The History of al-Tabari Vol. 34: Incipient Decline: The Caliphates of al-Wathiq, al-Mutawakkil, and al-Muntasir A.D. 841-863/A.H. 227-248
The events described in this volume took place during al-Tabari's own time. Al-Tabari was thus writing "contemporary history," and his narrative, often based on first-hand reports, is drawn in vivid and arresting detail. The volume portrays the summit of "the Samarra period," following al-Mu'tasim's transfer of the 'Abbasid capital upstream from Baghdad to Samarra.
Three caliphs are portrayed in this volume: al-Mu'tasim's son and successor, al-Wathiq; al-Wathiq's brother al-Mutawakkil; and al-Mutawakkil's son al-Muntasir. At this time the 'Abbasid caliphs came under the dominant influence of the Turkish military elite. The crowning example of Turkish power and 'Abbasid frailty was the dramatic assassination of al-Mutawakkil by Turkish officers within the precincts of his own palace. The Turks were afterward not only instrumental in raising al-Muntasir the caliphate, they also forced him to depose his two brothers as heirs apparent. Finally, they had al-Muntasir himself killed.
During the period of al-Wathiq and al-Mutawakkil, insurrections erupted in the center of the empire, and serious revolts broke out in distant provinces, including Africa and Armenia. The Byzantine raids on Damietta and Samosata were memorable events, and periodic Muslim forays were made into Byzantine territory. Prisoner exchanges between Muslims and Byzantines are reported in engaging detail on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The report of a prisoner release by a Shi'ite emissary to the Byzantine emperor contains a charming description of his visit to Constantinople and his audience with Michael III.
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Abbasid Abd al-Malik Abi Du'ad Abu al-Mahasin Aghani Ahmad al-'Abbas al-Fath al-Hasan al-Husayn al-Khadim al-Khasib al-Ma'mun al-Mu'ayyad al-Mu'tazz al-Mu'tazz bi-llah al-Muntasir al-Muta al-Mutawakkil Al-Mutawakkil ordered al-Rashid al-Sharabi al-Wathiq appointed Arab Armenia Baghdad Baladhuri Banu Numayr Banu Sulaym Bosworth Bugha Bujah Buldan Byzantine Cairo edition caliph Commander Dhimmis Dhu al-Hijjah died dinars dirhams Faithful Faraj gate Glossarium governor Hanbal Harun Herzfeld Ibn Abi Ibn al-Athir Ibn al-Ba'ith Ibn al-Nadim Ibn al-Zayyat Ibn Tayfur Ibrahim Index Isfahani Ishaq Islam Itakh Kamil Khaqan killed Leading the pilgrimage Leiden edition Manuel Mas'udi mawla Mecca Medina mentioned Minorsky Mu'jam Muhammad Muhammad al-Muntasir Muruj Musa Muslims Mutawakkil Najah Nasr oath of allegiance palace prisoner exchange Qur'an Reign replied reported reportedly Sa'id Saliba Salih Samarra secretary seized sent Sezgin Shakiriyyah slave Sourdel Sulayman Ta'rikh Tabari Tahir Tahirids Text Turkish Turks Ubaydallah Umar Vizirat Wasif wazir whereupon Wiet Ya'qubi Yahya Yaqut Yusuf Zambaur