Page 1126


under the govemorship of Amru. The people, if not contented with the change of masters, accepted the Crescent as the emblem of

their fate. A tolerable degree of quiet was

maintained until the accession of Othman,

when Amru was removed from the governorship to make room for Saad, brother of the

caliph. The new officer owed his elevation

to favoritism, and was by no means the equal

of Amru in executive abilities. The latter

had, indeed, won the affections of the Egyptians by his justice and moderation, and they

bitterly resented his deposition. From the

first the ears of the new governor were greeted

with the mutterings of revolt. Nor did

the emperor, Constantine, who had succeeded Heradius at Constantinople, fail to

take advantage of the dissension which had

thus been fomented in Egypt. A fleet was

immediately equipped, placed under the command of Manuel, and sent against Alexandria. With him the Greeks of the great metropolis entered into correspondence, and the

city was presently betrayed into his hands.

Thus of a sudden, the political condition of

the kingdom was reversed, and Othman

found quick occasion to repent of his folly

in appointing an incompetent favorite to


Amru was at once reinstated. The old

general repaired to the scene of action, raised

a large army, composed largely of the anti-

Greek element in Egypt, and again laid siege

to Alexandria. It was now the third time that that

city had been invested by the forces of

Amru. The veteran now registered an oath

in heaven that it was the last time that the

capital of Egypt would find herself in a condition to become the subject of a siege. Accordingly, when, after an obstinate defense on

the part of the Greeks, the city again fell

into his hands, he leveled the ramparts to the

earth and left the metropolis exposed to assault on every side. Manuel and his Greeks,

glad to escape with their lives, took ship and

sped away to Constantinople. The rest of the

inhabitants were, for the most part, spared,

and the spot where the slaughter was stayed

was commemorated by the merciful Amru,

who built thereon a mosque called the Mosque

of Mercy.

As soon as the danger was passed and

Egypt pacified, the Caliph Othman aggravated his former folly by again deposing

Amru from the governorship and reappointing

Saad in his stead. The latter, smarting under

a disgrace which could not be wiped out by

the factitious honors of office, resolved to gain

glory by foreign conquest. He accordingly

fixed his eye upon Northern Africa as an inviting field for his operations. There, from

the borders of Egypt, stretching away across

Barca to Cape Non in the distant West, lay

a country more than two thousand miles in

extent, many of the districts populous and

fertile to exuberance, and all of historic fame.

Here were the countries of Libya, Mamarica,

Cyrenaica, Carthage, Numidia, and Mauritania, especially inviting to the rapacious zeal

of the Mohammedans.

After the disastrous wars related in the

last Book of the preceding and the first of

the present Volume, the African states had,

during the sixth century, sunk into a condition of helpless decay. They were now to

be roused from their stupor by the clamorous war cry of Arabia.

As soon as Saad had settled the affairs of

Egypt after his reinstatement in office, he began to prepare for his contemplated African

campaign. An army of forty thousand Arabs,

fully equipped, mostly veteran soldiers, well

supplied with camels for the march across the

desert, was mustered on the border of Egypt,

looking out to the west.

A toilsome march was now begun across

the trackless wastes of Libya. But to the

Arab and the camel the desert was a native

place of peace and freedom. Arriving at the

city of Tripoli, one of the most wealthy emporiums of the African coast, Saad began a


A valiant resistance, however, was made

by the inhabitants and the Greek auxiliaries who came to their assistance, and the

Moslems were driven back with severe losses.

Meanwhile the Roman governor, Gregorius,

arrived on the scene with an army numbering

a hundred and twenty thousand men. Most

of these, however, were raw recruits whom

the general had gathered in Barbary for the

defense of his. African territories. The host,

though greatly outnumbering the Moslems,

was little capable of standing before the Arab

veterans in battle.

The two armies met before the walls of

Tripoli. For several days the conflict was