This fascinating, little-known story reveals how Islam influenced Western medicine, science, and philosophy during the “Dark Age” of the West at the time of Harun al-Rashid, the caliph of The Thousand and One Nights.
The Caliph’s Splendor is a revealing story of the interaction among the Islamic lands from Spain to central Asia, the Frankish Kingdom (and emerging Holy Roman Empire) of Charlemagne, and the Byzantine Empire in the eighth and ninth centuries. The central figure in the book is Harun al-Rashid, the caliph whose court in Baghdad was the most splendid in the world—far surpassing those of Charlemagne, the pope, and the emperor in Constantinople.
As Christianity was preserving classical civilization, Harun’s scholars and physicians were advancing civilization in Baghdad and beyond. Under his guidance, the Arab influence spread throughout the Mediterranean. But there was also frequent warfare, especially between the caliphate and the neighboring Byzantines, as each sought dominance at the expense of the other.
Author Benson Bobrick brilliantly fills a gap in our historical knowledge, showing us an Islamic culture at its apex and revealing the ambitions and power of one of its most dynamic rulers. “A rich portrait of a key era” (Library Journal) and a book that “achieves a rare blend of storytelling gusto and intellectual depth” (Colin Wells, author of Sailing from Byzantium), The Caliph’s Splendor dramatically recalls this important period in history when Islamic civilization flourished, benefitting people throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.