Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor
© Angus McBride

Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor

Byzantine Empire Isaurian dynasty

Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor
Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor ©Angus McBride
782 May 1

Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor

Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey

The Abbasid invasion of Asia Minor in 782 was one of the largest operations launched by the Abbasid Caliphate against the Byzantine Empire. The invasion was launched as a display of Abbasid military might in the aftermath of a series of Byzantine successes. Commanded by the Abbasid heir-apparent, the future Harun al-Rashid, the Abbasid army reached as far as Chrysopolis, across the Bosporus from the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, while secondary forces raided western Asia Minor and defeated the Byzantine forces there. As Harun did not intend to assault Constantinople and lacked ships to do so, he turned back.

The Byzantines, who in the meantime had neutralized the detachment left to secure the Abbasid army's rear in Phrygia, were able to trap Harun's army between their own converging forces. The defection of the Armenian general Tatzates, however, allowed Harun to regain the upper hand. The Abbasid prince sent for a truce and detained the high-ranking Byzantine envoys, who included Empress Irene's chief minister, Staurakios. This forced Irene to agree to a three-year truce and agree to pay an annual tribute of 70,000 or 90,000 dinars to the Abbasids. Irene then focused her attention to the Balkans, but warfare with the Arabs resumed in 786, until mounting Arab pressure led to another truce in 798, on terms similar to those of 782.

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