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of a powerful Beduin family, settled in the outskirts of Alexandria. Soon they felt strong enough to act for themselves, and under the leadership of Abu Hafs1 they seized the city (A.D. 818-819).
At this time the governor of Egypt had availed himself of the revolts with which the Caliph Mamun had to cope in the eastern provinces of his dominion to declare himself independent. The Spanish fugitives held Alexandria for six years before Mamun had his hands free to deal with Egypt. At /length (A.D. 825) he sent Abdallah ibn Tahir to compel the submission both of the rebellious governor and of the Andalusian intruders. The governor was overthrown by one of his officers before Abdallah arrived, and the Spaniards readily submitted to the representative of the Caliph and obtained permission to leave Egypt and win a settlement within the borders of the Empire. In the previous year they had made a descent on the island of Crete, and their ships had returned laden with captives and booty; 2 and they now chose Crete as their place of permanent habitation. They sailed in forty ships, with Abu Hafs as their leader, and anchored probably in the best harbour of the island, in the bay of Suda.3 Abu Hafs commanded his followers to plunder the island and return to the port in twelve days, retaining twenty men to guard each ship. It would appear that no serious resistance was offered by the islanders, who perhaps had little love for the Imperial government, which, besides being oppressive, had in recent years been heretical. It is related that when the Spaniards returned
1 Abu Hafs Omar ibn Shuaib. Cp. Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne, ii. 68-76.
2 This descent is recorded by Genesios (46), who dates it as occurring in the time of the rebellion of Thomas. He says that the conquest occurred in the following year, i.e. A.D. 825, as we know from the Arabic sources. Therefore the first descent was in A.D. 824. Cp. Vasil'ev, 47. Genesios knew nothing about the Egyptian episode, and supposed that Abu Hafs ('Arróxay) and his people came directly from Spain. The account in Cont. Th. 73 sqq. is derived from Genesios, but the writer's remark may be noted that the Saracens of Spain had come in the course of time to be called Spaniards ('Iomávo) 7316. Simeon
to the port, they were dismayed to find that their ships had disappeared. They had been burned by the orders of Abu Hafs. To their loud and mutinous complaints that they were now irrevocably severed from their wives and children whom they had left in Egypt, he replied by bidding them marry the women of the island whom they had taken captive. We may question the truth of the story,1 but it seems to point to the fact that there was a considerable fusion by marriage between the invaders and the natives.
The modern capital of Crete was founded by Abu Hafs. He chose, to be the seat of his dominion, a site on the northern shore of the island, not far from the hill of Knossos, the ancient
stronghold of Minos. The new town was central; it looked towards the isles of the Aegean which the conquerors of Crete hoped to plunder; but it had the disadvantage of having no harbour or natural shelter for ships. It was surrounded by a deep moat (handak), from which it derived its name Chandax or Candia. Twenty-nine towns were taken and their inhabitants reduced to slavery. One alone was excepted from this general fate by a special capitulation, and in it the Christians were permitted freely to celebrate the rites of their religion.2
The Emperor Michael and his successors did not underestimate the danger with which Crete in the possession of the Moslems menaced the Empire. Michael appointed Photeinos, the governor of the Anatolic Theme, to be stratêgos of Crete, and not many months after the Saracen occupation this general arrived at the island. But he found that his forces
1 The story is told in Gen. and Cont. Th. (same source), and curiously, almost in the same words by Humandi (cp. Hirsch, Byz. Stud. 136; Vasil'ev, 48 n. 2). This coincidence has not been explained, but points to a common Cretan source. Amari (Storia, i. 163) suggested that the foundation of the story may have been that Abu Hafs burned some ships which were useless. If we are to hazard guesses, it is possible that one ship caught fire accidentally and the conflagration spread (τοῦ πνεύματος ἐπακμάζοντος, Cont. Th. 75).
2 The inhabitants of this town were called ὑπολόγιοι. The word is omitted in the text of Genesios 4718, but PseudoSimeon (6237), whose narrative is
founded on Genesios, enables us to restore it (cp. Latin version).--Genesios (48) records that Cyril, bishop of Gortyn, was slaughtered, and that his blood still remains liquid and acts as a miraculous unguent. This probably comes from lost Acta of Cretan martyrs (I cannot agree that καθώς τινές φασιν, as Hirsch (op. cit. 137) suggests, proves an oral source; the words may have been in the source of Genesios).
3 Photeinos was great-grandfather of Zoe, fourth wife of Leo VI. That he went as stratêgos of Crete, I infer from Cont. Th. 773. His expedition is recorded only in this source. Its date must be early in 826, if not in 825; for Photeinos was appointed stratêgos of Sicily in 826.
were unequal to his task, and at his request Damianos, Count of the Stable, was sent with reinforcements. The Saracens routed the Greek army, Damianos was wounded, and Photeinos escaped to the little island of Dios which faces Candia. A second expedition was sent soon afterwards, under Krateros, in command of a fleet of seventy ships. A battle was fought where the troops landed, and the Greeks were victorious, but instead of following up their success they celebrated it by a night of carousal, and in their sleep they were attacked and almost annihilated by the enemy. Krateros escaped and was pursued by the Arabs to Cos, where they caught him and hanged him on a cross.
It was not only for the recovery of Crete, but also for the protection of the islands of the Aegean that the Imperial government was concerned. A third armament which Michael despatched under the command of Ooryphas cleared the enemy out of a number of small islands which they had occupied, but it is not recorded that he renewed the attempt to recover Crete. The Arabs did not confine their attacks to the islands in the immediate vicinity of Crete; they extended far and wide, on both sides of the Aegean, depredations of which only stray notices have been preserved by chance. We know that Aegina was cruelly and repeatedly devastated; 2 we know that, some two generations later, Paros was a waste country, which attracted only the hunter of the wildgoat.3 Just after the death of the Emperor Michael, an expedition from Crete pillaged the coasts of Caria and Ionia, and despoiled the monastery of Mt. Latros.1 Constantine Kontomytes, the
1 Consisting partly of the Kibyrrhaeot fleet (for Krateros was stratêgos of the Kibyrrhaeot Theme) and partly of ships from the other naval themes (the Aegean and Hellas ?). This we learn from Cont. Th. (79), whose narrative otherwise coincides with that of Genesios. The date of the expedition may be 826 (so Muralt and Vasil'ev) or 827. From Cont. Th. we can only infer that it was "about the same time" as the revolt of Euphemios, but κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν καιρόν (811) is too vague to fix the date more precisely. It seems to me that Vasil'ev goes too far in postulating 827 or end of 826 for the subsequent enterprise of
Ooryphas, because it is recorded in
2 Vit. Theodorae Thess. 2, cp. 26. Vit. Lucae Jun. (Migne, 111, 441), τὰς συνεχεῖς ἐφόδους τῶν ἐκ τῆς ̓́Αγαρ.
3 Nicetas, Vit. Theoctistae Lesb. 8-9. I owe the reference to Vasil'ev.
4 On the monasteries of Latros cp. Delehaye, Analecta Bollandiana, xi. 14 sqq. (1892).
stratêgos of the Thrakesian Theme, surrounded the depredators with a superior force and cut them to pieces. But about the same time a Roman fleet was completely destroyed in a battle at Thasos,1 and the Cretans for some years seem to have worked their will unhindered in the Aegean Sea.2 Their attacks on Mt. Athos compelled the monks to abandon their cells. 3
If the story is true that the original fleet of the Cretan Arabs was burnt, it is clear that they had, however, speedily furnished themselves with a considerable naval establishment.1 At the same time, Sicily was in great danger. The Moslems of Spain had hardly conquered Crete before the Moslems of Africa descended upon the western island and set themselves to accomplish a conquest which would give them a unique position for winning the maritime lordship of the Mediterranean. To rescue Sicily, to recover Crete, and to defend the islands and coast which were exposed to the depredations of a piratical enemy to the very precincts of the capital itself, a far stronger naval equipment was necessary than that which the Empire possessed. The navy which had saved Asia Minor and the Aegean under the successors of Heraclius from the Saracens in the first tide of their conquests, had been allowed to decline, and the Amorian Emperors reaped the fruits of this neglect. The naval question suddenly became the most pressing interest of Imperial policy; and, as we have seen, the revival of the navy was begun by the efforts of the Amorian dynasty. No further attempt, however, to recover Crete seems to have been made in the reign of Theophilus, who may have thought, perhaps justly, that it would be better to employ all his available strength upon curbing the advance of the Arabs in the island of Sicily. But after his death, Theoktistos organized a great Cretan expedition which sailed in March (A.D. 843) under his own command.5 It seems to have been far more powerful than those which had been despatched by Michael II., and when it appeared the Saracens were in consternation. But they found a means of playing upon the
1 Cont. Th. 137, October 829.
4 Probably many of the ships of Photeinos and Krateros fell into their hands.
5 Simeon (Cont. Georg., 814), who is the source, states that Theodora sent the expedition on the Sunday after the Proclamation of Orthodoxy, i.e. on March 18, 843.
general's fears for his own influence at the court of Theodora. They bribed some of his officers to spread the rumour, or to insinuate to Theoktistos, that the Empress had raised one of his rivals to be the colleague of herself and her son. The general, deeply alarmed, hastened to Constantinople, leaving his army to do nothing, if not to meet with disaster.1
Abu Hafs and his successors were virtually independent, but they may have found it expedient to acknowledge the overlordship of the Caliph, and to consider Crete as in some sense affiliated to the province of Egypt. In any case they continued to maintain relations with Egypt and to receive supplies from Alexandria. It was probably in view of this connexion that the government of Theodora decided on an expedition beyond the usual range of the warfare of this period.2 Three fleets, numbering in all nearly three hundred ships, were equipped. The destination of two of these armaments is unknown; perhaps they were to operate in the Aegean or off the coast of Syria. But the third, consisting of eightyfive vessels and carrying 5000 men, under an admiral whose true name is concealed under "Ibn Katuna," the corruption of an Arabic chronicler, sailed to the coast of Egypt and appeared before Damietta (May 22, 853).
In the ninth century Damietta was closer to the sea than the later town which the Sultan Bibars founded in the thirteenth.* The city lies on the eastern channel of the Nile about seven miles from the mouth; and less than a mile to the east is Lake Menzale, which a narrow belt of sand severs from the sea. When the Greek fleet arrived, the garrison was absent at Fustat, attending a feast to which it had been summoned by the governor Anbas, the last ruler of Arabic descent. The inhabitants hastily deserted the undefended
1 καταλιπεῖν τὸν στρατὸν μαχαίρας ἔργον, loc. cit. If it had been actually destroyed, probably more would have been said.
2 The sources are Tabari (51-52) and Yakubi (10). It is significant for the character of the Greek chronicles that they utterly ignore the episode of Damietta. Tabari says that there were 300 ships, 100 under each commander. But Yakubi, who only mentions the fleet which attacked Damietta, says that it consisted of
85 ships. The two accounts are independent. We may take it that 300
is a round number.
3 Vasil'ev guesses they went to Sicily (173); but the natural inference from Tabari is that they operated in the east. One of them was commanded by Ooryphas, the other by M-r-d (Tabari, 51). For Oory phas cp. above, Chap. IV. p. 144.
4 Cp. Vasil'ev, 171.