Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Heliopolis (640)

The Arab conquest of Egypt was probably the first big surprise of the early Islamic period, after the Arabs’ initial military successes against the Byzantines and Persians, for a couple of reasons. First, while Egypt may be home to more Arabs than any other country in the world today, in the seventh century very few Arabs lived there, … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Heliopolis (640)

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 Battle of al-Qadisiyah (636)

The two great Arab military victories of 636, the Battle of Yarmouk against the Byzantines and the Battle of al-Qadisiyah against the Sasanian Persians, were decisive in both in purely military and in geopolitical terms. Taken individually, they changed the course of both of the defeated empires--the Byzantines would never again hold significant territory south … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of al-Qadisiyah (636)

Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

This will be short, since there's very little to say about the Arab conquest of Syria after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 shattered Byzantine resistance there. But Antioch was one of the great cities of the eastern Roman Empire, and its conquest was significant, if anticlimactic. The city itself put up almost no resistance … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

Nearly two years before the Battle of Yarmouk broke Byzantine military power south of Anatolia pretty much for good, Arab forces captured the jewel of Roman Syria, Damascus. Looking at how they did so offers some important clues as to how they were able to take the rest of the Levant from the Byzantines so easily. … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Damascus ends (634)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Yarmouk (636)

If one were inclined to rank the most important battles in world history, the Battle of Yarmouk probably should be pretty high on the list. It eliminated, over the course of one 6-day battle, almost the entirety of the Byzantine military south of the Taurus Mountains, leaving Syria and the rest of the Levant (with … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Yarmouk (636)