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Книга Famous Men of The Middle Ages. Содержание - Harun-al-Rashid Caliph from 786-809 A.D.

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"Long live Charles Augustus, Emperor of the Romans."

The people assembled in the church shouted the same words; and so Charlemagne was now emperor of the Western Roman Empire, as well as king of the Franks[1].

Charlemagne built a splendid palace at Aix-la-Chapelle (aks-la-shap-el'), a town in Germany , where perhaps he was born.

Charlemagne was a tall man, with long, flowing beard, and of noble appearance. He dressed in very simple style; but when he went into battle he wore armor, as was the custom for kings and nobles, and often for ordinary soldiers in his day.

Armor was made of leather or iron, or both together. There was a helmet of iron for the head, and a breastplate to cover the breast, or a coat of mail to cover the body. The coat of mail was made of small iron or steel rings linked together, or fastened on to a leather shirt. Coverings for the legs and feet were often attached to the coat.


Charlemagne was a great king in may other ways besides the fighting of battles. He did much for the good of his people. He made many excellent laws and appointed judges to see that the laws were carried out. He established schools and placed good teachers in charge of them. He had a school in his palace for his own children, and he employed as their teacher a very learned Englishman named Alcuin (al'-kwin).

In those times few people could read or write. There were not many schools anywhere, and in most places there were none at all. Even the kings had little education. Indeed, few of them could write their own names, and most of them did not care about sending their children to school. They did not think that reading or writing was of much use; but thought that it was far better for boys to learn to be good soldiers, and for girls to learn to spin and weave.

Charlemagne had a very different opinion. He was fond of learning; and whenever he heard of a learned man, living in any foreign country, he tried to get him to come and live in Frankland.

The fame of Charlemagne as a great warrior and a wise emperor spread all over the world. Many kings sent messengers to him to ask his friendship, and bring him presents. Harun-al-Rashid (hah-roon'-al-rash'-eed), the famous caliph, who lived at Bagdad , in Asia , sent him an elephant and a clock which struck the hours.

The Franks were much astonished at the sight of the elephant; for they had never seen one before. They also wondered much at the clock. In those days there were in Europe no clocks such as we have; but water-clocks and hour-glasses were used in some places. The water-clock was a vessel into which water was allowed to trickle. It contained a float which pointed to a scale of hours at the side of the vessel. The float gradually rose as the water trickled in.

The hour-glasses measured time by the falling of fine sand from the top to the bottom of a glass vessel made with a narrow neck in the middle for the sand to go through. They were like the little glasses called egg-timers, which are used for measuring the time for boiling eggs.

Charlemagne died in 814. He was buried in the church which he had built at Aix-la-Chapelle . His body was placed in the tomb, seated upon a grand chair, dressed in royal robes, with a crown on the head, a sword at the side, and a Bible in the hands.

This famous emperor is known in history as Charlemagne, which is the French word for the German name Karl der Grosse (Charles the Great), the name by which he was called at his own court during his life. The German name would really be a better name for him; for he was a German, and German was the language that he spoke. The common name of his favorite residence, Aix-la-Chapelle , also is French, but he knew the place as Aachen (a'-chen).

The great empire which Charlemagne built up held together only during the life of his son. Then it was divided among his three grandsons. Louis took the eastern part, Lothaire (Lo-thaire') took the central part, with the title of emperor, and Charles took the western part.

Harun-al-Rashid Caliph from 786-809 A.D.


The most celebrated of all Mohammedan caliphs was Harun-al-Rashid, which means, in English, Aaron the Just. Harun is the hero of several of the stories of the "Arabian Nights, " a famous book, which perhaps you have read. There are many curious and wonderful tales in it.

When Harun was only eighteen years old he showed such courage and skill as a soldier that his father, who was then caliph, allowed him to lead an army against the enemies of the Mohammedans; and he won many great victories.

He afterwards commanded an army of ninety-five thousand Arabs and Persians, sent by his father to invade the Eastern Roman Empire, which was then ruled by the Empress Irene (i-re'-ne). After defeating Irene's famous general, Nicetas (ni-ce'-tas), Harun marched his army to Chrysopolis (Chrys-op'-o-lis), now Scutari (skoo'-ta-re), on the Asiatic coast, opposite Constantinople . He encamped on the heights, in full view of the Roman capital.

The Empress saw that the city would certainly by taken by the Moslems. She therefore sent ambassadors to Harun to arrange terms; but he sternly refused to agree to anything except immediate surrender.

Then one of the ambassadors said, "The Empress has heard much of your ability as a general. Though you are her enemy, she admires you as a soldier."

These flattering words were pleasing to Harun. He walked to and fro in front of his tent and then spoke again to the ambassadors.

"Tell the Empress, " he said, "that I will spare Constantinople if she will pay me seventy thousand pieces of gold as a yearly tribute. If the tribute is regularly paid Constantinople shall not be harmed by any Moslem force."

The Empress had to agree to these terms. She paid the first year's tribute; and soon the great Moslem army set out on its homeward march.

When Harun was not quite twenty-one years old he became caliph.

He began his reign by appointing very able ministers, who carried on the work of the government so well that they greatly improved the condition of the people.

Harun built a palace in Bagdad , far grander and more beautiful than that of any caliph before him. Here he established his court and lived in great splendor, attended by hundreds of courtiers and slaves.

He was very anxious that his people should be treated justly by the officers of the government; and he was determined to find out whether any had reason to complain. So he sometimes disguised himself at night and went about through the streets and bazaars, listening to the talk of those whom he met and asking them questions. In this way he learned whether the people were contented and happy, or not.



the emperors of Constantinople still called themselves Roman Emperors, and still claimed Italy, Germany and France as parts of their empire, though really their authority had not been respected in these countries for more than 300 years.

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