Post-classical history

§ A Military Revolt against ‘Abbas

As for the unrest that broke out in Egypt and the victory of ‘Abbas over the Egyptian army during it, it happened like this. Once he had done what he did to the sons of al-Hafiz (may God have mercy upon him), the hearts of the people were hardened against him and they nursed in them hostility and spite. So now those daughters of al-Hafiz remaining in the palace wrote to that cavalier of the Muslims, Ibn Ruzzik74 (may God have mercy upon him), urging him to assist them. So he assembled his troops and set out from his province, making for Cairo. By the order of ‘Abbas, the fleet was repaired and stocked with provisions, weapons and cash. He then took charge of the troops, ordering them to mount up and march with him. That was on Thursday, 10 Safar in the year’ 49 (26 April 1154). He ordered his son Nasr to remain in Cairo, and told me, ‘You stay with him.’

When ‘Abbas had left his palace, on his way to confront Ibn Ruzzik, the army conspired against him and bolted the gates of Cairo shut. The combat between us and them took place in the streets and alleyways: their cavalry would fight us in the high-street, their infantry peppering us with arrows and stones from the roof-tops. Women and children threw stones at us from windows. The fighting between us lasted from early morning until late in the afternoon. In the end, ‘Abbas was victorious over the Egyptian troops, and they opened the gates of Cairo and fled. But ‘Abbas pursued them into the hinterland and killed those he could. He then returned to his palace and regained command of things.75

[23] He also ordered the quarter of Barqiya76 to be razed, because it was where many of the soldiers’ houses were located. But I managed to calm him down about that and said, ‘My lord, if you set a fire, you will burn both what you want burned and what you don’t want burned, and you won’t know how to put it out.’ In this way, I changed his mind about it. I also secured safe-conduct from him for the amir al-Mu’taman ibn Abi Ramada after he had ordered his death. I conveyed an apology for him, and ‘Abbas pardoned his crime.

And so that outburst of unrest was quieted. But the whole incident had surprised ‘Abbas, and made him clearly aware of the hostility of the army and the amirs towards him, and that he could no longer live among them. So he made up his mind to leave Egypt and head for Syria to Nur al-Din (may God have mercy upon him) to ask him for assistance.

Messengers now shuttled back and forth between those who were in the palace and Ibn Ruzzik. Ever since I arrived in Egypt, there had been a warm friendship and intimate fellowship between me and Ibn Ruzzik (may God have mercy upon him). So he sent a messenger to me to say, ‘‘Abbas can no longer remain in Egypt. He’ll go instead to Syria, so I now rule the country. You know what there is between me and you, so don’t go with him. For he will need you in Syria, and he will want you and try to take you with him. I beg you, for God’s sake, please do not accompany him. You are my partner in everything good that I might be granted.’

And yet, it was as if demons had whispered to ‘Abbas what he said, or else he suspected it anyway because of what he knew of the friendship between me and Ibn Ruzzik.

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