The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of one hundred thousand manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splendidly bound, which were lent, without jealousy or avarice, to the students of Cairo. Yet this collection must appear moderate, if we can believe that the Ommiades of Spain had formed a library of six hundred thousand volumes, forty-four of which were employed in the mere catalogue.

Under the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of the Moslems were confined to the interpretation of the Koran, and the eloquence and poetry of their native tongue.

The peninsula was conquered by the Moors in the caliphate of Walid I, 705-715 A.D., and the independent dynasty of the Ommiades was founded by Abderrhaman at Granada in 755 A.D. It was from this latter date that the Spanish Moors began to assume that special character in language, manners, and chivalric enthusiasm which is represented in the present ballads; the spirit of Christian knighthood is here seen blended with Arabian passion, impetuosity, and impulsiveness, and the Spanish language has supplanted, even among Mahometan poets, the oriental idiom.

In the proscription of the Ommiades, a royal youth of the name of Abdalrahman alone escaped the rage of his enemies, who hunted the wandering exile from the banks of the Euphrates to the valleys of Mount Atlas. His presence in the neighborhood of Spain revived the zeal of the white faction.

After this event a multitude of conspirators were in turn proclaimed caliph, and in turn deposed, poisoned, or otherwise murdered. Almundir, the last lingering branch of the race of the Ommiades, was bold enough to claim the restoration of the rights of his family, even amid the tumult of conflicting parties. His friends represented to him the dangers he was about to encounter.

"In the space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved by the agriculture, the manufactures, and the commerce of an industrious people." The first of the Ommiades who reigned in Spain, levied on the Christians of that country, 10,000 ounces of gold, 10,000 pounds of silver, 10,000 houses, &c.

Under the last of the Ommiades, the Arabian empire extended two hundred days' journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

The example of the Ommiades was imitated by the real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the Edrissites of Mauritania, and the more powerful Fatimites of Africa and Egypt.

The natural ferocity of the Moslems yielded to the influence of the chivalrous example of the caliph, and Cordova became, under the dominion of Abderamus, the home of taste and pleasure, as well as the chosen abode of science and the arts. A single anecdote will serve to illustrate the tenderness and generosity that so strongly characterized this illustrious descendant of the Ommiades.

It was during the reign of one of these princes, Valid the First, that the Arabian conquests extended in the East to the banks of the Ganges, and in the West to the shores of the Atlantic. The Ommiades, however, were for the most part feeble, but they were sustained by able commanders, and the ancient valour of the Moslem soldiers was not yet degenerated.