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The Sources for the History of the Syrian Assassins Author(s): Bernard Lewis Reviewed work(s): Source: Speculum, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Oct., 1952), pp. 475-489 Published by: Medieval Academy of America Stable URL: . Accessed: 08/12/2011 19:28
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'Assassino e colui che uccide altrui par denari.' on which Francesco da Buti comments.Pp. 2 Trait de l'Origine des Anciens Assassins Porte-Couteaux. 8 ChroniconSlavorum. again based on Christian sources. ed. Matthew of Paris. pp. Leber.2 The author. 290-291). 381-382. Rigord. Connoissance des peuplesde l'Orient. Lyon. 523. 4 de la tout ce qui regarde contenant ou DictionnaireUniversel Orientale. together with the Byzantine Nicetas and the Franco-Armenian Haithon.' Villani (d. Odoric of Pordenone.4a pioneer work OF 1 The earliest example known to me is in Dante (Inferno. Before very long perfervid imaginations detected the hand of tle emissaries of the Old Man in political murders and attempted murders even in Europe. 49-50). From William of Tyre onwards most of the western chroniclers of the Crusades have something to say about the Assassins. mingling with the earlier narratives of the Crusaders. with commentary. 20 of J. published in Lyons in 1603. found many echoes in the literatures of western Europe. Princes. and Vincent of Beauvais. .3 This text contains two important passages on the Assassins. appeared in 1659. et Seigneurs de la Chretiente. 475 . in the second half of the fourteenth century. 1659). 1348) also speaks of the lord of Lucca sending 'i suoi assassini' to Pisa to kill an enemy (Cronica. . Arnold of Liibeck.THE SOURCES FOR THE HISTORY OF THE SYRIAN ASSASSINS BY BERNARD LEWIS all the branches of the Isma'ilis the Syrian Assassins are certainly the best known in the western world. He does not appear to have known the work of his predecessor. ix. 1826). In 1697 d'Herbelot published his great Bibliotheque Orientale. and 550-551.Avec quelques examples de leurs attentats et homicides es personnes d'anciens Roys. of the Slav Chronicle of Arnold of Liibeck. A second and briefer attempt. xix. et commis par sa Maieste & l'exercise de l'Estat de President en la Ville de Mets. carried it into most of the languages of Europe. 1603 (two editions). and their stories. Henricus Bangertus (Liibeck. William of Tyre. . His account is based exclusively on Christian sources: Jacques de Vitry. M. and a few striking events like the murder of the Marquis Conrad de Montferrat in Tyre in 1192 sprea(l the fame and terror of 'The Old Man of the Mountain' far beyond the confines of Syria. when Henricus Bangertus published his edition. genEralement Bibliotheque 4 volumes (Paris. 379. It was through them that the Crusaders first made the acquaintance of the dreaded sect and. 1697). The first western attempt at a scholarly examination of the Assassins seems to be that of Denis Lebey de Batilly. etc. 'io stava come il frate che confessa / lo perfido assassin . (Paris. C.' sets out to explain the true historic origin of a term recently become topical in France. giving the name a new significance derived from the political tactics of those who bore it. Maistre des Requestes de son hostel a la Couronne de Navarre. and as early as the first half of the fourteenth century the word was already in use in Italy in the general sense of professional murderer without specific reference to the Syrian sect. and in his discussion of them Bangertus briefly reviews the other Latin sources. European travellers like Odoric of Pordenone and Marco Polo brought word of the Isma'ili strongholds in Persia. Reprinted in Vol. 64. Collection des Meilleurs Dissertations.1 After the Mongol conquests in the Near East. who describes himself as 'Conseiller du Roy.

are used. while J.' In the same year De la Ravaliere read a paper dealing with three specific points: the murder of Conrad. 1762). III. 251. a propos of the first. and an attempt made to fit the Syrian Assassins into the broader framework of Shi'ite and Isma'ili history. M. Assemani. During the eighteenth century the orientalists made a few further contributions to the study of the subject. He deals also at some length with the problem of the etymology of the word 'Assassin. 8 'Dissertation sur les Assassins. he examines the western literature. etc. who in 1743 read a detailed and critical analysis of the history of the Assassins to the Acad6mie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. 9 De Guignes himself published a brief account of the conquest of the Persian Assassins by the Mongols in his Histoire G6neraledes Huns (Paris. claiming responsibility for the deed. 1789-91). Thomas Hyde5 and J. where another etymology is suggested. though now regarded as late and comparatively unimportant. op. 6 Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana (Rome. the relevant passages of which were communicated to him by his contemporary de Guignes. 1751). comparing it with Byzantine accounts and with oriental material as given by d'Herbelot. and.the few known at the time . the two earliest western writers on the sect.476 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins containing most of what western oriental scholarship at the time had to offer on the history.9 He discusses both the Syrian and the Persian Assassins. 287-328. Reiske. 714.since rejected . rejects as a forgery the letter which the Old Man sent to the Emperor Leopold.8 Beginning with the Spanish Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela and William of Tyre. p. 1700. 10'Eclaircissemens sur quelques circonstances de l'histoire du Vieux de la Montagne. and religion of the Arabs. with his edition of the Annals of abu-al-Fida'. and in the first half of the nineteenth century a body of important works appeared. Here for the first time some of the Islamic sources . I. cit. 214-215. In. xvii (Paris. professor of oriental languages in Padua.of the name. and Turks. and the alleged Assassin plot against St Louis. 320. 1719-1728). 127-170. literature. the threat to Philip Augustus in 1192. ii. 1807). both discussed the Assassins briefly and suggested etymologies . reprinted 1760). was still of great value while its own sources remained unknown. 330-333." Assemani's 5 IIistoria Religionis Veterum Persarum (Oxford. He also makes use of abu-al-Fida'. The first to deal specifically with the Assassins was an essay published in 1806 by Simon Assemani.1' He rejects the second and third as apocryphal.6 a Lebanese Maronite. and notes p. noting their connection with the Carmathians. 493. peuple d'Asie. English translation in Thomas Johnes. 275-285..7 added a new Arabic source which. J. 7 Annales Muslemici (Copenhagen. . (An English translation was published as an appendix to the Memoirs of Joinville. 1751). II. The Napoleonic expedition to Egypt and the closer relations with the Islamic orient that followed it gave a new impetus and new opportunities to oriental studies. Falconnet.. Isna'ilis and other cognate sects. 155-164. tires des Registres de l'Academie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. as reported by Rigord. S. The main advance of the eighteenth century is due however to a non-orientalist.' 2 parts. Prince des Assassins. 128-129.' Ilistoire de l'Academie Royale. as described by Guillaume de Nangis. M~moires de Litterature. especially pp. translated by Thomas Johnes (London. Persians. xvi (Paris.

from the pen of M.hashish-addict . Another account was published in the following year by J. 16 See for example C.of the sectaries. read a memoir to the Institut Royal entitled 'Memoire sur la Dynastie des Assassins et sur l'ltymologie de leur nom.'13 De Sacy's memoir was a landmark in Assassin studies.14 The initerest aroused by De Sacy's memoir brought new information from a new and different kind of source. Judah Hadasi. notably abu Shamah. 41a.. His only original contribution is yet another addition to the growing list of suggested . Neueste Beitrdge zur Kunde der asiatischen Tiirkei (Weimar. Pines in Bulletin d'Etudes Historiques Juives (Cairo) I (1946). the greatest Arabic scholar of the time. 22. with geographical. Mariti. therefore. Iv (Paris. including several of the major Arabic chronicles of the later Crusades period.' 13 A brief summary was published in the Moniteur. loro capo-signore (Leghorn. and to regard both of them as corruptions of the second. 444 445. 271 ff. Certainly the most important part of the memoir is his solution. be necessary to reconsider De Sacy's derivation of Assassini and Assissini from 1ashshashin and Iashishiya (or lashishiyin) respectively. The sources are not given.xII (Padua. 16 'Memoire sur les Ismaelis et les Nosairis de la Syrie. In 1809-10 an account of the Isma'ilis of Syria appeared.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 477 article gives a brief account of the sect from secondary sources . In addition to the few oriental sources published or used by previous scholars.15French consul-general in Aleppo. The full text of the memoir was published in the Memoires de l'Institut Royal. 1807). fol. 1836). quoted by S. . xiv. Reisebeschreibung Arabiens (Copenhagen.etymologies. 1818].and later rejected . 14 Many more have since become known. Rousseau. who says that the Hashishiyah were so called because they dismissed the things of this world as so much grass (hashish). note 2. which Silvestre de Sacy dismisses as 'un tissu d'erreurs et d'assertions hasardees.12 and on 19 May 1809 Silvestre de Sacy. but appear to be oral and local. he was able to draw on the rich Paris collection of Arabic manuscripts. F.' Giornale dell'Italiana Letteratura.' After examining and dismissing previous suggestions. It may. historical.1-85 (=MEmoires d'IIistoire et de Literature Orientale [Paris. he showed conclusively that the word comes from zashish. An interesting variant comes from a Jewish writer in Constantinople in the mid-twelfth century. 241-262. Rousseau . In confirmation of this he was able to produce several oriental texts in which the Assassins are called hashishiyah.' Cahier XLII. 322-403). once and for all. pp. a German translation of which appeared in T.16 but Rousseau was the first to be able to draw on extensive local sources of in"'Ragguaglio storico-critico sopra la setta Assissana detta volgarmente degli Assassini. and his analysis of the sources wholly supersedes the earlier efforts of European writers. On the other hand no instance is known to me of the use of hashshash . 1818). 1778). Ehrmann. 12 Mcmorie istoriche del popolo degli Assassini e del vecchio della montagna. Niebuhr. and religious data. Adress6 &M. 1809). of the vexed problem of the meaning of the word 'Assassin. Silvestre de Sacy par M. In. 210 of 1809. Eshkl IIak-Kofer (Eupatoria. I have not seen this work.the use of which by the sectaries is mentioned by both western and eastern authorities. Some travel notes on the surviving Isma'ilis in central Syria had appeared in the eighteenth century. 1806). no.. with additional notes by De Sacy himself. Rousseau gives a description of the sects in Syria in his own day.the oriental after d'Herbelot and the western after the Dictionnaire Geographiqueof De la Martiniere. Anndles des Voyages (Paris 1809-10).

and based in the main on published and unpublished Persian sources. 5-76. 5th series. chiefly in Syria. O.the 'Memoire Historique sur les Ismaeliens' of Etienne Quatremere. The book concludes with a brief account of the later history of the sect in both Persia and Syria. including events of the author's own time. Rousseau procured a number of other texts. 20 French and English translations appeared in 1833 (tr. Persia. 18 Fundgruben des Orients (Vienna. which. 339-376. Quatremnere. Rousseau. von Hammer in his Geschichte der Assassinen aus morgenlindischen Quellen published in Stuttgart in 1818. Defremery published two long articles in the Journal Asiatique23on the Assassins in Syria. 1814).22 in 1854-55 Charles Finally. the History of Aleppo of Kamal al-Dn and the general chronicle of ibn-al-Furat. and has been much used by later writers. Annales des Voyages. pp. 19On these two sources v. and was long regarded as the standard authority on the subject. In 1814 the first of a series of more strictly historical studies appeared . 2 In M.' by A. without any attempt at a coherent account of the development of the sect and its place in Islamic or even Syrian history. p. In 181217 he published some extracts from a Syrian Isma'ili book obtained in Masyaf. 21'Iistoire de la Dynastie des Ismaeliens de la Perse. discussing each incident in which the Assassins were involved in turn. C. tracing its history from the founder 1Jasan-i-$abbal. iv. 373-421. and it is still the only detailed general account of the sect in all its branches based on both eastern and western sources. 1813) ix.2' published a short general account of the history and doctrines of the Assassins of Syria from the Crusades to his own day. 192-248 (text) and 142-183 (translation).20 This work. II. Despite this and other defects.' Notices des Manuscrits (Paris.' Cahier LII. II (1854). Michaud: Histoire des Croisades (Paris. In 1825 A. 23'Nouvelles Recherches sur les Ismaeliens ou Bathiniens de Syrie. the first on the period from the 17 'Extrait d'un livre des Ismaelis. The treatment of the Syrian Assassins is brief and based mainly on late. 28 (with additional notes by Silvestre de Sacy). A. W. Jourdain. the article is still of value.478 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins formation. Its main weakness is that it is somewhat episodic.' Journal Asiatique. throws some light on the religious doctrines of the sect. 549-477. and is particularly important in that it makes extensive use of two new sources. P. 10 ff. some of which were later published. based on Silvestre de Sacy.'sur les Assassins. de la Nourais) and 1835 (tr. apparently the first book on the Assassins since Lebey de Batilly. for the first time.19 Since neither of these has yet been fully edited. . Wood). to its destruction by the Mongols. secondary Arabic and Turkish works. and his own edition of Mirkhond. traduite du Persan de Mirkhond. some scraps of evidence from the Isma'ilis themselves. infra. who had already edited and translated an important Persian source on the Assassins of Persia. achieved a wide success. pp. Jourdain. bringing to Europe. 1825). This was attempted (chiefly for the Persian Assassins) by J. note 2. It is in effect a history of the Isma'ili dynasty of AlamQt in N. the work marked an important step forward in the understanding of the place of the Assassins in Islamic history. and v (1855).18 This gives a connected history of the activities of the sect. though containing little historical information.

second edition. In 1877 Guyard published and translated the first Syrian Isma'ili historical source to become known. Defremery was able to use a number of other Arabic chronicles. much new material has come to light. . hitherto unexplored. 25 MEmoiresur les Carmathes.. Royal Asiatic Society. Fyzee.24The origins and early history of the sect were studied. the second on the period from the accession of Sinan onwards. Though disappointingly poor in historical data. 485-493. 7th series. differing radically from the hostile and distorted picture taken by nineteenth-century orientalists from the writings of orthodox theologians and historians whose main concern was to refute and condemn. xi (1935). de Goeje. abu-al-Mahasin Taghri-Bardi. 107-109. not to understand or explain. to a lesser extent. 324-489. J. it has added much to our knowledge of the parent center in Persia. Persia. it is invaluable for the light it throws on the general religious development of the Islamic sects at the time.25as were other. 1920-1934. with a translation of the preface and a brief summary of the text. an Arabic collection of anecdotes about the grand master Rashid-al-Din Sinan.A necessary preliminary to such a study is the classification and evaluation of the main sources upon which it would be based. N. notably the works of ibn-al-Jawzi. at least as regards the share of the Assassins in the military and political events of the Crusades. and enabled Defremery to add a great deal to the work of his predecessors. and its discovery in the twentieth is probably the most important single addition to the documentation of the subject. and ibn-al-Athir. (Leiden. has made necessary a complete revision of our ideas of the doctrines and the historical and religious significance of Ismailism in the Islamic world. and others. xII (1848). and thus supplements the earlier writers where they 24 'Un Grand Maitre des Assassins au Temps de Saladin. related groups such as the Nusayris. 59-65. xII (1936). . ix (1877). Though comparatively late. 1880). Many of the sources used by the first investigators have been published. 26For bibliographies of some recent work on Ismailism see Asaf A.' Journal Asiatique. In addition to the sources available to Quatremere.26Though this literature has thrown little or no light on the history of the Assassins in Syria. making possible a critical reassessment of the whole body of material. 4th series. especially for the period of the Crusades. 1862. Most important of all. have become known.S. Dhahabi. these sources brought important new information. and. These may be considered as follows: (A) ISMA'ILI SOURCES The literature of the Isma'Ilis was almost entirely unknown to the scholars of the nineteenth century. Since then. . and Central Asia. no general re-examination of the subject has appeared since Defrermery.' Journal of the Bombay Branch. and Supplement. 'Materials for an Ismaili Bibliography. Though a few studies have appeared dealing with one or another aspect of Syrian Isma'ili history. most important. in Yemen.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 479 arrival of the first missionaries from Persia to the accession of Rashid-al-Din Sinan. A. A preliminary note on the manuscript was published by Catafago in Journal Asiatique. our whole knowledge of the Isma'ili sect was revolutionized by the discovery and partial publication and study of a rich Isma'ili literature preserved by the surviving followers of the sect in India and. notably by M.

I was myself able to see some doctrinal literature during a stay in the Syrian Isma'ili centers in 1938. and of the followers of the Agha Khan (Khojas) in India and elsewhere at the present day.29 Of more direct historical value are the Isma'ili inscriptions. 30 '1pigraphie des Assassins de Syrie. is an original source of the first value.' Notices et Extraits (Paris. xxI. The Isma'ili sources fall into two main groups: (1) The literature of the so-called 'New Preaching'--the reformed Isma'ili religion founded by Uasan-i-$abbah in the eleventh century. but its full use dates from the detailed introduction which Guyard prefaced to his edition. In 1933 an Isma'ili from Khawabi called 'Abdallah ibn-Murtada published a history of the sect which is. 27 . Ivanow for this information. To these two main groups we may add the Druzes. and Palestine. 9th series. of the Isma'ilis of the Yemen and of the Bohras of India27up to the present day. published and translated by Guyard. 31 Al-Falak al-Dawwdrfi Samd al-A'immah al-A thdr (Aleppo. who. in the magazine al-'Irfdn of Sidon has begun the publication of some genuine Isma'ili documents. This was the faith of the Persian Assassins and their Syrian off-shoot. despite its anecdotal and legendary form. they are of value as evidence of the status that Sinan enjoyed among his followers and as a check on external testimony on the doctrines he professed. Syrian Assassin Sources: The first and most important of these is still the anecdotal biography of Rashid-al-Din Sinan.480 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins are most deficient. This work was known in manuscript to Defremery and partially exploited by him. a dissident group who broke away from the main Isma'ili body in the eleventh century and developed a distinct religion of their own. Mr 'Arif Tamir of Salamiyah. and remains still the only lengthy narrative text of Syrian Assassin origin available to us. This work. a number of which are still to be seen in Masy af and other Syrian centers. mainly based on the general histories and shows no sign of an independent tradition. They are still to be found in Syria. Van Berchem in 1897. 28 'Fragments relatifs a la Doctrine des Isma6lis. 177-428. In addition to this document Guyard also published a group of Syrian Isma'ili texts of doctrinal content. apparently of Syrian provenance. 1874). however. Ix (1897). (2) The 'Old Preaching' the literature of the Isma'ilis up to the split.31Of greater interest are the publications of a more recent writer. Lebanon. and of the followers of the 'unreformed' religion of Musta'li and his successors thereafter.' Journal Asiatique. many of them by or about Sinan. Other similar texts of Syrian provenance are to be found in Leningrad and in private possession. 29 My thanks are due to Mr I. 1933). This was the official faith of the Fatimid Caliphate. Most of these were edited and discussed by M.30 In recent times there has been an awakening of historical interest among the Syrian Isrn'ilis themselves.28Though they contain little direct historical information. 453-501. These consist so A few years ago some of the Isma'ili villages in Syria transferred their allegiance from the Agha Khan to the Bohras. rejecting the succession of the Fatimid Caliph Musta'li (1094-1101) and his successors and offering allegiance instead to his deposed brother Nizar.

M. 1933). A Guide to Ismaili Literature (London. 86aFor an example see S. who points out that. the surviving literature of the Persian and Central Asian Ismailis has become far better known. 33See W. Massignon. 57-79. The restoration of orthodoxy by Saladin was accompanied by the wholesale destruction of the literature of the deposed schismatic dynasty. Like other off-shoots before them. pp. Kraus and a number of successors. 89-117. 'The Epistle of the Fatimid Caliph al-Amir. 20-31. some of them undoubtedly early. a series of important works have been described. Ivanow. an attempt to produce a precedent for the destruction of the Fatimid libraries. they throw regrettably little light on the story of the Assassins in Syria. probably in the middle of the fourteenth century.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 481 far of a letter of the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim against heretics and backsliders and some poems by Isma'ili poets. Ivanow. and it may well be. Since then. analyzed and edited. Thanks to the work of Griffini.35 which disappeared completely from the Near East and survived only among the sectaries in India and the Yemen. second for the precious information it gives on the complicated relations between the different Isinma'li sects and sub-sects.S. 'A Forgotten Branch of the Ismailis. including historical and literary works as well as theology and law. to Syria. especially pp. and the Syrian and Persian Isma'ilis followed different claimants. and has long been known to scholars.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London). and several important texts and studies have appeared. a rich and varied literature was produced. a split occurred in the line of Nizari Imams. Though the literature so far available contains but few direct references it is nevertheless of great value to the historian of the Syrian Assassins. whose writings were utilized by Hammer and other scholars. thanks to the work of W. Druze Sources: The Druze sect was an off-shoot from the main Isma'ili trunk. Though many extraneous elements have been added to 32 See al-'Irfdn. as has been suggested. and some of it has been known indirectly for a long time. 34A possible explanation of this surprising silence has been given by Mr Ivanow. Isma'ili works. Ivanow. proclaiming him as the final revelation of divinity and refusing to recognize his successors. pp.. Ivanow. 974-977 and 1307-1311.' J. Cf.82 Persian Assassin Sources: The literature of the parent center in Persia seems to have been much richer.33Though invaluable for the general history of the sect. the Druzes called a halt with the Imamate of one ruler.R. 1950. its organization and its doctrines. including an alleged autobiography of HIasan-i-$abbah. Stern. A fragment of a Persian work attributed to Iasan-i-$abbah is quoted in Arabic translation by the Arabic heresiographer Shahrastani (1086-1153). 1938. W.A.35a first for the light it throws on the religious and intellectual development of Ismailism as a whole during these crucial centuries. xxxv (1948). thus losing contact with one another. became accessible after the subjugation of the Isma'ili castles by the Mongols. 35The famous and wholly apocryphal tale of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria by the Arab conquerors first appears at this period. .34 Other Ismd'ili Sources: During more than two centuries of Fatimid Isma'ili rule in North Africa and Egypt. and were used by the Persian historians Rashidal-Din and Juvayni.

Chapters 31-32. Most of the historians of the Third Crusade refer to the murder of Conrad de Montferrat. 40ChroniconSlavorum. etc. (B) WESTERN SOURCES Little need be said of the western sources. who visited Syria in 1167. and v. for example. Druze doctrine is fundamentally Isma'ili in origin. 38 Ilistoria rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum. 16. 66. translation. and they are useful as a check on the chronology of the eastern sources.482 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins their religion. but collections exist in most of the great European libraries. and consequently tell us nothing about the Assassins. iv. Chapter 15. and vii. his Itinerary [ed. New York. Book xx.39Of particular interest is Arnold of Liibeck. pp. Book xxiv. See also Vincent of Beauvais. On the other hand they offer useful information on the religious situation in Syria on the eve of the Crusades. 16. Very little of the extensive Druze literature has yet been published. Roger of Hoveden. Itinerarium Ricardi 338-341.d. Speculum Historiale. 37Expose de la religion des Druzes. two volumes (Paris. Cf. A. .the report of a mission to Egypt and Syria. 47-50. though by no means unfavorable. 24. 1838). and xxxi. The first to give a general account of the sect was William of Tyre38whose story. usually with a descriptive note on the Assassins. 29-30. 41Arnold's editor suggests that this is an error for Burchard. 61-62.40The first. II.42which may be based in part on the lost oriental history of William of Tyre . The almost complete absence of any mention of them in either the eastern or the western literature of the Crusades36raises the possibility that they may have been lumped together with the Syrian Assassins. n. dealing with the murder of Conrad. and apart from a few references to more recent events add little that is new. text. 39 See.41 not found elsewhere. The historians of the thirteenth century seem to rely for their descriptions on their predecessors rather than on new evidence. It contains several details out in 117o by one Gerard. Continuation of William of Tyre. if only to record their more striking murders and attempts. 8. certainly the most thoroughly explored hitherto. Asher. sets the pattern for later descriptions. The Crusade of St Louis 36The first reference to the Druzes known to me in an outside source is that of Benjamin of Tudela. xxii. and since the monumental work of Silvestre de Sacy on the Druze religion37it has been well-known to scholars. 181. Iv.]. and has the unusual merit of being a dated contemporary impression.perhaps also a source of Arnold of Liibeck. 42 IIistoria Orientalis. who gives two separate accounts. The second occurs in one of the documents inserted by Arnold in his history . xxx. and for some time after the disappearance of al-ljHkim in 1021 the Druzes maintained contacts with other branches of the Isma'ili community. 93. William of Newburgh. Thereafter very little is heard of them until the chroniclers of the Mamlfk period. The most important Druze texts were written during the eleventh century. carried vice-dominusof Strasburg. The best account is that of Jacques de Vitry. and on the eve of the coming of the Assassin emissaries from Persia. contains what is probably the first reference in a western source to the use of hashish. pp. Most of the western chroniclers of the Crusades period make some reference to the Assassins.

1868). of Oriental (1948). and the Assassins. Chambers. T. the most important of which is Syriac. . Allowing for the inevitable distortions and misunderstandings.. Hatto for these references. and the discovery of some of the contemporary. the word was already in use in a general sense. pp. sometimes apparently basing themselves on lost Syriac chronicles independent of Arabic historiography. 246 ff 44 'The Troubadours See F. 162.the latter probably the first west European to describe the Syrian Assassins and to give their name in its correct form. some information may also be derived from other literatures.44and western historians see the hand of the Old Man in a number of purely western attempts with which the Syrian Isma'ilis were certainly not concerned. Gibb posed the problem and pointed the way in 1935. (1927). and D. 'The Old Man of the Mountain. As early as the twelfth century Provencal poets compare themselves to Assassins in their self-sacrificing devotion to their ladies. has made possible a critical re-examination of the Arabic sources and of their relations to one another. 4 For a discussionof these see C.46the major contribution to the study of 43Histoirede St Louis. 88.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 483 brought new and valuable material.LxIV(1949). in the form of an account by Joinville43of an exchange of envoys between the king and the Old Man of the Mountain.'Uber die arabischen Lehnworterim altprovenzalischen. E. Language 245 ff. (C) OTHER NON-MUSLIMSOURCES Besides the western and Muslim sources.46By the fourteenth century. The task is by no means easy.739-754. These are now far better known than they were in the days of Quatremere and Defremery. (D) GENERAL ARABIC SOURCES For the detailed history of Assassin activities in Syria in the period of the Crusades our main source of information is and will probably remain the great Arabic chronicles. Meanwhile the Assassins were becoming well-known in the West in other ways. Since Professor H. and from Greek and Armenian writers. Wailly (Paris. upon whom western scholars have hitherto chiefly relied.VIi(1935).'Modemn Notes. and a most interesting conversation between the latter and a Breton friar on religion. and has barely begun. others are badly and uncritically edited. XXII 4 'Notes on the ArabicMaterialsfor the History of the Early Crusades. R. Scheludko. Of the Hebrew sources we have already referred to Judah Hadasi and the traveller Benjamin of Tudela .'SPECULUM. Nowell. Though the information to be derived from these sources. Michael the Syrian and Bar-Hebraeus both give some attention to the Assassins. Many of these sources are still unpublished and difficult of access. M. Hardly any have been studied in detail. it has the value of an independent testimony outside the Arabic-Muslim tradition.423. is small.ed. the views attributed to the Old Man are near enough to what we know of Isma'ili doctrine to admit of the episodes being authentic.'Bulletinof the School Studies. A. original sources used by later historians like ibn-al-Athir and Kamal-al-Din.' Zeitschriftfiir XLVII romanische Philologie. 497-519. My thanks are due to Mr A. as we have seen.

746-753. London. the chronicler of Aleppo. (note 46 above). Though all three remain valuable. Gibb (Damascus Chronicleof the Crusades. The chief murders of the time are those of Janah-al-Dawlah (Hims 1103). (note 46 above). 33-93. Claude Cahen. In 1908 H. 47 48 . From the arrival of the first emissaries from Persia to the accession of Rashid-al-Din Sinan as Grand Master in Syria.Hamah and the sea. of the passages relating to the Assassins.'8 The main events of this period are: the establishment of the mission in Aleppo. some of them go further and tell something of the role of the Assassins in the Syrian politics of the time. The history of the Syrian Assassins in the time of the Crusades can be most conveniently divided into three periods: (1) 1100-ca 1162. personal experience and direct testimony. seems to have no literary sources. Qalanisi was a Damascene.49In recent years it has become possible to examine some of the sources which they themselves used. 1934). pp. whose work is a contemporary eye-witness account. cession. whose masterly analysis of the Arabic sources for the history of Northern Syria47has been of constant value in the compilation of the following notes. R. and view events from the very different standpoint of the thirteenth century. apparently based on documents. at Kafarlatha. and Kamal-al-Din (1191-1263). capture or treason. All these events are described in fair detail by the Arabic chroniclers. cit. Un Grand Maitre. note 4. Mawdud (Damascus 1113). F. place. Al-Amir (Cairo 1130). I. pp. the final consolidation of a group of strongholds between .ibn-al-Athir (1180-1233). the set-back in Damascus and loss of Banyas. pp. cit. Qalanisi. La Syrie. On the date of Sinan's arrival in Syria see Guyard. op. pp. with the connivance of Rudwan. followed by a new attempt to establish a stronghold at Banyas. Histoire des Croisades (Paris. whose point of view is that of Mosul. A. The few examples given by Gibb61of ibn-al-Athir's treatment of Qalanisi show how important such a confrontation is. they are late. 50 The abridged English translation of H.50 the sole detailed contemporary source for the history of Syria from the Seljuq invasion till Nur-al-Din. 35. and chiefly concerned with events in the south. Afdal (Cairo 1121). their relations with the princes and the populace. Afamiyah and Shaizar. and similar topics. the point of view of La Syrie du Nord a l'Epoque des Croisades (Paris. 38-40. Grousset. 81 Gibb. 49 Cf. Amedroz published the history of Damascus of ibn-al-Qalanisi (1073-1160). and thus to arrive at a more reliable estimate of the value of these chroniclers. Buri (Damascus 1131-32) and Raymond II of Tripoli (Tripoli ? 1148-49). 1940). It is here that it becomes particularly important to assess the sources in the light of their time. Sibt ibn-al-Jawzi (1186-1256). Introduction. outlook and opportunities. the setback in Aleppo on the death of Rudwan and transference of the center to Damascus. and Gibb. op. 745-746. 1932) contains most. On Qalanisi see Cahen. obtained by purchase. Until recent times scholars relied principally on three authors . p. Bursuqi (Mosul 1126). the unsuccessful attempts to win strongholds in the neighborhood of the Jabal Summaq in central Syria.484 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins Arabic historiography has come from M. and is himself the chief source for Syrian history of most of the later chroniclers. who wrote in Damascus. 510. though not all.

59 Cf. quotations and other writers. op. whence it was used by Quatremere. amount of information about the Assassins. apparently in Aleppo. 66Cf. For these years he seems to rely on Qalanisi. Cahen. Cahen. Sauvaget. (Note 46 above). 258-269.the murder of Janabal-Dawlah in HIims. Syrie. Feyzllllah 1404. and was used by Sibt ibn al-Jawzi and other later writers.61 The Bustdn. Traces of other lost North Syrian sources also survive in other later works. the anonymous Bustdn. 40-41. 113-158. The work. as well as of his less known brother Munqidh and his son Murhaf ibn-Usamah. pp. has been examined and utilized by several scholars. pp.JournalAsiatique. Ayasofya 3036. containing a fair Rudwan. and again preserves some traces of a North was also Syrian tradition. Of some importance is the chronicle of ibn-abiTayy (ca 1110-1233). Cf. 375.d'Al-'A7imi. Of the northern chroniclers no comparable relic has yet come to light. relative to the North East. 'Extraits du "Bugyat atTalab" .59 One example will suffice of the variation of the sources . The portion covering the years 490-593/1097-1197 other North The of and of lost Cahen.ccxxx (1938). VII (1933). is ibn-al-Azraq al-Fariqi (?-1171?). under the same year.' Rvue des Etudes Isamiques. supplemented by lost North Syrian works. 55-57. pp. 62-63.57 and a number of other sources both written and oral. 58 See . Cahen. Syrie. VII-mII. 57Ibid. published by in in chroniclers of the Kamal-al-DIn64 survives only Syrian period. Kamalal-Din also wrote a large-scale biographical dictionary of Aleppo. 750-752. in the mosque of H im. which is far more detailed and has the additional merit of giving fuller references to sources. reports the 52'La Chronique Abregee. though still unpublished. and his testimony. Besides 'Ailmi. which survives in manuscript in Paris and has been partly published and extensively used by scholars. pp. 65Mss Saray 2925.' Bulletin d'Etudes Orientales de l'Institut FranQaisde Damas. Mula'ib and others. pp.. The most important so far known is a short general history by 'A4Tm (1090-after 1161). 3 'Une Chronique Syrienne du VIe/XIIe siecle: le Bustdn al-Jdmi'. 393-409. cit.56 the writings of the famous Usamah ibn-Munqidh (1095-1188).. Besides his chronicle of Aleppo. of which the section from 1064 onwards was published by Cahen in 1938. Syrie. pp. 1935. was written in 1196-97.65 They include biographies of Khalaf b. has a special value. 353-448. Cahen. and says that Qaraja succeeded as ruler of the city. 60Two others relating to the Assassins are discussed by Gibb. though fragmentary. J. 64 Cf.56 whose account of this period survives only in ibn-alFurat (1334-1433).' Comptes Rendus de l'AcadAmiedes Inscriptions et des Belles Lettres. Several volumes survive in manuscript in Istanbul. Another local source.62 Another summary of history. by persons 'in the garb of ascetics'. 61 P. Syrie. and 'Une Chronique Chiite. whose history of Mayyafariqin and Amid is first-hand for this period. 46-47. Ibn-abi-Tayy was a Shi'ite. .The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 485 which he reflects. Kamal-al-Din quotes the lost North Syrian chronicle of ibn-Zurayq (1051-after 1115).63 rest 'Azimi's that work. indeed the only Shi'ite chronicler of the period. Jania-al-Dawlah.60 'A7imi simply records the murder of Janaah in 496/1102-03. 43-46.

68 'Imad-al-Din (1125-1200)69 and the Shl'ite chroni63Text. The murder was ordered by the Isma'ili leader. Ibn-al-Athir . Munqidh mentions the succession of Qaraja. again gives a slightly different version. his step-son.. whom he describes as 'a member of the entourage of Rudwan. 377-379). 338-340). xxv (1950).62 Qalanisi. p. Quatremere (p. I. Only ibn-'Asakir and Munqidh ascribe the murder to Rudwan.or the tradition that he follows . All agree on the year 496 A. or. Usamah agrees closely with the version of Qalanisi.H. again in 496 A. and his withdrawal. just after Janah's return from Aleppo and apparent reconciliation with Rudwan. and by putting the assassination back to the previous year heightens the betrayal of Islamic unity which. Like ibn-al-Athlr. an old enemy of anxious to discredit Rudwan. 62P. and speaks of the intervention of Damascus.486 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins murder 'by the Ismi'llis'. 57-58. The main primary sources for this period are the Bustdn. 213). in pp.' Ibn al-Athir says that the murder took place in the previous year. 115.' and leader of the Assassins in Syria. x.65According to him.63Prompt action by Duqaq forestalled a Frankish attempt to take advantage of the situation by attacking TIims. Translation. H. Murhaf ibn Usamah and 'Azimi. attributed to al-Hafiz al-Dimashqi [=ibn-'Asakir]. probably after reaching an agreement with Sinan. 52. and attributes the authorship of the crime to Al-Hakim al-Munajjim. instigated his murderer against him. and that Raymond assaulted Hims the morning after receiving news of the assassination. while Janab-al-Dawlah was assembling forces to oppose Raymond de Saint-Gilles at HiSn al-Akrad. A. The career of Rashid-al-Din Sinan.' In the Biographical Dictionary. Defremery (iII. 495 A.64 Kamal ad-Din. with his 13th century outlook. Kamal-al-Din adds the phrase: 'and it was said that this took place at the order and with the approval of Rudwdn. but contains several significant changes.. Usamah gives the date as Friday 22 Rajab. 66 Among NVesternscholars. he gives no less than five different versions. pp.. Usamah ibn Munqidh (quoted orally). Baha'-al-Din (1145-1234). 58-72. 69Ibid. R Gibb. 237. the 'physician-astrologer. p. . Munqidh ibn Munqidh. gives a fairly circumstantial account of the actual murder by three Persians. Ibn-al-Athir's reference is brief.H. followed by Grousset (I. 'The Arabic Sources for the Life of Saladin.. and took place on 22 Rajab 496/1 May 1103. 68 See Cahen. 342) follows Kamal-al-Din. 67 On this period generally see H. the Ismar'ili leader. 65 Recueil. Munqidh as Friday 28 Rajab. 'A Batini [=Assassin] killed him in the chief mosque.67The main events recorded are: the two attempts on Saladin at Aleppo and 'Azaz. 64Krimil (Leiden edition. 142. had set Rudwan against him. and gives the date as 22 Rajab 495/12 May 1102. coinciding with that of Saladin. he conceives it to be. Syrie. combines Kamal-al-Din's date with ibn-al-AthIr's year. the murder of Conrad de Montferrat and the death of Sinan himself. in the chronicle of Aleppo. 50-52.Hlistoriensorientanx.H. and it was said that Al-Malik Rud wan. 589-591. Recueil des Historiens des Croisades. Saladin's advance upon Masyaf.' SPECULUM.66 (2) ca 1162-1192. The divergences are significant. pp. Kamal-al-Din's summing up is much the same as his version in the chronicle. p.

A good example of the divergences of the sources is their treatment of the murder of Conrad de Montferrat. A fuller version has now come to light in the chronicle of Yunini (d. as does Kamal-al-Din. Lewis.77 who for this period relies chiefly on abu-Shamah. 60-67. p. 1842- to Nur-al-Dinis rejectedas unsoundby both 71). 297. some parts of a larger one. 75Ibid. Among other later historians we may mention ibn Wasil (1207-1298). 76 Wafaydt al-A'ydn (Cairo.. 339-341. confessed that the king of England had sent them. 1879). . and was used by Defremery and other early writers. 1882). II. 815-855. but a summary of it is given by Dhahabi (1274-1353)72 in his history. pp. C. a high chancery official under Saladin. Cf.76 is quoted by Kamal-al-Din in two versions. the second of which is traced back to the narrative of Saladin's messenger. On Dhahabi's history see J. The French version in the Recueil is very much abridged. The attributionof the correspondence . Among later historians ibn-al-Athir uses 'Imad-al-Din and other unknown sources..thoughthis does not preventthe latter fromincludingit in his Kamal-al-Dinand ibn-Khallik&n of Nur-al-DIn. Baha'-al-Dn.1326). 53. or.78 quoting a letter from the Muslim envoy to Conrad.' J. 'Imad-al-Din survives in one short work.. 47. Cahen. who also uses other lost sources.Syrie.74 abu-Ghalib (1140-1201)75 and the Munqidhites. 71Zur GeschichteSaldhaddins (Berlin.7° Large parts of ibn-abi-Tayy are preserved by ibn-alFurat (1334-1443) and abu-Shamah.. 78 Recueil. iii. p. 'The Ta'rikh al-Islam of Dhahabi. It is much to be regretted that this author has been so little studied. without entering into an analysis of Dhahabi's sources. says that the two murderers. 72In the obituary notices of the year 589. well known from ibn-Khallikan (1211-1282). 68-70. Cahen. The volume containing this is unfortunately not extant. 844-845.' Revue des Etudes Islamiques. 115-116 De Slane.A. For the text see B. when put to the question.73 who gives what is probably the full text of Kamal ad-Din. de Somogyi. who is named. pp.71 Abu-Shamah also preserves some of the correspondence of al-Qadi alFadil (1135-1196). Only the first two are fully extant. 1936. III.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins 487 cler ibn-abi-Tayy. pp.R. some of them of possible Isma'ili provenance. biography 77See Cahen. dans les Bibliotheques d'Istanbul. The story of Sinan's correspondence with Saladin. Biographical Dictionary (Paris. 74Cf. ThreeBiographies from Kamdl ad-Din (in the press). and in addition preserves a number of oral narratives. Defremery made extensive use of this text. probably of North Syrian origin. whose faithful recording of his sources gives his work a special value. II. The author quotes from the writings of Dari (twelfth century). while the partial German translation of Goergens is so inaccurate as to be almost worthless. A valuable source is Kamal-al-Din's biography of Sinan in the Biographical Dictionary. Sibt follows 'Imad-alDin and ibn-al-Athir. Ibn-Khallikan claims to have read the letters in the correspondence of al-Qadi al-Fadil. 1932. pp.S. 'Les Chroniques Arabes concernant la Syrie etc. 73 In three manuscripts in Istanbul. and may have used Kamal-al-Din for additional detail. He makes no reference to 70Ibid. and in long quotations in abuShamah (1203-1267). Syrie.

82Cf. XII. and suggests a reason for the king's alleged action. describes the murderers as renegade Isma'ilis. Syrie. appended to his obituary notice. 58-59. The last named is of special interest in view of his Central Syrian origin and his personal acquaintance with Taj-al-Din. ibn-al-Athir. $erefettin Yaltkaya.83 Unfortunately neither of these is fully extant. without an edition of the text. 39-40. II.'80 (3) 1192-1260. The foregoing summary deals only with the main historical sources for Syria. abu-Shamah and ibn-Wasil is given without source. Ibn-al-Athir on the other hand attributes the murder to Saladin. To these must be added a host of works from which some information may be 79 Fati. He also tells of their implication of Richard. Landberg(Leiden.8s It covers the period 670-676/1272-78. or. who arranged it with Sinan. who published a Turkish translation of it. 1941). Arabictext. and even names the price. 74-76. The two chief primary sources for the career of Baibars are the biographies of ibn-'Abd-alZahir and ibn-Shaddad. the Isma'ili chief ca 1240. Ibn-abi-Tayy (as preserved by ibn-al-Furat). again incomplete. Kamal-al-Din. togetherwith anotherversion. and fop some matters not covered by either source.. . abuShamah8l and ibn-Wasil are all primary for this period.84 It gives fairly full information on the final suppression of the Assassins. A unique manuscript of ibn-Shaddad's life of Baibars. The whole of an abridged version is to be found in a manuscript that has recently come to light in Istanbul. For the missing period. which is lost. The main events are the temporary reversion to orthodoxy in 1210-12. etc. with a lengthy general account of Baibars' reign. by abu-Shamah. A comparison of this manuscript with other works suggests that it is part of an abridgement rather than of the full text. pp. 80 Kdnil. Summarized. wrongly titled and catalogued. Nuwairi. Only at the end of his account does he remark that 'the Franks attribute his murder to the instigation of the king of England. Maqrizi. My thanks are due to Professor Mukrimin Halil Yinang for drawing my attention to this manuscript. 196. ed. 1888). by Dhahabi. 81 His 'Continuation.' dealingwith this period. ii.79 in a much more detailed account obviously based on later and fuller information than Baha'-al-Din's first impression. was discovered in Edirne by the late B. The subjugation of the Syrian castles by Baibars. was believed to contain the first part of ibn-'Abd al-Zahir's biography. 51 = Recueil. II. the murder of Raymond of Antioch in 1213 and the Frankish attack on the Isma'ili center in Khawabi. 84 Fatib 4367.82 (4) 1260-1273. A British Museum manuscript. 'Imad-al-Din.v.was used in manuscriptby Van Berchemand has now beenpublished in Cairo. Defremery. Sibt ibn-al-Jawzi. pp. An interesting variant on the story of the reversion to orthodoxy as related by Sibt. 85 Baypars Tarihi (Istanbul. The Ayyfbids. covering the period up to the beginning of 663/1265.488 The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assassins Assassins. we must continue to rely on later chroniclers like Dhahabi. and therefore omitting most of Baibars' dealings with the Assassins. known for some time to scholars. 83See Cahen. 420-422.

For Ottoman times information is even scantier. The sect was of necessity secretive. and such unclassifiable works as the autobiography of Usamah ibn-Munqidh. For Mamluk times Quatremere and Defremery were able to cull a few details from the literature of the time. Yet the weight of the evidence suggests that by this date Saladin himself had at least an understanding with the Assassin chief. SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES UNIVERSITY OF LONDON 86 See. in which he speaks of the threefold threat of unbelief (the Franks). for example. Even if they were. To some extent the tactics of the Assassins themselves are responsible. 23-24). In the strongly religious atmosphere of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. More could be added from other sources now available. The mass of the source-material is imposing.chronicles of other regions.The Sourcesfor the History of the Syrian Assasszns 489 gleaned . it is still more unlikely that the actual assassins would know the identity of the instigator who had arranged the crime with their chief. which are often difficult to bring into relation with one another. giving to both orthodoxy and heterodoxy a significance which they did not then possess. Its use presents special difficulties for the writing of a history of the Syrian Assassins. and practically nothing is known until the nineteenth century. poets.86 For the period after the subjugation information is very sparse indeed. and even those whose own hands were not clean in this respect did not hesitate to use it. Its history as recorded consists. . theologians.lived at a time of militant orthodoxy and counter-crusade. the revealing letter of Saladin. written in 577/1181-1182. of a series of apparently disconnected episodes. therefore. when the last embers of the Fatimid empire were stamped out and a new Islamic unity was forged to meet and defeat the threat of heresy within and invasion from without. The Assassins were helped in this respect by the readiness with which Muslim rulers took up and utilized these stories as a means of discrediting rivals. The chroniclers are usually Sunni and hostile.that is. From what we know of the Isma'ilis. no more damning charge could be brought against a Muslim prince than that of complicity with the dreaded Assassins. travellers. Of a score of murders recorded between 1103 and 1273. and most of it has been but little studied. ii. half are attributed by one or another source to outside instigation. when Rousseau and other travellers brought news of the Isma'ili villagers. and it only came to the notice of the outside world . those of the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods . the majority .and of the historians . it is unlikely that in this period of their prime the daggers of the faithful were for hire.when its followers engaged in some public and striking action. But the assassin setting out on a mission might well have been given what in modern parlance would be called a 'cover-story' -which would have the additional advantage of creating mistrust and suspicion in the right quarters. Inevitably they read back into the eleventh and early twelfth centuries the conditions and outlook of their own time. From this time onwards the local tradition of the Syrian Isma'ilis themselves begins to be of some historical value. heresy (the Assassins) and treachery (the Zangids) in Syria (abu-Shamah. mainly relating to the use of professional Assassins by some of the sultans.

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