1109 MOHAMMEDAN. ASCENDENCY.-CONQUESTS OF FIRST CALIPHS. 1109
resumed, but Heraclius, now thoroughly alarmed,
raised another army of seventy thousand men,
and a second time hurried to the relief of Damascus. Khaled called upon the Moslem
chiefs of Arabia for aid, and as soon as possible broke up his camp before the city, marching in the direction of Aiznadin. The garrison of Damascus sallied forth and pursued the
retiring army. Khaled, however, turned upon
them and inflicted a severe defeat; but the
assailants succeeded in carrying off a part of
the baggage and many of the Moslem women.
These in turn were recaptured by Khaled,
and the assailants were glad to make good
their escape within the fortifications of the city.
Meanwhile the Moslem reinforcements arrived before Aiznadin, where Khaled now gathered his entire force for the impending battle.
The Imperial army greatly exceeded the Mohammedan in number, and was thoroughly
equipped and disciplined according to the Roman method. After lying face to face for a day
Werdan, the commander of the Christian host,
sought to circumvent Khaled by treachery; but
the latter outwitted his rival, and Werdan was
caught and slain in his own stratagem. Taking advantage of the temporary dismay of the
Imperial army, Khaled, though outnumbered
two to one, charged upon the opposing camp,
and a massacre ensued hitherto unparalleled.
Those of the Christians who survived the onset fled in all directions. The spoils of the
overthrown were greater than the victorious
Moslems could well dispose of.
It appeared that all Arabia was now ready
for .the field. Every chief and his tribe were
eager to join the victorious Khaled for the
capture of Damascus. After the victory of
Aiznadin the Mohammedans resumed the investment of the city, and the siege was pressed
with such severity that neither citizen nor
soldier ventured beyond the ramparts.
The Moslems, however, were repelled in several assaults, and the garrison in turn was
driven back at every sally. For seventy days
the siege continued with unremitting rigor.
When at last the people were reduced to extremity, an embassy went forth, and one of
the city gates was opened to Obeidah. At the
same time Khaled obtained possession of the gate on the opposite side, and fought his way
into the city, where he met the forces of
Obeidah, peacefully marching in according to
the terms of capitulation. Great was the rage
of Khaled, who swore by Allah that he would
put every infidel to the sword. For a while
the slaughter continued; but Khaled was at
length induced to desist, and to honor the
terms which had been granted by the more
So Damascus fell into the hands of the
Moslems. A part of the inhabitants remained
and became tributary to the Caliph, and the
rest were permitted to retire with their property in the direction of Antioch. The latter,
however, were pursued by the merciless Khaled, overtaken in their encampment beyond
Mount Libanus, and were all slain or captured.
Tilis exploit having been accomplished, the
Moslems hastened back to Damascus, where
some time was spent in dividing the spoilt of
the great conquest.
In the mean time Abu Beker grew feeble
with age, and died at Medina. His death occurred on the very day of the capture of Damascus, and before the news of that great
victory could reach him. Perceiving his end
at hand, the aged Caliph dictated a will to his
secretary, in which he nominated Omar as his
successor. The latter was little disposed to
accept the burden of the Caliphate. Having
extorted from Omar a promise to accept the
office and to rule in accordance with the precepts of the Koran, good Abu Beker, after a
reign of a little more than two years, left the
world in full assurance of Paradise.
The succession fell peaceably to Omar, who
began Ids reign in A. D. 6.34. He was a man
great in mind and great in stature, strong of
will and resolute of purpose. The two year successful reign of his predecessor had left
the Caliphate in the ascendant; and it was
not unlikely that Omar would allow the conquests of Islam to stop with their present
limits. His religious zeal was equal to his
warlike valor, and his private life was as temperate as his public example was commendable.
For the false luxury of the world he had no
liking. His manners were as severe as those
of John the Baptist. His beverage was water;