The first diplomatic relations between the Umayyads of Andalusia and the Byzantine Empire began in 225 A.H. (839-840 A.D.), when Theophilos, the Byzantine emperor sent a message by his ambassador Kratiyûs al-Rûmî to the Umayyad amir Abdurrahman II in the court of Cordoba. Without doubt, it was the dire political conditions of the Byzantine Empire at that time, which had prompted the emperor for such an attempt for the first time. However, which condition had prompted Theophilos to get closer to Cordoba has been debated for a long time. Abdurrahman II had appointed two Andalusian scholars, Yahyâ al-Ghazâl and Yahyâ al-Munaykıla, to deliver his answer to Theophilos in Constantinople. Their long and perilous journey to the Byzantine capital and the interesting events they had experienced in the imperial court are recorded as anecdots in the Arabic sources, which succeeded to our day. Aside from whether these events have actually occurred or not, these narratives are of great importance in aspect of understanding the “Byzantine” perception in the eye of Muslim Arabs at that time. Our study presents one of these two ambassadors; the famous poet, philosopher and statesman Yahyâ al-Ghazâl (means “the Gazelle”)’s brilliant character which found place for itself in the Arabic sources including his engaging experiences with the Byzantine emperor and his royal family; while trying to detect the dynamic patterns of the growing diplomacy at that time between these two great empires placed on both ends of the Mediterranean.
Umayyads of Cordoba, Byzantium, Yahya al-Ghazal, Abd ar-Rahman II, Theophilos