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[p. 416-424]


(1226-1286 A.D.)

Ghrighuriyus Abu-l-Faraj, from Melitene (alias Abul-farajus or Barhebraeus). A learned man of Jewish descent. Later on a bishop and Maphrian of the Syrian Jacobite Church (1264 - 1286 A.D.).

Baumstark 312 ss.; El (s.v.)

[p. 417] His most important work is a chronicle in three parts, written in Syriac.

1.) Chronicon Syriacum

Ed. and Latin transl.: Bruns-Kirsch, Leipzig 1789; P. Bedjan, Paris 1890.

Arabic enriched summary of this part written by Barhebraeus himself: Mukhtasar duwal al-mulūk (A Compendious History of the Dynasties). Ed. and Latin transl.: E. Pocock, Oxford 1663; A. Ṣalhānī, Beirut 1890.

T.: Pocock and Ṣalhānī A:4

2.) - 3.) Chronicon Ecclesiasticum

Ed. and Latin transl.: J.B. Abeloos - Th.J. Lamy, 3 vols, Louvain 1872 - 1877. Engl, transl.: E. A. Wallis Budge, The Chronography of Barhebraeus, London 1932.

T.: Abeloos-Lamy and Budge S: 4 and Budge

1.) From: "The History of the Dynasties"

[Under the reign of Emperor Constantine]. The Christian religion continued to spread and prevail over the others, until most of the peoples who were neighbours of the Romans (ar-rūm) embraced it, from the Galicians (jalāliqa), the Slavs (saqāliba), the Bulgarians (burjān), the Russians (rūs), the Poles (al-lān), the Armenians (arman), the Georgians (kurj), all the peoples of Egypt (miṣr) from the Copts and others all branches (asnāf) of Negroes (as-sūdān) such as the Ḥabasha, the Nūba, and others. (Ṣalḥānī, p. 135; Pocock, p. 85).

[p. 418] 2.) From: Chronicon Ecclesiasticum

[The Evangelisation of Nubia]<ref>Barhebraeus repeats almost literally the account of John of Ephesus.</ref>

About the same time an Orthodox [Jacobite] priest, by name Julianus, who was living at Constantinople, ministering to Pope Theodosius (the patriarch) of Alexandria, was fired with zeal for the conversion of the black people of Nubia (Nabadis) which is on the borders of the Upper Thebaid. They were pagans and were seriously disturbing the lands of the Greeks. As he disclosed his plan to the faithful empress Theodora, she joyfully informed the emperor and asked him to arrange with her the mission of Julianus. But the emperor was determined to send a Chalcedonian bishop. The bishop actually appointed delegates, supplied with magnificent gifts for the king of Nubia (Nûbyâ). When she understood that, the empress sent out Julianus and, at the same time, wrote to the Duke of Thebaid in these terms: "I and the emperor have decided to send a mission to the people of Nubia. Now, the priest Julianus has been sent, by me, while the emperor has sent others with gifts. You must enable my own (delegate) to enter first before the others."

The Duke, having read the letter of the empress, acted according to her orders and delayed the delegates of the emperor until Julianus arrived, and showed him the letter of the empress. So he (Julianus) taught the Nubians, baptised the king and the dignitaries and informed them about the schism of the Chalcedonians, and told them how they (the Chalcedonians), having no regard for the holy men, had established a new faith different from that of Nicaea.

[p. 419] When the delegates of the emperor arrived with letters and gifts, and called on the Nubians to keep away from men who were excommunicated and condemned, the king of Nubia and the princes answered: "We accept the presents of the emperor and will send him ours in return; but we do not follow the persecutors and the blasphemous."

So, in this way, all the people of the Ethiopians (Kushâyê) were instructed in the Orthodox faith and came under the jurisdiction of the seat of Alexandria. Then Julianus remained there two years.

It is said that from the third to the tenth hour (of the day) he stood in a cavern full of water, naked except for a loin cloth, with only the upper part of the body emerging from the water, busily baptising. (Abeloos-Lamy, Chron. Eccl. Nr. 46, col. 230 - 234).

[The Visit of the Patriarch of Antioch to Egypt]

About Pope Joseph (the patriarch of Alexandria, 830 - 848 A.D.), and the bishops of Egypt, (Dionysius) says this: We found them (the Egyptian Jacobite clergy) chaste persons, sincere, humble and rich in the love of God: we were received with much great honour that (it seemed that) all the dignity due to the Patriarch in his own territory was transferred to us as long as we lived among them. (ibid., col. 376).

In the year 1146 (835 A.D.)... Patriarch Dionysius went down to Baghdād for the second time, to greet the Caliph Mu'tasim, who had succeeded his father (sic! = for brother) Ma'mun. There he found also the son of the king of the Nubians (Nûbyâ) who had come to pay his respect to the Caliph. (ibid., col. 334).

[p. 420] [Gîwargî’s Journey to Baghdād]

And in the year eleven-hundred and forty-seven (836 A.D.), Mu'tasim sent a message to the king of the Nebâdîs, that is to say the Nubians, (ordering him) to send tribute according to ancient use and want, and (telling him) that if he did not send (it), he would dispatch an army against him. And when the envoy arrived he found that the king of the Nubians was dead, and that a young man whose name was Gîwargî (George) who, on his mother's side, was descended from the royal stock, had risen up and that his father Zechariah was administering (the kingdom). Then when Zechariah saw that the Arabs were powerful, he said to the envoy: - "It is true that it is our duty to give tribute annually, viz. three hundred and sixty Moorish slaves, and baboons who can walk about and have been taught to imitate the ways and actions of men, and ostriches, that is to say, giraffes (?) and bones (i.e. tusks) of elephants and thongs of panther skins. But it was the duty of the king of the Arabs to send us tribute, such as a kûr of wheat and rich apparel, and that there should be someone responsible for the collection of contributions from the Nubians who dwell in the country of the Arabs. Now in as much as they have cut off (their tribute), we also have cut off (Ours). But because we have heard of the goodness of your king, and the greatness of his family, we will not discuss the matter with an ambassador, but our king shall go in person to do homage to him."

Then the envoy quickly sent a message and informed Mu'tasim. And he replied: - "Let him come." And he commanded the prefects of Egypt to go to meet him as far as the city of Siwānī (Aswān) which was on the frontier, and that when he came to Fusṭāṭ, he would give him as many camels as needed for his luggage, and thirty dinars [p. 421] each day for his expenses. And in this wise did Gîwargî travel in the country of the Arabs.

He was mounted on a camel with a saddle, and above him was a canopy (i.e. umbrella) covered with rich stuff which shaded him, and on his head was fixed a cross of gold, and in one hand was a staff (or scepter). And young Nubians marched on his right hand and on his left. And a bishop rode in front of him holding in his hands the redeeming cross; and there were horsemen and slaves round about him riding horses.

And when Gîwargî came down to Baghdād, he rode through the bazars, and alighted at one of the royal palaces. Then a certain Nubian, who used to collect the contribution of the Nubians who dwelt in the country of the Arabs, and who had rebelled against the king of the Nubians, and had embraced Islam, uttered calomnies concerning Gîwargî saying: - "This man Gîwargî is not the son of a king, but is an impostor." And for this reason Mu'tasim left Gîwargî in Baghdad, from the month of Shebhat (February) until the month of Āb (August) – until he had sent to Egypt and made enquiries. And when he was convinced that that rebel had told lies and that Gîwargî was in truth a king, he sent to fetch him and made his troops to go to meet him, and when Gîwargî had entered (his presence), he made him to sit down before him and welcomed him cordially. And he gave him abundant gifts, and sent him back again to his own country with honours. And Mar Dionysius, the patriarch says: "I was in Baghdād at that time, and after I had gone up to Mu'tasim in the new city which he had built between the two rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, he sent me, together with Suleiman, his physician, to go and meet the king of the Nubians. And when I had gone together with certain bishops and believing men, I saw an intelligent young man about [p. 422] twenty years old. And he informed me through an interpreter about his Orthodoxy, and how much he abhorred any mingling with heretics. And on the First Day of the week [Sunday] I offered up the offering and I made him to partake of it and his people. For they had with them the sacred vessels and the treasured objects (used during the celebration) of the Mysteries." (Budge, pp. 134 - 135).

[Saladin and the Capture of Ibrīm]

And about that time a great number of people from among the Nubians sallied out and they came as far (north) as the country of Sa'īd and plundered many villages. And Salaḥad-Dīn heard (of this) and sent an army there. And the Arabs met the Nubians in battle, and on both sides very many were killed: now the party of the Blacks was exceedingly strong. Then Salaḥad-Dīn sent his brother Shams ad-Dawlah with a numerous army, and when he went (there) the Nubians fled. And the Arabs pursued them and looted and killed, and they took possession of the fortress which is called Abrîm (i.e. Primis/Ibrim) and they stationed an Arab garrison therein. And when the army of the Arabs retreated, the Nubians returned and (re)cap-tured their fortress and the king of the Nubians sent an envoy to Shams ad-Dawla when he was in Kus (Qos) and begged for peace. Then Shams ad-Dawlah replied: - "There will be peace, if (thou) payest tribute." And he sent with the Nubian envoy an envoy of his own who was called Mas'ud, a man of Aleppo. And he departed and came to the royal city of the Nubians which is called Dūnūqlā (Dongola) and he saw a miserable country, and with the exception of millet, the inhabitants thereof had no other grain. And they had a few palms, and they ate bread (made) of their millet with their dates having [p. 423] nothing else. And there was in it one large building only, which was the palace of the king and the remainder of the natives of the town dwelt in huts (or booths) and caves.

Now the envoy said: - "One day I saw that the king of the Nubians went forth naked and he rode upon a horse which was similarly barebacked. And the king went about in a vestment of aṭlās (silk) cloth which was without seams, and his head, which was without hair, was uncovered. And when I drew nigh and saluted him he laughed with a chuckle, and he commanded and they burned a mark like a cross on my hand, and he gave me fifty litrê of grain and dismissed me." (ibid.)

[Nubian Eunuchs at Baghdad (Year 466 H./1073 A.D.)]

The rivers overflowed, and the waters poured forth from the houses of Baghdād, bursting through the earth and flowing out, and many great buildings were overthrown, and the people fled to the Western Quarter. And the waters entered the Quarter of the Khalifah by the Gate of the Nūbah that is to say of the Nubian eunuchs who were the guardians of that Gate. And the eunuchs and the handmaidens and all those who lived in the houses of that quarter fled... When the waters rose up under the bed of the Khalifah, he fled to the door, but could not find his way out. And a eunuch carried him out and placed him in a boat and thus they did with his wives, (ibid.)

[p. 424] Appendix

Barhebraeus reported (Abeloos-Lamy, Chron. Eccl. II, col. 653 - 664) that Patriarch Ignatius II of Antioch ordained an Ethiopian (ḥabashī) by name of Thomas metropolitan for Ethiopia thus violating the Synod, which established the rights of the Alexandrian Patriarch. This was by way of retaliation to a similar breach made by the Patriarch of Alexandria Cyril III. Laqlaq (1235 - 1243 A.D.) who had ordained an Egyptian Metropolitan for Jerusalem. Barhebraeus says that "Thomas wished to become metropolitan of the country of the Blacks". According to Barhebraeus, the ordination of Thomas was unlawful, firstly because it infringed the Law (cf. The Arab-Nicaean Canons q.v.), secondly because Thomas "al-ḥabashī" did not know the local language (of Ḥabasha). Cerulli raised doubts whether Thomas was ordained for Ethiopia proper, or for Nubia. It must also be noted that the ignorance of the local language was never accounted for a lawful impediment to the ordination, because the Egyptian-born, metropolitans of Ethiopia could not be expected to know the Ethiopian language. (Quoted from Cerulli, Etiopi in Palestina I, pp. 74 - 75).