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The death of the prophet Mohammed created something in the nature of a constitutional crisis in the infant Moslem community. It was solved by the appointment of Abu-Bakr, one of the leading converts, as "deputy" (Khalifah) of the prophet, and the creation, almost incidentally, of the great historic institution of the caliphate. There was at the very beginning of the caliphate a group of people who felt that Ali, the son-in-law and cousin of the prophet, had a better title to the succession, some of them perhaps from legitimist scruples, most of them, for the reason, far more congenial to the Arabian mind, that Ali was the best man for the job. This group came to be known as the shiatu Ali, the party of Ali, and then simply as the Shiah. In the course of time it gave rise to the major religious schism of Islam. In its origins, however, the Shiah was purely political, consisting only of the adherents of a political pretender, with no distinctive religious doctrine and no greater religious content than was inherent in the very nature of Islamic political authority.

The vast expansion of the Arabs under the early caliphs brought into the Islamic fold great numbers of imperfectly Islamized converts who carried with them from their Christian, Jewish, and Iranian backgrounds many religious and mystical ideas unknown to primitive Islam. These new converts, though Moslems, were not Arabs, and the inferior social and economic status imposed on them by the ruling Arab aristocracy created a sense of grievance which made them a rich recruiting ground for messianic and revolutionary sects. The great increase in numbers among the Arabs during the first century of Islam brought important social differentiations among the conquerors, and many of the Arabs themselves, especially among the sedentarized semi-sedentarized southern tribes, began to share the resentments of the non-Arab converts. Most of these had traditions of political and religious legitimism, the latter exemplified in the Judaeo-Christian Messiah of the house of David and the Zoroastrian Saoshyant of a God-begotten line through which the divine light is transmitted from generation to generation. Once converted to Islam, they were readily attracted by the claims of the house of the prophet as against the ruling caliphs, who were associated for them with the existing regime of Arab aristocratic hegemony. All new faiths need their martyrs, and the emergent Shiite heresy was watered with blood by the murder of Ali, in 661 and the dramatic slaying of his son Husain and his family at Kerbela in 680.

The fusion between the pro-Alid party and the nascent heresies did not take long. In 685 one Mukhtar, a Persian Moslem of the Arab garrison city of Kufa, led a revolt in favor of an Alid pretender, and after the disappearance and reputed death of the latter, preached that he was not really dead but was in concealment, and would in course of time return and establish the rule of justice on earth. Here for the first time we find a clear statement of the characteristic Shiite doctrine of the Mahdi, the divinely guided one, a messianic personage who, after a period of concealment, will manifest himself and initiate a new era of righteousness and divine law. With Mukhtar and his followers Shiism develops from a party to a sect,

During the early years of its development the Shiite heresy was extremely fluid, both in doctrine and in organization. Innumerable pretenders appeared, claiming with varying plausibility descent from the prophet or authority from one of his descendants, and, after enriching the description of the awaited Mahdi with some new detail, followed one another into eschatological concealment. Their doctrines varied from moderate, semi-political opposition resembling that of the original pro-Alids to the most extreme forms of religious heterodoxy, often reflecting gnostic, Manichaean, and even Indian ideas. In different parts of the empire vigorous local variants appeared, crystallized out of Shiism by the action of earlier local beliefs. The nominal leadership of the Shiah was transmitted from father to son through a series of Alid pretenders known to their adherents as imams (Arabic singular, imam). These were descended from Ali in several different lines. The most active in the Umaiyad period was the line of Muhammad ibn-al-Uanafiyah (d. 700/701), a son of Ali by a wife other than Fatimah. it was this group that gave rise to the Abbasid revolution and perished in the hour of its victory. More important in the long run were the imams of the line of Ali and Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet, through their son Husain (d. 68o). How far the Fatimid pretenders of this time were themselves associated with their more extreme followers is not known. Their relative freedom from molestation by the caliphs and the frequent denunciation of the extremist leaders in the traditions of the imams suggest that the connection was not close.

The first half of the eighth century was a period of intensive activity among the extremists. Countless sects and subsects appeared, especially among the mixed population of southern Iraq and the coasts of the Persian Gulf. Their doctrines varied widely, often recalling the wilder speculations of earlier Near Eastern mysticism, and in the fluid state of the sects transition was easy and frequent from one doctrine and leader to another. The Moslem sources name many heretical leaders of the time who led revolts and were put to death, and attribute to some of them doctrines which were later characteristic of the Ismailites. One group practiced the strangling of opponents with cords as a religious duty — an obvious reflection of Indian Thuggee, and a foreshadowing of the "assassinations" of later centuries.

The decisive split between extremists and moderates occurred after the death in 765 of Jafar as-Sadiq, the sixth Fatimid imam of the line of Husain. Jafar's successor by primogeniture would have been Ismail. For reasons which are not quite clear, and probably because of his association with the more extreme elements, Ismail was disinherited, and a large part of the Shiah recognized his brother Musa as seventh imam. The line of Musa continued until the twelfth imam, who disappeared about 873, and is still the "awaited imam" or Mahdi of the great majority of the Shiah at the present day. The followers of the twelve Imams, usually known as Itna-ashari or Twelver Shiah, represent the moderate branch of the sect. Their difference from the main body of Sunnite Islam is limited to a certain number of points of doctrine, which in recent years have become ever less significant.

Around Ismail and his descendants a sect was formed which by its cohesion, organization, and intellectual maturity far outstripped its competitors. In place of the chaotic speculations of the early heresiarchs, a series of distinguished theologians elaborated a system of religious doctrine on a high philosophic level, and produced a literature that is only now beginning to achieve recognition at its true worth. Ismailite doctrine is eclectic, drawing especially on Neoplatonism. Extraneous ideas were in­troduced into their Islam by means of the so-called tawil al-batin, esoteric interpretation, which was one of the characteristic features of the sect and gave rise to the term Batinite, by which it was often known. The Koran and all religious precepts were believed to bear two meanings, one literal and exoteric, the other allegoric or esoteric, and known only to the initiate. After the creation of the world by the action of the universal mind on the universal soul, human history falls into a series of cycles, each begun by a "speaking" imam, or prophet, followed by a succession of "silent" imams. There were cycles of hidden and of manifest imams, corresponding to the periods of persecution and success of the faith. The imams —in the current cycle the heirs of Ali through Ismail —were divinely inspired and infallible, and commanded the unquestioning obedience of their followers.

The intellectual influence of Ismailism on Islam was very great indeed. During the heyday of its expansion poets, philosophers, theologians, and scholars flocked to the Ismailite centers and produced works of a high order. Owing to the anti-Ismailite reaction that followed the fall of the Fatimids, most of them are preserved only among the Ismailites themselves, and have only recently begun to come to light. A few works of Ismailite inspiration have, however, for long been widely known, and many of the great Arabic and Persian classical authors show at least traces of Ismailite influence. The famous "Epistles of the Sincere Brethren", an encyclopedia of religious, philosophic, and scientific knowledge compiled in the tenth century, is saturated with Ismailite thought, and exercised a profound influence on the intellectual life of Islam from Persia to Spain.

Extremist Shiism in its origins was, as we have seen, closely connected with the revolt of those elements which, for one reason or another, were opposed to the established order. Serious and sustained opposition to the theocratic state tended to take the form of heresy against the dominant faith. This was not because scheming men used religion as a cloak or mask for material purposes, but because, in an age when the problems of faith and worship took first place in men's minds, and when the state itself was conceived to be an instrument of the divine law, religion provided the necessary and inevitable expression, in terms of both doctrine and action, of all major differences and discontents. With its strong stress on social justice and reform, its belief in a Mahdi — no vague, eschatological figure, but a rebel leader waiting to strike and to "fill the earth with justice and equity as it is now filled with oppression and tyranny" — Ismailism appealed especially to the growing and discontented urban population. Orthodox polemicists against Ismailism made it quite clear that they regarded the menace of the sect as social no less than religious. Several orthodox sources assert that the Ismailites preached and practiced communism of property and women. There is no record of this whatever in Ismailite sources, and, while perhaps true of some of the earlier extremist heresies, it is quite out of keeping with the general tenor of Ismailite thought in the developed stage. There is on the other hand strong reason for believing that the Ismailites were closely associated with the early development of the Islamic craft-guilds, which they at­tempted to use as an instrument of organization and propaganda.

Another element ready to welcome the new preaching was the nomadic Arab tribes of Arabia and more especially of the Syrian and Mesopotamian borderlands. By the ninth century these had lost the position of power and privilege they had once held in the Islamic state, and were suffering more and more from the consequences of the establishment of Turkish military rule in the centers of civilization. A doctrine which impugned the legitimacy and justice of the regime that had ousted them and which gave them a rallying cry for an attack upon it, could count on their willing acceptance.

For the first century and a half of the existence of the sect the imams of the line of Ismail remained hidden, and were protected from the attention of the authorities by a series of devices. The organization of the sect was run by a hierarchy of missionaries, who preached allegiance to the hidden imams and the newly elaborated doctrine and built up centers of Ismailite strength in widely separated parts of the Islamic empire. As might be expected, they achieved special success in those places, like southern Iraq, the Persian Gulf provinces, and parts of Persia, where the earlier forms of Shiite extremism had already won a following. At the end of the ninth century a branch of the sect known as the Qarmatians, or "Carmathians" — their precise relationship with the main Ismailite body is uncertain —was able to seize power in Bahrain (the Hasa coast of Arabia), establish a republic, and conduct a series of raids on the communications of the Abbasid empire. A Qarmatian attempt to seize power in Syria at the beginning of the tenth century failed, but the episode is sig­nificant and reveals some local support for Ismailism even at that early date.

The final success of the sect came in another quarter. An Ismailite mission in the Yemen had achieved considerable success by the end of the ninth century, and was able to send missionaries to a number of other countries, including North Africa, where they succeeded so well that in 909 the hidden imam was able to emerge from hiding and establish a Fatimid caliphate, challenging the Abbasids of Baghdad for supremacy in the Islamic world. After a period of incubation in Tunisia, the new empire swept eastward, and in 973 al-Muizz, the fourth Fatimid caliph, established his new capital of Cairo. The Fatimid caliphate at its height included Egypt, Syria, the Hejaz, the Yemen, North Africa, and Sicily, and commanded the allegiance of countless followers in the eastern lands still subject to the Abbasids of Baghdad. The great college mosque of al-Azhar, founded by the Fatimids as the intellectual center of their faith, turned out innumerable missionaries and agents who, under the aegis of the chief dai, the head of the religious hierarchy in Cairo, went out to preach and to organize in Iraq, Persia, Central Asia, and India.

The Fatimid threat to Baghdad was economic as well as religious. The European commercial connections formed by the North African caliphs were retained and extended by the rulers of Cairo. Fatimid control of both shores of the Red Sea and of the ports of the Yemen opened the way for Fatimid trade and propaganda in India, and deflected a large part of the vital Near Eastern transit trade from Persian Gulf to Red Sea ports.

The very successes of the Fatimids brought Ismailism its first serious internal conflicts. The needs and responsibilities of an empire and a dynasty necessarily involved some modifications in the earlier doctrine, and in the elaboration and reorganization of the ismailite religious system that followed the establishment of the Fatimid caliphate, the last links with the old extremist heresies were cut. From the beginning purists were not wanting to complain against the alleged corruption of the faith. The spearhead of resistance was formed by the Qarmatians of Bahrain, who after first supporting the Fatimids, turned against them and fought unsuccessfully against the armies of al-Muizz in Syria and Egypt. At a later date the Qarmatians seem to have returned to the Fatimid allegiance and the sect sank into oblivion as a separate entity.

Another schism occurred after the disappearance, in obscure circumstances, of the caliph al-Hakim in 1021. A group of Ismailites preached the divinity and "concealment" of al-Hakim and, refusing to recognize his successors, seceded from the main body of the sect. The Druzes, as they are known, after their leader ad-Darazi, made a determined effort to win over the Ismailite sectaries in Syria, and they are still to be found in Leba­non, Syria, and Israel at the present days.

It was during the long reign of the caliph al-Mustansir (1036 to 1094) that Ismailism suffered its greatest internal schism. The Fatimid empire in its heyday was administered by a civilian bureaucracy, presided over by a civilian vizir, and under the supreme control of the religious and spiritual imam. Since the death of al-Hakim, however, the military had been steadily increasing its power at the expense of the caliph and the civil administration. This process of transfer of the center of power was completed in 1074, when the Armenian general Back al-Jamali came with his army from Syria to take control of affairs in Egypt. Henceforth the real ruler of Egypt was the emir al-juyush, commander-in-chief, a military autocrat ruling through his troops, and the army was the final repository of authority in the state. Just as the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad had become the helpless puppets of their own praetorians, so now the Fatimid became mere figureheads for a series of military dictators. The military domination of the emirs, some of them not even Ismailite, and the shrunken stature of the Fatimid caliphs were clearly incompatible with the ecumenical ambitions of the Ismailite sect and organization. Soon the world-wide ambitions of the Ismailite mission were abandoned, and the descendants of al-Muizz became a local Egyptian dynasty — secularized, militarized, and in decay.

Such a change inevitably awoke widespread discontent and opposition among the more active and consistent of the sectaries, the more so since it coincided with a period of extraordinary activity among the Ismailites in the newly created Selchukid empire in Asia, where, under the leadership of al-Masan ibn-as-Sabbah, a veritable Ismailite renaissance was taking place. Al-Hasan was a Persian and, according to an old legend, a fellow student of Omar Khayyam (Umar al-Khaiyam) in the academy of Nishapur. In 1078, already a prominent figure among the eastern Ismailites, he visited Cairo, where he made contact with the leaders of the sect. Between the future leader of the Assassins and the military autocrat there can have been little in common. The two men soon came into conflict, and, according to some sources, al-Hasan was deported from Egypt.

The replacement of Badr al-Jamali by his son al-Afdal made little change in the state of affairs, and when, by the death of al­Mustansir, al-Afdal was confronted with the need to choose a successor, his choice was not difficult. On the one hand was Nizar, an adult, already appointed heir by al-Mustansir, known and accepted by the Ismailite leaders; on the other, his brother al­Mustansir, a youth without allies or supporters, who would consequently be entirely dependent on al-Afdal. It was certainly with this object in mind that al-Afdal arranged a marriage between his own daughter and al-MustaIi. In choosing al-Mustali, al-Afdal split the sect from top to bottom, and alienated, perhaps intentionally, almost the whole of its following in the eastern lands of Islam. Even within the Fatimid boundaries there were movements of opposition; the eastern ismailites, under the leadership of al-Hasan ibn-as-Sabbah, refused to recognize the accession of al-Mustali, and proclaiming their allegiance to the deposed Nizar and his line, broke off all relations with the attenuated Fatimid organization in Cairo. Thus the divergence between the state and the revolutionaries, the first open expression of which was the conflict between al-Muizz and the Qarmatians at the time of the conquest of Egypt, was complete. It is significant that even those Ismailites who had remained faithful to al-Mustali broke away a little later. In 1130, on the death of the caliph al-Amir at the hands of the Assassins, the remaining Ismailites refused to recognize the new caliph in Cairo, and regarded al-Amir's infant son Taiyib as the hidden and awaited imam. The last four Fatimid caliphs in Cairo were not recognized as imams, and did not even themselves claim this title. The final extinction of the dynasty at the hands of Saladin can have made little difference to the Ismailites in the east.

While the Mustalian branch stagnated in the remoter outposts of Islam, the Nizarites on the other hand began a period of most intensive development, both in doctrine and in political action, and for a while played a vital role in the history of the Near East.

In the eleventh century the growing internal weakness of the Islamic world was revealed by a series of invasions, the most important of which, that of the Selchukid Turks, created a new military empire from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. Social upheaval in such a period of change was inevitable. The new ruling caste of Turkish soldiers replaced or subjugated the Arab and Persian landowners, traders, and bureaucrats who had been the dominating element in earlier times. The military power of the Turks was unchallengeable. But there were other methods of attack, and to the many malcontents of Selchukid Persia Ismailism, in its new form, once again brought a seductive doctrine of revolution, now associated with a new and effective strategy of attack.

According to Ismailite tradition Nizar and his son were murdered in prison in Egypt, but an infant grandson was smuggled out to Persia and there brought up by al-Hasan ibn-as-Sabbah to found a new line of Nizarite imams. Al-Hasan and his two successors in the grand-mastership of the Ismailites in Persia, Kiya Buzurg-Umid (1124-1138) and Muhammad (1138–1162), claimed only to be emissaries of the imam, but the fourth grand master, known as al-Hasan Ala-Dhikrihi-s-Salam (1162-1166), proclaimed himself to be the son of the infant brought from Egypt, and the first of a new cycle of open imams. Nizarite doctrine differs in some particulars from the unreformed Fatimid system. The esoteric element is given greater stress at the expense of the exoteric, while the imamate increased in status, under the influence of old oriental "light" beliefs. The imam is a hypostasis of the divine will, which is transferred, from father to son, through the line of imams.

Of greater significance to the outside world was the adoption by the Persian Nizarites of the procedure that has come to be known, after them, as "assassination". Murder as a religious duty was not new to extremist Shiism, and was practiced as early as the eighth century by the strangler sects of southern Iraq. After the suppression of the stranglers by the Umaiyad authorities nothing is heard, of religious as distinct from private or political murder in the Near East until the appearance of the Assassins. Here too, murder clearly has a religious, even a sacramental value. It is significant that the Assassins always used a dagger; never poison, never missiles. Some sources even speak of the grand master's consecrating the daggers of Assassins setting out on a mission. The Ismailites themselves use the term fidai, or fidawi, devotee, of the actual murderer, and an interesting Ismailite poem has been preserved praising their courage, loyalty, and pious devotion. The use of this term for the sectaries as a whole, it may be noted in passing, is an error. The name Assassin, by which the sectaries are known in both Moslem and western sources, is now known to be a corruption of hasbishi, taker of hashish, or Indian hemp, which the sectaries were believed to use in order to induce ecstatic visions of paradise and thereby fortify themselves to face martyrdom. The stories told by Marco Polo and other eastern and western sources of the "gardens of paradise" into which the drugged devotees were introduced to receive a foretaste of the eternal bliss that awaited them after the successful completion of their missions are not confirmed by any known Ismailite source.

The open history of the sect begins in 1090, when al-Hasan ibn-as-Sabbah, by a combination of force and guile, seized the castle of Alamut, in an impregnable fastness south of the Caspian, some two days' march northwest of Kazvin. The adjoining provinces of Dailam and Azerbaijan had long been centers of extremist heresy, and offered a ready recruiting ground from which al-Hasan formed his corps of fidais, the fanatical and utterly devoted instruments of his war of terror against the Selchukids. The numerous Ismailite followers and sympathizers scattered through the Selchukid realms facilitated their task, and before long the Assassins were able to seize other castles in Iraq, in the neighborhood of Isfahan, and in other parts of Persia. By the end of the eleventh century al-Hasan commanded a network of strongholds all over Persia and Iraq, a tried and tested corps of devoted murderers, and a "fifth column" of unknown size in all the camps and cities of the enemy. In Alamut, which remained the headquarters of the sect until its capture by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the grand master presided over a hierarchy of Assassins, propagandists, and lay brothers, and directed the policies and activities of the sect in all areas. Selchukid at tempts to capture it and stamp out the menace at its source were unavailing, and soon the daggers of the faithful were claiming many victims among the generals, governors, and princes of the Selchtikid states. The comprehensive nature of the Assassin threat to Islamic society was well realized by the Selchukid authorities, who took steps to protect the minds of their subjects from Ismailite sedition. In this they were in the long run more successful than in protecting the persons of their servants against the Ismailite reign of terror. In Baghdad and later in other cities great theological colleges (Arabic singular, madrasah) were founded, to formulate and disseminate orthodox doctrine and to counter the Ismailite propaganda that came, first from the colleges and missions of Fatimid Egypt, later in a more radical form from the emissaries of the Nizsrites.

It was at the beginning of the twelfth century that the Persian Assassins seem to have begun to extend their activities to Syria. The terrain was favorable. Between 107o and 1079 the Selchukids had conquered Syria, carrying with them many of the problems that had made Persia so excellent a field for Assassin propaganda. The irruption of the crusaders at the end of the century completed the political fragmentation of the country begun by the dissensions of the SeIchukid princes. Among the native population of the country extremist Shiism already had a hold. Since the fall of the Umaiyads and the transfer of the capital to Iraq, Syria had been a discontented province, unreconciled to its loss of metropolitan status, severed by mutual distrust from the government in the east. The first Shiite pretender appeared in Syria only a few years after the fall of the Umaiyads, and by the end of the ninth century and the beginning of the tenth the hidden imams of the ismailites could count on sufficient local support to make Syria the seat of their secret headquarters and the scene of their first bid for power. The spread of the Fatimid empire eastwards from North Africa brought Syria under intermittent Ismailite rule in the late tenth and eleventh centuries, and opened the country to the free dissemination of Ismailite propaganda. Here and there were sects which, though not actually Ismailite, were near enough to Ismailism in outlook to encourage the emissaries of Alamut. The Druzes in Mount Lebanon had only recently broken away from the main body, and had not yet developed that ossified exclusiveness that distinguished them in later times. The Nusairis, an offshoot of the Twelver Shiah, much influenced by extremist doctrine, were powerful in the hill-country east and northeast of Latakia, and perhaps also in Tiberias and the Jordan district. The ignominious weakness of the Fatimid state under the successors of al-Mustansir would incline many Ismailites in Syria, threatened by both Turks and crusaders, to transfer their allegiance to the more active branch. Even among the Turkoman tribes migrating into Syria there were many who had been affected by extremist Shiite propaganda in the east. Some of the Shiites in Syria remained faithful to their old several allegiances. Many, if not the majority, rallied to the Assassin emissaries, who seemed to offer the only effective challenge to the invaders and rulers of the country.

The first Assassin leader in Syria of whom we hear is the personage known as al-Hakim al-Munaijim, "the physician-astrologer," who appeared in Aleppo at the beginning of the twelfth century. Aleppo was a city with an important Shiite population, and was conveniently near to the Shiite strongholds in the Jabal as-Summak and Jabal Bahra. Its ruler, the Selchukid prince Ridvan, was disposed to favor the sectaries, possibly in the hope of winning support among the Shiites, more probably in the hope of compensating for his military weakness as against his rivals in Syria. A few years earlier Ridvan had not scrupled to proclaim Fatimid allegiance for a short time when it suited him, and then to return as easily to political orthodoxy. In the lax religious atmosphere of the time, he had no hesitation in supporting even the Assassins when it seemed politically expedient. Ridvan allowed the Assassins full freedom in the practice and propagation of their religion. Of special importance was the opportunity to establish a dar ad-darwah, "house of propaganda," and to use the city as a base for further activities. That Ridvan, as some sources suggest, himself inclined to Ismailism is uncertain and on the whole unlikely.

Ridvan's policy paid quick dividends. On May 1, 1103, Janah-ad-Daulah, the ruler of Homs and a rival of Ridvan, was stabbed to death by three Persians in the great mosque. The assassins, who were dressed as sufis, acted on a signal from a Shaikh who accompanied them. A number of Janah's officers were killed with him and significantly, most of the Turks in Homs fled to Damascus. The assassins themselves were killed. Most sources agree that the murder was instigated by Ridvan.

Two or three weeks after the murder of Janah-ad-Daulah, the physician-astrologer himself died, and was succeeded in the leader­ship of the Syrian Assassins by another Persian, abu-Tahir­Saigh, the goldsmith. From that time until the accession of the famous Rashid-ad-Din Sinan in, or shortly after, 1162, the main efforts of the Syrian mission were directed to the seizure and consolidation of castles in country inhabited by sympathetic populations, to be used after the Persian model. The leaders as far as they are known to us were all Persians, sent from Alamut and operating under the orders of al-Hasan ibn-as-Sabbah and his successors. The endeavor to win strongholds falls into three main campaigns. The first, conducted from Aleppo and directed by abu-Tahir, was concentrated on the Jabal as-Summaq and ended with the death of abu-Tahir in 1113 and the reaction against the Ismailites in Aleppo after the death of Ridvan. The second, conducted from Damascus by the chief dais Bahrara and Ismail al­Ajami, was aimed at Banyas and the Wadi-t-Taim, and ended in failure and death by 1130. The third, conducted from unknown bases by a number of chiefs of whom only a few are known by name, succeeded between 1132 and 1151 in winning and consolidating a group of strongholds in the Jabal Bahr (now called the Jabal Ansariyah after its Nusairi population).

The population of the Jabal as-Summaq had long been affected by Ismailism and related doctrines. The hidden imam had stayed there for a while in the late ninth century, and in 1o36/1o37 al-Muqtana, the Druze missionary, addressed a special epistle to the Ismailites of that area exhorting them to join the Druzes. He asked them to draw up lists of reliable men and to meet secretly in various places in groups of from seven to nine men. From the beginning the emissaries of Alamut seem to have been able to call on local support in Sarmin and other places, and may even have controlled a few localities. At an unknown date they seized Kafarlatha, which however they lost to Tancred, prince of Antioch, by 1110. The first documented attempt came in 1106, in Apamea. Its ruler, Khalaf ibn-Mulaib, had been expelled from Homs by the Turks in 1092, and had sought refuge in Egypt. When a request for a ruler came to Cairo from the Ismailite inhabitants of Apamea, Khalaf was sent to take over as Fatimid representative. In 1096 he seized the town from Ridvan and embarked on a career of brigandage. Though a Shiite and presumably an Ismailite, Khalaf was apparently unwilling to throw in his lot with the Assassins, and on February 3, 1106, he was killed by emissaries acting under the orders of abu-Tahir in Aleppo. These were assisted by an Assassin from Sarmin residing in Apamea, called abu-l-Fath. After the murder and the seizure of the citadel and town abu-Tahir himself arrived to take charge, nominally on behalf of his patron Ridvan. But this attempt, despite its promising start, did not succeed. Tancred, who had already occupied much of the surrounding country, now attacked Apamea, possibly at the request of the Christian population, who feared Assassin rule. After a first inconclusive siege, he returned and in September received the capitulation of the town. Abu-l-Fath was put to death by torture, while abu-Tahir ransomed himself from captivity and returned to Aleppo.

Another attempt was made in 1113/1114, to seize Shaizar from its holders, the Banu-Munqidh, by a group of Assassins from Apamea, Sarmin, Maarrat-an-Numan, and Maarrat-Misrin. After an initially successful surprise attack the men of Shaizar recovered, and were able to defeat and exterminate the attackers.

In the same year, 1113, the Syrian Assassins achieved their most ambitious coup to date — the murder in Damascus of Maudud, the Selchukid emir of Mosul and commander of the eastern ex­peditionary force to Syria. Most sources are agreed that the Assassins performed the deed. Contemporary gossip, as recorded by Ibn-al-Athir and William of Tyre, suggests that Tughtigin, the regent (Turkish, atabeg) of Damascus, had a hand in it. Along with the other independent Moslem rulers of Syria, Tughtigin might well have feared an increase in Selchukid power and influence among them, and his later dealings with the dai Bahram show that he did not disdain such allies. But Maudud position as commander of an eastern Selchukid army would alone have sufficed to mark him down as a dangerous enemy of the Assassins, and in this respect it is significant that the Assassins of Aleppo rallied to the support of Ridvan when, in 11i1, he closed the gates of Aleppo against Maudud and his army.

The danger to the Assassins of eastern Selchukid influence became clear after the death of their patron Ridvan on December 10, 1113. Assassin activities in Aleppo had made them increasingly unpopular with both the Sunnite and the moderate Shiite towns­men, and in 1111 an unsuccessful attempt on the life of one abu-Harb Isa ibn-Zaid, a rich Persian from Transoxiana and a declared anti-ismailite, was followed by a popular outburst against the sectaries. After Ridvan's death the storm burst. His son Alp Arslan at first followed his father's policy, even ceding them a castle outside Balis on the Aleppo-Baghdad road. But the reaction soon came. Kamal-ad-Din, the historian of Aleppo, tells of a letter from the Selchikid sultan Muhammad to Alp Arslan warning him of the Assassin danger and urging him to make a clean sweep. The main initiative in Aleppo came from Said ibn-Badr, the prefect (Arabic, rais) of the city and commander of the militia, who adopted a series of vigorous measures. Abut-Tahir and other leaders were put to death, and about two hundred of their followers killed or imprisoned. A number escaped and fled to various parts, including, according to Ibn-al-Qalanisi, the lands of the Franks. Husam-ad-Din ibn-Dumlaj, who commanded the Ismailite levies in Aleppo, fled to Raqqa and died there, while his henchman Ibrahim al-Ajami (the Persian), who had held the castle of Balis in the Ismailite interest, fled to Shaizar.

Despite this setback, and their failure to secure a permanent castle-stronghold so far, the Persian Ismailite mission had not done too badly during the tenure of office of abu-Tahir. They had made contacts with local sympathizers, winning to the Assassin allegiance Ismailites of other branches and extremist Shiites of the various local Syrian sects. They could count on important local support in the Jabal as-Summaq, the Jazr, and the Banfu-Ulaim country — that is, in the strategically significant territory between Shaizar and Sarmin. They had formed nuclei of support in other places in Syria, and especially along their line of communication eastwards to Alamut. The Euphrates districts east of Aleppo are known as centers of extremist Shiism in both earlier and later periods, and although there is no direct evidence for these years, one may be certain that abu-Tahir did not neglect his opportunities.

Even in Aleppo itself the Assassins, albeit weakened, held on for a while. In 1119 their arch-enemy Said ibn-Badi was expelled from the city by the shiftless Alp Arslan, and fled to Il-Ghazi in Mardin, to beg him to return to Aleppo. On his way he was attacked by two Assassins at Qalat Jabar (Dausar), on the Euphrates, and killed, together with his two sons. In the following year they were again strong enough in Aleppo to demand the small citadel (Qalat ash-Sharif) from Il-Ghazi. He, unwilling to cede it to them and afraid to refuse, resorted to the subterfuge of having it hastily demolished and then pretending to have ordered this just previously. Ibn-al-Khashshab, who conducted the demolition, was "assassinated" in 1125. The end of Ismailite power in Aleppo seems to have come in 1124, when Belek, having seized the city, arrested the agent of Bahram, the chief dai, and ordered the expulsion of the sectaries, who sold up their property and departed. In the following year the ismailites of Amida (Diyarbakir) were set upon by the local population and several hundred of them killed.

In 1124 it was the agent of the chief dai, and not the chief dai himself, who was arrested as leader of the Assassins in Aleppo. After the death of abu-Tahir the chief dais no longer resided in that city. His successor, Bahrain, transferred the main activities of the sect to the south, and was soon playing an active part in the affairs of Damascus. Like his predecessors, Bakrara was a Persian, the nephew of an Assassin leader executed in Baghdad in 1101 by order of the Selchukid sultan Berkyaruk. He fled to Syria, and appears to have succeeded to the headship of the sectaries after the debacle in Aleppo in 1113. For a while, in the words of Ibn-al-Qalanisi, "he lived in extreme concealment and secrecy, and continually disguised himself, so that he moved from city to city and castle to castle without anyone being aware of his identity." He almost certainly had a hand in the assassination of Aksungur al-Bursuki in Mosul on November 26, 1126. Al-Bundari, the chronicler of the Selchukids, suggests that the assassination was arranged by Qiwarn-ad-Din Nasir ibn-Ali ad-Dargazini, the vizir of the Selehukid sultan and a secret Ismailite. Some at least of the murderers came from Syria. Ibit-al-Athir mentions Sarmin as their place of origin, while Karnal-ad-Din tells an interesting story of a youth from Kafr Nasih, in the neighborhood oftAzaz, who was the sole survivor of the expedition. On his return home in safety his aged mother, who had previously rejoiced on hearing of his mission, was unhappy and ashamed at his survival. The death of al-Bursuki freed the Assassins from a redoubtable enemy.

As early as 1126 Assassin militia from Homs and other places joined the troops of Tughtigin in an unsuccessful attack on the Franks. Towards the end of 1126 Bahrain appeared openly in Damascus with a letter of recommendation from Il-Ghazi. He was received with honor and given protection, and soon acquired a position of power in the city. In pursuance of the usual Assassin policy he sought to obtain a castle which he could fortify as a stronghold, and the atabeg Tughtigin ceded him the frontier-fortress of Banyas. Even in the city itself the ismailites received a building as headquarters, variously described as a "palace" and a "house of propaganda". Ibn-al-Qalanisi, the chronicler of Damascus, places the main blame for these events on the vizir Abu-Ali Tahir ibn-Said al-Mazdagani who, though not himself an Ismailite, was the willing agent of their plans and the evil influence behind Tughtigin's compliance. Tughtigin, though strongly disapproving of these proceedings, tolerated them for tactical reasons and bided his time until an opportunity offered to strike against the Assassins. Ibn-al-Athir on the other hand, while recognizing the role of the vizir, places the blame squarely on Tughtigin, and attributes his action in large measure to the influence of Il-Ghazi, with whom Bahrain had established relations while still in Aleppo.

In Banyas Bahram rebuilt and fortified the castle, and em­barked on a course of military and propagandist action in the surrounding country. "In all directions," says Ibn-al-Qalanisi, "he dispatched his missionaries, who enticed a great multitude of the ignorant folk of the provinces and foolish peasantry from the villages and the rabble and scum ..." From Banyas, Bahram and his followers raided extensively, and may have captured some other places. But they soon came to grief. The Wadi-t-Taim, in the region of Hasbaiya, was inhabited by a mixed population of DruzesNusairis, and other heretics, who seemed to offer a favorable terrain for Assassin expansion. Baraq ibn-Jandal, one of the chiefs of the area, was captured and put to death by treachery, and shortly afterwards Bahram and his forces set out to occupy the wadi. There they encountered vigorous resistance from Dahhak ibn-Jandal, the dead man's brother and sworn avenger. In a sharp engagement the Assassins were defeated and Bahram himself was killecl.

Bahram was succeeded in the command of Banyas by another Persian, who carried on his policies and activities. The vizir al-Mazdagani continued his support. But soon the end came. The death of Tughtigin in 1128 was followed by an anti-Ismailite reaction similar to that which followed the death of Ridvan in Aleppo. Here too the initiative came from the prefect of the city, Mufarrij ibn-al-Hasan ibis-as-Sufi, a zealous opponent of the sectaries and an enemy of the vizir. Spurred on by the prefect, as well as by the military governor Yusuf Ibn-FiruzBori, the son and heir of Tughtigin, prepared the blow. On Wednesday, September 4, 1129, he struck. The vizir was murdered by his orders at the levee, and his head cut off and publicly exposed. As the news spread, the town militia and the mob turned on the Assassins, killing and pillaging. "By the next morning the quarters and streets of the city were cleared of the Batinites and the dogs were yelping and quarrelling over their limbs and corpses." Among the victims was a freedman called Shadhi, a disciple of abu-Tahir and, according to Ibn-al-Qalanisi, the root of all the trouble. The number of Assassins killed in this outbreak is put at 6,000 by Ibn-al-Athir, 1o,000 by Sibt Ibn-al-Jauzi, and 2o,000 by the author of the Bustan. In Banyas Ismail, realizing that his position was untenable, surrendered the fortress to the Franks and fled to the Frankish territories. He died at the beginning of 1130. Ibn-al-Athir's story of a plot by the vizir and the Assassins to surrender Damascus to the Franks is not confirmed by other sources, and is probably an invention of hostile gossip,

Bori and his coadjutors took elaborate precautions to protect themselves against the vengeance of the Assassins, wearing armor and surrounding themselves with heavily armed guards; but without avail. The Syrian mission seems to have been temporarily disorganized, and it was from the center of the sect in Alamut that the blow was struck. On May 7, 1131, two Persians, who, disguised as Turkish soldiers, had entered the service of Bori, struck him down. The assassins were at once hacked to pieces by the guards, but Bori himself died of his wounds in the following year. Despite this successful coup the Assassins never recovered their position in Damascus, and indeed, in so rigidly orthodox a city, can have had but little hope of doing so.

During this period the Assassins were fighting another enemy besides the Turks. The supporters of the Nizarite line of imams had not yet given up hope of installing their own candidate in place of the to them, usurping Fatimid caliph in Cairo. During the first half of the twelfth century more than one pro-Nizarite revolt broke out and was suppressed in Egypt, and the government in Cairo devoted much attention to countering Nizarite propaganda among their subjects. The caliph al-Arnir issued a special rescript defending the claims of his own line to the succession and refuting the Nizarite case. In an interesting appendix to this document the story is told how, when the Fatimid emissary read it to the Assassins of Damascus, it caused an uproar and so impressed one of them that he forwarded it to his chief, who added a refutation in the blank space at the end. The Nizarite read this refutation to a Fatimid meeting in Damascus. The Fatimid emissary asked the caliph's aid in answering it, and received a further statement of the Mustalian arguments. These events may be connected with the murder by an Assassin in Damascus in 1120 of a man alleged to have been spying on the Assassins for the Fatimid government.

The Assassins also used stronger and more characteristic arguments against their Fatimid rivals. In 1121 al-Afdal, the commander-in-chief in Egypt and the man primarily responsible for the dispossession of Nizar, was murdered. Though Ibn-al-Qalanigi dismisses the attribution of this crime to the Assassins as "empty pretense and insubstantial calumny", and lays the blame on al­Amir's resentment of al-Afdal's tutelage, it is not impossible that the Assassins were involved in a murder so much to their advantage. There is no doubt at all about the murder of al-Amir himself in 1130, by ten Assassins in Cairo. His hatred of the Nizarites was natural and well-known, and it is related that after the death of Bahram, his head, hands, and ring were taken by a native of the Wadi-t-Taim to Cairo, where the bearer received rewards and a robe of honor.

Little is known of Assassin relations with the Franks in this period. Stories in later Moslem sources of Ismailite collaboration with the enemy are probably a reflection of the mentality of a later age, when the holy war for Islam filled the minds of most Near Eastern Moslems. At this time, the most that can be said is that the Assassins shared the general indifference of Moslem Syria to religious divisions. No Frankish victims to the daggers of the fidais are known, but on at least two occasions Assassin forces came into conflict with the crusading armies. On the other hand, Assassin refugees from both Aleppo and Banyas sought refuge in Frankish lands. The surrender of Banyas to Frankish rather than Moslem rulers, when it had to be abandoned, was in all probability merely a matter of geography.

The next twenty years are taken up with the third, and successful, attempt of the Assassins to secure fortress-bases in Syria, this time in the Jabal Bahra, just to the northwest of the scene of their first endeavor, in the Jabal as-Summaq. Their establishment followed an unsuccessful attempt by the Franks to win control of the area. In 1132-1133 Saif-al-Mulk ibn-Amrun, lord of al-Kahf, sold the mountain fortress of al-Qadmus, recovered from the Franks in the previous year, to the Assassins. A few years later his son Musa ceded them al-Kahf itself in the course of a struggle with his cousins for the succession. In 1136/1137 the Frankish garrison in Kharibah was dislodged by a group of Assas­sins, who succeeded in regaining control after being temporarily dislodged by Ibn-Salab, the governor of Harrah. Masyaf, the most important of the Assassins' strongholds, was captured in 1140/1141 from Sungur, a governor appointed by the Bann-Munqidh, who had purchased the castle in 1127/1128. The other Assassin castles of al-Khawabiar-Rusafah, al-Qulaiah, and al-Maniqah were all probably acquired about the same period, though little is known of the date or manner of their acquisition.

During this period of quiet consolidation, the Assassins made little impression on the outside world, and in consequence little is heard of them in the historians. Very few of their names are known. The purchaser of al-Qadmus is named as abu-l-Fath, the last chief dai before Sinan as abu-Muhammad. A Kurdish Assassin leader called Ali ibn-Wafa cooperated with Raymond of Antioch in his campaign against Nur-ad-Din, and perished with him on the battlefield of Inab in 1149. Only two assassinations are recorded in these years. In 1149 Dahhak ibn-Jandal, the chief of the Wadi-t-Taim, suffered the vengeance of the Assassins for his successful resistance to Bahrain in qq28. A year or two later they murdered count Raymond II of Tripoli, at the gates of that city — their first Frankish victim.

Of the general policy of the Assassins in these years only the broadest outlines can be seen. To Zengi and his house they could feel only hostility. The Turkish rulers of Mosul had always been the most powerful of the atabegs. Lying across the Assassin line of communication with the Persian centers and in friendly relations with the Selchukid rulers of the east, they offered a constant threat to the position of the Assassins, aggravated by their recurrent tendency to spread into Syria. Maudud and al-Bursuki had already been assassinated. The Zengids were more than once threatened. After the Zengid occupation of Aleppo in 1128 the danger to the Ismailites became more direct. In 1148 we find Nur-ad-Din abolishing the Shiite formulae used hitherto in the call to prayer in Aleppo. This step, which aroused intense but ineffectual resentment among the Ismailites and other Shiites in the city, amounted to an open declaration of war against the heretics. In the circumstances it is not surprising to find an Assassin contingent fighting beside Raymond of Antioch, the only leader in Syria at the time who could offer effective resistance to the Zengids.

Meanwhile the greatest of all the Assassin chiefs of Syria had taken command. Sinan ibn-Salman iba-Muhammad, surnamed Rashid-ad-Din, was a native of Aqr as-Sudan, a village near Basra, on the road to Wasit. He is variously described as an alchemist, a schoolmaster, and, on his own authority, as the son of one of the leading citizens of Basra. An early interest in extremist Shiism led to his abrupt departure from home, and a sojourn in Alamut, where he was well received by the grand master Kiya Muhammad, and well indoctrinated with Ismailite theology and philosophy. After Kiya Mumammad's death in 1162, his successor sent Sinan to Syria as delegate of Alamut. A historian quoted by Kamal-ad-Din reports a contemporary's description of a visit to Sinan, and a conversation with him, in the course of which Sinan is quoted as giving this account of his journey to Syria: "He [the grand master] delegated me to Syria.... He had given me orders and provided me with letters. I arrived in Mosul and stayed at the mosque of the date-sellers. Thence I went to Raqqa. I had a letter to one of our comrades there, and when I delivered it to him he furnished me with provisions and lent me a mount to carry me to Aleppo. There I met another to whom I gave a letter, and he lent me a mount and sent me on to al-Kahf, where I was ordered to stay. I stayed there until Shaikh abu-Muhammad, who was in command, died in the mountains." Sinan then describes a dispute as to the succession, and his own eventual accession by order of Alamut. The main points of this narrative are confirmed by other sources, and amplified by the Ismailite biography of Sinan, which gives his period of waiting at al-Kahf as seven years.

Once established, Sinan's first task was to consolidate his new realm. He rebuilt the fortresses of ar-Rusafah and al-Khawabi, and rounded off his territory by capturing al-Ullaiqah by means of a stratagem and refortifying it. According to a narrative reproduced by Kamal-ad-Din, the grand master of Alamut feared his power and independence, and sent a number of emissaries to kill him, all of whom were foiled by the watchfulness of Sinan. This has been taken to mean that Sinan, alone among the Syrian Assassin leaders, threw off the authority of Alamut and pursued an entirely independent policy. For this view there is some support in the doctrinal fragments bearing his name, preserved into modern times among the Syrian Ismailites. These make no reference to Alamut, its grand masters, or its Nizarite imams, but acclaim Sinan himself as supreme leader and incarnation of divinity. This claim is also mentioned by Syrian Moslem sources and by the Spanish Arab traveler Ibn-Jubair, who visited the area in 1184/1185. Some of his followers went too far even for Sinan. In 1176/1177, says Kamal-ad-Din, the people of the Jabal as-Summaq, declaring that Sinan was their God, "abandoned themselves to all kinds of debauchery and iniquity. Calling themselves 'the Pure', men and women mixed in drinking sessions, no man abstained from his sister or daughter, and the women wore men's clothes. One of them stated that Sinan was his God." Al-Malik a-Salih sent the army of Aleppo against them, and they took to the mountains, where they fortified themselves. Sinan, after making an inquiry, disclaimed responsibility, and, persuading the Aleppans to withdraw, himself attacked and destroyed them. Other sources speak of similar groups of ecstatics in these years.

Our information about the policies of the Assassins under Sinan deals principally with a series of specific events in which they were involved: the two attempts on the life of Saladin (Salah-ad-Din), followed by his inconclusive attack on Masyaf; the murder of Ihn-al-Ajami in Aleppo; the fire in Aleppo; and the murder of Conrad of Montferrat. Apart from this there are only vague accounts of threatening letters to Nar-ad-Din and Saladin, and a reference by Benjamin of Tudela, in 1167, to a state of war between the Assassins and the county of Tripoli. The rise of Saladin as the architect of Moslem unity and orthodoxy and the champion of the holy war won him at first the position of chief enemy of the Assassins, and inevitably inclined them to look more favorably on the Zengids of Mosul and Aleppo, now his chief opponents. In letters written to the caliph in Baghdad in 1181/1182, Saladin accuses the rulers of Mosul of being in league with the heretical Assassins and using their mediation with the infidel Franks. He speaks of their promising the Assassins castles, lands, and a house of propaganda in Aleppo, and of sending emissaries both to Sinan and to the count, and stresses his own role as defender of Islam against the threefold threat of Frankish infidelity, Assassin heresy, and Zengid treason. The author of the Ismailite biography of Sinan, himself affected by the jihad mentality of later times, depicts his hero as a collaborator of Saladin in the holy war against the crusaders. As we shall see, both statements may be true for different dates. Though Saladin's account of the degree of collaboration among his opponents is probably exaggerated in order to discredit the Zengids, it was natural enough to begin with that his various enemies should concentrate their attacks on him rather than on one another. The curious story told by William of Tyre of an Assassin proposal to embrace Christianity may reflect a genuine rapprochement between Sinan and the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The first Assassin attempt on Saladin's life occurred in December 1174 or January 1175, while he was besieging Aleppo. According to the biographers of Saladin, Gumushtigin, who governed the city on behalf of the Zengid child who was its nominal ruler, sent messengers to Sinan, offering him lands and money in return for the assassination of Saladin. The appointed emissaries penetrated the camp on a cold winter day, but were recognized by the emir of Abu-Qubais, a neighbor of theirs. He questioned them, and was at once killed. In the ensuing fracas many people were killed, but Saladin himself was unscathed. In the following year Sinan decided to make another attempt, and on May 22, 1176, Assassins disguised as soldiers in his army attacked him with knives while he was besieging Azaz. Thanks to his armor Saladin received only superficial wounds, and the assailants were dealt with by his emirs, several of whom perished in the struggle. Same sources attribute this second attempt also to the instigation of Gumushtigin. After these events Saladin adopted elaborate precautions, sleeping in a specially constructed wooden tower and allowing no one whom he did not know personally to approach him.

While it is by no means impossible that, in organizing these two attempts on Saladin's life, Sinan was acting in concert with Gumushtigin, it is unlikely that Gumushtigin's inducements were his primary motive. What is far more probable is that Sinan, acting for reasons of his own, accepted the help of Gumushtigin, thus gaining both material and tactical advantages. The same may be said of the statement contained in a letter sent by Saladin to the caliph from Cairo in 1174, that the leaders of the abortive pro­Fatimid conspiracy in Egypt in that year had written to Sinan, stressing their common faith and urging him to take action against Saladin. The Nizarite Ismailites of Syria and Persia owed no allegiance to the last Fatiraids in Cairo, whom they regarded as usurpers. That Fatimid elements sought the aid of the Syrian Assassins is likely enough — some half century previously the Fatimid caliph al-Amir had attempted to persuade them to accept his leadership. But the Nizarites had refused, and al-Amir himself had fallen to their daggers. It is not impossible that Sinan, again for tactical reasons, may have been willing to collaborate with the Egyptian conspirators, though it is unlikely that he would continue to act in their interests after the definitive crushing of the plot in Egypt. A more likely immediate cause for Sinan's action against Saladin is to be found in a story told by Sibt Ibn-al-Jauzi, though not, oddly enough, by the contemporary chroniclers. In 1174/1175, according to Sibt, ten thousand horsemen of the Nu­buwiyah, an anti-Shiite religious order in Iraq, raided the Ismailite centers in al-Bab and Buzaah, where they slaughtered 13,000 Ismailites and carried off much booty and many captives. Profiting from the confusion of the Ismailites, Saladin sent his army against them, raiding Sarmin, Maarrat-Misrin, and Jabal as-Summaq, and killing most of the inhabitants. Sibt unfortunately does not say in what month these events took place, but if, as seems likely, Saladin's raid was carried out while his army was on its way northward to Aleppo, it may serve to explain the hostility of the Assassins towards him. Even without this explanation, however, it is clear that the emergence of Saladin as the major power in Moslem Syria, with a policy of Moslem unification, would mark him down as a dangerous adversary.

In August 1176 Saladin advanced on the Assassin territories, in search of vengeance, and laid siege to Masyaf. There are different versions of the circumstances of his withdrawal. Imad-ad-Din, followed by most of the other Arabic sources, attributes it to the mediation of Saladin's uncle Shihab-ad-Din Mahgmud ibn-Takash, prince of Hamah, to whom his Assassin neighbors appealed for intercession. Ibn-abi-Taiyi adds the more convincing reason of the Frankish attack on the Biqa valley, which urgently required Sal­adin's presence elsewhere. In KamaI-ad-Din's version it is Saladin who invokes the mediation of the prince of Hamah, and asks for peace, apparently as a result of the terror inspired by Assassin tac­tics. In the Ismailite version, Saladin is terrified by the supernatural antics of Sinan, and the prince of Hamah intercedes on his behalf with the Assassins, to allow him to depart in safety, Saladin agrees to withdraw, Sinan gives him a safe-conduct, and the two become the best of friends. The Ismailite account is obviously heavily overlaid with legend, but seems to contain this element of truth, that some sort of agreement was reached. Certainly we hear of no overt acts by the Assassins against Saladin after the withdrawal from Masyaf and there are even some hints of collusion.

The next murder, on August 31, 1177, was of Shihab-ad-Din abu-Salitt ibn-al Ajami, the vizir of the Zengid as-Malik in Aleppo, and former vizir of Nur-ad-Din. This assassination, which was accompanied by unsuccessful attempts on two of the vizir's henchmen, is attributed by the Syrian historians to the machinations of Gumushtigin, who had forged the signature of al-Malik on a letter to Sinan requesting this action. The authority for this story is the confession of the Assassins, who claimed, when questioned, that they were only carrying out the orders of al-Malik himself. The truth came out in subsequent correspondence between al-Malik and Sinan, and Gumushtigin's enemies seized the opportunity to bring about his downfall. Whatever the truth of this story, the death of the vizir and the ensuing discard and mistrust cannot have been unwelcome to Saladin. The breach between Aleppo and Sinan continued, In 1179/118o al-Malik seized al-Hajirah from the Assassins. Sinan's protests producing no result, he sent agents to Aleppo who set fire to the marketplaces and wrought great damage. Not one of the incendiaries was apprehended - a fact which suggests that they could still command local support in the city.

Although it will carry us beyond the terminal date of the present volume, which closes on the eve of the so-called Third Crusade, it seems best to continue with, and in this chapter to conclude, the history of the Assassins. On April 28, 1192, they brought off their greatest coup — the murder of the marquis Conrad of Montferrat in Tyre. Most sources agree that the murderers disguised themselves as Christian monks and wormed their way into the confidence of the bishop and the marquis. Then, when an opportunity arose, they stabbed him to death. Baha-ad-Din, whose account is based on the exactly contemporary report of Saladin's envoy in Tyre, says that when the two Assassins were put to the question they confessed that the king of England had instigated the murder. In view of the testimony of most of the oriental and some of the occidental sources, there seems little doubt that some such confession was indeed made. Richard's obvious interest in the disappearance of the marquis, and the suspicious speed with which his protégé count Henry of Champagne married the widow and succeeded to the throne of the Latin kingdom, lent some color to the story — and one can readily understand that it found widespread credence at the time. But whether or not the Assassins were telling the truth when they confessed is another question. Ibn-al-Athir, for whose dislike of Saladin due allowance must be made, mentions the attribution to Richard simply as a belief current among the Franks. He himself names Saladin as the instigator, and even knows the sum of money paid to Sinan for the work. The plan was to kill both Richard himself and the marquis, but the murder of Richard proved impossible. The Ismailite biography attributes the initiative to Sinan, with the prior approval and cooperation of Saladin; but here too allowance must be made for the author's obvious desire to present his hero as a loyal collaborator of Saladin in his holy war. He adds the unlikely information that, in reward for this deed, Saladin granted the Assassins many privileges, including the right to set up houses of propaganda in Cairo, Damascus, Homs, Hamah, Aleppo, and other cities. In this story we may perhaps discern an exaggerated recollection of some definite recognition accorded to the Assassins by Saladin in the period after the agreement at Masyaf. Imad-ad-Din, on the other hand, tells us that the murder was not opportune for Saladin, since Conrad, though himself one of the leaders of the crusaders, was an enemy of the more redoubtable Richard, and was in communication with Saladin at the time of his death. Richard, aware of this, himself inclined to negotiation and peace. But the murder of Conrad freed him from anxiety and encouraged him to resume hostilities.

This and the preceding murder raise an important general issue in the history of the Assassins. Of a score of murders recorded in Syria between 1103 and 1273, almost half are attributed by one or another source to the instigation of third parties. Sometimes the story is based on an alleged confession by the actual murderers. Yet it must be remembered that the Assassins were no mere band of hired cut-throats, but the fanatically devoted adherents of a religious sect, dedicated ultimately to the achievement of nothing less than the establishment of a new Fatimid empire over all Islam, under the rule of the imams of the house of Nizar. Though Sinan may have permitted himself some deviations from this ideal, and though some of the murders may have been arranged with the temporary allies of the sect, it is in the highest degree unlikely that in this period of their prime the daggers of the fidais were for hire. Even when murders were politically or otherwise arranged, it is still more unlikely that the actual murderers would know the identity of the instigator or ally concerned. But the Assassin setting forth on a mission might well have been given what in modern parlance would be called a "cover story", implicating the likeliest character on the scene. This would have the additional advantage of sowing mistrust and suspicion in the opposing camp. The murders of Ibn-al-Ajami and of Conrad of Montferrat are good examples of this. The suspicion thrown on Gumushtigin in Aleppo and on Richard among the Franks must have served a useful purpose in confusing the issues and creating discord.

The murder of Conrad was Sinan's last achievement. In 1192/1193 or 1193/11194 the redoubtable Old Man of the Mountain himself died, and was succeeded by a Persian called Nasr. With the new chief the authority of Alamut seems to have been restored, and remained unshaken until after the Mongol conquest. The names of several of the chief dais at different dates are known to us from literary sources and from inscriptions in the Ismailite centers in Syria; most of them are specifically referred to as delegates of Alamut. They are, with the dates of mention: Kamal-ad-Din al-Hasan ibn-Masud (after 1221/222); Majd-ad­-Din (1226/1227); Siraj-ad-Din Muzaffar ibn-al-Husain (1227 and 1238); Taj-ad-Din abu-l-Futuh ibn-Muhammad (1239/1240 and 1249); Radi-ad-Din abu-l-Maiali (1256 ff.)

About 1211 the sources record a curious episode that is worth considering. In that year, the Persian sources tell us, the grand master of Alamut, Jalal-ad-Din al-Hasan III, decreed a return to orthodoxy. He renounced the heretical teachings of his predecessors, burnt their books, restored orthodox religious practices, and, most significant of all, recognized the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir, from whom he received a diploma of investiture. Because of these changes he received the Persian sobriquet Nau-Musulman, New Moslem. The Syrian historians also report these events, and add that he sent messengers to Syria, ordering his Syrian followers to follow his example. The circumstances of this episode are obscure, but it is certainly connected with the policies of the caliph an-Nasir, the last Abbasid to pursue an independent line. He was himself known as a Shiite sympathizer, and sought whatever allies he could find in his struggle against the Mongols and other enemies.

The "reform" seems to have had little permanent effect on the religious beliefs of the Ismailites in either Persia or Alamut, though it may have affected their practice. It is striking that in Syria, in the presence of the enemies of Islam, no farther assassinations of Moslems are recorded, though several Christians were still to fall. The first of these was Raymond, son of Bohemond IV of Antioch, who was killed in the church in Tortola in 1213. His father, thirsting for vengeance, led an expedition against the Ismailite fortress of al-Khawabi. The Ismailites, who were now clearly on good terms with the Aiyubids, appealed for help to Aleppo, the ruler of which, al-Malik az-Zahir, sent a force to relieve them. Az-Zahir's forces suffered a set-back at the hands of the Franks, and he appealed to al-Malik in Damascus, who sent an army which compelled the Franks to raise the siege and withdraw in 1215/1216.

About this time the Assassins became tributary to the Knights of the Hospital. In the year 1226/1227, according to the author of the Tarikh al-Mansuri, the chief dai Majd-ad-Din received envoys from the emperor Frederick II, bringing gifts worth almost 80,000 dinars. On the pretext that the road to Alamut was too dangerous because of the rampages of the KhorezmiansMajd-ad-Din kept the gifts in Syria and himself gave the emperor the safe-conduct he required. In the same year the Hospitallers demanded tribute from the Assassins, who refused, saying: "Your king the emperor gives to us; will you then take from us?" The Hospitallers then attacked them and carried off much booty. The text does not make it clear whether the tribute to the Hospitallers dates from this event or was already in existence.

An interesting indication of how far the Assassins had become a recognized and even an accepted part of the Syrian political scene is given by under the year 1239/1240. In that year, says ibn-Wasil, who was himself a native of central Syria, the qadi of Sinjar, Badr-ad-Din, sought and obtained refuge among the Assassins from the anger of al-Malik as-Salih Imad ad-Din. The chief of the Assassins was then a Persian called Taj­ad-Din, who had come from Alamut. Ibn-Wasil does not hesitate to add that he knew him personally and was on terms of friendship with him. The same Taj-ad-Din is named in a Masyaf inscription dated February or March 1249.

Only one group of events remains to be recorded before the political extinction of the Assassins — their dealings with St. Louis. The story of an Assassin plot against St. Louis while he was still a youth in France can like all the other stories of Assassin activities in Europe, be dismissed as a product of over-vivid imaginations. But the account in Joinville of St. Louis's dealings with the Assassins after his arrival in Syria is of a different order, and bears every mark of authenticity. Emissaries of the Assassins came to the king in Acre, and asked him to pay tribute to their chief, "as the emperor of Germany, the king of Hungary, the sultan of Babylon [Egypt], and the others do every year, because they know well that they can only live as long as it may please him." Alternatively, if the king did not wish to pay tribute, they would be satisfied with the remission of the tribute which they themselves paid to the Hospitallers and the Templars. This tribute was paid, explains Joinville, because these two orders feared nothing from the Assassins, since, if one master was killed, he would at once be replaced by another as good, and the Assassin chief did not wish to waste his men where nothing could be gained. In the event, the tribute to the orders continued, and the king and the chief dari exchanged gifts. An interesting addendum is the story of the Arabic-speaking friar Yves le Breton, who accompanied the king's messengers to the Assassins and discussed religion with their chief. Through the mists of ignorance and prejudice one can faintly discern some of the known doctrines of Ismailite religion.

The end of the power of the Assassins came under the double assault of the Mongols and of their deadliest enemy, the Mamluk sultan Baybars. In Persia the Mongol general Hulagu succeeded where all Moslem rulers had failed, and captured the Assassin castles one by one, with surprisingly little difficulty. In 1256 Alamut itself fell, and the last grand master Rukn-ad-Din Shah was compelled to surrender himself. He was hanged shortly thereafter. The remaining Assassin strongholds in Persia were soon subjugated, and their treasures dispersed.

In Syria, as one would expect, the Assassins joined with the other Moslems in repelling the mongol threat, and sought to win the good graces of Baybars by sending him embassies and gifts. Baybars at first showed no open hostility to them, and, in granting a truce to the Hospitallers in 1266, stipulated that they renounce the tribute they were receiving from various Moslem cities and districts, including the Ismailite castles, whose tribute is given by al-Maqrizi as 1,200 dinars and a hundred mudd of wheat and barley." The Ismailites prudently sent emissaries to Baybars offering him the tribute which they had formerly paid to the Franks, to be used in the holy war.

But Baybars, whose life-work was the liberation of the Moslem Near East from the double threat of the Christian Franks and the heathen Mongols, could not be expected to tolerate the continued independence of a dangerous pocket of heretics and murderers in the very heart of Syria. As early as 126o his biographer Ibn-Abd­ az-Zahir reports him as assigning the Ismailite lands in fief to one of his generals. In 1265 he ordered the collection of taxes and tolls from the "gifts" brought for the Ismailites from the various princes who paid them tribute. Among them the sources name "the emperor, Alfonso, the kings of the Franks and the Yemen". The Assassins, weakened in Syria and disheartened by the fate of their Persian brothers, were in no position to resist. Meekly accepting this measure, they themselves paid tribute to Baybars, and soon it was he, in place of the departed grand master in Alamut, who appointed and dismissed them at will.

In 1270 Baybars, dissatisfied with the attitude of the aged chief Najm-ad-Din, deposed him and appointed in his place his more compliant son-in-law Sarim-ad-Din Mubarak, Assassin governor of al-Ullaiqah. The new chief, who held his office as representative of Baybars, was excluded from Masyaf, which came under the direct rule of Baybars. But Sarim-ad-Din, by a trick, won possession of MasyafBaybars dislodged him and sent him as a prisoner to Cairo where he died, probably poisoned, and the now chastened Najm-ad-Din was reappointed, conjointly with his son Shams-ad-Din, in return for an annual tribute. They are both named in an inscription in the mosque of al-Qadmus, of about this date.

In February or March 1271 Baybars arrested two Ismailites sent from al-Ullaiqah to Bohemond VI of Tripoli and, according to Ibn-al-Furat, suborned to assassinate Baybars. Shams-ad-Din was arrested and charged with intelligence with the Franks, but released after his father Najm-ad-Din had come to plead his innocence. The two Ismailite leaders, under pressure, agreed to surrender their castles and live at Baybars' court. Najm-ad-Din accompanied Baybars. He died in Cairo early in 1274. Shams-ad­Din was allowed to go to al-Kahf "to settle its affairs". Once there, he began to organize resistance to Baybars, but in vain. In May and June 1271 Baybars' lieutenants seized al-Ullaiqah and ar-Rusafah and in October, Shams-ad-Din, realizing his cause was hopeless, surrendered to Baybars and was at first well received. Later, learning of an Ismailite plot to assassinate some of his emirs, Baybars deported Shams-ad-Din and his party to Egypt. The blockade of the castles continued. Al-Khawabi fell in the same year, and the remaining castles were all occupied by 1273.

With the fall of al-Kalif on July 9, 1273, the last independent outpost of the Assassins had fallen. Henceforth the sect stagnated as a minor heresy in Persia and Syria, with little or no political importance In the fourteenth century a split occured in the line of Nizarite imams. The Syrian and Persian Ismallites followed different claimants, and from that date onward ceased to maintain contact with one another.

The Mamluk sultans in Egypt were quick to realize the possible uses of their once redoubtable subjects. As early as April 1271 Baybars is reported as threatening the count of Tripoli with assassination. The attempt on prince Edward of England in 1272 and perhaps also the murder of Philip of Montfort in Tyre in 1270 were instigated by him. Later chroniclers report several instances of the use of Assassins by Mamluk sultans against their enemies, and Ibm-Batttah, in the early fourteenth century, gives a detailed description of the arrangements adopted.

In Persia the sect survived in rather greater numbers. A son of the last grand master Rukn-ad-Din was hidden while still a child, and lived to sire a whole series of imams, about whom unfortunately little is known. In the nineteenth century the imam migrated from Persia to India, where the majority of his followers were by then to be found. His grandson is well known as the Aga Khan.