Origins of Intelligence Services.

The Ancient Near East, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Arab Muslim Empires, the Mongol Empire, China, Muscovy


Francis Dvornik


Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey 1974


[[ Pages 115-116 are missing ]]

Scans in .pdf format (43.8 Mb)



Illustrations Maps
  Acknowledgments Abbreviations


I: Intelligence in the Ancient Near East

Introduction — Egypt and the Hittites — Babylonia and Assyria — Persian Intelligence and Royal Post Service — Greeks, Hellenistic States, Ptolemaic Egypt


II: Intelligence in the Roman Empire

1. Republican Period

    Lack of Interest in Intelligence in Early Rome and Reasons for Roman Expansion — Intelligence Service of the Carthaginians, Rivals of the Romans — Hannibal’s Mastery of Intelligence — Scipio the Younger Learns from Hannibal — T. Sempronius Gracchus and the Macedonian Relay Service — Cato the Elder Values the Importance of Rapid Information — Slowness of Republican Information System — Messengers and Their Status


2. Period of Civil Wars

    Roman Traders and Financial Agents in Newly Conquered Lands — Mithridates of Pontus. His Intelligence in Asia, Rome, and Spain — Cicero’s Information on Intelligence in Asia — The Pirates and Insecurity of Sea Travel — Caesar’s Understanding of Military, Political, Geographical, and Economic Intelligence — Caesar's Information on Gallic Intelligence Service — Caesar Establishes Information Service by Relays of Horsemen — His Tragic Death


3. Imperial Period

    Rise of Octavian-Augustus and Personal Experience in Importance of Intelligence — Founding of the State Post (cursus publicus) — Oriental Influences on Its Organization — Organization of the State Post — The mansiones and Changing-Stations— Transformation of the frumentarii from Grain Dealers to Intelligence Agents — The speculatores and the frumentarii as Intelligence Agents of the Emperors — The frumentarii as Policemen and Agents in Persecution of Christians — The frumentarii, a Roman “Gestapo”? — Their Suppression by Diocletian — Roman Intelligence from Abroad — Roman and Greek Geographical and Ethnographical Intelligence — Pliny the Elder and Tacitus — The Information Service on the limes


III: Byzantine Intelligence Service

            1. Byzantine State Post

    Innovations by Constantine and Constantius — Theodosius’s Measures — Functioning of the State Post — Deterioration under Justinian — Its Collapse in the West


2. Secret Service and Police

    The Agentes in Rebus as Military Corps — Messengers, Inspectors of the Post — Informants, Secret Agents — Organization of the Police in Egypt and Other Provinces-Police in the Capital and Main Cities


3. Intelligence in the Border Lands and in Enemy Territory

    Akritai, Their Duties and Organization — Fire Signal System, Achievement of Basil II—Byzantine Spies — Constantine V Betrayed by the Bulgar Khagan Tzeleric — Successful Byzantine Counter-espionage in 877 — A Secret Agent’s Message in 913


4. Military Intelligence

    Byzantine Standing Army — Provincial Army in the themata — Army Scouts — Naval Intelligence — Military Police — Intelligence on New Nations in Military Treatises


5. Diplomatic Intelligence

    Priscus’s Report on Hunnic Embassy — Persia. Byzantium, and Turcs, and the Control of the Silk Road to China — Cherson, Diplomatic and Information Outpost-Information Center in Constantinople. Reception of Foreign Embassies-Reports of Embassies from State Archives, Main Source of Porphyrogenitus’s Work on the Administration of the Empire


IV: Intelligence in the Arab Muslim Empires

1. The Patriarchal Period and the Omayyad Empire

    Rise of Muhammad — The First Caliphs — Persian and Byzantine Traditions in the Administration — Efforts to Replace Byzantium — Réintroduction of Intelligence Service by State Post — Use of Secret Police — Nationalization of the Administration, Further Conquests, and Fall of the Dynasty


2. The Abbasid Muslim Empire

    Equality of Muslim Races, Awakening of National Sentiments, Golden Age of Arabic Literature — Last Attempt to Conquer Byzantium — Reorganization of the Post by Harun Al-Rashid, According to Main Sources — Six Main Postal Roads — Organization of the Barid (Post), According to Kudama — Postmasters in the Espionage System — Arabic Police — Post by Carrier Pigeons — Disintegration of the Caliphate — Intelligence Service and Propaganda by the Fatimids— Intelligence Service during the Seljuk’s Protectorate


3. Intelligence in the Mamluk Empire

    Baybars Becomes Sultan — Al-Omari’s History of Arab Post in His Al-Tarif — Al-Makrizi’s Description of Baybars’s State Post — Postal Roads Described in Al-Tarif — Baybars’s Post by Carrier Pigeons — Al-Malik-al-Nazir’s Reforms — Transport of Snow by State Post — Decadence of the State Post Service and of the Mamluk Empire


4. Arab Intelligence on Byzantium

    Christian Spies in Arabic Service — Byzantine Deserters, Arabic Security Measures on the Frontier — The Strategus Manuel — Al-Mas’udi on Exchange of Prisoners — Al-Mas’udi’s Story on Muawiya’s Revenge of Mistreatment of an Arab Prisoner — Arab Prisoners in Constantinople, and Their Information — Embassies — Arabian Geographers on Byzantium


V: Intelligence in the Mongol Empire

    The Rise of Jenghiz Khan (a New David?), Military Genius, Author of the Great Yasaq, Mongol Law Code — Conquest of North China, Manchuria, and Kuara-Khitai — Jenghiz Khan, Muhammad II, Caliph Nasin — Conquest of Muhammad Kharizmian Empire — Expedition of Jebe and Sübötäi in Caucasus and Russia — Jenghiz’s Organization of Intelligence, His Post Service — Chinese Post — Arabs on Chinese Intelligence — New Mongol Conquest in Europe, Asia, and China — Jenghiz’s Successors and the Post Service — Western Information on the Mongol Post, Piano Carpini, Longjumeau, Rubruck — Marco Polo on the Mongol Chinese Post Service — Report by Oderic and the Arab Batuta on the Mongol Post — Organization of the Mongol-Chinese Post Service


VI: Intelligence in the Muscovite State

    Russia under Mongol Rule — Political Growth of the Moscow Grand Dukes — Reforms of Ivan III — Introduction of a State Post on Mongol Prototypes; Its Organization — Herberstein and von Staden on the Muscovite Information Service — Ivan IV’s Reorganization of the Post Service — Treatment of Foreign Embassies — Opričnina and Secret Police




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