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Chapter LI: Conquests By The Arabs.—Part VI.
I should deceive the expectation of the reader, if I passed in silence the fate of the Alexandrian library, as it is described by the learned Abulpharagius. The spirit of Amrou was more curious and liberal than that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours, the Arabian chief was pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius, and who derived the surname of Philoponus from his laborious studies of grammar and philosophy.64116411 Many treatises of this lover of labor are still extant, but for readers of the present age, the printed and unpublished are nearly in the same predicament. Moses and Aristotle are the chief objects of his verbose commentaries, one of which is dated as early as May 10th, A.D. 617, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. ix. p. 458-468.) A modern, (John Le Clerc,) who sometimes assumed the same name was equal to old Philoponus in diligence, and far superior in good sense and real knowledge. Emboldened by this familiar intercourse, Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in his opinion, contemptible in that of the Barbarians—the royal library, which alone, among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit and the seal of the conqueror.
Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of the grammarian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest object without the consent of the caliph; and the well-known answer of Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic. "If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless, and need not be preserved: if they disagree, they are pernicious, and ought to be destroyed." The sentence was executed with blind obedience: the volumes of paper or parchment were distributed to the four thousand baths of the city; and such was their incredible multitude, that six months were barely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel. Since the Dynasties of Abulpharagius64126412 Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 114, vers. Pocock. Audi quid factum sit et mirare. It would be endless to enumerate the moderns who have wondered and believed, but I may distinguish with honor the rational scepticism of Renaudot, (Hist. Alex. Patriarch, p. 170: ) historia... habet aliquid ut Arabibus familiare est. have been given to the world in a Latin version, the tale has been repeatedly transcribed; and every scholar, with pious indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learning, the arts, and the genius, of antiquity. For my own part, I am strongly tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences.64136413 Since this period several new Mahometan authorities have been adduced to support the authority of Abulpharagius. That of, I. Abdollatiph by Professor White: II. Of Makrizi; I have seen a Ms. extract from this writer: III. Of Ibn Chaledun: and after them Hadschi Chalfa. See Von Hammer, Geschichte der Assassinen, p. 17. Reinhard, in a German Dissertation, printed at Gottingen, 1792, and St. Croix, (Magasin Encyclop. tom. iv. p. 433,) have examined the question. Among Oriental scholars, Professor White, M. St. Martin, Von Hammer. and Silv. de Sacy, consider the fact of the burning the library, by the command of Omar, beyond question. Compare St. Martin's note. vol. xi. p. 296. A Mahometan writer brings a similar charge against the Crusaders. The library of Tripoli is said to have contained the incredible number of three millions of volumes. On the capture of the city, Count Bertram of St. Giles, entering the first room, which contained nothing but the Koran, ordered the whole to be burnt, as the works of the false prophet of Arabia. See Wilken. Gesch der Kreux zuge, vol. ii. p. 211.—M. The fact is indeed marvellous. "Read and wonder!" says the historian himself: and the solitary report of a stranger who wrote at the end of six hundred years on the confines of Media, is overbalanced by the silence of two annalist of a more early date, both Christians, both natives of Egypt, and the most ancient of whom, the patriarch Eutychius, has amply described the conquest of Alexandria.64146414 This curious anecdote will be vainly sought in the annals of Eutychius, and the Saracenic history of Elmacin. The silence of Abulfeda, Murtadi, and a crowd of Moslems, is less conclusive from their ignorance of Christian literature. The rigid sentence of Omar is repugnant to the sound and orthodox precept of the Mahometan casuists they expressly declare, that the religious books of the Jews and Christians, which are acquired by the right of war, should never be committed to the flames; and that the works of profane science, historians or poets, physicians or philosophers, may be lawfully applied to the use of the faithful.64156415 See Reland, de Jure Militari Mohammedanorum, in his iiid volume of Dissertations, p. 37. The reason for not burning the religious books of the Jews or Christians, is derived from the respect that is due to the name of God. A more destructive zeal may perhaps be attributed to the first successors of Mahomet; yet in this instance, the conflagration would have speedily expired in the deficiency of materials. I should not recapitulate the disasters of the Alexandrian library, the involuntary flame that was kindled by Caesar in his own defence,64166416 Consult the collections of Frensheim (Supplement. Livian, c. 12, 43) and Usher, (Anal. p. 469.) Livy himself had styled the Alexandrian library, elegantiae regum curaeque egregium opus; a liberal encomium, for which he is pertly criticized by the narrow stoicism of Seneca, (De Tranquillitate Animi, c. 9,) whose wisdom, on this occasion, deviates into nonsense. or the mischievous bigotry of the Christians, who studied to destroy the monuments of idolatry.64176417 See this History, vol. iii. p. 146. But if we gradually descend from the age of the Antonines to that of Theodosius, we shall learn from a chain of contemporary witnesses, that the royal palace and the temple of Serapis no longer contained the four, or the seven, hundred thousand volumes, which had been assembled by the curiosity and magnificence of the Ptolemies.64186418 Aulus Gellius, (Noctes Atticae, vi. 17,) Ammianus Marcellinua, (xxii. 16,) and Orosius, (l. vi. c. 15.) They all speak in the past tense, and the words of Ammianus are remarkably strong: fuerunt Bibliothecae innumerabiles; et loquitum monumentorum veterum concinens fides, &c. Perhaps the church and seat of the patriarchs might be enriched with a repository of books; but if the ponderous mass of Arian and Monophysite controversy were indeed consumed in the public baths,64196419 Renaudot answers for versions of the Bible, Hexapla, Catenoe Patrum, Commentaries, &c., (p. 170.) Our Alexandrian Ms., if it came from Egypt, and not from Constantinople or Mount Athos, (Wetstein, Prolegom. ad N. T. p. 8, &c.,) might possibly be among them. a philosopher may allow, with a smile, that it was ultimately devoted to the benefit of mankind. I sincerely regret the more valuable libraries which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman empire; but when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignorance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather than our losses, are the objects of my surprise. Many curious and interesting facts are buried in oblivion: the three great historians of Rome have been transmitted to our hands in a mutilated state, and we are deprived of many pleasing compositions of the lyric, iambic, and dramatic poetry of the Greeks. Yet we should gratefully remember, that the mischances of time and accident have spared the classic works to which the suffrage of antiquity64206420 I have often perused with pleasure a chapter of Quintilian, (Institut. Orator. x. i.,) in which that judicious critic enumerates and appreciates the series of Greek and Latin classics. had adjudged the first place of genius and glory: the teachers of ancient knowledge, who are still extant, had perused and compared the writings of their predecessors;64216421 Such as Galen, Pliny, Aristotle, &c. On this subject Wotton (Reflections on Ancient and Modern Learning, p. 85-95) argues, with solid sense, against the lively exotic fancies of Sir William Temple. The contempt of the Greeks for Barbaric science would scarcely admit the Indian or Aethiopic books into the library of Alexandria; nor is it proved that philosophy has sustained any real loss from their exclusion. nor can it fairly be presumed that any important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been snatched away from the curiosity of modern ages.
In the administration of Egypt,64226422 This curious and authentic intelligence of Murtadi (p. 284-289) has not been discovered either by Mr. Ockley, or by the self-sufficient compilers of the Modern Universal History. Amrou balanced the demands of justice and policy; the interest of the people of the law, who were defended by God; and of the people of the alliance, who were protected by man. In the recent tumult of conquest and deliverance, the tongue of the Copts and the sword of the Arabs were most adverse to the tranquillity of the province. To the former, Amrou declared, that faction and falsehood would be doubly chastised; by the punishment of the accusers, whom he should detest as his personal enemies, and by the promotion of their innocent brethren, whom their envy had labored to injure and supplant. He excited the latter by the motives of religion and honor to sustain the dignity of their character, to endear themselves by a modest and temperate conduct to God and the caliph, to spare and protect a people who had trusted to their faith, and to content themselves with the legitimate and splendid rewards of their victory. In the management of the revenue, he disapproved the simple but oppressive mode of a capitation, and preferred with reason a proportion of taxes deducted on every branch from the clear profits of agriculture and commerce. A third part of the tribute was appropriated to the annual repairs of the dikes and canals, so essential to the public welfare. Under his administration, the fertility of Egypt supplied the dearth of Arabia; and a string of camels, laden with corn and provisions, covered almost without an interval the long road from Memphis to Medina.64236423 Eutychius, Annal. tom. ii. p. 320. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 35. But the genius of Amrou soon renewed the maritime communication which had been attempted or achieved by the Pharaohs the Ptolemies, or the Caesars; and a canal, at least eighty miles in length, was opened from the Nile to the Red Sea.64246424 Many learned men have doubted the existence of a communication by water between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean by the Nile. Yet the fact is positively asserted by the ancients. Diodorus Siculus (l. i. p. 33) speaks of it in the most distinct manner as existing in his time. So, also, Strabo, (l. xvii. p. 805.) Pliny (vol. vi. p. 29) says that the canal which united the two seas was navigable, (alveus navigabilis.) The indications furnished by Ptolemy and by the Arabic historian, Makrisi, show that works were executed under the reign of Hadrian to repair the canal and extend the navigation; it then received the name of the River of Trajan Lucian, (in his Pseudomantis, p. 44,) says that he went by water from Alexandria to Clysma, on the Red Sea. Testimonies of the 6th and of the 8th century show that the communication was not interrupted at that time. See the French translation of Strabo, vol. v. p. 382. St. Martin vol. xi. p. 299.—M. This inland navigation, which would have joined the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, was soon discontinued as useless and dangerous: the throne was removed from Medina to Damascus, and the Grecian fleets might have explored a passage to the holy cities of Arabia.64256425 On these obscure canals, the reader may try to satisfy himself from D'Anville, (Mem. sur l'Egypte, p. 108-110, 124, 132,) and a learned thesis, maintained and printed at Strasburg in the year 1770, (Jungendorum marium fluviorumque molimina, p. 39-47, 68-70.) Even the supine Turks have agitated the old project of joining the two seas. (Memoires du Baron de Tott, tom. iv.)
Of his new conquest, the caliph Omar had an imperfect knowledge from the voice of fame and the legends of the Koran. He requested that his lieutenant would place before his eyes the realm of Pharaoh and the Amalekites; and the answer of Amrou exhibits a lively and not unfaithful picture of that singular country.64266426 A small volume, des Merveilles, &c., de l'Egypte, composed in the xiiith century by Murtadi of Cairo, and translated from an Arabic Ms. of Cardinal Mazarin, was published by Pierre Vatier, Paris, 1666. The antiquities of Egypt are wild and legendary; but the writer deserves credit and esteem for his account of the conquest and geography of his native country, (see the correspondence of Amrou and Omar, p. 279-289.) "O commander of the faithful, Egypt is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a pulverized mountain and a red sand. The distance from Syene to the sea is a month's journey for a horseman. Along the valley descends a river, on which the blessing of the Most High reposes both in the evening and morning, and which rises and falls with the revolutions of the sun and moon. When the annual dispensation of Providence unlocks the springs and fountains that nourish the earth, the Nile rolls his swelling and sounding waters through the realm of Egypt: the fields are overspread by the salutary flood; and the villages communicate with each other in their painted barks. The retreat of the inundation deposits a fertilizing mud for the reception of the various seeds: the crowds of husbandmen who blacken the land may be compared to a swarm of industrious ants; and their native indolence is quickened by the lash of the task-master, and the promise of the flowers and fruits of a plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom deceived; but the riches which they extract from the wheat, the barley, and the rice, the legumes, the fruit-trees, and the cattle, are unequally shared between those who labor and those who possess. According to the vicissitudes of the seasons, the face of the country is adorned with a silver wave, a verdant emerald, and the deep yellow of a golden harvest."64276427 In a twenty years' residence at Cairo, the consul Maillet had contemplated that varying scene, the Nile, (lettre ii. particularly p. 70, 75;) the fertility of the land, (lettre ix.) From a college at Cambridge, the poetic eye of Gray had seen the same objects with a keener glance:— What wonder in the sultry climes that spread, Where Nile, redundant o'er his summer bed, From his broad bosom life and verdure flings, And broods o'er Egypt with his watery wings: If with adventurous oar, and ready sail, The dusky people drive before the gale: Or on frail floats to neighboring cities ride. That rise and glitter o'er the ambient tide. (Mason's Works and Memoirs of Gray, p. 199, 200.)] Yet this beneficial order is sometimes interrupted; and the long delay and sudden swell of the river in the first year of the conquest might afford some color to an edifying fable. It is said, that the annual sacrifice of a virgin64286428 Murtadi, p. 164-167. The reader will not easily credit a human sacrifice under the Christian emperors, or a miracle of the successors of Mahomet. had been interdicted by the piety of Omar; and that the Nile lay sullen and inactive in his shallow bed, till the mandate of the caliph was cast into the obedient stream, which rose in a single night to the height of sixteen cubits. The admiration of the Arabs for their new conquest encouraged the license of their romantic spirit. We may read, in the gravest authors, that Egypt was crowded with twenty thousand cities or villages:64296429 Maillet, Description de l'Egypte, p. 22. He mentions this number as the common opinion; and adds, that the generality of these villages contain two or three thousand persons, and that many of them are more populous than our large cities. that, exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone were found, on the assessment, six millions of tributary subjects,64306430 Eutych. Annal. tom. ii. p. 308, 311. The twenty millions are computed from the following data: one twelfth of mankind above sixty, one third below sixteen, the proportion of men to women as seventeen or sixteen, (Recherches sur la Population de la France, p. 71, 72.) The president Goguet (Origine des Arts, &c., tom. iii. p. 26, &c.) Bestows twenty-seven millions on ancient Egypt, because the seventeen hundred companions of Sesostris were born on the same day. or twenty millions of either sex, and of every age: that three hundred millions of gold or silver were annually paid to the treasury of the caliphs.64316431 Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 218; and this gross lump is swallowed without scruple by D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient. p. 1031,) Ar. buthnot, (Tables of Ancient Coins, p. 262,) and De Guignes, (Hist. des Huns, tom. iii. p. 135.) They might allege the not less extravagant liberality of Appian in favor of the Ptolemies (in praefat.) of seventy four myriads, 740,000 talents, an annual income of 185, or near 300 millions of pounds sterling, according as we reckon by the Egyptian or the Alexandrian talent, (Bernard, de Ponderibus Antiq. p. 186.) Our reason must be startled by these extravagant assertions; and they will become more palpable, if we assume the compass and measure the extent of habitable ground: a valley from the tropic to Memphis seldom broader than twelve miles, and the triangle of the Delta, a flat surface of two thousand one hundred square leagues, compose a twelfth part of the magnitude of France.64326432 See the measurement of D'Anville, (Mem. sur l'Egypte, p. 23, &c.) After some peevish cavils, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les Egyptiens, tom. i. p. 118-121) can only enlarge his reckoning to 2250 square leagues. A more accurate research will justify a more reasonable estimate. The three hundred millions, created by the error of a scribe, are reduced to the decent revenue of four millions three hundred thousand pieces of gold, of which nine hundred thousand were consumed by the pay of the soldiers.64336433 Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexand. p. 334, who calls the common reading or version of Elmacin, error librarii. His own emendation, of 4,300,000 pieces, in the ixth century, maintains a probable medium between the 3,000,000 which the Arabs acquired by the conquest of Egypt, (idem, p. 168.) and the 2,400,000 which the sultan of Constantinople levied in the last century, (Pietro della Valle, tom. i. p. 352 Thevenot, part i. p. 824.) Pauw (Recherches, tom. ii. p. 365-373) gradually raises the revenue of the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, and the Caesars, from six to fifteen millions of German crowns. Two authentic lists, of the present and of the twelfth century, are circumscribed within the respectable number of two thousand seven hundred villages and towns.64346434 The list of Schultens (Index Geograph. ad calcem Vit. Saladin. p. 5) contains 2396 places; that of D'Anville, (Mem. sur l'Egypte, p. 29,) from the divan of Cairo, enumerates 2696. After a long residence at Cairo, a French consul has ventured to assign about four millions of Mahometans, Christians, and Jews, for the ample, though not incredible, scope of the population of Egypt.64356435 See Maillet, (Description de l'Egypte, p. 28,) who seems to argue with candor and judgment. I am much better satisfied with the observations than with the reading of the French consul. He was ignorant of Greek and Latin literature, and his fancy is too much delighted with the fictions of the Arabs. Their best knowledge is collected by Abulfeda, (Descript. Aegypt. Arab. et Lat. a Joh. David Michaelis, Gottingae, in 4to., 1776;) and in two recent voyages into Egypt, we are amused by Savary, and instructed by Volney. I wish the latter could travel over the globe.
IV. The conquest of Africa, from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean,64366436 My conquest of Africa is drawn from two French interpreters of Arabic literature, Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, tom. i. p. 8-55) and Otter, (Hist. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxi. p. 111-125, and 136.) They derive their principal information from Novairi, who composed, A.D. 1331 an Encyclopaedia in more than twenty volumes. The five general parts successively treat of, 1. Physics; 2. Man; 3. Animals; 4. Plants; and, 5. History; and the African affairs are discussed in the vith chapter of the vth section of this last part, (Reiske, Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifae Tabulas, p. 232-234.) Among the older historians who are quoted by Navairi we may distinguish the original narrative of a soldier who led the van of the Moslems. was first attempted by the arms of the caliph Othman.
The pious design was approved by the companions of Mahomet and the chiefs of the tribes; and twenty thousand Arabs marched from Medina, with the gifts and the blessing of the commander of the faithful. They were joined in the camp of Memphis by twenty thousand of their countrymen; and the conduct of the war was intrusted to Abdallah,64376437 See the history of Abdallah, in Abulfeda (Vit. Mohammed. p. 108) and Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. 45-48.) the son of Said and the foster-brother of the caliph, who had lately supplanted the conqueror and lieutenant of Egypt. Yet the favor of the prince, and the merit of his favorite, could not obliterate the guilt of his apostasy. The early conversion of Abdallah, and his skilful pen, had recommended him to the important office of transcribing the sheets of the Koran: he betrayed his trust, corrupted the text, derided the errors which he had made, and fled to Mecca to escape the justice, and expose the ignorance, of the apostle. After the conquest of Mecca, he fell prostrate at the feet of Mahomet; his tears, and the entreaties of Othman, extorted a reluctant pardon; out the prophet declared that he had so long hesitated, to allow time for some zealous disciple to avenge his injury in the blood of the apostate. With apparent fidelity and effective merit, he served the religion which it was no longer his interest to desert: his birth and talents gave him an honorable rank among the Koreish; and, in a nation of cavalry, Abdallah was renowned as the boldest and most dexterous horseman of Arabia. At the head of forty thousand Moslems, he advanced from Egypt into the unknown countries of the West. The sands of Barca might be impervious to a Roman legion but the Arabs were attended by their faithful camels; and the natives of the desert beheld without terror the familiar aspect of the soil and climate. After a painful march, they pitched their tents before the walls of Tripoli,64386438 The province and city of Tripoli are described by Leo Africanus (in Navigatione et Viaggi di Ramusio, tom. i. Venetia, 1550, fol. 76, verso) and Marmol, (Description de l'Afrique, tom. ii. p. 562.) The first of these writers was a Moor, a scholar, and a traveller, who composed or translated his African geography in a state of captivity at Rome, where he had assumed the name and religion of Pope Leo X. In a similar captivity among the Moors, the Spaniard Marmol, a soldier of Charles V., compiled his Description of Africa, translated by D'Ablancourt into French, (Paris, 1667, 3 vols. in 4to.) Marmol had read and seen, but he is destitute of the curious and extensive observation which abounds in the original work of Leo the African. a maritime city in which the name, the wealth, and the inhabitants of the province had gradually centred, and which now maintains the third rank among the states of Barbary. A reenforcement of Greeks was surprised and cut in pieces on the sea-shore; but the fortifications of Tripoli resisted the first assaults; and the Saracens were tempted by the approach of the praefect Gregory64396439 Theophanes, who mentions the defeat, rather than the death, of Gregory. He brands the praefect with the name: he had probably assumed the purple, (Chronograph. p. 285.) to relinquish the labors of the siege for the perils and the hopes of a decisive action. If his standard was followed by one hundred and twenty thousand men, the regular bands of the empire must have been lost in the naked and disorderly crowd of Africans and Moors, who formed the strength, or rather the numbers, of his host. He rejected with indignation the option of the Koran or the tribute; and during several days the two armies were fiercely engaged from the dawn of light to the hour of noon, when their fatigue and the excessive heat compelled them to seek shelter and refreshment in their respective camps. The daughter of Gregory, a maid of incomparable beauty and spirit, is said to have fought by his side: from her earliest youth she was trained to mount on horseback, to draw the bow, and to wield the cimeter; and the richness of her arms and apparel were conspicuous in the foremost ranks of the battle. Her hand, with a hundred thousand pieces of gold, was offered for the head of the Arabian general, and the youths of Africa were excited by the prospect of the glorious prize. At the pressing solicitation of his brethren, Abdallah withdrew his person from the field; but the Saracens were discouraged by the retreat of their leader, and the repetition of these equal or unsuccessful conflicts.
A noble Arabian, who afterwards became the adversary of Ali, and the father of a caliph, had signalized his valor in Egypt, and Zobeir 64406440 See in Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 45) the death of Zobeir, which was honored with the tears of Ali, against whom he had rebelled. His valor at the siege of Babylon, if indeed it be the same person, is mentioned by Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 308) was the first who planted the scaling-ladder against the walls of Babylon. In the African war he was detached from the standard of Abdallah. On the news of the battle, Zobeir, with twelve companions, cut his way through the camp of the Greeks, and pressed forwards, without tasting either food or repose, to partake of the dangers of his brethren. He cast his eyes round the field: "Where," said he, "is our general?" "In his tent." "Is the tent a station for the general of the Moslems?" Abdallah represented with a blush the importance of his own life, and the temptation that was held forth by the Roman praefect. "Retort," said Zobeir, "on the infidels their ungenerous attempt. Proclaim through the ranks that the head of Gregory shall be repaid with his captive daughter, and the equal sum of one hundred thousand pieces of gold." To the courage and discretion of Zobeir the lieutenant of the caliph intrusted the execution of his own stratagem, which inclined the long-disputed balance in favor of the Saracens. Supplying by activity and artifice the deficiency of numbers, a part of their forces lay concealed in their tents, while the remainder prolonged an irregular skirmish with the enemy till the sun was high in the heavens. On both sides they retired with fainting steps: their horses were unbridled, their armor was laid aside, and the hostile nations prepared, or seemed to prepare, for the refreshment of the evening, and the encounter of the ensuing day. On a sudden the charge was sounded; the Arabian camp poured forth a swarm of fresh and intrepid warriors; and the long line of the Greeks and Africans was surprised, assaulted, overturned, by new squadrons of the faithful, who, to the eye of fanaticism, might appear as a band of angels descending from the sky. The praefect himself was slain by the hand of Zobeir: his daughter, who sought revenge and death, was surrounded and made prisoner; and the fugitives involved in their disaster the town of Sufetula, to which they escaped from the sabres and lances of the Arabs. Sufetula was built one hundred and fifty miles to the south of Carthage: a gentle declivity is watered by a running stream, and shaded by a grove of juniper-trees; and, in the ruins of a triumpha arch, a portico, and three temples of the Corinthian order, curiosity may yet admire the magnificence of the Romans.64416441 Shaw's Travels, p. 118, 119. After the fall of this opulent city, the provincials and Barbarians implored on all sides the mercy of the conqueror. His vanity or his zeal might be flattered by offers of tribute or professions of faith: but his losses, his fatigues, and the progress of an epidemical disease, prevented a solid establishment; and the Saracens, after a campaign of fifteen months, retreated to the confines of Egypt, with the captives and the wealth of their African expedition. The caliph's fifth was granted to a favorite, on the nominal payment of five hundred thousand pieces of gold;64426442 Mimica emptio, says Abulfeda, erat haec, et mira donatio; quandoquidem Othman, ejus nomine nummos ex aerario prius ablatos aerario praestabat, (Annal. Moslem. p. 78.) Elmacin (in his cloudy version, p. 39) seems to report the same job. When the Arabs be sieged the palace of Othman, it stood high in their catalogue of grievances.` but the state was doubly injured by this fallacious transaction, if each foot-soldier had shared one thousand, and each horseman three thousand, pieces, in the real division of the plunder. The author of the death of Gregory was expected to have claimed the most precious reward of the victory: from his silence it might be presumed that he had fallen in the battle, till the tears and exclamations of the praefect's daughter at the sight of Zobeir revealed the valor and modesty of that gallant soldier. The unfortunate virgin was offered, and almost rejected as a slave, by her father's murderer, who coolly declared that his sword was consecrated to the service of religion; and that he labored for a recompense far above the charms of mortal beauty, or the riches of this transitory life. A reward congenial to his temper was the honorable commission of announcing to the caliph Othman the success of his arms. The companions the chiefs, and the people, were assembled in the mosch of Medina, to hear the interesting narrative of Zobeir; and as the orator forgot nothing except the merit of his own counsels and actions, the name of Abdallah was joined by the Arabians with the heroic names of Caled and Amrou.64436443 Theophan. Chronograph. p. 235 edit. Paris. His chronology is loose and inaccurate.
[A. D. 665-689.] The western conquests of the Saracens were suspended near twenty years, till their dissensions were composed by the establishment of the house of Ommiyah; and the caliph Moawiyah was invited by the cries of the Africans themselves. The successors of Heraclius had been informed of the tribute which they had been compelled to stipulate with the Arabs; but instead of being moved to pity and relieve their distress, they imposed, as an equivalent or a fine, a second tribute of a similar amount. The ears of the zantine ministers were shut against the complaints of their poverty and ruin their despair was reduced to prefer the dominion of a single master; and the extortions of the patriarch of Carthage, who was invested with civil and military power, provoked the sectaries, and even the Catholics, of the Roman province to abjure the religion as well as the authority of their tyrants. The first lieutenant of Moawiyah acquired a just renown, subdued an important city, defeated an army of thirty thousand Greeks, swept away fourscore thousand captives, and enriched with their spoils the bold adventurers of Syria and Egypt.64446444 Theophanes (in Chronograph. p. 293.) inserts the vague rumours that might reach Constantinople, of the western conquests of the Arabs; and I learn from Paul Warnefrid, deacon of Aquileia (de Gestis Langobard. 1. v. c. 13), that at this time they sent a fleet from Alexandria into the Sicilian and African seas. But the title of conqueror of Africa is more justly due to his successor Akbah. He marched from Damascus at the head of ten thousand of the bravest Arabs; and the genuine force of the Moslems was enlarged by the doubtful aid and conversion of many thousand Barbarians. It would be difficult, nor is it necessary, to trace the accurate line of the progress of Akbah. The interior regions have been peopled by the Orientals with fictitious armies and imaginary citadels. In the warlike province of Zab or Numidia, fourscore thousand of the natives might assemble in arms; but the number of three hundred and sixty towns is incompatible with the ignorance or decay of husbandry;64456445 See Novairi (apud Otter, p. 118), Leo Africanus (fol. 81, verso), who reckoned only cinque citta e infinite casal, Marmol (Description de l'Afrique, tom. iii. p. 33,) and Shaw (Travels, p. 57, 65-68) and a circumference of three leagues will not be justified by the ruins of Erbe or Lambesa, the ancient metropolis of that inland country. As we approach the seacoast, the well-known titles of Bugia,64466446 Leo African. fol. 58, verso, 59, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 415. Shaw, p. 43 and Tangier64476447 Leo African. fol. 52. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 228. define the more certain limits of the Saracen victories. A remnant of trade still adheres to the commodious harbour of Bugia, which, in a more prosperous age, is said to have contained about twenty thousand houses; and the plenty of iron which is dug from the adjacent mountains might have supplied a braver people with the instruments of defence. The remote position and venerable antiquity of Tingi, or Tangier, have been decorated by the Greek and Arabian fables; but the figurative expressions of the latter, that the walls were constructed of brass, and that the roofs were covered with gold and silver, may be interpreted as the emblems of strength and opulence.
The province of Mauritania Tingitana,64486448 Regio ignobilis, et vix quicquam illustre sortita, parvis oppidis habitatur, parva flumina emittit, solo quam viris meleor et segnitie gentis obscura. Pomponius Mela, i. 5, iii. 10. Mela deserves the more credit, since his own Phoenician ancestors had migrated from Tingitana to Spain (see, in ii. 6, a passage of that geographer so cruelly tortured by Salmasius, Isaac Vossius, and the most virulent of critics, James Gronovius). He lived at the time of the final reduction of that country by the emperor Claudius: yet almost thirty years afterward, Pliny (Hist. Nat. v. i.) complains of his authors, to lazy to inquire, too proud to confess their ignorance of that wild and remote province. which assumed the name of the capital had been imperfectly discovered and settled by the Romans; the five colonies were confined to a narrow pale, and the more southern parts were seldom explored except by the agents of luxury, who searched the forests for ivory and the citron wood,64496449 The foolish fashion of this citron wood prevailed at Rome among the men, as much as the taste for pearls among the women. A round board or table, four or five feet in diameter, sold for the price of an estate (latefundii taxatione), eight, ten, or twelve thousand pounds sterling (Plin. Hist. Natur. xiii. 29). I conceive that I must not confound the tree citrus, with that of the fruit citrum. But I am not botanist enough to define the former (it is like the wild cypress) by the vulgar or Linnaean name; nor will I decide whether the citrum be the orange or the lemon. Salmasius appears to exhaust the subject, but he too often involves himself in the web of his disorderly erudition. (Flinian. Exercitat. tom. ii. p 666, &c.) and the shores of the ocean for the purple shellfish. The fearless Akbah plunged into the heart of the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors erected the splendid capitals of Fez and Morocco,64506450 Leo African. fol. 16, verso. Marmol, tom. ii. p. 28. This province, the first scene of the exploits and greatness of the cherifs is often mentioned in the curious history of that dynasty at the end of the third volume of Marmol, Description de l'Afrique. The third vol. of The Recherches Historiques sur les Maures (lately published at Paris) illustrates the history and geography of the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco. and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert. The river Suz descends from the western sides of mount Atlas, fertilizes, like the Nile, the adjacent soil, and falls into the sea at a moderate distance from the Canary, or adjacent islands. Its banks were inhabited by the last of the Moors, a race of savages, without laws, or discipline, or religion: they were astonished by the strange and irresistible terrors of the Oriental arms; and as they possessed neither gold nor silver, the richest spoil was the beauty of the female captives, some of whom were afterward sold for a thousand pieces of gold. The career, though not the zeal, of Akbah was checked by the prospect of a boundless ocean. He spurred his horse into the waves, and raising his eyes to heaven, exclaimed with the tone of a fanatic: "Great God! if my course were not stopped by this sea, I would still go on, to the unknown kingdoms of the West, preaching the unity of thy holy name, and putting to the sword the rebellious nations who worship another gods than thee."64516451 Otter (p. 119,) has given the strong tone of fanaticism to this exclamation, which Cardonne (p. 37,) has softened to a pious wish of preaching the Koran. Yet they had both the same text of Novairi before their eyes. Yet this Mahometan Alexander, who sighed for new worlds, was unable to preserve his recent conquests. By the universal defection of the Greeks and Africans he was recalled from the shores of the Atlantic, and the surrounding multitudes left him only the resource of an honourable death. The last scene was dignified by an example of national virtue. An ambitious chief, who had disputed the command and failed in the attempt, was led about as a prisoner in the camp of the Arabian general. The insurgents had trusted to his discontent and revenge; he disdained their offers and revealed their designs. In the hour of danger, the grateful Akbah unlocked his fetters, and advised him to retire; he chose to die under the banner of his rival. Embracing as friends and martyrs, they unsheathed their scimeters, broke their scabbards, and maintained an obstinate combat, till they fell by each other's side on the last of their slaughtered countrymen. The third general or governor of Africa, Zuheir, avenged and encountered the fate of his predecessor. He vanquished the natives in many battles; he was overthrown by a powerful army, which Constantinople had sent to the relief of Carthage.
[A. D. 670-675.] It had been the frequent practice of the Moorish tribes to join the invaders, to share the plunder, to profess the faith, and to revolt in their savage state of independence and idolatry, on the first retreat or misfortune of the Moslems. The prudence of Akbah had proposed to found an Arabian colony in the heart of Africa; a citadel that might curb the levity of the Barbarians, a place of refuge to secure, against the accidents of war, the wealth and the families of the Saracens. With this view, and under the modest title of the station of a caravan, he planted this colony in the fiftieth year of the Hegira. In its present decay, Cairoan64526452 The foundation of Cairoan is mentioned by Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 129, 130); and the situation, mosque, &c. of the city are described by Leo Africanus (fol. 75), Marmol (tom. ii. p. 532), and Shaw (p. 115). still holds the second rank in the kingdom of Tunis, from which it is distant about fifty miles to the south;64536453 A portentous, though frequent mistake, has been the confounding, from a slight similitude of name, the Cyrene of the Greeks, and the Cairoan of the Arabs, two cities which are separated by an interval of a thousand miles along the seacoast. The great Thuanus has not escaped this fault, the less excusable as it is connected with a formal and elaborate description of Africa (Historiar. l. vii. c. 2, in tom. i. p. 240, edit. Buckley). its inland situation, twelve miles westward of the sea, has protected the city from the Greek and Sicilian fleets. When the wild beasts and serpents were extirpated, when the forest, or rather wilderness, was cleared, the vestiges of a Roman town were discovered in a sandy plain: the vegetable food of Cairoan is brought from afar; and the scarcity of springs constrains the inhabitants to collect in cisterns and reservoirs a precarious supply of rain water. These obstacles were subdued by the industry of Akbah; he traced a circumference of three thousand and six hundred paces, which he encompassed with a brick wall; in the space of five years, the governor's palace was surrounded with a sufficient number of private habitations; a spacious mosque was supported by five hundred columns of granite, porphyry, and Numidian marble; and Cairoan became the seat of learning as well as of empire. But these were the glories of a later age; the new colony was shaken by the successive defeats of Akbah and Zuheir, and the western expeditions were again interrupted by the civil discord of the Arabian monarchy. The son of the valiant Zobeir maintained a war of twelve years, a siege of seven months against the house of Ommiyah. Abdallah was said to unite the fierceness of the lion with the subtlety of the fox; but if he inherited the courage, he was devoid of the generosity, of his father.64546454 Besides the Arabic Chronicles of Abulfeda, Elmacin, and Abulpharagius, under the lxxiiid year of the Hegira, we may consult nd'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 7,) and Ockley (Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. p. 339-349). The latter has given the last and pathetic dialogue between Abdallah and his mother; but he has forgot a physical effect of her grief for his death, the return, at the age of ninety, and fatal consequences of her menses.
[A. D. 692-698.] The return of domestic peace allowed the caliph Abdalmalek to resume the conquest of Africa; the standard was delivered to Hassan governor of Egypt, and the revenue of that kingdom, with an army of forty thousand men, was consecrated to the important service. In the vicissitudes of war, the interior provinces had been alternately won and lost by the Saracens. But the seacoast still remained in the hands of the Greeks; the predecessors of Hassan had respected the name and fortifications of Carthage; and the number of its defenders was recruited by the fugitives of Cabes and Tripoli. The arms of Hassan were bolder and more fortunate: he reduced and pillaged the metropolis of Africa; and the mention of scaling-ladders may justify the suspicion, that he anticipated, by a sudden assault, the more tedious operations of a regular siege. But the joy of the conquerors was soon disturbed by the appearance of the Christian succours. The praefect and patrician John, a general of experience and renown, embarked at Constantinople the forces of the Eastern empire;64556455 The patriarch of Constantinople, with Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 309,) have slightly mentioned this last attempt for the relief or Africa. Pagi (Critica, tom. iii. p. 129. 141,) has nicely ascertained the chronology by a strict comparison of the Arabic and Byzantine historians, who often disagree both in time and fact. See likewise a note of Otter (p. 121). they were joined by the ships and soldiers of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths64566456 Dove s'erano ridotti i nobili Romani e i Gotti; and afterward, i Romani suggirono e i Gotti lasciarono Carthagine. (Leo African. for. 72, recto) I know not from what Arabic writer the African derived his Goths; but the fact, though new, is so interesting and so probable, that I will accept it on the slightest authority. was obtained from the fears and religion of the Spanish monarch.
The weight of the confederate navy broke the chain that guarded the entrance of the harbour; the Arabs retired to Cairoan, or Tripoli; the Christians landed; the citizens hailed the ensign of the cross, and the winter was idly wasted in the dream of victory or deliverance. But Africa was irrecoverably lost: the zeal and resentment of the commander of the faithful64576457 This commander is styled by Nicephorus, ———— a vague though not improper definition of the caliph. Theophanes introduces the strange appellation of —————, which his interpreter Goar explains by Vizir Azem. They may approach the truth, in assigning the active part to the minister, rather than the prince; but they forget that the Ommiades had only a kaleb, or secretary, and that the office of Vizir was not revived or instituted till the 132d year of the Hegira (d'Herbelot, 912). prepared in the ensuing spring a more numerous armament by sea and land; and the patrician in his turn was compelled to evacuate the post and fortifications of Carthage. A second battle was fought in the neighbourhood of Utica; and the Greeks and Goths were again defeated; and their timely embarkation saved them from the sword of Hassan, who had invested the slight and insufficient rampart of their camp. Whatever yet remained of Carthage was delivered to the flames, and the colony of Dido64586458 According to Solinus (1.27, p. 36, edit. Salmas), the Carthage of Dido stood either 677 or 737 years; a various reading, which proceeds from the difference of MSS. or editions (Salmas, Plinian. Exercit tom i. p. 228) The former of these accounts, which gives 823 years before Christ, is more consistent with the well-weighed testimony of Velleius Paterculus: but the latter is preferred by our chronologists (Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 398,) as more agreeable to the Hebrew and Syrian annals. and Cesar lay desolate above two hundred years, till a part, perhaps a twentieth, of the old circumference was repeopled by the first of the Fatimite caliphs. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the second capital of the West was represented by a mosque, a college without students, twenty-five or thirty shops, and the huts of five hundred peasants, who, in their abject poverty, displayed the arrogance of the Punic senators. Even that paltry village was swept away by the Spaniards whom Charles the Fifth had stationed in the fortress of the Goletta. The ruins of Carthage have perished; and the place might be unknown if some broken arches of an aqueduct did not guide the footsteps of the inquisitive traveller.64596459 Leo African. fo1. 71, verso; 72, recto. Marmol, tom. ii. p.445-447. Shaw, p.80.
[A. D. 698-709.] The Greeks were expelled, but the Arabians were not yet masters of the country. In the interior provinces the Moors or Berbers,64606460 The history of the word Barbar may be classed under four periods, 1. In the time of Homer, when the Greeks and Asiatics might probably use a common idiom, the imitative sound of Barbar was applied to the ruder tribes, whose pronunciation was most harsh, whose grammar was most defective. 2. From the time, at least, of Herodotus, it was extended to all the nations who were strangers to the language and manners of the Greeks. 3. In the age, of Plautus, the Romans submitted to the insult (Pompeius Festus, l. ii. p. 48, edit. Dacier), and freely gave themselves the name of Barbarians. They insensibly claimed an exemption for Italy, and her subject provinces; and at length removed the disgraceful appellation to the savage or hostile nations beyond the pale of the empire. 4. In every sense, it was due to the Moors; the familiar word was borrowed from the Latin Provincials by the Arabian conquerors, and has justly settled as a local denomination (Barbary) along the northern coast of Africa. so feeble under the first Cesars, so formidable to the Byzantine princes, maintained a disorderly resistance to the religion and power of the successors of Mahomet. Under the standard of their queen Cahina, the independent tribes acquired some degree of union and discipline; and as the Moors respected in their females the character of a prophetess, they attacked the invaders with an enthusiasm similar to their own. The veteran bands of Hassan were inadequate to the defence of Africa: the conquests of an age were lost in a single day; and the Arabian chief, overwhelmed by the torrent, retired to the confines of Egypt, and expected, five years, the promised succours of the caliph. After the retreat of the Saracens, the victorious prophetess assembled the Moorish chiefs, and recommended a measure of strange and savage policy. "Our cities," said she, "and the gold and silver which they contain, perpetually attract the arms of the Arabs. These vile metals are not the objects of OUR ambition; we content ourselves with the simple productions of the earth. Let us destroy these cities; let us bury in their ruins those pernicious treasures; and when the avarice of our foes shall be destitute of temptation, perhaps they will cease to disturb the tranquillity of a warlike people." The proposal was accepted with unanimous applause. From Tangier to Tripoli the buildings, or at least the fortifications, were demolished, the fruit-trees were cut down, the means of subsistence were extirpated, a fertile and populous garden was changed into a desert, and the historians of a more recent period could discern the frequent traces of the prosperity and devastation of their ancestors.
Such is the tale of the modern Arabians. Yet I strongly suspect that their ignorance of antiquity, the love of the marvellous, and the fashion of extolling the philosophy of Barbarians, has induced them to describe, as one voluntary act, the calamities of three hundred years since the first fury of the Donatists and Vandals. In the progress of the revolt, Cahina had most probably contributed her share of destruction; and the alarm of universal ruin might terrify and alienate the cities that had reluctantly yielded to her unworthy yoke. They no longer hoped, perhaps they no longer wished, the return of their Byzantine sovereigns: their present servitude was not alleviated by the benefits of order and justice; and the most zealous Catholic must prefer the imperfect truths of the Koran to the blind and rude idolatry of the Moors. The general of the Saracens was again received as the saviour of the province; the friends of civil society conspired against the savages of the land; and the royal prophetess was slain in the first battle which overturned the baseless fabric of her superstition and empire. The same spirit revived under the successor of Hassan; it was finally quelled by the activity of Musa and his two sons; but the number of the rebels may be presumed from that of three hundred thousand captives; sixty thousand of whom, the caliph's fifth, were sold for the profit of thee public treasury. Thirty thousand of the Barbarian youth were enlisted in the troops; and the pious labours of Musa to inculcate the knowledge and practice of the Koran, accustomed the Africans to obey the apostle of God and the commander of the faithful. In their climate and government, their diet and habitation, the wandering Moors resembled the Bedoweens of the desert. With the religion, they were proud to adopt the language, name, and origin of Arabs: the blood of the strangers and natives was insensibly mingled; and from the Euphrates to the Atlantic the same nation might seem to be diffused over the sandy plains of Asia and Africa. Yet I will not deny that fifty thousand tents of pure Arabians might be transported over the Nile, and scattered through the Lybian desert: and I am not ignorant that five of the Moorish tribes still retain their barbarous idiom, with the appellation and character of white Africans.64616461 The first book of Leo Africanus, and the observations of Dr. Shaw (p. 220. 223. 227. 247, &c.) will throw some light on the roving tribes of Barbary, of Arabian or Moorish descent. But Shaw had seen these savages with distant terror; and Leo, a captive in the Vatican, appears to have lost more of his Arabic, than he could acquire of Greek or Roman, learning. Many of his gross mistakes might be detected in the first period of the Mahometan history.
[A. D. 709.] V. In the progress of conquest from the north and south, the Goths and the Saracens encountered each other on the confines of Europe and Africa. In the opinion of the latter, the difference of religion is a reasonable ground of enmity and warfare.64626462 In a conference with a prince of the Greeks, Amrou observed that their religion was different; upon which score it was lawful for brothers to quarrel. Ockley's History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 328. As early as the time of Othman64636463 Abulfeda, Annal. Moslem. p 78, vers. Reiske. their piratical squadrons had ravaged the coast of Andalusia;64646464 The name of Andalusia is applied by the Arabs not only to the modern province, but to the whole peninsula of Spain (Geograph. Nub. p. 151, d'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 114, 115). The etymology has been most improbably deduced from Vandalusia, country of the Vandals. (d'Anville Etats de l'Europe, p. 146, 147, &c.) But the Handalusia of Casiri, which signifies, in Arabic, the region of the evening, of the West, in a word, the Hesperia of the Greeks, is perfectly apposite. (Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 327, &c.) nor had they forgotten the relief of Carthage by the Gothic succours. In that age, as well as in the present, the kings of Spain were possessed of the fortress of Ceuta; one of the columns of Hercules, which is divided by a narrow strait from the opposite pillar or point of Europe. A small portion of Mauritania was still wanting to the African conquest; but Musa, in the pride of victory, was repulsed from the walls of Ceuta, by the vigilance and courage of count Julian, the general of the Goths. From his disappointment and perplexity, Musa was relieved by an unexpected message of the Christian chief, who offered his place, his person, and his sword, to the successors of Mahomet, and solicited the disgraceful honour of introducing their arms into the heart of Spain.64656465 The fall and resurrection of the Gothic monarchy are related by Mariana (tom. l. p. 238-260, l. vi. c. 19-26, l. vii. c. 1, 2). That historian has infused into his noble work (Historic de Rebus Hispaniae, libri xxx. Hagae Comitum 1733, in four volumes, folio, with the continuation of Miniana), the style and spirit of a Roman classic; and after the twelfth century, his knowledge and judgment may be safely trusted. But the Jesuit is not exempt from the prejudices of his order; he adopts and adorns, like his rival Buchanan, the most absurd of the national legends; he is too careless of criticism and chronology, and supplies, from a lively fancy, the chasms of historical evidence. These chasms are large and frequent; Roderic archbishop of Toledo, the father of the Spanish history, lived five hundred years after the conquest of the Arabs; and the more early accounts are comprised in some meagre lines of the blind chronicles of Isidore of Badajoz (Pacensis,) and of Alphonso III. king of Leon, which I have seen only in the Annals of Pagi.
If we inquire into the cause of this treachery, the Spaniards will repeat the popular story of his daughter Cava;64666466 Le viol (says Voltaire) est aussi difficile a faire qu'a prouver. Des Eveques se seroient ils lignes pour une fille? (Hist. Generale, c. xxvi.) His argument is not logically conclusive. of a virgin who was seduced, or ravished, by her sovereign; of a father who sacrificed his religion and country to the thirst of revenge. The passions of princes have often been licentious and destructive; but this well-known tale, romantic in itself, is indifferently supported by external evidence; and the history of Spain will suggest some motives of interest and policy more congenial to the breast of a veteran statesman.64676467 In the story of Cava, Mariana (I. vi. c. 21, p. 241, 242,) seems to vie with the Lucretia of Livy. Like the ancients, he seldom quotes; and the oldest testimony of Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A.D. 713, No. 19), that of Lucus Tudensis, a Gallician deacon of the thirteenth century, only says, Cava quam pro concubina utebatur. After the decease or deposition of Witiza, his two sons were supplanted by the ambition of Roderic, a noble Goth, whose father, the duke or governor of a province, had fallen a victim to the preceding tyranny. The monarchy was still elective; but the sons of Witiza, educated on the steps of the throne, were impatient of a private station. Their resentment was the more dangerous, as it was varnished with the dissimulation of courts: their followers were excited by the remembrance of favours and the promise of a revolution: and their uncle Oppas, archbishop of Toledo and Seville, was the first person in the church, and the second in the state. It is probable that Julian was involved in the disgrace of the unsuccessful faction, that he had little to hope and much to fear from the new reign; and that the imprudent king could not forget or forgive the injuries which Roderic and his family had sustained. The merit and influence of the count rendered him a useful or formidable subject: his estates were ample, his followers bold and numerous, and it was too fatally shown that, by his Andalusian and Mauritanian commands, he held in his hands the keys of the Spanish monarchy. Too feeble, however, to meet his sovereign in arms, he sought the aid of a foreign power; and his rash invitation of the Moors and Arabs produced the calamities of eight hundred years. In his epistles, or in a personal interview, he revealed the wealth and nakedness of his country; the weakness of an unpopular prince; the degeneracy of an effeminate people. The Goths were no longer the victorious Barbarians, who had humbled the pride of Rome, despoiled the queen of nations, and penetrated from the Danube to the Atlantic ocean. Secluded from the world by the Pyrenean mountains, the successors of Alaric had slumbered in a long peace: the walls of the city were mouldered into dust: the youth had abandoned the exercise of arms; and the presumption of their ancient renown would expose them in a field of battle to the first assault of the invaders. The ambitious Saracen was fired by the ease and importance of the attempt; but the execution was delayed till he had consulted the commander of the faithful; and his messenger returned with the permission of Walid to annex the unknown kingdoms of the West to the religion and throne of the caliphs. In his residence of Tangier, Musa, with secrecy and caution, continued his correspondence and hastened his preparations. But the remorse of the conspirators was soothed by the fallacious assurance that he should content himself with the glory and spoil, without aspiring to establish the Moslems beyond the sea that separates Africa from Europe.64686468 The Orientals, Elmacin, Abulpharagins, Abolfeda, pass over the conquest of Spain in silence, or with a single word. The text of Novairi, and the other Arabian writers, is represented, though with some foreign alloy, by M. de Cardonne (Hist. de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne sous la Domination des Arabes, Paris, 1765, 3 vols. 12mo. tom. i. p. 55-114), and more concisely by M. de Guignes (Hist. des Hune. tom. i. p. 347-350). The librarian of the Escurial has not satisfied my hopes: yet he appears to have searched with diligence his broken materials; and the history of the conquest is illustrated by some valuable fragments of the genuine Razis (who wrote at. Corduba, A. H. 300), of Ben Hazil, &c. See Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. ii. p. 32. 105, 106. 182. 252. 315-332. On this occasion, the industry of Pagi has been aided by the Arabic learning of his friend the Abbe de Longuerue, and to their joint labours I am deeply indebted.
[A. D. 710.] Before Musa would trust an army of the faithful to the traitors and infidels of a foreign land, he made a less dangerous trial of their strength and veracity. One hundred Arabs and four hundred Africans, passed over, in four vessels, from Tangier or Ceuta; the place of their descent on the opposite shore of the strait, is marked by the name of Tarif their chief; and the date of this memorable event64696469 A mistake of Roderic of Toledo, in comparing the lunar years of the Hegira with the Julian years of the Era, has determined Baronius, Mariana, and the crowd of Spanish historians, to place the first invasion in the year 713, and the battle of Xeres in November, 714. This anachronism of three years has been detected by the more correct industry of modern chronologists, above all, of Pagi (Critics, tom. iii. p. 164. 171-174), who have restored the genuine state of the revolution. At the present time, an Arabian scholar, like Cardonne, who adopts the ancient error (tom. i. p. 75), is inexcusably ignorant or careless. is fixed to the month of Ramandan, of the ninety-first year of the Hegira, to the month of July, seven hundred and forty-eight years from the Spanish era of Cesar,64706470 The Era of Cesar, which in Spain was in legal and popular use till the xivth century, begins thirty-eight years before the birth of Christ. I would refer the origin to the general peace by sea and land, which confirmed the power and partition of the triumvirs. (Dion. Cassius, l. xlviii. p. 547. 553. Appian de Bell. Civil. l. v. p. 1034, edit. fol.) Spain was a province of Cesar Octavian; and Tarragona, which raised the first temple to Augustus (Tacit Annal. i. 78), might borrow from the orientals this mode of flattery. seven hundred and ten after the birth of Christ. From their first station, they marched eighteen miles through a hilly country to the castle and town of Julian;64716471 The road, the country, the old castle of count Julian, and the superstitious belief of the Spaniards of hidden treasures, &c. are described by Pere Labat (Voyages en Espagne et en Italie, tom i. p. 207-217), with his usual pleasantry. on which (it is still called Algezire) they bestowed the name of the Green Island, from a verdant cape that advances into the sea. Their hospitable entertainment, the Christians who joined their standard, their inroad into a fertile and unguarded province, the richness of their spoil and the safety of their return, announced to their brethren the most favourable omens of victory. In the ensuing spring, five thousand veterans and volunteers were embarked under the command of Tarik, a dauntless and skilful soldier, who surpassed the expectation of his chief; and the necessary transports were provided by the industry of their too faithful ally. The Saracens landed64726472 The Nubian geographer (p. 154,) explains the topography of the war; but it is highly incredible that the lieutenant of Musa should execute the desperate and useless measure of burning his ships. at the pillar or point of Europe; the corrupt and familiar appellation of Gibraltar (Gebel el Tarik) describes the mountain of Tarik; and the intrenchments of his camp were the first outline of those fortifications, which, in the hands of our countrymen, have resisted the art and power of the house of Bourbon. The adjacent governors informed the court of Toledo of the descent and progress of the Arabs; and the defeat of his lieutenant Edeco, who had been commanded to seize and bind the presumptuous strangers, admonished Roderic of the magnitude of the danger. At the royal summons, the dukes and counts, the bishops and nobles of the Gothic monarchy assembled at the head of their followers; and the title of king of the Romans, which is employed by an Arabic historian, may be excused by the close affinity of language, religion, and manners, between the nations of Spain. His army consisted of ninety or a hundred thousand men: a formidable power, if their fidelity and discipline had been adequate to their numbers. The troops of Tarik had been augmented to twelve thousand Saracens; but the Christian malecontents were attracted by the influence of Julian, and a crowd of Africans most greedily tasted the temporal blessings of the Koran. In the neighbourhood of Cadiz, the town of Xeres64736473 Xeres (the Roman colony of Asta Regia) is only two leagues from Cadiz. In the xvith century It was a granary of corn; and the wine of Xeres is familiar to the nations of Europe (Lud. Nonii Hispania, c. 13, p. 54-56, a work of correct and concise knowledge; d'Anville, Etats de l'Europe &c p 154). has been illustrated by the encounter which determined the fate of the kingdom; the stream of the Guadalete, which falls into the bay, divided the two camps, and marked the advancing and retreating skirmishes of three successive and bloody days.
On the fourth day, the two armies joined a more serious and decisive issue; but Alaric would have blushed at the sight of his unworthy successor, sustaining on his head a diadem of pearls, encumbered with a flowing robe of gold and silken embroidery, and reclining on a litter, or car of ivory, drawn by two white mules. Notwithstanding the valour of the Saracens, they fainted under the weight of multitudes, and the plain of Xeres was overspread with sixteen thousand of their dead bodies. "My brethren," said Tarik to his surviving companions, "the enemy is before you, the sea is behind; whither would ye fly? Follow your general I am resolved either to lose my life, or to trample on the prostrate king of the Romans." Besides the resource of despair, he confided in the secret correspondence and nocturnal interviews of count Julian, with the sons and the brother of Witiza. The two princes and the archbishop of Toledo occupied the most important post; their well-timed defection broke the ranks of the Christians; each warrior was prompted by fear or suspicion to consult his personal safety; and the remains of the Gothic army were scattered or destroyed to the flight and pursuit of the three following days. Amidst the general disorder, Roderic started from his car, and mounted Orelia, the fleetest of his Horses; but he escaped from a soldier's death to perish more ignobly in the waters of the Boetis or Guadalquiver. His diadem, his robes, and his courser, were found on the bank; but as the body of the Gothic prince was lost in the waves, the pride and ignorance of the caliph must have been gratified with some meaner head, which was exposed in triumph before the palace of Damascus. "And such," continues a valiant historian of the Arabs, "is the fate of those kings who withdraw themselves from a field of battle."64746474 Id sane infortunii regibus pedem ex acie referentibus saepe contingit. Den Hazil of Grenada, in Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana. tom. ii. p. 337. Some credulous Spaniards believe that king Roderic, or Rodrigo, escaped to a hermit's cell; and others, that he was cast alive into a tub full of serpents, from whence he exclaimed with a lamentable voice, "they devour the part with which I have so grievously sinned." (Don Quixote, part ii. l. iii. c. 1.)
[A. D. 711.] Count Julian had plunged so deep into guilt and infamy, that his only hope was in the ruin of his country. After the battle of Xeres he recommended the most effectual measures to the victorious Saracens. "The king of the Goths is slain; their princes are fled before you, the army is routed, the nation is astonished. Secure with sufficient detachments the cities of Boetica; but in person and without delay, march to the royal city of Toledo, and allow not the distracted Christians either time or tranquillity for the election of a new monarch." Tarik listened to his advice. A Roman captive and proselyte, who had been enfranchised by the caliph himself, assaulted Cordova with seven hundred horse: he swam the river, surprised the town, and drove the Christians into the great church, where they defended themselves above three months. Another detachment reduced the seacoast of Boetica, which in the last period of the Moorish power has comprised in a narrow space the populous kingdom of Grenada. The march of Tarik from the Boetis to the Tagus,64756475 The direct road from Corduba to Toledo was measured by Mr. Swinburne's mules in 72 1/2 hours: but a larger computation must be adopted for the slow and devious marches of an army. The Arabs traversed the province of La Mancha, which the pen of Cervantes has transformed into classic ground to the reader of every nation. was directed through the Sierra Morena, that separates Andalusia and Castille, till he appeared in arms under the walls of Toledo.64766476 The antiquities of Toledo, Urbs Parva in the Punic wars, Urbs Regia in the sixth century, are briefly described by Nonius (Hispania, c. 59, p. 181-136). He borrows from Roderic the fatale palatium of Moorish portraits; but modestly insinuates, that it was no more than a Roman amphitheatre. The most zealous of the Catholics had escaped with the relics of their saints; and if the gates were shut, it was only till the victor had subscribed a fair and reasonable capitulation. The voluntary exiles were allowed to depart with their effects; seven churches were appropriated to the Christian worship; the archbishop and his clergy were at liberty to exercise their functions, the monks to practise or neglect their penance; and the Goths and Romans were left in all civil or criminal cases to the subordinate jurisdiction of their own laws and magistrates. But if the justice of Tarik protected the Christians, his gratitude and policy rewarded the Jews, to whose secret or open aid he was indebted for his most important acquisitions. Persecuted by the kings and synods of Spain, who had often pressed the alternative of banishment or baptism, that outcast nation embraced the moment of revenge: the comparison of their past and present state was the pledge of their fidelity; and the alliance between the disciples of Moses and those of Mahomet, was maintained till the final era of their common expulsion.
From the royal seat of Toledo, the Arabian leader spread his conquests to the north, over the modern realms of Castille and Leon; but it is heedless to enumerate the cities that yielded on his approach, or again to describe the table of emerald,64776477 In the Historia Arabum (c. 9, p. 17, ad calcem Elmacin), Roderic of Toledo describes the emerald tables, and inserts the name of Medinat Ahneyda in Arabic words and letters. He appears to be conversant with the Mahometan writers; but I cannot agree with M. de Guignes (Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p. 350) that he had read and transcribed Novairi; because he was dead a hundred years before Novairi composed his history. This mistake is founded on a still grosser error. M. de Guignes confounds the governed historian Roderic Ximines, archbishop of Toledo, in the xiiith century, with cardinal Ximines, who governed Spain in the beginning of the xvith, and was the subject, not the author, of historical compositions. transported from the East by the Romans, acquired by the Goths among the spoils of Rome, and presented by the Arabs to the throne of Damascus. Beyond the Asturian mountains, the maritime town of Gijon was the term64786478 Tarik might have inscribed on the last rock, the boast of Regnard and his companions in their Lapland journey, "Hic tandem stetimus, nobis ubi defuit orbis." of the lieutenant of Musa, who had performed with the speed of a traveller, his victorious march of seven hundred miles, from the rock of Gibraltar to the bay of Biscay. The failure of land compelled him to retreat: and he was recalled to Toledo, to excuse his presumption of subduing a kingdom in the absence of his general. Spain, which in a more savage and disorderly state, had resisted, two hundred years, the arms of the Romans, was overrun in a few months by those of the Saracens; and such was the eagerness of submission and treaty, that the governor of Cordova is recorded as the only chief who fell, without conditions, a prisoner into their hands. The cause of the Goths had been irrevocably judged in the field of Xeres; and in the national dismay, each part of the monarchy declined a contest with the antagonist who had vanquished the united strength of the whole.64796479 Such was the argument of the traitor Oppas, and every chief to whom it was addressed did not answer with the spirit of Pelagius; Omnis Hispania dudum sub uno regimine Gothorum, omnis exercitus Hispaniae in uno congregatus Ismaelitarum non valuit sustinere impetum. Chron. Alphonsi Regis, apud Pagi, tom. iii. p. 177. That strength had been wasted by two successive seasons of famine and pestilence; and the governors, who were impatient to surrender, might exaggerate the difficulty of collecting the provisions of a siege. To disarm the Christians, superstition likewise contributed her terrors: and the subtle Arab encouraged the report of dreams, omens, and prophecies, and of the portraits of the destined conquerors of Spain, that were discovered on the breaking open an apartment of the royal palace. Yet a spark of the vital flame was still alive; some invincible fugitives preferred a life of poverty and freedom in the Asturian valleys; the hardy mountaineers repulsed the slaves of the caliph; and the sword of Pelagius has been transformed into the sceptre of the Catholic kings.64806480 The revival of tire Gothic kingdom in the Asturias is distinctly though concisely noticed by d'Anville (Etats de l'Europe, p. 159)
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