Of all the East Persians who had helped the'Abbasid revolution and afterwards came west to share the prosperity ofthe new dynasty, the most distinguished belonged to the wealthy andwellborn family of the Barmakids, originally of Balkh in Bactria, butafterwards settled at Marw. This family was descended from the Barmaksor hereditary abbots of the Buddhist monastery of Nawbahar in Balkh,but had conformed to the Mazdean religion some time probably not longbefore the Muslim conquest, and then embraced Islam. Khalid ibn Barmak,the head of the family, was minister of finance under as-Saffah, andwas made governor of Mesopotamia by al-Nia'nsur.'His son Yahya, at onetime governor of Armenia was entrusted by al-Mahdi with the educationof his son;ho afterwards became khalif as Harun ar-Rashid, and heappointed Yahya wazir of the whole empire and entrusted him withunlimited power. In this office Yahya showed himself a wise and justadministrator, and under his guidance the empire prospered. Of Yahya'sthree sons Fazl was governor of Khurasan, then of Egypt, and Ja'farsucceeded Yahya as wazir. But the family, after being the first inwealth, power, and honour is Islam, fell from its high estate in 803for reasons which were a mystery to contemporaries and never have beenadequately explained. Yahya died in prison in 806, Ja'far in 909. Othersons seem to have been set at liberty after Yahya's death. At theaccession of al-Amin in 8o8 all surviving members of the Barmakidfamily were set free and had property and honours restored to them.


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