Harun al-Rashid  

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“With Harun al-Rashid, King of the Persians, who held almost the whole of the East in fee, always excepting India, Charlemagne was on such friendly terms that Harun valued his good will more than the approval of all the other kings and princes in the entire world, and considered that he alone was worthy of being honored and propitiated with gifts. When Charlemagne's messengers, who he had sent with offerings to the most Holy Sepulcher of our Lord and Savior and to the place of His resurrection, came to Harun and told him of their master's intention, he not only granted all that he was asked but even went so far as to agree that this sacred scene of our redemption should be placed under Charlemagne‟s own jurisdiction.” (Einhard and Notker the Stammerer, Two lives of Charlemagne, Lewis Thorpe, Penguin Books, New York, 1969. p. 70.)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hārūn al-Rashīd, Aaron the Just, or Aaron the Rightly-Guided; March 17, 763March 24, 809) was the fifth and most famous Abbasid Caliph. He was born in Rayy, near Tehran, Iran, and lived in Baghdad, Iraq and most of his reign in Ar Raqqah at the middle Euphrates.

He ruled from 786 to 809, and his time was marked by scientific, cultural and religious prosperity. Art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the library Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom").

Since Harun was intellectually, politically and militarily resourceful, his life and the court over which he held sway have been the subject of many fictional tales: some are factual but most are believed to be fictitious. An example of what is known to be factual is the story of the Clock that was among various presents that Harun had delightfully sent to Charlemagne. The presents were carried by the returning Frankish mission that came to offer Harun friendship in 779. Charlemagne and his retinue deemed the clock to be a conjuration for the sounds it emanates and the tricks it displays every time an hour ticks. Among what is known to be fictional is the famous The Book of One Thousand and One Nights containing many stories that are fantasized by Harun's magnificent court, and even Harun al-Rashid himself.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Harun al-Rashid" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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