Harun al-Rashid and the world of the thousand and one nights
Known in the West as a cultural patron and as the ruler who sent exotic gifts to Charlemagne, Harun al-Rashid was also a soldier who waged war against the Byzantine empire, and a politician who often dealt ruthlessly with the religious and social revolts which threatened his far-flung kingdom. A symbol of the fabled Orient and the caliph portrayed in The Thousand and One Nights, he is shown living grandly in his palace in Baghdad, surrounded by his wives, concubines, musicians and learned men, but is not merely a legendary figure. He was the son of a Yemenite slave who carved a path to power, very probably by poisoning the reigning caliph, her elder son. Harun reigned for a quarter of a century, and was the most famous caliph of the Abbasid dynasty. Through Arab chronicles, the author corrects our vision of 'Harun the Good', and gives a remarkable account of his development as a ruler of an empire that was shaken by religious and social insurrections.
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Abbasid Abdallah Abu al-Atahiya Abu Muslim Abu Nuwas Alids Amin Arab army Asia Baghdad Barmakids basileus Basra became brother built Byzantine Byzantium caliph capital centre Charlemagne Charles Christians colour Commander concubines Constantinople court Damascus death dignitaries dinars dirhams dishes dynasty East Egypt eighth century emir emperor empire enemy fabrics Fadl ibn al-Rabi Faithful father Frankish frontier gardens gave gold governor Greek Gundeshapur Hadi Harthama Harun al-Rashid Heraclaea historians hundred ibn Isa Ibrahim Ifriqiya India influence Iran Iranian Iraq Islam Jaffar Kairouan Khaizuran Kharidjites Khorasan king Koran Kufa later lived Mahdi Mamun Mansour Masudi Mecca merchants Mesopotamia Mohammed mosque Nicephoros Nights ninth century ordered Orient palace Persian poets political population princes Prophet provinces Raqqa region reign religious revolt Saffah Samarra Sassanid sent silk slaves sons soon sovereign Spain Syria Tabari thousand throne Tigris took town trade translated troops Umayyad vizier women Yahya Zubaidah