Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

The end of the Abbasid caliphate managed to be both somewhat anti-climactic and historically pivotal at the same time. In any practical sense, the caliphs had stopped being politically relevant in 945, when the Iranian Buyids seized Baghdad and put the caliphate under their “protection.” Even this was really the end of a process rather… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Hama (903)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a fairly small, radical–apocalyptic, even–and highly militarized Islamic sect carves out a chunk of territory, including a sizable piece of Syria, in which to establish its own very political entity that could be described as expansionist, revisionist, even irredentist. They specialize in hit-and-run attacks on their neighbors… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Hama (903)

Islamic History, part 30: the early Islamic military (7th-9th centuries CE)

Islamic History Series I feel pretty certain that nowadays we would point to the advent of Islam as the most important development of the movement that Muhammad began in Mecca and Medina in the first part of the 7th century. However, to contemporary observers in the period immediately following his death, it must have seemed… Continue reading Islamic History, part 30: the early Islamic military (7th-9th centuries CE)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

The end of the Abbasid caliphate managed to be both somewhat anti-climactic and historically pivotal at the same time. In any practical sense, the caliphs had stopped being politically relevant in 945, when the Iranian Buyids seized Baghdad and put the caliphate under their “protection.” The Turkish Seljuks swept in to Baghdad in 1055 and… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Hama (903)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a fairly small, radical–apocalyptic, even–and highly militarized Islamic sect carves out a chunk of territory, including a sizable piece of Syria, in which to establish its own very wealthy political entity that could be described as revisionist, expansionist, and even irredentist. They specialize in hit-and-run attacks on… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Hama (903)