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Buyids in Baghdad - 946-1055

The half century which followed on the return of the Caliphs to Baghdad, and which preceded the advent of the Buyids, witnessed the building of the great palaces (including the Mosque of the Caliph) in the southern part of East Baghdad along the river bank. These palaces, it will be remembered, lay immediately to the south of the Gate of the Tuesday Market in the city wall which Musta'in had built, and East Baghdad before long was thus almost doubled in area. During the transition period, the older wall which went in a semicircle round the three northern quarters of Rusafah, Shammasiyah, and Mukharrim, must either have been purposely destroyed, or else allowed to fall to ruin, for the new quarters, which ultimately sprang up round the Palaces of the Firdus, the Hasanl, and the Taj, in part overlapped the Mukharrim. In the early years of the fourth century (which began A. D. 912), the walls of the City of Mansur in West Baghdad had likewise fallen to complete ruin, as also the two Palaces of the Golden Gate and the Khuld, the ground here as time went on being taken up by the new quarters that came to surround the Basrah Gate and the gate known as the Bab-al-Muhawwal, on the great highroad leading west towards Anbar from the Kufah Gate of the Round City.

The Turk body-guard, since the return of the Caliphs from Samarra, had lost all power, and in 334 (AD 946) the third of the periods into which it has been found convenient to divide the history of the Abbasids began, its outset being marked by the advent of the Buyid Prince Mu'izz-ad-Dawlah in Baghdad. The period of the Buyid supremacy lasted for rather more than a century, and was characterized by the erection of many fine buildings in the capital of the Caliphate. The Buyid princes were Persian by descent and Shi'ah by sympathy; they had subjugated both Mesopotamia and the region now known as Persia, where various members of the family occupied the provincial governments, while from this date onward the prince, who was recognized as head of the house, as a rule made Baghdad his residence, and from this centre of authority controlled the Caliph, and in his name sought to dominate all Eastern Islam.

The Buyid princes built their palaces in East Baghdad, on the ground formerly occupied by the Shammasiyah and part of the Mukharrim Quarter; and these palaces, which their successors the Saljuk princes took over and enlarged, were known by the general name of the Dar-as-Saltanah (the Abode of the Sultanate). They were begun under Muizz-ad-Dawlah, the Buyid who especially had entitled himself to the lasting gratitude of the people of Baghdad by erecting the huge dyke which, when kept in repair, prevented the inundation of the city by the flooding of the streams flowing out into the Tigris at the Shammasiyah lowlands. At a later date, his nephew and successor 'Adud-ad-Dawlah built the hospital in West Baghdad on the ruins of the Khuld Palace, and this for three centuries was a school of medical science, which became famous throughout the East under the name of the Bimaristan 'Adudi (the Hospital of 'Adud-ad-Dawlah). 'Adud-ad-Dawlah had died in Baghdad during the year 372 (AD 982), and he was buried (as all good Shi'ahs should be) at Mashhad 'AH, the celebrated shrine on the Euphrates where the grave of the Caliph 'Ali was said to have been made.

After the death of 'Adud-ad-Dawlah the Buyid power declined, and a period of internecine war followed, which only ended in 447 (AD 1055), when Tughril Beg the Saljuk, after suppressing the last Buyid prince, became master of Baghdad. With him begins the period of the Saljuk supremacy (the fourth period in the history of the Abbasids), which lasted about a century, and is celebrated for the acts and deeds of Alp Arslan and Malik Shah. The Saljuks were of the Turk race (the Buyids had been Persians), and unlike their predecessors, the Saljuk princes for the most part did not reside in Baghdad, but maintained here a deputy in their stead. He acted as their Lieutenant-Governor of Mesopotamia, and resided permanently at Baghdad, occupying the Buyid Palace now generally called the Palace of the Sultan. In other words Baghdad, during Saljuk times, was no longer even nominally the seat of government in Islam.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:48:28 ZULU