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© ( 2001 - 2011 ) Heinz Kunis


Ibn Kunis 1914

 October 1914

 The Journal of the

 Royal Asiatic Society

 of Great Britain and Ireland

 Published by the Society

 22  Albemarle Street, London , W.

 Price Twelve Shillings







The following pages contain a rather circumstantial account of certain negotiations between the Buwaihid, ‘Adud al-Daula, and the Emperor Basil, the slayer of the Bulgarians, consequent on the presence of Basil`s defeated rival, Bardas Scleros, in honourable captivity at Baghdad. His defeat at Pancalia in A.D. 979 very nearly coincided with ‘Adud al-Daula’s final conquest of ‘Irāk, which was followed by the expulsion from Mosul of the Hamdanid Abu Taghlib. Between him and Scleros existed the tie of self-interest cemented by one of affinity: they had assisted each other against their respective adversaries, and had both been defeated. Abu Taghlib’s defeat was final; driven from Diyār Bakr by the troops of ‘Adud al-Daula, he fled to Syria and perished by a treacherous Arab hand. But no impassable barrier as yet interposed between Scleros and the object of his ambition. He had escaped to Mayyāfārikin, which had lately submitted to ‘Adud al-Daula, and had sent thence his brother Constantine as his envoy to Baghdad with an appeal for succour and an offer of allegiance. Contemporaneously arrived at Baghdad an envoy from Basil with instructions to procure, at whatever cost, the surrender of Scleros, who was obviously a valuable pawn in the monarchs’ political game. ‘Adud al-Daula thereupon caused him and his followers to be promptly conveyed to Baghdad, an the game proceeded.


The history of the Byzantine Empire for this period has been treated by M. Schlumberger in two works: Un Empereur byzantin au Xe Siècle, a single volume which cover the reign of Nicephorus Phocas, and L’Épopée byzantine à la fin du Xe Siècle, in three volumes, the first



of which covers the reign of John Zimisces and that of Basil to a point later than these occurrences. For this period the author had the advantage of the annotated extracts from the history of Yahya b. Sa’īd of Antioch – written circa A.H. 406 (A.D. 1015 : Épopée, I, 299, n. 3) in continuation of that of Eutychius, Sa’īd b. al-Batrīk, of Alexandria – which were published in 1883 by Von Rosen in Zapiski Imp. Ak. Nauk, vol. xliv, Appendix i, and the entire text of the work has now been published in Corp. Script. Christ. Orient., Script. Arab., ser. III, t. vii, from p. 91. M. Schlumberger points out that Yahya’s account of events is both fuller and more consistent with probability than that derived from Byzantine sources, and he makes it the foundation of his narrative. Yahya’s account accords likewise with that of the recently recovered texts of the Tajārib al-Umam of Abu ‘Ali Miskawaih (Gibb Memorial facsimile), vol. vi, and of its continuation, the Dhail of Abu Shujā, whence the account of these negotiations has been derived.

There is some confusion in Moslem histories between the names of the two Bardas, Phocas and Scleros; by Yahya they are correctly distinguished. The latter is referred to in the Tajārib (p. 488) in connexion with Abu Taghlib, as “the Byzantine ruler, known as Ward, whom the dissatisfied soldiery displaced by the two rulers”, viz. Basil and Constantine, and again (p. 500) in connexion with the dispatch of his brother as envoy to Baghdad, as “Scleros known as Ward”. In a passage of the Dhail, which is the basis of Ibn al-Athīr’s narrative, vol. viii, 516-17, Phocas is called “Ward” and “Wardīs b. Lāūn” and Scleros, “Ward b. Nunīr.” This last designation is hard to understand, and it would be less unintelligible were it applied, not to Scleros, but to Phocas, as consequent on a misapprehension of his name for such




a name as Photius. For Mr. E. W. Brooks tells me that in a Syriac text edited by Nau from two MSS. In which the names of various saints appear in a translated form – Patr. Or., tome x, p. 52 – the same saint is called, in the one “Phocas”, and in the other “Nuhra”, which is Syriac for “light”.

Basils envoy to Baghdad is identified by Yahya as Nicephorus Uranus, later “Magistros” and Governor of Antioch, whereas the Tajārib (p. 500) says only that the envoy was a person of distinction, and emphasizes the fact that he and Scleros’ brother were together in Baghdad courting ‘Adud al-Daula’s favour for the space of the entire year 369 as a circumstance tending greatly to the honour of that sovereign. And the above Dhail passage, reproduced by Ibn al-Athīr, goes on to state Ward b. Munīr’s defeat by Wardīs b. Lāūn after the two had met in single combat (see Épopée, i. 423-4).




The next step in the political game was the dispatch to Byzantium in A.H. 371 of a Moslem envoy, the Kādi Abu Bakr al-Bākiliāni (Ibn al Athīr, ix, 11-12; his life is given in Ibn Khallikān, trans., ii, 671). Yahya (159, l. 3) mentions the sending of an envoy concerning Scleros, whom he calls “Ibn Sahra” (in one MS. of the work the name appears correctly as Ibn Shahrām), and this Von Rosen considered to be a corruption of the Kādi’s name, to the evident surprise of M. Schlumberger (p. 442, n. 2), unaware of the possibilities afforded by Oriental script, and his surprise is shown to be justified. The Kādi’s mission, which, apart from the dramatic story of his escape from making obeisance to Basil, - told by Ibn al-Athīr, and also by Sam’āni in his notice of the Kādi (Ansāb, Gibb facsimile, 62a, l. 4) and told moreover, so Von Rosen says, of the envoy from ‘Abd al-Rahmān of Cordova to a Norman king, - was not productive of much result. It was at some subsequent date in A.H. 371 that Ibn Shahrām went on his mission, and his instructions as given by Yahya accord entirely with the text of the Dhail, but Yahya’s further statement that Nicephorus Uranus was imprisoned at Baghdad on suspicion of compassing the death of Scleros by poison (which is repeated by al-Makon, Épopée, i, 443, n. 5), finds no confirmation either in the Tajarib or in the Dhail, and seems indeed to be quite inconsistent with the details of Ibn Shahrām’s mission now to be told.

The following translation of the Dhail text (photographs 44-60) owes much to Professor D.S. Margoliouth.




The occasion for these communications was the fact already stated, that Bardas had entered Islamic territory; this alarmed the Byzantine sovereign and he dispatched




an envoy thereon to ‘Adud al-Daula. The reply was sent by Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-Tayyib al-Ash’ari, known as Ibn al-Bākiliāni, and he came back with an envoy known as Ibn Kunis, who, on his return, went accompanied by Abu Ishak b. Shahrām with a claim against the Byzantine sovereign for a number of strongholds. He now arrived accompanied by Nicephorus the Kanikleios, who was bearer of a handsome gift.




It runs thus: On reaching Kharshana I learnt that the Domesticus (i.e. Bardas Phocas) had left Constantinople [45] and had begun his preparations, and that with him was an envoy from Aleppo known as Ibn Māmak, and Kulaib, brother-in-law to Abu Sālih al-Sadīd. Kulaib was one of Bardas’ partisans and was among the rebels who had been amnestied and settled on Byzantine territory after being mulcted in a fine. The Byzantines bethought themselves of fining him after the example of others, and to forfeit the estates which had been granted him when he contrived the surrender to them of the fortress of Barzūya, but he found the means of gaining over the Chamberlain and the Domesticus, and managed




to procure for the Byzantine ruler undertakings as regards Aleppo and elsewhere which sufficed to ward off imminent danger, together with an offer to secure immediate payment of what was attributable to the land-tax on Aleppo and Emesa, since it was his relative (who had promised) and he would not oppose him: on this ground he was let off. With the envoy from Aleppo nothing was settled, but a claim was made for arrears of land-tax for past years.

On the Domesticus arriving at a place which was off the post route Ibn Kunis and I proceeded to join him. He proved to be young and self-satisfied, and averse to completing the truce on various grounds; one being that he could dispense with its necessity for the moment and that it would prejudice his repute; [46] another that the Byzantine ruler was eager for its, “and we are in fear of mischief from him”; and thirdly his own personal hopes and wishes. But at the same time he showed us courtesy and did accept the proposed peace with an expression of thanks.

He then inquired the object of my coming, and I fully informed him. Ibn Kunis drew his attention to the stipulated terms, on which he said: were the chiefs to succeed in getting us to cede to them amicably the districts and fortresses they ask, each one of them would set about scheming to avoid the necessity of keeping a force of men and of making money payments. I replied that where policy was backed by force and ability it was a proof of nobility of character, and should be met by compliance. “But what about Aleppo?” he asked: “it is no part of your (i.e. ‘Adud al-Daula’s) territory, and its ruler has no regard for you; his envoy here and Kulaib are tendering us its land-tax and asking for our protection. And as for the fortresses, they were taken in the time of my uncle Nicephorus and of other sovereigns, and we are




not at liberty to relinquish them, so if you can make any other proposal, do so, otherwise spare yourself the long journey.” I replied: “If you have your Sovereign’s order for my departure I will go, but if you say this from yourself only, then the Sovereign ought to hear my own words and I his reply, so as to return with authentic information.” And he permitted my going on.

So I proceeded to Constantinople and made my entry after I had been met [47] and most courteously escorted by court officials. I was honourably lodged in the palace of the Kanikleios Nicephorus (the envoy come with me) who stood in favour with the Sovereign. Next I was summoned to the presence of the Chamberlain (i.e. the eunuch Basil), who said: “We are acquainted with the correspondence which bears on your message, but state your views.” Thereupon I produced the actual agreement, which he inspected and then said: “Was not the question of relinquishing the land-tax on Abu Taghlib’s territory, both past and future, settled with al-Bākilāni in accordance with your wishes, and did he not assent to our terms as to restoring the fortresses we had taken, and as to the arrest of Bardas? Your master accepted this agreement and complied with our wishes, for you have his ratification of the truce under his own hand.” I said that al-Bākilāni had not come to any arrangement at all; he replied that he had not left until he had settled the terms of agreement, of which the ratification under the hand of his sovereign was to be forwarded, and that he had previously produced his letter approving the whole of the stipulations. Accordingly I was driven to find some device in order to meet this position.


The excellent idea which occurred to Ibn Shahrām for rebutting his adversary’s case


I said this: “Ibn al-Bākilāni came to no agreement with you; it was Ibn Kunis who made this compact [48]




and took a copy of it in the Greek language.” At this the Chamberlain broke out, and asked Ibn Kunis “Who has authorized this?” to which he answered that neither he nor Ibn al-Bākilāni had settled anything, and I withdrew.

A few days later the Chamberlain summoned me and resumed reading the agreement. He paused at a point where it spoke of “what might be settled with Ibn Shahrām on the basis of what was contained in the third copy”, and said that this was the one copy, but where were the other two? On referring to this passage I saw the blunder that had been committed in letting this stand, and said: “The meaning of the passage is that the agreement was to be in triplicate, one part to remain with the Byzantine ruler, one to be in Aleppo, and the third in the capital (Baghdad).” This Ibn Kunis traversed, saying that his instructions had been to note down the exact sense of the agreement, and the Chamberlain said that this copy was the ruling one; that the second copy referred to giving up the fortresses, whilst the third omitted all mention of Aleppo; that the agreement had been signed on the terms agreed upon with Ibn al-Bākilāni, and the sole object in sending this copy was to procure the sovereign’s hand and seal thereto. To which I said: “This cannot be so; my instructions are merely what I have stated as regards Aleppo and the fortresses, in accordance with the agreement which you have seen.” He replied: “Were Bardas (i.e. Scleros) here in force [49] and you had made us all prisoners you could not ask for more than you are asking; and Bardas is, in fact, a prisoner.”


Ibn Shahrām’s well-directed rejoinder



I replied: “Your supposed case of Bardas being here in force is of no weight, for you are well aware that when Abu Taghlib, who is not on a par with the lowest of ‘Adud al-Daula’s followers, assisted Bardas he foiled the





Byzantine sovereigns for seven years; how would it be, then, were ‘Adud al-Daula to assist him with his army? Bardas, although a prisoner in our hands, is not exposed, as your captives are, to mutilations; his presence in the capital is the best thing for us, for we have not made a captive of him. It may be that he will fret at our putting him off, will despair of us, become estranged, and go away; but at present he is acting with us and is reassured by the pomp and security he witnesses at the capital. We hold, in truth, all the strings.”


My words impressed and nonplussed him greatly, for he knew them to be true, and he said: “What you ask cannot be granted; we will ratify, if you will, what was agreed on with al-Bākilāni – else, depart.” I replied: “If you wish me to depart without having had a hearing from the Sovereign I will do so.” To this he said that he spoke for the Sovereign, but that he would ask an audience for me.

And in a few days time I was summoned [50] and attended. The Byzantine Sovereign (Basil) caused what had passed to be repeated to him in my presence, and said: “You have come on a reprehensible errand; your envoy came and procured our consent to certain terms, which included the restoring of the fortresses taken during the revolt; you are now asking to have ceded other fortresses which were taken by my predecessors. Either consent to what was originally stipulated or go in peace.” I replied: “But al-Bākilāni agreed on nothing, for, as for the document he brought, you deprived us under its terms of half our territory: how can we admit such a thing against ourselves? Of these fortresses in Diyār Bakr none are held by you; now Diyār Bakr belongs to us: all you can do is to dispute it, and you do not know what will be the issue of the struggle.” Here the Chamberlain interposed, saying: “This envoy is skilled in controversy and can make up a fine story: death is better




for us than submission to these terms: let him return to his master.” The Sovereign then rose, and I withdrew.

When I had spent two month in Constantinople I was summoned by the Chamberlain. He had with him the Marshal, father of the Domesticus, who had been blinded, and a number of patricians besides, and we discussed the question of the fortresses. They offered to cede the land-tax of Husn Kaifā (held by Abu Taghlib’s mother, who received the tax), to which I replied: “And I, in turn, will cede you [51] the land-tax of Samand”; and on their asking what I meant I said: “It is only the extreme limits that are specified in the agreement so as to make it clear that all within the limits is comprised in the peace; Husn Kaifā is five days’ journey short of Amid: how come you to name it?”

The dispute as to Aleppo went on until the Marshal said: “If the ruler of Aleppo pays over the land-tax to us we shall know that your statements were not justified, and that he prefer us to you.” I answered: “And what assurance have we that you have not induced his secretary and brother-in-law Kulaib to make you some payment to be adduced as proof? For, short of fraud, I know the thing to be out of the question.” And thereupon I went away.

Next I was summoned by the Sovereign. By this time the Aleppo land-tax had arrived, and I found their earlier tone altered in vehemence and decision, for they said: “Here is the Aleppo land-tax come in, and its ruler has asked us to come to an agreement with him as regards




the towns of Harrān and Sarūj, and to aid him in attacking you and other powers.” And I said: “Your receipt of the land-tax I know to be a trick, for ‘Adud al-Daula did not imagine that you would regard it as lawful to act as you have acted, or he would have sent an army to stop yours. And as for your story about Aleppo’s ruler, I am better informed as to his views, and all you have been told about him is untrue; the overlordship of Aleppo is in ‘Adud al-Daula.” They asked me whether I had anything to add, and on my replying “No”, said that I might take leave of the Sovereign and depart with my escort [52]. I said I would forthwith do this, and I turned towards the Sovereign to take my leave of him.


Ibn Shahrām’s sound resolve in this predicament



His account is as follows: I considered the position, perceiving that the Chamberlain, the Marshal, and the rest of them were averse to the proposed peace, (the military men being apprehensive that their swords would not be required, and that their stipends would be reduced, as was the way at Byzantium when peace was made), and the only way left to me was to gain over and conciliate the Sovereign, so I said to him. “Will your Majesty consider ‘Adud al-Daula’s conduct towards you in not assisting your enemy and in not attacking your territory during the time you were occupied with those in revolt against you; for you know that if you satisfy him by himself, he being the Monarch of Islam, well and good, but, failing this, you will have to satisfy thousands of your partisans, and their consent is uncertain; and if you fail to procure it you may have to satisfy ‘Adud al-Daula later on. You know, too, that all those around him are averse to the proposed peace; he alone is in its favour,





and he is able to give effect to his pleasure, for no one ventures to dispute it. You I perceive to be in favour of peace with him, but it may be that your wish is not furthered by those around you.” He was moved by my speech, and his expression showed [53] his concern at my being aware of the opposition of his advisers, and he rose and departed.

Now, the person most intimately placed towards the Sovereign and the one who imposed the purple signature on his behalf, and was privy to all his official acts, was Nicephorus, the Kanikleios, who had accompanied me as envoy, and I asked him to withdraw with me, and he did so.


The arrangement come to by Ibn Shahrām with the Sovereign’s confidential adviser, whereby he effected his purpose


When we were alone together I spoke thus: “I wish you to convey a communication from me to the Sovereign. My stay here has been protracted, so inform me of his final resolve: if he meets my wishes, well and good; if not, there is no occasion for me to remain any longer.” And I made the Kanikleios a complimentary present from what I had brought with me, with fair promises on behalf of ‘Adud al-Daula. My communication was this: “Your Majesty’s first care should be to guard your person, next your sovereignty, and next your partisans. You should not trust one whose interest it is to do you prejudice, for it is Abu Taghlib’s aid which has brought about what has taken place in your dominions; what, then, will happen if ‘Adud al-Daula joins forces against your Majesty? [54] The conclusion of peace between yourself and between the first of men and ruler of Islam is not, I see, to the taste of your advisers. Now a man fails to realize only that of which he has had no experience, and you have had seven years’ experience of revolt against yourself and your rule.





Moreover, the continuance of the State does not imply your continued existence, for the Byzantines are indifferent as to who is Emperor over them [the text here is corrupt]. This is on the assumption that ‘Adud al-Daula does not move in person. I gave you good advice, knowing as I do my master’s leaning and regard towards you; consider therefore my words and act as you may deem best.” Nicephorus on his return said: “The answer is that `Things are as you say, but it is not in my power to resist the general body, who already regard me as their deceiver and undoer. Nevertheless I shall carry the matter through and act so far as I am able`.”

By a fortunate coincidence the Chamberlain (the eunuch Basil) now fell seriously ill and was unable to go out. My correspondence with the Sovereign went on, and he gave me audience on successive days and conversed with me in person, the Kanikleios assisting me owing to his hatred and jealousy of the Chamberlain, until the peace was agreed to in accordance with all the stipulations in the agreement, any attempts to have Aleppo excluded not being assented to. On my pressing this pint vigorously and saying, “Without Aleppo this cannot go through,” he said, “Give up insisting, for we will not cede more than what we have ceded, nor will we evacuate territory whose revenue we receive, except under duress. But I will send a letter by you to my friend [55] your Sovereign, for I know his noble nature, and that once he knows the truth he will not deviate from it.” He then told those near to remove, and said to me secretly from all: “Tell your Sovereign that I truly desire his good-will, but that I must have a proof of it. If you wish us to transfer to you the Aleppo land-tax, or that I should leave you to collect it on the terms of Ibn Hamdān being ousted from Aleppo, perform what you promised by the mouth of Ibn Kunis” (alluding to the surrender of Bardas). And I said: “I have not heard of this and was not present




thereat, but I think the performance unlikely.” This he resented, and said: “Give up this delaying, for there remains nothing more for you to argue with me.” He then ordered the replies to be drawn up, and I wrote mine and attended to take my leave.


A fortunate occurrence for Ibn Shahrām


Afraid lest fate should, as happens in such cases, bring about the death of the man whose surrender they required [the text seems corrupt], and in order that the peace should include all our territory to beyond the Euphrates and the territory of Bād to the exclusion of Aleppo, I said: “You know that I am a servant under orders and not a sovereign, and that I must not go beyond the instructions which I have faithfully reported to you. And as for your stipulations about Aleppo I have sworn to you that I heard nothing on this head [56] at Baghdad. But is your Majesty prepared to consider a plan which has occurred to me as being the right one for him to adopt?” “What is that?” he asked, and I said: “ To draw up a treaty of peace between us to include all our territory from Emesa to Bād’s district without any mention of the question of the surrender you ask – so much and no more. This you will swear to on your religion, sign it with your hand, and seal it with your seal in my presence. Your envoy will convey it to the capital with me, where either it will be ratified, or your envoy will bring it back.” I was asked, “And you will give a similar written undertaking?” “Yes,” I said, “on your handing in the terms you require.” “But you,” he replied “will mention in your document the man’s surrender?” I replied: “I cannot mention what is outside my authority.” “Then,” said he, I will have two agreements prepared, on of them for what lies beyond the Euphrates and Bād’s territory, the




other dealing with Emesa and Aleppo as stipulated; then, if your Sovereign chooses the one which extends beyond the Euphrates on the terms of his removing Bardas, he can take it, or if he prefer the other he can give effect to his preference.” I suggested the agreement being drawn up without any mention of this question, to which he said: “You then put it into writing, for I will not give anything written without receiving the same.” “Then let your interpreter,” I said, “make a copy of my words, and should ‘Adud al-Daula ratify them they can be copied out in his presence and be signed by him,” and this he agreed to. On this footing the terms were put into writing and a peace was made for ten years. When this was finished I said [57]: “Do not put your envoy on the footing of a mere courier, but inform him of what you wish him to do in pursuance of this agreement we have come to, and in accordance with what he himself knows, and ratify whatever he may ratify.” To this he assented, and it was so specified in the document.

The Chamberlain, on coming out after his recovery, was highly incensed at several matters: one being the intimacy of the Kanikleios with his master; another the conclusion of the business in his absence; and a third the question of Aleppo and Emesa and the promises made to him by Kulaib.


Word by which the Byzantine Sovereign conciliated the Chamberlain’s feeling



According to the report of some of the courtiers he spoke thus: “There is no one about me, as you know, Chamberlain, who has your affection for me or holds your place in my esteem, for you are nearest me in lineage and in affinity; the rest, as the envoy said, are indifferent as to whether it be I or someone else who is emperor. You




must safeguard both our lives and not heed what the Marshal (Leo Phocas) may say, nor trust to him or to his advice, For you know Ibrāhim’s story about him and his son (Bardas), how they harboured treachery to our rule and intended deceit towards us.” I asked my informant who Ibrāhim was, and he said, “An envoy from the Domesticus to yourselves; he it was who disclosed faithfully to the Sovereign that the Domesticus  [58] (i.e. Bardas) had sent him to you (Moslems) to ask you to assist him in rebelling.”

The Chamberlain accepted the Sovereign’s statement, and on his sending for me I noticed in him a tone and familiarity with me quite other than before, whilst at the same time his looks gave evidence of his disapproval of the terms agreed on. This Kanikleios was named envoy with me after he had declined the office, but the Sovereign finding no one else of his capacity put pressure on him, and the Chamberlain aided him, saying: “You and I are the two most important personages at Court, and one of us must go.” And so zealous was he in the matter that I attributed it to a desire that he should be at a distance, and to jealousy at the intimate footing he saw he was on with the Sovereign.

This, concisely, is the sense of the words used by Ibn Shahrām. At this moment ‘Adud al-Daula was in ill-health, and access to him was forbidden, and he ordered a statement of what had happened to be laid before him. This illness was that which proved fatal to ‘Adud al-Daula, and after his death the Byzantine envoy had an audience of Samsām al-Daula and was handed presents from him and settled the business he had come on. Two agreements were drawn up, the one being the agreement come to with Ibn Shahrām on the footing of its being a complete and permanent one, the other the earlier agreement made with Nicephorus.




[59]  The agreement come to as regards Bardas, his brother, and his son



The result of deliberations was that Nicephorus was to remain at Baghdad, and was to send an envoy of his own with one coming from the capital (Baghdad) to take the Sovereign’s signature and seal for Bardas’ (i.e. Scleros’) brother and son, with a safe-conduct and a guarantee assuring them his favour and restoration to their former offices and to a settled position. And that on this being sent they were then to be conducted to the Byzantine Sovereign by Nicephorus, whilst Bardas (Scleros) himself was to remain in Moslem territory, and was to be prevented from approaching Byzantine territory with a view to mischief. And that, when the fair treatment of the other two in accordance with the undertaking had become apparent, then Bardas too should be sent after them in the course of the third year following on the above undertaking, on terms no less satisfactory than in the case of his brother and son. And that the sum paid as tribute for Emesa and Aleppo by Ibn Hamdān to the Byzantine Sovereign should, as from the sending of Bardas to Byzantium, be paid into the treasury of Samsām al-Daula, and that if Ibn Hamdān delayed making the payment, the Byzantine Sovereign was to compel him and thus spare Samsām al-Daula the necessity [60] of sending a force against him. And that an equivalent should be assigned as against Bād’s territory for the complimentary presents he used to make to the Byzantine Sovereign, on the understanding that the latter was not to assist Bād nor to protect him if he took refuge with the Byzantines. Both agreements were sent off together and both were ratified.

Later took place what shall be told with regard to the release of Bardas from his confinement.


The proposed amnesty in favour of Scleros and his relations did not take effect, and his release by the




successor of ‘Adud al-Daula took place only some years later on Basil’s reverse in his Bulgarian campaign and in view of Scleros’ rising in revolt against him – a revolt in which he was joined by Phocas (Épopée, i. 675; Yahya, 166, l. 14). Scleros’ son, Romanus, who then abandoned his father’s cause, did eventually attain to high favour with Basil (Épopée, i. 694, 696, 772). The above narrative gives no countenance to the story of Uranus’ imprisonment at Baghdad by reason of his having devised the killing of Scleros by poison, and it does give some indication that Basil was already chafing at the authority of his minister, the eunuch Basil, whose fall was to follow in A.H. 375 (A.D. 985), the date being fixed by Yahya’s history (Épopée, i. 573).

It shows too that the value set by Basil on the surrender of Scleros was such that he was prepared to buy it at the cost of the entire land-tax, or tribute, payable to him by Aleppo under the terms of its surrender to Peter Phocas in A.H. 359 (Yahya, 134, l. 15; Un Empereur byzantin, 730). This part of the treaty fell through, and the payments by Aleppo continued, although at a reduced rate (Yahya, 165, l. 2, and 166, l. 2; Épopée, i. 550, 570-1), and in one case being remitted altogether (Yahya, 176, l. 12; Épopée, ii, 92). M. Schlumberger supposes the payments to have been made regularly (ib. 435), and it is certain that an instalment was on its way to Byzantium when intercepted by Scleros in the early days of his revolt (ib. I, 383). It would be interesting to know how far this tribute was regarded at Byzantium as an assured State asset – in other words, what would have been its purchase value in the market. There is a very precise statement in Faraj ba’d Shidda, ii, 132, l. 12, that, at a date some half-century earlier, the sale value of land situate in the Sawād of Baghdad was four years’ purchase, after deducting land-tax and other State claims. It is apparent also that the State’s anticipated receipts from the




taxation of land possessed a substantial sale value, for such was the basis of the financial proceedings of the viziers Ibn Mukla (Tajārib, v. 327-8) and Muhallabi (ib. vi. 168-9; cf. JRAS. 1913, pp. 829, 836). But, again, the value of the Caliph’s expectancy of tribute from a subordinate ruler should, judging by the scene enacted between the Caliph’s envoy and ‘Adud al-Daula’s uncle and predecessor (ib. v, 465-6), have ranked exceedingly low in the Baghdad market, and it may be that the same assumption would be true as regards the Aleppo tribute in the market at Byzantium.


Jetzt folgen noch zehn Seiten in arabischer Schrift, die ich nicht publiziere, da ich keine arabischen Schriftzeichen schreiben kann.

Der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Abteilung historische Drucke – danke ich für die Überlassung der Kopien aus dem Journal der königlichen asiatischen Gesellschaft für Großbritannien und Irland von 1914.



Heinz Kunis 12.01.2005

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