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rica to tribute, invaded Cyprus with a numerous fleet, and completely subdued Persia.* The Mohammedans had also by this time obtained considerable footing in Sicily. After the death of Othmann, whose reign lasted only ten years, violent dissensions arose on account of the succession to the throne. The Arabians and Persians chose Alim ; the Syrians and Egyptians, Muvia, who fixed the seat of his government at Damascus. This contest was the origin of the schism between the Persians and the Turks, the former having acknowledged Alim as the legitimate successor of Mohammed. Alim and his son Chusan were soon dispatched by the opposite faction, so that Muvia became sole possessor of the throne. During his reign, Africa was, in consequence of wars carried on with various success, almost entirely ravaged ; Sicily was completely subdued ; and Constantinople endured a siege of seven years, and was saved from the dominion of the Saracens, by means of the Greek fire employed against them. It seems to have been about this period, viz. towards the end of the seventh century, that the name of Saracens was given to the followers of Mohammed. Opinions differ with respect to the origin of the appellation. Some derive it from Saracena, a district of Arabia Petræa, according to Ptolemy. But, as the Arabians never assumed this designation, which was affixed to them as a mark of reproach by other nations, the celebrated Bochart's derivation of the name from the Arabic word Saraca, which signifies robbery, is highly probable, as expressive of their plundering and ferocious character.
a Hermanni Venemæ Institutiones Hist. Eccles. tom.v. pp.154–157. a Ptol. lib. vi. cap. 7.
Muvia reigned twenty-six years. Under Abimelech, or Abdalmelech, who succeeded Izidt, the son and successor of Muvia, all Africa was subdued, and the Mohammedan dominion extended to the confines of the Visigoths. Walid, his successor, who reigned till the year 715, conquered nearly all Spain, and Soliman, his brother, penetrated into Gaul. One of his successors occupied the Narbonese ; but, having laid siege to Toulouse, he was in the year 721 routed and slain by Eudos, the intrepid and active Gallic general. In the year 732, the Saracens sustained another signal defeat in France from the arms of Charles Martel. Hiezjam, the brother of Izidt, greatly extended the Saracen dominions. They, however, were soon after variously torn, partly because two contending Caliphs had arisen, the one at Bagdad, the other in Egypt; and partly because the governor of provinces in Africa, Spain, and other countries, had assumed independent power; so that this formidable Mohammedan empire was extremely debilitated, and, if the Christians had not been destitute of vigour, and the Turks had not come to its aid in the eleventh century, would then have been completely extinguished.
b Abrégé Chronologique de l' Histoire de France, par le Sr. de Mezeray, tome i. pp. 189, 193.
The Turks, or Turcomans, were of Scythian origin. They were a warlike nation, inhabiting the regions on the north of Mount Caucasus. They had often been solicited both by Greeks and Saracens as their auxiliaries against the Persians. Afterwards, having waged doubtful war against the Saracens themselves, they laid waste Georgia, in the reign of Constantine Capronymus. They overspread Colchis and Albania, rushed into Armenia, and subdued the Saracens. In the eleventh century, having been requested by Mohammed, son of Inbriel, to assist him against the Indians and Babylonians, they seized on all Persia, and made war on the Greeks, whom they overthrew with dreadful carnage in the eighty-first year of the eleventh century. From this time they obtained possession of the Greek empire in Asia, and established the seat of their government at Iconium and Nice. The Tartars, also a Scythian nation round the shores
a Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, translated by Maclaine, vol. ii. pp. 51, 52. 8vo. edition. b Venemæ Instit. Hist. Eccl. tom. v, pp. 156, 157, VOL. I.
of the Caspian, rushing into Persia, Armenia, and Lesser Asia, and having nearly laid waste the Turkish power above mentioned, gave rise to the formidable empire of the Ottomans, or Turks, properly so called. Othman, a brave and intelligent general, laid the grand foundations of it. He died in the
He died in the year 1327. He was succeeded by a series of warlike and enterprising princes, who continued to extend their dominions till Constantinople was taken, in the year 1453, by Mohammed II. One part of the city was taken by assault; the other surrendered by capitulation. In the former, the public profession of Christianity was prohibited, and every vestige of it effaced; the inhabitants of the latter were, during a considerable time, permitted to retain their churches and monasteries, and to practise their worship. But, in the reign of Selim I. this privilege was confined by severe and despotic restraints, and the professors of the Christian faith were reduced to the lowest degradation.
Tamerlane, or Timur Beck, extended the Mohammedan conquests into India, in which country a great proportion of the inhabitants still profess that religion. Voltaire asserts that this mighty conqueror was a deist of most liberal
a Guthrie's General History of the World, vol. viii. pp. 47–98. b Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. vol. iii. p. 213, 8vo.
principles." It is, nevertheless certain, that he was a Mohammedan even of the worst descrip. tion. For, with all the false opinions of that profession, he mingled the gross superstitions of the Tartars. His wars, both in India and Georgia, were undertaken in order to suppress infidels, at least under that pretext."
Mohammedans, as well as Christians, have been divided into religious sects, with a variety of sub-divisions, and these have viewed and continue to view each other with as great virulence as they all entertain towards the adversaries of their common prophet. Immediately after the death of Mohammed, Abubeker and Ali, the former his father-in-law, the latter his son-inlaw, both aspired, as has been stated, to succeed him in the empire which he had erected. On this arose a violent contest whose flame extended to succeeding ages. Two great factions were formed, and of these, the one acknowledged Abubeker as the true caliph or successor of Mohammed. They were distinguished by the name of Sonnites. The other, adhering to Ali, were distinguished by the title of Schiites. Both adhered to the Koran as the rule of faith and manners. To this, however, the former added the Sonna or oral traditions derived from their
prophet. This the adherents of Ali refused to ada Essai sur l'Histoire Générale. • Guthrie's Gen. Hist. of the World, vol. vii. pp. 429, 430.