Harun al-Rashid

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Harun al-Rashid

?763--809 ad, Abbasid caliph of Islam (786--809), whose court at Baghdad was idealized in the Arabian Nights

Harun al-Rashid

 

Born February 766 in Ray; died Mar. 24, 809, in Tus. Caliph from 786. Member of the Abbasid dynasty.

Harun came to power with the aid of the Barmecide family, which represented the interests of the Iranian feudal aristocracy. Until the fall of the Barmecides in 803, the family provided Ha-run’s viziers and largely controlled the affairs of the caliphate. From 803 he ruled alone.

Under Harun the Baghdad Caliphate made great progress in agriculture, crafts, trade, and the arts, especially literature. At the same time, however, signs of the decline of the caliphate appeared: antigovernment uprisings took place in Deylam, Syria, and other regions. Harun continued the struggle that his predecessors had begun against Byzantium. He died during a military campaign undertaken to crush the Rafi ibn Leis Uprising in Middle Asia.

The idealized image of Harun popularized by the tales of A Thousand and One Nights has been proved false by the Soviet Orientalist V. V. Bartol’d.