it the Great Mosque. The whole surrounding area, enclosed by the inmost wall, was reserved for the offices of government, the palaces of the Caliph's children, and the dwellings of his servants. No one except the Caliph himself was permitted to pass into these sacred precincts on horseback. The ring between the inner and the middle wall was occupied by houses and booths. The middle wall was the principal defence of the town, exceeding the other two in height and thickness. Through its iron gates, so heavy that a company was required to open them, a rider could enter without lowering his lance; and at each gatehouse a gangway was contrived by which a man on horseback could reach the top of the wall. From this massive fortification a vacant space divided the outmost wall, which was encompassed by a watermoat. This system of walls was pierced by four series of equidistant gates the gates of Syria (N.W.), Khurasan (N.E.), Basrah (S.E.), and Kufah (S.W.). The imposing gatehouses of the middle circle were surmounted by domes. Such was the general plan of the round city of Mansur, to which he gave the name of Madinat as-Salam, "the City of Peace." But if the name was used officially, it has been as utterly forgotten by the world as Aelia Capitolina and Theupolis, which once aspired to replace Jerusalem and Antioch.

The building of the city occupied four years (A.D. 762-766).1 Mansur also built himself another house, the Kasr-al-Khuld or Palace of Eternity, outside the walls, between the Khurasan

1 Tabari states the cost of building the two outer walls and the palace, and constructing the ditch, at a sum

which is about the equivalent of £360,000 (Le Strange, 40).

Gate and the river. It was here that Harun ar-Rashid generally lived. South of the city stretched the great commercial suburb of Karkh,1 and the numerous canals which intersected it must have given it the appearance of a modern Dutch town. Here were the merchants and their stores, as carefully supervised by the government as the traders and dealers of Constantinople. The craftsmen and tradesmen did not live scattered promiscuously in the same street, as in our cities of to-day; every craft and every branch of commerce had its own allotted quarter. It is said that Mansur, in laying out the town of Karkh, which was not included in his original plan, was inspired by the advice of an envoy of the Roman Emperor, who was then Constantine V. When the patrician had been taken to see all the wonders of the new city, the Caliph asked him what he thought of it. I have seen splendid buildings," he replied, "but I have also seen, O Caliph, that thine enemies are with thee, within thy city." He explained this oracular saying by observing that the foreign merchants in the markets within the walls would have opportunities of acting as spies or even as traitors. Mansur reflected on the warning, and removed the market to the suburbs.

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This is not the only anecdote connecting Byzantine envoys with the foundation of Baghdad. We may not give these stories credence, but they have a certain value for the history of culture, because they would not have been invented if the Saracens had not been receptive of Byzantine influences. It was said that a Greek patrician advised Mansur on the choice of his site; and a visitor who walked through the western suburb and was shown the great water-mill of the patrician" might feel convinced that here was an undoubted proof of the alleged debt to Byzantine civilization. His guide would have told him that the name of the builder of the mills was Tarath, who had come on behalf of the Roman Emperor to congratulate the Caliph Mahdi on his accession to the throne (A.D. 775). Tarath, who was himself fifth in descent from the Emperor Maruk, offered to build a mill on one of the canals. Five hundred thousand dirhams (about £20,000)

1 The name still survives in Karchiaka, which the Turks apply to western Baghdad (Le Strange, 66).


were supplied for the cost, and the patrician guaranteed that the yearly rents would amount to this sum. When the forecast was fulfilled, Mahdi gratefully ordered that the rents should be bestowed on the patrician, and until his death the amount was transmitted to him year by year to Constantinople. The story sounds like a pleasing invention, called forth by the need of explaining the name of the mill; and it has been suggested that the name itself was originally derived, not from "Patrician," but from "Patriarch," and that the mills, older than the foundation of the city, were called after the Patriarch of the Nestorians.1 The name Tarath, however, is evidently Tarasius, while in his Imperial ancestor Maruk it is easy to recognize the Emperor Maurice; and it is to be observed that the age of the fifth generation from Maurice (who died in A.D. 602) corresponds to the reign of Mansur.

The traffic of Baghdad was not confined to Karkh; there were extensive market-places also in the region outside the western wall, and in the north-western suburb of Harbiyah, beyond the Syrian Gate. The quarters in all these suburbs which encompassed the city were distinguished for the most part by the names of followers of Mansur, to whom he assigned them as fiefs.

Although Baghdad was to live for ever, the Round City of the founder was destined soon to disappear. The Palace of the Golden Gate was little used after the death of Mansur himself, and four generations later the rest of the court and government was permanently established on the other side of the Tigris. At the very beginning, three important suburbs grew up on the opposite bank of the river, which was spanned by three bridges of boats. This region has aptly been described as a fan-shaped area, the point of radiation being the extremity of the Main Bridge, which led to the gate of Khurasan, and the curve of the fan sweeping round from the Upper Bridge to the Lower Bridge. But these quarters of Rusafah, Shammasiyah,3 and Mukharrim were not destined to be the later

1 Le Strange, 145. Batrîk=TαTρIKIOS should differ in the final guttural from batrikтатριάрxηs (ib. note). 2 Le Strange, 169.

3 In the region of Shammasiyah—an

Aramaic word, meaning "deaconry and pointing to Christian origin-was the Christian quarter, known as the Dâr ar-Rûm or House of the Romans. Here were churches of the Jacobites

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