Bar Hebraeus’ Chronography Concerning the Murder of Amin ad-Dawlah Taoma in Baghdad

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And in this year, on the twenty-eighth day of the fifth month of the ARABS, on the night of the fifth [day of the week], the renowned physician who was famous for his superlatively good qualities, AMIN AD-DAWLAH ABU AL-KARAM SA’ID, the son of TAOMA, a native of BAGHDAD, one of our JACOBITES, was murdered. He was highly skilled in the art of healing, and was truthful in his acts, and a man of understanding, liberal-minded and a good intermediary in supplying the wants of the needy, and in answering their questions (or, demands), and fulfilling their affairs. This man was wholly loved and honoured by the Khalifah NASIR, and he had arrived at such a state of exalted rank that the whole administration of his kingdom and of his sons, and his daughters and his wives, was committed to his care. And because in his latter days the eyes of the Khalifah NASIR had failed, and he was no longer able to see to write secret (i.e. confidential) matters to the Wazir, a certain woman whose name was ‘SIT NASIM’, was found in BAGHDAD. And she wrote a hand which could not be distinguished from that of the Khalifah, and NASIR brought her into his presence and revealed to her his secrets, and everything which he wished to write he told her to write. And when the letters came to the Wazir he used to think that the writing was that of the Khalifah’s fingers, because the Khalifah concealed his blindness even from the Wazir.

And the matter having remained thus for some time, a certain eunuch whose name was TAJ AD-DIN RASHIK struck up a friendship with the woman, and they used to write whatsoever they wished in the Khalifah’s name to the Wazir, and he carried out [the commands]. And one day the Wazir himself, MUAYAD AD-DIN, the son of KASIMI,wrote to the Khalifah about a certain matter, and there came forth to him a confused and ill-arranged (i.e. disconnected) answer. And the Wazir felt a doubt about it, and he took it to the renowned ‘AMIN AD-DAWLAH [450] and inquired of him privily about this matter. And he made known to the Wazir the blindness of the Khalifah, and that there was a certain woman who wrote these things and who could imitate the writing of the Khalifah, and that the eunuch RASHIK was in partnership with her, and that they wrote whatever they wished to write without the knowledge of the Khalifah. And from that moment the Wazir himself began to be careless in fulfilling the commands wherewith he was commanded. And the woman herself and the eunuch perceived that ‘AMIN AD-DAWLAH had exposed them, because of those who were able to see the Wazir and to hold converse with him, ‘AMIN alone knew the secret. Therefore they worked upon two brothers who were known to be of the sons of KAMR AD-DIN, and they lay in wait for the physician one night when he was leaving the palace of the Khalifah and going to his house, and they leaped upon him, and stabbed him with two daggers (or, knives). And when ‘AMIN saw them he cried out, ‘Seize ye them, for they are so-and-so and so-and-so’; and those wicked men heard [him] and they went back a second time and killed him completely. And they also stabbed the man who was with him carrying the lamp, and him also they stabbed again with a knife. And immediately the city was thrown into a state of excitement, and the palace of the Khalifah, and the dead man was lifted up and carried to his house, and he was buried there.

And after nine months thev carried him to the church of MAR TAOMA and buried him with his fathers. And his two accursed murderers were captured on the same night on which that renowned physician was murdered, and they were crucified on the very spot on which they had murdered him. The deceased man left three sons who were honoured, viz. SHAMS AD-DAWLAH, FAKHR AD-DAWLAH, and TAJ AD-DAWLAH. These also attained great honours, and especially SHAMS AD-DAWLAH.

And in this year, which is the year six hundred and eighteen of the ARABS (A.D. 1221), JELAL AD-DIN HASAN, the chief of the ISHMAELITES, died, and ‘ALA AD-DIN MAHAMAD, his son, rose up after him, being nine years of age. Now this boy had been brought up with other little boys of the same age as himself in the occupation of rearing lambs and going round with camels; and he deputed the whole direction of his domain to women. And when he had reigned five years, a certain physician who was with them, without any illness which demanded the letting of blood, slit [451] a vein and drew out from him a very considerable quantity of blood. And because of this black bile obtained the mastery over him, and he began to imagine horrible imaginings, and to think that he was God. And because the minds of those who were under his hand were obscured by great error, and they were delivered over to the knowledge of vanity, they believed whatsoever he told them. And no man was able to admonish him, but every man he cursed or abused, [his curses] caused to die an evil death. And because of this the wise men also who were under the yoke of his service, because of their fear of him, magnified him as God. And ‘ALA AD-DIN constitutionally hated ornamented apparel, and he dressed himself in raiment made of wool and blue ‘amarkuba (brocade?), and he dwelt continually with the sheep. It is said that one day when he was sitting on a pinnacle of a certain high mountain, with ambassadors from the various countries round about him, that at a mere hint (i.e. motion) of his eyebrows, fifty of the men who were standing before him cast themselves down from the pinnacle of that high mountain and died. And thus the fear of him fell upon all the kings of the earth, and they were bowed down under the yoke of the tribute which they were giving to him and were sending with the good products of their lands.

And in the year six hundred and twenty-one of the ARABS (A.D. 1224), MALIK ‘AFDAL, the son of SALAH AD-DIN, the son of ‘AYUB, the lord of SAMOSATA, died in SAMOSATA. This man was highly trained in literature (or, books), and in rhetoric and poetry, but his actions were feeble, and he lacked sagacity (or, astuteness), which is a necessary accomplishment for kings. And because of this he was deprived of the kingdom of his father, and instead of that great dominion he received, though against his will, a small tract of country.

And in the year six hundred and twenty-two [of the ARABS, A.D. 1225], the Khalifah NASIR ABU AL-‘ABBAS ‘AHMAD died, aged seventy years, on the night of the dawn of the festival of the Passover of the ARABS. He was very alert (or, watchful) and diligent, and he was always changing his place and sallying out, and going round about in the bazars of BAGHDAD, and he made it his care to know from the thread to the needle, i.e. matters which were very great and those which were very small. He exhibited himself from time to time in the garb of the TURKS, and sometimes in the garb of the PERSIANS, and at others in the garb of the merchants, and because of this [457] very many perished. For when he perceived anyone who recognized him, without mercy he would send and kill him. Still, however, he did not keep himself concealed, for he used to walk about with famous men who shared his secret. For this reason men fled before him when he passed by. Moreover, even in the night season, a man was afraid to talk to his wife indiscreetly, for they were afraid lest he might be in the house, or in some porch on the roof, because he would appear there having climbed up into the porch on the roof, and on to the walls of the habitations of men. He was immeasurably anxious to know the details and particulars of the things which were done, not only in his own dominions, but also in the dominions of the kings of the other countries.

It is related that the Khatun, the daughter of KELEJ ‘ARSLAN Sultan, who was called KHALATAITA, came to BAGHDAD when she was going to worship at MAKKAH. And he was told of her beauty, and he sent to her the old women of his palace to betroth her to him. But the Khatun made the excuse that she had a husband, and said that it was impossible for this to take place. And she left and went to MAKKAH, and because of her fear of him she decided to return to her own country by the Syrian road. And the Khalifah NASIR himself thought that she was preparing to do this, and he sent in her train a company of horsemen as if they also were going to worship [at MAKKAH]. And when the Khatun wished to go by another road, they prevented her doing so, and by force they brought her back again to BAGHDAD. And as soon as ever she arrived, a report of the death of her husband reached [her]. But how did he die? God knoweth! And NASIR sent and had her brought into the palace, and he took her to wife.

And this NASIR loved her wholly, for when she longed to have for herself a palace in the style of that which she had in KHALAT, and a garden, he learned (i.e. obtained) from her the particulars thereof. And in the night he sent and had the Wazir brought, and he gave him a drawing of the palace and the garden. And the Wazir went out forthwith, and made ready two hundred architects and two thousand workmen, and they prepared slabs of stone and mortar sufficient [for the work], and they worked at the building the whole day, each man on one section. And they took the folding doors which had been constructed from other gates of the palace, and set them up in the new gates which they left the same size as the folding doors. [453] And they also lifted out of the ground trees which were rooted therein and planted them in the new garden which they dug. And when the evening came they had finished the whole work. And carpets and woven stuffs were spread about, and all the necessary things were ready there, and the lady of KHALAT passed over into it. And after some years she died,and NASIR was enveloped in a great mourning for her. And he commanded and they destroyed the palace and the garden, and they left the place a ruin. And on that spot he built for her a famous sepulchre wherein praying men dwell at the present day, and alms and charitable gifts are distributed.

After NASIR, TAHiR his son [ruled] nine months. They used to proclaim this man the heir during his father’s lifetime, and his father NASIR being afraid of him, he annulled his proclamation and shut him up in prison, and he made his younger son, whose name was AMIR ‘ALI, to be proclaimed. And AMIR ‘ALI died in the days of his father, and left young sons. And his father mourned for him with so great and indescribable grief that he sent to all the kings and told them that not one of them was to send an ambassador or a letter of consolation. And he dwelt alone by himself in a dark house for many days. And all the people of BAGHDAD also mourned, and in every family a company of women sat down and wailed. And they went round about in the bazars of BAGHDAD wearing sackcloth and with blackened faces, and they uttered loud cries of grief and wailed for many days. And forthwith there went forth the command that every woman who wished to weep must weep in her own house, and they were not to go outside again.

And NASIR the Khalifah being dead, the nobles brought out his son TAHIR from prison, for they loved him because of his goodness. And they swore oaths of fealty to him, and seated him upon his father’s throne. And when they were enthroning him, he said, ‘How fitting is it for a man to open an inn (khan) after the ninth hour! ForI have passed fifty years.’ Then having taken his seat he showed justice and generosity, and he restored to their owners sums of money which had been plucked from them, for his father had been avaricious. And fear was lifted from the children of men, and the calumniators were suppressed. And he built another bridge over the TIGRIS at BAGHDAD, and it had two bridges, whereas before for a period of two hundred years the city had only had one bridge. [454]

And in this year MALIK MU’ATAM, the lord of DAMASCUS, sallied out and plundered the country of HAMATH. And MALIK ‘ASHRAF, his brother, heard [of this] and sent and admonished him for this act. Then he being offended with him, sent to hims SHEHAB AD-DIN JAZI, another brother, who at that time was the lord of KHALAT and MAIPERKAT, and he made him to rebel against ‘ASHRAF. And ‘ASHRAF sallied out and went against KHALAT, and he took it from his brother by fighting. And having captured his brother he did not kill him, but he left to him MAIPERKAT and sent him there.

At this time BARON CONSTANTINE PALI sent to MAR IGNATIUS, our Patriarch, and to MAR CONSTANTINUS, the Catholicus of the ARMENIANS, concerning the daughter of king LION, that she should come down from SILAWKYA and make peace, so that they might make an arrangement which would benefit the Christian community, For behold because of the schism, Sultan ‘ALA AD-DIN, the lord of BETH RHOMAYE, was master of many of the fortresses of CILICIA and those twO blessed men went, and although they entreated earnestly and admonished her, she would not incline to their petition. Moreover, she reviled them and called them friends (or, associates) of murderers and shedders of innocent blood. And in no way were they able to make any apology to her, but they left her and came away as unsuccessful men. Then PALI himself went there in person, and he begged the Freres to give her to him by force. And they replied, ‘Our houses and our strongholds are the villages of refuge of the Christians, and we cannot deliver up a woman, a queen, who hath taken up asylum with us’.

Then PALI formed a plan, and with gold he bought from them the fortress with everything which was therein, and he turned them out, and he himself became the lord and governor [of the fortress]. And he took the queen by her arm and led her out and brought her down by force to TARSOS. And he collected Patriarchs, and bishops, and priests; and they crowned her with his son HAITUM (OTTON?) [RB: Het’um], and HAITUM was proclaimed king of CIL1CIA on the first day of the week of Pentecost, on the fourteenth day of the month of HAZIRAN (JUNE), in the year fifteen hundred and thirty-seven of the GREEKS (A.D. 1226). And queen ZABIL (ISABEL?) remained for ten years without permitting the king [455] to have intercourse with her, but afterwards she was reconciled to him, and she bore him sons and daughters. And in the year six hundred and twenty-three of the ARABS (A.D. 1226) the Khalifah TAHIR died, on the fourteenth day of the seventh month.

After TAHIR his son MUSTANSER (ruled] seventeen years, This man began [to rule] in an open fashion, he rode and he went in and came out, and hid himself from no man. And there was exhibited by him a justice which was greater than that of his father, and he began to distribute alms generously, and he restored many buildings. And he built that House of Instruction (i.e. College) which is called by his name, and the like of which exists nowhere in the world. And he appointed therein four doctors (i.e. professors) of their Four Faiths, and three hundred chief instructors, and every instructor in the Law was provided with adequate rations (or, maintenance money) from day to day. And he built a bath for their private use, wherein no stranger might enter, and he appointed for them also a private physician who would administer medicine unto them when they were sick.