Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Lalakaon (863)

The two centuries-old Arab-Byzantine conflict was on the cusp of a total shift in fortunes in the middle of the 9th century. Where the Arabs had been the aggressors for most of the period following the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, the Abbasid Caliphate now found itself falling apart, with local principalities asserting more and … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Lalakaon (863)

Today(?) in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Amorium (838)

The 1071 Battle of Manzikert and the political chaos that ensued ended a period of around two centuries during which the Byzantine Empire seemed to be finally making a comeback. After having endured massive losses in the early Arab conquests, then having survived several offensives by the Umayyad Caliphate, and then having watched pieces of … Continue reading Today(?) in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Amorium (838)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Damietta (853)

The city of Damietta, located in Egypt’s Nile Delta, became quite important during the later Crusades, as the Crusaders began to see that capturing Jerusalem was irrelevant so long as Muslims ruled Egypt. Its location made it the ideal beachhead for both the unsuccessful Fifth Crusade and the ridiculously unsuccessful Seventh Crusade, both of which sought … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Sack of Damietta (853)

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 Caucasian history: the Battle of Bagrevand (775)

When Arab armies moved out of Arabia in the 630s they brought an end to the Roman-Persian balance of power that had defined western Asia for centuries. It’s likely that nobody, apart from the Romans and the Persians, felt this change more acutely than the Armenians. The Kingdom of Armenia had long been a buffer between … Continue reading Today in Caucasian history: the Battle of Bagrevand (775)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Dayr al-Aqul (876)

The Saffarid Dynasty ruled much of modern Iran and Afghanistan, and part of modern Pakistan, starting in the mid-860s through roughly 901, and then continued to control a small principality in Sistan until the start of the 11th century. They’re not heavily emphasized in Middle Eastern or Iranian history because they were so ephemeral (their … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Dayr al-Aqul (876)

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

The Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258 brought an end the Abbasid caliphate in most practical senses. It was, obviously, a pivotal moment in world history, and is among the handful of events about which you can genuinely say that the world was one way before it happened and another way after it happened. At … 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)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

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 Umayyad dynasty from the caliphate. Obviously it would be difficult to describe the battle without going over the causes of the revolution, but equally obviously we could be … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of the Zab (750)

Islamic History, part 23: another civil war and the caliphate of al-Maʾmun (809-833)

Islamic History Series Assuming that I manage to keep going with this series, things are going to get a lot more, well, a lot more everything, really, moving forward. The political situation is going to get more complicated, because, believe it or not, this whole caliphate thing isn't going to remain stable much longer (actually … Continue reading Islamic History, part 23: another civil war and the caliphate of al-Maʾmun (809-833)