Text #3156

Fredegar. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar
[Fred. Chron. 66. Translated by John Michael Wallace-Hadrill. Oxford University Press. 1960 pp. 54--55]

The race of Hagar, who are also called Saracens as the book of Orosius attests1 – a circumcised people who of old had lived beneath the Caucasus on the shores of the Caspian in a country known as Ercolia2 – this race had grown so numerous that at last they took up arms and threw themselves upon the provinces of the Emperor Heraclius, who despatched an army to hold them. In the ensuing battle the Saracens were the victors and cut the vanquished to pieces. The story goes that the Saracens killed in this engagement 150,000 men; then they sent a deputation to Heraclius with an offer to send him the spoils of battle; but he would accept nothing because of his desire for vengeance on the Saracens. He raised a great force throughout the imperial provinces and sent representatives to the Caspian Gates, which the Macedonian Alexander the Great3 had built of brass above the Caspian Sea and had shut to check invasion by the untamed barbarians living beyond the Caucasus. Heraclius ordered these gates to be opened, and through them poured 150,000 mercenary warriors to fight the Saracens. The latter, under two commanders, were approximately 200,000 strong. The two forces had camped quite near one another and were ready for an engagement on the following morning. But during that very night the army of Heraclius was smitten by the sword of the Lord: 52,000 of his men died where they slept.4 When, on the following day, at the moment of joining battle, his men saw that so large a part of their force had fallen by divine judgement, they no longer dared advance on the Saracens but all retired whence they came. The Saracens proceeded - as was their habit - to lay waste the provinces of the empire that had fallen to them. They were already approaching Jerusalem. Heraclius felt himself impotent to resist their assault and on his desolation was a prey to inconsolable grief. The unhappy king abandoned the Christian faith for the heresy of Eutyches5 and married his sister’s daughter6. He finished his days in agony, tormented with fever7. He was succeeded by his son Constantine, in whose reign the Roman Empire was cruelly ravaged by the Saracens.

  1. It does not. Krusch suggests reading Hieronymi for Orosiae; cf. Book II, chap 2. [OF]

  2. Colchis? (Krusch) [OF]

  3. Jordanes confirms this, Getica, chap. 7 § 50 (ed. Mommsen, M.G.H. Auct. Ant. V, p.67). [OF]

  4. Battle of the Yarmūk (636) [OF]

  5. more exactly, Monothelitism, derived from the heresy of Eutyches [OF]

  6. Martina, daughter of his sister Mary [OF]

  7. 11 February 641 [OF]

Text #7017

"Battle of Yarmouk", in Wikipedia.

The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the army of the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate. The battle consisted of a series of engagements that lasted for six days in August 636, near the Yarmouk River, along what today are the borders of Syria-Jordan and Syria-Israel, east of the Sea of Galilee.

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