ABBASID DYNASTY - HARUN AR-RASHID
- Harun ar-rashid ibn muhammad al-mahdi ibn al-mansur al-'abbasi was born in 766 or 763, at Rayy, Iran. He was the son of al-Mahdi and al- Khayzuran, a former slave girl from Yemen.
- The reign of Haroun al-Rashid, which means, "Aaron the Just", was the zenith of the Abbasid Caliphate. He is featured in several of the "Arabian Nights" stories.
- In 780 and 782 Haroun, while his father was still Caliph, was the leader of expeditions against the Byzantine Empire, the expedition of 782 reaching the Bosporus, opposite Constantinople, where peace was concluded with the Empress Irene, on terms favourable to the Muslims. For this, he was named second in succession to the throne and appointed governor of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
- When al-Mahdi died in August 785, Al-Hadi, his first son, became caliph (14th September 786). When al-Hadi died mysteriously in September 786, Harun became Caliph. Rumour suggested that al-Khayzuran was behind the death of al-Hadi.
- Al-Khayzuran had much influence over the government until her death in 789, after which the Barmakids largely controlled the empire.
- There were several revolts and internal tensions during the reign of Haroun. The result was that the Aghlabid family were given semi-independent status in north Africa as were several other regional dynasties, resulting in loss of power to the Caliphate.
- There was development of industries and trade, resulting in vast wealth in the hands of the Caliph and his cohorts. Haroun is said to have exchanged gifts with Charlemagne.
- In 803, the Barmakids were deposed. Whether due to sexual intrigue, fear of domination on the part of Haroun, or a rift between the religious and secular, Haroun had his friend Ja'far executed on Jan. 29, 803. The other members of the family were imprisoned and their goods confiscated.
- There were further successful operations against the Byzantine Empire, but in the autumn of 808, while on his way to deal a revolt in Khorasan (in Iran), Haroun fell ill at Tus (near modern Meshed) and died there several months later. Al-Amin succeeded him as caliph.