Nish - Encyclopedia

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NISH (also written Nisch and NIS), the capital of the Nish department of Servia, lying in a plain among the southern mountains, on the left shore of the Nishava, a tributary of the Morava. Pop. (1900) 24,451. Among Servian cities, Nish is only surpassed by Belgrade in commercial and strategic importance; for it lies at the point where several of the chief Balkan highroads converge, and where the branch railway to Salonica leaves the main line between Belgrade and Constantinople. The administration of the Servian railways has its factory for repairing engines and principal store of materials in the city, which also possesses an iron foundry. The,, king and the government reside for at least three months in the year in Nish, where also the national assembly, before the constitution of 1g01, was regularly held. It is the see of a bishop, the seat of the district prefecture and a tribunal, and the headquarters of the territorial militia corps, having besides a large number of regular troops in garrison. There is a small obsolete fortress on the right bank of the Nishava, believed to have been erected on the site of the Roman Naissus. The surrounding hills (Vinik, Goritsa, Kamenitsa) were, after 1886, fortified by modern earthworks.

After the Turks were driven from the city in 1878, it was in many respects modernized; but something of its former character is preserved in the ancient Turkish palace, mosque and fountain, the maze of winding alleys and picturesque houses in the older quarters, and, on market days, by the medley of peasant costumes - Bulgarian, Albanian and Rumanian, as well as Servian.

The ancient Roman city Naissus was mentioned as an important place by Ptolemy of Alexandria. Under its walls was fought in A.D. 269 the great battle in which Emperor Claudius destroyed the army of the Goths. It was at Naissus that Constantine the Great was born in A.D. 274. Though the emperor Julian improved its defences, the town was destroyed by the Huns under Attila, in the 5th century, but Justinian did his best to restore it. In the 9th century the Bulgarians became masters of Naissus, but had to cede it to the Hungarians in the iith century, from whom the Byzantine emperor Manuel I. reconquered it in 1173. Towards the end of the 12th century the town was in the hands of the Servian prince Stephen Nemanya, who there received hospitably the German emperor Frederic Barbarossa and his Crusaders. In 1375 the Turks captured Naissus for the first time from the Servians. In 1443 the allied armies of the Hungarians under Hunyady and the Servians under George Brankovich, retook it from the Turks, but in 1456 it again came under Turkish dominion, and remained for more than 300 years the most important Turkish military station on the road between Hungary and Constantinople. In the frequent wars between Austria and Turkey during the i 7th and 18th centuries the Austrians captured Naissus twice (in 1689 and 1737), but were not able to retain it long. The Servians having, in the beginning of the 19th century, successfully cleared Servia of Turks, were emboldened to attack Nish in 1809, but were repulsed with great loss. The Turks raised as a monument of their victory a high tower composed entirely of the heads of the Servians slain in the battle of Nish. The remnants of this monument are still kept up. It stands half a mile to the east from Nish, and is called to this day by the Turkish name "Tyele-Koula," "the Tower of Skulls." In the RussoTurkish War the Servian army, under the personal command of King Milan, besieged Nish, and forced it to capitulate on the 10th January 1878. The Berlin congress decided that it should remain with Servia. (C. Mi.) Nishapur, a province of Persia, situated between Meshed and Sabzevar, in northern Khorasan. The older name of the district was Abarshehr. It has a population of from 130,000 to 140,000, is divided into twelve districts, and pays a yearly revenue of about £12,000. It produces much grain and cotton, and is considered one of the most fertile districts of Persia. One of its subdivisions is that of Bar-i-Madan, with chief place Madan (situated 32 m. N.W. of the city of Nishapur, at an elevation of 5100 ft., in 36° 28' N., 58° 20' E.), where the famous mines are which have supplied the world with turquoises for at least 2000 years. The province used to be one of the administrative divisions of Khorasan, but is now a separate province, with a governor appointed by the shah.

Nishapur (Old Pers. Nev-shapur-nev, New Pers. niv, nik = good; Arab. Naisabur), the capital of the province of Nishapur, Persia, situated at an elevation of 3920 ft., in 36° 12' N., and 58° 40' E., about 49 m. west of Meshed. The second element of the name is that of the traditional founder Shapur, or Sapor of the Western historians. Some accounts name the first (241-272), others the second Shapur (309-379). It was once one of the four great cities of Khorasan, rivalling Rai (Rhages), "the mother of cities," in importance and population, but is now a small and comparatively unimportant place with a population of barely 15,000. It has post and telegraph offices and a lively trade in wool, cotton and dry fruits (almonds, pistachios).

Eastward of the present city, amongst the mounds and ruins of the old town, in a dilapidated chamber adjoining a bluedomed building over the grave of an imamzadeh, is the tomb of the astronomer-poet Omar Khayyam, an unsightly heap of plaster without inscription, and probably fictitious. Near it is the grave of the celebrated poet and mystic Farid ud din Attar, who was killed by the Mongols when they captured the city C. 1229.

Nishapur was an important place during the 5th century, for Yazdegerd II. (438-457) mostly resided there. During the latter Sassanids it is seldom mentioned, and when the Arabs came to Khorasan (641-642) it was of so little importance that, as Tabari relates, it did not even have a garrison. Under the Tahirids (820-872) it became a flourishing town and rose to great importance during the Samanids (874-999). Toghrul, the first ruler of the Seljuk dynasty, made Nishapur his residence in 1037. In 1153 the Ghuzz Turkomans overran the country and partly destroyed town and suburbs. In 1208 most of the town was destroyed by an earthquake. The town was hardly rebuilt when it was again destroyed, this time by the Mongols (April 1221) and so effectually that, completely levelled to the ground, it was turned into a vast barley field. The city was again rebuilt, suffered again at the hands of the Mongols (1269) and from another great earthquake (1280), and never again rose to its former greatness. (A. H.-S.)

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