« PrethodnaNastavi »
§ 7. The Warfare of A.D. 839-867
The disastrous events of the invasion of Mutasim, along with the steady advance of the African Moslems in the island of Sicily, not to speak of the constant injuries which the Arabs of Crete inflicted on the Empire, convinced Theophilus that the Empire was unable to cope alone with the growing power of Islam in the Mediterranean, and he decided to seek the alliance and co-operation of other powers. He sent an embassy, which included a bishop and a patrician, to the Western Emperor, Lewis the Pious, asking him to send a powerful armament, perhaps to attack Syria or Egypt, in order to divert or divide the forces of the Caliph.1 The envoys were welcomed and honourably entertained at Ingelheim (June 17, 839), but the embassy led to no result.2 Equally fruitless was the attempt to induce the ruler of Spain, Abd arRahman II., to co-operate with the Empire against his rival the Eastern Caliph. Spain was in such a disturbed state at this time that it was impossible for him to undertake a distant expedition beyond the seas. His good-will was unreserved, and in reply to the Imperial Embassy he sent to Constantinople his friend the poet Yahya al-Ghazzal with promises to dispatch a fleet as soon as internal troubles permitted him.3 But those troubles continued, and the fleet never sailed.
Meanwhile the fall of Amorion had led to no new permanent encroachment on Roman territory. The Emir of Syria raided the Empire more than once with little success, and in A.D. 841 the Imperial forces took Adata and Marash, and occupied part of the territory of Melitene.5 It was
1 Gen. 72 χώρων τε καὶ πόλεων τινὰς Σαρακηνικῶν τῶν μεταξὺ Λιβύης και *Ασίας καταληίσασθαι. If 'Ασία means Asia Minor, this points to Syria. If Libya means the realm of the Fatimids and Idrisids, it may point to Egypt. The chief envoy was the patrician Theodosius Babutzikos, according to Genesios; but Prudentius (Ann. Bert. 19) states that the envoys were Theodosius, bishop of Chalcedon, and Theophanes, a spatharios. Theodosius the patrician had been sent at an earlier date to Venice, and seems to have proceeded direct from there to Ingelheim. Cp. Vasil'ev, 146.
2 Ann. Bert., ib.
3 Makkari (ii. 115) says that Yahya succeeded in forming an alliance between the two sovrans.
4 The first raid of Abu Said, governor of Syria and Mesopotamia, was perhaps in the last months of A.D. 838; he was opposed by Nasr, who lost his life. The next recorded were in A.D. 840-841 (Michael Syr. 96 102). In A.D. 838-839, Mamun's nephew Abbas entered into treasonable communication with Theophilus. The intrigue was discovered, and he perished by torture and hunger (ib. 101).
5 Ib. 102.
perhaps in the previous year that a Roman fleet appeared off the coast of Syria and pillaged the port of Antioch.1 These successes inclined Mutasim to be gracious, when Theophilus again proposed an exchange of captives, and he displayed insolent generosity. "We," he said, "cannot compare the
values of Moslems and Christians, for God esteems those more than these. But if you restore me the Saracens without asking for anything in return, we can give you twice as many Romans and thus surpass you in everything." Aetius and his fellows were not included in the exchange, but a truce was concluded (A.D. 841).
It was only a truce, for Mutasim cherished the illusory hope of subjugating the Empire. He revived the ambitious designs of the Omayyad Caliphs, and resolved to attack Constantinople. The naval establishment had been suffered to decay under the Abbasids, and, as a powerful fleet was indispensable for any enterprise against the city of the Bosphorus, some years were required for preparation. The armament was not ready to sail till the year 842, when 400 dromonds sailed from the ports of Syria. Mutasim, who died in the same month as Theophilus, did not live to witness the disaster which befell his fleet. It was wrecked on the dangerous Chelidonian islets off the south-eastern cape of the coast; only seven vessels escaped destruction.3
Mutasim's unpopular successor, Wathik, was throughout his short reign (842-847) so embarrassed by domestic troubles —religious strife, risings in Damascus and Arabia, discontent in Baghdad—that he was unable to prosecute the Holy War.1
1 Michael Syr. 101. No precise date is given; we have only the limits, 838 and 841.
2 Ib. 102.
3 George Mon. 801 (copied in Vit. Theodorae, 11). Schlosser (556 n.) thinks that this was an expedition of the Moslems of Crete. But in that case it would not have been wrecked off Cape Hiera (Selidan-Burnu), which is far away from the course to Constantinople. The commander was Abu Dinar ('Αποδείναρ).
4 There seems to have been only one campaign, viz. in A.D. 843 or 844 (Simeon, Add. Georg. 815). The Saracens invaded Cappadocia and defeated Theoktistos, who was sent
against them, at Mauropotamon. Vasil'ev (155) supposes that the KaraSu, a tributary of the Halys, north of Mount Argaios, the Méλas of Strabo, is the Mauropotamos here meant. The weight, however, of MS. authority is in favour of τὸ Μαυροπόταμον, a place (of course on a river), not o Maνρоróтаμos, a river. Cp. de Boor, ib. n. 1. Theoktistos was also unlucky in an expedition, by sea, against the Abasgians; the fleet was wrecked. Cont. Th. 203. From this passage it would appear that the date was prior to the Cretan expedition, which Simeon (Cont. Georg.) 814 puts in spring A.D. 843. Acc. to Cont. Th. there were two solar eclipses before the Abasgian
The two powers exchanged their prisoners, and, though no regular peace was made, they desisted from hostilities for several years.
The exchange of prisoners from time to time was such a characteristic feature of the warfare between the Empire and the Caliphate, that the formal procedure by which such exchanges were conducted is not without interest. A full account has been preserved of the redemption of captives in the year 845.1 In response to an embassy which the Roman government sent to Baghdad, a plenipotentiary arrived at Constantinople in order to obtain exact information as to the number of the Mohammadans who were detained in captivity. They were estimated as 3000 men, and 500 women and children; according to another account, they were 4362 in all.2 The Greek prisoners in the Saracen prisons were found to be less numerous, and in order to equalise the numbers, the Caliph bought up Greek slaves in Baghdad, and even added some females who were employed in the service of his palace. The place usually chosen for the interchange of prisoners of war was on the banks of the river Lamos, about a day's march from Tarsus and close to Seleucia. Here the Greeks and the Saracens met on September 16. The two Greek officers who were entrusted with the negotiation were alarmed to see that the other party was attended by a force of 4000 soldiers. They refused to begin business till the Saracens consented to an armistice of forty days, an interval which would permit the redeemed prisoners to return to their homes without the risk of being recaptured. There were preliminary disputes as to the method of exchange. The Romans declined to accept children or aged persons for able-bodied men, and some days were wasted before it was agreed to purchase man with man.
enterprise. There was a total eclipse in 840 (April 5) visible at Cple., and in 841 (Oct. 18) an annular eclipse, which an astronomer could have well observed at Khartum, and which might have been just partially visible at Cple. These data are obviously not satisfactory. If the expedition belonged to the reign of Theophilus, the only eclipses I can find which might come under consideration are the total of A.D. 833 (Sept. 17) and the annular of 834 (March 14), of which the latter
might possibly have been seen in
2 Bar-Hebr. 194. After the death of Mutasim, Michael Syr. has no information about the Saracen wars, and very little about anything else till the reign of Romanus I. His source, the chronicle of Dionysios (who died A.D. 845), came to an end at this point.
Two bridges were thrown across the river, and at the same moment at which a Christian passed over one, a Mohammadan traversed the other in the opposite direction. But the unfortunate Mohammadans were subjected to a religious test. The Caliph had appointed a commission to examine the theological opinions of the captives. Himself an adherent, like Mamun and Mutasim, of the pseudo-rationalistic school which denied the eternity of the Koran and the visible epiphany of Allah in a future life, he commanded that only those should be redeemed who denounced or renounced these doctrines. Many refused to sacrifice their convictions, and the application of the test was probably not very strict. The exchange was carried out in four days, and more than 4000 Saracens were redeemed, including women and children, as well as Zimmi, that is, Christian or Jewish subjects of the Caliph.1
Between the religious bigotry of rulers of Islam like Wathik and Mutawakkil and that of Christian sovrans like Theophilus and Theodora there was little to choose. For the persecution of the Paulicians, which must be regarded as one of the greatest political disasters of the ninth century, Theophilus as well as Theodora was responsible, though the crime, or rather the glory, is commonly ascribed entirely to her. This sect, widely diffused throughout Asia Minor, from Phrygia and Lycaonia to Armenia, had lived in peace under the wise and sympathetic iconoclasts of the eighth century. They have been described as "the left wing of the iconoclasts their doctrines-they rejected images, pictures, crosses, as idolatroushad undoubtedly a great influence on the generation of the iconoclastic movement; it has even been supposed
1 Hostilities were resumed in A.D. 851. In that year, and the two following, Saracen raids are recorded. In 855 the Greeks attacked Anazarbos in northern Cilicia, and took captive the Zatts or Gipsies who had been settled there since A.D. 835. The Caliph Muawia had settled in Syria these emigrants from India. Walid and Yazid II. assigned them settlements at Antioch and Mopsuestia. In the ninth century the Zatts behaved as if they were an independent people, and were suppressed with difficulty by Ujaif. They were then moved to
that Constantine V. was at heart a Paulician.1 We saw how they had been favoured by Nicephorus, and how Michael I. was stirred up by the ecclesiastics to institute a persecution. Michael committed the execution of his decree in Phrygia and Lycaonia to Leo the Armenian, as stratêgos of the Anatolic Theme; 2 while the suppression of the heresy in Cappadocia and Pontus was enjoined on two ecclesiastics, the exarch or visitor of the Patriarchal monasteries in those parts, and the bishop of Neo-Caesarea. The evidence leaves us in doubt whether Leo, when he came to the throne, pursued the policy of which he had been the instrument. Did the reviver of iconoclasm so far desert the principles of his exemplar, Constantine V., as to pursue the Paulicians? It is not incredible that he may have adopted this course, if it were only to dissociate himself from a sect which the Church maliciously or ignorantly branded as Manichaean; for it is certain that the Paulicians were persecuted by Theophilus.* It was either in the reign of Theophilus or during the earlier persecution that Karbeas, a Paulician who held an office under the general of the Anatolic Theme, led 5000 men of his faith to the region beyond Cappadocia, and placed himself under the protection of the Emir of Melitene. He is said to have been moved to this flight by the news that his father had been hanged.5 It is probable that
1 Conybeare, ib. cxvi. sqq.
2 Theoph. 495. Photius (c. Man. c. 24 Peter Sic. 52) says that Michael and Leo his successor sent to all parts of the Empire and put heretics to death. This naturally implies that Leo persecuted as Emperor; but we cannot be certain, for the statement may have arisen from the fact that Leo was associated with Michael's persecution.
3 Photius, ib. Parakondakes, the exarch, was, of course, not the Patriarchal exarch, but a provincial inspector (cp. Ducange, s. v. capxos). Afterwards some Paulician killed him, and the bishop was slain by the Kynochoritae (the position of Kynoschora, a Paulician stronghold, is unknown).
4 We have an incidental proof of this in the Vita Macarii, 159. Makarios, abbot of Pelekete (cp. above, p. 139, n. 4), thrown into prison by
there were already Paulicians in
Theophilus, meets there some "Paulianasts or Manichaeans" condemned to death. And it is suggested by the evidence relating to Karbeas; see next note.
5 Cont. Th. 166. It can now be shown that there is a grave chronological error in the account of this writer. The flight of Karbeas is represented as a consequence of the persecution of Theodora. But a document dating from A.D. 845-846 (Acta 42 Mart. Amor. I 29) shows that at the end of the reign of Theophilus, or immediately after, Karbeas and his people were already settled in the East under Saracen protection. We learn there that Kallistos, appointed by Theophilus governor of the district of Koloneia (Kara-hissar), tried to convert some of his officers who were Paulicians. They betrayed him to the Paulicians of Karbeas (τοῖς ὑπὸ τὴν ἐξουσίαν τοῦ τριτάλανος Καρβέα τελοῦσι—ἀποστάταις),