Let’s get the big problem out in the open right up front: while October 10, 732, is the most widely accepted date for the Battle of Tours (Poitiers)—fought between an army of the Umayyad Caliphate and a European coalition under the command of Frankish majordomo Charles Martel (d. 741)—there are a lot of reasons to … Continue reading Today (maybe) in European history: the Battle of Tours (probably 732)
In the waning years of the Umayyad dynasty, a caliphal army suffered a major defeat in an area that is now part of Afghanistan, to a Turkish people called the Turgesh. The defeat was serious enough to disrupt caliphal control of the region called Transoxiana (literally “across the Oxus River,” which is today known as … Continue reading Today in Central Asian history: the Battle of the Baggage (737)
Before it fell for good to the Ottomans in 1453, the city of Constantinople withstood something like a dozen sieges by foreign armies over its long history. The one successful siege, by the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, was of course eventually rolled back when the Latin Empire went defunct in 1261. But other than that, all … Continue reading Today in European history: the Siege of Constantinople begins (maybe, 717) and ends (718)
On or around this date in 711 Berber and Visigothic armies met in the Battle of Guadalete, one of the decisive engagements in the Islamic conquest of Iberia and establishment of al-Andalus.
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)
The early caliphate was not an especially stable place. In the two centuries after Muhammad’s death in 632, the empire went through four civil wars (the four fitnas, as they’re known). It’s fair to say that the second of these, which lasted from 680 to 692, was practically a do over of the first, with the same factions (the … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Marj Rahit (684)
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)