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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 4684 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2009, 10:53:33 pm »

p. 43


Ali of Rei--His son Hassan Sabah--Hassan sent to study at Nishaboor--Meets there Omar Khiam and Nizam-al-Moolk--Agreement made by them--Hassan introduced by Nizam to Sultan Malek Shah--Obliged to leave the Court--Anecdote of him--His own account of his Conversion--Goes to Egypt--Returns to Persia--Makes himself Master of Ala-moot.

THERE was a man named Ali, who resided in the city of Rei, in Persia. He was a strenuous Sheäh, and maintained that his family had originally come from Koofa, in Arabia; but the people of Khorasan asserted that his family had always dwelt in one of the villages near Toos, in that province, and that consequently his pretensions to an Arabian extraction were false. Ali, it would appear, was anxious to conceal his opinions, and employed the strongest asseverations to convince the governor of the province, a rigid Soonite, of his orthodoxy, and finally retired into a monastery to pass the remainder of his days in meditation. As a further means of clearing himself from the charge of heresy he sent his only son Hassan Sabah * to Nishaboor to be instructed by the celebrated imam Mowafek, who resided at that place. What lessons he may have given the young Hassan previously to parting with him, and what communication he may have afterwards kept up with him, are points on which history is silent.

The fame of the imam Mowafek was great over all Persia, and it was currently believed that those

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who had the good fortune to study the Koran and the Soonna * under him were secure of their fortune in after-life. His school was consequently thronged by youths ambitious of knowledge and future distinction; and here Hassan met, and formed a strict intimacy with, Omar Khiam, afterwards so distinguished as a poet and an astronomer, and with Nizam-al-Moolk (Regulation of the Realm), who became vizir to the monarchs of the house of Seljook. This last, in a history which he wrote of himself and his times, relates the following instance of the early development of the ambition of Hassan. As these three, who were the most distinguished pupils of the imam, were one day together, "It is the general opinion," said Hassan, "that the pupils of the imam are certain of being fortunate. This opinion may be verified in one of us. So come, let us pledge ourselves to one another that he who shall be successful will make the other two sharers in his good fortune." His two companions readily assented, and the promise was mutually given and received.

Nizam-al-Moolk entered the path of politics, where his talents and his noble qualities had free course, and he rose through the various gradations of office, till at length he attained the highest post in the realm, the viziriate, under Alp Arslan (Strong Lion), the second monarch of the house of Seljook. When thus exalted he forgot not his former friends; and calling to mind the promise which he had made, he received with great kindness Omar Khiam, who waited on him to congratulate him on his elevation; and he offered at once to employ all his interest to procure him a post under the government. But Omar, who was devoted to Epicurean indulgences, and averse from toil and care, thanking his friend,

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declined his proffered services; and all that the vizir could prevail on him to accept was an annual pension of 1,200 ducats on the revenues of Nishaboor, whither he retired to spend his days in ease and tranquillity.

The case was different with Hassan. During the ten years' reign of Alp Arslan he kept aloof from the vizir, living in obscurity, and probably maturing his plans for the future. But when the young prince Malek Shah (King King) mounted the throne he saw that his time was come. He suddenly appeared at the court of the new monarch, and waited on the powerful vizir. The story is thus told by the vizir himself in his work entitled Wasaya (Political Institutes), whence it is given by Mirkhond.

"He came to me at Nishaboor in the year that Malek Shah, having got rid of Kaward, had quieted the troubles which his rebellion had caused. I received him with the greatest honours, and performed, on my part, all that could be expected from a man who is a faithful observer of his oaths, and a slave to the engagements which he has contracted. Each day I gave him a new proof of my friendship, and I endeavoured to satisfy his desires. He said to me once, 'Khojah (master), you are of the number of the learned and the virtuous; you know that the goods of this world are but an enjoyment of little duration. Do you then think that you will be permitted to fail in your engagements by letting yourself be seduced by the attractions of greatness and the love of the world? and will you be of the number of those who violate the contract made with God?' 'Heaven keep me from it!' replied I. 'Though you heap honours upon me,' continued he, 'and though you pour upon me benefits without number, you cannot be ignorant that that is not the way to perform what we once pledged ourselves to respecting each other.' 'You are right,' said I; 'and I

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am ready to satisfy you in what I promised. All that I possess of honour and power, received from my fathers or acquired by myself, belongs to you in common with me.' I then introduced him into the society of the sultan, I assigned him a rank and suitable titles, and I related to the prince all that had formerly passed between him and me. I spoke in terms of such praise of the extent of his knowledge, of his excellent qualities, and his good morals, that he obtained the rank of minister and of a confidential man. But he was, like his father, an impostor, a hypocrite, one who knew how to impose, and a wretch. He so well possessed the art of covering himself with an exterior of probity and virtue that in a little time he completely gained the mind of the sultan, and inspired him with such confidence that that prince blindly followed his advice in most of those affairs of a greater and more important nature which required good faith and sincerity, and he was always decided by his opinion. I have said all this to let it be seen that it was I who had raised him to this fortune, and yet, by an effect of his bad character, there came quarrels between the sultan and me, the unpleasant result of which had like to have been that the good reputation and favour which I had enjoyed for so many years were near going into dust and being annihilated; for at last his malignity broke out on a sudden, and the effects of his jealousy showed themselves in the most terrible manner in his actions and in his words."

In fact, Hassan played the part of a treacherous friend. Everything that occurred in the divan was carefully reported to the sultan, and the worst construction put upon it, and hints of the incapacity and dishonesty of the vizir were thrown out on the fitting occasions. The vizir himself has left us an account of what he considered the worst trick which his old

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schoolfellow attempted to play him. The sultan, it seems, wishing to see a clear and regular balance-sheet of the revenues and expenditure of his empire, directed Nizam-al-Moolk to prepare it. The vizir required a space of more than a year for the accomplishment of the task. Hassan deemed this a good opportunity for distinguishing himself, and boldly offered to do what the sultan demanded in forty days, not more than one-tenth of the time required by the vizir. All the clerks in the finance department were immediately placed at the disposal of Hassan; and the vizir himself confesses that at the end of the forty days the accounts were ready to be laid before the sultan. But, just when we might expect to see Hassan in triumph, and enjoying the highest favour of the monarch, we find him leaving the court in disgrace and vowing revenge on the sultan and his minister. This circumstance is left unexplained by the Ornament of the Realm, who however acknowledges, with great naïveté, that, if Hassan had not been obliged to fly, he should have left the court himself. But other historians inform us that the vizir, apprehensive of the consequences, had recourse to art, and contrived to have some of Hassan's papers stolen, so that, when the latter presented himself before the sultan, full of hope and pride, and commenced his statement, he found himself obliged to stop for want of some of his most important documents. As he could not account for this confusion, the sultan became enraged at the apparent attempt to deceive him, and Hassan was forthwith obliged to retire from court with precipitation.

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2009, 10:54:20 pm »

Nizam-al-Moolk determined to keep no measures with a man who had thus sought his ruin, and he resolved to destroy him. Hassan fled to Rei, but, not thinking himself safe there, he went further south,

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and took refuge with his friend the reis * Aboo-’l-Fazl (Father of Excellence), at Isfahan. What his plans may have hitherto been is uncertain; but now they seem to have assumed a definite form, and he unceasingly meditated on the means of avenging himself on the sultan and his minister. In consultation one day with Aboo-’l-Fazl, who appears to have adopted his speculative tenets, after he had poured out his complaints against the vizir and his master, he concluded by passionately saying, "Oh that I had but two faithful friends at my devotion! soon should I overthrow the Turk and the peasant," meaning the sultan and the vizir. Aboo-’l-Fazl, who was one of the most clear-headed men of his time, and who still did not comprehend the long-sighted views of Hassan, began to fancy that disappointment had deranged the intellect of his friend, and, believing that reasoning would in such a case be useless, commenced giving him at his meals aromatic drinks and dishes prepared with saffron, in order to relieve his brain. Hassan perceived what his kind host was about, and resolved to leave him. Aboo-’l-Fazl in vain employed all his eloquence to induce him to prolong his visit; Hassan departed, and shortly afterwards set out for Egypt.

Twenty years afterwards, when Hassan had accomplished all he had projected, when the sultan and the vizir were both dead, and the society of the Assassins was fully organized, the reis Aboo-’l-Fazl, who was one of his most zealous partisans, visited him at his hill-fort of Alamoot. "Well, reis," said Hassan,

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[paragraph continues] "which of us was the madman? did you or I stand most in need of the aromatic drinks and the dishes prepared with saffron which you used to have served up at Isfahan? You see that I kept my word as soon as I had found two trusty friends."

When Hassan left Isfahan, in the year 1078, the khalif Mostanser, a man of some energy, occupied the throne of Egypt, and considerable exertions were made by the missionaries of the society at Cairo to gain proselytes throughout Asia. Among these proselytes was Hassan Sabah, and the following account of his conversion, which has fortunately been preserved in his own words, is interesting, as affording a proof that, like Cromwell, and, as we have supposed, Mohammed, and all who have attained to temporal power by means of religion, he commenced in sincerity, and was deceived himself before he deceived others.

"From my childhood," says he, "even from the age of seven years, my sole endeavour was to acquire knowledge and capacity. I had been reared up, like my fathers, in the doctrine of the twelve imams, and I made acquaintance with an Ismaïlite companion (Refeek), named Emir Dhareb, with whom I knit fast the bonds of friendship. My opinion was that the tenets of the Ismaïlites resembled those of the Philosophers, and that the ruler of Egypt was a man who was initiated in them. As often, therefore, as Emir said anything in favour of these doctrines I fell into strife with him, and many controversies on points of faith ensued between him and me. I gave not in to anything that Emir said in disparagement of our sect, though it left a strong impression on my mind. Meanwhile Emir parted from me, and I fell into a severe fit of sickness, during which I reproached myself, saying, that the doctrine of the Ismaïlites was assuredly the true one, and that yet out of obstinacy I had not gone over to it, and that

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should death (which God avert!) overtake me, I should die without having attained to the truth. At length I recovered of that sickness, and I now met with another Ismaïlite, named Aboo Nejm Zaraj, of whom I inquired touching the truth of his doctrine. Aboo Nejm explained it to me in the fullest manner, so that I saw quite through the depths of it. Finally I met a dai, named Moomin, to whom the sheikh Abd-al-Melik (Servant of the King, i, e. of God) Ben Attash, the director of the missions of Irak, had given permission to exercise this office. I besought that he would accept my homage (in the name of the Fatimite khalif), but this he at the first refused to do, because I had been in higher dignities than he; but when I pressed him thereto beyond all measure, he yielded his consent. When now the sheikh Abd-al-Melik came to Rei, and through intercourse learned to know me, my behaviour was pleasing unto him, and he bestowed on me the office of a dai. He said unto me, 'Thou must go unto Egypt, to be a sharer in the felicity of serving the imam Mostander.' When the sheikh Abd-al-Melik went from Rei to Isfahan I set forth for Egypt *."

There is something highly interesting in this account of his thoughts and feelings given by Hassan Sabah, particularly when we recollect that this was the man who afterwards organized the society of the Assassins, so long the scourge of the East. We here find him, according to his own statement, dreading the idea of dying without having openly made profession of the truth, yet afterwards, if we are to credit the Oriental historians, he inculcated the doctrine of the indifference of all human actions. Unfortunately this declension from virtue to vice has been too often exhibited to allow of our doubting that it may have happened in the case of Hassan Sabah. A further reflection

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which presents itself is this; Can anything be more absurd than those points which have split the Moslems into sects? and yet how deeply has conscience been engaged in them, and with what sincerity have they not been embraced and maintained! Will not this apply in some measure to the dissensions among Christians, who divide into parties, not for the essential doctrines of their religion, but for some merely accessory parts?

Hassan, on his arrival in Egypt, whither his fame had preceded him, was received with every demonstration of respect. His known talents, and the knowledge of the high favour and consideration which he had enjoyed at the court of Malek Shah, made the khalif esteem him a most important acquisition to the cause of the Ismaïlites, and no means were omitted to soothe and flatter him. He was met on the frontiers by the Dai-al-Doat, the sherif Taher Casvini, and several other persons of high consideration; the great officers of state and court waited on hint as soon as he had entered Cairo, where the khalif assigned him a suitable abode, and loaded him with honours and tokens of favour. But such was the state of seclusion which the Fatimite khalifs had adopted, that during the eighteen months which Hassan is said to have passed at Cairo he never once beheld the face of Mostanser, though that monarch always evinced the utmost solicitude about him, and never spoke of him but in terms of the highest praise.

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2009, 10:54:43 pm »

While Hassan abode in Egypt the question of the succession to the throne (always a matter of dispute in Oriental monarchies) became a subject of dissension and angry debate at court. The khalif had declared his eldest son, Nesar, to be his legitimate successor; but Bedr-al-Jemali, the Emir-al-Juyoosh, or commander-in-chief of the army, who enjoyed almost unlimited power under the Fatimites, asserted

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the superior right of Musteäli, the khalif's second son, which right his power afterwards made good. Hassan Sabah, not very wisely, as it would seem, took the side of Prince Nesar, and thereby drew on himself the hostility of Bedr-al-Jemali, who resolved on his destruction. In vain the reluctant khalif struggled against the might of the powerful Emir-al-Juyoosh; he was obliged to surrender Hassan to his vengeance, and to issue an order for committing him to close custody in the castle of Damietta.

While Hassan lay in confinement at Damietta one of the towers of that city fell down without any apparent cause. This being looked upon in the light of a miracle by the partisans of Hassan and the khalif, his enemies, to prevent his deriving any advantage from it, hurried him on board of a ship which was on the point of sailing for Africa. Scarcely had the vessel put to sea when a violent tempest came on. The sea rolled mountains high, the thunder roared, and the lightning flamed. Terror laid hold on all who were aboard, save Hassan Sabah, who looked calm and undisturbed on the commotion of the elements, while others gazed with agony on the prospect of instant death. On being asked the cause of his tranquillity he made answer, in imitation probably of St. Paul, "Our Lord (Seydna) has promised me that no evil shall befall me." Shortly afterwards the storm fell and the sea grew calm. The crew and passengers now regarded him as a man under the especial favour of Heaven, and when a strong west wind sprung up, and drove them to the coast of Syria, they offered no opposition to his leaving the vessel and going on shore.

Hassan proceeded to Aleppo, where he staid some time, and thence directed his course to Bagdad. Leaving that city he entered Persia, traversed the province of Khuzistan, and, visiting the cities of

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[paragraph continues] Isfahan and Yezd, went on to the eastern province of Kerman, everywhere making proselytes to his opinions. He then returned to Isfahan, where he made a stay of four months. He next spent three months in Khuzistan. Having fixed his view on Damaghan and the surrounding country in Irak as a district well calculated to be the seat of the power which he meditated establishing, he devoted three entire years to the task of gaining disciples among its inhabitants, For this purpose he employed the most eloquent dais he could find, and directed them to win over by all means the inhabitants of the numerous hill-forts which were in that region. While his dais were thus engaged he himself traversed the more northerly districts of Jorjan and Dilem, and when he deemed the time fit returned to the province of Irak, where Hussein Kaïni, one of the most zealous of his missionaries, had been long since engaged in persuading the people of the strong hill-fort of Alamoot to swear obedience to the khalif Mostanser. The arguments of the dai had proved convincing to the great majority of the inhabitants, but the governor, Ali Mehdi, an upright and worthy man, whose ancestors had built the fort, remained, with a few others, faithful to his duty, and would acknowledge no spiritual head but the Abbasside khalif of Bagdad; no temporal chief but the Seljookian Malek Shah. Mehdi, when he first perceived the progress of Ismaïlism among his people, expelled those who had embraced it, but afterwards permitted them to return. Sure of the aid of a strong party within the fort, Hassan is said to have employed against the governor the same artifice by which Dido is related to have deceived the Lybians *. He

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offered him 3,000 ducats for as much ground as he could compass with an ox-hide. The guileless Mehdi consented, and Hassan instantly cutting the hide into thongs surrounded with it the fortress of Alamoot. Mehdi, seeing himself thus tricked, refused to stand to the agreement. Hassan appealed to justice, and to the arms of his partisans within the fortress, and by their aid compelled the governor to depart from Alamoot. As Mehdi was setting out for Damaghan, whither he proposed to retire, Hassan placed in his hand an order on the reis Mozaffer, the governor of the castle of Kirdkoo, couched in these terms: "Let the reis Mozaffer pay to Mehdi, the descendant of Ali, 3,000 ducats, as the price of the fortress of Alamoot. Peace be upon the Prophet and his family! God, the best of directors, sufficeth us." Mehdi could hardly believe that a man of the consequence of the reis Mozaffer, who held an important government under the Seljookian sultans, would pay the slightest attention to the order of a mere adventurer like Hassan Sabah; he, however, resolved, out of curiosity, or rather, as we are told, pressed by his want of the money, to try how he would act. He accordingly presented the order, and, to his infinite surprise, was forthwith paid the 3,000 ducats. The reis had in fact been long in secret one of the most zealous disciples of Hassan Sabah.

Historians are careful to inform us that it was on the night of Wednesday, the sixth of the month Rejeb, in the 483d year of the Hejra, that Hassan Sabah made himself master of Alamoot, which was to become the chief seat of the power of the sect of the Ismaïlites. This year answers to the year 1090 of the Christian era, and thus the dominion of the Assassins was founded only nine years before the Christians of the west established their empire in the Holy Land.

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Hill Fort.



43:* Or Hassan-ben-Sabah (son of Sabah), so named from Sabah Homairi, one of his pretended Arabian ancestors.

44:* The Soonna is the body of traditions, answering to the Mishna of the Jews, held by the orthodox Mussulmans.

48:* Reis, from the Arabic Râs (the head), answers in some respects to captain, a word of similar origin. Thus the master of a ship is called the Reis. Sir John Malcolm says, "it is equivalent to esquire, as it was originally understood. It implies in Persia the possession of landed estates and some magisterial power. The reis is in general the hereditary head of a village."

50:* Mirkhond.

53:* Sir J. Malcolm says that the person with whom he read this portion of history in Persia observed to him that the English were well acquainted with this stratagem, as it was by means of it that they got Calcutta from the poor Emperor of Delhi.

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2009, 10:55:27 pm »

p. 56


Description of Alamoot--Fruitless Attempts to recover it--Extension of the Ismaïlite Power--The Ismaïlites in Syria--Attempt on the Life of Aboo-Hard Issa--Treaty made with Sultan Sanjar--Death of Hassan--His Character.

ALAMOOT, a name so famous in the history of the East, signifies the Vulture's Nest, an appellation derived from its lofty site. It was built in the year 860, on the summit of a hill, which bears a fancied resemblance to a lion couching with his nose to the ground, situated, according to Hammer, in 50½° E. long. and 36° N. lat. It was regarded as the strongest of 50 fortresses of the same kind, which were scattered over the district of Roodbar (River-land), the mountainous region which forms the border between Persian Irak and the more northerly provinces of Dilem and Taberistan, and is watered by the stream called the King's River (Shahrood). As soon as Hassan saw himself master of this important place he directed his thoughts to the means of increasing its strength. He repaired the original walls, and added new ones; he sunk wells, and dug a canal, which conveyed water from a considerable distance to the foot of the fortress. As the possession of Alamoot made him master of the surrounding country, he learned to regard the inhabitants as his subjects, and he stimulated them to agriculture, and made large plantations of fruit-trees around the eminence on which the fortress stood.

But before Hassan had time to commence, much less complete these plans of improvement, he saw

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himself in danger of losing all the fruits of his toil. It was not to be expected that the emir, on whom the sultan had bestowed the province of Roodbar, would calmly view its strongest fort in the possession of the foe of the house of Seljook. Hassan, therefore, had not had time to collect stores and provisions when he found all access to the place cut off by the troops of the emir. The inhabitants were about to quit Alamoot, but Hassan exerted the usual influence of a commanding spirit over their minds, and confidently assured them that that was the place in which fortune would favour them. They yielded faith to his words and staid; and at length their perseverance wore out the patience of the emir, and Alamoot thence obtained the title of the Abode of Fortune. The sultan, who had at first viewed the progress of his ex-minister with contempt, began soon to grow apprehensive of his ultimate designs, and in 1092 he issued orders to the emir Arslantash (Lion-stone) to destroy Hassan and his adherents. Arslantash advanced against Alamoot. Hassan, though he had but 70 men with him, and was scantily supplied with provisions, defended himself courageously till Aboo Ali, the governor of Casveen, who was in secret one of his dais, sent 300 men to his aid. These fell suddenly, during the night, on the troops of the emir; the little garrison made at the same time a sortie; the sultan's troops took to flight, and Alamoot remained in the possession of the Ismaïlites. Much about the same time Malek Shah sent troops against Hussein Kaini, who was actively engaged in the cause of Hassan Sabah in Kuhistan. Hussein threw himself into Moominabad, a fortress nearly as strong as that of Alamoot, and the troops of the sultan assailed him in vain. It was now that Hassan began to display the system which we shall presently unveil. The aged vizir, the great and

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good Nizam-al-Moolk, perished by the daggers of his emissaries, and the sultan himself speedily followed his minister to the tomb, not without suspicion of poison.

Circumstances were now particularly favourable to the plans of Hassan Sabah. On the death of sultan Malek Shah a civil war broke out among his sons for the succession. All the military chiefs and persons of eminence were engaged on one side or the other, and none had leisure or inclination to attend to the progress of the Ismaïlites. These, therefore, went on gradually extending their power, and fortress after fortress fell into their hands. In the course of ten years they saw themselves masters of the principal hill-forts of Persian Irak; they held that of Shandorr * (King's pearl), and two other fortresses, close to Isfahan; that of Khalankhan, on the borders of Fars and Kuhistan; Damaghan, Kirdkoo, and Firoozkoo, in the district of Komis; and Lamseer and several others in Kuhistan. It was in vain that the most distinguished imams and doctors of the law issued their, fetuas against the sect of the Ismaïlites, and condemned them to future perdition; in vain they called on the orthodox to employ the

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sword of justice in freeing the earth from this godless and abominable race. The sect, strong in its secret bond of unity and determination of purpose, went on and prospered; the dagger avenged the fate of those who perished by the sword, and, as the Orientalized European historian of the society expresses it *, "heads fell like an abundant harvest beneath the twofold sickle of the sword of justice and the dagger of murder."

The appearance of the Ismaïlites, under their new form of organization, in Syria, happened at the same time with that of the crusaders in the Holy Land. The Siljookian Turks had made the conquest of that country, and the different chiefs who ruled Damascus, Aleppo, and the other towns and their districts, some of whom were of Turkish, others of Syrian extraction, were in a constant state of enmity with each other. Such powerful auxiliaries as the followers of Hassan Sabah were not to be neglected; Risvan, Prince of Aleppo, so celebrated in the history of the crusades, was their declared favourer and protector, and an Ismaïlite agent always resided with him. The first who occupied this post was an astrologer, and on his death the office fell to a Persian goldsmith, named Aboo Taher Essaigh. The enemies of Risvan felt the effects of his alliance with the Ismaïlites. The Prince of Emessa, for example, fell by their daggers, as he was about to relieve the castle of the Koords, to which Raymond, Count of Toulouse, had laid siege.

Risvan put the strong castle of Sarmin, which lay about a day's journey south of Aleppo, into the hands of Aboo-’l-Fettah, the nephew of Hassan Sabah, and his Dai-el-Kebir (Great Missionary) for the province of Syria. The governor of this fortress was Aboo Taher Essaigh. A few years afterwards (1107) the people of Apamea invoked the aid of Aboo Taher

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against Khalaf, their Egyptian governor. Aboo Taher took possession of the town in the name of Risvan, but Tancred, who was at war with that prince, having come and attacked it, it was forced to surrender. Aboo Taher stipulated for free egress for himself; but Tancred, in violation of the treaty, brought him to Antioch, where he remained till his ransom was paid. Aboo-’l-Fettah and the other Ismaïlites were given up to the vengeance of the sons of Khalaf. Tancred took front them at the same time another strong fortress, named Kefrlana. This is to be noted as the first collision between the Crusaders and the Assassins, as we shall now begin to call them. The origin of this name shall presently be explained.

On the return of Aboo Taher to Aleppo a very remarkable attempt at assassination took place. There was a wealthy merchant, named Aboo-Hard Issa *, a sworn foe to the Ismaïlites, and who had spent large sums of money in his efforts to injure them. He was now arrived from the borders of Toorkistan with a richly laden caravan of 500 camels. An Ismaïlite, named Ahmed, a native of Rei, had secretly accompanied him from the time he left Khorasan, with the design of avenging the death of his father, who had fallen under the blows of Aboo-Hard's people. The Ismaïlite, on arriving at Aleppo, immediately communicated with Aboo Taher and Risvan. Revenge, and the hope of gaining the wealth of the hostile merchant, made them yield assent at once to the project of assassination. Aboo Taher gave Ahmed

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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2009, 10:55:49 pm »

a sufficient number of assistants; Risvan promised the aid of his guards; and one day, as the merchant was in the midst of his slaves, counting his camels, the murderers fell on him. But the faithful slaves valiantly defended their master, and the Ismaïlites expiated their guilt with their lives. The princes of Syria heaped reproaches on Risvan for this scandalous violation of the rights of hospitality, and he vainly endeavoured to justify himself by pretending ignorance of the fact. Aboo Taher, as the increasing hatred of the people of Aleppo to the sect made that town an unsafe abode, returned to Persia, his native country, leaving his son, Aboo-’l-Fettah, to manage the affairs of the society in his stead.

The acquisition of castles and other places of strength was now the open and avowed object of the society, whose aim was evidently at the empire of Asia, and no mean was left unemployed for the effecting of this design. In the year 1108 they made a bold attempt at making themselves masters of the strong castle of Khizar, also in Syria, which belonged to the family of Monkad. The festival of Easter being come, when the Mussulman garrison was in the habit of going down into the town to partake in the festivities of the Christians, during their absence the Ismaïlites entered the castle, and barred the gates. When the garrison returned towards night, they found themselves excluded; but the Ismaïlites, in their reliance on the strength of the place, being negligent, the women drew up their husbands by cords at the windows, and the intruders were speedily expelled.

In the year 1113, as Mevdood, Prince of Mosul, was walking up and down, on a festival day, in the mosk of Damascus, with the celebrated Togteghin, he was fallen on and slain by an Ismaïlite. The murderer was cut to pieces on the spot.

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This year was, however, near proving fatal to the society in Syria. Risvan, their great protector, died; and the eunuch Looloo, the guardian of his young son, was their sworn enemy. An order for their indiscriminate destruction was forthwith issued, and, in consequence, more than 300 men, women, and children were massacred, while 200 more were thrown into prison. Aboo-’l-Fettah was put to death with torture; his body was cut to pieces and burnt at the gate looking towards Irak, and his head sent through all Syria. They did not, however, fall totally unavenged; the daggers of the society were directed against the governors and men in power, many of whom became their victims. Thus, in the year 1115, as the Attabeg Togteghin was receiving an audience at the court of the khalif of Bagdad, the governor of Khorasan was fallen upon by three Ismaïlites, who probably mistook him for the Attabeg, and he and they perished. In 1119 as Bediï, the governor of Aleppo, was journeying with his sons to the court of the emir Il-Ghazi, they were fallen upon by two assassins; Bediï and one of his sons fell by their blows; his other sons cut the murderers down; but a third then sprang forth, and gave the finishing stroke to one of the young men, who was already wounded. The murderer was taken, and brought before Togteghin and Il-Ghazi, who only ordered him to be put in prison; but he drowned himself to escape their vengeance, from which he had, perhaps, nothing to apprehend.

In fact at this time the dread of the followers of Hassan Sabah had sunk deep into the hearts of all the princes of the East, for there was no security against their daggers. Accordingly, when the next year (1120) Aboo Mohammed, the head of them at Aleppo, where they had re-established themselves, sent to the powerful II-Ghazi to demand of him possession

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of the castle of Sherif, near that town, he feared to refuse; but the people of Aleppo, at the persuasion of one of their fellow-citizens (who speedily paid for his advice with his blood), rose en masse, levelled the walls, filled up the ditches, and united the castle to the town. Even the great Noor-ed-deen (Lamp of Religion) was some years afterwards obliged to have recourse to the same artifice to save the castle of Beitlaha from becoming one of their strong-holds.

The same system was pursued in Persia, where sultan Sanjar, the son of Malek Shah, had united under his sceptre the greater part of the dominions of his father and Fakhr-al-Moolk (Fame of the Realm). The son and successor of Nizam-al-Moolk and Chakar Beg, the great uncle of the sultan, perished by the daggers of the emissaries of Hassan Sabah. Sultan Sanjar was himself on his march, intending to lay siege to Alamoot, and the other strong-holds of the Ismaïlites, when one morning, on awaking, he found a dagger struck in the ground close to his pillow. The sultan was dismayed, but he concealed his terror, and a few days afterwards there came a brief note from Alamoot, containing these words: "Were we not well affected towards the sultan, the dagger had been struck in his bosom, not in the ground." Sanjar recollected that his brother Mohammed, who had laid siege to the castles of Lamseer and Alamoot, had died suddenly just as they were on the point of surrendering--an event so opportune for the society, that it was but natural to ascribe it to their agency--and he deemed it the safest course to proceed gently with such dangerous opponents. He accordingly hearkened to proposals of peace, which was concluded on the following conditions: 1. That the Ismaïlites should add no new works to their castles; 2. That they should purchase

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no arms or military machines; 3. That they should make no more proselytes. The sultan, on his part, released the Ismaïlites from all tolls and taxes in the district of Kirdkoh, and assigned them a part of the revenue of the territory of Komis by way of annual pension. To apprehend clearly what the power of the society was, we must recollect that sultan Sanjar was the most powerful monarch of the East, that his mandate was obeyed from Cashgar to Antioch, from the Caspian to the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.

Thirty-four years had now elapsed since the acquisition of Alamoot, and the first establishment of the power of Hassan Sabah. In all that time he had never been seen out of the castle of Alamoot, and had been even known but twice to leave his chamber, and to make his appearance on the terrace. In silence and in solitude he pondered the means of extending the power of the society of which he was the head, and he drew up, with his own hand, the rules and precepts which were to govern it. He had outlived most of his old companions and early disciples, and he was now childless, for he had put to death his two only sons, the elder for having been concerned in the murder of his faithful adherent Hussein Kaini; the younger for having violated the precept of the Koran against drinking wine. Feeling the approaches of death, he summoned to Alamoot Keäh Buzoorg Oomeid (Keäh of Good Hope), who was residing at Lamseer, which he had conquered twenty years before, and Aboo Ali, of Casveen, and committed the direction of the society to them, appointing the former to be its proper spiritual head and director, and placing in the hands of the latter the administration of the civil and external affairs. He then calmly expired, apparently unconscious of or indifferent to the fact of having, by the organization of his pernicious society, rendered

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his name an object of execration, a by-word and a proverb among the nations.

Dimly as we may discern the character of Hassan Sabah through the medium of prejudice and hatred through which the scanty notices of it have reached us, we cannot refuse him a place among the higher order of minds. The founder of an empire or of a powerful society is almost always a great man; but Hassan seems to have had this advantage over Loyola and other founders of societies, that he saw clearly from the commencement what might be done, and formed all his plans with a view to one ultimate object. He surely had no ordinary mind who could ask but two devoted adherents to shake the throne of the house of Seljook, then at the acme of its power.


58:* This castle was built by sultan Malek Shah. The following was its origin:--As Malek Shah, who was a great lover of the chase, was out one day a hunting, one of the hounds went astray on the nearly inaccessible rock on which the castle was afterwards erected. The ambassador of the Byzantine emperor, who was of the party, observed to the sultan, that in his master's dominions so advantageous a situation would not be left unoccupied, but would long since have been crowned with a castle. The sultan followed the ambassador's advice, and erected the castle of the King's Pearl on this lofty rock. When the castle fell into the hands of the Ismaïlites, pious Moslems remarked that it could not have better luck, since its site had been pointed out by a dog (an unclean beast in their eyes), and its **** advised by an infidel.

59:* Hammer, 97.

60:* That is, Jesus. It may be here observed that the proper names of the Old Testament are still used in the East. Ibrahim, Ismael, Yahya, Joossuf, Moossa, Daood, Suleiman, Issa, are Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Joshua, or Jesus.

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Organization of the Society--Names given to the Ismaïlites--Origin of the name Assassin--Marco Polo's description of the Paradise of the Old Man of the Mountain--Description of it given by Arabian writers--Instances of the obedience of the Fedavee.

HAVING traced thus far the history of this celebrated society, having shown its origin, and how it grew out of the claims of the descendants of Ali to the khalifat, mixed with the mystic tenets which seem to have been ultimately derived from India, we proceed to describe its organization, and its secret doctrines, as they are related by oriental historians.

Hassan Sabah clearly perceived that the plan of the society at Cairo was defective as a mean of acquiring temporal power. The Dais might exert themselves, and proselytes might be gained; but till possession was obtained of some strongholds, and a mode of striking terror into princes devised, nothing effectual could be achieved. He first, therefore, as we have seen, made himself master of Alamoot and the other strong places, and then added to the Dais and the Refeek another class, named Fedavee (Devoted), whose task it was to yield implicit obedience to the mandate of their chief, and, without inquiry or hesitation, plunge their dangers into the bosom of whatever victim was pointed out to them, even though their own lives should be the immediate sacrifice. The ordinary dress of the Fedavee was (like that of all the sects opposed to the house of Abbas) white; their caps, girdles, or boots, were red. Hence they were named the White (Mubeiyazah),

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and the Red (Muhammeré *); but they could with ease assume any guise, even that of the Christian monk, to accomplish their murderous designs.

The gradations in the society were these. At the head of it stood Hassan himself and his successors, with the title of Seydna, or Sidna † (Our Lord), and Sheikh-al-Jebal (Mountain Chief), a name derived from that of the territory which was the chief seat of the power of the society. This last, owing to the ambiguity of the word sheikh (which, like seigneur and signore, signifies either an elder or chief), has been ridiculously translated by the early European historians Old Man of the Mountain. Under him were the Dai-’l-Kebir (Great Missionaries), of which there were three, for the three provinces of Jebal, Kuhistan and Syria ‡. Then came the Dais, next the Refeek, then the Fedavee, and lastly the Lazik, or aspirants.

Hassan was perfectly aware that without the compressing power of positive religion no society can well be held together. Whatever, therefore, his private opinions may have been, he resolved to impose on the bulk of his followers the most rigid obedience to the positive precepts of Islam, and, as we have seen, actually put his own son to death for a breach of one of them.

Hassan is said to have rejected two of the degrees of the Ismaïlite society at Cairo, and to have reduced them to seven, the original number in the plan of Abdallah Maimoon, the first projector of this secret society. Besides these seven degrees, through which the aspirants gradually rose to knowledge, Hassan,

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in what Hammer terms the breviary of the order, drew up seven regulations or rules for the conduct of the teachers in his society. 1. The first of these, named Ashinai-Risk (Knowledge of duty), inculcated the requisite knowledge of human nature for selecting fit persons for admission. To this belonged the proverbial expressions said to have been current among the Dais, similar to those used by the ancient Pythagoreans, such as Sow not on barren ground (that is, Waste not your labour on incapable persons). Speak not in a house where there is a lamp, (that is, Be silent in the presence of a lawyer). 2. The second rule was called Teënis (Gaining of confidence), and taught to win the candidates by flattering their passions and inclinations. 3. The third, of which the name is not given, taught to involve them in doubts and difficulties by pointing out the absurdities of the Koran, and of positive religion. 4. When the aspirant had gone thus far, the solemn oath of silence and obedience, and of communicating his doubts to his teacher alone, was to be imposed an the disciple; and then (5.) he was to be informed that the doctrines and opinions of the society were those of the greatest men in church and state. 6. The Tessees (Confirmation) directed to put the pupil again through all he had learned, and to confirm him in it. And, (7.) finally, the Teëvil (Instruction in allegory) gave the allegorical mode of interpreting the Koran, and drawing whatever sense might suit their purposes from its pages. Any one who had gone through this course of instruction, and was thus become perfectly imbued with the spirit of the society, was regarded as an accomplished Dai, and employed in the important office of making proselytes and extending its influence.

We must again express our opinion that the minute accounts which are given to us by some writers, respecting the rules and doctrines of secret associations,

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should be received with a considerable degree of hesitation, owing to the character and the means of information of those from whom we receive them. In the present case our authority is a very suspicious one. We are told that when Alamoot was taken by Hoolekoo Khan, the Mongol prince, he gave his vizir, the learned Ata-Melek (King's father) Jowani, permission to examine the library, and to select such books as were worthy of being preserved. The vizir took out the Korans and some other books of value in his eyes; the rest, among which are said to have been the archives and the secret rules and doctrines of the society, he committed, after looking cursorily through them, to the flames. In an historical work of his own he gave the result of his discoveries in those books, and he is the authority from which Mirkhond and other writers have derived the accounts which they have transmitted to us. It is quite clear, therefore, that the vizir of Hoolakoo was at liberty to invent what atrocities he pleased of the sect which was destroyed by his master, and that his testimony is consequently to be received with suspicion. On the other hand it receives some confirmation from its agreement with the account of the society at Cairo given by Macrisi, and is not repugnant to the spirit of Soofeïsm.

This last doctrine, which is a kind of mystic Pantheism, viewing God in all and all in God, may produce, like fatalism, piety or its opposite. In the eyes of one who thus views God, all the distinctions between vice and virtue become fleeting and uncertain, and crime may gradually lose its atrocity, and be regarded as only a mean for the production of a good end. That the Ismaïlite Fedavee murdered innocent persons without compunction, when ordered so to do by his superiors, is an undoubted fact, and there is no absurdity in supposing that he and they may have

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thought that in so doing they were acting right, and promoting the cause of truth. Such sanctifying of crime is not confined to the East; the maxim that the end sanctions the means is of too convenient a nature not to have prevailed in all parts of the world; and the assassins of Henry III. and Henry IV. of France displayed all the sincerity and constancy of the Ismaïlite Fedavees. Without, therefore, regarding the heads of the Ismaïlites, with Hammer, mere ruthless and impious murderers, who trampled under foot religion and morals with all their obligations, we may assent to the opinion of their leading doctrine being Soofeïsm carried to its worst consequences.

The followers of Hassan Sabah were called the Eastern Ismaïlites, to distinguish them from those of Africa. They were also named the Batiniyeh (Internal or Secret), from the secret meaning which they drew from the text of the Koran, and Moolhad, or Moolahid (Impious) on account of the imputed impiety of their doctrines,--names common to there with most of the preceding sects. It is under this last appellation that they were known to Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller. The name, however, by which they are best known in Europe, and which we shall henceforth chiefly employ, is that of Assassins. This name is very generally derived from that of the founder of their society; but M. De Sacy has made it probable that the oriental term Hashisheen, of which the Crusaders made Assassins, comes from Hashish, a species of hemp, from which intoxicating opiates were made, which the Fedavee were in the habit of taking previously to engaging in their daring enterprises, or employed as a medium of procuring delicious visions of the paradise promised to them by the Sheikh-al-Jebal.

It is a curious question how Hassan Sabah contrived

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to infuse into the Fedavee the recklessness of life, joined with the spirit of implicit obedience to the commands of their superiors, which they so invariably displayed. We are told * that the system adopted for this purpose was to obtain, by purchase or otherwise, from their parents, stout and healthy children. These were reared up in implicit obedience to the will of the Sheikh, and, to fit them for their future office, carefully instructed in various languages. The most agreeable spots were selected for their abode, they were indulged in the gratification of their senses, and, in the midst of their enjoyments, some persons were directed to inflame their imaginations by glowing descriptions of the far superior delights laid up in the celestial paradise for those who should be admitted to repose in its bowers; a happiness only to be attained by a glorious death met in obedience to the commands of the Sheikh. When such ideas had been impressed on their minds, the glorious visions ever floated before their eyes, the impression was kept up by the use of the opiate above-mentioned, and the young enthusiast panted for the hour when death, obtained in obeying the order of the Sheikh, should open to him the gates of paradise to admit him to the enjoyment of bliss never to end.

The celebrated Venetian, Marco Polo, who traversed the most remote parts of the East in the 13th century, gave on his return to Europe an account of the regions which he had visited, which filled the minds of men with wonder and amazement. As is usual in such cases this was followed or accompanied by unbelief, and it is only by the inquiries and discoveries of modern travellers that the veracity of Marco Polo, like that of Herodotus, has been established and placed beyond doubt.

Among other wonderful narratives which we meet

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in the travels of Marco Polo is the account which he gives of the people whom he calls Mulehetites (that is, Moolahid), and their prince the Old Man of the Mountain. He describes correctly the nature of this society, and gives the following romantic narrative of the mode employed by that prince to infuse the principle of implicit obedience into the minds of his followers *.

"In a beautiful valley," says he, "enclosed between two lofty mountains, he had formed a luxurious garden, stored with every delicious fruit and every fragrant shrub that could be procured. Palaces of various sizes and forms were erected in different parts of the grounds, ornamented with works of gold, with paintings, and with furniture of rich silks. By means of small conduits contained in these buildings streams of wine, milk, honey, and some of pure water, were seen to flow in every direction. The inhabitants of these palaces were elegant and beautiful damsels, accomplished in the arts of singing, playing upon all sorts of musical instruments, dancing, and especially those of dalliance and amorous allurement. Clothed in rich dresses, they were seen continually sporting and amusing themselves in the garden and pavilions, their female guardians being confined within doors, and never suffered to appear. The object which the chief had in view in forming a garden of this fascinating kind was this: that Mahomet having promised to those who should obey his will the enjoyments of paradise, where every species of sensual gratification should be found in the society of beautiful nymphs, he was desirous of its being understood by his followers that he also was a prophet, and a compeer of Mahomet, and had the power of admitting to paradise such as he should choose to favour. In order that none without his licence should find their way into this delicious valley, he caused a strong and inexpugnable

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castle to be erected at the opening of it, through which the entry was by a secret passage. At his court, likewise, this chief entertained a number of youths, from the age of twelve to twenty years, selected from the inhabitants of the surrounding mountains, who showed a disposition for martial exercises, and appeared to possess the quality of daring courage. To them he was in the daily practice of discoursing on the subject of the paradise announced by the Prophet and of his own, of granting admission, and at certain times he caused draughts of a soporific nature to be administered to ten or a dozen of the youths, and when half dead with sleep he had them conveyed to the several apartments of the palaces in the garden. Upon awakening from this state of lethargy their senses were struck with all the delightful objects that have been described, and each perceived himself surrounded by lovely damsels, singing, playing, and attracting his regards by the most fascinating caresses, serving him also with delicious viands and exquisite wines, until, intoxicated with excess of enjoyment, amidst actual rivers of milk and wine, he believed himself assuredly in paradise, and felt an unwillingness to relinquish its delights. When four or five days had thus been passed, they were thrown once more into a state of somnolency and carried out of the garden. Upon their being introduced to his presence, and questioned by him as to where they had been, their answer was, 'In paradise, through the favour of your highness;' and then, before the whole court, who listened to them with eager curiosity and astonishment, they gave a circumstantial account of the scenes to which they had been witnesses. The chief thereupon addressing them said, 'We have the assurance of our Prophet that he who defends his lord shall inherit paradise, and if you show yourselves devoted to the obedience of my orders, that happy lot

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awaits you.' Animated to enthusiasm by words of this nature all deemed themselves happy to receive the commands of their master, and were forward to die in his service."

This romantic narrative, more suited to a place among the wonders of the "Thousand and One Nights" than to admission into sober history, has been very generally rejected by judicious inquirers such as De Sacy and Wilkin, the able historians of the Crusades; but it has found credence with Hammer, to whose work we are indebted for the far greater part of the present details on the subject of the Assassins. This industrious scholar has, as he thinks, found a proof of its truth in the circumstance of similar narratives occurring in the works of some Arabian writers which treat of the settlements of the society in Syria, forgetting that a fabulous legend is often more widely diffused than sober truth. All, therefore, that can be safely inferred from this collection of authorities is that the same marvellous tale which the Venetian traveller heard in the north of Persia was also current in Syria and Egypt. Its truth must be established by a different species of proof.

In the Siret-al-Hakem (Memoirs of Hakem), a species of Arabian historic romance, the following account of the gardens at Massyat, the chief seat of the Assassins in Syria, was discovered by Hammer *:--

"Our narrative now returns to Ismaïl the chief of the Ismaïlites. He took with him his people laden with gold, silver, pearls, and other effects, taken away from the inhabitants of the coasts, and which he had received in the island of Cyprus, and on the part of the king of Egypt, Dhaher, the son of Hakem-biëmr-Illah. Having bidden farewell to the sultan of Egypt at Tripolis, they proceeded to Massyat, when

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the inhabitants of the castles and fortresses assembled to enjoy themselves, along with the chief Ismaïl and his people. They put on the rich dresses with which the sultan had supplied them, and adorned the castle of Massyat with everything that was good and fine. Ismaïl made his entry into Massyat with the Devoted (Fedavee), as no one has ever done at Massyat before him or after him. He stopped there some time to take into his service some more persons whom he might make Devoted both in heart and body.

"With this view he had caused to be made a vast garden, into which he had water conducted. In the middle of this garden he built a kiosk raised to the height of four stories. On each of the four sides were richly-ornamented windows joined by four arches, in which were painted stars of gold and silver. He put into it roses, porcelain, glasses, and drinking-vessels of gold and silver. He had with him Mamlooks (i.e. slaves), ten males and ten females, who were come with him from the region of the Nile, and who had scarcely attained the age of puberty. He clothed them in silks and in the finest stuffs, and he gave unto them bracelets of gold and of silver. The columns were overlaid with musk and with amber, and in the four arches of the windows he set four caskets, in which was the purest musk. The columns were polished, and this place was the retreat of the slaves. He divided the garden into four parts. In the first of these were pear-trees, apple-trees, vines, cherries, mulberries, plums, and other kinds of fruit-trees. In the second were oranges, lemons, olives, pomegranates, and other fruits. In the third were cucumbers, melons, leguminous plants, &c. In the fourth were roses, jessamine, tamarinds, narcissi, violets, lilies, anemonies, &c. &c.

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"The garden was divided by canals of water, and the kiosk was surrounded with ponds and reservoirs. There were groves in which were seen antelopes, ostriches, asses, and wild cows. Issuing from the ponds, one met ducks, geese, partridges, quails, hares, foxes, and other animals. Around the kiosk the chief Ismaïl planted walks of tall trees, terminating in the different parts of the garden. He built there a great house, divided into two apartments, the upper and the lower. From the latter covered walks led out into the garden, which was all enclosed with walls, so that no one could see into it, for these walks and buildings were all void of inhabitants. He made a gallery of coolness, which ran from this apartment to the cellar, which was behind. This apartment served as a place of assembly for the men. Having placed himself on a sofa there opposite the door, the chief made his men sit down, and gave them to eat and to drink during the whole length of the day until evening. At nightfall he looked around him, and, selecting those whose firmness pleased him, said to them, 'Ho! such-a-one, come and seat thyself near me.' It is thus that Ismail made those whom he had chosen sit near him on the sofa and drink. He then spoke to them of the great and excellent qualities of the imam Ali, of his bravery, his nobleness, and his generosity, until they fell asleep, overcome by the power of the benjeh * which he had given them, and which never failed to produce its effects in less than a quarter of an hour, so that they fell down as if they were inanimate. As soon as the man had fallen the chief Ismail arose, and, taking him up, brought him into a dormitory, and then, shutting the

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door, carried him on his shoulders into the gallery at coolness, which was in the garden, and thence into the kiosk, where he committed him to the care of the male and female slaves, directing them to comply with all the desires of the candidate, on whom they flung vinegar till he awoke. When he was come to himself the youths and maidens said to him, 'We are only waiting for thy death, for this place is destined for thee. This is one of the pavilions of paradise, and we are the hoories and the children of paradise. If thou wert dead thou wouldest be for ever with us, but thou art only dreaming, and wilt soon awake.' Meanwhile the chief Ismaïl had returned to the company as soon as he had witnessed the awakening of the candidate, who now perceived nothing but youths and maidens of the greatest beauty, and adorned in the most magnificent manner.

"He looked round the place, inhaled the fragrance of musk and frankincense, and drew near to the garden, where he saw the beasts and the birds, the running water, and the trees. He gazed on the beauty of the kiosk, and the vases of gold and silver, while the youths and maidens kept him in converse. In this way he remained confounded, not knowing whether he was awake or only dreaming. When two hours of the night had gone by, the chief Ismaïl returned to the dormitory, closed to the door, and thence proceeded to the garden, where his slaves came around him and rose before him. When the candidate perceived him he said unto him, 'O chief Ismaïl, do I dream, or am I awake?' The chief Ismaïl then made answer to him, 'O such-a-one, beware of relating this vision to any one who is a stranger to this place! Know that the Lord Ali has shown thee the place which is destined for thee in paradise. Know that at this moment the Lord Ali and I have been sitting together in the regions of the empyrean.

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[paragraph continues] So do not hesitate a moment in the service of the imam who has given thee to know his felicity.' Then the chief Ismaïl ordered supper to be served. It was brought in vessels of gold and of silver, and consisted of boiled meats and roast meats, with other dishes. While the candidate ate he was sprinkled with rose-water; when he called for drink there were brought to him vessels of gold and silver filled with delicious liquors, in which also had been mingled some benjeh. When he had fallen asleep, Ismaïl carried him through the gallery back to the dormitory, and, leaving him there, returned to his company. After a little time he went, back, threw vinegar on his face, and then, bringing him out, ordered one of the Mamlooks to shake him. On awaking, and finding himself in the same place among the guests, he said, 'There is no god but God, and Mohammed is the Prophet of God!' The chief Ismaïl then drew near and caressed him, and he remained, as it were, immersed in intoxication, wholly devoted to the service of the chief, who then said unto him, 'O such-a-one, know that what thou hast seen was not a dream, but one of the miracles of the imam Ali. Know that he has written thy name among those of his friends. If thou keep the secret thou art certain of thy felicity, but if thou speak of it thou wilt incur the resentment of the imam. If thou die thou art a martyr; but beware of relating this to any person whatever. Thou hast entered by one of the gates to the friendship of the imam, and art become one of his family; but if thou betray the secret, thou wilt become one of his enemies, and be driven from his house.' Thus this man became one of the servants of the chief Ismaïl, who in this manner surrounded himself with trusty men, until his reputation was established. This is what is related of the chief Ismaïl and his Devoted."

To these romantic tales of the paradise of the Old

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[paragraph continues] Man of the Mountain, we must add a third of a still more juggling character, furnished by the learned and venerable Sheikh Abd-ur-Rahman (Servant of the Compassionate, i.e., of God) Ben Ebubekr Al-Jeriri of Damascus, in the twenty-fourth chapter of his work entitled "A Choice Book for discovering the Secrets of the Art of Imposture *."

After giving some account of Sinan, the chief of the Syrian Assassins, whom we shall presently have occasion to mention, the sheikh proceeds to narrate the artifice which he employed to deceive his followers:--

"There was near the sofa on which he sat a hole in the ground sufficiently deep for a man to sit down in it. This he covered with a thin piece of wood, leaving only so much of it open as would contain the neck of a man. He placed on this cover of wood a disk of bronze with a hole in the middle of it, and put in it two doors. Then taking one of his disciples, to whom he had given a considerable sum of money to obtain his consent, he placed the perforated disk round his neck, and kept it down by weights, so that nothing appeared but the neck of the man; and he put warm blood upon it, so that it looked as if he had just cut off his head. He then called in his companions, and showed them the plate, on which they beheld the head of their comrade. 'Tell thy comrades,' said the master to the head, 'what thou hast seen, and what has been said unto thee.' The man then answered as he had been previously instructed. 'Which wouldest thou prefer,' said the master, 'to return to the world and thy friends, or to dwell in paradise?' 'What need have I,' replied the head, 'to return to the world after having seen my pavilion in paradise, and the hoories, and al; that God has prepared for me? Comrades, salute

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my family, and take care not to disobey this prophet, who is the lord of the prophets in the state of time, as God has said unto me. Farewell.' These words strengthened the faith of the others; but when they were gone the master took the man up out of the hole, and cut off his head in right earnest. It was by such means as this that he made himself obeyed by his people."

The preceding accounts, whatever may be thought of their truth, serve to testify a general belief throughout the East of some extraordinary means being employed by the mountain chief to acquire the power which he was known to possess over the minds of his Fedavee. And, in fact, there is no great improbability in the supposition of some artifice of that nature having been occasionally employed by him; for, when we recollect that an Asiatic imagination is coarse, especially among the lower orders, and that in the East men rarely see any females but those of their own family, the chief might find no great difficulty in persuading a youth, whom he had transported in a state of stupor into an apartment filled with young girls, of his having been in the actual paradise promised to the faithful.

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« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2009, 10:58:26 pm »

But, laying aside supposition, we may observe that the very power over the minds of their followers ascribed to Hassan Sabah and his successors has been actually exercised in our own days by the chief of the Wahabees. Sir John Malcolm * informs us, from a Persian manuscript, that a few years ago one of that sect, who had stabbed an Arab chief near Bussora, when taken, not only refused to do anything towards saving his life, but, on the contrary, seemed anxiously to court death. He was observed to grasp something firmly in his hand, which he appeared to prize beyond life itself. On its being taken from him and examined,

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it proved to be an order from the Wahabee chief for an emerald palace and a number of beautiful female slaves in the blissful paradise of the Prophet. This story, however, it must be confessed, appears to be little consistent with the principles of the sect of the Wahabees, and we may suspect that it has originated in some misapprehension.

The following instance of the implicit obedience of the Fedavee to the orders of Hassan Sabah is given 'by a respectable oriental historian *. An ambassador from the Sultan Malek Shah having come to Alamoot to demand the submission and obedience of the sheikh, Hassan received him in a hall in which he had assembled several of his followers. Making a sign to one youth, he said, "Kill thyself!" Instantly the young man's dagger was plunged into his own bosom, and he lay a corpse upon the ground. To another he said, "Fling thyself down from the wall." In an instant his shattered limbs were lying in the castle ditch. Then turning to the terrified envoy, "I have seventy thousand followers who obey me after this fashion. This be my answer to thy master."

Very nearly the same tale is told of the Assassins of Syria by a western writer †. As Henry Count of Champagne was journeying, in the year 1194, from Palestine to Armenia ‡, his road lay through the confines of the territory of the Ismaïlites. The chief sent some persons to salute him, and to beg that, on his return, he would stop at, and partake of the hospitality of his castle. The count accepted the invitation. As he returned the Dai-al-Kebir advanced to meet him, showed him every mark of honour, and led him to view his castles and fortresses. Having

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passed through several, they came at length to one the towers of which rose to an exceeding height. On each tower stood two sentinels clad in white. "These," said the chief, pointing to them, "obey me far better than the subjects of you Christians obey their lords;" and at a given signal two of them flung themselves down, and were dashed to pieces. "If you wish," said he to the astonished count, "all my white ones shall do the same." The benevolent count shrank from the proposal, and candidly avowed that no Christian prince could presume to look for such obedience from his subjects. When he was departing, with many valuable presents, the chief said to him significantly, "By means of these trusty servants I get rid of the enemies of our society."

In oriental, and also in occidental history, the same anecdote is often told of different persons, a circumstance which might induce us to doubt of its truth altogether, or at least of its truth in any particular case. The present anecdote, for instance, with a slight variation in the details, is told of Aboo Taher, a celebrated leader of the Carmathites. This chief, after his expedition to Mecca, in which he had slain 30,000 of the inhabitants, filled the hallowed well Zemzem with the bodies of dead men, and carried off the sacred black stone in triumph, had the hardihood to approach Bagdad, the residence of the khalif, with only 500 horsemen. The pontiff of Islam, enraged at the insult, ordered his general Aboo Saj to take 30,000 men, and make him a prisoner. The latter, having collected his forces, sent a man off to Aboo Taher to tell him on his part that out of regard for him, who had been his old friend, he advised him, as he had so few troops with him, either to yield himself at once to the khalif or to see about making his escape. Aboo Taher asked of the envoy how many men Aboo Saj had with him. The

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envoy replied, "Thirty thousand." "He still wants three like mine," said Aboo Taher; and calling to him three of his men, he ordered one of them to stab himself, another to throw himself into the Tigris, a third to fling himself down from a precipice. His commands were at once obeyed. Then turning to the envoy, "He who has such troops fears not the number of his enemies. I give thyself quarter; but know that I shall soon let thee see thy general Aboo Saj chained among my dogs." In fact, that very night he attacked and routed the troops of the khalif, and Aboo Saj, happening to fall into his hands, soon appeared chained among the mastiffs of the Carmathite chief *.

The preceding details on the paradise of the Sheikh-al-Jebal, and his power over the minds of his followers, will at least help to illustrate the manners and modes of thinking of the orientals. We now resume the thread of our narrative, and proceed to narrate the deeds of the Assassins, as we shall henceforth designate them.


67:* Ahmar, fem. Hamra, is red in Arabic; hence the celebrated Moorish palace at Granada was called Alhambra (Al Hamra), i.e. the Red.

67:† Hence the Spanish Cid.

67:‡ Hammer, book ii.

71:* Wilken, Geschichte der Kreuzzüge, vol. ii

72:* Marsden's Translation.

74:* Fundgruben des Orients, vol. i 11.

76:* The Arabic name of the hyoscyamus, or henbane. Hammer conjectures that the word benge, or, with the Coptic article in the plural, ni-benje, is the same with the nepenthe of the ancients.--Fundgruben des Orients, iii. 202.

79:* Fundgruben des Orients, vol. iv.

80:* History of Persia, vol. i.

81:* Elmacin, Historia Saracenica, l. iii. p. 286.

81:† Marinus Sanutus, l. iii. p. x. c. 8.

81:‡ This was the Armenia in Cilicia.

83:* D’Herbelot, titre Carmath.

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« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2009, 10:59:21 pm »

p. 84


Keäh Buzoorg Oomeid--Affairs of the Society in Persia--They acquire the Castle of Banias, in Syria--Attempt to betray Damascus to the Crusaders--Murders committed during the reign of Keäh Buzoorg.

KEAH BUZOORG OOMEID trod faithfully in the footprints of his predecessor. He built the strong fortress of Maimoondees, and he made the enemies of the society feel that it was still animated by the spirit of Hassan Sabah. Sultan Sanjar, who, on account of the favourable terms on which he had made peace with the Assassins, was regarded by the rigidly orthodox as a secret follower of their doctrine, declared A himself once more their open enemy, and sent an army to ravage Kirdkoh. These troops were defeated by those which Keäh sent against them; but the following year Sanjar put to the sword a great number of the members of the sect. The dagger, as usual, retaliated. Mahmood, the successor of Sanjar, having first tried in vain the effect of arms, sent his grand falconer Berenkesh to Alamoot, to desire that an envoy might be sent to him to treat of peace. The Khojah (Master) Mohammed Nassihi accompanied Berenkesh back to court, and kissed the hand of the sultan, who spoke to him a few words about the peace; but as the Khojah was going out of the palace, he and his followers were fallen upon and massacred by the people.

When the sultan sent an ambassador to Alamoot to exculpate himself from the guilt of participation in this violation of the laws of nations, Keäh made

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answer, "Go back to the sultan, and tell him, in my name, Mohammed Nassihi trusted to your perfidious assurances, and repaired to your court; if you speak truly, deliver up the murderers to justice; if not, expect my vengeance." On the refusal of the sultan to surrender the murderers, a corps of Assassins appeared at the gates of Casveen, slew 400 men, and led away 3,000 sheep, 200 horses, and 200 oxen. Next year the sultan took, and retained for a short time, the fortress of Alamoot; but a body of 2,000 men which he sent against Lamseer fled, without drawing a sword, when they heard that the Refeek (Companions) of the society were marching against them. Shortly afterwards the sultan died, and the Assassins made another incursion into the district of Casveen, where they carried off booty and prisoners.

The mountain chief would tolerate no rival near his throne. Hearing that one Aboo Hashem, a descendant of Ali, had arrogated to himself the dignity of imam in the province of Ghilan, which lies north of Kuhistan, and had issued letters calling on the people to acknowledge him, Keäh wrote to him to desist from his pretensions. The self-appointed imam only replied by reviling the odious tenets of the Ismaïlites. The sheikh forthwith sent a body of his troops against him, took him prisoner, and, after trying him by a court-martial, committed him to the flames.

Though, as we have seen, the settlements of the Assassins were in the mountainous region of Irak, in the north-west of Persia, their power was of such a nature that no distance was a security against it. A Fedavee could speedily traverse the intervening regions to plant his dagger in the bosom of any prince or minister who had incurred the vengeance of the Sheikh-al-Jebal. Accordingly we find the shah (King) of Khaurism, between which and Irak lies

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the extensive province of Khorasan, coming to Sultan Massood, the successor of Mahmood, to concert with him a plan for the destruction of these formidable foes to princes. The shah of Khaurism had been formerly rather disposed to favour the Ismaïlites, but his eyes were now opened, and he was become their most inveterate enemy. Sultan Massood, we know not for what reason, bestowed on him the lands which Berenkesh, the grand falconer, had held of the sultan. Berenkesh, mortally offended at this unworthy treatment, retired, with his family, to the territory of the Ismaïlites, and sought the protection of Keäh, whose open enemy he had hitherto been. Policy, or a regard to good faith and humanity, made the Assassin prince grant the protection which was required; and when the shah of Khaurism wrote, reminding Keäh of his own former friendship, and the bitter hostility of Berenkesh, and requesting him, on that plea, to give up the fugitive, the sheikh replied, "The shah of Khaurism speaks true, but we will never give up our suppliants." Long and bloody enmity between the sheikh and the shah was the consequence of this refusal to violate the rights of hospitality.

The Syrian branch of the society begins at this time to attract rather more attention than that of Persia, chiefly on account of its connexion with the Crusaders, who had succeeded in establishing an empire extending from the frontiers of Egypt to those of Armenia. A Persian Ismaïlite, named Behram of Astrabad, who is said to have commenced his career by the murder of his own father, gained the confidence of the vizir of the prince of Damascus, who gave him the castle of Banias, or Banias (the ancient Balanea), for the use of the society. This place, which became the nucleus of the power of the Assassins in Syria, lies in a fertile, well-watered

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plain, about 4,000 paces from the sea. The valley whence the numerous streams which fructify it issue is called the Wadi-al-Jinn (Valley of Demons), "a place," observes Hammer, whom no casual coincidence escapes, "from its very name worthy of becoming a settlement of the Assassins." From Banias they extended their power over the neighbouring castles and fortresses, until, twelve years afterwards, the seat of dominion was transferred thence to Massyat.

Behram fell shortly afterwards in an engagement against the people of the valley of Taïm, the brother of whose chief had perished by the daggers of the Assassins. His successor was Ismaïl, a Persian, who continued the bond of amity with the vizir of Damascus, whither he sent, by way of resident, a man named, rather inappropriately as it would appear, Aboo-’l-Wefa (Father of Fidelity). This man so won the favour of the vizir and prince that he was appointed to the office of Hakem, or supreme judge; and having thus acquired power and influence, he immediately turned his thoughts to the best mode of employing them for the advantage of the society, an object always near the heart of a true Ismaïlite. A place of strength on the sea-coast would, he conceived, be of the utmost importance to them; so he fixed his eyes upon Tyre, and fell upon the following expedient to obtain possession of it.

The Franks had been now upwards of thirty years established in the East. Their daring and enthusiastic valour was at once the dread and the admiration of their Mussulman foes, and feats almost surpassing the fables of the romances of chivalry had been performed by their gallant warriors. These were the auxiliaries to whom Aboo-’l-Wefa directed his attention; for we are to observe that as yet the fanatic spirit had not united all the Moslems in enmity

p. 88

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« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2009, 10:59:41 pm »

against the followers of the Cross, and the princes of Aleppo, Damascus, and the other districts of Syria, had been more than once in alliance with the Christian realms of Jerusalem and Antioch. Aboo-’l-Wefa sent therefore and concluded a secret treaty with Baldwin II., king of Jerusalem, in which he engaged, if the Christian warriors would secretly march and appear before Damascus on a i Friday, when the emir and his officers would be at the mosk, to give them possession of the gates of the town. The king was in return to put Tyre into the hands of the Ismaïlites.

The Christian army was assembled; all the barons of the kingdom appeared in arms; the king in person led the host; the newly-formed military order of the Templars displayed for the first time in the field their striped banner Beauséant, afterwards so well known in many a bloody fray. Prince Bernard of Antioch, Count Pontius of Tripolis, the brave Joscelin of Edessa, led their knights and footmen to share in the capture of the wealthy city of Damascus. The mountains which environ Lake Tiberias were left behind, and the host joyfully emerged into the plain watered by the streams Abana and Pharpar. But here defeat awaited them. Taj-al-Molook (Diadem of Kings) Boozi, the emir of Damascus, had in time discovered the plot of his hakem. He had put him and the vizir to death, and had ordered a general massacre of the Ismaïlites in the city *. The Christian army was now at a place named Marj Safar, and the footmen had begun to plunder the villages for food, when a small body of gallant Damascene warriors rushed from the town and fell upon them. The defenceless Christians sank beneath their blows, incapable of resistance. The rest of the army advanced to aid or avenge their brethren, when

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suddenly * the sky became overcast, thick darkness enveloped all objects, the thunder roared, the lightning flashed, the rain poured down in torrents, and, by a rapid transition, peculiar to Eastern climates, the rain and waters turned into snow and ice, and augmented the horrors of the day. The superstitious and conscience-stricken Crusaders viewed in this awful phenomenon the immediate agency of heaven, and deemed it to be sent as a punishment for their sins; and, recollecting that on that very spot but four years before King Baldwin had gained, with a handful of men, a victory over an army of the Damascenes, they were plunged into grief and humiliation. The only advantage which they derived from this expedition was the acquisition of the castle of Banias, which the Ismaïlite governor put into their hands, that under their protection he might escape the fate of his brethren.

Banias was given up to the Christians in the same year in which Alamoot was taken by the Seljookian sultan, and thus the power of the Assassins seemed to be almost gone. But it had in it a conservative principle, and, hydra-like, it grew by its wounds. Alamoot was speedily recovered, and three years afterwards Banias was once more the seat of a Daï-al-Kebir. At the same time the dagger raged with unwonted fury against all of whom the society stood in apprehension, and the annals of the reign of Keäh Buzoorg Oomeid furnish a list of illustrious victims.

The first of these was the celebrated Aksunkur, Prince of Mossul, a warrior equally dreaded by the Christians and by the Assassins. As this prince, on his return from Maärra Mesrin, where the Moslem and Christian hosts had parted without venturing to engage, entered the mosk at Mossul to perform his

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devotions, he was attacked at the moment when Le was about to take his usual seat by eight assassins, disguised as dervishes. Three of them fell beneath the blows of the valiant emir, but ere his people could come to his aid he had received his death-wound and expired. The remainder of the murderers became victims to the vengeance of the people; one youth only escaped. The Arabian historian, Kemal-ed-Deen, relates on this occasion a curious trait of the fanaticism and Spartan spirit which animated the members of the sect of the Ismaïlites. When the mother of the youth above-mentioned heard that the formidable Aksunkur had been slain, she painted her face and put on her gayest raiment and ornaments, rejoicing that her son had been found worthy to die the glorious death of a martyr in the cause of the Imam. But when she saw him return alive and unscathed, she cut off her hair and blackened her countenance, and would not be comforted.

In the following year (1127) fell Moin-ed-deen, the vizir of Sultan Sanjar. In this case the Assassin had engaged himself as a groom in the service of the vizir. As Moin-ed-deen went one day into the stable to look at his horses the Assassin appeared before him, stripped, and holding one of the horses by the bridle. As the vizir, unsuspicious of danger, came near where he was, the false groom made the horse rear, and, under the pretence of soothing and pacifying the restive animal, he took out a small dagger which he had concealed in the horse's mane, and plunged it into the bosom of the vizir.

The slaughter of the Ismaïlites by the Prince of Damascus was not forgotten, and two years afterwards he received two dagger wounds, one of which proved mortal. Their vengeance was not appeased by his blood, and his son and successor, Shems-al-Molook (Sun of Kings), perished by a conspiracy

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with the guilt of which the Assassins were charged. in the catalogue of the victims of this period appear also the names of the Judges of the East and of the West, of the Mufti of Casveen, of the Reis of Isfahan, and the Reis of Tebreez.

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« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2009, 10:59:59 pm »

The East has been at all times prolific of crime; human life is not there held to be of the value at which it is estimated in Europe; and the dagger and poison are freely employed to remove objects of apprehension, to put obstacles out of the way of ambition, or to satiate the thirst of vengeance. We are not, therefore, lightly to give credit to every charge made against the Assassins, and to believe them guilty of murders from which they had no advantage to derive. Thus, when at this time the Fatimite Khalit Amir bi-ahkami-llah (Commander of the observance of the laws of God) fell by the hands of murderers, the probability is that he was not a victim to the vengeance of the Ismaïlite society, whom he had never injured, but rather to that of the family of the powerful vizir Afdal, who had been assassinated some time before by the khalif's order, as we have every reason to suppose.

With a greater show of reason may the murder or Mostarshed, the Khalif of Bagdad, be imputed to the policy of the mountain chief. The Seljookian princes, the predecessors of Massood, had been satisfied to exercise all real power in the empire which had once obeyed the house of Abbas, leaving to that feeble Shadow of God upon Earth the unsubstantial privilege of having the coin of the realm struck and prayers offered on Friday in the mosk in his name. But Massood arrogated even these rights to himself. and the helpless successor of the Prophet was obliged to submit to the indignity which he could not pre vent. At length some discontented military chiefs passed with their troops over to the khalif, and persuaded

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him that by one bold effort he might overthrow the might of the Turkish sultan, and recover all his rights. The khalif listened to their arguments, and, placing himself at the head of an army, marched against Sultan Massood. But fortune proved adverse to him. At the first shock the greater part of the troops of Bagdad abandoned him, and he remained a captive in the hands of the sultan, who brought him with him a prisoner to Maragha. Here a treaty was concluded between them, and the khalif bound himself not to go any more outside of the walls of Bagdad, and annually to pay a sum of money. This treaty appears to have been displeasing to the Assassins; and, watching their opportunity, when Massood was gone to meet the ambassadors of Sultan Sanjar, a party of them fell upon and massacred the khalif and his train. The lifeless body of the Commander of the Faithful was mangled by them in the most scandalous manner.

After a blood-stained reign of fourteen years and three days Keäh Buzoorg Oomeid died. Departing from the maxims of Hassan Sabah, who it is probable wished to imitate the conduct of the Prophet, and leave the supreme dignity elective, he appointed his own son, Keäh Mohammed, to be his successor, induced either by paternal partiality, or believing him to be the person best qualified for the office.


88:* The number slain was 6,000.

89:* It was the month of December.

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« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2009, 11:00:35 pm »

p. 93


Keäh Mohammed--Murder of the Khalif--Castles gained in Syria--Ismaïlite Confession of Faith--Mohammed's Son Hassan gives himself out for the promised Imam--His Followers punished--Succession of Hassan--He abolishes the Law--Pretends to be descended from the Prophet--Is murdered.

THE policy of the society underwent no alteration on the accession of Mohammed. The dagger still smote its enemies, and as each victim fell, the people who maintained the rights of Ismaïl, and who were kept in rigid obedience to the positive precepts of the Koran, beheld nothing but the right hand of Heaven made bare for the punishment of crime and usurpation. The new mountain prince had hardly taken the reins of government into his hands when Rasheed, the successor of the late khalif, eager to avenge the murder of his father, assembled an army and marched against Alamoot. He had reached Isfahan, but there his march terminated. Four Assassins, who had entered his service for the purpose, fell upon him in his tent and stabbed him. When the news was conveyed to Alamoot great rejoicings were made, and for seven days and seven nights the trumpets and kettle-drums resounded from the towers of the fortress, proclaiming the triumph of the dagger to the surrounding country.

The Syrian dominion of the Ismaïlites was at this time considerably extended. They purchased from Ibn Amroo, their owner, the castles of Cadmos and Kahaf, and took by force that of Massyat from the

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lords of Sheiser. This castle, which was situated on the west side of Mount Legam, opposite Antaradus, became henceforth the chief seat of Ismaïlite power in Syria. The society had now a line of coast to the north of Tripolis, and their possessions extended inland to the verge of the Hauran.

The reign of Mohammed presents few events to illustrate the history of the Assassins. It was probably in his time that the following confession of the Ismaïlite faith was made to the persons whom Sultan Sanjar sent to Alamoot to inquire into it *:

"This is our doctrine," said the heads of the society. "We believe in the unity of God, and acknowledge as the true wisdom and right creed only that which accords with the word of God and the commands of the Prophet. We hold these as they are delivered in the holy writ, the Koran, and believe in all that the Prophet has taught of the creation, and the last things, of rewards and punishments, of the last judgment, and the resurrection. To believe this is necessary, and no one is authorized to judge of the commands of God for himself, or to alter a single letter in them. These are the fundamental doctrines of our sect, and if the sultan does not approve of them, let him send hither one of his learned divines, that we may argue the matter with him."

To this creed no orthodox Mussulman could well make any objection. The only question was, what was the Ismaïlite system of interpretation, and what other doctrines did they deduce from the sacred text; and the active employment of the dagger of the Fedavee suggested in tolerably plain terms that there were others, and that something not very compatible with the peace and order of society lay behind the veil. Indeed the circumstance of the Ismaïlite chiefs

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professing themselves to be only the ministers and representatives of the invisible imam was in itself highly suspicious; for what was to prevent their enjoining any atrocity which might be for their interest, in the name of their viewless master? They are ignorant indeed of human nature who suppose that a prompt obedience would not be yielded to all such commands by the ignorant and bigoted members of the sect.

The ill leaven of the secret doctrine displayed itself before very long. Keäh Mohammed, who appears to have been a weak, inefficient man, was held in little esteem by his followers. They began to attach themselves to his son Hassan, who had the reputation of being a man of prodigious knowledge, learned in tradition and the text of the Koran, versed in exposition, and well acquainted with the sciences. Hassan, either through vanity or policy, began secretly to disseminate the notion of his being himself the imam whose appearance had been promised by Hassan Ben Sabah. Filled with this idea, the more instructed members of the society vied with each other in eagerness to fulfil his commands, and Keäh Mohammed, seeing his power gradually slipping from him, was at length roused to energy. Assembling the people, he reprobated in strong terms the prevailing heresy. "Hassan," said he, "is my son, and I am not the imam, but only one of his missionaries. Whoever maintains the contrary is an infidel." Then, in true Assassin fashion, he gave effect to his words by executing 250 of his son's adherents, and banishing an equal number from the fortress. Hassan himself, in order to save his life, was obliged publicly to curse those who held the new opinions, and to write dissertations condemning their tenets, and defending those of his father. By these means he succeeded in removing suspicion

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from the mind of the old chief; but, as he continued to drink wine in private, and violated several of the other positive precepts of the law, his adherents became only the more convinced of his being the imam, at whose coming all the precepts of the law were to cease to be of any force.

Hassan was obliged to be cautious and conceal his opinions during the lifetime of his father; for, whatever their opinion might be of the capacity and intellectual power of the head of their sect, the Assassins believed themselves to be bound to obey his orders, as proceeding from the visible representative of the sacred invisible imam; and, high as their veneration for Hassan was, his blood would have flowed on the ground the instant an order to that effect had passed the lips of his father. But no sooner was Keäh Mohammed dead, after a reign of twenty-four years, and the supreme station was come to Hassan himself, than he resolved to fling away the mask at once, and not• only to trample on the law himself, but to authorize and encourage all his people to do the same.

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