Today in Islamic history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

One of the nice things about having done this blog as long as I’ve been doing it is that the “this day in history” posts are starting to overlap. I hope you enjoy this one from January 25, 2015, on the Battle of the Zab.

and that's the way it was

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Zab, which took place in 750 and was the climactic battle in the Abbasid Revolution that ousted the Umayyads from the caliphate. Obviously you can find out more about the revolution elsewhere on this blog, but the battle itself deserves a little mention.

The Umayyad army was primarily made up of Syrian Arabs, who had amply demonstrated their toughness and battlefield capabilities by this point in campaigns against the Byzantines and in putting down several previous rebellions. They were under the direct command of Caliph Marwan II himself, and Marwan, although he may not personally have been all sunshine and rainbows, had impressive credentials as a military leader. He’d been governor of the northernmost provinces of the empire, which meant direct responsibility for conducting raids against neighboring Christian kingdoms like the Byzantine Empire and Georgia, and he’d taken the caliphate…

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