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simply a declaration of war. Harun was so incensed with fury that no one could look at him; he called for an inkpot and wrote his answer on the back of the Imperial letter.
Harun, Commander of the Faithful, to the Greek dog. I have read thy letter, son of an unbelieving mother. Thou shalt not only hear my answer but see it with thine eyes.
The Caliph marched immediately to chastise the insolent Roman, but Nicephorus, who, occupied with the revolt of Bardanes, was not prepared to meet him, offered to pay tribute, if the army, which had advanced from the Cilician Gates to Heraclea, would retire. Harun, satisfied with the booty he had collected and the damage he had inflicted, agreed to the ' proposal; but when he had reached the Euphrates, the news arrived that the Emperor had broken the compact, and notwithstanding the severe cold, for it was already winter, he retraced his steps and raided the lands of his enemy again.
Each succeeding year during the reign of Harun, and under his successor till A.D. 813, witnessed the regular incursions of the Moslem commanders of the frontier.1 We may notice particularly an expedition led by the Caliph himself, who wore a pointed cap inscribed "Raider and pilgrim," in the summer of A.D. 806. His army numbered 135,000 regular soldiers, with many volunteers, and besides capturing a number of important forts he took Heraclea and its subterranean grain stores. He seized Tyana, which lies north of Lulon on the road to Caesarea, and converted it into a permanent post of occupation, building a mosque, which the Greek chronicler designates as "the house of his blasphemy." The Emperor, who seems to have been unable to send a sufficient force to take the field against the invader, at length induced him to withdraw for the sum of 50,000 dinars,"
In A.D. 804 Nicephorus in person opposed the invaders and was wounded (Tabari, s.a. 188). According to Michael Syr. (16), the Romans in this year entered Cilicia, pillaged the regions of Mopsuestia, Anazarbos, and Tarsus; see also next note. This writer (who becomes more valuable for chronology in the reign of Theophilus) has a curious estimate of the military talent of Nicephorus: "No Roman Emperor, throughout the
Saracen period, showed himself so brave and brilliant in war." In 807 Nicephorus fought a pitched battle with the Saracens and was routed (Kitab al-'Uyun, Brooks, 747).
For this campaign we have both Theophanes and Tabari. They agree in saying that the tribute was a sort of ransom for Nicephorus, his son, his patricians, and the other Romans. Tabari says that four dinars were for Nicephorus, two for Stauracius
During the last two years of Harun's reign (A.D. 808-9) insurrections in his eastern dominions' prevented him from prosecuting the war against Romania with the same energy, and after his death the struggle of his sons for the throne was the signal for new rebellions, and secured the Empire for some years against any dangerous attack. Harun had obliged his three sons to sign a document, by which the government of the realm was divided among them, but Amin succeeded to the supreme position of Caliph and Mamun was designated as next in succession. Amin was younger than Mamun, but he was the son of the Princess Zubaidah who had Mansur's blood in her veins, while Mamun's mother was a slave. Civil war broke out when Amin attempted to violate the paternal will by designating his own son as heir apparent to the throne. It was decided by, the long siege of Baghdad and the execution of Amin (A.D. 813).
The twenty years of Mamun's reign were marked by internal rebellions and disaffection so grave that all the military forces which he commanded were required to cope with these domestic dangers. The governors of Egypt were already aspiring to an independence which they were afterwards to achieve, and Babek, an unconquerable leader, who belonged to the communistic sect of the Hurramites, defied the Caliph's power in Adarbiyan and Armenia. The army of Mamun was annihilated by this rebel in A.D. 829-30, and the task of subduing him was bequeathed to the Caliph's successor. These circumstances explain the virtual cessation of war between the Empire and the Caliphate for a space of sixteen years (A.D. 814-829). There was no truce or treaty the two powers remained at war; there were some hostilities;3 that a Roman embassy came to Mamun in A.H. 210 April 825-April 826, to negotiate a peace, that Mamun declined and ordered the commanders on the frontiers to invade the Empire, and that they were victorious. Vasil'ev, Viz. i Ar. 36, accepts the statement that Zapetra was taken in Michael's reign, on the ground that Baladhuri was a contemporary. He died in 892-3, and muy have been a child in Michael's reign; but I think we may take it that he has misplaced an event which belongs to the first your of Theophilus. See below.
(Brooks, Byzantines and Arabs, i 746); Theophanes says three for himself, three for his son. Michael Syr. places the capture of Heraclea in A.D. 804 (16).
1 Weil, ii. 163.
Perfunctory raids are recorded by Ibn Wadhih each year till A.H. 197 (September 12, 812-August 31, 813). Brooks, op. cit. 747.
3 Notably on the occasion of the revolt of Thomas, Baladhuri (4), however, records that the Romans de. stroyed Zapetra, Mamun restored it.
but the Saracens seem to have desisted from their yearly invasions, and the Emperors Leo and Michael were less eager to take advantage of Mamun's difficulties by aggressions on their side than glad to enjoy a respite from the eastern war.1 This long suspension of the Holy War was chequered, indeed, by Mamun's actions during the rebellion of Thomas, which showed that he cherished designs upon the Empire which only necessity held in abeyance. We saw how the Saracens took advantage of that crisis, first invading the Empire, and then supporting Thomas the Slavonian. The Caliph, whether he had made secret conditions with the pretender or not, undoubtedly hoped to augment his territory in Asia Minor.
If the Caliph had espoused the cause of Thomas, the Emperor had an opportunity of retaliating by supporting the rebel Babek. And as a matter of fact, the renewal of the war seems to have been caused by the opening of negotiations between Babek and the Emperor Theophilus. It must have been immediately after Theophilus ascended the throne that a considerable number of Hurramite insurgents passed into Roman territory and offered to serve in the Roman armies." It is probable that the negotiations with Babek were arranged with the help of a notable officer, of Persian origin, who had been brought up at Constantinople and bore a Greek nameTheophobos. Theophilus appointed him commander of the
The silence of the Greek and Arabic chroniclers proves at least that the war was very languidly prosecuted in the reign of Leo, But there seem to have been hostilities, for we have a record of an eastern campaign of that Emperor. See Theodore Stud. Ep. 213 (Cozza-L.), pp. 150-1 μετὰ τὸ ἐκστρατεύσαι τὸν βασιλέα, referring to A.D. 817. Moreover, in A.D. 816 a campaign was contemplated: see Anon. A. Vita Theophanis, 2916; Anon. B. Vita Theophanis, 396. Cp. Pargoire, St. Theophane, 73-81.
2 See Michael Syr. 50 and 73 (who describes them as Khordanaye, i.c. Hurramites), and Greek sources cited in next note. Simeon gives the number of the "Persian" refugees as 14,000; according to Cont. Th. they had increased to 30,000 in A.D. 837. That there was an influx in the intervening years is borne out by Tabari, 28 (sub A.D. 833). Finlay (ii. 153) thinks
that the fugitives were Christians who feared Mamun, and Babek alike. It should be borne in mind that these so-called IIéporal must have been mainly Persarmenians.
3 The difficulties connected with Theophobos have not been fully cleared up, or even realised, by
modern historians. He is mentioned only in the Greek sources: Gen. 52-57; Cont. Th. 110-112; Simeon (Add. Georg. 793). While it is admitted that the stories told of his descent from the Persian kings, and of his early life, are suspicious from their general nature and the fact that there are conflicting versions-their legendary character is established by their inconsistency with chronology and other errors (Hirsch, 139)—it has been generally assumed that Theophobos and his father were followers of Babek and came to Sinope with the other fugitives (so e.g. Finlay and Vasil'ev).
army of eastern fugitives, to whom his descent and knowledge of their language naturally recommended him. But the attachment of the soldiers to Theophobos was possibly based on a higher and transcendent claim.
The Hurramites cherished the firm belief that a Mahdi or Guide of their own race would appear who would guide them to faith in himself, would transmit his Empire to another, to be followed by a perpetual line of successors. Such a divine leader had recently arisen amongst them, but he was caught and executed. If Theophobos was recognised as his successor, we should understand both the ascendency which he exercised over them, and the motive of the legends which grew up about his origin. But the fact which suggests this explanation is the belief current among the Persians" in later generations that Theophobos had never tasted death."
The foreigners had come to Sinope, having evidently followed the coast road by Trapezus, as they could not pass through the Saracen province of Melitene. Quarters were assigned to them here and at Amástris, but some years later they seized their commander and proclaimed him Emperor' against his will (A.D. 837). Theophobos, whose services had been rewarded by the rank of patrician and the hand of a lady who was sister either to Theophilus himself or to Theodora, was a loyal subject, and he managed to send a
If so, Theophobos must have been a most distinguished and important figure in the Babek movement, otherwise he would hardly have married into the Emperor's family; and we should expect to find him mentioned in our Oriental sources. His Greek name, his orthodoxy, on which the chroniclers compliment him, and the trust reposed in him by Theophilus, all suggest that he was a Byzantine subject and Imperial officer; and the stories preserve the fact that he was born and educated at Constantinople. These stories were based on the three circumstances that he was a citizen of the Empire, that he belonged to a "Persian" family, and that he was appointed commander of the Hurramites. They let out the circumstance that his father (who may have been the first of the family to settle in Byzantium) served in the Imperial army (Ῥωμαίων ὄντα τοῖς καταλόγοις,
Gen. 54). The tale that the Persians became aware of his existence, by astrology or otherwise, and wanted to make him their king, is connected with the part he played in the negoti ations with Babek; it is quite prob able that he went as envoy to Babek in Armenia, though in Gen. and Cont. Th. the personal interview is at Sinope. (The improbable statement that Babek came himself to Sinope is rejected by Finlay and Vasil'ev.) Yet this is hardly a sufficient motif for the legendary anecdotes, which would, I think, be accounted for by the conjecture which I have ventured to put forward
in the text.
secret message to the Emperor. Theophilus pardoned the troops, but took the precaution of distributing them among the armies of various Themes, in regiments of 2000, which were known as "the Persian turms."
We may pass briefly over the meagre details of the warfare during the next three years, noticing only the sack of Zapetra by Theophilus (A.D. 830), his victory in Cilicia (A.D. 831) which he celebrated by a triumphal entry into Constantinople, and the Saracen capture of the important fortress of Lulon.1 But we may linger longer over the overtures for peace which Theophilus addressed to the Caliph.
Defeated in a battle, in the autumn of A.D. 831, the Emperor wished for peace and from his camp he sent an ecclesiastic with a letter to Mamun. The Caliph received him in his camp," but on observing the superscription of the letter, he returned it to the envoy saying "I will not read his letter, which he begins with his own name." The ambassador retraced his steps, and Theophilus was compelled to rewrite his epistle and place the name of the Caliph before his own. The story may be an insolent invention of the Saracens, but it is certain that Mamun rejected the offers of Theophilus who proposed to give him 100,000 dinars and 7000 captives, if he would restore the fortresses which he had conquered and conclude a peace for five years. The time of the summer campaign, however, had drawn to a close, and Mamun retired into his own territories (September).
The capture of Lulon after a long siege was an important success for the arms of Mamun. The value of this fortress, the key to the northern entrance of the Cilician Gates, has
Emperor" (of whom otherwise we do not hear). Against Simeon is the detailed notice of the family of Theodora in Cont. Th. 175, where the wife of Theophobos is not mentioned.
The details are discussed in Appendix VIII.
Yakubi, 7, designates the envoy as a bishop. See below, Appendix VIII.
It is possible, however, that the Caliph was only insisting on a recognised convention. In the tenth century it was the official style of the East Roman Chancery, in letters from the Emperor to the Caliph, to give the Caliph's name precedence on the
outside of the document, while the Emperor's name came first inside. If this style was usual before the time of Theophilus, his secretary committed a breach of etiquette. The forms of address used in the tenth century were : outside, τῷ μεγαλοπρεπεστάτῳ εὐγενεστάτῳ καὶ περιβλέπτῳ (name) πρωτοσυμβούλῳ καὶ διατάκτορὶ τῶν ̓Αγαρηνῶν ἀπὸ (name) τοῦ πιστοῦ αὐτοκράτορος Αὐγούστου μεγάλου βασιλέως Ῥωμαίων. Inside: (name) πιστὸς ἐν Χριστῷ τῷ θεῷ αὐτοκράτωρ Αὔγουστος μέγας βασιλεὺς ̔Ρωμαίων τῷ μεγαλοTрEREOTÁTW KTλ. (as on outside). Constantine, Cer. 686.