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During the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid, Islam dominated much of the known world, from the Atlantic Ocean to China. Harun's capital, Baghdad, was the most cosmopolitan metropolis of the era. In this magnificent work of history, acclaimed scholar Benson Bobrick resurrects Harun's glorious world and the complex, pervasive influence it had on its neighbors in the Byzantine Empire and the Frankish kingdom of Harun's contemporary Charlemagne.
Harun's power was checked by the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, and Charlemagne's European kingdom. Yet along with conflict went cultural exchange. In fact, it was the preservation and development of classical learning by the Muslims that lighted the lamp of knowledge in the West during the so-called Dark Ages when Europe fell into ruin. The Caliph's Splendor brings this history to vivid life with wide-reaching implications for today's interconnected world.