Slike stranica

steadily maintained.

Michael had

himself marched to the front, and the Saracens had won no important successes while his uncle was at the helm. It was probably after the death of Bardas that an incident occurred which has stamped Michael as supremely indifferent to the safety of his Empire. One evening as he was preparing in his private hippodrome in the Palace of St. Mamas to display his skill as a charioteer, before a favoured company, the spectators were alarmed and distracted by seeing a blaze illuminated in the Pharos of the Great Palace, which announced tidings flashed from Cappadocia, that the Saracens were abroad within the Roman borders. The spectacle was not discontinued, but the attention of the onlookers languished, and the Emperor, determined that such interruptions should not again occur, commanded that the beacon signals in the neighbourhood of Constantinople should be kindled no more.1 It might be thought that the signal system had been abandoned for some serious reason, connected perhaps with the loss of Lulon,2 and that this anecdote, illustrating the Emperor's frivolity, had been invented to account for it. But the very moderation of the story may be held to show that it had a basis of fact. For it does not suggest that the beacon messages were discontinued; on the contrary, it expressly states that the lighting of the beacons in or close to Constantinople, that is at the Pharos and on Mt. Auxentios, was forbidden.3 This Imperial order, though dictated by a frivolous motive, need not have caused a very serious delay in the arrival of the news at Constantinople, nor can it be alleged that Michael endangered thereby the safety of the provinces.

On the whole, the frontiers between the two powers in Asia Minor had changed little under the rule of the Amorian dynasty. The Moslems had won a few more fortresses; and what was more serious, in Cappadocia east of the Halys their position was strengthened by the invaluable support of the Paulician rebels. The Amorians bequeathed to their successor the same task which had lain before them and which they had

1 Cont. Th. 197-198.

2 But the loss of Lulon did not render the signals useless or impossible. Mt. Argaios would become the first station.

3 Cont. Th. 198 μηκέτι τοὺς πλησιάζοντας φανοὺς ἐνεργεῖν προσέταξεν. Modern writers have not attended to the limitation πλησιάζοντας.

failed to achieve, the expulsion of the enemy from Cappadocia; but the difficulty of that task was aggravated by the disastrous policy of the Paulician persecution for which Theophilus and Theodora were responsible.

In the last years of the reign of Michael the Caliphate was troubled by domestic anarchy, and offered a good mark for the attack of a strenuous foe. The Caliph Mustain writhed under the yoke of the powerful Turkish party, and he desired to return from Samarra to the old capital of Baghdad. But he was compelled to abdicate in favour of Mutazz, whom the Turks set up against him (January 866). The best days of the Abbasid dynasty were past, and the Caliphate had begun to decline, just as the Empire was about to enter on a new period of power and expansion.



§ 1. The Saracen Conquest of Crete

SINCE the remote ages which we associate with the uncertain name of Minos, when it was the home of a brilliant civilization and the seat of an Aegean power, the island of Crete played but a small part in Greek and Roman history. In the scheme of administration which was systematized in the eighth century, it formed, along with some neighbouring islands, a distinct theme; but its name rarely occurs in our chronicles 1 until its happy obscurity is suddenly disturbed in the reign of Michael II. by an event which rendered it, for long years to come, one of the principal embarrassments and concerns of the Imperial Government. The fate of Crete was determined by events in a distant Western land, whose revolutions, it might have seemed, concerned the Cretans as little as those of any country in the world.


The Omayyads in Spain no less than the Abbasids in the East, Cordova no less than Baghdad, were troubled by outbreaks of discontent and insurrection, in which the rationalistic school of theology also played its part. The Emir AlHakam dyed his hands in the blood of insurgents, and finally when the inhabitants of one of the quarters of Cordova rose against him, he commanded those who escaped the edge of his sword to leave Spain with their families in three days (A.D. 814). Ten thousand men, as well as women and children, sailed to Egypt, and, placing themselves under the protection

1 It did not, however, altogether escape the visitations of the Omayyad fleets in the 7th century; see Theophanes, A.M. 6166. A Saracen descent

is mentioned in the Vita Andreae Cretensis (Papadopulos-Kerameus, 'Avaλ. 'Iepoo. v. 177).


A.D. 796-822.

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. 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 (Ioπáva) 7316. Simeon

(Cont. Georg. 789) merely notices the fact of the conquest of Crete, which, along with that of Sicily, he ascribes to the rebellion of Thomas, with which Michael was fully occupied. But Thomas had been suppressed before the occupation of Crete or the invasion of Sicily. Hopf (Gr. Gesch. 121) and Amari (Storia, i. 163) placed the conquest of Crete in 823, Muralt (Chron. byz. 410) in 824.

3 The chief Arabic source is Humandi (11th cent.) who used an older writer, Mohammad ibn Huzaw, Conde, Arabs in Spain, i. 263. Genesios places the landing at Charax, distinguishing it from Chandax (47). I can find no trace of Charax.

4 Vasil'ev, 48.

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,' 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,3 and not many months after the Saracen occupation this general arrived at the island.

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).

The inhabitants of this town were called ὑπολόγιοι. The word is omitted in the text of Genesios 4718, but PseudoSimeon (6237), whose narrative is

But he found that his forces

[blocks in formation]
« PrethodnaNastavi »