Abbasids

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Early Medieval Italy

By | 2018-04-15T16:50:54+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Lombard shield boss (to make spears slide off it) (Metropolitan Museum, New York) In 774 AD, Charlemagne conquered northern Italy from the Lombards. Soon after that Charlemagne got the Pope to name him the Holy Roman Emperor. For the next three hundred years, northern Italy was in the hands of the Holy Roman Emperor. That is, it belonged [...]

Who was Charlemagne? Early Middle Ages

By | 2018-04-15T16:50:52+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Charlemagne, or possibly his grandson (now in the Louvre Museum) Charlemagne's name is really Charles le Magne, or Charles the Great. In German they call him Karl der Grosse, which also means Charles the Great. His father, Pippin, left Charlemagne his Frankish empire when he died in 768 AD. The Franks were already very powerful when Pippin died, but [...]

Theodora and Bardas – Byzantine History

By | 2017-08-02T10:44:46+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Empress Theodora on a gold coin, with her son and daughter on the other side. With Theophilus dead, in 842 AD the Empire again had a woman in charge. The empress Theodora, at 27, became regent for her two-year-old son, Michael. Theodora was an iconodule. She allowed artists to make icons again. But she was smarter than Irene, and [...]

Nicephorus and Leo – Byzantine history

By | 2018-04-15T16:50:55+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Maybe the skull cup was something like this? Nicephorus deposed the Empress Irene in 802 AD and made himself emperor. He refused to pay tribute to the Islamic caliph, and therefore lost still more Roman territory to the Abbasids. On the other hand, he fought successfully for Greece against the Slavs and Bulgars, and negotiated with Charlemagne to recognize his claim to the [...]

Constantine IV and Justinian II

By | 2018-04-09T10:31:11+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|History, Medieval|

Mu'awiya on a Sassanian-style coin Constantine IV took over as Roman Emperor when his father Constans II died, in 668 AD. It wasn't a great time to be emperor. The Abbasids were gradually taking over most of the eastern Roman Empire. Attempts to retake the western part all ended in failure. But Constantine IV was a strong and sensible [...]

Basil, Zoe, and the Armenian Dynasty

By | 2017-08-01T16:42:13+00:00 August 1st, 2017|History, Medieval|

Basil I (867-886 AD) Basil killed Bardas and took over as Roman Emperor in 867 AD. That started the Armenian Dynasty. People call it that because of Basil's Armenian ancestors. (Sometimes people call it the Macedonian Dynasty because Basil was born in Macedon.) Basil continued basically the same policies as Bardas had. He was nice to the Bulgars [...]

Al Razi – Medieval Islamic science

By | 2018-04-18T18:18:03+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Islam, Science|

A manuscript copy of Al Razi's writing (from 1094 AD) Al Razi was born in Iran, in the Samanid kingdom, in 865 AD, when Iran was part of the Abbasid Empire. The Samanids were traders who encouraged education and the arts, and many scientists and artists lived in their kingdom. Al Razi seems to have started out as [...]

The Umayyads – Early Islamic History

By | 2017-07-25T17:04:54+00:00 July 25th, 2017|History, Islam|

Tomb of Ali, the first Imam and the fourth caliph, in Iraq (it was rebuilt about 1500 AD by the Safavids) Mohammed died in 632 AD. His second wife's father, a rich man named Abu Bakr, took over as caliph. He became the leader of the new religion of Islam, and of the newly united Arab [...]

Seljuk Dynasty – Medieval Islamic history

By | 2017-07-25T09:04:58+00:00 July 25th, 2017|History, Islam|

The Seljuks defeat the Persians (1040 AD) The Seljuks were Turkic nomads from Turkmenistan. They were related to the Uighurs. They entered the Abbasid empire around 950 AD and gradually converted to Sunni Islam. By 1030 AD the Seljuks were beginning to try to get power for themselves. They soon conquered the Ghaznavids (who were also Turkic) and controlled most of Iran. The [...]

History of the Islamic Empire

By | 2018-04-07T17:04:30+00:00 July 24th, 2017|History, Islam|

Dome of the Rock mosque, Jerusalem In 600 AD, West Asia had been divided for centuries between two big empires, the Romans and the Sassanians. People probably thought that would continue more or less forever. But they were wrong. Both the Romans and the Sassanians had gotten in the habit of using mercenary soldiers from the [...]