The first dynasty of the Islamic Caliphate, the Umayyad Caliphate extended from 661 to 750. The dynasty begins Caliph Muawiya, whose reign began with the death of Ali. Upon satisfying himself with the security of his rule, Muawiya had the center of government moved to Damascus, where it would remain for the duration of the Umayyad Dynasty. Aside from doing battle with the Byzantines, and maintaining internal security, his main achievement seems to be that of having established hereditary succession for the Caliphate. Muawiya was succeeded by his son Yazid in 680. And then by Muawiya II in 683 when Yazid inexplicably died. In 684, Muawiya II was gone as well.
As Muawiya II managed to leave no successor, there was a brief struggle before Marwan took over as Caliph in 684. Upon his death in 685, rule of the Caliphate passed on to his son, Abd al-Malik.
With the accession of Abd al-Malik as Caliph, stability was restored to the growing empire. During his reign (685-705), Arabic became the language of government, and a new coinage was introduced. This was also the time when the Dome of the Rock was built in Jerusalem.
Over the course of the 45 years following his death in 705, his descendants continued the process of expanding the empire, with only the occasional revolt. That changed in 747 when the Abbasids began the final revolt. In 750, the Umayyads were defeated in their entirety, and the males of the family killed almost to a person.
- The Outline of the History, H.G. Wells
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