Page 1127

1127 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-OTHMAN AND ALT.

desperately renewed from morning till noon,

when the African sun would drive the combatants to the shade of their tents. Saad distinguished himself in the battle. In the part

of the field where he fought the enemy was

driven back with slaughter, but in other parts

the Moslems were repulsed. One of the most

conspicuous personages of the fight was the

warlike daughter of Gregorius, who, mounted

on a tremendous steed, and clothed in flashing and burnished armor, scoured the field

like Bellona.

The Roman general, unable to rout the

Arabs, undertook to accomplish by perfidy

what he could not do by force. He offered a

reward of a hundred thousand pieces of gold

and the hand of his Amazonian daughter to

any one who would bring him the head of

Saad.

Hearing of this proposal, the Arab leader

was induced to keep aloof from the field,

and the battle went against him until what

time it was suggested that he in his turn

should offer a hundred thousand pieces and

the hand of the same maiden-so soon as she

should be taken captive-to him who would

cut off the head of Gregorius. Then the

Arabs fell to stratagem. On the following

morning, pretending to renew the fight, they

held most of their forces in reserve until the

heated hour of noon. Then the Moslems,

fresh from their rest, led by the valiant Zobeir,

broke from their tents, fell upon the exhausted

enemy, killed Gregorius, captured his daughter, and inflicted an overwhelming defeat on

his army. Zobeir, by whom the Roman general was slain, refused to accept the reward,

and though he was made the bearer of the

news of victory to Medina, he forebore all

reference to his own deeds in reciting to the

Caliph the story of the battle.

Though completely triumphant over the

army of his enemy, Saad was unable to follow

up his successes. So great had been his losses

that he could not further prosecute his conquests. He was not even strong enough to

retain possession of the territories which he

had overrun, but was obliged, after an absence of fifteen months, to return to Egypt.

The expedition had been more fruitful in

slaves and spoils than in the addition of territory to the dominions of Islam. In the following year Saad made similar expeditions

from Upper Egypt into the kingdom of Nubia. The people of that land had been

Christianized by the agency of traveling missionaries, who had set up the Cross as far

south as the Equator. The Nubian king was

compelled ^y the Moslems to acknowledge the

supremacy of the Caliph, and to emphasize

his own dependency by an annual contribution of Ethiopian slaves.

In establishing the authority of the Caliphate over the distant countries subdued by the

prowess of the Arabs, it became necessary to

organize provinces and to establish therein a

kind of satrapial governments. In pursuing

this policy, Caliph Othman appointed as governor of Syria one of his ablest generals,

named Moawyah lbn Abu Sofian, chief of the

tribe of Koreish, to which belonged Mohammed. Abu Sofian proved to be an able and

ambitious officer. During his service under

Omar he had frequently sought permission of

that Caliph to build a fleet and extend the

authority of Islam over the seas. Omar,

whose policy it was to hold his ambitious generals in check, refused the permission; but

after the accession of Othman, namely, in the

year 649, it was agreed that Abu Sofian

should equip an armament and try the fortunes of the Mediterranean. The outlying

Asiatic islands still owned a nominal dependence upon the Empire of the East; but the

decadence of the government at Constantinople had left the insular kingdoms exposed to

easy conquest.

Abu Sofian directed his first movement

against the island of Cyprus. The garrison

proved too weak to make any effectual

resistance, and a conquest was easily effected. In the island of Aradus, however,

the Moslems met with a more serious reception. Once and again they landed, and as

often were repulsed by the heroic inhabitants.

With superior forces the Arabs then renewed

the attack, overran the island, fired the principal city, and drove most of the native Aradians into exile.

In the mean time the Emperor Constantine

fitted out a squadron, took command in person, and went forth to encounter the Moslem

fleet in the Phoenician Sea. It was the first

decisive conflict for Islam on the sea. Constantine ordered psalms to be sung and the

Cross to be lifted on high as his ships went

into battle. On the other side the golden

Crescent was displayed above the mast, and