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,