Account of the war with Firásha.

When the news of the death of Sálim reached the Caliph, he was greatly vexed, and despatched another army of 10,000 men under an Amír named Firásha against Tabaristán, at the same time sending messages to Khálid-i-Barmakí, Ward-i-Aṣfar (“Yellow Rose”) and Ḥammád at Ray, bidding them afford him any help of which he might stand in need. So Firásha, re-inforced by further levies, advanced to ´Aram, meeting with no resistance, for Wandád Hurmuzd had ordered that none should oppose them or contest their advance, so that they might wax bold and careless (f. 91a). He himself retired to Kúlá, near which, at Gawázúnú, he constructed two great dykes (dar-band), one above and one below. Then he sent to the Ispahbad Shar­wín, who was at Parím and Kamímnám, bidding him come and help him; but Sharwín delayed and procrastinated so that Firásha was convinced of his weakness and helpless­ness. Wandád Hurmuzd had prepared 400 trumpets and 400 drums, and he assembled at Gawázúnú all his kinsmen and trusted warriors, whom he drew up in two ranks, with 4000 of his people, both men and women, to each of whom he gave an axe. He then explained to them his plan, which was that he himself should advance a little way towards the enemy with a hundred men, but that as soon as he had been seen by Firásha and his troops, he should fall back, followed by the enemy, whom he would thus lure within the two silent lines of his followers. Then, when they were all within the ambush, he would beat a drum; and at this sign all his followers were to begin to blow the 400 trumpets, beat the 400 drums, and fell trees with the 4000 axes. All this was duly carried out; and when the troops of Firásha heard this turmoil and uproar, they were filled with consternation, and were easily routed. Firásha himself was taken captive, and brought before the Ispahbad, who ordered his head to be struck off, and him­self put on his cloak, cap, belt and sword; but quarter was accorded to the remaining prisoners. At this juncture the Ispahbad Sharwín arrived, and was given one third of the spoils (f. 91b). Wandád Hurmuzd related to his son Qárin that he had dreamed that he slew a wolf; that after this another wolf came and was also slain by him; that there­after a leopard came, and he slew it, cut off its head, and clothed himself in its skin; and that last of all a lion came and grappled with him, and wounded him with its claws, until at last with a great effort he freed himself from it. The first wolf was Taym b. Sinán; the second, Khalífa b. Mihrán; the leopard, in whom skin Wandád clothed him­self, was Firásha; and the lion was Yazíd b. Marthad.

When the news of Firásha’s death reached the Caliph al-Mahdí, he sent to Ṭabaristán Rúḥ b. Ḥátim, a tyrant of evil life, concerning whose dismissal from office Abú Jaysh al-Hilálí said:

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He was succeeded by Khálid b. Barmak, who maintained friendly relations with Wandád Hurmuzd, and allowed him to possess the highlands in peace. When he was dismissed and was leaving ´Amul, a tradesman who was standing near at hand said, “Praise be to God that we are delivered from thy tyranny.” This was reported to Khálid, who caused the tradesman to be brought before him, and reproached him and struck off his head. Thence he proceeded to Sárí, where the people came out to meet him with presents; and he abode there for a time, bestowing many gifts on the people.

He was succeeded by 'Amr b. 'Alá, who fought with Wandád Hurmuzd, took from him his highland domains (f. 92a), and pressed him so hard that he was unable to dwell any longer in the cultivated lands, but was driven into the forests. So his affairs continued to grow worse, until one day one of his followers was taken captive and brought before 'Amr b. 'Alá, who ordered him to be beheaded; but the man prayed for mercy, promising in return to bring the Amír the head of Wandád Hurmuzd. The Amír asked what surety he proposed to give for the due performance of his promise. “This blanket,” replied the man, “which I wear on my back.” The Amír laughed and said, “If he is faithful to his promise, it will be like the bow of Hájib b. Zurára at-Tamímí and Kisrá.” Concerning this story, which is well known and need not be repeated here, a poet says:


“And I,” added the Amír, “will deal with him as Kisrá dealt with Ḥájib b. Zurára.” So they kept him a prisoner as they advanced, until he said, “Do you remain here that I may go and get news and return.” So he went away, and Wandád Hurmuzd prepared an ambush for the Muslims and slew most of them. 'Amr b. 'Alá escaped with a few followers, and the Caliph al-Mahdí, angered at his defeat, sent Taym b. Sinán, who made peace with Wandád Hurmuzd.

Then the Caliph sent Yazíd b. Marthad, who fought against Wandád Hurmuzd, conquered him, slew many of his followers, and occupied the whole country; till finally, meeting him in single combat, he wounded him severely, and Wandád Hurmuzd, accompanied only by a few followers, became a fugitive in the forests.

After this the Caliph al-Mahdí sent his son Músá al-Hádí to Gurgán, and to him Wandád Hurmuzd surrendered on promise of pardon; whereupon Músá wrote to Yazíd b. Marthad bidding him give up the highlands to him. Thence, taking Wandád Hurmuzd with him, he marched back through 'Iráq to Baghdad. On the way thither he received news of the death of his father al-Mahdí; so he hastened on to Baghdad and was formally invested with the title of Caliph. Soon afterwards the younger brother of Wandád Hurmuzd (f. 92b) Wandásafán beheaded Bahrám b. Fírúz, who, at the Caliph’s persuasion, had embraced Islám. The Caliph thereupon summoned Wandád Hurmuzd before him and ordered him to be beheaded at once; but he craved mercy, declaring that his brother’s sole object in killing the Caliph’s servant was to rid himself of him, since he reckoned on the Caliph avenging himself on Wandád-Hurmuzd, and hoped thereby to inherit the highlands of Ṭabaristán. “Therefore,” he concluded, “if the Caliph desires that he should attain his object, let him kill me; but if not, let him send me to bring him or his head to the Caliph.” Both 'Isá b. Máhán and Murád b. Muslim were present, and both exclaimed: “Why should the Commander of the Faithful forbid this? This is the best plan.” So the Caliph despatched Wandád Hurmuzd with a robe of honour and the necessary equipment. On reaching Ṭabaristán, he prostrated himself on the earth in thankfulness, and sent a message to Wandásafán bidding him keep in hiding and avoid him at all hazards; and he continued to pretend to pursue him till, on one night, Músá al-Hádí died, Hárúnu`r-Rashíd became Caliph, and al-Ma`mún was born.

Harúnu`r-Rashíd was an obstinate, warlike, masterful and self-willed Caliph, and he despatched Sulaymán b. Músá to Ṭabaristán, where he was governor for eight months, when he was replaced by Hádí b. Hání, a mild and just governor, who maintained friendly relations with Wandád Hurmuzd, and kept the country tranquil and quiet. He was succeeded by 'Abdu`lláh b. Qaḥṭaba, and he in turn by 'Uthmán b. Nahík, who built the Great Mosque of ´Amul. Next came Sa'íd b. Salma b. Qutayba b. Muslim, who was replaced after six months by Ḥammál and 'Abdu`lláh, the sons of 'Abdu`l-'Azíz. Ten months later, in A. H. 179 (= A. D. 795—6) these were superseded by Muthanná b. al-Ḥajjáj (f. 93a), who remained one year, and repaired the walls of ´Amul and Sárí, which were afterwards destroyed by Máz­yár. And after him came 'Abdu`lláh b. Ḥázim.