Page 1291

1291 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY.-MOHAMMEDAN STATES. 1291

ministers from the different states of the Empire,

and thus united in his government the claims

and sympathies of all. Among those who

were thus brought into his administration

were Tahya and his

son Jaffar, two of the

ancient fire-worshipping priesthood of Persia. By their influence the people whom they represented were greatly advanced in the favor of the Caliphate, and even the religious system of Zoroaster, which had waned almost to extinction, was permitted to burn more brightly while its representatives remained in

power.

In his foreign relations, Haroun Al Rashid busied himself in strengthening his frontiers on the side of the Byzantine Empire. While thus engaged, a disgraceful war broke out between religious factions in Syria. The general Musa was sent by AI Rashid into this region, and

the leaders of the rival

parties were captured

and taken to Baghdad.

An end was thus made of the Syrian dissension, and Jaffar was

appointed governor of

that province, including Egypt.

It was at this time

that the powerful

family of the Barmecides became predominant in the affairs of the Caliphate. The head of this family, Khaled ben Barmek, had been the tutor of Haroun AI Rashid in his youth. It was his

son, Tahya, who became prime minister in

786. Twenty-five members of the family

held important offices in the different provinces of the Empire. For fifteen years their

ascendancy remained unshaken; but at last,

in 803, a circumstance occurred which added

fuel to the already increasing jealousy of Al Abbas. Al Rashid and led to the downfall of the Barmecides. The minister Jaffar, grandson of Khaled ben Barmek, made love to Abassa, sister

of the Caliph; and when the lover represented

to Haroun that his affection for the princess

was purely platonic, it was agreed that he