Page 1293

1293 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-MOHAMMEDAN STATES.

disruptive force began to appear in the government, and many of the provinces, remote from the center of the Empire, regained

their independence. Indeed, near the close

of his reign, the disintegration became alarming; and when the government passed by his

death, in the year 833, to his brother Al Motassem, the Empire seemed on the verge

of dissolution. The latter sovereign received the name of the Octonary, for he

had fought eight victorious battles with the

enemies of Islam. His reign, however, is

chiefly notable for the fact that at this time

the Seljukian Turks began to be a powerful

element both in the armies and government

of the Caliphate. The Seljuk soldiers surpassed in courage and vigor any others who

ranged themselves under the Crescent. During the siege of Amorium, in Phrygia, in the

year 838, in which the army of the Emperor

Theophilus was environed by the Mohammedans, it was the Turkish cavalry that

dealt the most terrible blows to the Greeks.

Thirty thousand of the Christians were

taken captive and reduced to slavery, and

another thirty thousand were slaughtered on

the field. From this time forth, the Turks

were received into the capital. They became the guards of the Caliph's palace,

and it was not long until they held the same

relation to the government as did the praetorian cohort six hundred years before to

the Imperial household in Rome. It was estimated that by the middle of the ninth century there were fully fifty thousand Turks in

Baghdad.

This new and dangerous patronage of the

Caliphate bestowed on a race of lawless

foreigners warlike, restless, and audacious,

became in a short time the bane of the

Mohammedan countries. Even during

the reign of Motassern, who was the

Edward Confessor of the East, the quarrels of his Turkish guards with the native inhabitants of Baghdad produced

so great turbulence and rioting in the

city that the Emperor was constrained to

retire with his favorites to Samara on the

Tigris, about forty miles distant from the

capital and there establish a new royal

residence. The Caliph Motawakkel, next after Vathek, son of Motassern, still further

encouraged the Turkish ascendancy until

the guards, having come to prefer the Prince

Montasser, son of the Caliph, murdered

their master and set up the youth in his

stead. The latter enjoyed or suffered the

fruits of his crime no more than six months,

when the same power that had created,

destroyed him, and set up his brother Mostain,

who reigned until 866. From this time

until the close of the century, four other

obscure Caliphs-Motaz, Mohtadi, Motammed, and Motadhed-succeeded each other in

rapid succession in the Caliphate. The

following century was occupied with nine

additional reigns, being those of Moktafi,

Moktader, Kaher, Khadi, Mottaki, Mostakfi,

Mothi, Tai, and Kader. Except in a special

history of the Eastern Caliphate, but little

interest would be added to the general annals

of mankind by reciting in detail the bloody

and criminal progress of events on the Tigris

and in Asia Minor.

In the following-the tenth-century the

ascendancy of the Seljukian Turks became

more and more pronounced, and their intolerable domination was felt and resented

almost equally by the more quiet Mohammedans of the southwest districts of the

Caliphate and by the Christians who, especially

in the Holy Land, were subjected to every

humiliation and barbarity which the Seljuks

could well invent. This circumstance, viewed

from the Asiatic standpoint, was the antecedent condition of that fierce turmoil of

excitement and wrath which spread through

Western Europe in the latter half of the

eleventh century and broke out in the wild

flame of the Crusades.

Meanwhile the Crescent still floated over

Spain. For in the great proscription of the

Ommiyades a royal youth, named Abderrahman, son of Merwan II, escaped the rage of

the Abbassides and fled into Western Africa.

From thence he made his way into Spain,

where, on the coast of Andalusia, he was saluted with the acclamations of the people.

He was hailed by all parties as the lineal descendant and rightful successor of the great

Ommiyah, and therefore entitled to reign over

the western followers of the Prophet. After