Thus did that ancient and famous city, the seat of so many kings and princes, fall into the hands of the Muslims.
Continuing Muslims Conquer Syria,
our selection from History of the Saracens by Simon Ockley published in 1718. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in twelve easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Muslims Conquer Syria
Time: August 21, 638
Three servants had been left in the tent, who, fearing they should be beaten when their master came back, and having nobody else to help them, told Dames that if he would lend them a hand to set up the tent and put things in order they would unbind him, upon condition that he should voluntarily return to his bonds again till their master came home, at which time they promised to speak a good word for him. He readily accepted the terms; but as soon as he was at liberty he immediately seized two of them, one in his right hand, the other in his left, and dashed their two heads so violently against the third man’s that they all three fell down dead upon the spot.
Then opening a chest and taking out a rich suit of clothes, he mounted a good horse of Nestorius’, and having wrapped up his face as well as he could he made toward the Christian Arabs, where Jabalah, with the chief of his tribe, stood on the left hand of Heraclius.
In the meantime Dehac and Nestorius, being equally matched, continued fighting till both their horses were quite tired out and they were obliged to part by consent to rest themselves. Nestorius, returning to his tent, and finding things in such confusion, easily guessed that Dames must be the cause of it. The news flew instantly through all the army, and everyone was surprised at the strangeness of the action. Dames, in the meantime, had gotten among the Christian Arabs, and striking off at one blow the man’s head that stood next him, made a speedy escape to the Saracens.
Antioch was not lost without a set battle; but through the treachery of Youkinna and several other persons of note, together with the assistance of Derar and his company, who were mixed with Youkinna’s men, the Christians were beaten entirely. The people of the town, perceiving the battle lost, made agreement and surrendered, paying down three hundred thousand ducats; upon which Abu Obeidah entered into Antioch on Tuesday, being the 21st day of August, A.D. 638.
Thus did that ancient and famous city, the seat of so many kings and princes, fall into the hands of the infidels. The beauty of the site and abundance of all things contributing to delight and luxury were so great that Abu Obeidah, fearing his Saracens should be effeminated with the delicacies of that place, and remit their wonted vigor and bravery, durst not let them continue there long. After a short halt of three days to refresh his men, he again marched out of it.
Then he wrote a letter to the Caliph, in which he gave him an account of his great success in taking the metropolis of Syria, and of the flight of Heraclius to Constantinople, telling him withal what was the reason why he stayed no longer there, adding that the Saracens were desirous of marrying the Grecian women, which he had forbidden. He was afraid, he said, lest the love of the things of this world should take possession of their hearts and draw them off from their obedience to God.
Constantine, the emperor Heraclius’ son, guarded that part of the country where Amrou lay, with a considerable army. The weather was very cold, and the Christians were quite disheartened, having been frequently beaten and discouraged with the daily increasing power of the Saracens, so that a great many grew weary of the service and withdrew from the army. Constantine, having no hopes of victory, and fearing lest the Saracens should seize Caesarea, took the opportunity of a tempestuous night to move off, and left his camp to the Saracens.
Amrou, acquainting Abu Obeidah with all that had happened, received express orders to march directly to Caesarea, where he promised to join him speedily, in order to go against Tripoli, Acre, and Tyre. A short time after this, Tripoli was surprised by the treachery of Youkinna, who succeeded in getting possession of it on a sudden, and without any noise. Within a few days of its capture there arrived in the harbor about fifty ships from Cyprus and Crete, with provisions and arms which were to go to Constantine. The officers, not knowing that Tripoli was fallen into the hands of new masters, made no scruple of landing there, where they were courteously received by Youkinna, who proffered the utmost of his service, and promised to go along with them, but immediately seized both them and their ships, and delivered the town into the hands of Kaled, who was just come.
With these ships the traitor Youkinna sailed to Tyre, where he told the inhabitants that he had brought arms and provisions for Constantine’s army; upon which he was kindly received, and, landing, he was liberally entertained with nine hundred of his men. But being betrayed by one of his own soldiers, he and his crew were seized and bound, receiving all the while such treatment from the soldiers as their villainous practices well deserved. In the meantime Yezid Ebn Abu Sofian, being detached by Abu Obeidah from the camp before Caesarea, came within sight of Tyre. The governor upon this caused Youkinna and his men to be conveyed to the castle, and there secured, and prepared for the defense of the town. Perceiving that Yezid had with him but two thousand men in all, he resolved to make a sally. In the meantime the rest of the inhabitants ran up to the walls to see the engagement.
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