Before this war the peninsula of Crimea in South Russia has been very little known outside Russia, especially in this country. Crimea has been involved in this war, and at this moment the major part of the peninsula is still in German hands.
The ancient name of the peninsula, going back to times immemorial, was Taurica; the Russians call it by the Tatar name Krym, in English Crimea. The peninsula lies on the north side of the Black sea, with the mainland of which is connected by the narrow Isthmus of Perekop (3-4 m. across). The range of the mountains which occupies a certain territory in the peninsula has some peaks; the best known peak is Chatyr-dagh, the Turko-Tartar name meaning Tent-Mountain (5000 ft.). On the higher parts of the range are numerous flat mountain pastures (Turk.yailas). Myself, many, many years ago spent overnight on Chatyr-dagh in a primitive hut. (shack).
It is impossible to say definitely who were the original inhabitants of the Crimea. According to our half historical, half legendary tradition the Celtic Cimmerians were expelled from the Peninsula by the Scythians in the VII c. BC.
But the Scythians themselves were never able to conquer the whole Peninsula. A remnant of Cimmerians who took refuge in the Crimean mountains are known in our tradition as the Tauri; from thise people derives the ancient name of the peninsula Tauric which has been used by best Russian poets in the XIX c.to designate the Crimea (for instance Pushkin).
A new light was cast on the Crimea when in the same VII c. the Greeks began to colonize the Crimea, because they knew, no doubt, how rich the Crimea was in fish and corn. The south shore of the Peninsula was dotted with Greek colonies. The most important were Chersonesus; its majestic ruins lie still now near the military port of Sevastopol very often mentioned in this war; then Theodosia, which has preserved its ancient name in our days and has been also often mentioned during this war. Finally, in the eastern part of the peninsula, at a spot which commanded the straits of Azov, leading into the sea of Azov, was founded Panticapaeum, now Kerch, also a very well known name now in connection with the military activities of this war. All those Greek colonies in the Crimea had continuous connections with other Greek colonies in Asia Minor and with Athens, in Greece proper.
At Panticapaeum, which had another name of Bosporus, in the V c. BC, with its neighbouring country, was founded the Bosporan kingdom. For several centuries the Bosporan kingdom was a very prosperous state. The main concern of the Bosporan rulers was to increase and stabilize their corntrade and they succeeded in their task, even supplying Athens with corn. In the III c. BC the Bosporan Kingdom continued to flourish. It became one of the hotbeds of Greek civilization and played an important part in the life of the ancient world in general. The time is past when in the imagination of cultinated persons, the Greek world is bound by the shores of Greece proper. Bosporus is one of the earliest examples of the wonderfully stimulating power of Greece.
In the second century BC the Bosporan Kingdom and Chersonesus faced a new danger from the Scythians. The war with the latter was unsuccessful. The resources of the Greek cities in the Crimea were exhausted Bosporus and Chersonesus were faced by the choice either to submit to the slightly hellenized Scythian Kings, or to find help from outside. They decided to appeal to Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, in Asia Minor, for protection. Do not forget that Mithridates VI was a sworn enemy of Rome. The Crimea was occupied by the troops of Mithridates. But after a long war with Rome Mithridates was defeated and in 63 BC commited suicide. His catastrophe was of great importance. The powerful Roman state became very much interested in the destinies of the Crimea, which, as you remember, had appeared to Mithridates for protection. The Bosporan Kingdom, which included now Chersonesus, continued to exist, but as «a friend of Romans», in other words as a vassal state of the Roman empire. In spite of this dependence on Rome, the commerce continued to flourish, and the Bosporan Kingdom created a good commercial fleet, an important economic achievement.
In the III c. AD, a new foe appeared in the Crimea-Germans. By the middle of this century one of the most important German tribes, the Goths had migrated from the shores of the Baltic sea and settled in the territory known today as Southern Russia, particularly along the northern and western shores of the Black sea. As a natural result, they penetrated into the Tauric peninsula, established their suzerainty over the greater part of the Bosporan Kingdom and took possession of its fleet. With this fleet the goths carried out from the peninsula several bold and farreaching searaids; they terrorized not only the shores of the Black sea but also the islands and the coasts of the Aegean sea and Mediterranean. Even such distant islands as Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus failed to escape Gothic devastative raids. From the and of the III c. Christianity made its appearance in the peninsula in general and among the Goths in particular. At the end of the III c. Bosporus finally passed into the hands of the Goths, and the Bosporan Kingdom ceased to exist.
About 370 the barbarian people of the Huns from the depth of Central Asia invaded the territory of present-day southern Russia and passed across the Crimea. The Huns subjugated and removed the Goths from the Russian steppes to Western Europe. But a rather small group of the Goths remained in the Crimea and during many centuries of the Middle ages took an important part in the history of the Peninsula-gradually being a minority they lost their nationality, became hellenized and later tartarized. But in the earlier Middle Age the Goths established themselves in the Crimean mountains and organized a small principality. As a whole, the peninsula belonged to the later Roman or Byzantine Empire, which inherited it from the earlier pagan R. Empire. In several places of the peninsula Roman garrisons were set in. In other words from the IV c. on the peninsula depended not on Rome, but on the new Christian capital Constantinople. The Goths became vassal allies of the Byzantine Empire, under obligation to furnish auxiliaries. To protect the peninsula the Emp. Justinian erected the line of forts and long walls, the remains of which can still be seen to-day. The system of Crimean fortifications created by Justinian was destined to serve as a defense against various barbarian peoples who, one after another, menaced the Crimea for many generations.
From the close of the VI c. to the beginning of VIII the Khazars, people of Turkish origin, had a predominant influence in the Crimea. The Byzantine Empire regarded the Crimea as a certain Siberia of the imperial regime in Russia, so that undesirable or politically dangerous elements were sent into exile from Constantinople to the Crimea. In the middle of the VII century even Pope Martin I was exiled to the Crimea. In his two letters which have survived the exiled Pope describes the desperate economic conditions on this Bizatine frontier. According to the Pope, there was not even bread, «Bread», he writes, “is talked of but never seen”. Utterly worn out by his privations and sufferings, the Pope died in his place of exile. At the close of the VII c., the Byz. Emperor Justinian II was dethroned, mutilated, and exiled to the Crimea.
During the so called iconoclastic period in the Byzantine Empire in the VIII c., when icons (holy images) were persecuted and destroyed, many Greek monks emigrated to the Crimea. This is doubtless, a very important cultural phenomenon in the history of mediaeval Crimea, for it indicates the increase of the Greek element in the Peninsula. The origin of churches and monasteries in the Crimean mountains, the remains of which have survived down to the present day, is in all likelihood to be referred to the epoch of the emigration of the monks in the VIII c.
In the X c. the Crimea was under the Russian protectorate, from the Russian prince Vladimir, who resided in Kiev. At the end of the X c. the Russian Prince Vladimir married Byz. princess, and under him Russia was converted to Christianity. The friendly relations between the Empire and the Russian principality led to the fact that Byzantine authority was re-established in the Crimea.
The most important factor in the following history of the Crimea is the penetration into the Peninsula of Italians, Venetians and Genoese, in the XIII c. They received from the Byz. Emperors exceptionally favorable commercial privileges. With the year 1261 begins a new era in the history of the Crimea: the activities and rivalry of the two Italian republics, Venice and Genoa, and especially the powerful growth, prosperity, and political and economic significance of Genoa. It is not to be forgotten that in the first half of the same XIII c. a new foe appeared in the Crimea, from the north, the Mongols or Tartars, who firmly established themselves in the eastern part of the Crimea. Other regions of the Crimea were obliged to pay tribute to the Tartars. Thus, in the XIII c. the three new nations made their appearance in the Crimea: Mongols or Tartars, Venetians and Genoese.
About 1266 the Genoese founded their famous prosperous colony in the Crimea, Caffa, now Theodosia, the name which has been many times mentioned during this war. The powerful Genoese walls of Caffa with many Genoese inscriptions have survived down to our own days. On the other hand, in connection with the overwhelming Tartar influence in the Crimea we may observe the very interesting process of the assimilation of the local population with the Tartars in language, customs and manners. It is not to be forgotten that in the mountains, in the west of the peninsula still existed the Gothic principality, under a Greek dynasty. Towards that time the Goths already lost their German nationality and as have noted above were hellenized or tartarized. As you know in 1453 Constantinople was taken by the Turks. A new page opened in the history of the world. This event had a striking repercussion in the Crimea and decided the future destinies of the peninsula. In rapid succession the sultan Muhammed II, who had captured Constantinople, conquered Greece and Trebizond in Asia Minor. Then, it was the turn of the Crimea. In 1475 a strong Turkish fleet appeared before Caffa; after some days of siege it surrendered to the Turks. In the same year fell also the Gothic principality. The Crimea became a Turkish province. The Turks preserved the religion and religions institutions of the Crimean Greeks, as well as the Greek ecclesiastical organization.
Under the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, after a successful war with Turkey, in 1783, Russia formally annexed the Crimea under the name of Taurida. Since the Crimea has belonged to Russia and is always known under its Tartar name of Krim.
You see that the from a general historical point of view, the Crimea presents an extremely interesting and complicated phenomenon. Ancient Greek colonies and Greek civilization, economic significance for Greece proper, later for the Roman Republic and Empire, then for the Byz. Empire; on its small territory the Crimea has seen many various nations, which have left some traces of their influence. The Crimea is a real treasure for philological, ethnological and archaeological work. The former Imperial government of Russia and the actual Soviet Russia have already done a great worn in the investigation of various Crimean problems. But the field is so vast and so manysided that very much still remains to be done. From the standpoint of the general background of political, social and economic relations in the basin of the Black Sea, the Crimea may be regarded and studied as one of the essential elements in the process of the development of European civilization in the Near East.Смотреть документ © Copiright Dumbarton Oaks
The iconoclastic edict of the Caliph Yazid II
In the history of the iconoclastic movement in both countries, in the Christian Empire and in the Moslem Caliphate, a certain analogy and, at the same time, a considerable difference may be pointed out. In the Christian East and West, the opposition to the image veneration in the eighth and ninth centuries was not entirely new and unexpected phenomenon; it had already gone through a long period of evolution. From the beginning of the fourth century onwards the opposition to the excersive veneration of the icons may be signalized in many places; and this opposition has not been limited to the theoretical suggestions and warnings coming from the Councils and bishops not “to adore pictures”, but sometimes it resulted in serious upheavals and riots, during which icons were destroyed. But these iconoclastic incidents had no connection with the central government which took no part in such facts of the violation of the public order. They belonged to private initiative. But, of course, they had been gradually paving the way to those rulers who were affected themselves by iconoclastic tendencies. Such a ruler proved to be Leo III, from the remote
But we know, however, that, on ascending the imperial throne in 717, Leo was not an open iconoclast. Only in the tenth year of his rule, i.e. in the year 726, did he, according to Theophanes, “begin to speak of the destruction of the holy and all- honored icons.
Only then the iconoclastic movement officially started in Byzantium. Dealing with the rule of Yazid II, we must always remember, that its history has come down to us heavily colored by the
Like in Byzantium, his iconoclastic edict was not a new or unexpected phenomenon. Like in Byzantium, the iconoclastic movement in the Moslem Empire had gone though a period of evolution; but the latter, of course, was much shorter then in the Christian Empire, because the Islam itself as religion had made its appearance only about hundred years before Yazid’s time; and in contrast with the Byzantine iconoclasm, the iconoclastic policy in the Caliphate had been, from the beginning proclaimed and regulated by the Caliphs themselves.
Now we know well that the former popular idea that all forms of representations of living beings, both in painting and in sculpture, are forbidden by explicit passages in the Koran has been definitely rejected; now we are aware that such a prohibition comes not from the Koran but from the hadith, i.e. from traditions concerning the actions and sayings of Muhammad, which circulated orally and were collected and written down for the first time in the ninth century of our era, in other words, from an unreliable source. These traditions are uniformly hostile to all representation of living forms.
In this connection, here may be cited a story referring to Muhammad himself, which is told by the Arabian writer Azraki (died A.D. 858), the author of the earliest extant history of Mecca. The story deals with the very well known fact that Muhammad, after his triumphal entry into Mecca, in 630, went inside the Kaabah and smashed, as tradition says, many idols. But according to Azraki, he ordered the pictures in the Kaabah to be also obliterated, saying: “Rub out every picture herein except that under my hand. And he lifted his hand from a picture of Jesus, son of Mary, and his mother, or, as Arnold translates this passage, “from a picture of Mary, Jesus reated on her lap.”
In the process of the religious evolution in the Caliphate, one important fact must be pointed out that no representation of living being’s can be found anywhere in mosques; but in several cases we find such representations in secular buildings like in palaces, and in miniatures. The earliest and best known palace of this sort is Qusayr Amrah (the Little Castle), which was discovered by Alois Musil in 1898, and which was probably built between 712 and 715 by the Caliph Walid I (705- 715). On the walls of this
Since the Moslem shrines, the mosques, were deprived of any representation of living beings, the Caliphs determined to spread the same rule over the shrines of other religions, in our case, over the Christian churches. The Caliphs did not need apply the similar regulation to the Jewish synagogues, because the Jews, including the Jewish converts, were violent iconoclasts; so that the caliphs, in their anti- christian and, sometimes, in their iconoclastic activities, were influenced and supported by the Jews. It may be not out of place to produce here a few passages
from a rather recent study of
I begin this study with a discussion on the sources referring to the edict of Yazid II and start with the Greek evidence.
The oldest and contemporary source which mentions the Saracen religions superstitions similar to idolatry fails to give any information of the islamic iconoclasm. It is the letter of the patriarch Germanus of Constantinople
Here is the earliest mention of the name Khobar in the sence of the Kaaba in Mekka. Later, but in the same eighth century, John of Damascus, in his De haeresibus Liber, gives for the Kaaba different forms. Like the Patriarch Germanus, he reproaches the Saracens with adoring and kissing the stone, which is said to represent the head of Aphrodite. The Lithos angelos in the letter of Patriarch Germanus reminds me of a saying ascribed by a Moslem writer to the second Caliph Omar, who, referring to the black stone, supposedly said: “I know that thou adoret a stone, without power to harm or to help, and had I not seen the Messenger of God kiss thee, I would not kiss thee”. The letter of the Patriarch Germanus, failing to suffer with any information on the iconoclastic edict of Yazid II, shows that, from his own point of view, the real idolaters were Jews and Arabs. In the person of the Patriarch we have a man who was strongly opposed to the iconoclastic policy of Leo III, who, refusing to sign the imperial edict of 730, was deposed, and against whom the iconoclastic council of 754 proclaimed “Anathema to the Patriarch Germanus, the “worshipper of wood”. Since the deposition of this strong opponent of Leo’s policy, took place only in 730, it shows that the iconoclastic policy of Leo before 730 was not too violent nor too intolerant, because during these preceding years the Emperor could tolerate as the head of this church his open adversary. Ostrogorsky and Ladner, who follows him, assert that
Leo III had between 724 and 726 tried by peaceful means to convert his subjects, before enforcing the first iconoclastic measure. The most important Greek source concerning the origin of iconoclasm, which connects it with the Jewish and Arab influences, is the report of the most reverend presbyter John of Jerusalem, representative of the Anatolian bishop, who, at the fifth session on the Second Council of Nicaea, 787, read it. At this session, the Patriarch Tarasius said: “It will now be right for us to hear our brother and beloved lord (kiros) John legate from the Apostolic Throne of the East; for he has with him a writing which will explain how the subversion of images commenced”. The Holy Council said: “We should like much, my lord, to hear about this.”
Herein follows, in an abridged form, the contents of John’s report, which he read from the beforehand written paper.
“I, your unworthy brother and humblest of your all, with to lay before this Holy and Sacred Conncil, with all truth, how, when and where, this vilest and most God- detested heresy of
The above cited Mendham translates this passage in such a way: the false prophet with satanic cumning added this “every image”, contriving thereby to display his hatred against us without being suspected (p.296). Hefele, after producing the statement “thou shouldn’t destroy also all the profane images which serve the ornamentation of the cities”, writes: “The Jew added this last point, in order that one could not suspect him, speaking in such a way, of his hatred against the Christians.”C. Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, III, 2nd ed. (Freiburg in Breisgau, 1877), 374; in French, trans. by Dom H. Leclerq, Histoire des Conciles, III, 2 (Paris, 1910), 630. According to the two just quoted writers, and particularly according to Hefele, the Jew who had suggested the destruction of images and “any likeness” was very sensitive to the opinion of the Christians about him signalizing that he was not exclusively against the icons which might have been still dear to many Christians, but was against the representations of the living beings in general; knowing that the latter feeling already existed in many regions of the Empire. I am greatly indebted to Professor E. Kitzinger, who called my particular attention to the interpretation of this text and who is inclined to accept the point of view of these writers. The impious tyrant, yielding to his advice, had sent (officials) and most frivolously destroyed the holy icons and all other representations in the whole province under his rule and, thanks to the Jewish magician, thus had ruthlessly robbed the church of God under his sway of all ornaments, before (the) evil came into this land. As the Christians fled lest they should have to overthrow the holy images with their own hands, the emirs who were sent for this purpose pressed into service abominable Jews and wretched Arabs; and they burnt the venerable icons, and either smeared or scraped the ecclesiastical buildings. On hearing this the
Another very important statement about the iconoclastic activity of Yazid II was given by the bishop of Messana, who was present at the same council of Nicaea. He said: “I was a boy in Syria, when the Caliph of the Saracens was destroying the icons”. Theophanes, who wrote his Chronicle at the beginning of the ninth century, relates that Yazid issued his iconoclastic edict under the influence of a Jewish magician from Laodicea, who had promised him forty years of the reign if he has destroyed the holy icons in all the Christian churches of his Empire. Yazid decided to do so, but he died in the same year, so that the majority of the population was even unaware of his decision. But the Emperor Leo was informed about this by a
certain Beser, who had been born in Syria as a Christian, but later had apostasized to Mohammedanism and escaped to Constantinople, where Leo became very friendly with him on account of his physical strength and of the same heretical views as he. So, from Theophanes’ testimony we may come to the conclusion, that Yazid issued his edict exclusively under the influence of a Jewish magician. I am inclined to identify with the Tessarakontapechys in John’s report, is not a legendary figure, as Ostrogorky supposes, but a real personality, because Theophanes, in the later parts of his chronicle, mentions him twice, calling him in one place Leo’s companion, apostate and a helper in his madness; and, in the other place, he mentions the patrician Beser whom he qualifies as saracenminded, who in 741, was killed in the war of Constantine V against the usurper Artavasdus. The Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople, in the early part of the ninth century (805- 816), wrote his three Antirrhetici against the most violent iconoclast, the emperor Constantine V Copronymus. In his third Antirrheticus he mentions a Jew from Tiberias who was a very prominent man among his compatriots and whose surname was Tessarakontapechys, took advantage of the weakness of the Saracen chief Yazid and by promising him thirty years of reign, suggested him all the erected images and any image of living beings to be thrown down and destroyed. When this profane edict had been issued, along with other images and statues, were also destroyed the sacred images in the churches of Christ: some of them, they scraped off; some they destroyed by covering them with dust; some along with temples, vases, and vestiments, they burnt down. They forced this profane work to be executed by the enemies of Christ, Jews and Saracens, because Christians, even in spite of compulsion, refused to execute the order. From there the evil of iconoclasm expanded over the Roman Empire. And then Nicephorus proceeds: «And the diabolical wickedness of the enemy of God concealed cunning that indirectly, along with the destruction of every likeness, the beauty of our sacred paintings should be also thrown down». According to Nicephorus, Yazid died two years and six months after the promulgation of the edict. His son Walid ordered the magician to be executed. Then, a little farther, Nicephorus mentions Yazid once more, not by his own name but by the word: «barbarian». We read: «The root of this evil has been planted in the Roman empire, and it reaches the then ruler, who was Leo both by his name and by his disposition. Indulging in debauchery and like that barbarian (i.e. Yazid), he, in his fury against piety, strove to extirpate the holy images from the churches of god” (col.532). In addition to Nicephorus’ three Antirrhetici, there is the very little known Fourth Antirrheticus, the first part of which was published in 1852 by the Cardinal Pitra, under the title Sancti Nicephori Antirrheticus. Liber quastus. Pars prima. Eusebii Caesariensis Confutatio. Long before Pitra’s edition, the noted author of the Imperium Orientale, Anselme Banduri
suggested «the king of the Arabs» (i.e. Yazid II) to embark on the iconoclastic policy; but in the latter story a new, probably, legendary detail occurs, that the Jew approached the Caliph at the time when he was critically ill, so that, among other promises, the Jew promised him the complete restoration of his health. Since this text is not easily available, I wish to give it here in original Greek and in its English version. The latter runs as follows: “(Iconoclasm) has been born for the first time from a certain Jew by religion, a wicked man and sorcerer, who was greatly enraged against the faith of the Christians. According to some good authorities, he had lived at Tiberias, being there prominent among his compatriots. He comes to the king of the Arabs, who was then critically ill, promising him the relief from his illness, if he destroys all the statues and images among his subjects, a happy and prosperous life in the wonderful conditions. As it has been said in the previous writings on this subject in more detail, this error had made its appearance indeed from Jews and Saracens; from them, by the will on God, the evil falling upon the Christians has set in. Georgius Monachus is excudingly severe towards the Jews and their part in the issue on Yazid’s edict. He writes: «When Yazid was the ruler of the empire of the Arabs, two iconoclast youths from the Jews, - and they always are arrogant in regard to our Lord Jesus Christ, being proud of juggleries and buffooneries, being devoted to diabolic divinations, pretending to the astrological knowledge, - they come to the imperial court of the Arabs, present themselves before the above said Yazid, promise him a life of long prosperity and many years, if he has consented to destroy the adornment of the Christians, to wipe out from the church confines the images of the
In the seventeenth century Combafis printed the text of «The Letter to the Emperor Theophilus concerning the Holy and Venerable Images», which has long been proved spurious and apocryphal. In 1864 was published and in
Patriarchs to the Emperor Theophilus». The difference between these two texts, as for as it concerns our study, is that the spurious text gives a story of the edict of Yazid which is almost on exact copy of the abuse text of Georgius Monachus, and the original text fails to mention the story at all. Therefore for our study the story which is found in the spurious text is to be dismissed as an interpolation reproducing the text of Georgius Monachus. Cedrenus tells about several Jews from Laodicea, in Phonici, who came to the ruler of the Arabs Yazid and promised him forty years of reign, if he destroys the icons in all the Christian churches of his realm. The foolish Yazid decided to issue such an edict. But by the grace of Christ and by the prayers of the Mother of God and all the Saints, he soon died having no time to send his decree through his empire; a year has not past when the divine wrath has befallen him. His son wished to kill them as false prophets. On learning this, they returned into the Isaurian region. Zonares seems to abbreviate the story of Georgius Monachus. During the reign of Yazid, two Jewish magicians, pretending to know the future through their astrological knowledge, came to him and promised a long reign if he throws out the images of Christ and his Mother from the churches. The barbarian did not delay and destroyed the holy icons in his empire. But the divine wrath has befallen him very soon. A year has not past after the issue of the edict, when he died; his successor wished to kill the false prophets. But they succeeded in escaping to Isaurian.
The Latin sources are devoid of interest for our study, because they exactly reproduce their respective Greek sources in Latin.
Anastasius Bibliothecarius who lived in the ninth century, in his Chronographia Tripertita, reproduces in Latin exactly the Greek text of Theophanes, which has been discussed above. The same text of Theophanes has been reproduced in Latin by another writer, Landulfus Sagax. This historian about whom we know nothing but his name, lived during the time of the Byzantine emperors, Basil II
Charlemagne, the Synod of Frankfurt, in 794, condemned the Second Council of Nicaea. Some troubles continued after Charlemagne’s death, and, under Louis the Pious, in November 825, at Paris, the Synod was held which followed the decisions of the Synod of Frankfurt. At this Synod the bishops tried to find a middle way but decidedly leaning towards iconoclasm: they said that pictures might be tolerated only as ornaments.For this study, the Synod at Paris is interesting, because, when the question arose, «whence for the first time the destruction of images had originated in the Oriental churches” (inde primum exorta sit in ecclesiis Orientalium imaginum destructis), to answer this question, in the Libellus Synodeis Parisiensis was included, in an abridged form, the report of the presbyter John, which he had read at the fifth session of the Council of Nicaea, and in which the names of the Caliphs Suleiman (Seleman), Omar (Humarus), and Yazid (Ezidus) have been mentioned.Here is the text of the fourteenth chapter of the Acto of the Synod of Paris: Tyrannus quidam fuit Seleman nominee, Aggarenus genere. Quv defuncto successit Humarus in regno, cui iterum succerrit Ezidus vir valda levis et insipiens. Kujus enim temporibus eret quidam in Beriade maleficus ac divinus, Sarantapicus nomine, praeceptor iniquorum Hebraeorum et inimicus Dei Ecclesiae, qui ut comperit levitatem Ezidi protosymboli, accessit ad eum, coepitque illi quaedam divinare ac praedicere. Illi autem ex hoc acceptabilis factus, ac non multi postei/dicere caepit: Benignitati tuae exponere volo, unde, me si audieris, addatur tibi longitude vitae et perseveres in hoc Principatu an nos triginta, si quidem impleveris sermones meos. Ille vers insipiens Tyrannus obscuratus mente desiderii longeval vitae: Quidquid mihi, inquit, praeceperis paratus ad perficiendum existo et, si consecutus fuero, quod pollicitus es, maximus tibi honores retribuam. Maleficus vero et divinus ait ad lum: Jube mox generalum scribere epistolam, quatenus omnis imaginaria pictura deleatur in omnibus Christianorum ecclesiis sive in parietibus sive in vasis sacris et in vestibus altarium, et non solum haec, sed quae in civitatum plateis sunt adornatae. Quod audiens perfidus ille tyrannus praecepit omni praefecturae in cunctis lucis Ecclesiarum imagines et ceteras similitudines abolere et ita exornavit ecclesias Dei. Abhinc enim caeperunt corruptores imaginum inveniri, sed ipre tyrannus anno altero mortuus est, et imagines in pristinum statum restitutae cum honore et cetera.
If we turn to the oriental evidence, we find that the Syriac sources are interesting for our question because they indicate that the execution of the edict was entrusted to the brother of the Caliph, an Arab general, Maslamas, who had laid unsuccessful siege to Constantinople in 717; and because they emphasize that Leo III opened his iconoclastic policy following Yazid’s example. In the ninth century, the so called Cheonidi Pseudo Dionysius tells that in the year according to the Seleucid era 1035
Therefore he sent the workers to destroy the images everywhere where they were found. Then the anonymous Chronicon ad annum Domini 819 pertineus records that Yazid ordered that all images and likenesses in his dominious of bronze and of wood and of stone and of pigments should be destroyed. In the twelfth century, Michael the Syrian writes about Yazid’s decree in two places, evidently referring to the two different sources. In the first passage he says that “Yazid, king of the Arabs, commanded to tear and put to pieces the paintings and status of everything that lives and moves, from temples and buildings, from walls, from wood, from stone; the images which were found in the books were lacerated.” A little farther, after the above record dealing exclusively with the Caliph, Michael reproduces another text where he speaks about the iconoclastic policy of Leo III, and connects it with the decree of Yazid. He says: “At that time, the emperor of the Romans, Leo, also commanded, following the example of the kings of the Arabs, images from the walls to be torn; and he destroyed the images which were in the churches and in the houses, those of the saints as well as of the emperors and others. For this reason, there was a revolution in the empire of the Romans, and many protests of the Romans arose against the emperor”. In the thirteenth century, the Syrian Jacobite Catholicos, Gregory
The Arab Moslem writes who recorded the edict of Yazid II lived in the tenth and in the fifteenth centuries and wrote in Egypt.
The historian Muhammad
Then, from the tenth century, we must turn to the fifteenth. The most eminent historian under the Mamluk dynasty
The other Egyptian historian, of Mamluk origin himself,
After we have discussed the information about Yazid’s edict given by the us above said Arab historians, it is rather unexpected to read a statement that no Arab author mentions the edict. For this study is of very great interest the work of the Egyptian Copt, Severus
In his work we have not a mere statement of the edict of Yazid II as it is in the above Moslem chronicles. As a Christian, Severus describes the iconoclastic and other antichristian events which took place in Egypt with fierce indignation and deep hatred against the violators and offenders of the Christian faith in general. Severus’ records are of great importance, because they reveal that the religious life within Egypt, under the Moslem dominion had been full of troubles and trials, before the edict of Yazid; so that the latter may be regarded as the conclusive point of the proceeding troublesome period which had come to close after Yazid’s death, in 724, when his successor Hisham
The second record which I wish to produce here, refers to the time of the patriarchate of Alexander II, A.D.
Here is the story: «On the Saturday of Light (i.e. the Saturday before Easter) al- Asbagh (the ruler of Egypt) entered into the monastery of Hulwan, and looked at the picture which was adorned according to the rule. And there was a picture of our Pure Lady Mary and of the Lord Christ in her lap; so when he looked at it and considered, he said to the bishops and to several people who were with him: «Who is represented in this picture?” They answered: «This is Mary, the mother of Christ». Then he was moved with hatred against her, and filled his mouth with saliva, and spat in her face, saying: «If I find an opportunity, I will root out the Christians from this land. Who is Christ that you workship him as a God?» The story ends with a miserable death of Asbagh.
Then, according to Caetani, in the year A.H. 95=September 26, 713, - September 15, 714, new troubles within the Egyptian church occurred. As Severus writes: «A wicked edict was issued that the coloured pillars and the marble which were in the churches should be taken away, and they were all carried off. And the Father Patriarch (i.e. Alexander II) was sad for the sake of his church». Later, according to Caetani, in the year A.H. 99=August 14, 717 – August 2, 718, the Caliph Omar
IIhad set the churches and bishops free from taxes, so that «the Christians were in security and prosperity and so were the churches». But after that, continues Severus, Omar «began to do evil, for he wrote a letter charged with sadness to Egypt, in which were written the following vows: «Omar commands saying. «Those who wish to remain as they are, and in their own country, must follow the religion of Muhammad as I do; but let those who do not wish to do so, go forth from my dominions. And the Christians were oppressed by the governors and the local authorities and by the Muslims in every place, the old and the young, the rich and the poor among them; and Omar commanded that the
Then in another record which belongs also to the time of the Patriarch Alexander II, but which deals with the reign of Yazid II, Severus does not limit himself to the fact of the issue or the edict only; but he tries also to sketch a picture of Yazid’s general administration which was very harmful to the Christians and unjust. Severus relates: «Then Yazid reigned after him, but we have no wish to relate nor describe what happened in his days, on account of the miseries and trials; for he walked in the path of Satan, and deviated from path of God. As soon as he undertook the government, he restored the taxes which Omar had relieved the churches and bishops for one year; and he required great sums of money from the people, so that everyone was distressed in his dominions. And he was not satisfied
with this only, but he even issued orders that the crosses should be broken in every place, and the pictures which were in the churches should be wiped out. For he commanded this, but the Lord Christ destroyed him for this reason, and took his soul, after he had endured before his death many sufferings. He reigned two years and four months. And after him reigned Hisham, his brother, who was a God- fearing man according to the rule of Islam and loved all men; and he became the deliverer of the orthodox».
The last record, which I wish to produce, belongs to the later times of the patriarchate of Michael I, A.D.
The Armenian sources are not devoid of interest for our study. First of all, here is to be discussed the historical work of the vardapet Ghevond entitled «A History of the Wats and conquests of the Arabs in Armenia». The author who lived in the second half of the eighth century and at the outset of the ninth is almost a contemporary source. He relates: «After the death of Omar, Yazid II (in the text Yezdegerd) ascended the throne and reigned six years. This man of cruel character and guided by fanaticism, signalized his accession by a deplorable persecution of Christians. At his orders which have been impregnated with a sort of diabolic frenzy, they broke and destroyed the pictures representing the veridical incarnation of our Lord and Saviour and the images of His disciples, as well as the crosses erected in certain places, in order that the faithful be able to venerate before the Holy consubstantial Trinity. Still more excited by fanaticism, he attempted to attack the unshakable rock (Christ and His Church), and being unable to subjugate
it, he himself was broken against it. Reaching the top of his frenzy, he declared war on herbivorons and impure pores and exterminated a great number of them in the entire area of his dominions. This was the frenzy of the Satan which drew him into this work of extermination. A suffocating illness which has been produced by Satan’s frenzy, miserably destroyed him: a worthy chastisement inflicted upon his crimes by our Lord».This piously written story of Ghevond confirms once more the fact itself of the edict without supplying us with any new material. But another text from the same source allows us to state almost with certainty that the iconoclastic movement under Yazid II was very severe. Describing the Arab campaign upon Constantinople in
The Russian sources, i.e. the Chronography of the redaction of the year 1512, and the Chronography of
If we turn to the secondary sources referring to the edict of Yazid II, we see that the historians who deal with his edict, with a very few exceptions, consider it as a firmly established historical fact. They are at variance as to the problem of its
connection with the iconoclastic policy of Leo III, as well as to the question whether this decree was carried into effect in the dominions of the caliph or not, and whether the author of the decree was Yazid II or Omar II or Yazid I.
At the very end of the sixteenth century and at the beginning of seventeenth, the Cardinal Baronius, using the chronicle of Theophanes and the Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea, thought that the edict of Yazid II seems not to have been executed.
I wish say a few words on perhaps the oldest monograph on iconoclasm. The author of this work was a French church historian of the seventeenth century, Louis Maimbourg
by his predecessor Omar II
The Year of the Edict
As to the time of the issue of the edict, the sources are at variance. Yazid died, at the age of
tenth century. Severus
The Iconoclasm Of Omar II
We have signalized above, that Leclerc affirmed that the iconoclastic edict had been issued not by Yazid II but by his predecessor Omar II
The Umayyad dynasty
His antichristian policy is testified by Arabian, Greek, Syrian and Armenian sources. The most interesting passage belongs to the Arab jurisconsult,
Turning to other sources, we see that, according to Theophanes, Omar forced the Christians to apostasize; and those who had apostasized he excluded from taxation, and those who had not consented to do so, he killed; there were many martyres, and no witness of a Christian against a Saracen was accepted.
This text may be compared with the evidence of the Arabian writers, who state that Omar II
Omar ordered the Christians to be oppressed by every way in order to force them to become Moslems.
Then in the version of the letter of Omar II to Leo III, which has been preserved in the History of the Armenian writer Ghevond, we find the testimony that Omar II was acting not only against the cross but also against the icons. In his letter, among other things, he asked Leo: «Why do you adore the bones of the Apostles and Prophets, and also pictures and the cross, which anciently served according to the law as an instrument of torture?» Theophanes mentions this letter saying: «Omar sent a dogmatic epistle to the Emperor Leo thinking that he might persuade him to accept Islam».
An Arab writer of the thirteenth century,
As enemy of excessive luxury and adherent to simplicity, Omar found that the famous mosque of Damas was too rich in mosaics, so that, according to the Arab geographer of the tenth century,
This story has been recorded in other writings. I wish to delay a little here on an Arabian historian of the twelfth century,
rather lengthy, interesting conversation between Omar and a certain inhabitant of Damascus, as well as the arrival of the ambassadors of the Byzantine Emperor, who admired the beauty of the mosque. Finally Omar gave up his plan and left the mosque intact.
Another Arabian historian of the fourteenth century,
In the spring of 1937, in Tranjordan, in the village of Ma'in,
On the basis of the above data, we come to the inescapable conclusion that, in his religious policy, under the influence of the Moslem theologians of his time, Omar
IImust be recognized as an
Omar’s religious policy, stated that he probably introduced no innovation, but wished to
opposition of Omar II to the icons is not doubtful; and Frey, in 1934, explained Omar’s iconoclastic activities by Jewish influence.
From all the data quoted above, it is not easy to find any serious ground for the opinion of those historians who represent Omar II as a ruler favorably inclined towards the Christians. I suppose that they were under the influence of the Armenian writers, or whom I wish to say a few words. They mention with great satisfaction the fact that Omar ordered some Armenian captives to be returned to their own country, and connect the change of his attitude towards Christians in their favour with the reply of Leo III to his letter, which produced on him a very happy effect. But in this respect, their records are sometimes full of striking exaggeration. For instance, Ardzruni, after calling Omar more magnanimous than any other caliph, tells that, after reading Leo’s letter, «he rejected many fables of the Koran, denied the lies which have been refuted in the imperial letter, and from that time onward became very benevolent towards all Christian peoples». Following Ardzruni, Kirakos writes that, under the influence of Leo’s letter, Omar was ashamed, improved abuses and manifested benevolence to the Christians, particularly to the Armenians.
In contrast to these statements, John Catholicas says that, under the rule of Omar, an Armenian prince, Vahan, was cruelly tortured and entered martyr’s death for the name of Jesus Christ.
Taking into consideration all these data, I am rather surprised to find the scholars who praise Omar’s tolerance and benevolence to the Christians. I give here a few examples from the writings of the twentieth century. In 1902, J. Wellhausen was rather moderate in the appreciation of Omar’s religious policy, saying:
«Theophanes’ account is a mixture of truth and falsehood. It is true that Omar II was a zealous Moslem and that the Christians had cause to know it. But he did not force them to conversion on pain of death, for then he would have been infringing the existing law, and that he did not do, being a good Moslem. With regard to the Christians he kept absolutely within the bounds of justice even though it might seen otherwise to them. He protected them in the possession of their old churches, which was assured to them by the terms of their capitulation, and only did not allow them to build new ones».
In 1903, E. Filler, who wrote in Latin a special study on the “History” of Ghevond, stated that, according to the latter, Omar was a great benefactor to the Christians, and that Theophanes’ account is not trustworthy at all (nulla fides habenda est). K. Zettersteen writes that «as a devout Moslem he was gracious to the members of other creeds in so far as this was possible without breaking the principles of Islam. Christians, Jews, and
for the Church of St John in Damascus which had been absorbed by Walid, he ceded them the Church of St Thomas in the Ghutah, although ever since the conquest it had served as a mosque, in violation of the terms of capitulation».
There are some scholars who attribute the edict not to Yazid II but to Yazid I (680- 683), or who, in their discussing on this subject, failing to distinguish clearly the participation of both Yazids in the iconoclastic movement, result in considerable confusion. Finlay and Bury, who evidently followed Finlay, attribute the edict to Yazid I; but Bury, writing, a little farther, about Leo III and Yazid’s decree, fails to clarify whom of these two Yazids he meant, although, from the context, here Yazid
IIshould have been meant. A certain confusion in regard to the two Yazids as iconoclasts occurs also in the work of Hergenroether on Photius. A rather striking confusion we find in the study of lorga of the origin of iconoclasm. He opens his discussion with a very strange statement that «a Jewish intrigue suggested the caliph Yazid I, whose role as persecutor of Christianity in all its forms is well known, destruction of images». And for confirmation of this statement, he cites all the Greek sources which refer to Yazid II. At first sight, one may see here nothing but a mere misprint, Yazid I for Yazid II. But it is not the case. He writes that, after Yazid’s death, his son Valid (Walid) chastised the intriguing Jews. First of all, the caliph Walid I
Once for all, the name of Yazid I must be eliminated from the list of the iconoclastic caliphs. On the contrary, he is known to have been very favorable to the Christians, and his affability towards those who approached him, and particularly towards the Christians, has been signalized in the special works on his reign.
The Monetary Reform of
As we have tried to show above, the decree of Yazid II was not an isolated and unexpected fact. It must be regarded as the continuation and, to a certain extent, the consummation of the preceding period marked by the
The twenty years reign of this famous Umayyad, the
Under his rule and that of his successor
Then the figure of the Byzantine Emperor was adapted, on the obverse of the coin, to the standing facing figure of the caliph, with hand on sword, which substituted the former staff with a cross on it in the hand of the emperors; and, on the reverse, the cross standing on four steps altered into a column with a ball on its top. The coins bore Arab inscriptions. The name of the represented caliph is sometimes given, sometimes not. There are coins bearing the name of
In the middle of his twenty years rule (the exact year is unknown), following the policy of the nationalization and arabicization of his empire,
In this respect, the Byzantine chronicler, Theophanes, gives an interesting information. After an unsuccessful war with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II,
In Western Europe, however, the Islamic gold dinar without images known there as mancus was largely used beginning with the eighth century and became the standard coin for business transactions, particularly in Medieval England.
It seems to me that we may connect Yazid’s edict and the iconoclastic policy of his predecessor with the famous reform of coinage by