Page 1122

1122 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-TEE MODERN WORLD.

were sold to the merchants who followed the

Moslem camp. The proceeds of the sale were

distributed to the army, each soldier receiving

for his portion four thousand pieces of gold.

In the mean time the remnants of the Persian army overthrown on the field of Nehavend

had collected at Hamadan. Here, in a strong fortress, they took

refuge and made a stand. Habesh, the commander, entered into a treaty with Hadifeh, at the same time preparing an obstinate

defense for the city. Learning of the treachery which had been practiced upon his lieutenant, Caliph Omar sent forward a detachment of his army to besiege Hamadan and

bring Habesh to his senses. The latter in a

short time led out his army, and a great battle was fought before the Median capital.

After a struggle of three days' duration the

conflict ended with the overthrow of the Persians and the capture of Hamadan.

The Arab general, Nuhaim, was despatched

to hunt down the king in his hiding place at

Rhaga. Hearing of his approach the monarch

fled, leaving the defense of the town to a

subordinate officer. The gates were soon

opened by a rival chieftain; two thousand

Mohammedans were admitted; the Persian

governor was cut down in the streets, and the

city taken in the midst of much slaughter.

The traitor Zain, who had betrayed the place

to the Moslems, was made provincial governor.

Bodies of troops were sent out to reduce the

surrounding country. Resistance was virtually

at an end. Town after town yielded to the

invaders and became tributary to the Caliphate. The province of Tabaristan paid five

hundred thousand pieces of gold to purchase

exemption from the levying of troops within

her borders. It was evident, moreover, that

so far as the religious systems in conflict were

concerned that of Persia was tottering to its

fall; and in proportion as the time honored

faith of the people gave way, just in that degree did the national spirit fall. The more

thoughtful among the Persians foresaw and

predicted the inevitable result. A certain

aged hero, named Farkhan, stood up among

the military leaders, and said: "This Persian

religion of ours has become obsolete; the new religion is carrying every thing before it.

My advice is to make peace and then pay tribute."

During the conquest of Hamadan, the

Moslems had to, encounter the soldiers of

Azerbijan, who had come from their own

province in the northwest of Media to aid

their countrymen in the South. It was not

likely that Islam would overlook such an affront, more particularly when it proceeded

from the Fire Worshipers, who had their altars

at the foot of Mount Caucasus. No sooner,

therefore, had Hamadan fallen into the hands

of the Mohammedans than they turned their arms against Azerbijan. The Magian priesthood and secular princes of the country rallied

their forces to resist the invasion; but the god

of fire was no match for Allah, and the sacred

altars of the Magi were overthrown by the

followers of the Prophet. The armies of

Azerbijan were beaten to the earth, and the

province was added to the now vastly extended

dominions of the Caliphate.

The plain countries south of the defiles of

the Caucasus had now all been subdued. It

remained for the rocky passes of the North to

be seized by the men of the desert. Of old

time these passes had been guarded by fortresses and iron gates, behind which a few

courageous soldiers were able to keep at bay

the innumerable hordes of Gog and Magog

from beyond the mountains. It was necessary

to the further progress of Islam that the defiles of the Caucasus should be held by the

friends of the Prophet. To secure this result, several bodies of troops were sent forward after the conquest of Azerbijan, and the

passes were taken from the enemy. One

fortress, known as Demir-Capi, or the Gate

of Iron, was wrested from the barbarians only

after a severe conflict, in which not a few of

the Moslems fell.

When the gateways of the North were

thus secured, Caliph Omar appointed Abdalrahman governor of the region of Caucasus,

to keep the passes against any possible eruption of barbarism from the North. The governor, in performing his duty as guardian of

the outposts of Islam, took into his confidence

and pay one of the mountain chieftains,