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Mardaites (Greek: Μαρδαΐται) or al-Jarajima (Syriac:
ܡܪ̈ܕܝܐ; Arabic: الجراجمة / ALA-LC: al-Jarājimah),
inhabited the highland regions of the Nur Mountains. The Mardaites
were early Christians following either
Miaphysitism or Monothelitism
and bear a possible, but unconfirmed, relation to the Maronites.
Little is known about their ethnicity, it has been speculated that
they might have been Persians or Armenians, yet other sources claim
them to have been native to the
Levant or possibly even from the
Arabian peninsula. Their other
Arabic name, al-Jarājimah, suggests
that some were natives of the town Jurjum in Cilicia. They were joined
later by various escaped slaves and peasants during their insurgency
and were said to have claimed territory from "the Holy City" to the
2 The Maronites
3 See also
According to some historians, after the Muslim conquest of the Levant,
Mardaites gained a semi-independent status around the Nur
Mountains within al-ʿAwāṣim, the Byzantine-Arab border region.
They initially agreed to serve as mercenaries for the Arabs and to
guard the Amanian Gate, but their loyalty was intermittent and they
often sided with the
Byzantine Empire as their agenda varied.
According to Greek and Syriac historians, their territory stretched
from the Amanus to the "holy city", the latter often identified as
Jerusalem, although more likely to refer to Cyrrhus, also called
Hagioupolis, the capital of Cyrrhestica, in upper Syria.
Their numbers were swelled by thousands of runaway slaves, making them
an ethnically diverse group. In light of this, it is claimed that they
forced Muawiyah I, Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, to pay tribute to
the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV, or possibly to them instead.
Justinian II sent the
Mardaites again to raid Syria in 688/9;
this time they were joined by native peasants and slaves and were able
to advance as far as Lebanon. The Umayyads were compelled to sign
another treaty by which they paid the Byzantines half the tribute of
Armenia and the
Kingdom of Iberia
Kingdom of Iberia in the Caucasus Mountains;
in return, Justinian relocated around 12,000
Mardaites to the southern
coast of Anatolia, as well as parts of
Greece such as
Epirus and the
Peloponnese, as part of his measures to restore population and
manpower to areas depleted by earlier conflicts. There they were
conscripted as rowers and marines in the
Byzantine navy for several
centuries. Others however remained behind and continued raiding
Muslim-held territories until their chief stronghold fell to Umayyad
Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik in 708. Maslama(h) then
resettled them throughout Syria, and although he allowed them to
retain their faith, he conscripted them into his army.
Describing the abna' of Yemen,
Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani
Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani states in his
Kitab al-Aghani that, up to his time (10th century), these people were
called "banū al-aḥrār (بنو الأحرار) in Sanaa, al-abnāʾ
in Yemen, al-aḥāmira (الأحامرة) in Kufa, al-asāwira
(الأساورة) in Basra, al-khaḍārima (الخضارمة) in
al-Jazira, and al-jarājima (الجراجمة) in Bilad al-Sham".
Maronites claim that the modern
Maronites are of Mardaite
ancestry, and oral tradition is said to indicate this. However,
documented evidence is sporadic at best as the
Maronites sources are
recent due to their lack of a thorough recorded history beyond the
16th century, leaving the matter open for debate among historians.
That being said, Maronite oral tradition does mirror much of the
history of the
Mardaites and it is possible that the similarities are
superficial and the groups are similar, but unrelated. In reality
there is no way to prove or disprove this connection due to the lack
of a thorough recorded history, but oral traditions are unlikely to
have been falsified in isolated mountain communities. Many attribute
the view that the
Maronites are unrelated to the
Mardaites due to
early historic bias, when the West favored the
Druze until the pogroms
of Syria in the 19th century which resulted in the death of 50,000
Maronites and other Christians at the hands of the
Druze as a reprisal
for Maronite peasantry and Maronite church attempts to topple their
feudal lords in the South of Mount Lebanon.
This term was adopted by the
Marada Movement during the Lebanese Civil
War because of their Phoenicianist views of the origin of the Lebanese
^ a b c Kazhdan, Alexander (Ed.) (1991), Oxford Dictionary of
Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 1297,
ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6 CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ a b c Canard, M. "Djaradjima". In P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E.
Bosworth; E. van Donzel; W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2 (2
ed.). BRILL. p. 457. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ a b Woods, David. "Corruption and Mistranslation: The Common Syriac
Source on the Origin of the Mardaites". Retrieved April 6, 2013.
^ Ostrogorsky, George; Hussey (trans.), Joan (1957), History of the
Byzantine state, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press,
pp. 116–18, ISBN 0-8135-0599-2
^ Treadgold, Warren T. (1998), Byzantium and Its Army, 284–1081,
Stanford University Press, p. 72, ISBN 0-8047-3163-2
^ Zakeri, Mohsen (1995). Sasanid Soldiers in Early Muslim Society: The
Origins of 'Ayyārān and Futuwwa. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.
p. 98. ISBN 9783447036528.
Makrypoulias, Christos G. (2005), "
Mardaites in Asia Minor",
Encyclopedia of the Hellenic World - Asia Minor [permanent dead
Phares, Walid. Lebanese Christian Nationalism: The Rise and Fall of an
Ethnic Resistance. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995.
Salibi, Kamal. A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon
Reconsidered, London: I B Tauris, 1988.
Salibi, Kamal. Maronite Historians of Medieval Lebanon, Beirut:
American University of Beirut, 1959.
Salibi, Kamal. The Modern History of Lebanon, Delmar: Ca