Post-classical history

§ On Reason and Governance: The Cases of Shayzar and Diyar Bakr

Here is an example of that. Roger, the lord of Antioch, sent a messenger to my uncle saying, ‘I have dispatched one of my knights on an important errand in Jerusalem. I ask you to send your cavalry to escort him from Apamea to Rafaniya.’

The knight in question then rode out and sent a message on to my uncle. When he finally met him, the knight said to my uncle, ‘My lord has sent me on an errand of his, which is a secret matter. But I can see that you are a rational man, so I’ll tell you about it.’

‘But how do you know I’m so rational if you’ve never seen me before?’ asked my uncle.

‘Because’, the knight replied, ‘I noted that the lands ‘I passed through are in ruins, while your lands are prosperous. I knew that you could not have caused them to prosper except through your reason and good governance.’ He then told him the purpose of his journey.152

Another case was reported to me by the amir Fadl ibn Abi al-Hayja’, the lord of Irbil: ‘Abu al-Hayja’153 related a story to me, saying:

The sultan Malikshah, when he arrived in Syria, sent me on a mission to the amir Ibn Marwan,154 the lord of Diyar Bakr. I was to tell him, ‘I need thirty thousand dinars.’ So I met [88] with Ibn Marwan and repeated my message to him. He replied, ‘Take a rest, and then we’ll talk.’ The next morning, he ordered his servants to admit me into his bath-house, sending me the various bath-house accessories, all of them of silver, as well as a change of clothes. They told my valet, ‘These accessories are your property.’ But when I left the bath, I put on my own clothes and returned all the bath-things to Ibn Marwan. He let me alone for a few days, then ordered me again to be admitted into the bath, with no ill-will that I had returned his things. They now brought to me in the bath a set of accessories even finer than the first set, and a change of clothes even finer than the first suit, and Ibn Marwan’s valet told my valet the same thing he told him before. But when I left the bath-house, I put on my own clothes and returned the bath-things and the clothes. So Ibn Marwan let me alone for three or four days, then admitted me once again into his bath, his servants bringing to me accessories and a change of clothes that were even finer than before. But when I came out, I just put on my own clothes and returned the lot.

When I presented myself before the amir, he asked me, ‘Tell me, son, I sent you clothes which you would not wear, bath accessories which you would not accept, and you returned them. What’s behind all this?’ I said, ‘My lord, I have come with a message from the sultan on an errand that has not yet been completed. Am I to accept all those things that you were kind enough to give and return home without having accomplished the sultan’s errand, as if I only came here for my own needs?’ ‘Son,’ he replied, ‘didn’t you notice the prosperity of my lands, their many beauties and gardens, their numerous peasant-farmers and prosperous villages? Do you really think I would risk the ruin of all that for the sake of thirty thousand dinars? By God, I had that gold packaged up for you the day you arrived. I was only waiting for the sultan to pass out of my lands, after which you would rejoin him with the money; for I was afraid that if I gave him then what he demanded, he would demand even more from me when he approached my lands. So don’t you trouble your heart about it: your business is done.’ Then he had the three changes of clothes sent to me – the ones he had already sent to me but which I had returned – with all of the bath accessories that he had sent to me over those three bath visits, and I accepted it all. Once the sultan had moved on from Diyar Bakr, he gave me the money and I carried it off and, bearing it with me, I rejoined the sultan.

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