Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/179

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ing that century the followers of the Prophet had torn away half the Roman empire; and besides their conquests over Persia, the Saracens had overrun Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, in an uncheckered and apparently irresistible career of victory. Nor, at the commencement of the eighth century of our era, was the Mohammedan world divided against itself, as it subsequently became. All these vast regions obeyed the caliph; throughout them all, from the Pyrenees to the Oxus, the name of Mohammed was invoked in prayer, and the Koran revered as the book of the law.

It was under one of their ablest and most renowned commanders, with a veteran army, and with every apparent advantage of time, place, and circumstance, that the Arabs made their great effort at the conquest of Europe north of the Pyrenees. The victorious Moslem soldiery in Spain,

"A countless multitude; Syrian, Moor, Saracen, Greek renegade, Persian, and Copt, and Tartar, in one bond Of erring faith conjoined—strong in the youth And heat of zeal—a dreadful brotherhood,"

were eager for the plunder of more Christian cities and shrines, and full of fanatic confidence in the invincibility of their arms.

Nor were the chiefs Of victory less assured, by long success Elate, and proud of that overwhelming strength Which, surely they believed, as it had rolled Thus far uncheck'd, would roll victorious on, Till, like the Orient, the subjected West Should bow in reverence at Mohammed's name; And pilgrims from remotest Arctic shores Tread with religious feet the burning sands Of Araby and Mecca's stony soil.

Southey's Roderick.

It is not only by the modern Christian poet, but by the old Arabian chroniclers also, that these feelings of ambition and arrogance are attributed to the Moslems who had overthrown the Visigoth power in Spain. And their eager expectations of new wars were excited to the utmost on the reappointment by the caliph of Abderrahman Ibn Abdillah Alghafeki to the government of that country, A.D. 729, which restored them a general who had signalized his skill and prowess during the conquests of