The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 33

Storm and Stress along the Northern Frontiers of the ʿAbbasid Caliphate: The Caliphate of al-Muʿtaṣim A.D. 833-842/A.H. 218-227

Translated by C. E. Bosworth

Subjects: Islam
Series: SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780791404942, 239 pages, September 1991
Hardcover : 9780791404935, 239 pages, October 1991

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Table of contents



Translator's Foreword

Table I: Genealogy of the 'Abbasids

Map I. The Central Lands of the Caliphate during the Reign of al-Mu'tasim

The Events of the Year 218 (cont'd) (833/834)
The Succession of Abu Ishaq al-Mu'tasim on His Brother al-Ma'mun's Death
An Expedition Sent against the Khurramiyyah

The Events of the Year 219 (834/835)
The Rebellion of the 'Alid Muhammad b. al-Qasim at al-Talaqan
The Campaign against the Zutt

The Events of the Year 220 (835)
The Deportation of the Captured Zutt
The Affair of Babak and His Outbreak
The Reason for This Battle between al-Afshin and Babak
The Reason for al-Mu'tasim's Departure for al-Qatul
The Reason behind al-Mu'tasim's Anger against al-Fadl b. Marwan and His Imprisoning of the Latter, and the Reason for al-Fadl's Connection with al-Mutasim

The Events of the Year 221 (835/836)
The Clashes of Bugha al-Kabir and al-Afshin with Babak, and the Reasons behind them
The Killing of Babak's Commander Tarkhan

The Events of the Year 222 (836/837)
The Engagement between al-Afshin's Forces and Babak's Commander Adhin and Its Causes
The Capture of al-Badhdh, How It Was Achieved, and the Reasons for This

The Events of the Year 223 (837/838)
Al-Afshin's Bringing of Babak and His Brother to al-Mu'tasim at Samarra and Their Execution
The Byzantine Emperor's Attacks on the Muslims at Zibatrah and Malatyah
The Reason for the Byzantine Ruler's Behaving Thus with the Muslims
Al-Mu'tasim's Campaign against 'Ammuriyyah
The Reason for al-Mu'tasim's Imprisoning al-'Abbas b. al-Ma'mun

The Events of the Year 224 (838/839)
The Reason for Mazyar's Open Rebellion against al-Mu'tasim and His Severe Measures with the People of the Plain
The Story of the Poet Abu Shas
The Continuation of the Operations against Mazyar and His Capture and Execution
The Reason behind Minkajur's Rebellion in Adharbayjan

The Events of the Year 225 (839/840)
The Reason for al-Mu'tasim's Anger against al-Afshin and His Imprisoning Him

The Events of the Year 226 (840/841)
The Rebellion of 'Ali b. Ishaq in Damascus
Al-Afshin's Death, the Treatment of Him at That Time, and What Was Done with His Corpse after His Death

The Events of the Year 227 (841/842)
The Reason for Abu Harb al-Mubarqa's Rebellion and Its Eventual Outcome
Al-Mu'tasim's Fatal Illness, the Length of His Life, and His Physical Characteristics
Something about al-Mu'tasim's Character and Behavior

Bibliography of Cited Works



This section of al-Ṭabarī's History covers the eight-year reign of al-Muʿtaṣim (833-42), immediately following the reign of his elder brother al-Ma'mun, when the Islamic caliphate was once more united after the civil strife and violence of the second decade of the ninth century A.D. Al-Mu'tasim's reign is notable for the transfer of the administrative capital of the caliphate from Baghdad north to the military settlement of Samarra on the Tigris, where it was to remain for some 60 years. This move meant a significant increase in the caliphs' dependence on their Turkish slave guards. Al-Muʿtaṣim's reign was also marked by periods of intense military activity along the northern fringes of the Islamic lands: against the Byzantines in Anatolia; against the sectarian Babak and his followers--the "wearers of red," the Khurramiyyah--in northwestern Persia; and against the politically ambitious local prince Mazyar in the Caspian provinces of Persia. These episodes take up the greater part of al-Tabari's account of al-Muʿtaṣim's reign, and he has provided graphic and detailed narratives of the respective campaigns, including valuable details on military organization and tactics during this period.