The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814

By H. St. L. B. Moss | Go to book overview

X
THE CULTURE

MAHOMET had left no succession schemes, and his death removed the very mainspring of the movement. All had depended on him; the word of God, issuing from the mouth of his Prophet, had been paramount. Fierce dissensions at once sprang up among his immediate followers, and simultaneously the Arabian tribes, still unreconciled to the supremacy of Medina, raised the standard of revolt, while in various parts of the peninsula arose rival prophets, seeking to emulate the successes of Mahomet. As we have seen, the bloody 'Ridda' wars, which reduced Arabia to obedience, led directly to the foreign conquests of Islam. They had, however, another effect, namely the healing up of discord, in face of the common peril, among the factions of Medina. The venerable and respected Abu Bakr was chosen as Caliph, or 'Successor' (of the Prophet), and was succeeded, two years later, by Omar, a political genius of the first rank, whose skilful direction of the Syrian campaign laid the foundation of the Moslem Empire. In 644 he fell by the hand of a Greek or Persian assassin, and Othman, a member of the Umayyad family, became Caliph. The rivalries of Medina, however, still smouldered, and its autocratic power provoked opposition in many quarters. A movement of reaction against the central government started among the semi-nomadic troops of Kufa and Egypt, and was fostered in the name of religion by Othman's rivals. Obscure negotiations with the Moslems of Medina resulted in the murder of Othman by a party of troops from Egypt. Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, who had probably been concerned in the movement, imprudently allowed the murderers to invest him with the Caliphate, the other claimants having withdrawn to Mecca. Since these claimants were supported by Basra, it was natural that Ali should be favoured by Kufa, the rival city, and the victory of Kufa over Basra secured him the temporary control of Iraq. Ali had now, however, to face the army of Moawia, governor of Syria; and though the first results were inconclusive, the balance of military strength and public opinion

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The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Description of Illustrations xvi
  • Part I- Romans and Barbarians 1
  • I- The Roman World 1
  • II- The Barbarian World 38
  • III- The Clash of Cultures 57
  • Part II- The Triumph of Justinian 79
  • IV- Constantinople *
  • V- Justinian and the West 95
  • VI- Justinian and the East 108
  • VII- The Aftermath 125
  • Part III- The Onslaught of Islam 143
  • VIII- The Faith 143
  • IX- The Conquest 149
  • X- The Culture 159
  • Part IV- The Age of Charlemagne 175
  • XI- The European Background 175
  • XII- The Franks 193
  • XIII- The Papacy 222
  • Appendix A 266
  • Appendix B 270
  • Chronological Table 275
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 288
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