THE HOLY WAR.
ABD-ER-RAHMĀn III.'s principle of government consisted in retaining the sovereign power entirely in his own hands, and administering the kingdom by officers who owed their elevation wholly to his favour. Above all, he took care to leave no power in the hands of the old Arab aristocracy, who had so ill served previous rulers. The men he appointed to high places were parvenus, people of mean birth, who were the more attached to their master because they knew that but for him they would be trampled upon by the old Arab families. The force he employed to sustain the central power was a large standing army, at the head of which stood his select body-guard of Slavs, or purchased foreigners. They were originally composed chiefly of men of Slavonian nationality, but came by degrees to include Franks, Galicians, Lombards, and all sorts of people, who were brought to Spain by Greek and Venetian traders, and sold while still children to the Sultan, to be educated as Moslems. Many of them were highly cultivated men, and naturally attached to their master. They resembled in many respects the corps of Mamlūks which Saladin's successors intro-