Abbasid Caliphate

The Foundation of Baghdad. July 30, 762.

Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions (for example, the House of Wisdom), garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the “Centre of Learning“. Baghdad was the largest city of the Middle Ages for much of the Abbasid era, peaking at a population of more than a million. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires. The recognition of Iraq as an indepe...

Thessalonica Sacked – July 31, 904 AD

Leo of Tripoli was born in or near Attaleia, in modern-day Turkey. He was captured in a raid by Arabs and brought to Tripoli. While in captivity, he converted to Islam and began serving his captors in the capacity of a seaman. His name was changed to Arabic as Rashīq al-Wardāmī or Lāwī Abū’l-Hārit and given the title ghulām Zurāfa, meaning servant of Zurafa. Zurafa may have been his first Muslim master, but it is unknown. Leo’s early life and career are unknown, but he apparently rose quickly through the ranks on the sea. The historian Mas’udi met him and described him as one of the best navigators of the time. Arabic sources list Leo as commander or admiral, as well as the governor of Tripoli and deputy-governor of Tarsus. Both Tripoli and Tarsus were important Muslim strategic cent...

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