Yazaman al-Khadim

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Yazaman or Yazman, surnamed al-Khadim ("the eunuch") was military governor (emir) of Tarsus for the Abbasids and chief military leader in the Muslim borderlands with the Byzantine Empire in Cilicia (the al-thughur as-Sha'miya) from 882 to his death in 891. He is celebrated for his naval raids against the Byzantines.[1]

Soon after his appointment, he was embroiled in the dispute between the semi-autonomous ruler of Egypt and Syria, Ahmad ibn Tulun, and the powerful Abbasid regent, al-Muwaffaq, over control of the borderlands. In September/October 882, Yazaman was arrested by Tulunid agents, but was released by the local people. Ahmad ibn Tulun himself then marched on Tarsus, but the inhabitants opened the sluice gates and flooded the plain around the city, forcing the Tulunids to return to Damascus without achieving anything.[2]

In 883, Yazaman faced a large Byzantine army sent against Tarsus, under the command of the Domestic of the Schools, Kesta Styppeiotes. Yazaman attacked the Byzantine camp at Bab Qalamyah, some 12 km from Tarsus, during the night of 11 September, catching the Byzantines by surprise. The Byzantine forces scattered, Styppeiotes and the strategoi of Anatolikon and Cappadocia were killed, and much booty was captured.[1][3] Yazaman led a major naval raid soon thereafter against the fortress of Euripos (Chalkis), comprising 30 large ships (of the type called koumbaria in Greek), but it was beaten off with great loss by the local governor of Hellas, Oineiates, with the aid of thematic levies and the use of Greek fire.[1] The historian al-Tabari records that Yazaman also led a land raid in 886 and a naval raid in 888, during which he captured four Byzantine ships.[4]

Despite his earlier opposition to them, in 890 Yazaman swore allegiance to the Tulunids, under Ibn Tulun's son Khumarawaih.[5] Tarsus was under Tulunid control until 897, when it was recovered by the Abbasids.[1]

Yazaman died on 23 October 891, during another raid against Byzantine territories. He was besieging the Byzantine fortress of Salandu (possibly Tzamandos in western Cilicia), when he was wounded by a catapult. This caused the Arabs to break off the siege, and he died on the way back. His troops carried him to Tarsus, and buried him there.[6]

According to the 10th-century account of al-Mas'udi (The Meadows of Gold, VIII, 74–75) his fame was such that he was among the ten illustrious Muslims whose portraits were displayed in Byzantine churches in recognition of their valour.


  1. ^ a b c d Pryor & Jeffreys 2006, p. 62.
  2. ^ Fields 1987, pp. 81–82.
  3. ^ Fields 1987, pp. 143–144.
  4. ^ Fields 1987, pp. 152, 157.
  5. ^ Fields 1987, p. 162.
  6. ^ Fields 1987, p. 175.