“Baghdad or Bagdad: City, capital of Iraq. Located on the Tigris River, the site has been settled from ancient times. It rose to importance after being chosen in AD 762 by Caliph al-Mansur (r. 754-775) as the capital of the Abbasid dynasty. Under Harun ar-Rashid it achieved its greatest glory, reflected in the Thousand and One Nights, as one of the world’s largest and richest cities. A center of Islam, it was second only to Constantinople in trade and culture. It began to decline when the capital was moved to Samarra in 809. It was sacked by the Mongols under Hulegu in 1258, taken by Timur in 1401, and captured by the Persian Suleyman I in 1524. It was a shadow of its former self in 1638, when it was absorbed by the Ottoman empire. In 1921 it became capital of the kingdom of Iraq. In 1958 a coup d’etat in Baghdad ended the monarchy. Severely damaged by bombing in the Persian Gulf War, it has since suffered under international trade sanctions.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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