I. The founder of the dynasty of the Ommiyade caliphs, born in Mecca about 610, died in Damascus in the spring of 080. He was the son of Abu Sofian, one of the chiefs at Mecca, and the great-grandson of Om-miya, a cousin of the grandfather of Mohammed. In 641 Omar appointed him governor of Syria; and although he permitted the island of Cyprus, which fell into Saracen power about 648, to be recaptured by its people in 651, he subjugated and retained the island of lihodes. On the assassination of the caliph Othman in 655, he refused to recognize Ali, his legitimate successor, but proclaimed himself caliph. After a long struggle, in which he often displayed tyranny and revolting cruelty, he succeeded in subjugating the whole Saracen empire, and placing its provinces under the control of governors friendly to him. His armies made large additions to his territory, conquering Bokhara and Samarcand on the north, and meeting with no important check until they attacked Constantinople, which was repeatedly besieged until in 678 Moawiyah was compelled to make terms of peace.
He made the caliphate hereditary, though the measure excited great opposition, and compelled the recognition of Yezid, his son, as his future successor.
Grandson Of The Preceding, born in Damascus in 660, died there in 680. He succeeded Yezid as caliph in the autumn of 683, but abdicated a few months later, declaring that the act of his grandfather in making the caliphate hereditary had been one of usurpation, in the results of which he would not share. He refused even to appoint a successor, but retired to a life of complete privacy. According to some historians, he died of the plague; according to others, he was poisoned. (See Ommiyades).