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Early life of Harun Al Rashid

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Harun Al Rashid reigned between 766 and 809 and belonged to the dynasty of Abbasid as the fifth caliph. This term paper focuses on his entire life including but not limited to his early life, reign, personality, achievements and failures. Although he was considered to be more powerful than his predecessors, the failure of the dynasty is thought to have begun during his reign. Even as such allegations were made and are still considered among many people it is important to understand Harun Al Rashid from an analytical point of view. Al Rashid was born in Iran at a place called Ravy near the current Tehran and spent most of his life in Baghdad with his reign being centered at the heart of the Euphrates in Ar Raqqah (H Arun Al -R Ashid. 2010). It is noted that Al Rashid’s reign period was marked with significant prosperity especially in culture, religion and science. There was although commendable growth in art and music. It was during this time that a famous library called the House of wisdom was established.

As a resourceful personality in areas of politics and military, Al Rashid’s life tales have always been characterized by fictional tales. Amidst all fictions tales, Al Rashid is known for the Clock present which he sent to Charlemagne together with others. These presents were delivered by the Frankish entourage that was on a mission to strengthen their alliance with Harun in 799. Al Rashid was born to Al-Mahdi who was the third Abbasid who reigned from 775-785. His mother, al-Khayzuran was from Yemen who had formerly served as a slave girl. In spite of her humble background, al-Khayzuran she was highly respected for her strong and influential personality which was quite significant during the reign of her husband and son. In particular, the will of Harun Al Rashid’s mother in his governance significantly influenced had impact until her death in 789.

On the other hand, Harun Al Rashid’s administration was mainly controlled by vizier the chief minister and Barmakids who were made up of a Persian family which had become powerful during the reign al Mahdi. Harun also gained leadership experience through the governing of various provinces with the supervision of an assigned official, Yahya ibn Khalid. He was named second in succession of the throne after his father but al-Hadi mistreated him immediately he took power after the death of their father. However, Harun’s brother did not rule for long. He mysteriously died leaving the throne for Harun Al Rashid’s when he immediately appointed his former supervisor Yahya as the vizier.

The reign of Harun Al Rashid

Since he was young and lacked enough experience, Harun Al Rashid relied on the help from his appointed vizier and his son Jafar and al-Fadl who were very resourceful in matters of administration for almost seventeen years of Harun Al Rashid’s reign. Yahya was very competent and possessed unique leadership qualities which enabled him to choose and train good subordinates. His two sons who also assisted Harun Al Rashid in governance had similar traits. It is however important to note that Barmakid did not remain significant in Harun’s leadership. Its power crumbled after the execution of Jafar in January 806 followed by the arrest and detention of his brother and father. The main reason behind this course of action was the fact that the family had become too powerful, overstepping the roles and powers of the Caliph. This move led to the realization of calm and peace within the caliphate and lowered the number of revolts to zero. Nevertheless, a series of internal revolts occurred. There was serious trouble in places like Mesopotamia, Daylam, Egypt, Yemen and Syria with an intense insurrection in Khurasan in 806 under the leadership of Rafi ibn Layth. Harun experienced difficulty in coordinating a huge empire which forced him in 789 to form an independent principality that was based in Morocco under the dynasty of Idrisid. He further established a semi-independent principality in Tunisia in 800 under the dynasty of Aghlabid (H Arun Al -R Ashid. 2010). Although this was to facilitate coordination of governance in the entire empire, the powers of the central were no more. This led to the risk of breaking up of the empire due to what was considered as unwise succession formula which was applied by Harun. One of his sons, al-Amin was to serve as the Caliph as the other one, al-Mamun was to oversee the running of certain provinces with certain control powers within the military.

Harun is also remembered for his personalized pressure in opposition to the Byzantines. He went ahead to organize for several voyages in 797, 803 and the last one in 806 (Kennedy 115). Due to this pressure, Irene the Impress made peace and approved the payment of a large sum of money. Conversely, the emperor was against the deal but was later forced to concur with a more challenging one in 806 after the occupation of Cyprus in 805. Many people still believe that there may have been diplomatic treaties between Harun and Charlemagne in which Harun was considered to favor Christians. Harun died on March 24, on a peace mission to Tus, east of Persia (H Arun Al -R Ashid. 2010).

Like every leader in the world, Harun Al Rashid led to the best of his ability realizing a number of achievements most of which were neutralized by his failures. For this reason, many scholars reckon that there is a problem in considering V Harun Al Rashid as either a good or bad leader. There were countless executions which were ordered by him because of the fear of being overthrown. His era was also marked with violence and shading of innocent blood. With all the respect, Barmakids played a major role especially in the foundational stages of Harun’s leadership.

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