Slike strani
PDF
ePub

A. D. 680. The dissensions which distracted the caliphate secured for the Barbary States a period of doubtful repose ; during which, it should seem, the provincials were doomed to suffer as severely from the legal exactions of their European governors as froin the forced tribute of the Mohammedan princes. Akbah, a brave commander, was accordingly sent by the ruler of the Moslem to reclaim the ground which their arms had gained; and, in this instance, their progress was facilitated by the good wishes of the people, whose afflictions had rendered them indifferent to national fame, religion, and lineage. Meeting with little resistance, he marched through Mauritania, driving the natives before him, till at length he reached the borders of the Desert and the shores of the Atlantic. He made himself master also of the chief towns on the ocean, as well as the coast of the Mediterranean, and had, as he imagined, completed the subjection of the whole countrị, when intelligence was conveyed to him that the inhabitants of the eastern districts were in a state of open revolt. He hastened to quell the insurrection, but lost his life and army in the attempt. His successor, Zobeir, shared the same fate; for, after earning many laurels as a commander of the faithful, he was overthrown by a powerful armament sent from the Grecian capital.*

The invasion of Akbah was rendered memorable by the foundation of Kairwan or Cairoan, a town of which the remains are still found about fifty miles south from Tunis, and twelve from the sea. His object was to give birth to an Arabian colony in a retired part of the province, where his countrymen might find a refuge against the accidents of war, and in which they might place their families and booty during the labours of a campaign. A wall of brick surrounded the rising capital, which was afterward decorated with a governor's palace, a mosque supported by 500 columns of granite and marble, and several schools of learning. +

* Ockley, History of the Saracens, vol. ii., p. 129. Morgan has collecied numerous “testimonies" of the pride, insolence, and avarice of the Romans, and ascribes their loss of Africa to their insupportable tyranny, p. 162. See also Salvianus de Providentia, lib. iv., and Procopius, De Bello Gothico, lib. iii.

$ Leo African., p. 575. # Cairapan sive alio nomine Caroen nobilissimum oppidum conditorem habuit Hucba—a Mediterra. neo mare xxxvi. a Tuneto verum centum fere abest milliaribus,

A. D. 698. A few years before the close of the seventh century, Hassan, the viceroy of Egypt, was ordered to attack Carthage, and subject the whole of the surrounding country to the religion and authority of the caliph. But he had hardly reduced the metropolis of Africa, when a large force arrived from Constantinople, which compelled him to retire to Kairwan, the town whose origin has just been described. The issue of a battle, however, again put the city of Dido into his hands; and a second engagement, which took place near Utica, proved so disastrous to the Greeks, that they fled to their ships, and finally relinquished the country.

A. D. 699. The Moors having beheld, not without secret satisfaction, the discomfiture and retreat of those haughty conquerors, resolved to secure for their own use the territory which their forefathers had allowed to be wrested from their hands. This people, who, when the Roman empire possessed its early power, were feeble or unresisting, had gradually become formidable after the seat of government was transferred to the East; and now, when the imperial troops were expelled in disgrace, they thought themselves sufficiently strong to oppose with success the victorious bands of the Saracens. Assernbling their tribes under the standard of Cahina, whom they reverenced at once as a prophetess and a sovereign, they attacked the veterans of Hassan with such enthusiastic fury, that he was unable to keep his ground, and at length had the mortification of seeing his old soldiers turn their backs before a horde of barbarians conducted by a

He withdrew into Egypt, where he waited for a re-enforcement, with which he still hoped to recover Africa, and to annex it permanently to the dominions of the caliph. Nor was it long before the extravagance of the Mooriska queen enabled him to realize his expectations. The Moslem returned ; gained an easy victory over her disorderly and fanatical bands; and, as she herself fell in the first battle, her followers made but a slight effort to maintain the cause of independence, the love of which had carried them into the field.

From this epoch, Northern Africa may be regarded as a

woman.

neque aliam ob causam conditum fuisse dicunt quam ut in eo exercitus cum omni præda Barbaris atque Numidis adempta, securè se contenere possent.”

[graphic][merged small]

section of the great Mohammedan empire. The successor of Hassan, who trusted not less to the Koran than the sword, laboured so successfully to make proselytes to the creed of Islamism, that he had the satisfaction to sce the people gradually reconciled to the divine authority of the prophet, and to the justice of his arms. Thirty thousand of the young men were enlisted in his service; and the similarity of habits between the Arab in the Desert and the Moor in the Sahara, soon obliterated whatever distinction each might have been disposed to maintain. If the Berbers, according to their own tradition, originally issued from that eastern peninsula which is washed by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, their relationship to their conquerors could not be called in question ; and, at all events, at the present day, every shade of difference, whether in blood or religion, has entirely disappeared, except such as may have been perpetuated by the pursuits of active life. The shepherds, who still follow the customs of their ancestors, display peculiarities which do not belong to the artisans who seek a subsistence in large towns ; but there is not, either in their complexion or features, any characteristic which may not be confidently ascribed to their occupation and manners. The foregoing plate represents a faithful likeness of a Moor in the class of society to which he belongs, accompanied by a female in the costume of her rank and sex.

During the ascendency of the Mussulmans in Africa, the capital of their dominions was Kairwan, the city built by Akbah, where their viceroys usually had their abode, and whence they extended their cares to the government of the western provinces and even of Spain. At this period the Arabs occupied the principal towns along the coast, both because they might be called upon to defend them against the fleets of Constantinople and the corsairs of the opposite shores, and also because it was not yet thought expedient to dispute with the Moors the possession of those lands between the sea and the Desert which had descended to them as an inheritance, or fallen into their hands as a conquest. Even these precautions did not prevent a succession of bloody wars, waged by the old inhabitants against the regular troops, whose dútv it was to repress their ravages as they issued from the defiles of Mourt Atlas.

A. D. 800. About the 184th year of the Hegira, the celebrated prince, Haroun al Raschid, the fifth of the Abbassides, intrusted to Ibrahim ibn Aglab the government of Africa, This ambitious captain soon threw off his allegiance, assumed the supreme power in his own person, and laid the foundation of a dynasty, the Beni Aglab or Aglabites, which continued during eleven successions and more than 100 years. Rostam, who was sent to restore the authority of the caliph, so far forgot his duty as to follow the example of his predecessor, and seized certain provinces, which he converted into an independent kingdom. Nearly at the same epoch, the remainder of the Barbary States, including the whole of the Tingitana, became the prey of Edris, a descendant of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed; and, in this way, no part of Africa, with the single exception of Egypt, acknowledged fealty to the successor of the prophet. Edris is venerated by the natives of Mauritania as the founder of Fez—of that part of it at least which is now denominated the Old City.

A. D. 909. The rise of the Fatimites, in the person of Al Mahadi, suppressed for a time all the other dynasties of the West. He assumed the title of caliph, and governed Africa with a rod of iron ; making also several attempts to add Egypt to his dominions, in one of which he reduced the city of Alexandria. His grandson Moez, who succeeded in conquering the rich valley of the Nile, removed the seat of his government to Cairo, where, claiming the honours due to the successor of their great apostle, and commanding his name to be introduced into the public prayers of the mosque, he inflicted upon his church the scandal of a schism.

When he left Barbary, he consigned the charge of the provincials to Yussuf ibn Zeiri, who, asserting the independence of that fine country, gave rise to a dynasty of princes, who figure in the Spanish histories under the corrupt appellation of Zegris. This family, there is reason to believe, enjoyed royal power in the territory of Algiers down to the year 1148, when the last sovereign of their race was killed in battle by the forces of Roger, king of Sicily and Calabria, who, in their progress to the Holy Land, were induced by a feeling of revenge to debark on the African coast.

When Moez was on the throne of Egypt, he gave permission to an immense multitude of Arabs to pass through that country on their way to Barbary ; whither they carried with them a great number of camels, the first which were naturalized in the northern parts of the continent. It is said that no fewer than 50,000 warriors accompanied this emigration, why, as they went to seek new lands for their Hocks and herds, produced a deep impression on the whole province, and effected a material change in the distribution of property. Leo Africanus relates that they took Tripoli, and put most of the inhabitants to the sword ; destroyed Capes, in the neighbourhood of Tunis; and next attacked Kairwan, the metropolis of the Saracenic princes, in the sack of which they were guilty of the greatest inhumanities. They soon overran all the plain country, and penetrated into many parts of the Southern Numidia ; for, like their countrymen at home, being generally mounted on fleet horses, they evaded the pursuit of the Moors, who were more accustomed to fight on foot. It is from these families of Arabs, whom Moez encouraged to pass the Red Sea, that the wandering tribes have sprung, who still employ the camel in the African

« PrejšnjaNaprej »