Abul-Abbas at Charlemagne, (Carolus Magnus) emperor of Holy Roman Empire

Male ♂ Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) Abul-Abbas at Charlemagne, (Carolus Magnus) emperor of Holy Roman Empire

† Abul-Abbas
ID Number:
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Male ♂, unknown maybe about years old (estimated age)
Dead date: 0810
Death reason: disease: Pneumonia?
Location:Charlemagne, (Carolus Magnus) emperor of Holy Roman Empire
ArrivedCharlemagne, (Carolus Magnus) emperor of Holy Roman Empire 0802-07-20
from Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad
Born: wild
Document updated2010-09-21




Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800



Jeff Sypeck


More info?
Abul-Abbas was an Asian elephant given to Emperor Charlemagne by the caliph of Baghdad, Harun al-Rashid, in 798. Abul-Abbas was a white elephant, a rare and impressive gift.

Abul-Abbas's journey from the Abbasid empire to Europe started with a crossing of the Mediterranean Sea by ship, which landed at Portovenere in October 801.

The embassy to the Frankish court was led by the governor of Egypt, Ibrahim Ibn al-Aghlab, (in response to a mission despatched by Charlemagne to the caliph's court in 797) the elephant and his mahout, a Jewish North African named Isaac, spent the winter in Vercelli, and in the spring they started the march over the Alps to the Emperor's residence in Aachen, arriving on July 1, 802.

Abul-Abbas was exhibited on various occasions when the court was assembled, and was eventually housed in Augsburg in southern Bavaria.

In 804 the Danish king Godfred attacked a trading village near Denmark and moved the people by force to his newly-built trading village in Hedeby; his goal was to secure Denmark's part of the trade in the northern countries. Charlemagne mobilized his troops against the Danes, and sent for his elephant to join in the mighty battle.

In 810, when he was in his forties, Abul-Abbas died at Lippeham on Luneburg heath, probably of of pneumonia after crossing the cold water in the Rhine.

It should take another 400 years before next elephant in Europe, known as The Cremona elephant came to Germany in 1229.


[802] DCCCII. Herena imperatrix de Constantinopoli misit legatum nomine Leonem spatarium de pace confirmanda inter Francos et Grecos, et imperator vicissim propter ipsum absoluto illo misit Iesse episcopum Ambianensem et Helmgaudum comitem Constantinopolim, ut pacem cum ea statuerent. Celebratum est pascha Aquisgrani palatio.

Ipsius anni mense Iulio, XIII. Kal. Aug., venit Isaac cum elefanto et ceteris muneribus, quae a rege Persarum missa sunt, et Aquisgrani omnia imperatori detulit; nomen elefanti erat Abul Abaz.

Ortona civitas in Italia in deditionem accepta, Luceria quoque frequenti obsidione fatigata et ipsa in deditionem venit, praesidiumque nostrorum in ea positum.

Imperator aestatis tempore in Arduenna venatibus operam dedit et misso Saxonum exercitu Transalbianos Saxones vastavit.

Grimoaldus Beneventanorum dux in Luceria Winigisum comitem Spoletii, qui praesidio praeerat, adversa valitudine fatigatum obsedit et in deditionem accepit captumque honorifice habuit.

Imperator Aquisgrani natalem Domini celebravit. Et inmutavit se numerus annorum in

Annales regni francorum 802

Sources, among others

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