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History of Lebanon

Arab- Crusades- Mamluks (600 AD - 1516 AD)


(636-750) Arab Rule

The sixth century witnessed an increased feeling of nationalism in Mount Lebanon and the Phoenician coast that gradually gave way to the name of Lebanon for the entire territory. The seventh century started the shaping of the multi-cultural Lebanon we know. The mountains became more populated especially by the Maronites and Marada. Later, the Aramaic/ Assyrians and Cheldanites joined them, escaping persecution. The followers of the new religion of Islam fit coherently in the community since most of them were not migrants from Arabian Peninsula, but locals who converted to Islam.

After Arab Muawyah was appointed as governor of Syria, he garrisoned troops to the Lebanese coast. Historians mention that the Arab-Muslims neither could, nor were willing to, fight in the mountains of Lebanon. Hence, they captured only coastal lands. Lebanon maintained a special situation with special autonomy. Some Arab historians wrote that Lebanon sometimes was not even treated as a part of the Islamic Empire. It was the only region were most of the population did not enter into the new religion of Islam.

While the Roman Empire army fell facing the Muslim troops, the Mountains of Lebanon stood still. Mauwyah had to pay financial tribute to the Lebanese- Maronites and Marada in order to stop their raids on Arab troops in 670 AD. Muawyah also seeked the Lebanese ship builders help to construct a navy. The Lebanese took care of the navigation while the Arabs led the troops in a successful battle against Cyprus 649 AD.

The Lebanese adopted many aspects from the Arabic culture, and excelled in science and Arabic literature. It was the people who lived in the mountains of Lebanon, especially the Maronites and the Aramaic who translated the Greek books into Arabic and later on built with the Arabs the advanced Arabic science based on these books.
Later, under Umayyads Islamic rule, Mount Lebanon kept its characteristics; the Umayyads were not concerned much about converting people to Islam, especially those with farmlands, and are well fortified in the mountains.

(750-1110) The Abbasids

The Abbasids replaced the Umayyads ruling the Islamic Empire in early 750. They treated Lebanon as a conquered country. Their harshness led to several revolts, with the most famous being the rebellion of the Lebanese mountaineers in 759 AD. By the end of the tenth century the prince of Tyre proclaimed independence from the Abbasids and coined money with his own name. However, his rule was later terminated by the Fatimids.

One of the groups that came to seek refuge in Lebanon was a small Christian sect called Melchites, they became known as Greek Catholics. Also, the Druze who was persecuted as hypocritical Islamic-Shia group found a refuge in Mount Lebanon around 1020.

Under Abbasids philosophy, literature and science received great attention. Lebanon made a notable contribution to this intellectual renaissance. Lebanese physician Rashid AdDine, jurist Al Awzai and philosopher Qusta ibn Luqa were leaders in their fields.
The country enjoyed economic boom in which the harbors of Tyre and Tripoli were busy with shipping textile, ceramic and glass to-and –from the Arab regions and the

(1095-1291) The Crusades

After capturing Jerusalem, the Crusaders turned to the Lebanese coast. Tripoli surrendered in 1109 while Beirut and Sidon in 1110. Tyre stubbornly resisted but finally fell in 1124 after a long siege.
Although they failed to establish a permanent presence, the Crusaders left their imprint on Lebanon as clear in the remains of many towers, castles and churches along the coast and in the mountains.
The Crusaders, the Mamluks and Mongols armies sought to master the region during the thirteenth century; however the victory came to the Mamluks.

(1282-1516) The Mamluks

Mamluk Islamic dynasty ruled Egypt for more than two centuries. They ruled Syria and parts of Lebanon in the late thirteenth century. Meanwhile, from the 11th to the 13th century, the Shia Muslims migrated from Syria, Iraq and Arabian Peninsula to Lebanon seeking refuge. The Shais and Druze rebelled in 1921 while the Mamluks were busy fighting the Crusaders and Mangols. They turned later and crushed the rebellion in 1309.
Beirut became a center of intense trading activities between the Middle East and Europe. Intellectual life in Lebanon flourished, and economic prosperity continued till the end of Mamluk rule.


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