Harun Al-Rashid and the World of the Thousand and One Nights
Known in the West as a cultural patron and as the ruler who sent exotic gifts to Charlemagne, Harun was also a soldier who waged war against the Byzantine empire, and a politician who often dealt ruthlessly with the religious and social revolts which threatened his far-flung kingdom. When the powerful Barmakid family became so rich and influential as to become a state within a state, he exterminated them almost to a man. By protecting and favouring intellectuals, Harun made Baghdad the greatest city in the world, and a brilliant centre of culture and learning. During his reign the Abbasid capital witnessed unprecedented economic development, while merchants and navigators carried the caliph's renown to the farthest corners of the known world.