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A Summarial History of Byzantine Crete Under Arap Occupiation


  • 7/18/2019 Andalusi Crete


    Andalusi Crete (827-961) and the Arab-ByzantineFrontier in the Early Medieal Mediterranean

    The island of Crete is among the oldest centers of civilization in the Mediterranean, located

    strategically between the Italian Peninsula, the Aegean Sea, Egypt, and the Levant. It also lies on

    a key sailing route between the eastern and western Mediterranean. Since the decline of Minoan

    civilization around 1500 B.C., control of the island had shifted between a series of Mycenaean

    and Hellenistic rulers until it was conquered by the Roman Empire in 69 B.C. Although highly

    valued for its resources, Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, Crete was gradually neglected and

    entered a long period of decline, and had been largely overshadowed by Sicily in terms of

    strategic importance.[1] One of the periods of Cretes long history that is generally overlooked by

    historians and researchers is the period of Andalus Muslim dominance of the island during the

    ninth and tenth centuries. On the eve of its conquest by Andalus Muslims in 827, Crete was a

    minor province of a much-weakened Byzantine Empire characterized by chaos, disorganization,

    and disunity. The island was not reconquered until 961 by a revitalized, resurgent, and militarily

    powerful empire. During its 135 year existence as an independent Andalus emirate, Crete played

    an important role in the Arab-Byzantine conflict in the ninth and tenth centuries. It was also

    important in its own right as a regional center of Islamic civilization and naval power.

    The story of Muslim Crete began not in the Eastern Mediterranean, but in the southern portions of

    the distant Muslim-ruled Iberian Peninsula, known as al-Andalus. In 818 A.D., in the Cordoban

    suburb ofArrabal del Sur(, a rebellion broke out against the rule of the

    Umayyadamrof al-Andalus, al-akam I (r.796822). This uprising was largely instigated by

    Hispano-Roman Muslim converts, known asmuwalladn, who had allied with Andalus

    Mlikfuqah(jurists), and threatened to engulf the Umayyad realm in civil strife.[1] In response to

    this rebellion, al-akam brutally suppressed all opposition, crucifying three hundred jurists

    fromArrabal del Sur, or al-Rabad, which was destroyed, and exiling twenty thousand of its

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    inhabitants.[2] Half of these exiles, including many artisans, were welcomed by the neighboring

    Idrsid dynasty and settled in Fez; indeed, the Andalusian quarter of the city still exists today.[3]

    The other ten thousand refugees, including many warriors and jurists, headed for the eastern port

    city of Alexandria, where they joined an earlier contingent of Andaluss who had lived in the city

    since the early 800s.[4] A few years after arriving in Alexandria, the exiles placed themselves

    under the leadership of fellow Andalus Ab afUmar al-Ball (d. 861), one of the exiled

    leaders of theArrabal del Suruprising, rebelled against the local wl (governor) and ruled the city

    for several years.[5] In 825, the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamn (r. 813-833) sent an army against

    Alexandria, effectively ending Andalus control of the city, and forcing Ab afs and his followers

    to seek refuge elsewhere.[6]

    The island of Crete was the ideal destination for the exiles, since they had heard about its riches,

    known of its vital strategic location, and raided it on several occasions.[7] In 824 or 827the date

    is uncertainthe Andaluss landed on the island, overpowered its Byzantine garrison and

    conquered it with little difficulty, primarily due to the lack of fierce resistance as well as local

    collaboration. They subsequently established their capital at Chandax/al-Khandaq, modern-day

    Heraklion (Gr. ), in the northern part of the island, which looked towards the isles of the

    Aegean Sea.[8] From their base at Chandax, the Andaluss raided Asia Minor, the Peloponnese,

    the Cyclades, and the Aegean Sea, devastating a large number of islands.[9]

    Their victory over a Byzantine fleet in 829 allowed them to continue their activities in the Aegean

    virtually unchecked.[10] Furthermore, the Andaluss of Crete, taking advantage of the chaotic

    situation in the Italian Peninsula, established bases at Brundisium and Tarentum, from where they

    harassed Byzantine shipping in the Adriatic Sea, besieged Ragusa/Dubrovnik, on the Dalmatian

    coast, in 868 and even sacked Venice in 875.[11] The military and naval defeats inflicted on

    Byzantine fleets and the threat posed to imperial interests by the Andaluss led to several serious

    attempts to dislodge the Muslims from Crete in the ninth and early tenth centuriesmost notably in

    866, 912 and 949none of which were successful.[12] By 840, just over a decade after its

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    conquest by the Muslims, Crete was transformed from a relatively backwater province of

    Byzantium into a major base of naval operations against the Empire. The situation was so dire

    that around 839 the Byzantine emperor, Theophilos (r. 829-842) was forced to send diplomatic

    envoys seeking assistance to Abd al-Rahman II (r. 822-852), the Umayyad emir of al-Andalus,

    and to Louis the Pious (r. 814-840), ruler of the Carolingian empire, to seek aid against theCretans. Although both embassies led to the establishment of significant diplomatic contacts with

    these two western kingdoms, they failed to secure the much-needed aid.

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    Exacerbating the situation for the Byzantines was the fact that the raids in the Aegean were

    contemporaneous with the Aghlabid conquest of Sicily, a campaign in which many Andalussactively took part.[13] The conquest of Sicily was initiated in 827 by the anaf jurist Asad ibn al-

    Fur, who launched an assault on the island with ten thousand Arab cavalrymen and thousands

    of infantry units on behalf of the AghlabidamrZydat Allh.[14] This meant that Byzantine naval

    policy became a matter of imperial priority in order to maintain supremacy in the central

    Mediterranean. In this regard, the conquest of Crete was a major blow to Byzantine naval power

    and gave the Andaluss control of the major sailing route from the eastern Mediterranean to the

    West, not to mention the route between Constantinople and the Mediterranean, and greatly

    impeded Byzantiums ability to relieve Sicily, which ultimately fell to the Aghlabids in 902.[15] As

    subsequent events would demonstrate, however, things were to deteriorate further for the Empire.

    The most devastating attack involving the Cretan Muslims was the sack of Thessaloniki in 904 by

    the Greek renegade and Abbasid admiral Leo of Tripoli.[16] The destruction of the Byzantine

    Empires second largest city and the enslavement of twenty-two thousand Greeks struck a major

    blow against Byzantiums power and prestige, and alerted the Empire to the necessity of

    reconquering Crete from the Muslims.[17] The participation of Leo of Tripoli and another Greek

    convert to Islam, Damian of Tarsus (d. 924), in the raids against Byzantium within the Aegean

    further highlights the manner in which various political and military figures exploited the weakness

    of the Empire during this period in order to wreak havoc and enrich themselves. It is alsoparticularly interesting to note the Christian origins of both Leo and Damian since it underscores

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    the fluidity of the military-political frontier between Byzantium and the Islamic world during this

    period and the relative ease with which a renegade of humble origins from one side could easily

    rise to become a major political player on the other.

    Despite multiple Byzantine attempts, involving major military and naval campaigns, to conquer

    Crete it was not until 961 that this was accomplished. It took the command of a Byzantine general

    (and, subsequently, Emperor) of the the caliber of Nicephorus Phocas, for the island to finally be

    restored to imperial authority. Nicephorus assaulted Crete with at least 77,000 men, including

    some of the most elite units in the Byzantine army, which is indicative of the resolve with which

    this campaign was undertaken.[18] According to both the Arabic chroniclers and Greek sources,

    in spring 961, when Chandax finally fell to Nicephorus besieging army, the citys mosques were

    destroyed or transformed into churches, the Muslim scriptures burnt, two hundred thousand

    Cretans killed and a similar number enslaved, while those who remained were converted to

    Christianity.[19] Admittedly, these figures are probably much exaggerated, but they reflect the

    major destruction which followed the conquest and the vigor with which the Byzantines sought to

    eradicate the Muslim presence on the island.

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    Based on the fact of the raids and attacks of the Cretans it would be easy to reduce the history of

    Andalus Crete to a pirate base that plagued the Aegean for nearly 150 years. Indeed, this is

    precisely how the Byzantine chroniclers and some modern scholars have characterized the

    emirate. However, unsurprisingly, the historical reality is much more complex. Ab af and his

    successors, utilizing the title of emirs, were virtually independent rulers, but found it expedient to

    acknowledge the authority of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamn, who was engaged in a war with

    Byzantium and recognized the strategic value of the island.[23] Ab af and his descendants

    (who set up a hereditary dynasty on the island that lasted over 5 or 6 generations) envisionedthemselves as local rulers, not too dissimilar from other local dynasties such as the Tulunids or

    the Aghlabids who ruled and administered different territories on behalf of the Abbasid caliphs

    whom they nominally acknowledged. The Andaluss left the local religious infrastructure of Crete

    intact, allowing the native population to maintain their religion, but implemented Islamic patterns

    of taxation, urbanization, and administration.[24]Jizya(poll tax) was imposed upon the conquered

    non-Muslim populations (known asahl al-dhimmaor protected people) of Crete and the Aegean

    islands, and the Cretans secured active support from the ulnids of Egypt (868905),

    demonstrating a certain level of political aptitude.[25] Indeed, the conclusion of pacts and

    agreements with the local leadership in the Aegean islands signified that the emirs of Crete

    sought to tax and control, not merely raid, territory. It would therefore be useful to think of the

    emirate of Crete as operating within a framework that extended beyond simple piracy or


    The contemporary Arab, Andalus, and Persian travelers who mention Crete (Iqrtish in Arabic)

    speak very highly of the island and of the Muslims inhabiting it. Ibn awqal and al-Istakhri

    describe the island as an Islamic frontier state engaged in continuous warfare with Byzantium. Al-

    Istakhri refers to the Muslims of Crete as the people ofghazw, while Ibn awqal explains that

    Crete was ruled byabn al-mujhidn(the descendants of holy warriors). The idea of Crete

    being a major base of operations for Muslim warriors is clarified further by Ibn awqal who

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    describes the island of Crete as a crucial component of what he termsthughr al-

    juzuryya(island frontier fortresses), defensible islands whereghzsquadrons were based and

    which held the forces of Byzantium at bay in the Mediterranean, and complementary to the land-

    basedthughrin Anatolia. The fighting skills of the Andaluss were described in admirable terms

    by Ibn al-Abbr, who states that there was not a single group in any corner of the world againstwhom these Andaluss fought that they did not defeat and conquer, and by Ibn azm, who

    glorifies the Andalus Cretans as the staunchest and most capable people at vanquishing their

    enemies. Moreover, in a letter sent in 961 to the Ikhsdid Kfr (r. 946-968), the Faimidimm-

    caliph al-Muizz li Dn Allh (r. 953-975) implied that the Muslims of Crete weremujhidn(frontier

    warriors) and suggested that the Muslim rulers unite in the cause ofjihdto relieve the island

    from the Byzantine onslaught.Such statements reveal that the Andaluss of Crete were viewed by

    their contemporaries in the Islamic world (and in later Muslim tradition) as fierceghzwarriors

    fighting from their island frontier fortress at al-Khandaq on the front lines ofjihdagainst the

    traditional enemies of the Arab Muslims, the Byzantines. Of course, one should be cautious not

    conflate ideology and representation with historical reality, but at the very least such sources

    provide some additional insight into the emirate of Crete and its role within the broader context of

    Byzantine-Arab relations.

    During the period of Andalus political control, the prosperity of the island itself rose tremendously

    as a result of the influx of wealth which accompanied the raids of the Cretans. This wealth, in

    addition to the manpower which it inevitably attracted to the island, allowed the Andaluss to

    transform Crete into a formidable ideological and political opponent of Byzantium.[26] The

    economic vitality and political autonomy of Andalus Crete is also evident from the fact that the

    Cretans minted their own coinage, and traded with al-Andalus, Egypt, and the Vikings in such

    commodities as honey, olive oil, timber, and weaponry.[27] As far as one can tell from the extant

    sources, life on the island itself was relatively cosmopolitan, with the local population retaining its

    religion and language, the development of agriculture, trade, increasing urbanization, and multiple

    social interactions between the Greek Cretans, the Andalus conquerors, and Arab Muslim

    settlers.[28] In Crete, as elsewhere along the Arab-Byzantine frontier during the early Middle

    Ages, commerce and warfare were two sides of the same coin. Indeed, the fruits of piracy

    material wealth and captiveswere not negligible sources of income for the Andalusi emirate.
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    The main city built by the Muslims, al-Khandaq, developed into a notable intellectual and cultural

    center, attracting several scholars from across the Islamic world.[29] According to the fifteenth-

    century historian al-imyri, the most magnificent Andalus scholars dwelled in Crete, an

    observation also attested by the fact that many of the Andaluss who conquered Crete were

    themselves scholars, orfuqah(jurists), who had been exiles from the repressive measures of al-

    akam in al-Andalus.[30] Reaffirming this idea that al-Khandaq was a sophisticated and cultured

    urban centre, the Byzantine ChronicleTheophanes Continuatusdescribes the lifestyle of the

    Andalus elite in Crete, which included living in houses surrounded by gardens full of fruit trees

    and beautiful fountains, an indication that the Muslim rulers of Crete lived fairly luxuriously.[31] In

    addition to al-imyri, many other Muslim historians, geographers, and chroniclers have

    emphasized Cretes role as a center for culture and scholarship. Yqt, a thirteenth-century

    geographer, for example, described Andalus Crete as a large island with many cities where

    numerous scholars (ulam) gather, and Ibn al-Abbr narrates how Crete attracted many

    scholars, religious people, and lay people from the Islamic world to settle there.[32]

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    Another attestation to the close association between Andalus Crete and Islamic scholarship and

    culture is the fact that thenisbahal-Iqrtish was common for several Muslim scholars during the

    ninth and tenth centuries.[33] Several scholars have also suggested that the sources provide

    evidence for the existence of other Islamic institutions on the island.[34] Numerous other

    historians and chroniclers have referred to countless scholars, poets, authors, and jurists, of

    whose names only a few survive, who came from Crete.[35] Among these individuals was a

    descendant of Ab af, the conqueror of Crete, named Umar ibn Is ibn Muammad ibn Ab

    af, who compiled a treatise entitledThe Interpretation of the Wonders and Miracles of the

    Quranwhile he was imprisoned in Constantinople following his capture by Byzantine imperial

    flotillas in the Aegean while on aghazwa.[36] Other eminent individuals, according to al-imyri,

    included Fat ibn al-Ala, theqd(most senior judicial official and religious judge) of Crete, Isq

    ibn Slem, Yaya ibn Uthmn, Msa ibn Abd al-Mlik, and Muammad ibn Umar, who all

    composed treatises on law, religion, and philosophy.[37] Perhaps the most extraordinary and, in

    recent years, most discussed scholar who originated in Muslim Crete was Muammad ibn Umar,

    the younger brother of the Mlik scholar Yaya ibn Umar, and a prominent Arab Cretanfaqh,

    who authored theKitb akryt al-sufun, a treatise on Islamic maritime law.[38] This work and its

    Greek counterpart, theNomos Rhodion Nautikos, are considered two of the greatest works on

    ships and shipping from the early Middle Ages.

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    Although many of the literary sources, both Greek and Arabic, seek to portray an overly-simplistic

    picture of a clear-cut conflict between Muslim and Christian in the Mediterranean during the ninth

    and tenth centuries, it should be remembered that there is ample evidence that, at times, the

    contact between Islamic and Byzantine civilizations generated relations between Muslims and

    Christians that extended far beyond the military realm. The case of Crete was no different, with

    diplomatic and cultural contacts between the Andalusi rulers and Byzantium being an important

    part of its history. One particularly interesting exchange was that between the emir of Crete and

    the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nicholas Mysticus (d. 925), who sent a cordial letter to former in

    913 or 914 in order to encourage him to release the Greek prisoners captured during the attack

    against Thessaloniki in 904. Among the most interesting portions of the letter is the following, in

    which Nicholas Mysticus suggests that there was extensive contact and amity between his own

    predecessor, St. Photios I (d. 891) of Constantinople and the previous emir of Crete:

    The Patriarch [St. Photios] knew well that although the barriers of religion stood between us, yet

    wisdom, kindness, and the other qualities which adorn and dignify human nature, attract the

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    affection of those who love fair things; and therefore, notwithstanding the difference of creeds, he

    loved your father, who was endowed with those qualities (Nicholas Mysticos, Letters [Washington

    D.C. 1973], ed. and trans.R.J.H. Jenkins and L.G. Westerink, Letter 2)

    The economic life of Crete improved under the Arabs, and the island went from being a remote,

    subordinated province of the Byzantine Empire to an autonomous, self-sustaining country with

    extensive trade, intensive agriculture, and the accumulation of vast wealth as a result of trade,

    raids, and local enterprise.[39] In their writing, the Arab geographers depict Crete as a country

    rich with resources, such as gold and timber, and possessing a thriving agricultural economy. In

    exchange for olive oil from al-Andalus and weaponry from Egypt, Muslim Crete exported timber,

    wine, cheese, milk, honey, pomegranates, nuts, precious metals, and unique herbs, known asal-

    Antimn(Antimonium; used in medicines and dyeing) to the rest of the Islamic world.[40] The

    Cretans minted their own currency, which not only included copper coins but also silver and gold,

    demonstrating the wealth of the island under Andalus rule and its political autonomy from the rest

    of the Islamic world.[41] Many jurists and scholars immigrated to the island fortresses (al-thughral-juzuryya), of which Crete was an important one, while others were born, grew up, and

    practiced law there; a source on the life of Muammad ibn Umar, for example, states that he had

    been born in Crete because his father, a contemporary of Abu afs al-Ball, had been stationed

    on the island to participate in frontier warfare.[42] The presence of large numbers offuqahwithin

    the ranks of the Cretanghzscan allow historians to draw parallels between this intellectual-

    martial trend within Andalus Crete with the warrior scholars of the Arab-Byzantine frontier in

    Cilicia, Armenia, and Anatolia.[43]

    Whether one views Andalus Crete as a pirate base for Muslim freebooters and adventurers, or

    as an integral component of the frontier fortresses from which raids were launched against the

    Byzantine Empire in the Aegean, it is clear that the existence of a powerful, militant entity on

    Byzantiums southern maritime frontier posed a major threat to the strategic interests of the

    Empire. Andalus Crete also represents the political and social possibilities in a world of

    tremendous mobility, where a relatively small group of jurists from the fringes of the Islamic world

    were able to establish a successful and prosperous kingdom for themselves hundreds of miles

    from their homeland. The events surrounding the establishment, existence and fall of the emirate

    of Crete should be interpreted within the context of the ninth- and tenth-century frontier warfare

    that characterized the conflict between Byzantium and Islam during the ninth and tenth centuries.

    That the fall of Chandax in 961 ushered in a new era of Byzantine imperial confidence and

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    military dominance underscores the importance and relevance of Andalus Crete within the larger

    context of the struggle between Byzantium and Islam in the Near East.

    [1] Dimitris Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete: from the Fifth Century to the Venetian

    Conquest(Athens, 1988), 2030.

    [2]Ibn Idhr al-Marrakushi,Al-bayn al-Maghreb f akhbr al-Andalus w-al Maghrib(Beirut,1983),

    II:7577; Hitti,History of the Arabs, 513; Imamuddin, Cordovan Muslim Rule, 298299; Ahmad

    Abbad and Abdul-Aziz Slem,Trkh al-Bahryya al-Islmyya f aw al-Bar al-Abya al-

    Mutawassit:Al-Bahryya al-Islmyya fi al-Maghreb wa al-Andalus(Alexandria, 1981), 6774.

    [3]Imamuddin, Cordovan Muslim Rule, 299; Xavier de Planhol,LIslam et La Mer: La Mosquee et

    le Matelot(Paris, 2000), 64.

    [4]Ibn al-Abbr,Kitb al-ullah al-siyar(Cairo, 1985), 1/45; Shakib Arslan, Tarkh ghazawt

    al-Arab f Faransa wa-Swsira wa-Ily wa-jazir al-Bar al-Muawassi(Beirut, 1966), 185


    [5]Ibn al-Abbr,Kitb al-ullah, 1/45; Amin Taybi, Amara Arabyya Andalusyya f Jazrat

    Iqrtish,Majallat al-Muarrikh al-Arab28 (1986): 47; Ali Fahmy,Muslim Sea-Power in the Eastern

    Mediterranean(London, 1950), 129131; Abbady and Salem,Tarkh al-Baryya, 7580.

    [6]John Bagnell Bury,History of theEastern Roman Empire from the Fall of Irene to the Ascension

    of Basil I(London, 1912), 288; Taybi, Amara Andalusyya Arabyya, 46; Abbady and

    Salem,Tarkh al-Bahryya, 8082.

    [7]Bury,Eastern Roman Empire, 288; Fahmy,Muslim Sea-Power, 130; Taybi, Amara Andalusyya

    Arabyya, 46; Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 3637.

    [8]Genesios,On the Reigns of the Emperors, trans. Anthony Kaldellis (Canberra, 1998), 3940.

    Tsougarakis, Byzantine Crete, 40; Taybi, Amara Andalusyya Arabyya, 4648; Alexander

    Vasiliev,History of the Byzantine Empire(Madison, 1961), 278; Fahmy,Muslim Sea-Power, 132;

    Kenneth M. Setton, On the Raids of the Moslems in the Aegean in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries

    and their Alleged Occupation of Athens,American Journal of Archaeology58 (1954), p.311;

    Iqrtish,Encyclopedia of Islam, p.1083..

    [9]John Scylitzes,Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis Historiarum(Berolini, 1973), ed. Hans Thurn, 153;

    Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 3435; Warren Treadgold, The Byzantine Revival(Stanford, 1988),

    253; Fahmy,Muslim Sea-Power, 136; Eduardo Manzano Moreno, Byzantium and Al-Andalus in

    the Ninth Century, in Leslie Brubaker, ed.,Byzantium in the Ninth Century: Dead or Alive?

    (Ashgate, 1996), 138; Setton, On the Raids of the Moslems in the Aegean in the Ninth and Tenth

    Centuries, pp.312314. For a discussion of the problematic nature of the sources regarding the

    chronology of the raids of the Cretans in the Aegean, see E.W. Brooks, The Arab Occupation of

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    Crete,English Historical Review28 (1913): 431443. For a detailed look at the raids of the

    Cretans in the Aegean Sea, see Taybi, Amara Arabyya Andalusyya, 4950; Vassilios

    Christides, The Raids of the Muslims of Crete in the Aegean Sea: Piracy and

    Conquest,Byzantion51 (1981): 76111; Vassilios Christides,The Conquest of Crete by the

    Arabs(Athens, 1984), 157165.

    [10]Bury,Eastern Roman Empire, 289; Fahmy,Muslim Sea-Power, 133134; Abbady and

    Salem,Tarkh al-Bahryya, 8285.

    [11]Romilly Jenkins, trans.,Constantine Porpyrogenitus De Administrando Imperio(Dumbarton

    Oaks, 1967), 127129. Archibald Lewis,Naval Power and Trade in the Mediterranean, A.D. 500

    1100(Princeton, 1951), 137138.

    [12] Christos G. Makrypoulias, Byzantine Expeditions against the Emirate of Crete, 825949,

    inSixth International Congress of Graeco-Oriental and African Studies(Nicosia, 1996), pp.347


    [13] John Scylitzes,Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis Historiarum, 69; Iqrtish,EI, 1083.

    [14]Bury,Eastern Roman Empire, 298; Enan,Decisive Moments, 79; Franzius,History of the

    Byzantine Empire, 163.

    [15]Hlne Ahrweiler,Byzance et la mer: La marine de guerre, la politique et les institutions

    maritmes de Byzance(Paris, 1966), 3839; Lewis,Naval Power, 132; Richard Unger,The Ship in

    the Medieval Economy, 6001600(London, 1980), 96; Ekkehard Eickhoff,Seekrieg und

    Seepolitik zwischen Islam und Abendland: Das Mittelmeer unter byzantischer und arabischer

    Hegemonie(Berlin, 1966), 6566; John Pryor,Geography, Technology and War: Studies in the

    Maritime History of the Mediterranean(Cambridge, 1988), 106; John Scylitzes,Ioannis Scylitzae

    Synopsis Historiarum, 267; Treadgold, Byzantine Revival, 332; Bury,Eastern Roman Empire,

    301. For the logistics and financing of the Byzantine army in the Aegean and Ionian seas, and for

    a discussion of the impact that the Andalus conquest of Crete had on its military capabilities, see

    Warren Treadgold,Byzantium and Its Army(Stanford, 1995), 189 and 210..

    [16] Muhammad Abdullah Enan,Decisive Moments in the History of Islam(London, 1940), 8487;

    Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 50.

    [17] A.A. Vasiliev,History of the Byzantine Empire(Madison, 1961), 305; Steven

    Runciman,Byzantine Civilization(London, 1933), 151; Franzius,History of the Byzantine Empire:

    Mother of Nations(New York, 1967), 189. For a discussion of the various attempts by the

    Byzantine Empire to reconquer Crete from the Muslims, see Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 41

    58; Christos G. Makrypoulias, Byzantine Expeditions Against the Emirate of Crete,Graeco-

    Arabica7/8 (2000): 347362.

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    [18] Romilly Jenkins,Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries(London, 1966), 271; Taybi, Amara

    Andalusyya Arabyya, 5051; Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 5874.

    [19] Ahmad ibn Abd al-Wahb al-Nuwair, Tarkh al-Maghrib al-Islm(Casablanca, 1984), 485

    486. Taybi, Amara Andalusyya Arabyya, 5152; Iqrtish,EI, p.1084. For a detailed discussionof the conquest of Crete by Nicephorus Phocas, see Christides,The Conquest of Crete by the

    Arabs, 172191; for a panegyric regarding Nicephorus Phocas, which reveals a great deal of the

    immense significance of the event to the Byzantines, see Hugo Criscuolo ed. Theodosii Diaconi

    De Creta Capta(Leipzig, 1979). A rare and interesting perspective concerning the Byzantine

    conquest of Crete is given in Joshua Holo, A Genizah Letter from Rhodes Evidently Concerning

    the Byzantine Reconquest of CreteJournal of Near Eastern Studies59 (2000): 112.

    [20] Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 74; Christides,Conquest of Crete, 183; Iqrtish,EI, p.1084.

    [21] Nadia Maria El Cheikh,Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs(Cambridge, Massachusetts:

    Harvard University Press, 2004), 164168.

    [22] Ibn Jubayr,The Travels of Ibn Jubayr: A Medieval Muslim Visits Mecca, Madinah, Egypt,

    Cities of the Middle East, and Sicily(London: J. Cape, 1952), trans. Ronald Broadhurst, 359;

    Kathryn A. Miller,Guardians of Islam: Religious Authority and Muslim Communities of Late

    Medieval Spain(New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 45.

    [23]Bury,Eastern Roman Empire, 292; Taybi, Amara Andalusyya Arabyya, 47; Abbady and

    Salem,Tarkh al-Bahryya, 83; Iqrtish,EI, 1083.

    [24]Jorge Lirola Delgado,El Poder Nava de A-Andalus en la epoca del Califato Omeya(Granada,

    1993), 225; Christides, The Raids of the Muslims, 98; Christides,The Conquest of Crete, 104

    117; Tsougarakis,Byzantine Crete, 75.

    [25]Christides,Conquest of Crete, 109; Christides, The Raids of the Muslims of Crete, 98. For

    more on the religio-political outlook of the Arabs, the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic society,

    and the idea ofdhimm, see R. Steven Humphreys,Islamic History: A Framework for

    Enquiry(Princeton, 1991), 255283; John Tolan, Islamic Dominion and the Religious Other, in

    Tolan,Saracens, 2139. This style of governance was based on the traditional Islamic model

    following the conquest of various regions and on earlier precedents, including the conquests of

    Egypt and Spain, in which individual (non-Muslim) towns and cities capitulated to Muslim rule,

    paid a special tax known asjizya, in exchange for being permitted to observe their religious

    practices and maintain a certain degree of autonomy. This arrangement was known as


    [26] Jenkins,Byzantium, 144.

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    [27] Christides,Conquest of Crete, 114; Delgado,El Poder Naval, 227228. For more on the

    coinage of Andalusi Crete, see George C. Miles,The Coinage of the Arab Emirs of Crete(New

    York, 1970).

    [28] Christides,Conquest of Crete, 105107; Jenkins,Byzantium, 144; Tsougarakis,ByzantineCrete, 75.

    [29] Abu afs Umar al-Balli, inThe Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition. Vol. 1 (Leiden,

    1960), 121

    [30] Taybi, Amara Arabyya Andalusyya, 47; Christides,Conquest of Crete, 133.

    [31] Christides,Conquest of Crete, 121.

    [32] Ibn al-Abbar,Kitb al-ullah,1/45; Taybi, Amara Arabyya Andalusyya, 47; Arslan,Trkh

    Ghazwt al-Arab, 189; Brooks, The Arab Occupation of Crete, p.442.

    [33]Iqrtish,EI, p.1085.

    [34] Christides,The Conquest of Crete, 115.

    [35] Ibn al-Faradi,Trkh al-ulam wa-al-ruwh lil-ilm bi-al-Andalus (Cairo, 1988), 2/123

    [36] Taybi, Amara Arabiyya Andalusiyya, 48

    [37] Ibn al-Faradi,Trkh al-ulam , 2/187; Taybi, Amara Arabyya Andalusyya, 48; Delgado,El

    Poder Naval, 226227; Christides,Conquest of Crete, 133136.

    [38] Imamuddin, Cordovan Muslim Rule, 308; Christides,The Conquest of Crete, 134. The life of

    scholars who lived in Crete is also described briefly as luxurious but difficult in a biographical

    dictionary from al-Andalus describing the life of one Cretan Andalusi scholar, Marwan ibn Abd al-

    Mlik ibn al-Fakkhr, who owned a five storey house furnished with twenty slave girls and an

    entire library of historical and religious works. Marwn ibn Abd al-Mlik was engaged in the

    writing of the history of Crete and was involved in collecting local material which would have aided

    him in his task. For an extensive and comprehensive look at theKitab Akriyat al-Sufun, see

    Hassan Khalilieh,Admiralty and Maritime Law in the Mediterranean Sea, 8001050: The Kitab

    Akriyat al-Sufun vis-a-vis the Nomos Rhodion Nautikos(Brill, 2006); Vasilios Christides, Raid and

    Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Treatise by Muammad ibn Umar, theFaqhfrom

    Occupied Muslim Crete,Graeco-Arabica5 (1993): 61102.

    [39] Ibn Hawqal,Srat al-Ar,184; Christides,Conquest of Crete, 117.

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    [40] Al-imyr,Kitb al-Raw al-Mitr f Khabar al-Aqtr(Beirut, 1975), 51; Taybi, Amara

    Arabyya Andalusyya, 46; Christides,Conquest of Crete, 101, 117; Iqrtish,EI, 1082.

    [41] Christides,Conquest of Crete, 119. Numismatic evidence has shown that the trade networks

    of the Cretans were highly developed and very extensive, with Cretan Muslim coins being found inSpain, Egypt, Italy, France, Greece, and Scandinavia.

    [42] Christides, Raid and Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, 66.

    [43] For more on the concept of warrior-scholars in early Islam, see Bonner,Jihad in Islamic

    History, 97117.

    Further Reading

    Abbadi, Ahmad and Abdul-Aziz Salem,Trkh al-bahryya al-islmyya f aw al-Bar al-Abya

    al-Mutawassit:Al-bahryya al-islmyya fi al-Maghreb wa al-Andalus. Alexandria, 1981.

    Arslan, Shakib.Tarkh ghazawt al-Arab f Faransa wa-Swsira wa-Ily wa-jazir al-Bar al-

    Muawassi. Beirut: Dr Maktabat al-ayh 1966.

    Bonner, Michael.Aristocratic Violence and Holy War: Studies in the Jihad and the Arab-Byzantine

    Frontier. New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1996.

    ______. Some Observations concerning the Early Development of Jihad on the Arab-ByzantineFrontier,Studia Islamica75 (1992): 531.

    Brooks, E.W. The Arab Occupation of Crete,English Historical Review28 (1913): 431443.

    Christides, Vassilios. The Raids of the Muslims of Crete in the Aegean Sea: Piracy and

    Conquest,Byzantion51 (1981): 76111.

    ______. Raid and Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Treatise by Muhammad ibn Umar,

    theFaqihfrom Occupied Muslim Crete, and theRhodian Sea Law, Two Parallel Texts.Graeco-

    Arabica5 (1993): 61102.

    ______.The Conquest of Crete by the Arabs: A Turning Point in the Struggle between Byzantium

    and Islam. Athens: Akademia Athenwn, 1985.

    ______. The Names E, etc. and Their False Byzantine

    Etymologies.Byzantinische Zeitschrift65 (1972): 329333.

    Delgado, Jorge Lirola.El poder naval de Al-Andalus en la poca del Califato Omeya. Granada:

    Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Granada, 1993.

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    Enan, Muhammad Abdullah. Decisive Moments in the History of Islam. London, Goodword

    Books, 1940.

    Fahmy, Ali.Muslim Sea-Power in the Eastern Mediterranean.London: Tip. Don Bosco, 1950.

    Haldon, John and Hugh Kennedy, The Arab-Byzantine Frontier in the Eighth and Ninth

    Centuries: Military Organization and Society in the Borderlands, inThe Byzantine and Early

    Islamic Near East, pp. 79116, ed. Hugh Kennedy. Burlington: Ashgate, 2006.

    Holo, Joshua. A Genizah Letter from Rhodes Evidently Concerning the Byzantine Reconquest of

    CreteJournal of Near Eastern Studies59 (2000): 112.

    Imamuddin, S.M. Cordovan Muslim Rule in Iqrtish (Crete),Journal of the Pakistan Historical

    Association8 (1960): 297312.

    Khalilieh,Hassan S. Admiralty and Maritime Laws in the Mediterranean Sea (ca. 8001050): The

    Kitab Akriyat al-Sufun vis--vis the Nomos Rhodion Nautikos. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

    Lewis, Archibald.Naval Power and Trade in the Mediterranean, A.D. 5001100. Princeton:

    Princeton University Press, 1951.

    Manzano Moreno, Eduardo. Byzantium and Al-Andalus in the Ninth Century, inByzantium in the

    Ninth Century: Dead or Alive?Ed. Leslie Brubaker. Ashgate: Variorum, 1996.

    Makrypoulias, Christos G. Byzantine Expeditions Against the Emirate of Crete,Graeco-

    Arabica7/8 (2000): 347362.

    Miles, George C. Byzantium and the Arabs: Relations in Crete and the Aegean

    Area.Dumbarton Oaks Papers18 (1964): 132.

    ______.The Coinage of the Arab Amirs of Crete. New York: The American Numismatic Society,


    Nikolia, D. Islamic Influences in the Iconoclastic Churches of Naxos,Graeco-Arabica7/8 (2000):


    Ostrogorsky, George. History of the Byzantine State. Trans. Joan Hussey. New Jersey: Rutgers

    University Press, 1957.

    Picard, Christophe and Antoine Borrut, Rabata, Ribat, Rabita: une institution a reconsiderer,

    inChretiens et musulmans en Mediterranee medievale: Echanges et contacts, eds. Nicolas

    Prouteau and Philippe Senac. Poitiers, 2003.

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    Pryor, John H.Geography, Technology, and War: Studies in the Maritime History of the

    Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

    Taybi, Amin Amara Arabyya Andalusyya f Jazrat Iqrtish,Majallat al-Muarrikh al-Arab28

    (1986): 4555.

    Tsougarakis, Dimitris.Byzantine Crete: from the Fifth Century to the Venetian Conquest. Athens:

    Historical Publications St. D. Basilopoulos, 1988.