Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Abbas ibn al-Walid

‘Abbas ibn al-Walid (d. 750) was an Umayyad general who fought against the Byzantines.  He was thrown into prison by the last Umayyad Caliph Marwan II and died in 750. 
‘Abbas ibn al-Walīd was an Umayyad Arab prince and general, the son of Caliph al-Walid I (r. 705–715). A distinguished military leader in the Byzantine–Arab Wars of the early 8th century, especially in partnership with his uncle Maslamah ibn Abd al-Malik, he became involved in the civil wars of the mid-740s and was imprisoned. He died in prison of an epidemic in 750.

Little is known about 'Abbas's early life, and Arab and Byzantine sources are often at odds concerning details of his career. He first appears in the 707 campaign against the important Byzantine fortress of Tyana in Cappadocia, where he led the Arab army alongside his uncle Maslamah. The town withstood a long siege over the winter of 707–708, and surrendered only after a Byzantine relief army was defeated in the Spring. During the latter battle, 'Abbas is said by Arab chroniclers to have distinguished himself for the crucial role he played in stopping the wavering Arabs from fleeing and driving them on to victory.

'Abbas participated regularly in the almost annual expeditions launched into Byzantine Asia Minor. His most notable campaigns were the capture of Sebaste in Cilicia in 712 and of Antioch in Pisidia in 713, the raid into Paphlagonia in 721 where he is reported to have captured 20,000 prisoners, and a raid, placed in 722/723 but possibly reflecting an earlier campaign, that captured a fortress called Siza. In 720, along with his uncle Maslamah, he led the suppression of the revolt of the governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab.

During the reign of the unpopular Al-Walid II (r. 743–744), 'Abbas was initially reluctant to oppose the caliph and counselled against provoking a civil war. In the end, however, he participated in the conspiracy and coup that deposed al-Walid and brought his brother Yazid III to the throne. Neither Yazid nor his brother Ibrahim I lasted long on the throne, which fell to the general Marwan ibn Muhammad (r. 744–750). Marwan had 'Abbas thrown into prison in Harran, where he died of a disease in 750.

Alternative names include:

'Abbas ibn al-Walid
al-'Abbas ibn al-Walid
Ibn al-Walid

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