Amr ibn Hind

Amr III ibn al-Mundhir (Arabic: عمرو بن المنذر, romanizedʿAmr ibn al-Mundhir; Greek: Ἄμβρος ὁ [υἱός τοῦ] Ἀλαμουνδάρου[1]), more commonly known by the matronymic Amr ibn Hind (Arabic: عمرو بن هند, ʿAmr ibn Hind), was the king of the Lakhmid Arabs in 554–569/570. He was a client of the Sasanian Empire. Around 550 he clashed with Aksumite Empire over southern Arabia and was instrumental in the downfall of Aksumite power in Arabia around 570. He was famous for his bellicosity and his patronage of poets. He was assassinated over an insult to a poet's mother.


He was the son of the Lakhmid king al-Mundhir III ibn al-Nu'man (r. 502–554), and succeeded to the throne upon his father's death in 554.[2] His mother was the Kindite princess Hind bint al-Harith ibn Amr ibn Hujr Akil al-Murar; unusually, Amr is most often referred to with the matronymic "ibn Hind" in Arabic literature, rather than the patronymic "ibn al-Mundhir".[3][4] He was appointed to rule over the Ma'add tribal confederation in central Arabia by his father. In c. 550/552, Amr clashed with the forces of the Aksumite viceroy of Yemen Abraha and was defeated at the battle of Haliban or Huluban (west of modern Riyad) and forced to give up hostages.[2][5]


After succeeding his father as king of the Lakhmids, in his capacity as the client and proxy of the Sasanian Empire he was engaged in several wars against the other powerful tribal groups of northeastern Arabia, such as the Bakr, Taghlib, and Tamim.[2]

The medieval historian Yaqut al-Hamawi indicates that Amr's full brother Qabus, and another brother by the same mother (possibly al-Mundhir IV), were associated as junior rulers already during Amr's rule. On the other hand, his namesake half-brother, Amr ibn Umama, was explicitly excluded. Ibn Umama tried to secure the assistance of the Yemeni ruler to claim his rights, only to be murdered by one of his companions.[6]

Amr himself was likely a Christian, although perhaps not openly so, since the religion was distrusted by his Sasanian overlords as it was associated with their main rival, the Byzantine Empire.[2][7] During the negotiations for the peace treaty of 561 ending the war between the Sasanian Persians and the Byzantines, Amr demanded the payment of gold subsidies by the Byzantines, as had been the practice under his father, but this demand was rejected by the Byzantine negotiator, Peter the Patrician. As a result, Amr broke the peace by launching raids against his pro-Byzantine counterpart, the Ghassanid king al-Harith ibn Jabalah (r. 528–569). Al-Harith complained about these during this 563 visit to Constantinople, but pointedly remarked that he did not deem it necessary to retaliate so as not to disturb the peace. Amr repeated his demands in 567 via a Persian embassy to Constantinople, but was again rebuffed. In return, he ordered his brother Qabus to raid the Ghassanid territories. According to Shahîd, it appears that at that time, the Byzantine government tacitly consented to give the Lakhmids the desired subsidies to maintain the peace between Byzantium and Persia.[1][8][9]

Some time after that he received the Yemeni magnate Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, whose family dominated the Hadramawt, and who had come to ask for Sasanian aid in overthrowing Aksumite rule over Yemen. according to the narratives included in the history of al-Tabari, Amr took him with him to an audience with the Sasanian ruler, Khosrau I, who was indeed persuaded to send an expedition to Yemen which quickly conquered the country.[10][11]

He was killed while dining by the poet Amr ibn Kulthum in 569 or 570, after the Lakhmid ruler's mother had insulted Kulthum's mother at court.[2][12] He was succeeded by his brother Qabus.[13][14]


The Arabic sources highlight Amr's energy and warlike nature, but also his cruelty, which was legendary: according to a well-known story, he sent the poets al-Mutalammis and Tarafa to the governor of Bahrayn bearing sealed letters with orders for their execution. Al-Mutalammis was suspicious enough to destroy his letter, but Tarafa delivered his, and was executed. The "letter of al-Mutalammis" became the proverbial example of this device in Arab lore.[15][16]

Amr's difficult character earned him the nickname Muḍarriṭ al-Ḥijāra ("the one who makes stones emit sounds"), as well as Muḥarriq ("the burner").[2][17] The latter nickname is connected to a tradition reporting that he ordered a hundred members of the Tamimi subtribe of Darim burned alive. Alternatively, it is attributed to his burning the date palms of al-Jamama. The historian Gustav Rothstein notes that it is more likely that these stories are later inventions, designed to explain Amr's nickname, rather than its origin. Rothstein points out that Muharriq was a common name among the Lakhmids, and the name of a local pre-Islamic deity, so that it may simply reflect a dedication of Amr in his childhood to this cult.[18]

Cultural legacyEdit

Amr's court was renowned in Arab history for the number of poets it attracted, including Kulthum, Tarafa, al-Harith ibn Hilliza, al-Mutalammis, al-Muthaqqib al-Abdi, al-Munakhal al-Yashkuri, Suwayd ibn Khadhdhaq and Yazid ibn Khadhdhaq.[2] Amr himself was also the cousin of the greatest pre-Islamic Arab poet, Imru al-Qays.[2] At his court in al-Hira, the Arab poets were increasingly exposed to the cultural influence of the Sasanians, and his court "contributed to an urbanisation of pastoralist Arabic poetry".[2]


  1. ^ a b Martindale 1992, pp. 53–54.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shahîd 2010.
  3. ^ Shahîd 1995, pp. 152, 665, 666.
  4. ^ Rothstein 1899, p. 94.
  5. ^ Hoyland 2001, pp. 55–56.
  6. ^ Rothstein 1899, pp. 99–100.
  7. ^ Shahîd 1995, p. 279.
  8. ^ Rothstein 1899, pp. 96–99.
  9. ^ Shahîd 1995, pp. 275–276, 281, 285–287, 338.
  10. ^ Bosworth 1983, pp. 606–607.
  11. ^ Bosworth 1999, pp. 236–252.
  12. ^ Wensinck 1960, p. 452.
  13. ^ Rothstein 1899, p. 102.
  14. ^ Bosworth 1999, p. 370.
  15. ^ Wensinck 1960, pp. 451–452.
  16. ^ Bosworth 1999, p. 328 (note 774).
  17. ^ Rothstein 1899, p. 95.
  18. ^ Rothstein 1899, pp. 46–47, 95.


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