Page 1121

1121 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-CONQUESTS OF FIRST CALIPHS. 1121

Lower Euphrates appeared as a menace.

The haughty prince foresaw that his province

must also presently succumb to the aggressive

Mohammedans, or else that they must be repelled from his borders, he accordingly resolved on war and made Bassora the object of

his hostility. The people of that city applied

to the Caliph for assistance, and another army

of the faithful was sent out from Medina.

The conflict was short and decisive. Hormuzan was defeated in a series of battles, and

half of his province was added to the Moslem

dominions in the East. In the mean time

Yezdegird, the fugitive king of Persia, sent

word from Rhaga to the governor of Faristan

to take up arms in common with Hormuzan

for the recovery of the kingdom. Reinforcements were sent forward by the Caliph, and

Hormuzan was pressed to the border. Besieged in the fortress of Ahwaz, he was finally

compelled to surrender, and taken as a prisoner to Medina. Here, in order to save his

life, he was compelled to accept the doctrines

of Islam and be enrolled among the faithful.

Nothing gave greater cause of anxiety to

Caliph Omar than the apprehension that his

generals would be corrupted by the luxurious

habits of the people, whom they conquered.

Especially was the distrust of Omar directed

against Abu Wakkas, who was again reported

at Medina as having assumed the manners of

a Persian prince. This report so offended the

Caliph that he deposed Abu Wakkas from

the command and appointed Numan to succeed him. When the news of this proceeding

was carried to Yezdegird, his hopes again revived, and he ordered the governors of the

provinces still unsubdued to send forward all

their available troops to. rendezvous at Nehavend, fifteen leagues from Ecbatana. Here

in a short time an army of a hundred and

fifty thousand men was collected for battle.

This force was greatly superior in number to

that of the Moslems, but the latter were tempered by the hardships of war and

trained to victory until they regarded themselves as invincible. The command of the

Persian army was given to Firuzan. On assuming control of the army, he adopted the policy

of fortifying himself in an impregnable camp until what time the Moslems should wear out

their energies by ineffectual assaults.

Accordingly, when Numan arrived before

the Persian camp, the army of Firuzan could

not be induced to come forth and fight. For

two months the Arabs beat in vain against

the position of the enemy. But when valor

failed stratagem succeeded. Pretending to

break up his camp and retreat, the crafty

Numan fell back for one day's march and was

followed cautiously by the Persians. For

another day the Moslems continued their

feigned retreat; but on the third morning,

with the break of day, they turned back with

terrible impetuosity on their pursuers, and in

an, hour inflicted upon them a disastrous defeat. The Arabs, in their turn, pursued the

routed host and cut them down by thousands.

Both Numan and Firuzan were killed, the

former in the heat of battle and the latter in

the flight. The number of the Persian dead

was reckoned at a hundred thousand. So decisive of the fate of the Persian Empire was

this great conflict that the Moslems ever afterwards celebrated their triumph as the "Victory of Victories."

Soon after the success of the Mohammedans, a strange Persian rode into the

Moslem camp and promised, under pledge

that his life should be spared, to show the

Arab commander a greater treasure than any

his eyes had yet beheld. It appeared that

this stranger had received from the hand of

the fugitive Yezdegird a box containing the

crown jewels of Persia. The casket was

opened in the presence of Hadifeh, who had

succeeded to the command after the death of

Numan. The Moslem general accepted the

treasure; but since it had not been taken by

the sword, it might not be distributed to the

soldiers. The scrupulous Hadifeh accordingly

sent the box to the Caliph; but the latter

looked upon the flashing jewels with ill concealed contempt alike for the precious stones

and for any who couId bedazzled by them.

"You do not know," said he, "what these

things are. Neither do I; but they justly belong to those who slew the infidels and to no

one else." He then ordered the box to be

carried back to Hadifeh, by whom the jewels