ChAPTER 12 -- Part 2: Abbasid Decline and the Spread of
The army soon became a power center.
The reigning caliph was murdered by slave mercenaries and one of his sons was placed on the throne.
Four more caliphs were poisoned or assassinated in the next decade.
The leaders of the slave mercenary armies were the real power behind the Abbasid throne and were involved in the struggles for control of the capital and empire.
The mercenar ies were involved in violent social unrest.
They were often the cause of food riots in Baghdad and other urban centers when the price of everyday groceries rose too much.
The slave armies were brought under control by the dynasty in the last decades of the 9th century.
The treasury was drained by constant civil vio lence.
A new strain was placed on the empire's dwindling revenues by the caliphs' attempts to escape the turmoil of Baghdad by establishing new capitals near the original one.
The construction of palaces, mosques, and public works for each of these new imperial centers added to the already high costs of maintaining the court and imperial administration.
The peasants of the central provinces of the empire were the ones who paid the most for the expense.
Revenue demands on the peasantry increased as a result of the need to support growing numbers of mercenary troops.
In the richest provinces of the empire, taxation and pillaging led to the abandonment of many villages.
The irrigation works that had been essential to cultural production in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates basin fell into disre pair.
Some peasants perished through flood, famine, or violent assault, while others fled to wilderness areas beyond the reach of the Abbasid tax collectors.
The crowds of vagabonds camped in the towns of the imperial heartland and formed bandit gangs.
The various Shi'a sects instigated peasant uprisings.
Shi'a participation meant that the movements wanted to destroy the dynasty, not only to correct official abuses, but also to destroy them.
In the Abbasid era, the harem and veil became the twin emblems of women's increasing in the Abbasid age and later eras are wonderfully captured in this subjugation to men and confinement to the home.
The seclusion of women had been practiced.
The miniature painting gives us a bird's-eye view of a typical Eastern peoples since ancient times, the harem was a creation of the night in one of the great palaces of Baghdad.
The wives and the concubines of the Abbasid caliphs captured the bustle and high artistry of the beautifully decorated quarters of the imperial palace.
A group of musicians serenading a man who was a slave, who could win their freedom and gain is presumably the lord of the mansion, and kitchen servants buying food power by bearing healthy sons for the rulers.
The wealth is being prepared to be served to the lord and his guests.
The Harvard Art Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum were once found in Baghdad and other large cities.
One of the 10th-century caliphs is said to have had 11,000 eunuchs among his slave corps, while another is said to have kept 4,000 slave concubines.
The Balkans, central Asia, and Sudanic Africa were where most of the slaves were captured or purchased.
All of the larger towns of the Abbasid realm had slave markets.
Both male and female slaves were prized for their intelligence.
The best educated men and women in the empire were slaves.
Caliphs and high officials spent more time with their clever and talented slave concubines than with their less educated wives.
Slave concubines and servants had more freedom than freeborn wives.
Slave women didn't have to wear the veils and robes that were required for free women in public places when they went to the market.
Women from the lower classes were allowed to help support their families, but rich women were not allowed to work outside the home.
Women who were raised to devote their lives to running a household and serving their husbands were often married at puberty.
The Postclassical Period, 600-1450: New Faith and New Commerce plotted with eunuchs and royal advisors to advance the interests of their sons and win for them the ruler's backing for succession to the throne.
By the end of the Abbasid era, the freedom and influence that women had enjoyed in the first centuries of Islamic expansion had been severely curbed.
The caliphs and their advisors were powerless to prevent the loss of territory in the outer reaches of the empire due to the struggles in the capital and central provinces.
Areas as close to the capital as Egypt and Syria broke away from Abbasid rule were added.
The kingdoms that formed in areas that were once provinces of the empire were moving to become lords of the Islamic world.
From this point onward, the caliphs were little more than puppets of the Buyid dynasty.
The Abbasid empire was ruled by the Buyid's but they could not prevent the disinte under the title of sultan.
The control over the caliphate was broken in just over a century.
The Shi'a officials who had risen to via Persia were quickly purge by the Seljuks because they were Sunnis and ruled in power under the Buyids.
The Seljuk military machine was able to restore political initiative in the mid-11th century.
The threat of conquest by the rival Shi'a dynasty was ended by Seljuk victories.
The Byzantines hoped to take advantage of Muslim divisions to regain some of their lost lands.
The defeat of the Byzantines opened the way for the settlement of Asia Minor, or Anatolia, by nomadic peoples of Turkic origins.