Page 1295

1295 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-MOHAMMEDAN STATES. 1295

of the strait of Gibraltar a new line of Caliphs was established in Africa. This dynasty

is known as the African Fatimites; for the

founder of the house was a certain Abu,

claiming to be the son of Obeidallah, a descendant of Fatima. The dynasty was founded

in the year 909 and continued during the

reigns of fourteen Caliphs to the death of

Adhed in 1171. But the Fatimites of Africa

did not display the energies which were exhibited by their contemporaries at Baghdad

and Cordova, and civilization, which made

such rapid progress in Spain, was as much as

ever retarded in the states south of the Mediterranean.

Of the three or four divisions of the Mohammedan power during the Middle Ages

the most splendid and luxurious was the Caliphate of Baghdad; the most progressive, the

kingdom of Cordova. In the latter realm it

was intellectual culture and architectural

grandeur that demanded the applause of the

age; while in the East a certain Oriental magnificence attracted the attention of travelers

and historians. In their capital on the Tigris

the Abbassides soon forgot the temperate life

and austere manners of the early apostles of

Islam. They were attracted rather by the

splendor of the Persian kings. As early as

the reign of AI-Mansour the court of the Caliphate was given up to luxury. That monarch is said to have left behind him a treasure

of thirty million pounds sterling, and this

vast sum was consumed in a few years on the

vices and ambitions of his successors. His

son Mahdi is said to have squandered six

million dinars of gold during a single pilgrimage to Mecca. His camels were laden with

packages of snow gathered from the mountains

of Armenia, and the natives of Mecca were

astonished to see the white and cooling crystals dissolving in the wines or sprinkled on

the fruits of the royal worshipers. AI-Mamoun is said to have given away two million

four hundred dinars of gold "before he drew

his foot from the stirrup." On the occasion

of the marriage of that prince a thousand

pearls of largest size were showered on the

head of the bride. In the times of Moktader

the army of the Caliphate numbered a hundred and sixty thousand men. The officers

were arrayed in splendid apparel. Their belts

were ornamented with gems and gold. Seven

thousand eunuchs and seven hundred doorkeepers were a part of the governmental retinue. On the Tigris might be seen superbly

decorated boats floating like gilded swans.

In the palace were thirty-eight thousand pieces

of tapestry. Among the ornaments of the

royal house was a tree wrought of gold and