Syria

empire, damascus, antioch, jerusalem, province, arabs, kingdom, lasted, palestine and eastern

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After the battle of Ipsus (Ex. 301), Syria, with the exception at first of Ceele-Syria aud Palestine, fell to the share of Seleucus Nicator, and henceforth it became the central portion of the kingdom of the Seleucklm, the usual abode of the kings beiog at its capital, Antioch. The empire of the Seleucidx was destroyed, and Syria was declared a Roman province by Pompey in the year R.C. 65. The email district of Commagene was left for a time under its own.princes. During the civil wars of Rome, Syria suffered much from the conflicts of the two parties, the power of native robbers, and the incursions of the Parthians, end it was not till the reign of Augustus that it became quietly settled as a part of the Roman empire. It was governed by a proconsul, who commonly resided at Antioch. In the year A.D. 6, upon the banishment of Archelaus, Judaea and Samaria were added to the province of Syria, to which they henceforth belonged, with a short interruption during the reign of Herod Agrippa L Under the Ciesare, Syria was one of the most populous, flourishing, and luxurious provinces of the empire. It had a considerable com merce, and formed indeed the emporium which connected the eastern and western quarters of the' world. Hadrian, upon his accession (A.D. 117), fixed the eastern boundary of the empire at the Euphrates, and henceforth the frontier province of Syria was exposed to repeated inroads, first from the Parthiane, and afterwards from the Persians. The province was overrun and almost subdued by Sapor (A.n. 258), from whom it was rescued by the Arab Odenathue (261.264), who was raised to a share in the empire by Gallienns. Odenathus was murdered by a cousin or nephew, with the consent of his wife, the celebrated Zenobia. in 266. The attempt of Zenobia to establish an independent sovereignty in the eastern part of the empire led to her defeat and capture by Aurelian (273).

At the end of the 3rd century, and in the 4th, the Saracens, or Arabs of the Desert, began to appear sometimes in the legions, but oftener among the enemies of Rome. In the reign of Phocas, Chosroes IL, after reducing Mesopotamia and the neighbouring states, crossed the Euphrates, reduced Hierapolie, Chalcis, and Beroea, and finally Antioch, which he almost completely destroyed in 611. Hera°. lit's, who had obtained the empire in 610, took the field in 622 against Choeroes, who had in the meantime conquered not only Syria, but also Palestine (614), and had overrun Egypt and Asia Minor (616). In a series of brilliant campaigns, Ileraclius repeatedly defeated Chosroes, and at last drove him beyond the Tigris (627), and Slices, his son (and, by the murder of his father, his successor) made a treaty of peace with Hemline (628), one of the conditions of which was the restoration of the 'true cross,' which hail been carried Into Persia after the sacking of Jerusalem in 614. But this brilliant recovery of the eastern provinces was only the prelude to their final loss nnder the same emperor.

Mohammed, at the head of the Arabs, had taken a few towns of Syria (630), and his successor, Abu Bekr, had scarcely mounted the throne when he sent a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, calling them to the invasion of Syria (632). A large army of Saracens assembled at Medina, whence they marched into Syria under the nominal command of Abu Obeydah, but virtually led by the fierce Khaled, 'the sword of Allah.' They first attacked Roars, on the east

of the Jordan, which was betrayed by the governor Romanne. They then laid siege to Damascus (033). The defence was obstinate; and in the meantime Heraelites had assembled sn army of 70,000 men at Emcee, under the command of his general, Virden. The armies met at Aixnadin—the Greeks were utterly routed, and the Arabs returned to the siege of Damascus, which fell, after an obstinate resistance, in 634, about July or August. After some irregular exploits, the conquest of the country was carried on by the reduction first of Heliopolis and Ernest, and then of other important towns. In the meanwhile Heraclius had prepared for a last effort in defence of Syria. An army of 80,000 men, brought from the different provinces of the empire, with a light-armed force of 60,000 Christian Arabs, encountered the Mohammedans on the banks of the river Yermuk ; but few Christians escaped from the field of battle (634). Hence forward the conquest proceeded with but little opposition. The sacred character of Jerusalem procured for it an honourable capitu lation, which the khalif Omar himself came from Medina to receive (637). Aleppo submitted, but the castle offered an obstinate resist ance, and was taken by surprise; and Antioch purchased its safety at the expence of obedience and 300,000 pieces of gold (638). In the same year Herodias fled from Antioch to Constantinople, and, after a show of resistance at Cwsarea by Constantine, his eldest son, the province was abandoned to the Saracens, to whom the remaining cities at once submitted.

Under the Ummeysha, or Ommaiades, the seat of government was at Damascus, whither it was removed from Kura by Moswiya, who reigned from 656 to 679, bat it lost this distinction in 740, when the Abmidlis took up their residence at Baghdad. Syria was subjected, together with Egypt. to the Turkish usurper Abmed Ebn e' Tooloon, whose dynasty lasted from 868 to 906, when the khalif Moktafee recovered both countries; and afterwards to another Turkish usurper, Aklished Mohammed Ebn Tughg (936), whose dynasty lasted till 970, when Moez, a successor of Mandee, conquered Egypt, and soon after wards Syria, as far as Damascus, and founded the dynasty of the Fatimite khalifs, whose capital was at Cairo. In 1076 invaded Syria and Palestine, took Damascus and Jerusalem, and established an independent kingdom under the princes of the house of Ortok. The khalif Moatali retook Jerusalem in 1096, but lost it again, with a large portion of Syria, in the first crusade, at the close of which the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem was established, which included the ancient Palestine and a tract of country round Antioch. This kingdom lasted from 1099, the year in which the Crusaders took Jerusalem, to 1187, when Salah-ed-Deen (Saladin) recovered it. His dynasty, the Eyoobites, lasted till 1250, when it was destroyed in Egypt and Damascus by the revolt of the Baharite Memlooks. Seif ed-Deen, the sultan of Aleppo, great-grandson of Salah-ed-Deen, recovered Damascus; but he was overthrown and slain iu an invasion of the Moguls from Persia in 1260.

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