cause' in disarray by the end of the sixth century. Any given Christian region might well harbour deep resentment against the neighbouring area and refuse to provide assistance in the event of troubles from outside.

The second major event was a tragic military disaster. The Ghassanids, an alliance of Arab tribes, lived along the border between Palestine and Arabia. They had become Christians during the sixth century and adhered to a Miaphysite confession. Their bishop lived in Bostra, the Arab provinces' capital, and from 542 he was known as 'the bishop ofthe Arabs'. For the Roman empire, a treaty with the Ghassanids was desirable because they could control other Arabs who might invade Palestine. Roman interests in the Ghassanids could be even more direct. For example, the emperor Tiberius (regn. 57882) was at war with Persia and, seeking more than protection from the south, invited al-Muhdhir, king ofthe Ghassanids, to the capital in580. There, Tiberius encouraged al-Muhdhir to attack the Persians. The invasion planned for 580 was directed by Maurice, who at that time was a count (comes) but later became emperor (582-602).

Maurice was an ardent Chalcedonian and so entertained suspicions against the anti-Chalcedonian Ghassanids on religious grounds. Upon leading his troops to the Persian border, Maurice discovered that the bridge across the Euphrates had been destroyed. It is possible, though far from obvious, that al-Muhdhir was not certain that the Byzantines would ultimately support this venture and, playing both sides against the middle, had the bridge torn down. Maurice in any case concluded that al-Muhdhir was an enemy, so he had him arrested, tried and banished to Cyprus. His family swore that they would never again be forced into negotiations with Romans. They joined Persia in the war and began raids on Palestine. So out of wounded pride and understandable resentment, aggrieved Christian Arabs were already attacking Roman Palestine decades before the Muslim invasions of the seventh century.


The movement of large numbers of Christians from one place to another, as immigrants,110 pilgrims,111 monks, bishops and theologians, connected numerous local forms of Christianity across the Greek-speaking world (and beyond, as the writings ofJohn Cassian, Egeria and the Piacenza Pilgrim remind us). By

110 See, for example, the discussion of Milan's position on major Roman thoroughfares in chapter 8, below.

111 Many pilgrims travelled to the holy sites of the East. The most famous was Egeria, who wrote a travelogue for the benefit ofher monastic sisters, detailing the sites and services that she saw.

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