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 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 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)