1115 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-CONQUESTS OF FIRST CALIPHS. 1115
secured by the Moslems before they could
hope to take the city. The guards of the
bridge, however, had a private spite to be
gratified, and as soon as the Arab army drew
near surrendered themselves and their charge
to Obeidah. Thus was the approach to Antioch laid open, and the two armies were
brought face to face before the walls of the
In the mean time Youkenna, who held
command within the ramparts, completed his
treason by liberating the Arab prisoners.
When the intelligence of his proceedings was
carried to Heraclius, the latter fell into despair, slipped away from the Christian camp
with a few followers, took his course to the
sea-shore, and embarked for Constantinople.
The generals of the Emperor, however, remained and fought. In the severe battle
which ensued before the walls of the city, the
Moslems were again triumphant. Antioch
surrendered, and was obliged to purchase her
exemption from pillage by the payment of
three thousand ducats of gold.
The conquest of Syria was now virtually
complete. Khaled, at the head of a division
of the army, traversed the country as far as
the Euphrates. Everywhere the towns and
villages were compelled either to profess the
faith of Islam or pay an annual tribute.
Another leader, named Mesroud, undertook
the conquest of the Syrian mountains. Little
success, however, attended the expedition until Khaled went to the assistance of Mesroud,
whereupon the opposing army of Greeks
withdrew from the country.
In the mean time Amru, to whom had
been assigned the subjugation of Egypt, proceeded against Caesarea. Here was posted
Constantine, son of the Emperor, in command
of a large army of Graeco-Syrians. Great
were the embarrassments of Amru in the conduct of his expedition; for many Christian
Arabs, who could not well be discriminated
from the true followers of the Prophet, hovered as spies about the Moslem camp and
carried to Constantine intelligence of whatever was done or purposed., None the less,
the Christian general entertained a wholesome
dread of the Moslems, and on their approach sought a peaceable settlement. He remonstrated with Amru, and yet protested that
the Greeks and Arabs were brethren.
Amru maintained, however, that according
to the Noachic distribution of the world Syria
belonged to the descendants of Shem; that
they had been wrongfully dispossessed and
thrust into the deserts of Arabia, and that
they were now come to repossess their inheritance by the sword. After much parley, the
usual alternative was presented by the Mohammedan. The people of Caesarea must
either accept Mohammed as their Prophet and
acknowledge the unity of God or else become
tributary to the Caliph Omar. The armies
then prepared for battle. It was the peculiarity of all these conflicts that challenges to
personal combat were given and accepted by
the leaders. Before the wall of Caesarea a
powerful Christian warrior rode forth and defied the Moslem host to send a man to match
him in fight. An Arab youth from Yemen
offered himself for martyrdom and was quickly
slain. A second and third followed his example. Then the veteran Serjabil went forth
and was prostrated by the Christian hero.
But when the latter was about to take the
life of his fallen foe, his own hand was
cut off by a saber stroke of a certain Greek.
Presently after this adventure-the weather
being cold and boisterous-Constantine immured himself in Caesarea. That place was
then besieged by the Moslems, and Constantine, instead of being reinforced, received the
intelligence of the capture of Tripoli and
Tyre. He also learned that a fleet of munitions and supplies which had been sent to his
relief had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
Discouraged by these tidings, he gathered together his treasures and family, slipped away
from Caesarea, and embarked for Constantinople. As soon as the authorities of the city
learned that the prince had fled, they made
overtures to Amru and secured their safety
by the payment of a ransom of two hundred
thousand pieces of silver. A few other places
of minor importance were taken by the Mohammedan, and by the following year, A. D.
639, opposition ceased.
It will be remembered that on the accession