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At the same time that England was developing her North American colonies, her chief rival, France, had established settlements in New France (Canada) and was vying for control of the areas west of the English colonies.Further, England and France were competing for dominance in Europe, as well as establishing competing empires in the Far East. There followed a series of late 17th and early 18th century wars which had both European and American components:
North American Conflict
War ofthe League of
King William’s War
War ofthe Spanish Succession
Queen Anne’s War
War ofJenkins’ Ear (vs.
King George’s War
SevenYears’ War (1756-63)
French and Indian War
SS Empire Caribou
Empire Caribou was a 4,861 GRT cargo ship which was built in 1919 for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) as Waterbury. She was sold in 1920 to the American Star Line and renamed Northern Star. In 1923, she was sold to American Sugar Transporters Inc and renamed Defacto. In 1941 she was passed to the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and renamed Empire Caribou. On 10 May 1941, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-556.
Activity 1. The Albany Congress and Political Identity
1. Have students examine the following historic map by Emanuel Bowen, A Map of the British American Plantations, 1754, a link on Digital History. Look at the Northeast and the area marked Iroquois:
- Ask students to identify the text in the two lines below the word Iroquois. Make sure that you view the map in its largest format – In Internet Explorer use the Zoom Level on the bottom right of the browser frame.
- Ask students to locate the boundaries between the British colonies and the Native Americans.
- Discuss the lack of boundaries shown on the map.
- Discuss how you know what areas “belonged” to the colonists and to the Indians.
How do the borders differ on this map?
2. Students should be familiar with the role of the British North American colonies in the eighteenth century. Either refer them to their textbooks or ask them to read the following: Darla Davis, “To Tax or Not to Tax: 2/5 Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” a link on History Matters.
3. Now divide students into three groups to read the documents below (one document for each group) to provide evidence to help them answer the questions posed below. Each one of these documents is directly or indirectly a product of the Albany Congress, which can be introduced to students with this short explanation of the Congress from the Constitution Society, linked from the Internet Public Library.
Ask the students to annotate evidence such as phrases, words, and concepts that help them to answer the following questions for each set of documents.
- What were British colonial leaders, American colonists, and Native Americans each looking for in North America?
- What were their political goals?
- How did they hope to achieve them?
- How did they want political life in America to be organized?
- What rules did they want?
Each document will have one sample annotation for a key concept, such as empire, to facilitate the student’s work.
- Thomas Pownell, British imperial administrator, selection from his 1765 The Administration of the Colonies, pages 35–38. (PDF)
- Benjamin Franklin’s Albany Plan (which was drafted and accepted at the Albany Congress but rejected by colonial assemblies and the British Crown), and excerpts from A Plan for a Colonial Union, Franklin’s 1754 letters to the colonial governor of Massachusetts, written a few months after the Congress.
- Hendrick, a Mohawk Indian leader and diplomat, Speech at Albany Congress, "You are Like Women, Bare and Open, without any Fortifications." (PDF)
4. Students in each one of the three groups should read their annotations to the entire class.
5. In a whole class discussion have the students delineate the three authors’ political ideas and their visions of the future of the colonies. How are the three authors’ ideas and visions similar and how are they different, complimentary or antagonistic? The discussion should focus on the following questions:
- What are the different concepts of empire being offered?
- What are the arguments being made for how empire should work?
- Who was making these arguments?
6. Based on their reading of the three documents and the discussion, the teacher and students should construct a chart of the goals of three of the groups of people who occupied and contested the North American continent in the mid-18th century: British colonial officials and interest groups, North American colonists, and Native Americans (sample chart).
First, the teacher should ask students to discuss the colonists and the Native Americans. Construct a three-column chart with these questions:
- What did each group want in North America? (e.g., what were their goals, how did they hope to achieve them, how did they want life in America to be organized, what did they want the rules to be, etc.?)
- What were some of the conflicts between the colonists and the Native Americans?
- What were some of the conflicts between the colonists and the British officials?
- What were some of the differences among the colonists such as gender, race, and ethnicity? How might those differences have affected relationships between the colonists and the British officials?
The class should go through the questions above again in a discussion about the British officials and the colonists. Return to the chart.
Ask students to write an essay that responds to the following questions, being sure to use evidence from at least three different primary sources (along with secondary sources) to support their answers:
How did British colonial leaders, North American British colonial leaders, and Native Americans want to organize North American society in general and relationships among themselves in particular? On what specific issues did they agree and disagree? What were the principal reasons for disagreement?
1. Have students explore the connection between the visions presented at the Albany Congress and the events that followed it.
How and why did the differing visions of the groups in question produce the outcomes that they did? (the breakdown of the Covenant Chain, the ‘failure’ of the Albany Plan, the French and Indian War, the road to the American Revolution?
You could use direct them to some of the sources listed in the Background Information for Teachers – Step Four.
2. Students could explore the role of Franklin as colonial politician (and other roles) at Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues linked from the EDSITEment website. They might also look at Franklin, The Pragmatic Innovator, on the American Memory website. One important source is the first American political cartoon, Franklin’s "Join or Die" cartoon that appeared in the May 9, 1754 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette. The image is one of the first visual sources for colonial union (and disunion)
3. Students could research the role of William Johnson, preeminent cultural mediator in the northeast between Europeans and Native Americans, using the following sources:
- , Early America Review, Fall 1996 linked from EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library. A shorter one on the New York State Museum site, a link on IPL
- Another biography can be found on The Three Rivers Website, a link on EDSITEment-reviewed Nativeweb.
- Biography of Peter Wraxall,American National Biography linked from IPL
- A later Johnson document, “The uncommon increase of Settlements in the back Country”: Sir William Johnson Watches the Settlers Invade Indian Lands (1772) on History Matters.
One possible question for students to ponder would be: How did Johnson mediate between the interests of the British Empire and the Native Americans?
4. Students could analyze the engraving “British Resentment or the French fairly Coopt at Louisbourg” which was commissioned in 1755 by Parliament to show British resentment at the return of Louisburg (linked from IPL) to France – one of the first prints to show the American colonies as part of the British state with depictions of British soldiers, French fops, and American Indians. It is a tableau of empire.
The 11 Most Sexually Depraved Things the Roman Emperors Ever Did
The emperors of Rome could be wise, just and kind. They could also be vindictive, cruel and insane. And most of all, they could be the worst perverts the world has ever seen — at least according to ancient historians like Suetonius, Pliny, and Cassius Dio. Here are nearly a dozen of the most immoral, disgusting behaviors the rulers of the ancient world indulged in. supposedly. Chances are most of these were rumors made up by political enemies or gossiping plebs. But hey, just because they may not be true doesn't mean they're aren't still entertainingly perverse.
The Emperor Claudius married his brother's daughter Agrippina (his brother being long dead, thank goodness). "[H]is affections were ensnared by the wiles of Agrippina, daughter of his brother Germanicus, aided by the right of exchanging kisses and the opportunities for endearments offered by their relationship and at the next meeting of the senate he induced some of the members to propose that he be compelled to marry Agrippina, on the ground that it was for the interest of the State also that others be allowed to contract similar marriages, which up to that time had been regarded as incestuous." Yes, Claudius didn't just make niece-marrying legal, he made it patriotic!
2) Hiring Anal Sex Experts
No judgments on anal sex here, but putting professional anal sex experts on the imperial payroll is a bit much. "On retiring to Capri [Tiberius] devised a pleasance for his secret orgies: teams of wantons of both sexes, selected as experts in deviant intercourse and dubbed analists, copulated before him in triple unions to excite his flagging passions." In case these pros were somehow not up to the tasks Tiberius put them too, he had a sex library full of illustrated works so he could just point to what he wanted.
3) The Animal Game
Nero was so into being as depraved as possible — he supposedly defiled every single part of his body — that he had to think up some pretty original ways to keep it fresh. "[H]e at last devised a kind of game, in which, covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound to stakes, and when he had sated his mad lust, was dispatched by his freedman Doryphorus."
Say what you want about Caligula, but he was really, really good at incest. "He lived in habitual incest with all his sisters, and at a large banquet he placed each of them in turn below him, while his wife reclined above." His sister Drusilla was his favorite, having had sex with her when he was but a boy, and when they were grown, he simply took her from her legal husband for more fun. His other sisters, he was somewhat less fond of, and thus he only often prostituted them. So he wasn't just a sister-fucker, but a sister-pimp. Fun!
5) Sex Rest Stops
Here's an idea you've probably never had to make those long road trips more enjoyable: Set up stops full of prostitutes along your way! And when you do, thank Nero. "Whenever he drifted down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed about the Gulf of Baiae, booths were set up at intervals along the banks and shores, fitted out for debauchery, while bartering matrons played the part of inn-keepers and from every hand solicited him to come ashore." Better than vending machines, that's for sure.
In terms of sexual depravity, Nero even put Caligula to shame by going to the source (so to speak) and having sex with his own mother Agrippina. How did people know? "[S]o they say, whenever he [Nero] rode in a litter with his mother, he had incestuous relations with her, which were betrayed by the stains on his clothing." Later, when Nero was Emperor, people tried to keep him from fucking his mother, mostly because they were afraid that would Agrippina would get too much power from the relationship. It should probably go without saying that eventually Nero tried to murder his mother by putting her on break-apart boat, right?
7) Creating an Imperial Brothel
Caligula was fond of spending money, but not so good at making it. After depleting the coffers at one point, he had the bright idea to turn the palace into an impromptu whorehouse. "To leave no kind of plunder untried, he opened a brothel in his palace, setting apart a number of rooms and furnishing them to suit the grandeur of the place, where matrons and freeborn youths should stand exposed. Then he sent his pages about the fora and basilicas, to invite young men and old to enjoy themselves, lending money on interest to those who came and having clerks openly take down their names, as contributors to Caesar's revenues." Rest assured, those who enjoyed themselves on credit eventually paid up, one way or another.
8) Part-Time Prostitution
The Emperor Elagabalus, who ruled from 203-222 AD, outdid Caligula in this regard: Elagabagus set up a brothel in the palace… and pimped himself. "Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. There were, of course, men who had been specially instructed to play their part. For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous agents who sought out those who could best please him by their foulness. He would collect money from his patrons and give himself airs over his gains he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, claiming that he had more lovers than they and took in more money." If only all politicians were so. flexible when it came to balancing the budget.
9) Making a Man His Wife
I'm not talking about gay marriage here, at least not really. I'm talking about Nero taking a man and "making him a woman" in the worst way possible: "He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his house attended by a great throng, and treated him as his wife." Eunuchs — when having sex with men and women just isn't enough any more.
Emperor Tiberius loved to swim, and he apparently also loved being pleasured by children. In a feat of inspiration, he managed to combine both these hobbies into one: "he trained little boys (whom he termed tiddlers) to crawl between his thighs when he went swimming and tease him with their licks and nibbles." It's like the world's most perverted aquarium!
I'm sorry, did you think Tiberius' "Tiddlers" were bad? He also used to get blowjobs from babies. "Unweaned babies he would put to his organ as though to the breast, being by both nature and age rather fond of this form of satisfaction." AAAUUGH.
Dishonorable Mention: Messalina
While not technically an Emperor, as wife of Claudius Messalina was an Empress, and she has the honor of having one of the earliest gangbangs in record history. And it was a contest, too! "Messalina, the wife of Claudius Cæsar, thinking this a palm quite worthy of an empress, selected, for the purpose of deciding the question, one of the most notorious of the women who followed the profession of a hired prostitute and the empress outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at the twenty-fifth embrace." Needless to say, when Claudius found out he was so depressed he ended up marrying his niece. Oh, and had Messalina killed, obviously.
The contest between Prussia and Austria
In 1740 the death of the Habsburg emperor Charles VI without a male heir unleashed the most embittered conflict in Germany since the wars of Louis XIV. The question of the succession to the Austrian throne had occupied statesmen for decades. Rival claimants disputed the right—by the terms of the Pragmatic Sanction (1713)—of Charles’s daughter Maria Theresa to succeed France supported them, its aim being, as before, the fragmentation of the Habsburg state. But it was the new Prussian king, Frederick II (1740–86), who began the conflict. To understand what follows, the modern reader should remember that few observers, even in the enlightened 18th century, disputed a ruler’s right to do what he wished with his state. Dynastic aggrandizement, territorial expansion, prestige, honour, power, and princely glory were legitimate grounds for war and sound reasons for demanding the sacrifices necessary to wage it. The only position from which to oppose this arrogation was the Christian ethic, but to do so had proved futile when last tried by Erasmus and Sir Thomas More in the 16th century. No checks—philosophical, moral, or political—therefore restrained kings from indulging their taste for conquests.
Soon after assuming power, Frederick reversed his father’s cautious policy of building and hoarding, rather than deploying, Brandenburg-Prussia’s military potential. He attacked Silesia, a province in the kingdom of Bohemia and thus part of the Habsburg monarchy, which Prussia had long desired for its populousness, mineral resources, and advanced economy. In exchange for an Austrian cession of Silesia, he offered to accept the Pragmatic Sanction (formally recognized by his predecessor in the 1728 Treaty of Berlin) and support the candidacy of Maria Theresa’s husband, Francis Stephen, as emperor. But the resolute woman who now headed the Austrian Habsburgs (1740–80) decided to defend the integrity of her realm, and the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48 including the Silesian Wars between Prussia and Austria) began in 1740. Austria was helped only by a Hungarian army, though initial financial support came from England. Prussia was joined by Bavaria and Saxony in the empire as well as by France and Spain. The Prussian armies, though greatly outnumbered by Austria’s forces, revealed themselves as by far the best as well as the best-led. The Treaties of Dresden (1745) and Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) confirmed the Prussian conquest of Silesia. During the succeeding Seven Years’ War (1756–63), Prussian forces occupied Saxony, which had allied itself with Austria. In the Treaty of Hubertusburg of 1763, Prussia kept Silesia but could not hold on to Saxony.
In a sense, the War of the Austrian Succession was another of the many internal struggles over the constitutional balance in the empire in which territorial states opposed imperial authority. But it was also part of an international struggle, with France and England fighting out their rivalry in western and southern Europe, North America, and India. In this way it prefigured the worldwide Seven Years’ War, except that the latter followed the “diplomatic revolution” in which England switched its support from Austria to Prussia and France allied itself with its traditional foe, Austria. (A part of this agreement was the marriage, in 1770, of the Austrian princess Marie-Antoinette to the future Louis XVI.) The real significance of the Seven Years’ War lay in the Treaty of Paris of 1763, which concluded for a time the maritime and colonial conflict between France and England.
After these wars Prussia—which had increased in size and immeasurably in prestige—and Austria dominated German affairs in a condition of tension usually called “the German dualism,” meaning that each had become so powerful that only the other could keep it in some sort of check. The monarchs of both realms carried out important internal reforms. Guided by her interior minister, Count Friedrich Wilhelm Haugwitz, Maria Theresa streamlined the Austrian administrative structure on the Prussian model, thus drawing together, to the extent possible, the multiethnic and polyglot regions of the vast Habsburg empire. The remaining powers of the estates were curtailed everywhere and centralization institutionalized in absolutist fashion but without attaining the full integration of the Prussian system. Maria Theresa’s son, Joseph II (1765–90), completed this program of modernization.
In Prussia, Frederick II further tightened his control of all aspects of public life in his far-flung kingdom. However, in accordance with his personal commitment to rational tolerance and free-thinking skepticism, he also undertook extensive legal reforms. He virtually abolished judicial torture, lifted some of the tax burden from the poorest of his subjects, established religious tolerance as a policy of his state, and encouraged scientific and scholarly activity in the Prussian Academy of the Sciences. Like his father, he was a vigorous promoter of economic development. His taste for French Enlightenment thought and his own prolific creativity in letters and music lent his reign the flavour of an era shaped by a philosopher-king, albeit one with the instincts of a ruthless power politician. His successes in war and peace earned him a place as national hero as well as the title “the Great.”
Although modern science has silenced the vampire fears of the past, people who call themselves vampires do exist. They’re normal-seeming people who drink small amounts of blood in a (perhaps misguided) effort to stay healthy.
Communities of self-identified vampires can be found on the Internet and in cities and towns around the world.To avoid rekindling vampire superstitions, most modern vampires keep to themselves and typically conduct their ing” rituals—which include drinking the blood of willing donors—in private.
Some vampires don’t ingest human blood but claim to feed off the energy of others. Many state that if they don’t feed regularly, they become agitated or depressed.
Vampires became mainstream after Dracula was published. Since then, Count Dracula’s legendary persona has been the topic of many films, books and television shows. Given the fascination people have with all things horror, vampires—real or imagined𠅊re likely to continue to inhabit the earth for years to come.
Contest for Empire - History
World History and the Mongols
An empire arose in the steppes of Mongolia in the thirteenth century that forever changed the map of the world, opened intercontinental trade, spawned new nations, changed the course of leadership in two religions, and impacted history indirectly in a myriad of other ways. At its height, the Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in history, stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Carpathian Mountains. Although its impact on Eurasia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was enormous, the Mongol Empire's influence on the rest of the world—particularly its legacy—should not be ignored.
The formation of the Mongol Empire was a slow and arduous process, beginning with the unification of the Mongol and Turkic tribes that dwelt in the Mongolian steppes. Temüjin (1165-1227) emerged on the steppes as a charismatic leader, slowly gaining a following before becoming a nökhör (companion or vassal) to Toghril (d. 1203/1204), Khan of the Kereits, the dominant tribe in central Mongolia. While in the service of Toghril, Temüjin's talents allowed him to become a major leader among the Mongol tribes. Eventually, Temüjin's increase in power and the jealousy it provoked among other members of Toghril's supporters caused Temüjin and Toghril to part ways and ultimately to clash in battle. Their quarrel came to a head in 1203 with Temüjin emerging as the victor.
Temüjin unified the tribes of Mongolia by 1206 into a single supra-tribe known as the Khamag Mongol Ulus or the All Mongol State. In doing so, Temüjin reorganized the social structure by dissolving old tribal lines and regrouping them into an army based on a decimal system (units of 10, 100, and 1000). Furthermore, he instilled a strong sense of discipline into the army. Although he had defeated all of his rivals by 1204, it was not until 1206 that Temüjin's followers recognized him as the sole authority in Mongolia by granting him the title of Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan), meaning Firm, Fierce, or Resolute Ruler. 1
Expansion of the Mongol Empire
Mongol power quickly extended beyond Mongolia, as the Mongols conquered the Tangut kingdom Xixia (modern Ningxia and Gansu provinces of China) by 1209. 2 In 1211 Chinggis Khan invaded the Jin Empire (1125-1234) of Northern China. Although these campaigns began as raids, as their successes increased the Mongols retained the territory they plundered after resistance ceased. Although the Mongols won stunning victories and conquered most of the Jin Empire by 1216, the Jin opposition to the Mongols continued until 1234, seven years after the death of Chinggis Khan. 3
Mongol expansion into Central Asia began in 1209, as the Mongols pursued tribal leaders who opposed Chinggis Khan's rise to power in Mongolia and thus constituted a threat to his authority there. With their victories, the Mongols gained new territory. Several smaller polities such as the Uighurs of the Tarim Basin also sought the protection of Chinggis Khan as vassals. Ultimately, the Mongols found themselves with a large empire, now bordering not only the Chinese states but also the Islamic world in Central Asia including the Khwarazmian Empire, which spanned over portions of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and part of modern Iraq. 4
Initially, Chinggis Khan sought a peaceful commercial relationship with the Khwarazmian state. This abruptly came to an end with the massacre of a Mongol sponsored caravan by the governor of Otrar, a Khwarazmian border town. After diplomatic means failed to resolve the issue, Chinggis Khan left a token force in North China and marched against the Khwarazmians in 1218. 5
After capturing Otrar, Chinggis Khan divided his army and struck the Khwarazmian Empire at several points. With his more numerous army spread across the empire in an attempt to defend its cities, Muhammad Khwarazmshah II could not compete with the more mobile Mongol army in the field. For the Muslim population, their defeat went beyond simple military conquest it seemed that God had forsaken them. Indeed, the Mongols cultivated this idea. After capturing Bukhara, Chinggis Khan ascended the pulpit in the Friday mosque and announced:
O people, know that you have committed great sins, and that the great ones among you have committed these sins. If you ask me what proof I have for these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you. 6
Meanwhile, Muhammad II watched his cities fall one by one until he fled with a Mongol force in pursuit. He successfully eluded them and escaped to an island in the Caspian Sea, where he died shortly thereafter from dysentery. Although his son, Jalal al-Din (d. 1230) attempted to rally the empire in Afghanistan, Chinggis Khan defeated him near the Indus River in 1221, forcing Jalal al-Din to flee to India.
The Khwarazmian Empire was now ripe for annexation but Chinggis Khan kept only the territory north of the Amu Darya, thus not over-extending his army. He then returned to Mongolia in order to deal with a rebellion in Xixia which broke out while the Mongol leader was in Central Asia. 7 After resting his army, he invaded Xixia in 1227 and besieged the capital of Zhongxing. During the course of the siege, Chinggis Khan died from injuries sustained from a fall from his horse while hunting. Yet he ordered his sons and army to continue the war against Xixia. Indeed, even as he lay ill in his bed, Chinggis Khan instructed them, "While I take my meals you must talk about the killing and the destruction of the Tang'ut and say, 'Maimed and tamed, they are no more.'" 8
The army that Chinggis Khan organized was the key to Mongol expansion. It fought and operated in a fashion that other medieval armies did not, or could not, replicate. 9 In essence it operated very much as a modern army does, over multiple fronts and in several corps but in a coordinated effort. Also, the Mongols fought in the manner of total war. The only result that mattered was the defeat of enemies through any means necessary, including ruses and trickery. The famous traveler, Marco Polo, observed
In truth they are stout and valiant soldiers, and inured to war. And you perceive that it is just when the enemy sees them run, and imagines that he gained the battle, that he has in reality lost it, for the [Mongols] wheel round in a moment when they judge the right time has come. And after his fashion they have won many a fight. 10
Empire after Chinggis Khan
Ögödei (d.1240-41), Chinggis Khan's second son, ascended the throne in 1230 and quickly resumed operations against the Jin Empire, successfully conquering it in 1234. Although Chinggis Khan had announced previously that he had been sent as the scourge of God, Ögödei promoted the idea that Heaven (Tengri the sky god) had declared that the Mongols were destined to rule the world. Before invading a region, Mongol envoys delivered correspondence indicating that as Heaven had decreed that the Mongols were to rule the earth, a prince should come to the Mongol court and offer his submission. Any refusal to this request was seen as an act of rebellion not only against the Mongols, but also against the will of Heaven. This process was aided by a multi-ethnic bureaucracy staffed not only by Mongols, but in fact in large part by the educated elites from the sedentary conquered populations such as Chinese, Persians, and Uighurs. Thus the letters were translated and delivered in triplicate—each one being in another language so that there was a high probability that someone at the other court could read the letter.
Ögödei backed his intentions of world domination by sending armies out to multiple fronts. While Ögödei led his army against the Jin, another army conquered Iran, Armenia, and Georgia under the command of Chormaqan (d.1240). Meanwhile, a massive force under the leadership of Prince Batu (fl. 1227-1255) and Sübedei (1176-1248), the renowned Mongol general, marched west, conquering the Russian principalities and the Pontic and Caspian steppes before invading Hungary and Poland. While they did not seek to control Hungary and Poland, the Mongols left both areas devastated before departing, possibly due to Ögödei's death in 1241. 11
Ögödei's son, Güyük, came to the throne in 1246 only after a lengthy debate over who would succeed his father. In the interim, Güyük's mother Toregene served as regent. Once in power, Güyük accomplished little in terms of conquest as he died in 1248. His wife, Oghul-Qaimish, served as regent but did little to assist in choosing a new khan. Her inattention led to a coup in which Möngke b. Tolui (d. 1250-51) seized power with the backing of most of the Chinggisid princes in 1250. Under his reign the Mongol armies were once again on the march. He and his brother Qubilai (d. 1295) led armies into the territory of China's Southern Song (1126-1279), south of the Yangtze River, while Hülegü (d. 1265), another brother, led an army into the Middle East.
Hülegü's forces successfully destroyed the Ismailis in 1256, a Shi'a group in northern Iran also known as the Assassins. The Persian chronicler, Juvaini, who also worked in the Mongol bureaucracy, reveled in the destruction of the much feared Ismailis, who used assassination in order to intimidate and extend their influence in parts of the Middle East. Juvaini wrote that "So was the world cleansed which had been polluted by their evil. Wayfarers now ply to and fro without fear or dread or the inconvenience of paying a toll and pray for the fortune of the happy King who uprooted their foundations and left no trace of anyone of them." 12
Hülegü then moved against the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. The Caliph, nominally the titular leader of Sunni Islam, refused to capitulate but did little to defend the city. The Mongols sacked Baghdad and executed the Caliph, ending the position of Caliph among the Sunnis in 1258. Hülegü's armies invaded Syria, successfully capturing Aleppo and Damascus. Hülegü however, withdrew the bulk of his army in 1259-60 after receiving news that Mongke had died during the war against the Song. Meanwhile, the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt struck the Mongol garrisons in Syria, defeating them at Ayn Jalut in 1260. As the Mongol Empire spiraled into civil war after the death of Mongke, Hülegü never recovered the Syrian conquests. Instead, civil war with the Mongols in the Pontic and Caspian steppes (the so-called Golden Horde), and those in Central Asia, occupied much of his attention.
Due to the lack of a clear principle of succession other than being descended from Chinggis Khan, warfare between rival claimants was frequent. Civil war erupted after Möngke's death as two of his brothers vied for the throne. Qubilai eventually defeated Ariq Boke in 1265, but the damage to the territorial integrity of the Empire was great. While the other princes nominally accepted Qubilai as the Khan of the empire, his influence dwindled outside of Mongolia and China. Qubilai and his successors, known as the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), found their closest allies in Hülegü and his successors. Hülegü's kingdom, known as the Il-khanate of Persia, dominated Iran, Iraq, modern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Central Asia was ruled by the Chaghatayids, the descendents of Chaghatay, Chinggis Khan's third son, although often they were the puppets of Qaidu, a descendent of Ögödei and rival of Qubilai Khan. Meanwhile in Russia and the Pontic and Caspian steppes, descendents of Jochi, Chinggis Khan's first son, held power. Their state was often referred to as the Golden Horde in later periods.
Since the Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous state in history, its impact on world history is incalculable as it impacted the pre-modern world in a variety of ways, both directly and indirectly. To discuss this impact, one could write a monograph, thus this discussion will be limited to an overview of only three areas: geography, trade, and religion.
The Mongol expansion forever changed the face of Asia in terms of both political and human geography, beginning in Mongolia. Originally, the Mongols were but one tribe among several. Under Chinggis Khan, all of the tribes were united into one new collective unit: the Khamag Mongol Ulus, or united Mongol nation, which then evolved into the Yeke Mongol Ulus or Great Mongol Nation or state, as the Mongols began to expand their empire. 13 Furthermore, tribal identities were stripped away by disposing of old tribal elites and a new social organization was imposed that focused on the family of Chinggis Khan, or the altan urugh. The Mongolian nation of the modern era exists today because of the rise of the Mongol Empire.
This fact is very evident when one visits Mongolia. One flies into Ulaanbaatar, the capital, at Chinggis Khan Airport, drives down Chinggis Khan Avenue, can change money at Chinggis Khan bank and receive tögrögs with Chinggis Khan's face on every bill from one hundred to ten thousand tögrögs. And of course, one might stay at Chinggis Khan Hotel, attend Chinggis Khan University, and imbibe either Chinggis Khan beer or one of the several fine varieties of Chinggis Khan vodka. Whereas under communist rule the great Mongol leader was denigrated as a feudal oppressor, today he is more ubiquitous than Michael Jordan as an advertisement prop in the 1990s. Furthermore, Chinggis Khan is not only the father of the country, but many—including academics and politicians—view Chinggis Khan as the reason why Mongolia has successfully transitioned into a democratic state. In the eyes of many Mongolians, the framework for democracy was created by Chinggis Khan by having his successors elected. 14 One may quibble with this view: in fact, the Mongol khans were chosen only from the descendents of Chinggis Khan. However, what is important is that this idea succors the Mongolian population and helps rationalize a new form of government, thus giving it legitimacy and a quasi-historical foundation.
A more apparent legacy of Chinggis Khan and the Mongol Empire on Mongolia is the creation of a writing system. Although illiterate himself, Chinggis Khan imposed a written language upon the Mongols. Having seen the value of writing among the Naiman, one of the tribes he defeated in 1204, Chinggis Khan ordered that a Mongolian script be instituted. 15 This script was adapted from the Uighur script, itself based on Syriac learned from Nestorian Christian missionaries, and written vertically. 16 It remained in use in modern Mongolia until the twentieth century, when it was replaced with a modified Cyrillic script by the Communist government, but remains the written form of Mongolian today in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China. Since the fall of communism in Mongolia, there has been discussion of reviving it there. However, seventeen years later it still has not supplanted the Cyrillic.
The Mongol expansion also caused the movement of other tribes, primarily Turkic, setting off large-scale migrations and spreading Turkic culture. Some of this was through the machinations of the Mongol Empire, while other migrations were attempts to avoid the Mongols. While some Turks, such as the Kipchaks of the Pontic and Caspian steppes, moved into Hungary and the Balkans, others, primarily Oghuz Turks, moved into Anatolia or modern day Turkey. A strong Turkic presence existed in Anatolia since the eleventh century, but the new influx of Turks eventually led to the Turkicization of the many areas of the Middle East and Central Asia.
Among those groups that moved into the region was the Osmanli, who established the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century. They entered Anatolia after fleeing from what is now Afghanistan during the Mongols invasion of the Khwarazmian Empire. While much debate continues among scholars on the impact of the Mongols on the origins of the Ottoman Empire, there are a few who argue that many of the institutions of the early Ottoman state were based on Mongol practices. 17 This appears as a logical premise since the Mongols dominated Anatolia until the fourteenth century. Indeed, the Osmanli state emerged in the vacuum caused by the collapse of Mongol authority in that region.
Later Turkic nations also emerged from the Mongols, such as the Tatars of Crimea and Kazan. The Tatars were direct offshoots from the collapse of the Golden Horde in the later fifteenth century. Both the Kazakhs and Uzbeks trace their origins to the Golden Horde. The Uzbeks, named after Uzbek Khan, the ruler of the Golden Horde during its Golden Age, also came from the splintering of the Golden Horde. The Kazakhs, in turn, split from the Uzbeks and remained a primarily nomadic people until the twentieth century, whereas the Uzbeks settled in the more urban areas of Central Asia in the sixteenth century. 18 For a brief period the Uzbeks established an empire that was a contemporary of the Ottomans, the Safavids of Persia, and the Mughal Empire in India. Indeed, the Mughal Empire gained its name from the Persian word for Mongol—mughal. Its founder, Babur, was a descendent of the Central Asian conqueror Timur-i Leng (Tamerlane) but also traced his lineage back to Chinggis Khan through his mother. And of course, one should not forget the Hazaras, who dwell in Afghanistan. While the Hazaras have been viewed as a lower class ethnicity by the more dominant Pashtun, Uzbek, and Tajik populations in the modern era, they are the remnants of a Mongol regiment that was stationed in the region. Hazara in Persian means one thousand, which was the basic unit size of the Mongol army.
While new groups formed from the Mongol armies and the Mongol invasions set off a number of migrations of nomads across Eurasia, the devastation caused by them cannot be ignored. Although much of the data in the sources concerning the number of people killed during the Mongol conquests is exaggerated, it does reflect the reality that thousands died, and the Mongols were not above depopulating an area if the people rebelled, or if destruction simply suited their purpose.
The map of Asia by 1500 looked much different than it did in 1200. Indeed, the states that grew out of the dust of the crumbling Mongol Empire owed their existence to the Mongols in one form or another. Indeed, it was the Mongols who took the divided Han Chinese realms and forged them into a coherent realm. In Central Asia, Babur ultimately founded a new empire in India once it became clear he would never rule from Samarqand again. Iran rapidly came under the control of the Safavids, who received early patronage in the late thirteenth century from the Mongol court in Tabriz. Meanwhile, the Ottomans filled the Mongol vacuum in Anatolia. The Mamluk Sultanate, who owed the stabilization of their state to resisting the Mongol threat in the thirteenth century, still ruled Egypt and Syria, but soon they too became Ottoman subjects. Meanwhile in what is now Russia, Moscow was becoming a rival to the power of a much fragmented Golden Horde. Indeed, in many aspects, Moscow was simply another khanate that came out of the Jochid Ulus 19 (more popularly known as the Golden Horde) along with those of Crimea, Astrakhan, Kazan, Sibir, and various other nomadic groups that roamed the steppe. Three hundred years later, Russia ruled them all but owed a considerable debt to Mongol military and governmental influences in achieving this dominance. 20 Meanwhile the Mongols, although they still maintained the Chinggisid lineage as a basis of authority and rule, had reverted to internal squabbles and internecine warfare.
Among the most significant legacies of the Mongols was their concern with trade and their respect for knowledge. From the beginnings of the Mongol Empire, the Mongol Khans fostered trade and sponsored numerous caravans. The very size of the Mongol Empire encouraged the wider dissemination of goods and ideas throughout Eurasia, as merchants and others could now travel from one end of the empire to another with greater security, guaranteed by the Pax Mongolica.
Items and inventions such as mechanical printing, gunpowder, and the blast furnace made their way west from China. Other commodities, such as silk, could be purchased at lower prices as the travel and security costs decreased. Artistic ideas, knowledge of history, geography, and sciences such as astronomy, agricultural knowledge and medicinal ideas also traveled east to west and returned. Mongol rulers, regardless of location, were open to medical treatments according to Islamic, Chinese, Tibetan, Indian, and of course shamanic practice. 21
While many trade items originated in China, Chinese culture also received new ideas and goods in the forms of influence in art, theater, and advances in science and medicine. One such example is the use of cobalt blue dyes in ceramics, which originated in the Ilkhanate and was used to decorate tiles used in the domes of mosques. The artisans in the Yuan dynasty soon began using this technique to decorate ceramics in China. 22 In addition, because of the slow yet steady Turkicization of Central Asia, Turkic cuisine infiltrated not only the aforementioned areas, but China as well, although many of the recipes found in China were consumed for alleged medicinal properties in connection with traditional Chinese medicine. This food included pasta, as the Turks themselves readily adopted and adapted Middle Eastern cuisine. While it is popular to say that Marco Polo brought spaghetti back to Italy from China, in reality, both Italy and China acquired it from the Middle East. 23
Yet that Italian adventurer, Marco Polo, impacted trade in other ways. The publication of his travels fired the imagination of many Europeans. Yet as the Mongol Empire and its successors continued to disintegrate, the Pax Mongolica—which was never completely peaceful—collapsed. This led to the trade routes becoming insecure once more. In turn, this led to an increase of prices due to tariffs and the cost of protection. The rise of the Ottoman Empire also impacted Italian merchants conducting business in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. With these restrictions, western desire for the luxury goods and spices of the east grew, encouraging an Age of Exploration. Beginning with Christopher Columbus, westerners began searching for new routes to China and India, particularly to the court of the Khan, even though a Mongol Khan had not sat on the throne since 1368. Thus, the Mongols indirectly led to European exploration and the intrusion of Europeans into Asia.
The Chinggisid Legacy and Religion
Prior to their expansion into the sedentary world, religiously the Mongols were what one would term shamanistic, although some Nestorian Christians did exist. John de Plano Carpini, a Papal emissary to the Mongols in the 1240s, adequately summed up their religious beliefs at the time. According to Plano Carpini, "They know nothing of everlasting life and eternal damnation, but they believe that after death they will live in another world and increase their flocks, and eat and drink and do the other things which are done by men living in their world." 24
In addition, a cult surrounding the personage of Chinggis Khan emerged. His tremendous success in establishing the empire gave him the status of demi-god. This in itself was not unusual, as the steppe nomads venerated ancestral spirits. Yet Chinggis Khan's prestige impacted the Mongols in another fashion as descent from him became the primary component in establishing legitimacy as a ruler throughout much of Central Eurasia. The Chinggisid lineage was the basis of many dynasties. Russian princes in Muscovy, as well as Central Asian rulers, often forged their genealogies to trace their lineage back to Chinggis Khan. In Mongolia, the Chinggisid principal had a dramatic impact on religion.
Virtually all of the elite in Mongolia traced their lineage back to Chinggis Khan, thus it was difficult for one prince to ascend over others in order to become the leader of the majority of Mongols. The princes often needed to find other ways of legitimizing power. Altan Khan (1543-1583) did this by establishing ties with the leader of the Yellow Sect in Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to linking Altan Khan as the reincarnation of Qubilai Khan, this Buddhist leader was revealed to be the reincarnation of Qubilai's own Buddhist advisor, 'Phags-pa Lama. Obviously, being the grandson of Chinggis Khan was much better than simply being yet another descendent. Although as other Mongol princes did not flock to Altan Khan, it is rather evident that not everyone was convinced by this relevation. In any case, Altan Khan and the Buddhist Lama exchanged titles. The reincarnated 'Phags-pa Lama legitimized Altan Khan's authority while Altan Khan bestowed the title of Dalai Lama upon him (officially making him the third Dalai Lama). 25 The new Dalai Lama, with the aid of Altan Khan's troops, became the pre-eminent figure in Tibet. This courtship of Buddhist figures also led to the conversion of Mongolia to Buddhism in the sixteenth century.
The Mongols also had a significant impact on Islam. As already mentioned, the foundations of the Ottomans and Mughals, two great Islamic Empires in the early modern period, may be viewed as offshoots of the Mongol Empire. The Safavid Empire is also linked back to the Mongols, although more indirectly. In addition, the Mongols conquered several Muslim states and ended the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad in 1258. The city of Baghdad was transformed from a major city into a provincial backwater, and the institution of the Caliph—which was meant to be the spiritual and, if possible, temporal leader of the Islamic world—ended as well. Several rulers maintained the presence of a puppet Caliph afterwards, but the institution was not revived with any credible authority until the nineteenth century with the Ottoman Sultan serving as the Caliph. Yet while Baghdad lost its standing as the center of learning and prestige in the Islamic World, a new center arose in Cairo. As the capital of the Mamluk Sultanate, and an enemy to the Ilkhanate, the Mamluk Sultans posed as the defenders of the religion. Since 1260, then, Cairo has remained the most influential center of learning and culture in the Islamic world.
Even while this was occurring, the Mongols gradually converted to Islam. While wholesale conversion did not ensue, and at times, non-Islamic rulers came to the throne, the process gradually continued until all of the Mongolian-Turkic groups who dominated the Mongol states converted to Islam, thus extending it beyond the sedentary regions of Western and Central Asia and into steppe regions where Islam had previously had little influence. Through the syncretic nature of Sufism, the Dar al-Islam grew under the Mongols—an interesting reversal of the initial Muslim view that when "The Scourge of God" first appeared Islam was at an end.
Thus the Mongol Empire indirectly aided in the creation of the Dalai Lama by focusing power and legitimacy of rule in the Chinggisid princes. Meanwhile, they hastened the decentralization of religious authority in the Islamic world by ending the 'Abbasid Caliphate. The rise of Sufism and the Mongols' own use of Islam for political purposes as well as sincere conversion, led to the expansion of Islam throughout much of Asia.
Implications for World History
Finally, the Mongol Empire remains in the popular consciousness. If not always properly understood, its image remains as terrifying as it did when Chinggis Khan first ascended the stairs to the pulpit of the mosque in Bukhara. Numerous examples exist, but two lesser known serve well to illustrate this. The first is the rise of a motorcycle gang known as the Mongols, who sought to rival the Hell's Angels. 26 Perhaps what best fulfills the image of the Mongols as the "Scourge of God," depending on your views on disco music, was the emergence of the German disco group Dschingis Khan in 1979, which achieved a modicum of popularity with hits such as "Dschingis Khan", which was Germany's entry in the Eurovision contest in 1979, and "The Rocking Son of Dschingis Khan". 27 Perhaps the latter explains the true story of why Chinggis Khan chose Ögödei over his brothers as his heir.
The Mongol Empire, in many ways, marked a crossroad in World History. As the largest contiguous Empire in history it united Eurasia in a fashion that has not been repeated. As such, actions within the empire rippled across the rest of Asia and Europe whether through trade, warfare, or religious affairs. Furthermore, as the Mongols ended several previous dynasties and led to the creation of new power centers, the Mongol Empire may be viewed as a catalyst for change from the pre-modern era to the modern era.
1 Igor de Rachewiltz, "The Title Cinggis Chan/Chaghan Re-examined", in Gedanke und Wirkung: Festschrift zum 90. Geburtstag von Nicholaus Poppe, ed. W Heissig and K. Sagaster (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1989), pp. 281-98. Previously, it was assumed that Chinggis Khan meant Oceanic Ruler, based on early twentieth century attempts to link it to the Turkic word, tenggis which translates as "sea or ocean".
2 Xixia was a state dominated by the Tangut, a Tibetan people, although the population of the state consisted of Turkic nomads as was as ethnic Han Chinese.
3 The Jin Empire was founded in 1125 when the Manchurian Jurchen tribes invaded and conquered the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). The Jurchen, a semi-nomadic people, took the dynastic name of Jin or (Golden) and ruled northern China until the Mongols conquered the Empire in 1234.
4 The Khwarazmian Empire came into existence in the 12 th century. After the Seljuk Empire, which had dominated much of the Middle East in the eleventh and twelfth centuries collapsed, the governors of Khwarazm, located south of the Aral Sea, around the modern city of Khiva, became independent. Sultan Muhammad II (1200-1220) expanded the empire to its greatest extent. The dynasty was Turkic in origins and had strong marital ties to the Qangli Turks in Central Asia.
5 V. V. Bartold, Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Pub., 1992), 400-401 Henry Schwarz, "Otrâr", CAS 17 (1998): 8 Thomas Allsen, "Mongolian Princes and Their Merchant Partners, 1200-1260", Asia Major 2 (1989), 92 Minhâj Sirâj Jûzjânî, Tabaqât-i-Nasirî, 2 Vols, edited by 'Abd al-Hayy Habîbî, (Kâbul: Anjuman-i Târîkh-i Afghânistân, 1964-65), 650-651 Minhâj Sirâj Jûzjânî, Tabakât-i-Nasirî (A general history of the Muh,ammadan dynasties of Asia), 2 Vols., translated from the Persian by Major H. G. Raverty, (New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corp., 1970), 966.
6 Ata Malik Juvaini, Genghis Khan: The History of the World Conqueror, translated by J. A. Boyle, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 105.
8 Igor de Rachewiltz, editor, The Secret History of the Mongols, Brill's Inner Asian Library, vol. 7/1, (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 196-200.
9 For a more thorough discussion of the Mongol army, see Timothy May, The Mongol Art of War, (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2007).
10 Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, translated by Henry Yule, (New York: Dover Publications, 1993), 263.
11 For more on the debate as to why the Mongols withdrew from Hungary, see Greg S. Rogers, "An Examination of Historians' Explanations For the Mongol Withdrawal from East Central Europe," East European Quarterly 30 (1996): 3-27.
13 Chuluuni Dalai, Xamag Mongol Uls (1101-1206), (Ulaanbaatar: Shux Erdem Kompani, 1996), passim David Morgan, The Mongols, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), 90 Isenbike Togan, Flexibility and Limitation in Steppe Formations: The Kerait Khanate and Chinggis Khan, (Leiden: Brill, 1998), passim.
14 Paula Sabloff, "Why Mongolia? The political culture of an emerging democracy," Central Asian Survey 21/1 (2002): 19-36. There are those who do not agree with Sabloff's findings or interpretation. Also see Andrew F. March, "Citizen Genghis? On explaining Mongolian democracy through 'political culture'," 22/1 (2003): 61-66. While some of the criticisms are valid, the main remains is that many Mongolians do see a historical tie between present day democracy and their nomadic and imperial roots. Regardless of the historical accuracy, it remains an important construct in their historical imagination.
15 Paul Ratchnevsky, Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy, translated and edited by Thomas Nivison Haining, (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992), 95.
16 The Nestorians were Eastern Christians, considered heretics by the Eastern Orthodox at the Council of Ephesus in 431, who followed the teachings of 5 th century monk, Nestorius. Whereas the Eastern Orthodox Church stated that Christ was of two natures, human and divine, bound in one person with a single will, the Nestorians believe that the two natures were not bound in one body. The Nestorian faith slowly spread across Asia and gained some popularity in Central Asia and even in Mongolia. The script that the Mongols eventually adopted is ultimately derived from the Syriac script brought by the Nestorians.
17 Rudi Lindner, "How Mongol were the early Ottomans?", in Reuven Amitai-Preiss and David Morgan (eds), The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy, (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 282-9.
18 Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs, 2 nd ed., (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1995), 3-9.
19 The territory assigned the Jochi, Chinggis Khan's eldest son.
20 See Donald Ostrowski, Muscovy and the Mongols: Cross-Cultural Influences on the Steppe Frontier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), passim.
21 Thomas Allsen, Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), passim Paul D. Buell, "Food, Medicine and the Silk Road: The Mongol-era Exchanges," The Silk Road 5/1 (2007): passim.
23 For more on this topic see Paul Buell, "Mongol Empire and Turkicization: The Evidence of Food and Foodways", in Amitai-Preiss and Morgan (eds)The Mongol Empire and its Legacy, (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 200-223 Buell, "Food, Medicine and the Silk Road: The Mongol-era Exchanges", passim.
24 John de Plano Carpini, "History of the Mongols" translated by a nun on Stanbrook Abbey in The Mongol Mission, edited by Christopher Dawson, (London: Sheed and Ward, 1955), 12.
25 Charles R. Bawden, The Modern History of Mongolia, (New York: Praeger, 1968), 28-30.
Contest for Empire - History
ISLAM IN SYRIA AND EGYPT, 750-1100.
With the accession of the first of the Abbasid Caliphs (AD 750) it became clear that the dominions of Islam would consist, henceforth, of a number of separate and independent Islamic states. Even in the time of the Umayyad Caliphs the unity of the Muslim Empire was maintained with difficulty and was never quite complete. In Arabia, the birthplace and the original home of the new world-power, there was neither the military strength nor the political organization required for the rule of the conquered lands. The movement of the seat of government to Damascus under the Umayyads is, in one aspect, a practical acknowledgment of this fact. For a time the Arabian families who ruled the subject provinces were a connecting link and a partial bond of unity. But even they adopted and so perpetuated the national governments of Persia and Syria and Egypt, and thus the Muslim Empire was from the first a loosely-knit federation of Muslim states. The superiority of Mesopotamia and Persia over Syria and Arabia was declared by the triumph of the Abbasids. It was symbolized by a further movement of the capital from Damascus to Ambar and finally to Baghdad. But, inevitably, this movement of the capital to the distant east weakened the control of the Abbasid Caliphs over the lands of the far west. An Umayyad prince became ruler of Muslim Spain in AD 755, and founded a dynasty which afterwards claimed the Caliphate and assumed the much disputed title of “commander of the faithful” (AD 929). In Morocco Idris ibn Abdallah, a descendant of Ali, established in 788 the first Shiite Caliphate. The dynasty of the Idrisites , so established, maintained their power for about 200 years (788-985). In Tunis Ibrahim ibn Aghlab (800-811) was the first of another line of independent emirs with a brilliant history (800-909). This process of disintegration continued in all parts of the Muslim dominion. Every provincial governor was potentially an independent ruler. National traditions and aspirations reinforced the drift to separatism. Egypt and Syria and Arabia and Persia once more fell apart. The Arab conquest created a permanent international brotherhood of learning, literature, and religion it achieved a spiritual federation and affinity between much-divided races and nationalities it encouraged and made easy the migration of individuals from one land to another but it did not permanently obliterate national boundaries and national rivalries.
Parallel to the development of Islam as a world-power went the development of the Caliphate, its highest dignity. On the political side this office was an adaptation to new conditions of the ancient city governments of Mecca and Medina. Yet its holder was, essentially, a successor of the Prophet and so the supreme head of Islam. Local traditions and needs were bound to yield to this pre-eminent fact. When the Caliphs ceased to reside in Arabia, their local functions were soon practically abrogated. Only the restriction that they must be descended from the ancient ruling families of Mecca long remained to mark their political ancestry. The sovereign power inherent in the Caliphate was most fully realized in the case of the Umayyad princes. After them, in the Abbasid period, the authority of the office was circumscribed and diminished by the existence of rival Caliphates and by the disappearance of the political unity of Islam. The Caliphs of Baghdad drifted towards the condition of being a line of Muslim princes with a especially venerable ancestry. From this destiny they were partly saved by a further transformation of their position. They surrendered their political authority, even in their own territories and capitals, first to Persian and then to Turkish sultans, whose mere nominees they became. The Caliphate was now a dignity conferred by certain Muslim princes upon the descendants of an old Arabian family, which had formerly ruled Islam and still had a recognized hereditary right to its position. Some forms of power remained to it, which expressed respect for an ancient tradition and occasionally decided the course of events. The case of the Frankish kings of the seventh century, who ruled by the grace of the mayors of the palace, may be referred to as a parallel. It may not be superfluous to add that in this phase the Caliphate cannot be described as having been reduced to a purely spiritual function. The office is not a kind of Papacy. In name, if not in fact, the Caliphs have always been great Muslim sovereigns. The separation of Egypt and of Syria from the jurisdiction of the Abbasid Caliphs and the subsequent conflicts between them and their Fatimite rivals, to be narrated in this chapter, are essentially a sequence of military and political events.
The distinctive principles and the historical origin of the Shiite party, who supported the exclusive claims of Ali to the Caliphate, have been explained in a previous chapter. Having failed to secure the succession for one of Ali's descendants when the Umayyads were overthrown, they turned their intrigues and plots with increased energy against the Abbasid usurpers. Two branches of this Shiite agitation, with apparently a common origin, have a notable influence on the history of Egypt and Syria in the ninth and tenth centuries. One of the Shiite sects is known as the Ismailian , because its adherents believed that the Mahdi, who was to establish their cause and set the world right, would be a son or descendant of the seventh Imam, Ismail. About the middle of the ninth century a certain Abdallah ibn Maimun , a Persian, gained a position of great influence among these Ismailians , and directed a wide-spread propaganda from Salamiyah , his headquarters in northern Syria. At least two of his descendants, Ahmad ibn Abdallah and Said ibn Husain, succeeded him as the heads of the organization which he established. In the beginning of the tenth century the supporters of Said gained sufficient power in North Africa to enable them to overthrow and depose the last of the Aghlabite emirs. In 909 they proclaimed a certain Ubaidallah ibn Muhammad as the Mahdi and the first of the Fatimid Caliphs (909-934). There is strong reason to believe that this personage was actually Said ibn Husain, who had disappeared from Salamiyah some years previously. But his followers held that he was a descendant of Ali and of the Prophet's daughter Fatimah. In 969 the fourth Fatimid Caliph conquered Egypt, and soon afterwards Egypt became the seat of the dynasty, with Cairo as its capital.
The Qarmatians were another offshoot of the propaganda organized by Abdallah ibn Maimun . They became a political power in Bahrain and amongst the Arabs on the borders of Syria and Mesopotamia, towards the end of the ninth century. Their special name is derived from the name (or nickname) of the agent whose preaching converted them to Shiite doctrines. They are alleged to have been to some extent under the secret control of the Fatimid Caliphs, who are thus supposed to have been the heirs of the authority of Abdallah ibn Maimun and his successors in Salamiyah . During the tenth century the Qarmatians were persistent and formidable enemies of the Abbasid Caliphs. Their repeated attacks on the pilgrim caravans to Mecca and their famous seizure of the Black Stone, which they kept in Bahrain for 21 years (930-951), are evidence of the looseness of their attachment to Islam.
Ahmad ibn Tulun (870-884) was the first of the Abbasid governors of Egypt to make himself practically independent of the Caliphs and to transmit his emirate to his descendants. He invaded Syria in 878, and joined it and a large part of Mesopotamia to his dominions. His territory extended to the borders of the Greek Empire, with which he came into conflict. His successor, Abul-jaish Khumarawaih (884-896), on the whole maintained his authority in Syria and was confirmed in his position by the Abbasid Caliph. Three other members of the Tulunite family were also, at least nominally, rulers of Egypt. In 903 the first great Qarmatian invasion of Syria took place. The governor of Damascus and the army of Egypt were unable to save the province. Help was asked from Muktafí , the last of the Caliphs of Baghdad to exercise a measure of independent political power. His troops defeated the Qarmatians (903), put an end to the authority of the Tulunites (904-905), and then repelled a second attack of the Qarmatians on Syria (906).
For thirty years Egypt and Syria were again ruled by a series of emirs nominated by the court of Baghdad. Their brief terms of office reflect the unstable condition of the central government. The first amir al- umara to exercise supreme power in Baghdad, the eunuch Munis (908-933), also effectively influenced the course of events in the provinces. It was he who saved Egypt from the first attacks of the Fatimites . Twice (914-915 and 919-920) an invading army captured Alexandria and occupied pail of the country for several months, but was in the end repulsed. During the next fifty years the Fatimid Caliphs had little leisure to pursue their scheme of annexing Egypt. They made one slight attempt in 935-936. In 935 the Emir of Damascus, Muhammad ibn Tughj al- Ikhshid , obtained the governorship of Egypt. He lost his Syrian possessions for a time to Muhammad ibn Raiq of Aleppo. But after the death of this rival (942) he reoccupied Syria and obtained the governorship of Mecca and Medina on the nomination of the Abbasid Caliph.
About this time the most powerful emirs in Upper Mesopotamia were two rulers of the Arab house of Hamdan , Nasir-ad- Daulah Hasan of Mosul (936-967) and Saif -ad- Daulah Alo of Diyarbakr (935-944). This house now began to play an important part in the history of Syria. In 944 Saif -ad- Daulah seized Aleppo and became master of northern Syria. An attempt to occupy Damascus was not permanently successful (spring of 945) and a battle fought with the army of Ikhshid , near Qinnasrin , was indecisive. In the autumn of 945 peace was made between Saif -ad- Daulah and Ikhshid , on the terms that the former should hold northern Syria as far as Hims and the latter Damascus and southern Syria. The line thus drawn is the usual line of division in the tenth and eleventh centuries between the territory of Aleppo and the territory ruled by the sovereigns of Egypt. Antioch and a large part of Cilicia were also dependencies of Aleppo when the peace of 945 was made.
When Ikhshid died (July 946), he was nominally succeeded first by one son and then, after an interval, by another. But the real ruler of Egypt in these two reigns was a native African, Abul -mish Kafur (946-968). He defeated a second attempt of Saif -ad- Daulah to seize Damascus (946), and then renewed with him the previously existing agreement, modified somewhat to his own advantage (947). Henceforward Kafur's rule was undisturbed by foreign attack. He successfully promoted the internal development of his own dominions, and made no attempt to encroach on the territory of his neighbors.
In northern Syria during the period of Kafur’s reign Saif -ad- Daulah waged a desperate and continuous warfare with the Greek Empire (944-967). First the Muslims, and then after some years the Greeks, were the chief aggressors. But for nearly twenty years the character of the warfare was substantially the same. Each year some raid or expedition was launched far over the enemy's borders by one or both of the combatants, and yet no decisive success was secured by either side. A notable victory is sometimes ascribed to Saif -ad- Daulah (e.g. in the year 953), but more often he seems to have suffered serious defeat (e.g. in November 950 and November 960).
During these years Aleppo was the seat of a court which attracted to it poets and men of learning from all the lands of Islam. Saif -ad- Daulah was himself a poet and a man of letters, and also, literally, the hero of a hundred fights. His character and his court are illuminated for us by the poems of one of the most famous of Arabic writers, Ahmad ibn Husain, al- Mutanabbi .
The first campaign of Nicephorus Phocas in 962 marks the commencement of a change in the scene and character of Greek operations. The most striking feature of the campaign was the sack of Aleppo and the occupation of the city by a Greek army for six or eight days (December 962). But the most important and significant operations were those which aimed at the conquest of Cilicia. Three years were needed to bring them to a conclusion. In 965 Mamistra and Tarsus were both captured, and the annexation of the province was virtually complete.
During 965 and 966 Saif -ad- Daulah was engrossed by the distractions of civil strife and Muslim war. His death, early in 967 (in January or February), was a prelude to further dissensions in Aleppo. Rival princes of the house of Hamdan and other emirs waged war with one another. Nicephorus, now Emperor (963-969), seized his opportunity. In the autumn of 968 he made a terrifying raid through the greater part of northern Syria, burning and destroying and taking many prisoners from the towns he passed. He marched up the valley of the Orontes, passed Hamah and Hims , and then turned through Al- Buqaiah to the sea. He returned northwards along the coast by Jabalah and Latiqiyah to Antioch. No territory was gained by this invasion, unless possibly the sea-coast town of Latiqiyah . But the display of the Emperor’s power contributed to the success of his representative in the following year. Nicephorus, as he withdrew to Cilicia, left a strong garrison in the castle of Baghras , at the Syrian gates. It was commanded by Michael Burtzes , who soon learned that the people of Antioch, having declared their independence of Aleppo, had no settled government. He secured an entrance into the city by the help of traitors, and took possession on 28 October 969. Two months later he imposed humiliating terms of peace on Aleppo, which was again occupied by Greek troops, as it had been in 962. The boundaries between the dukedom of Antioch and the emirate of Aleppo were minutely defined and remained practically the same for the next hundred years. Harim was the farthest castle of the Greeks on the east and Atharib the corresponding fortress of Aleppo on the west. On the north the territory of Aleppo extended to the river Sajur and included Mambij . It was a condition of peace that the emirs of Aleppo should pay an annual tribute to the Greeks1.
The Fatimites conquer Egypt
The fourth Fatimid Caliph, Abu Tamim Ma’add al- Muizz (953-975), added much to the fame and power of the dynasty. His success was due to his own qualities of statesmanship and to the talents of his most trusted general, Jauhar ar -Rumi, originally a Greek slave (ob. 992). When Abul -mish Kafur died (April 968), Muizz , having established his supremacy in Tunis and Morocco, had already commenced to prepare for the invasion of Egypt. Kafur’s death was followed by civil strife in Egypt and by circumstances which caused wide-spread distress. A strong party was ready to welcome the Fatimid ruler. No one was much opposed to his taking possession of the country. In the summer of 969 Jauhar's invasion met with only slight opposition. Cairo was occupied on 6 July, and the name of the Fatimid Caliph quietly supplanted that of his Abbasid rival in the public prayers of the following Friday (9 July). Jauhar’s conciliatory policy and the practical benefits of his government secured general acquiescence in the new regime. Muizz did not transfer his residence to Egypt until the early summer of 973, but Jauhar’s conquest marks the beginning of a new period in the history of Egypt and of the Caliphate (969). For two centuries the governors of Egypt contested the claim of the Abbasids to the obedience of all Islam. The prestige of its rulers was equal and even superior to that of the Caliphs of Baghdad. The emirs of Syria and Arabia had an alternative Caliph to whom they might transfer their allegiance at choice. During the next hundred years the rulers of Lower Mesopotamia were either too weak or too much engaged elsewhere to exercise any effective control in Syria. The histories of Syria and Egypt thus run, for the most part, in one channel. In the extreme north the emirs of Aleppo maintain a precarious independence. But southern and central Syria, which had been subject to the Ikhshids and to Abul -mish Kafur , remained normally subject to Egypt until the coming of the Turks.
The disaffection or rivalry of the Qarmatians was the chief obstacle to the occupation of Damascus and southern Syria by the Fatimites . It seems probable that the Qarmatians of Bahrain had been up to this point secret supporters and allies of the Fatimites . It is therefore possible that their invasions of Syria in 964 and 968 were instigated by the Caliph Muizz as a step towards his conquest of Egypt and Syria. But now a party held power in Bahrain whose policy was to oppose the Fatimites and to acknowledge the Abbasid Caliphs. Such a complete reversal of the principles of the sect could not fail to shake the confidence of its adherents, and it may be that the rapid decline of the Qarmatians from this date onwards is due to the internal schism so introduced. The new policy had only a brief prospect of success. Syria was invaded by one of Jauhar’s lieutenants, Jafar ibn Fallah . He defeated the Ikhshid governor, Husain ibn Ubaidallah , at Ramlah in the autumn of 969 and entered Damascus in the third week of November. The population of Damascus was not disposed to acknowledge a Shiite Caliph, and Jafar's position as governor during two years was precarious and uneasy. On the other hand Acre, Sidon, Beyrout , and Tripolis seem to have transferred their allegiance to the Fatimites without resistance. The decisive factor in their case was the command which the Egyptian fleet held of the sea. In 971 the Qarmatian leader, Hasan al- asam (Hasan al- asham ), in agreement with the Emir of Aleppo and the Caliph of Baghdad, invaded Syria. Jafar was defeated and Damascus occupied (autumn 971), and the Qarmatians became masters of the interior of southern Syria. During the three years of their occupation they twice invaded Egypt without success (October 971 and May 974). After their second repulse Damascus was reoccupied by Fatimid troops for a few months (June 974). But the inhabitants were still opposed to the Fatimites , and chose a Turkish emir, Al- aftakin , to be their governor (spring 975). Al- aftakin , after an unsuccessful attack on the Syrian coast-towns in 976, was besieged in Damascus for six months by Jauhar (July-December). A Qarmatian army came to his rescue, and the allies reoccupied southern Palestine with the exception of Ascalon , which Jauhar held against them for fifteen months. The loss of this city in the spring of 978 was counterbalanced by an Egyptian victory near Ramlah (15 August 978). Al- aftakin’s career was ended by his capture after the battle, but the Egyptians judged it expedient to buy off the Qarmatians by promising payment to them of an annual sum of money. Damascus also maintained its independence.
A Syrian emir named Qassam was chosen governor by the citizens, and remained in power until July 988. During most of his emirate a large part of southern Syria was ruled independently by the Arab chief, Mufarrij ibn Daghfal ibn Jarrah. In 9821 this chief was driven out of the country, and thus, finally, Palestine was reduced to obedience. In the following year Qassam himself surrendered to an Egyptian army. The Caliph, Abu mansur Nizar al-Aziz (975-996), then secured control of Damascus by appointing as its governor Bakjur , recently Emir of Hims , who was a persona grata to the inhabitants (December 983). He ruled five years and was then deposed for disloyalty (October 988). But the series of governors who succeeded him, until the Turkish occupation, were nearly all nominees of the Fatimid Caliphs.
By the Fatimid conquest of Egypt and the Greek occupation of Aleppo in the same year (969), the way was opened for the clash of two distant powers in Syria. The Syrian coast-towns as far as Tripoli quickly became a portion of the Fatimid dominions. In the early part of the year 971 an army sent by Jafar ibn Fallah unsuccessfully besieged Antioch for some months. The attempt was not followed up because of the resistance that the Fatimites met with in Palestine. It was also the condition of Palestine during the Fatimid conquest and the Qarmatian occupation that induced the Emperor John (969-976) to invade Syria in 975. Aleppo was already a humble tributary, and probably the Emperor expected to reduce a large part of the country to the same condition. The fullest description of his campaign is contained in a letter that he wrote to an Armenian prince. The expedition lasted from April to October. The farthest point reached by the main army was the plain of Esdraelon ( Marj ibn Amir). From Antioch the Greeks marched past Hamah and Hims , then through the Biqa and the valley of the Jordan as far as Baisan . From Baisan they turned westward to Acre, and from there along the coast back again to Antioch. No hostile army attempted to stop their progress. Most of the Syrian emirs professed submission in order to save themselves from attack. Al- aftakin of Damascus and others purchased immunity by paying considerable sums of money. Baalbek was besieged and captured, and Beirut was successfully stormed. Tripoli was besieged for forty days without success. The real gains of the expedition were made on the coast just to the south of Antioch and in the hills facing Jabalah and Latiqiyah . From now onwards Jabalah was an advanced post of the Greek Empire, facing Tripoli and the territory of the Fatimites . In the hills Sahyun and Barzuyah became Greek strongholds. Beyond these limits nothing was gained. The southern emirs, who promised to pay an annual tribute, and even signed treaties to this effect, were beyond the reach of the Emperor's troops in ordinary times and never fulfilled their promises.
In Aleppo after the death of Saif -ad- Daulah (967) the authority of government was usurped by Turkish slaves, of whom Farghuyah ( Qarghuyah ) was the chief. In the following year Saif -ad- Daulah’s son, Sadad-Daulah Abul-maali , was expelled from the city (968). When Farghuyah submitted to the Greeks (970), as previously described, Sadad-Daulah was allowed to retain Hims . In 975 Farghuyah was thrown into prison by an associate, the emir Bakjur , part of whose later history has already been narrated. This encouraged Sadad-Daulah to attempt the recovery of his father's capital (976). Bakjur was compelled to come to terms, and received Hims in compensation for the surrender of Aleppo (977).
The chief feature of the remainder of Sadad-Daulah’s emirate is the oscillation of Aleppo between dependence upon the Greeks and alliance with the Egyptians. Sadad-Daulah wished to be quit of the burden of tribute due to the Emperor, and was willing to make concessions to the Caliph in return for his help. But Aziz hoped to reduce northern Syria to the same state of obedience as Palestine, and for this and other reasons Sadad-Daulah was compelled at times to ask protection from the Greeks. His first revolt, in 981, quickly collapsed owing to lack of support from Egypt. In 983 Bakjur of Hims , having quarreled with Sadad-Daulah , attacked Aleppo with the support of Fatimid troops (September). The siege was raised by a relief force from Antioch under Bardas Phocas . Bakjur fled to Damascus, and Hims was sacked by Greek soldiers (October). Even in these circumstances there was friction between Sadad-Daulah and his protectors. The dispute was settled by the payment in one year of two years’ tribute. During 985 and 986 Sadad-Daulah was again in revolt. The principal events were the capture of Killiz by the Greeks (985) and their siege of Famiyah (986). Fatimid troops captured and held for a short time the castle of Bulunyas . Most likely it was the determination of Aziz to make peace with the Greeks that led to Sadad-Daulah’s submission to the Emperor on the same terms as before. The amount of the annual tribute was 20,000 dinars (400,000 dirhems ).
The career of Bakjur , which is characteristic of the period, may here be followed to its close. After ruling Damascus for five years in dependence on Aziz (983-988), he was deposed by his order. He fled to Raqqah , on the Euphrates, and from there once more plotted against Sad-ad- Daulah . In April 991 he was defeated, captured, and executed by his former master and rival. In this battle Greek troops from Antioch again assisted the Emir of Aleppo.
In 987 or 988 (AH 377) the first of a series of treaties between the Greek Emperors and the Egyptian Caliphs was made. The scanty details which are preserved suggest that it followed the lines of the better-known treaties of later date. If so, the outstanding feature is that the Emperor exercises his influence on behalf of the Christian subjects of the Caliph, and that the Caliph similarly acts as protector of the Muslims of the Empire. It is significant that under this arrangement the Fatimid Caliph is recognized to the exclusion of his Abbasid rival. Under the treaty there was an exchange of prisoners and the duration of peace was fixed at seven years.
Sadad-Daulah was succeeded nominally by his son Abul-fadail Saidad-Daulah (December 991). But the effective ruler throughout his reign was the wazir Abu Muhammad Lulu al- kabir (Lulu the elder). It was presumably hostility to him that drove a number of the mamluks of Aleppo about this time to seek refuge in Egypt. Their support encouraged Aziz to attempt again the conquest of Aleppo. This led to a renewal of war with the Greek Empire also. The governor of Damascus, Manjutakin ( Banjutakin ). commanded the Egyptian army. He invaded the territory of Aleppo and conducted operations there for thirteen months (992-993). A Greek force from Antioch under Michael Burtzes was repulsed (June 992). But Manjutakin’s operations were not energetic, and in the spring of 993 he returned to Damascus owing to lack of provisions. Next spring (994) Aziz sent reinforcements and supplies to Syria, and with these at his service Manjutakin attacked Aleppo early in June. A relief force from Antioch was severely defeated on the banks of the Orontes (14 September 994). Scarcity of food, caused by the closeness of the blockade, now reduced the defenders of Aleppo to desperate straits. In their extremity they were saved by the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Emperor Basil (976-1025). He rode through Asia Minor in sixteen days at the head of 3000 horsemen. The alarm caused by his arrival was so great, the numbers of his army probably so exaggerated, that Manjutakin burned his tents and equipment and made off in panic, without risking a battle (end of April 995). Basil followed southwards as far as Al- Buqaiah , and then turning down to the coast marched northwards by the Mediterranean to Antioch. Prisoners were taken from Rafaniyah and Hims , but as dependencies of Aleppo they were presumably not seriously injured. Tripoli was besieged without success for more than forty days. Taratus was occupied, and garrisoned by Armenian auxiliaries.
Aziz now began to prepare extensively for war with the Emperor. He made terms with Lulu, who formally acknowledged his Caliphate (995). But the only fruit of these preparations was an expedition to recover Taratus . Aziz died on 13 October 996, and revolts in southern Syria against the authority of Hasan ibn Ammar, who ruled in the name of the new Caliph, made foreign wars impossible. For three years the governor of Antioch carried on an active border warfare and somewhat strengthened his position in the direction of Tripoli. In 998 he besieged Famiyah which was held by a Fatimid garrison. The Egyptians sent a relief force and the besiegers were severely defeated (19 July 998). This defeat brought the Emperor Basil once more to Syria (October 999).
Basil's second Syrian campaign lasted almost exactly three months. Two months were spent in raiding the province of Hims as far as Baalbek. Shaizar was occupied and garrisoned. Several castles were burned and ruined (Abu- qubais , Masyath , Arqah , and the town of Rafaniyah ). It is not likely that Hims itself was much injured. A large amount of plunder and many captives were secured. From 5 December to 6 January Tripoli was invested, without success. The Emperor spent the rest of the winter in Cilicia. Affairs in Armenia now claimed his attention, but even apart from this Basil probably desired to make peace with the Caliph of Egypt. It may be that the ten years’ truce concluded about this time was ratified before the Emperor left Cilicia in the summer of 1000.
In the second half of the tenth century Egypt enjoyed a period of much prosperity and internal peace. This was principally the merit of the Caliphs Maadd al- Muizz (953-975) and Nizar al-Aziz (975-996). They were just and tolerant rulers and fortunate in the generals and officers of state who served them. Art, learning, and manufactures were fostered and flourished. Numerous public buildings and other works of public utility date from this period. The burdens of taxation were somewhat lightened and more equally distributed. Much of the kaleidoscopic life of the Thousand and One Nights was actually realized in the Cairo of those days.
The instability of fortune and the caprice of rulers never found more striking illustrations than in the reign of the sixth Caliph, Abu All al-Mansur al-Hakim (996-1021). His minority was a time of chaos, when the chiefs of the Berber and Turkish guards fought and schemed for supremacy. The native historians relate strange and incredible stories of his personal government, out of which it is nearly impossible to make a coherent picture. He is represented as arbitrary and cruel beyond measure and as the persecutor of every class in turn. He kept his position only by unscrupulous assassination and by playing off against one another the Arab, Turkish, Berber, and Negro factions which mingled in his court. On the other hand, measures are attributed to him which have been interpreted as the conceptions of a would-be reformer and unpractical idealist. In part of his reign he seems to be a rigid Muslim, persecuting Jews and Christians against all tradition and in spite of the fact that his mother was a Christian and his uncle at one time Patriarch of Jerusalem. At another period his conduct suggests that he was influenced by the esoteric doctrine of the Ismailian sect to which his ancestors belonged. Towards the end of his life he seems to have countenanced sectaries who proclaimed him to be an incarnation of deity. The mystery of his death was a fitting close to a mysterious life. He left his palace one dark night (13 February 1021) never to return the presumption is that he was assassinated. But some declared that he would yet return in triumph as the divine vicegerent, and the Druses of Lebanon are said to maintain this belief to the present day.
The revolts in southern Syria at the beginning of Hakim's reign reflect the strife of parties in Egypt and did not threaten the authority of the Caliphate itself. This distinction helps to make intelligible the maze of revolts and depositions and revolutions in which the governorship of Damascus was now involved. In twenty-four years and a half there were at least twenty changes in the occupancy of the post. Two governors between them held office for nine years, so that the average term of the remainder was less than ten months each. More than one was deposed within two months of his appointment. Generally the only cause of change was the arbitrary disposition of the Caliph or an alteration in the balance of power amongst the emirs of his court. Sometimes the new governor had to establish his authority by force of arms.
On one occasion in these years there was a revolt of a more serious character. Early in 1011 the Arab chief Mufarrij ibn Daghfal ibn Jarrah, having defeated the Caliph's representative, became ruler of inland Palestine for the second time. He failed to occupy any of the coast-towns but held possession of the interior for two years and five months, until his death (1013). A peculiar feature of this revolt was the acknowledgment by Ibn Daghfal of the sharif of Mecca, Hasan ibn Jafar , as “commander of the faithful”. This personage was a descendant of the Prophet and so possessed one outstanding qualification for the Caliphate. But his only supporter was Ibn Daghfal , and his phantom authority lasted less than two years. Ibn Daghfal’s sons were defeated by Hakim's troops immediately after their father's death, and the control of Palestine passed again to the governor of Damascus.
Ruin of the Holy Sepulchre
An event of special interest to Christendom occurred in Jerusalem during Hakim's Caliphate, namely, the profanation and ruin of the church of the Holy Sepulchre (commencing 27 September 1009). It is unlikely that the fabric of the church was seriously injured. Hakim ordered its relics to be taken away and its monuments, including the Holy Sepulchre , to be destroyed. The portable furnishings of the church and its treasures were carried into safety before the Caliph's agents arrived. But the Holy Sepulchre and other venerated shrines were destroyed as completely as possible. The interior must have been left in a very mutilated condition. Mufarrij ibn Daghfal began the work of restoration when he was ruler of southern Palestine (i.e. between 1011 and 1013).
Said-ad- Daulah of Aleppo having died early in January 1002, Lulu banished the surviving members of the Hamdan family to Egypt and assumed the emirate. He acknowledged the Fatimid Caliph, Hakim, and also continued to pay tribute to the Greek Emperor. His rule is praised as having been wise and just. After his death (August 1009) Mansur his son, although unpopular, held the emirate for some years against the Hamdan family and the attacks of the Bani Kilab under Salih ibn Mirdas . Finally he was expelled from Aleppo by an insurrection (6 January 1016), headed by the governor of the castle, Mubarak-ad- Daulah Fatah, and, having escaped to Antioch, became a pensioner of the Greeks. These events increased the authority of the Egyptians in northern Syria. About a year later, Mubarak-ad- Daulah was made governor of Tyre , Sidon, and Beyrout by Hakim, and Aziz-ad- Daulah Fatik , an Armenian, was installed as governor of Aleppo (3 February 1017). As so often happened in such cases, the new governor began to act as an independent emir, and his assassination (13 June 1022) was probably instigated by Sitt -al- mulk , Hakim's sister, now regent. During the next two years and a half an Egyptian garrison held the citadel of Aleppo, and a series of Egyptian governors controlled the city. The seventh Fatimid Caliph was Abul-hasan Ali az-Zahir . He was a boy when he succeeded his father and he never exercised much influence in the government of his dominions (1021-1036). For the first three years of his reign Hakim's sister, Sitt -al- mulk , was regent. Soon after her death the Arab tribes on the borders of Syria made a league against the Caliph, hoping to conquer and rule the country (1024). The leaders of the revolt were Salih ibn Mirdas , chief of the Bani Kilab , who lived in the neighborhood of Aleppo, Sinan ibn Ulyan , chief of the Bani Kalb, near Damascus, and Hassan, a son of Mufarrij ibn Daghfal , whose home was in southern Palestine. The confederates were at first successful both in Palestine and northern Syria. Aleppo was captured by Salih ibn Mirdas (January 1025), and Hims , Baalbek, and Sidon soon acknowledged his authority. Thus a new dynasty, that of the Mirdasites , was established in Aleppo (1025-1080). In Palestine the Caliph's representative, Anushtakin ad- dizbiri , was more than once defeated and was driven out of Syria. The least successful of the allies was Sinan ibn Ulyan . After his death in July 1028, his successor deserted the alliance and submitted to the Caliph. In the following year a decisive battle was fought at Uqhuwanah , south of Lake Tiberias , between Salih and Hassan on the one side, and the Egyptians and their allies on the other (14 Mav 1029). Salih was killed and Hassan’s power was completely broken. From now onwards Anushtakin was governor of Damascus and the most powerful emir in Syria (1029-1041).
During the period of this rebellion, in 1027 (AH 418), an interesting treaty of peace was made between the Fatimid Caliph and the Emperor Constantine VIII. It was provided that the Caliph's name should be mentioned in the public prayers of the mosques throughout the Empire, to the exclusion of his Abbasid rival. This arrangement was continued until the year 1056, when it was reversed at the instance of the Turkish Sultan Tughril Beg. A further recognition of the representative character of the Fatimid Caliph, and another concession to Islam, was contained in the provision that the Caliph might restore the mosque in Constantinople and appoint a muezzin to officiate there. The counterpart of these provisions gave the Emperor the right to restore the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is not to be assumed that the church had lain in ruins since its profanation by Hakim's orders in 1009, nor, perhaps, that much was actually done at this time in the way of restoration. Another concession made by the Caliph was that those Christians who had become Muslims by compulsion in the time of Hakim might again profess Christianity without penalty. It may be assumed that the treaty of peace, as usual, was valid for a limited period only but the term is not specified by the only source that mentions the treaty.
Nasr Shibl -ad- Daulah , son of Salih ibn Mirdas , was permitted to succeed his father as ruler of Aleppo on the condition that he acknowledged the Fatimid Caliph in the customary manner, on his coinage and in the public prayers of Friday. His emirate did not include Hims or Hainan, but extended north-eastward to the Euphrates. The Greeks, who had recently been losing ground in Syria, now seized what seemed to them an opportunity of improving their position. The territory of Aleppo was twice invaded (1029 and 1030), both times unsuccessfully. The Emperor Romanus shared in the second invasion, a very ill-judged attempt. The Greek army suffered so much in the neighborhood of Azaz from the hot season, lack of water, and fever that it was compelled to retreat in a few days and lost heavily as it retired (August 1030). The Emir of Aleppo, reckoning his triumph an occasion of conciliation and not of defiance, at once opened negotiations for peace. A treaty was signed on terms that were distinctly unfavorable to the Muslim city. Aleppo again became tributary to the Empire, and a Greek deputy was allowed to reside in the city and watch over the due performance of the conditions of peace (April 1031).
At this date the territory of the Greeks in Syria extended eastward from Antioch to Harim and southwards along the coast as far as Maraqiyah . The hillmen of the Jabal Ansariyah , who adjoined this territory, were partially held in check by strong castles such as Bikisrayil , but still maintained their independence. After the defeat of Romanus, one of the chiefs of the hill tribes, Nasr ibn Mushraf , captured Bikisrayil and a general rising took place. Maraqiyah was besieged by Ibn Mushraf and the Emir of Tripoli. Nicetas , the new governor of Antioch, took prompt action against a very dangerous situation. He raised the siege of Maraqiyah (December 1030), and during the next two years systematically besieged and reduced the castles of the hillmen (1031-1032). Balatunus , Bikisrayil , and Safitha were among the fortresses now garrisoned and held by the Greeks.
These events brought about a resumption of hostilities between the Empire and the Egyptian Caliph. Anushtakin of Damascus and the Emir of Tyre had given a timorous support to the mountaineers in their struggle with Nicetas . Rafaniyah was therefore attacked and captured by Greek troops. A Byzantine fleet threatened Alexandria and the mouths of the Nile. Both parties desired a stable peace, but the task of settling the matters in dispute proved to be long and difficult. The chief obstacle to a settlement was the demand of the Emperor that Aleppo should be treated as a Greek dependency. The negotiations were continued, or resumed, after the death of Romanus (April 1034), and peace was signed, perhaps in the autumn of 1037. Each party pledged itself not to assist the enemies of the other, and their respective spheres of influence in northern Syria were defined. The Greek deputy whom Romanus had stationed in Aleppo had been driven out soon after that Emperor's death, so that Aleppo probably secured its independence. The right of the Emperor to renovate the church of the Holy Sepulchre was acknowledged, and possibly the privilege of appointing the Bishop of Jerusalem. In return Michael IV set free 5000 Muslim prisoners. The duration of the peace was fixed at thirty years. The Emperor sent builders and money to Jerusalem, but the repairs to the church were not completed until the reign of his successor Constantine IX.
Caliphate of Mustansir
The eighth Fatimid Caliph, Abu tamim Maadd al- Mustansir , was only seven years old when his father died (June 1036), so that his reign began with a succession of regencies. The Caliph's mother, an African woman, exercised a considerable amount of influence. The contemporary Persian traveler Nasir- i - Khusrau records very favorable impressions of the prosperity and tranquility of the country while the Caliph was a minor.
Early in this reign peaceful relations between Aleppo and Egypt were broken off. Nasr ibn Salih was defeated and slain in battle with Anushtakin (May 1038), and Aleppo was captured and garrisoned by Egyptian troops for a few years (1038-1042). The disgrace of Anushtakin , followed immediately by his death (January-February 1042), weakened the Fatimid dominion all over Syria. Aleppo was recovered by Nasr's brother, Muizz -ad- Daulah Thumal (March 1042). He resumed payment of tribute to the Greeks and so secured himself in that direction. The terms of the rulers of Egypt were not so easily satisfied. Envoys came and went between the parties. Attacks were launched against Thumal by the Emirs of Hims and Damascus, acting in the name of the Caliph (1048-1050). At length, in 1050, an agreement satisfactory to both sides was arrived at.
Two isolated events, which are a part of the history of the Fatimid Caliphs, deserve mention here. In 1049 Muizz ibn Badis , the Zairite Emir of Tunis, ceased to pay tribute to Mustansir and transferred his allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph. His family had ruled in Qairawan , in practical independence, since 973, when the Fatimid Caliph of the day made Cairo his residence and capital. But the formal separation, signalized by the acknowledgment of the Caliph of Baghdad, took place only now. On the other hand, for the greater part of the year 1059 the Caliphate of Mustansir was acknowledged in Baghdad itself. Such acknowledgments were now symbols of the triumph of political parties and alliances. The Turkish Sultan Tughril Beg identified his cause with that of the Abbasid Caliphs, with the result that his enemies in Mesopotamia were disposed to favor recognition of the Fatimid Caliphs in those districts and cities where they triumphed. In 1059 Baghdad was occupied by a Turkish emir, Arsian al- Basasiri , who, being an enemy of the sultan, acted in the manner just described. The occasion was hailed in Egypt as an extraordinary triumph, and in fact probably marked the highest point of superiority to the Abbasids ever reached by the Fatimid Caliphs.
When Mustansir came of age he showed such feebleness and incapacity that he was treated by all parties as a cypher in the government. The ministry of Hasan al- yazuri (1050-1058) was still, on the whole, prosperous and considerate of the general welfare. But after his death there recommenced a bitter struggle for power between the leaders of the Turkish and those of the negro troops. The country was devastated and impoverished by civil war, and finally lay at the mercy of the unscrupulous and cruel Turkish leader Nasir-ad- Daulah ibn Hamdan (1062-1073). Prolonged drought and famine increased the miseries of the unhappy people. The influence of Egypt upon foreign affairs fell to its lowest ebb. It was in no way able to share in the defence of Syria against the Seljuk Turks.
The rule of Muizz -ad- Daulah Thumal in Aleppo was mild and generous, and therefore popular. His greatest troubles were caused by the unruly Arabs of the district, the Bani Kilab , and latterly by the Seljuq Turks, already planted at Rahabah on the Euphrates. In January 1058, feeling no longer equal to the tasks of his position, he abdicated and left an Egyptian governor and garrison once more in power. These were soon expelled by the citizens assisted by the Bani Kilab (September 1060), and shortly afterwards Muizz -ad- Daulah was persuaded to return to his former post (April 1061). During his second brief emirate the Greeks provoked hostilities by repairing some border castles, and Artah was taken from them. Peace with them was renewed during: the civil war that followed Muizz -ad- Daulah’s death (November 1062). Artah appears to have returned to its former owners.
Thumal’s brother, Asad -ad- Daulah Atiyah ibn Salih , was his successor. His title to succeed was challenged by a nephew, Mahmud ibn Nasr, and the brief period of his emirate was one of civil war (1062-1065). It was at this date, just before the Norman conquest of England, that the Seljuk Turks entered Syria.
From the ninth century onwards, Turkish governors and Turkish generals and Turkish mercenaries play an important part in the history of Syria and especially of Egypt. The Tulunites were a Turkish family and were served by Turkish officers and soldiers. So also were the Ikhshids . In Mesopotamia, from which these viceroys came, Turkish slaves held the highest place, subject only to the nominal authority of the Caliphs. In Egypt the Fatimid dynasty retained and added to the Turkish household troops of their predecessors. Turkish, Berber, and Negro factions struggled for supremacy, and the Fatimid governors of Syrian towns in the tenth and eleventh centuries were often Turkish Mamluks .
Turkish conquest of Syria
Before the middle of the eleventh century, a new wave of Turkish migration, under the great Sultan Tughril Beg (1037-1063), swept into Lower Mesopotamia from the north and threatened Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia. It was the precursor of the conquest of Syria by the Seljuk Turks. The manner of their conquest is representative of many other periods in Syrian history. Bands of horsemen, a few hundred strong—seldom as many as a thousand—rode under adventurous leaders who sought their fortune and lived by their swords. They took service with any ruler for money or for lands, and gained their chief advantage where local feuds were being waged. Some novelty in their arms or in their way of fighting might give them an advantage in battle. In any case they were always on the war-path, and so could finally wear down the resistance of cities which depended upon the cultivation of the land or upon peaceful industry. The inland towns of Syria—Aleppo, Hims , Baalbek, Damascus, Jerusalem—yielded first and most completely to the Turks. Once established, the way of the conquerors was smoothed by their being Muslims. Their introduction of the nominal authority of the Caliphs of Baghdad was almost a matter of indifference to their subjects. The rule of Turkish emirs was already familiar in Syria. The invaders were backed by the prestige of the Seljuk sultans, but only to a slight extent occasionally by their armies.
A conquest of the character just described implies, of course, that Syria was in its normal state of political disintegration. It was, in fact, even less united than it had been for some time past. Aleppo was an independent territory and was rent by civil war. The Arabs hung loosely on the borders. The hillmen of the Jabal Ansariyah took no interest in the fate of the neighboring plains. Antioch and its dependencies were under the rule of foreigners. Damascus and the coast towns from Tripoli southwards had cut themselves adrift from Egypt, which was in the throes of revolution. They were governed by independent emirs, antagonistic to one another. Only the south-west of Palestine was still closely attached to Egypt. After the great defeat of the Greeks at Manzikert (1071), Antioch was almost left to its own resources. Even the Armenians, who had long given soldiers to the Greeks on the eastern borders of the Empire and in Syria, now preferred to make terms with the Turks.
Harun ibn Khan was the first of the Seljuk Turks to gain a footing in Syria. About the end of 1064 he and his thousand followers turned the scale in favor of' Atiyah ibn Salih against his rival Mahmud. When, however, Atiyah and the citizens of Aleppo rose against their deliverer and massacred his followers, he made off with the survivors to Mahmud and helped him to victory at the battle of Dabiq (16 June 1065). After the surrender of Aleppo to Mahmud (13 August 1065), Harun was given the little township of Maarrat -an- Numan in fief, and settled there with a mixed following of Turks, Kurds, and Dailemites .
In the summer of 1067 another Turkish leader, Afshin by name, raided the territory of Antioch and carried off great booty. His prisoners were so many that “a girl was sold for two dinars and a boy for a set of horseshoes”. In the following year Afshin besieged Antioch and was bought off by the payment of a large sum of money (1068). At the same time there was war between Aleppo and Antioch, and Artah was captured by Harun ibn Khan after a five months’ siege (1068). In the following year a Greek army, under the Emperor himself (Romanus Diogenes), recovered Artah and captured Mambij . Before the close of the year the Armenian governor of Antioch ( Kachatur ) made peace with Mahmud on terms that were favorable to the latter.
In 1070 a Turkish leader, known as Zandiq , entered Syria at the head of large forces and ravaged the territories of Aleppo, Hamah, Hims , and Rafaniyah . This was the first devastation of Muslim Syria by the Turks. It decided Mahmud to seek the protection of the Sultan Alp Arslan (1063-1072), and at the same time, in consequence, to transfer his allegiance from the Fatimid to the Abbasid Caliph. Prayers were said in the mosques of Aleppo for the new Caliph and for the sultan on Friday 30 July 10702.
Alp Arslan now demanded that Mahmud should engage in war with Antioch and with the Fatimid emirs. Mahmud having at first refused, the sultan invaded Syria (spring of 1071). Two months were spent in negotiations, and during another month Aleppo was blockaded. Then Mahmud submitted and became the sultan’s vassal. The historian of these events comments especially upon the discipline of Alp Arslan's army. The persons and the property of the country people were respected. Even the forage that the soldiers used was often paid for. Aleppo was neither ruined nor pillaged. Fasdiq , where Alp Arslan pitched his tent during the expedition, was henceforth known as the Sultan's Hill (Tell-as-sultan).
Mahmud does not seem to have shown much zeal in the fulfillment of his pledge to the sultan during the remainder of his emirate (ob. 10 January 1074). His sons Nasr (1074-1076) and Sabiq (1076-1080) were the last of the Mirdasites to rule Aleppo. Fresh bands of Turks were pouring into Syria. Rafaniyah was occupied by Jawali ibn Abaq (1075), who raided the territory of Aleppo until he was severely defeated by Ahmad Shah, another Turkish leader, in the service of Nasr ibn Mahmud and afterwards of his brother Sabiq . The assassination of Nasr and the accession of Sabiq illustrate the influence now exercised by the Turks over the internal affairs of Aleppo. Sabiq was opposed by two of his brothers and by the Bani Kilab , but defeated his enemies with the help of Ahmad Shah and other Turks (July 1076). Nasr and Sabiq both waged war intermittently with the Greeks. In 1075 Mambij was recovered by the former.
The principal Seljuk emirs of the north of Syria were Afshin, Zandiq , and Muhammad ibn Dimlaj . In the summer of 1077 they were ordered by Alp Arslan's successor, Malik Shah (1072-1092), to unite under the command of his brother Tajad-Daulah Tutush . In the spring of 1078 Tutush attacked Aleppo at the head of a large force, which included the Bani Kilab and the soldiers of Sharaf -ad- Daulah Muslim of Mosul (1061-1085). The siege lasted four months and its failure was attributed to the action of Sharaf -ad- Daulah , an old ally of the Turks, who was now turning against them. Next year (1079) Tutush resumed his operations in Syria, with some success. Mambij , Buzaah , and other places surrendered or were captured. Then an invitation from the Turkish Emir of Damascus, Atsiz ibn Abaq , drew his attention southwards.
The Turks in Palestine
The first mention of the presence of Seljuk Turks in Palestine belongs to the year 1070. The authority of Nasir-ad- Daulah , governor of Egypt, did not extend at that time beyond the south of Palestine. Acre and Sidon were governed by an Armenian, Badral-jamali , who had played a prominent part in Syrian affairs since 1063. Damascus, Tyre , and Tripoli were in the hands of other independent emirs. The Arab tribes on the southern and eastern borders were their own masters. After the assassination of Nasir-ad- Daulah (10 May 1073), Mustansir appealed to Badral-jamali to end the regime of the Turkish slaves in Egypt. At the head of his Syrian troops he occupied Cairo (February 1074), and in a few years restored unwonted peace and order to the country. He was the all-powerful ruler of Egypt for twenty years (1074-1094).
Several Turkish leaders shared in the conquest of southern Syria, but they all, in a measure, seem to have obeyed Atsiz ibn Abaq . His first acquisition was Amman, an Arab stronghold in the Balqa, (1071?). From there he became master of the south of Palestine, including Jerusalem and Ramlah . Jerusalem capitulated on terms, and suffered nothing from its change of rulers. For several years Atsiz , having marked Damascus as his prey, ravaged its territory, especially at harvest time, and levied contributions from the coast-towns as the price of their immunity. In 1075 he captured Rafaniyah and gave it over into the charge of his brother Jawali . In the summer of 1076 Damascus at last surrendered to him. After this he ventured to invade Egypt and was severely defeated in the neighborhood of Cairo (January 1077). His bold challenge prompted Badral-jamali to seek the recovery of Palestine and Damascus, Atsiz , fearing the issue of the conflict he had provoked, invited Tajad-Daulah Tutush to his aid. The result might have been expected. Tutush took possession of Damascus and put Atsiz to death (September 1079). Badral-jamali withdrew his forces from Palestine. The emirs of the coast-towns, for the most part, paid tribute to Tutush rather than submit to their ancient rival, the governor of Egypt.
Finding himself secure in Damascus, Tutush at once sent most of his army back into northern Syria. Afshin, his general, laid waste the country from Baalbek to Aleppo and ravaged the territory of Antioch. In consequence of this attack Sabiq and the citizens of Aleppo surrendered the town to Sharaf -ad- Daulah Muslim of Mosul (June 1080). Sabiq retired to Rahabah , and Muslim and Tutush stood opposed as well-matched antagonists.
As matters turned out, there was little actual fighting between the rivals. For two or three years Muslim strengthened his position in northern Syria and Upper Mesopotamia, held communications with Badral-jamali , and sought to divert the tribute of Antioch from the sultan to himself. During part of this time Tutush was absent from Syria, engaged in war with his brother Malik Shah. After his return he captured Taratus and some neighboring castles from the Greeks (1083). Muslim's one attempt on Damascus (1083) was broken off because Badral-jamali failed to cooperate as he had promised, and a revolt in Harran called for attention. Next year was occupied by war in Mesopotamia with Malik Shah. Towards the end of that year Sulaiman ibn Qutulmish , a Turkish emir who ruled a large part of Asia Minor, intervened in Syrian affairs. Antioch was surrendered to him by traitors (December 1084)2, and Muslim fell fighting against him in the following year (21 June 1085). These events altered the whole situation. Badral-jamali again retired from Syria, which he had invaded. Sulaiman and Tutush became rivals for the possession of Aleppo. The former was defeated and slain in June 1086. Soon afterwards Malik Shah intervened to settle the division of the Syrian conquests. Tutush was left in possession of Damascus and southern Syria.
Eve of the First Crusade
Qasim -ad- Daulah Aqsonqor , father of the famous atabeg Imad -ad-Din Zangi , received Aleppo. Antioch was given to Yaghi Bassan . Khalaf ibn Mulaib of Hims and Ali ibn Ammar of Tripolis remained attached to the Egyptian alliance which Muslim had formed. In 1089 (AH 482) Acre, Tyre , Sidon, and Jubail ( Byblus ) submitted to Badral-jamali for the sake of protection against the Turks. In the following year Khalaf was overpowered by a combination of the Turkish emirs. Thus all northern Syria, as far as Tripoli, was now securely in the hands of the Seljuk Turks.
The assassination of Nizam -al- mulk (October 1092), Malik Shah’s great vizier, followed soon by the sultan's own death (November 1092), opened a period of civil war and political decay in the history of the Seljuk dominions. The rival claims of the sultan’s children served as a welcome shelter to the ambitions of the powerful emirs who supported them. Tutush of Damascus was a candidate for the sultanate. He defeated, captured, and put to death Aqsonqor of Aleppo (summer of 1094). Then he marched into Mesopotamia, where he met his own fate (February 1095). After this Aleppo was ruled by Fakhr -al- muluk Ridwan , son of Tutush , and Damascus nominally by another son, Shams-al- muluk Duqaq , under the guardianship of the emir Tughtigln . Antioch remained in possession of Yaghi Bassan . In the summer of 1097 Hims again became independent, under Janah -ad- Daulah Husain. The coast-towns from Tripoli southwards were still dependencies of Egypt. The scene was now set for the entrance of the crusaders into Syria (autumn of 1097).
In December 1094 the long reign of the Caliph Mustansir (1036-1094), one of the longest reigns in Muslim history, came to an end. He was succeeded by his son, Abul-qasim Ahmad al- Mustali (1094-1101), the ninth Fatimid Caliph. Earlier in the same year Shah-an-shah al- Afdal , son of Badral-jamali , succeeded his father as amir al- juyush , and so as the actual ruler of Egypt (1094-1121). In the summer of 1098 he seized Jerusalem from its Turkish governor and regained the whole of the south of Palestine from the Turks. Thus two groups of foreigners governed Syria just before the advent of the First Crusade—Turkish emirs whose power lay mostly in the north and the east, and Egyptian garrisons who occupied the central and southern coast-towns and a part of Palestine. Neither of these groups could depend upon the loyalty of the Syrian people, and neither of them was disposed to unite with the other in joint opposition to the invaders from the west.
By Rainier on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 6:06 a.m. PSTHistory Egypt: Engineering an Empire allows players to build their own empire from the foundation to the height of its power. Acting as the leader of a territory from the Egyptian Empire, players manage all aspects of its rise, from economic growth to political power, the development of armies, and expansion into other regions by methods such as war and diplomacy.
History Egypt: Engineering an Empire allows players to build their own empire from the foundation to the height of its power. Acting as the leader of a territory from the Egyptian Empire, players manage all aspects of its rise, from economic growth to political power, the development of armies, and expansion into other regions by methods such as war and diplomacy.
To provide the historical backdrop for gameplay, the game incorporates footage from the “Engineering an Empire” television series. Each episode of the program looks at the history and culture of a great civilization through the prism of its engineering accomplishments.
Empires are controlled using three main views:
- Campaign Map: shows the entire game world, including mountains, forests, coastlines, oceans, rivers, cites, and armies.
- City Map: gives players an overview of the structure and role of a town within the empire, and provides a basis for economic decisions.
- Battle Map: to be used when diplomacy has run its course or when a city is being attacked, resulting in turn-based combat.
All nations, cities, armies, and events were carefully researched to ensure historical accuracy. The game is accessible for new users, while offering deeper gameplay for expert players.
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The Engineering an Empire TV series circles the globe to re-examine history's most magnificent civilizations by surveying the architectural and engineering triumphs they left behind. Beginning more than five-thousand years ago with the construction feats of the ancient Egyptians, the 14 documentaries in this series revive the spectacular glory of the past, from the great temples of Greece to the majestic and mysterious Tenochtitlan. Cutting-edge CGI graphics and stunning location footage reanimate the ancient streets of such cities as Carthage and Rome, while expert interviews trace the rise and technological achievements of each empire that paved the way for their gravity-defying masterpieces. Hosted by Peter Weller, Engineering an Empire unites each riveting moment of this critically-acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning series to reveal the innovation and infrastructure behind the world's most dazzling empires. The complete series contains: Rome, Egypt, Greece, Greece: Age of Alexander, The Aztecs, Carthage, China, Russia, Napoleon: Steel Monster, The Byzantines, Da Vinci's World, Britain: Blood and Steel, The Persians, The Maya: Death Empire.
Hosted by Peter Weller, Engineering an Empire unites each riveting moment of this critically-acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning series to reveal the innovation and infrastructure behind the world's most dazzling empires.
The complete series contains: Rome, Egypt, Greece, Greece: Age of Alexander, The Aztecs, Carthage, China, Russia, Napoleon: Steel Monster, The Byzantines, Da Vinci's World, Britain: Blood and Steel, The Persians, The Maya: Death Empire.
Murderous Games: Gladiatorial Contests in Ancient Rome
Gladiatorial shows turned war into a game, preserved an atmosphere of violence in time of peace, and functioned as a political theatre which allowed confrontation between rulers and ruled.
Rome was a warrior state. After the defeat of Carthage in 201 BC, Rome embarked on two centuries of almost continuous imperial expansion. By the end of this period, Rome controlled the whole of the Mediterranean basin and much of north-western Europe. The population of her empire, at between 50 and 60 million people, constituted perhaps one-fifth or one-sixth of the world's then population. Victorious conquest had been bought at a huge price, measured in human suffering, carnage, and money. The costs were borne by tens of thousands of conquered peoples, who paid taxes to the Roman state, by slaves captured in war and transported to Italy, and by Roman soldiers who served long years fighting overseas.
The discipline of the Roman army was notorious. Decimation is one index of its severity. If an army unit was judged disobedient or cowardly in battle, one soldier in ten was selected by lot and cudgelled to death by his former comrades. It should be stressed that decimation was not just a myth told to terrify fresh recruits it actually happened in the period of imperial expansion, and frequently enough not to arouse particular comment. Roman soldiers killed each other for their common good.
When Romans were so unmerciful to each other, what mercy could prisoners of war expect? Small wonder then that they were sometimes forced to fight in gladiatorial contests, or were thrown to wild beasts for popular entertainment. Public executions helped inculcate valour and fear in the men, women and children left at home. Children learnt the lesson of what happened to soldiers who were defeated. Public executions were rituals which helped maintain an atmosphere of violence, even in times of peace. Bloodshed and slaughter joined military glory and conquest as central elements in Roman culture.
With the accession of the first emperor Augustus (31 BC – AD 14), the Roman state embarked on a period of long-term peace (pax romana). For more than two centuries, thanks to its effective defence by frontier armies, the inner core of the Roman empire was virtually insulated from the direct experience of war. Then in memory of their warrior traditions, the Romans set up artificia1 battlefields in cities and towns for public amusement. The custom spread from Italy to the provinces.
Nowadays, we admire the Colosseum in Rome and other great Roman amphitheatres such as those at Verona, Arles, Nimes and El Djem as architectural monuments. We choose to forget, I suspect, that this was where Romans regularly organised fights to the death between hundreds of gladiators, the mass execution of unarmed criminals, and the indiscriminate slaughter of domestic and wild animals.
The enormous size of the amphitheatres indicates how popular these exhibitions were. The Colosseum was dedicated in AD 80 with 100 days of games. One day 3,000 men fought on another 9,000 animals were killed. It seated 50,000 people. It is still one of Rome's most impressive buildings, a magnificent feat of engineering and design. In ancient times, amphitheatres must have towered over cities, much as cathedrals towered over medieval towns. Public killings of men and animals were a Roman rite, with overtones of religious sacrifice, legitimated by the myth that gladiatorial shows inspired the populace with 'a glory in wounds and a contempt of death'.
Philosophers, and later Christians, disapproved strongly. To little effect gladiatorial games persisted at least until the early fifth century AD, wild-beast killings until the sixth century. St Augustine in his Confessions tells the story of a Christian who was reluctantly forced along to the amphitheatre by a party of friends at first, he kept his eyes shut, but when he heard the crowd roar, he opened them, and became converted by the sight of blood into an eager devotee of gladiatorial shows. Even the biting criticism quoted below reveals a certain excitement beneath its moral outrage.
Seneca, Roman senator and philosopher, tells of a visit he once paid to the arena. He arrived in the middle of the day, during the mass execution of criminals, staged as an entertainment in the interval between the wild-beast show in the morning and the gladiatorial show of the afternoon:
All the previous fighting had been merciful by comparison. Now finesse is set aside, and we have pure unadulterated murder. The combatants have no protective covering their entire bodies are exposed to the blows. No blow falls in vain. This is what lots of people prefer to the regular contests, and even to those which are put on by popular request. And it is obvious why. There is no helmet, no shield to repel the blade. Why have armour? Why bother with skill? All that just delays death.
In the morning, men are thrown to lions and bears. At mid-day they are thrown to the spectators themselves. No sooner has a man killed, than they shout for him to kill another, or to be killed. The final victor is kept for some other slaughter. In the end, every fighter dies. And all this goes on while the arena is half empty.
You may object that the victims committed robbery or were murderers. So what? Even if they deserved to suffer, what's your compulsion to watch their sufferings? 'Kill him', they shout, 'Beat him, burn him'. Why is he too timid to fight? Why is he so frightened to kill? Why so reluctant to die? They have to whip him to make him accept his wounds.
Much of our evidence suggests that gladiatorial contests were, by origin, closely connected with funerals. 'Once upon a time', wrote the Christian critic Tertullian at the end of the second century AD, 'men believed that the souls of the dead were propitiated by human blood, and so at funerals they sacrificed prisoners of war or slaves of poor quality bought for the purpose'. The first recorded gladiatorial show took place in 264 BC: it was presented by two nobles in honour of their dead father only three pairs of gladiators took part. Over the next two centuries, the scale and frequency of gladiatorial shows increased steadily. In 65 BC, for example, Julius Caesar gave elaborate funeral games for his father involving 640 gladiators and condemned criminals who were forced to fight with wild beasts. At his next games in 46 BC, in memory of his dead daughter and, let it be said, in celebration of his recent triumphs in Gaul and Egypt, Caesar presented not only the customary fights between individual gladiators, but also fights between whole detachments of infantry and between squadrons of cavalry, some mounted on horses, others on elephants. Large-scale gladiatorial shows had arrived. Some of the contestants were professional gladiators, others prisoners of war, and others criminals condemned to death.
Up to this time, gladiatorial shows had always been put on by individual aristocrats at their own initiative and expense, in honour of dead relatives. The religious component in gladiatorial ceremonies continued to be important. For example, attendants in the arena were dressed up as gods. Slaves who tested whether fallen gladiators were really dead or just pretending, by applying a red-hot cauterising iron, were dressed as the god Mercury. 'Those who dragged away the dead bodies were dressed as Pluto, the god of the underworld. During the persecutions of Christians, the victims were sometimes led around the arena in a procession dressed up as priests and priestesses of pagan cults, before being stripped naked and thrown to the wild beasts. The welter of blood in gladiatorial and wild-beast shows, the squeals and smell of the human victims and of slaughtered animals are completely alien to us and almost unimaginable. For some Romans they must have been reminiscent of battlefields, and, more immediately for everyone, associated with religious sacrifice. At one remove, Romans, even at the height of their civilisation, performed human sacrifice, purportedly in commemoration of their dead.
By the end of the last century BC, the religious and commemorative elements in gladiatorial shows were eclipsed by the political and the spectacular. Gladiatorial shows were public performances held mostly, before the amphitheatre was built, in the ritual and social centre of the city, the Forum. Public participation, attracted by the splendour of the show and by distributions of meat, and by betting, magnified the respect paid to the dead and the honour of the whole family. Aristocratic funerals in the Republic (before 31 BC) were political acts. And funeral games had political implications, because of their popularity with citizen electors. Indeed, the growth in the splendour of gladiatorial shows was largely fuelled by competition between ambitious aristocrats, who wished to please, excite and increase the number of their supporters.
In 42 BC, for the first time, gladiatorial fights were substituted for chariot-races in official games. After that in the city of Rome, regular gladiatorial shows, like theatrical shows and chariot-races, were given by officers of state, as part of their official careers, as an official obligation and as a tax on status. The Emperor Augustus, as part of a general policy of limiting aristocrats' opportunities to court favour with the Roman populace, severely restricted the number of regular gladiatorial shows to two each year. He also restricted their splendour and size. Each official was forbidden to spend more on them than his colleagues, and an upper limit was fixed at 120 gladiators a show.
These regulations were gradually evaded. The pressure for evasion was simply that, even under the emperors, aristocrats were still competing with each other, in prestige and political success. The splendour of a senator's public exhibition could make or break his social and political reputation. One aristocrat, Symmachus, wrote to a friend: 'I must now outdo the reputation earned by my own shows our family's recent generosity during my consulship and the official games given for my son allow us to present nothing mediocre'. So he set about enlisting the help of various powerful friends in the provinces. In the end, he managed to procure antelopes, gazelles, leopards, lions, bears, bear-cubs, and even some crocodiles, which only just survived to the beginning of the games, because for the previous fifty days they had refused to eat. Moreover, twenty-nine Saxon prisoners of war strangled each other in their cells on the night before their final scheduled appearance. Symmachus was heart-broken. Like every donor of the games, he knew that his political standing was at stake. Every presentation was in Goffman's strikingly apposite phrase 'a status bloodbath'.
The most spectacular gladiatorial shows were given by the emperors themselves at Rome. For example, the Emperor Trajan, to celebrate his conquest of Dacia (roughly modern Roumania), gave games in AD 108-9 lasting 123 days in which 9,138 gladiators fought and eleven thousand animals were slain. The Emperor Claudius in AD 52 presided in full military regalia over a battle on a lake near Rome between two naval squadrons, manned for the occasion by 19,000 forced combatants. The palace guard, stationed behind stout barricades, which also prevented the combatants from escaping, bombarded the ships with missiles from catapaults. After a faltering start, because the men refused to fight, the battle according to Tacitus 'was fought with the spirit of free men, although between criminals. After much bloodshed, those who survived were spared extermination'.
The quality of Roman justice was often tempered by the need to satisfy the demand for the condemned. Christians, burnt to death as scapegoats after the great fire at Rome in AD 64, were not alone in being sacrificed for public entertainment. Slaves and bystanders, even the spectators themselves, ran the risk of becoming victims of emperors' truculent whims. The Emperor Claudius, for example, dissatisfied with how the stage machinery worked, ordered the stage mechanics responsible to fight in the arena. One day when there was a shortage of condemned criminals, the Emperor Caligula commanded that a whole section of the crowd be seized and thrown to the wild beasts instead. Isolated incidents, but enough to intensify the excitement of those who attended. Imperial legitimacy was reinforced by terror.
As for animals, their sheer variety symbolised the extent of Roman power and left vivid traces in Roman art. In 169 BC, sixty-three African lions and leopards, forty bears and several elephants were hunted down in a single show. New species were gradually introduced to Roman spectators (tigers, crocodiles, giraffes, lynxes, rhinoceros, ostriches, hippopotami) and killed for their pleasure. Not for Romans the tame viewing of caged animals in a zoo. Wild beasts were set to tear criminals to pieces as public lesson in pain and death. Sometimes, elaborate sets and theatrical backdrops were prepared in which, as a climax, a criminal was devoured limb by limb. Such spectacular punishments, common enough in pre-industrial states, helped reconstitute sovereign power. The deviant criminal was punished law and order were re-established.
The labour and organisation required to capture so many animals and to deliver them alive to Rome must have been enormous. Even if wild animals were more plentiful then than now, single shows with one hundred, four hundred or six hundred lions, plus other animals, seem amazing. By contrast, after Roman times, no hippopotamus was seen in Europe until one was brought to London by steamship in 1850. It took a whole regiment of Egyptian soldiers to capture it, and involved a five month journey to bring it from the White Nile to Cairo. And yet the Emperor Commodus, a dead-shot with spear and bow, himself killed five hippos, two elephants, a rhinoceros and a giraffe, in one show lasting two days. On another occasion he killed 100 lions and bears in a single morning show, from safe walkways specially constructed across the arena. It was, a contemporary remarked, 'a better demonstration of accuracy than of courage'. The slaughter of exotic animals in the emperor's presence, and exceptionally by the emperor himself or by his palace guards, was a spectacular dramatisation of the emperor's formidable power: immediate, bloody and symbolic.
Gladiatorial shows also provided an arena for popular participation in politics. Cicero explicitly recognised this towards the end of the Republic: 'the judgement and wishes of the Roman people about public affairs can be most clearly expressed in three places: public assemblies, elections, and at plays or gladiatorial shows'. He challenged a political opponent: 'Give yourself to the people. Entrust yourself to the Games. Are you terrified of not being applauded?' His comments underline the fact that the crowd had the important option of giving or of withholding applause, of hissing or of being silent.
Under the emperors, as citizens' rights to engage in politics diminished, gladiatorial shows and games provided repeated opportunities for the dramatic confrontation of rulers and ruled. Rome was unique among large historical empires in allowing, indeed in expecting, these regular meetings between emperors and the massed populace of the capital, collected together in a single crowd. To be sure, emperors could mostly stage-manage their own appearance and reception. They gave extravagant shows. They threw gifts to the crowd – small marked wooden balls (called missilia ) which could be exchanged for various luxuries. They occasionally planted their own claques in the crowd.
Mostly, emperors received standing ovations and ritual acclamations. The Games at Rome provided a stage for the emperor to display his majesty – luxurious ostentation in procession, accessibility to humble petitioners, generosity to the crowd, human involvement in the contests themselves, graciousness or arrogance towards the assembled aristocrats, clemency or cruelty to the vanquished. When a gladiator fell, the crowd would shout for mercy or dispatch. The emperor might be swayed by their shouts or gestures, but he alone, the final arbiter, decided who was to live or die. When the emperor entered the amphitheatre, or decided the fate of a fallen gladiator by the movement of his thumb, at that moment he had 50,000 courtiers. He knew that he was Caesar Imperator , Foremost of Men.
Things did not always go the way the emperor wanted. Sometimes, the crowd objected, for example to the high price of wheat, or demanded the execution of an unpopular official or a reduction in taxes. Caligula once reacted angrily and sent soldiers into the crowd with orders to execute summarily anyone seen shouting. Understandably, the crowd grew silent, though sullen. But the emperor's increased unpopularity encouraged his assassins to act. Dio, senator and historian, was present at another popular demonstration in the Circus in AD 195. He was amazed that the huge crowd (the Circus held up to 200,000 people) strung out along the track, shouted for an end to civil war 'like a well-trained choir'.
Dio also recounted how with his own eyes he saw the Emperor Commodus cut off the head of an ostrich as a sacrifice in the arena then walk towards the congregated senators whom he hated, with the sacrificial knife in one hand and the severed head of the bird in the other, clearly indicating, so Dio thought, that it was the senators' necks which he really wanted. Years later, Dio recalled how he had kept himself from laughing (out of anxiety, presumably) by chewing desperately on a laurel leaf which he plucked from the garland on his head.
Consider how the spectators in the amphitheatre sat: the emperor in his gilded box, surrounded by his family senators and knights each had special seats and came properly dressed in their distinctive purple-bordered togas. Soldiers were separated from civilians. Even ordinary citizens had to wear the heavy white woollen toga, the formal dress of a Roman citizen, and sandals, if they wanted to sit in the bottom two main tiers of seats. Married men sat separately from bachelors, boys sat in a separate block, with their teachers in the next block. Women, and the very poorest men dressed in the drab grey cloth associated with mourning, could sit or stand only in the top tier of the amphitheatre. Priests and Vestal Virgins (honorary men) had reserved seats at the front. The correct dress and segregation of ranks underlined the formal ritual elements in the occasion, just as the steeply banked seats reflected the steep stratification of Roman society. It mattered where you sat, and where you were seen to be sitting.
Gladiatorial shows were political theatre. The dramatic performance took place, not only in the arena, but between different sections of the audience. Their interaction should be included in any thorough account of the Roman constitution. The amphitheatre was the Roman crowd's parliament. Games are usually omitted from political histories, simply because in our own society, mass spectator sports count as leisure. But the Romans themselves realised that metropolitan control involved 'bread and circuses'. 'The Roman people', wrote Marcus Aurelius' tutor Fronto, 'is held together by two forces: wheat doles and public shows'.
Enthusiastic interest in gladiatorial shows occasionally spilled over into a desire to perform in the arena. Two emperors were not content to be spectators-in-chief. They wanted to be prize performers as well. Nero's histrionic ambitions and success as musician and actor were notorious. He also prided himself on his abilities as a charioteer. Commodus performed as a gladiator in the amphitheatre, though admittedly only in preliminary bouts with blunted weapons. He won all his fights and charged the imperial treasury a million sesterces for each appearance (enough to feed a thousand families for a year). Eventually, he was assassinated when he was planning to be inaugurated as consul (in AD 193), dressed as a gladiator.
Commodus' gladiatorial exploits were an idiosyncratic expression of a culture obsessed with fighting, bloodshed, ostentation and competition. But at least seven other emperors practised as gladiators, and fought in gladiatorial contests. And so did Roman senators and knights. Attempts were made to stop them by law but the laws were evaded.
Roman writers tried to explain away these senators' and knights' outrageous behaviour by calling them morally degenerate, forced into the arena by wicked emperors or their own profligacy. This explanation is clearly inadequate, even though it is difficult to find one which is much better. A significant part of the Roman aristocracy, even under the emperors, was still dedicated to military prowess: all generals were senators all senior officers were senators or knights. Combat in the arena gave aristocrats a chance to display their fighting skill and courage. In spite of the opprobrium and at the risk of death, it was their last chance to play soldiers in front of a large audience.
Gladiators were glamour figures, culture heroes. The probable life-span of each gladiator was short. Each successive victory brought further risk of defeat and death. But for the moment, we are more concerned with image than with reality. Modern pop-stars and athletes have only a short exposure to full-glare publicity. Most of them fade rapidly from being household names into obscurity, fossilised in the memory of each generation of adolescent enthusiasts. The transience of the fame of each does not diminish their collective importance.
So too with Roman gladiators. Their portraits were often painted. Whole walls in public porticos were sometimes covered with life-size portraits of all the gladiators in a particular show. The actual events were magnified beforehand by expectation and afterwards by memory. Street advertisements stimulated excitement and anticipation. Hundreds of Roman artefacts – sculptures, figurines, lamps, glasses – picture gladiatorial fights and wild-beast shows. In conversation and in daily life, chariot-races and gladiatorial fights were all the rage. 'When you enter the lecture halls', wrote Tacitus, 'what else do you hear the young men talking about?' Even a baby's nursing bottle, made of clay and found at Pompeii, was stamped with the figure of a gladiator. It symbolised the hope that the baby would imbibe a gladiator's strength and courage.
The victorious gladiator, or at least his image, was sexually attractive. Graffiti from the plastered walls of Pompeii carry the message:
Celadus [a stage name, meaning Crowd's Roar], thrice victor and thrice crowned, the young girls' heart-throb, and Crescens the Netter of young girls by night.
The ephemera of AD 79 have been preserved by volcanic ash. Even the defeated gladiator had something sexually portentous about him. It was customary, so it is reported, for a new Roman bride to have her hair parted with a spear, at best one which had been dipped in the body of a defeated and killed gladiator.
The Latin word for sword – gladius – was vulgarly used to mean penis. Several artefacts also suggest this association. A small bronze figurine from Pompeii depicts a cruel-looking gladiator fighting off with his sword a dog-like wild-beast which grows out of his erect and elongated penis. Five bells hang down from various parts of his body and a hook is attached to the gladiator's head"so that the whole ensemble could hang as a bell in a doorway. Interpretation must be speculative. But this evidence suggests that there was a close link, in some Roman minds, between gladiatorial fighting and sexuality. And it seems as though gladiatoral bravery for some Roman men represented an attractive yet dangerous, almost threatening, macho masculinity.
Gladiators attracted women, even though most of them were slaves. Even if they were free or noble by origin, they were in some sense contaminated by their close contact with death. Like suicides, gladiators were in some places excluded from normal burial grounds. Perhaps their dangerous ambiguity was part of their sexual attraction. They were, according to the Christian Tertullian, both loved and despised: 'men give them their souls, women their bodies too'. Gladiators were 'both glorified and degraded'.
In a vicious satire, the poet Juvenal ridiculed a senator's wife, Eppia, who had eloped to Egypt with her favourite swordsman:
What was the youthful charm that so fired Eppia? What hooked her? What did she see in him to make her put up with being called 'The Gladiator's Moll'? Her poppet, her Sergius, was no chicken, with a dud arm that prompted hope of early retirement. Besides, his face looked a proper mess, helmet scarred, a great wart on his nose, an unpleasant discharge always trickling from one eye, But he was a Gladiator. That word makes the whole breed seem handsome, and made her prefer him to her children and country, her sister and husband. Steel is what they fall in love with.
Satire certainly, and exaggerated, but pointless unless it was also based to some extent in reality. Modern excavators, working in the armoury of the gladiatorial barracks in Pompeii found eighteen skeletons in two rooms, presumably of gladiators caught there in an ash storm they included only one woman, who was wearing rich gold jewellery, and a necklace set with emeralds. Occasionally, women's attachment to gladiatorial combat went further. They fought in the arena themselves. In the storeroom of the British Museum, for example, there is a small stone relief, depicting two female gladiators, one with breast bare, called Amazon and Achillia. Some of these female gladiators were free women of high status.
Behind the brave facade and the hope of glory, there lurked the fear of death. 'Those about to die salute you, Emperor'. Only one account survives of what it was like from the gladiator's point of view. It is from a rhetorical exercise. The story is told by a rich young man who had been captured by pirates and was then sold on as a slave to a gladiatorial trainer:
And so the day arrived. Already the populace had gathered for the spectacle of our punishment, and the bodies of those about to die had their own death-parade across the arena. The presenter of the shows, who hoped to gain favour with our blood, took his seat. Although no one knew my birth, my fortune, my family, one fact made some people pity me I seemed unfairly matched. I was destined to be a certain victim in the sand. All around I could hear the instruments of death: a sword being sharpened, iron plates being heated in a fire [to stop fighters retreating and to prove that they were not faking death], birch-rods and whips were prepared. One would have imagined that these were the pirates. The trumpets sounded their foreboding notes stretchers for the dead were brought on, a funeral parade before death. Everywhere I could see wounds, groans, blood, danger.
He went on to describe his thoughts, his memories in the moments when he faced death, before he was dramatically and conveniently rescued by a friend. That was fiction. In real life gladiators died.
Why did Romans popularise fights to the death between armed gladiators? Why did they encourage the public slaughter of unarmed criminals? What was it which transformed men who were timid and peaceable enough in private, as Tertullian put it, and made them shout gleefully for the merciless destruction of their fellow men? Part of the answer may lie in the simple development of a tradition, which fed on itself and its own success. Men liked blood and cried out for more. Part of the answer may also lie in the social psychology of the crowd, which relieved individuals of responsibility for their actions, and in the psychological mechanisms by which some spectators identified more easily with the victory of the aggressor than with the sufferings of the vanquished. Slavery and the steep stratification of society must also have contributed. Slaves were at the mercy of their owners. Those who were destroyed for public edification and entertainment were considered worthless, as non-persons or, like Christian martyrs, they were considered social outcasts, and tortured as one Christian martyr put it 'as if we no longer existed'. The brutalisation of the spectators fed on the dehumanisation of the victims.
Rome was a cruel society. Brutality was built into its culture in private life, as well as in public shows. The tone was set by military discipline and by slavery. The state had no legal monopoly of capital punishment until the second century AD. Before then, a master could crucify his slaves publicly if he wished. Seneca recorded from his own observations the various ways in which crucifixions were carried out, in order to increase pain. At private dinner-parties, rich Romans regularly presented two or three pairs of gladiators: 'when they have finished dining and are filled with drink', wrote a critic in the time of Augustus, 'they call in the gladiators. As soon as one has his throat cut, the diners applaud with delight'. It is worth stressing that we are dealing here not with individual sadistic psycho-pathology, but with a deep cultural difference. Roman commitment to cruelty presents us with a cultural gap which it is difficult to cross.
Popular gladiatorial shows were a by-product of war, discipline and death. For centuries, Rome had been devoted to war and to the mass participation of citizens in battle. They won their huge empire by discipline and control. Public executions were a gruesome reminder to non-combatants, citizens, subjects and slaves, that vengeance would be exacted if they rebelled or betrayed their country. The arena provided a living enactment of the hell portrayed by Christian preachers. Public punishment ritually re-established the moral and political order. The power of the state was dramatically reconfirmed.
When long-term peace came to the heartlands of the empire, after 31 BC, militaristic traditions were preserved at Rome in the domesticated battlefield of the amphitheatre. War had been converted into a game, a drama repeatedly replayed, of cruelty, violence, blood and death. But order still needed to be preserved. The fear of death still had to be assuaged by ritual. In a city as large as Rome, with a population of close on a million by the end of the last century BC, without an adequate police force, disorder always threatened.
Gladiatorial shows and public executions reaffirmed the moral order, by the sacrifice of human victims – slaves, gladiators, condemned criminals or impious Christians. Enthusiastic participation, by spectators rich and poor, raised and then released collective tensions, in a society which traditionally idealised impassivity. Gladiatorial shows provided a psychic and political safety valve for the metropolitan population. Politically, emperors risked occasional conflict, but the populace could usually be diverted or fobbed off. The crowd lacked the coherence of a rebellious political ideology. By and large, it found its satisfaction in cheering its support of established order. At the psychological level, gladiatorial shows provided a stage for shared violence and tragedy. Each show reassured spectators that they had yet again survived disaster. Whatever happened in the arena, the spectators were on the winning side. 'They found comfort for death' wrote Tertullian with typical insight, 'in murder'.
Keith Hopkins is Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Brunel University and the author of Conquerors and Slaves (CUP, 1978).
The Byzantine Empire, WORLD HISTORY LESSON 35 of 150, Contest & Quiz
To learn about the history, culture, and contributions of the Byzantine Empire.
1 class period
The lesson begins by reading the introductory paragraph with the class about how, in the fourth century, the Roman Empire was divided into two parts.
Next, class members participate in a contest during which they read through a series of sentences about the Byzantine Empire and its contributions to civilization. Each sentence contains a phrase where the words have been scrambled. These words need to be rewritten in correct order in the space provided. The sentences are arranged into the following sections:
• Brief History of the Byzantine Empire
• Byzantine Way of Life
• Byzantine Contributions to Civilization
Later in the period, you can have students exchange papers and read all phrases in correct order as shown in the Teacher Instructions. The winners of the contest are the class members who correctly rearrange the most phrases.
Easy-to-follow Teacher Instructions and answer key included, along with a 20-question follow up quiz to measure student progress. The quiz can also be given as a homework assignment or used as a review exercise later in the school year.