His accession and character
He was the youngest son of Abdul Malik and ascended the throne upon his brother Yazid 2’s death. He preferred to stay at Rusafa, near Raqqa.
He was better than both his brothers, Yazid 2 and Sulaiman. He was a true believer, and pious like his cousin Umar bin Abdul Aziz. His administration was mild and upright.
His long reign of 20 years gave the dynasty a pause from disintegration. He is regarded as the third most eminent of the rulers from Umayyad, partly because if it would have been someone else the Umayyads would have long eroded.
But he was not without his faults: suspicion, avarice, and tribal partisanship.
Events in the East
Hisham placed Khalid bin al-Qasri as governor of Iraq. He belonged to Bajila tribe that remained neutral between Modharite and Himayarites rivalry. But he and his tribe came to be somehow associated with Himayarites.
Khalid remained the governor for 15 years. His reign was a reign of peace and tolerance. He suppressed few revolts and continued his rule.
Khalid had an interest in agriculture. He was an official of Hajjaj, in his time. He applied same tactics as Hajjaj, but a but mildly. This is also why some tribes revolted against him.
Battle of Tour: 732
Though Hisham was not a warrior, but he was ever ready to renew hostilities. He fought Byzantines, but there were no decisive victories.
On the other hand, Spain and France were in disorder. Sometimes the masses revolted and acquired the lands and then the Caliphate would reclaim it.
During 726-731, 5 governors were appointed and then removed. Finally in 731, Abdur Rahman al-Ghafiki ascended the governorship. He was the one of the ablest general and a true stateman. He suppressed any revolt remaining in the area of Spain and South France. Thereby also gaining a bit more ground, this brought immense bounty.
He resolved to conquer North France. Battle of Tour was fought in 732. The Christian army was led by Charles Martel. The Muslims lost the battle. It’s not just the battle but the consequence of the battle on the world history that matters.
If Muslims would have won the battle, Europe would’ve been Islamized. This was the last stronghold of the Christians. What lay beyond this region were petty Kingdoms and priests, who were no match were Umayyads.
The Muslims lost because they were tired due to continuous fighting in Spain and South France. They also grew greedy over the bounty and wanted to return with what they had attained. In addition, there was this rivalry between the Berbers and the Arabs.
Last days of Hisham
Hisham died in 743 leaving the throne to be succeeded by Yazid 2’s son. He left behind a largely positive legacy.
The legacy may seem a bit exaggerated, but the conditions of his time do merit it. He preserved what is today known as ‘golden period of Islam’ and kept it united as he inherited it.
He was frugal and greedy though and alienated non-Arabs and Arabs as well in his crop-yielding and money-generating techniques.
For complete Islamic history notes click here.