Caliphate of Córdoba

The Caliphate of Córdoba (Arabic: خِلَاَفَةُ قُرْطُبَةٍ‎; trans. Khilāfat Qurṭuba) was a state in Islamic Iberia along with a part of North Africa ruled by the Umayyad dynasty. The state, with the capital in Córdoba, existed from 929 to 1031. The region was formerly dominated by the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba (756–929). The period was characterized by an expansion of trade and culture, and saw the construction of masterpieces of al-Andalus architecture. In January 929, Abd ar-Rahman III proclaimed himself Caliph (Arabic: خليفة) of Córdoba,[3] replacing thus his original title of Emir of Córdoba (Arabic: أمير قرطبة 'Amīr Qurṭuba). He was a member of the Umayyad dynasty, which had held the title of Emir of Córdoba since 756.

The caliphate disintegrated during the Fitna of al-Andalus, a civil war between the descendants of the last caliph, Hisham II, and the successors of his hayib (court official), Al-Mansur. In 1031, after years of infighting, the caliphate fractured into a number of independent Muslim taifa (kingdoms).[4]

Caliphate of Córdoba

خِلَاَفَةُ قُرْطُبَةٍ
Khilāfat Qurṭuba (in Arabic)
Caliphate of Córdoba (green), c. 1000.
Caliphate of Córdoba (green), c. 1000.
Common languages
GovernmentTheocratic monarchy
• 929 – 961
Abd ar-Rahman III
• Abd ar-Rahman III proclaimed Caliph of Córdoba[1]
• Disintegrated into several independent taifa kingdoms
1000 est.[2]600,000 km2 (230,000 sq mi)
• 1000 est.
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Emirate of Córdoba
Taifa of Córdoba
Taifa of Seville
Taifa of Zaragoza
Today part ofGibraltar (UK)


Umayyad Dynasty


Abd ar-Rahman I became Emir of Córdoba in 756 after six years in exile after the Umayyads lost the position of Caliph in Damascus to the Abbasids in 750.[5] Intent on regaining power, he defeated the area's existing Islamic rulers and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate.[6] Raids then increased the emirate's size; the first to go as far as Corsica occurred in 806.[7]

The emirate's rulers used the title "emir" or "sultan" until the 10th century. In the early 10th century, Abd ar-Rahman III faced a threatened invasion from North Africa by the Fatimids, a Shiite rival Islamic empire based in Cairo. Since the invading Fatimids claimed the caliphate, Abd ar-Rahman III claimed the title of caliph himself.[8] Prior to Abd ar-Rahman's proclamation as the caliph, the Umayyads generally recognized the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad as being the rightful rulers of the Muslim community.[9] Even after repulsing the Fatimids, he kept the more prestigious title.[10] Although his position as caliph was not accepted outside of al-Andalus and its North African affiliates, internally the Spanish Umayyads considered themselves as closer to Muhammad, and thus more legitimate, than the Abbasids.


The caliphate enjoyed increased prosperity during the 10th century. Abd ar-Rahman III united al-Andalus and brought the Christian kingdoms of the north under control by force and through diplomacy. Abd ar-Rahman III stopped the Fatimid advance into Morocco and al-Andalus in order to prevent a future invasion. The plan for a Fatimid invasion was thwarted when Abd ar-Rahman III secured Melilla in 927, Ceuta in 931, and Tangier in 951.[9] This period of prosperity was marked by increasing diplomatic relations with Berber tribes in North Africa, Christian kings from the north, and with France, Germany and Constantinople.[11] The caliphate became very profitable during the reign of Abd ar-Rahman III, by increasing the public revenue to 6,245,000 dinars from Abd ar-Rahman II. The profits made during this time were divided into three parts: the payment of the salaries and maintenance of the army, the preservation of public buildings, and the needs of the caliph.[9] The death of Abd ar-Rahman III led to the rise of his 46-year-old son, Al-Hakam II, in 961. Al-Hakam II continued his father's policy, dealing humanely with disruptive Christian kings and North African rebels. Al-Hakam's reliance on his advisers was greater than his father's because the previous prosperity under Abd ar-Rahman III allowed al-Hakam II to let the caliphate run by itself. This style of rulership suited al-Hakam II since he was more interested in his scholarly and intellectual pursuits than ruling the caliphate. The caliphate was at its intellectual and scholarly peak under al-Hakam II.[12][13]

La civilització del califat de Còrdova en temps d'Abd-al-Rahman III
The Caliphate of Córdoba under Abd ar-Rahman III.


The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the caliphate. Before his death, al-Hakam named his only son Hisham II successor. Although the 10-year-old child was ill-equipped to be caliph, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (top adviser to al-Hakam, also known as Almanzor), who had sworn an oath of obedience to Hisham II, pronounced him caliph. Almanzor had great influence over Subh, the mother and regent of Hisham II. Almanzor, along with Subh, isolated Hisham in Córdoba while systematically eradicating opposition to his own rule, allowing Berbers from Africa to migrate to al-Andalus to increase his base of support.[14] While Hisham II was caliph, he was merely a figurehead.[15] He, his son Abd al-Malik (al-Muzaffar, after his 1008 death) and his brother (Abd al-Rahman) retained the power nominally held by Caliph Hisham. However, during a raid on the Christian north a revolt tore through Córdoba and Abd al-Rahman never returned.[16][17]

The title of caliph became symbolic, without power or influence. The death of Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo in 1009 marked the beginning of the Fitna of al-Andalus, with rivals claiming to be the new caliph, violence sweeping the caliphate, and intermittent invasions by the Hammudid dynasty.[13] Beset by factionalism, the caliphate crumbled in 1031 into a number of independent taifas, including the Taifa of Córdoba, Taifa of Seville and Taifa of Zaragoza. The last Córdoban Caliph was Hisham III (1027–1031).


Spain Andalusia Cordoba BW 2015-10-27 13-54-14
Interior of the Mezquita (Mosque), one of the finest examples of Umayyad architecture in Spain.

Córdoba was the cultural centre of al-Andalus.[18] Mosques, such as the Great Mosque, were the focus of many caliphs' attention. The caliph's palace, Medina Azahara is on the outskirts of the city, where an estimated 10,000 laborers and artisans worked for decades on the palace, constructing the decorated buildings and courtyards filled with fountains and airy domes.[19] Córdoba was also the intellectual centre of al-Andalus, with translations of ancient Greek texts into Arabic, Latin and Hebrew. During the reign of al-Hakam II, the royal library possessed an estimated 500,000 volumes.[13][20] For comparison, the Abbey of Saint Gall in Switzerland contained just over 100 volumes.[13] The university in Córdoba became the most celebrated in the world. It was attended by Christian students from all Western Europe, as well as Muslim students. The university produced one hundred and fifty authors. Other universities and libraries were scattered through Spain during this golden age.[21] During the Caliphate period, relations between Jews and Arabs were cordial; Jewish stonemasons helped build the columns of the Great Mosque.

Advances in science, history, geography, philosophy, and language occurred during the Caliphate.[22] Al-Andalus was subject to eastern cultural influences as well. The musician Ziryab is credited with bringing hair and clothing styles, toothpaste, and deodorant from Baghdad to the Iberian peninsula.[23]


The economy of the caliphate was diverse and successful, with trade predominating. Muslim trade routes connected al-Andalus with the outside world via the Mediterranean. Industries revitalized during the caliphate included textiles, ceramics, glassware, metalwork, and agriculture. The Arabs introduced crops such as rice, watermelon, banana, eggplant and hard wheat. Fields were irrigated with water wheels. Some of the most prominent merchants of the caliphate were Jews. Jewish merchants had extensive networks of trade that stretched the length of the Mediterranean Sea. Since there was no international banking system at the time, payments relied on a high level of trust, and this level of trust could only be cemented through personal or family bonds, such as marriage. Jews from al-Andalus, Cairo, and the Levant all intermarried across borders. Therefore, Jewish merchants in the caliphate had counterparts abroad that were willing to do business with them.[24]

Hisham II of Córdoba Dinar 94227
Hisham II of Córdoba Dinar


Exterior of the Mezquita

The caliphate had an ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse society. A minority of ethnic Muslims of Arab descent occupied the priestly and ruling positions, another Muslim minority were primarily soldiers and native Hispano-Gothic converts (who comprised most of the Muslim minority) were found throughout society. Jews comprised about ten percent of the population: little more numerous than the Arabs and about equal in numbers to the Berbers. They were primarily involved in business and intellectual occupations. The indigenous Christian Mozarab majority were Catholic Christians of the Visigothic rite, who spoke a variant of Latin close to Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan with an Arabic influence. The Mozarabs were the lower strata of society, heavily taxed with few civil rights and culturally influenced by the Muslims. Ethnic Arabs occupied the top of the social hierarchy; Muslims had a higher social standing than Jews, who had a higher social standing than Christians. Christians and Jews were considered dhimmis, required to pay jizya (a tax for the wars against Christian kingdoms in the north).[25]

The word of a Muslim was valued more than that of a Christian or Jew in court. Some offenses were harshly punished when a Jew or Christian was the perpetrator against a Muslim even if the offenses were permitted when the perpetrator was a Muslim and the victim a non-Muslim. Half of the population in Córdoba is reported to have been Muslim by the 10th century, with an increase to 70 percent by the 11th century. That was due less to local conversion than to Muslim immigration from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. Combined with the mass expulsions of Christians from Córdoba after a revolt in the city, that explains why, during the caliphate, Cordoba was the greatest Muslim centre in the region. Jewish immigration to Córdoba also increased then. Christians saw their status decline from their rule under the Visigoths, meanwhile the status of Jews improved during the Caliphate. While Jews were persecuted under the Visigoths, Jewish communities benefited from Umayyad rule by obtaining more freedom, affluence and a higher social standing.[24]


According to Thomas Glick, "Despite the withdrawal of substantial numbers during the drought and famine of the 750's, fresh Berber migration from North Africa was a constant feature of Andalusi history, increasing in tempo in the tenth century. Hispano-Romans who converted to Islam, numbering six or seven millions, comprised the majority of the population and also occupied the lowest rungs on the social ladder."[26][27] It is also estimated that the capital city held around 450,000 people, making it the largest city in Europe at the time.[28]

List of rulers

According to historians, the emirs and caliphs comprising the Umayyad dynasty in Al-Andalus were the sons of concubine slaves (almost all Iberians from the north of the peninsula). The founder of the dynasty, Abd ar-Rahman I, was the son of a Berber woman; his son (and successor as emir) had a Spanish mother.[29] As such, the genome of Hisham II, tenth ruler of the Umayyad dynasty, "would have mostly originated from the Iberian Peninsula and would not be more than 0.1% of Arab descent, although the Y chromosome would still be of fully Arab origin".[30][31]

Umayyad Caliphs of Córdoba

Hammudid Caliphs of Córdoba

Umayyad Caliphs of Córdoba (restored)

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Azizur Rahman, Syed (2001). The Story of Islamic Spain (snippet view). New Delhi: Goodword Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-81-87570-57-8. Retrieved 5 September 2010. [Emir Abdullah died on] 16 Oct., 912 after 26 years of inglorious rule leaving his fragmented and bankrupt kingdom to his grandson ‘Abd ar-Rahman. The following day, the new sultan received the oath of allegiance at a ceremony held in the "Perfect salon" (al-majils al-kamil) of the Alcazar.
  2. ^ Taagepera, Rein (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 495. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  3. ^ Barton, Simon (2004). A History of Spain. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. p. 38. ISBN 0333632575.
  4. ^ Chejne, Anwar G. (1974). Muslim Spain: Its History and Culture. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press. pp. 43–49. ISBN 0816606889.
  5. ^ 1968, Hughes, Aaron W.,. Muslim identities : an introduction to Islam. New York. p. 108. ISBN 9780231531924. OCLC 833763900.
  6. ^ Barton, 37.
  7. ^ D.,, Stanton, Charles. Medieval maritime warfare. Barnsley, South Yorkshire. p. 111. ISBN 9781473856431. OCLC 905696269.
  8. ^ Barton, 38.
  9. ^ a b c O'Callaghan, J. F. (1983). A History of Medieval Spain. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 119.
  10. ^ Reilly, Bernard F. (1993). The Medieval Spains. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0521394368.
  11. ^ Chejne, 35.
  12. ^ Chejne, 37–38.
  13. ^ a b c d Catlos, Brain A. (2014). Infidel Kings and Unholy Wars: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusades and Jihad. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. p. 30.
  14. ^ Chejne, 38–40.
  15. ^ Catlos, Brain A. (2014). Infidel Kings and Unholy Wars: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusades and Jihad. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. p. 23.
  16. ^ Chejne, 42–43.
  17. ^ Reilly, Bernard F. (1993). The Medieval Spains. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 87–89. ISBN 0521394368.
  18. ^ Barton, 40–41.
  19. ^ Karabell, Zachary (2007). Peace be upon you : the story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish coexistence (1st ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9781400043682. OCLC 71810014.
  20. ^ "Information processing". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  21. ^ Francis Preston Venable, A Short History of Chemistry (1894) p. 21.
  22. ^ Barton, 42.
  23. ^ Golden age of the Moor. Van Sertima, Ivan. New Brunswick, U.S.A.: Transaction Publishers. 1992. p. 267. ISBN 1560005815. OCLC 25416243.CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ a b Karabell, Zachary (2007). Peace Be Upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence. New York: Albert A. Knopf. p. 70.
  25. ^ "This day, Mary 15, in Jewish history". Cleveland Jewish News.
  26. ^ Glick 2005, p. 202.
  27. ^ "The rate of conversion is slow until the tenth century (less than one-quarter of the eventual total number of converts had been converted); the explosive period coincides closely with the reign of 'Abd al-Rahman III (912–961); the process is completed (eighty percent converted) by around 1100. The curve, moreover, makes possible a reasonable estimate of the religious distribution of the population. Assuming that there were seven million Hispano-Romans in the peninsula in 711 and that the numbers of this segment of the population remained level through the eleventh century (with population growth balancing out Christian migration to the north), then by 912 there would have been approximately 2.8 million indigenous Muslims (muwalladûn) plus Arabs and Berbers. At this point Christians still vastly outnumbered Muslims. By 1100, however, the number of indigenous Muslims would have risen to a majority of 5.6 million.", (Glick 2005, pp. 23-24)
  28. ^ Tertius Chandler, Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census, Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1987. ISBN 0-88946-207-0. Figures in main tables are preferentially cited. Part of Chandler's estimates are summarized or modified at The Institute for Research on World-Systems; Largest Cities Through History by Matt T. Rosenberg; or The Etext Archives Archived 2008-02-11 at the Wayback Machine. Chandler defined a city as a continuously built-up area (urban) with suburbs but without farmland inside the municipality.
  29. ^ Guichard, P. (1976). Al-Andalus: Estructura antropológica de una sociedad islámica en Occidente. Barcelona: Barral Editores. ISBN 8421120166.
  30. ^ Ambrosio, B.; Hernandez, C.; Noveletto, A.; Dugoujon, J. M.; Rodriguez, J. N.; Cuesta, P.; Fortes-Lima, C.; Caderon, R. (2010). "Searching the peopling of the Iberian Peninsula from the perspective of two Andalusian subpopulations: a study based on Y-chromosome haplogroups J and E". Collegium Antropologicum. 34 (4): 1215–1228. PMID 21874703.
  31. ^


  • Ambrosio, B.; Hernandez, C.; Noveletto, A.; Dugoujon, J. M.; Rodriguez, J. N.; Cuesta, P.; Fortes-Lima, C.; Caderon, R. (2010). "Searching the peopling of the Iberian Peninsula from the perspective of two Andalusian subpopulations: a study based on Y-chromosome haplogroups J and E". Collegium Antropologicum 34 (4): 1215–1228.
  • Barton, Simon (2004). A History of Spain. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0333632575.
  • Chejne, Anwar G. (1974). Muslim Spain: Its History and Culture. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816606889.
  • Glick, Thomas F. (1999: 2005). Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages. The Netherlands: Brill.
  • Guichard, P. (1976). Al-Andalus: Estructura antropológica de una sociedad islámica en Occidente. Barcelona: Barral Editores. ISBN 8421120166
  • Reilly, Bernard F. (1993). The Medieval Spains. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521394368.

Further reading

  • Fletcher, Richard (2001). Moorish Spain (Hardcover ed.). Orion. ISBN 1-84212-605-9.

Coordinates: 37°53′N 4°46′W / 37.883°N 4.767°W

Battle of Albesa

The Battle of Albesa was a follow-up to the Battle of Torà that took place 25 February 1003 at Al-Qaṣr al-Māša (Albesa), near Balagî (Balaguer), between the united Christian forces of the Catalan counties and the Islamic forces of the Caliphate of Córdoba. It was one of the border skirmishes associated with the interminable razzias of the Reconquista, described as "a simple encounter between local forces" and "a local action without overarching importance", though both these views are called into question by the assemblage of important Catalan nobles at the battle and the Muslim reprisal which followed.

Berengar, the Bishop of Elna, was killed in the battle. His death is recorded in the Chronicon Rivipullense. The brief notice in the Chronicon Rotense reads: 1003. Factum est proelium Albesae cum sarracenis ("the battle of Albesa is made with the Saracens"). In the Alterum chronicon Rotense, more detail is given: Anno MIII. Factum est proelium in Albesa cum sarracenis ubi Berengarius Episcopus Elensis perimitur ("Year 1003. battle is made in Albesa with the Saracens, where Berengar, Bishop of Elna, was killed").The date of 25 February 1003 comes from the only Arabic source to mention the battle, Ibn al-Faraḍī, who records that Sa‘īd bin Mūsā of Elvira "died in the battle of al-Māša near Balagî the Thursday ten days before the end of the month of Rabī’ al-Thānī in the year 393", that is of the Islamic calendar, being 25 February 1003 in the Anno Domini system. Évariste Lévi-Provençal, the French Orientalist, believed it took place on 27 February, since the Islamic day (20 Rabī’) began at sunset, though 27 February 1003 was not a Thursday.Félix Hernández Jiménez dated the battle of Albesa to the summer of 1003 because he connected it with the seizure of the castle of Castellolí—mentioned only in one Christian source—by Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar, the Córdoban hajib. The Bayān al-Mugrib of Ibn Iḍārī records how Abd al-Malik was marching through lightly populated country toward Barcelona on first of Shawwal (3 August), and that sometime after this date he camped at al-Baṭḥā (possibly Albesa). Abd al-Malik proceeded to invade Urgell and raze the castles of Montmagastre and Meià. He may also have ravaged the territory of Manresa. At the end of this campaign, when he sent his vassals home, Abd al-Malik had captured 5,570 Christians and six of their castles. He had also destroyed 85 fortified places.In this expedition, according to Ibn Khaldūn (in a part of his chronicle based on Ibn Ḥayyān), Ermengol I of Urgell, who had initially rebelled, surrendered and was taken captive:

His capture is connected sometimes with the battle of Albesa, and sometimes not. Ermengol was back in Urgell by 13 March 1004.A new bishop is recorded in Elna, in the records of the diocesan cartulary, on 11 October, a certain Frèdol. It is doubtful whether a new bishop could have been elected so fast if Berengar had died at the end of summer at a long distance from Elna, taking into account the time necessary for both news to travel and an election to be held and new bishop installed. The earlier date (February) coincides better with the timing of Berengar's death, which occurred at Albesa more certainly than Ermengol's capture.

The presence of Berengar at the battle suggest that of his brothers, Bernard I of Besalú and Wifred II of Cerdagne, also. According to the Crónica d'Alaó renovada, count Isarn I of Ribagorza died fighting the Moors at Monzón in 1003. This suggests an offensive action far into Muslim territory, making it possible that he died at the battle of Albesa. Geography lends support to his presence, and that of Sunyer of Pallars, at Albesa. Probably all these had gone to aid Ermengol and his brother, Raymond Borrel of Barcelona, in their revolt.

The marginality of al-Faraḍī's mention of the battle and the general accuracy of the history of Ibn Khaldūn (his source, Ibn Ḥayyān, was a contemporary), suggest that the battle of Albesa was a separate event from the capture of Ermengol, which took place on Abd al-Malik's punitive expedition against the Catalan counties. Mahmud Ali Makki, the modern editor and interpreter of the Arabic poet Ibn Darrāȳ al-Qasṭallī, suggests that his poem 122 treats the expedition of Abd al-Malik as a response to certain Catalan penetrations of caliphal territory after the death of Almanzor. This accords well with the date of 25 February and with the dating of Abd al-Malik's campaign to the summer. The battle of Albesa was one of the incursions which prompted the latter. According to Carl Erdmann, the Muslims, after their defeat at Torà, retreated into their own territory, where the Christians followed them. A second battle was fought near Albesa, which was the end of the brief war, and possibly the campaigning season. The result of the battle is uncertain, but unlike the first battle was not favourable to the Christians. Albesa was first considered a Christian victory by Gerónimo Zurita.

Battle of Alhandic

The Battle of Alhandic (Spanish: Batalla de Alhandic), also known as Zamora's trench Battle (Batalla del Foso de Zamora), was a battle that occurred on August 5, 939 in the city of Zamora, Spain. The battle occurred when the troops of Abd-ar-Rahman III assaulted the walls of Zamora. The defending troops were those loyal to Ramiro II of León, King of the Kingdom of Leon. The fighting was so bloody that the tide of the battle did not turn until the ditch surrounding the city walls was entirely filled with corpses. The troops of Aberraman III won the day and were able to seize the city of Zamora. This battle should not be confused with the Day of Zamora (Día de Zamora or Jornada del Foso de Zamora) which took place a few decades before in the year 901.

Battle of Aqbat al-Bakr

The Battle of Aqbat al-Bakr (2 June 1010) was a battle of the Fitna of al-Andalus that took place in the area in and around Espiel, Spain. The battle took place between the forces of the Caliphate of Cordoba, whose forces were commanded by Sulayman ibn al-Hakam, and the Muslim rebel forces of the Catalan-Andalusian alliance trying to overthrow their Caliph overlords under the command of Muhammad ibn Hisham, al-Tagr Al-Awsat and several Christian warlords including Ermengol I, Hugh I, and Ramon Borrell.The two armies met at Espiel on 2 June 1010 and the forces of the Caliphate of Cordoba were decisively routed, marking one of the first battles of the war and a significant gain for the rebel Catalan-Andalusian alliance. Although this battle took place in the general time frame of the Spanish Reconquista, it was not unusual for Christian and Muslim forces to join together to achieve common goals.

Battle of Cervera

The Battle of Cervera took place near Espinosa de Cervera on 29 July 1000 between the Christian troops of counts Sancho García of Castile and García Gómez of Saldaña and the Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba under the hajib Almanzor. The battle, "tremendous and difficult to describe", was a victory for Almanzor. The battle is listed as the fifty-second of Almanzor's career in the Dikr bilad al-Andalus.

Battle of Estercuel

The Battle of Estercuel took place on 6 July 975 between the forces of the Kingdom of Viguera, under king Ramiro Garcés, and those of the Caliphate of Córdoba, under the kaid of Zaragoza, al-Tuyibi. The battle, a typical skirmish of the Christian–Muslim frontier, was a victory for the Caliphate. Several leading Navarrese magnates were killed and Ramiro was injured.

The kaid of Zaragoza had been a participant in the campaign of Galib ibn Abd al-Rahman in the spring, but he appears to have left the expedition before the victory at the Battle of San Esteban de Gormaz in 978. The forces of the Kingdom of Pamplona, under Sancho II Garcés Abarca, Ramiro's half-brother, were also engaged at Gormaz, where they were defeated alongside the Castilians under García Fernández. The kaid was on the road to Zaragoza when he encountered a Christian army under Ramiro Garcés. The chief source for the encounter is the Muqtabis of Ibn Hayyan, whose account of these years is derived directly from the so-called Anales palatinos ("palatine annals") of Isa ibn Ahmad-Razi:

. . . upon separating from the army [of Galib] on Tuesday, 22 Sawall [5/6 July], he [al-Tuyibi] ran into the train of the pig Ramiro ibn Sancho, and he followed said train, sending to tell the chief of the advance posts about the mountain Bárdena, on the other side of the river Ebro: "Carefully keep watch for a large troop of cavalry that, at dawn, will cross in the direction of the river". In effect, little time passed before the alarm was given that the enemy had appeared beside the town of Estercuel (a half a day's ride from the city of Tudela, on the royal road that comes up from Zaragoza) and before some Christian cavalry forces had scattered throughout the region, to the right and to the left, in the manner of a raid, and were going about seizing whatever booty they encountered and taking captive five men who were out fishing in those valleys.

The disorderly Christians crossed the river Ebro at a ford and soon had lost four men and one captured. From the captive the kaid learned that the Christian army numbered some 500 cavalrymen who had marched from Sos, Ramiro's chief castle, thinking that the governor of Zaragoza was away in Gormaz. Surprised by the Muslim presence, Ramiro made for the Christian castle of al-Qastil, harassed by the Muslims all the way. According to Ibn Hayyan, the Muslims pursued the Christians until the asr, the afternoon prayer. Probably this chase took place over the semiarid Bardenas mountains, terminating in the wooded valley of the river Aragón, in the region of Carcastillo, Murillo el Fruto, and Santacara. The site of Estercuel was to the southeast of Tudela, today uninhabited.Although Ramiro made it to safety, thirty-three of his men were killed, among them Fortún Mahunis, Fortún López, Jimeno Fortún, and the adalides (captains) Íñigo Velázquez, Íñigo Galíndez, and García ibn Salit. Another forty-seven were captured and, among Ramiro's baggage, were found a silver-plated horn for calling the troops and a banner.

Ramiro's younger brother, Jimeno, appears as a hostage at the court of al-Hakam II in Córdoba later in 975. It has been speculated that he may have been exchanged for the liberty of Sancho II, who may have participated in and been captured at the battle of Estercuel.

Battle of Rueda

The Battle of Rueda (981) was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista between the Muslim forces of Al-Andalus and a coalition of north-Iberian Christian states. Due to the difficulty in interpreting the various chronicles, historians are still debating the site of the battle. According to Reinhart Dozy, the battle was fought in Rueda in Valladolid, whereas Ruiz Asencio considers that it was Roa, in Burgos, a fortress that had been repopulated in 912.The Muslim forces were commanded by Almanzor, while the Christian troops were a combined force and the combined from the kingdoms of Leon and Navarre, plus the County of Castile, led by King Ramiro III of Leon, García Fernández of Castile and Sancho II of Pamplona. The battle ended in a disastrous defeat for the Christian kingdoms and resulted in the rebellion of the Galician nobles and the eventual abdication of King Ramiro III in favor of Bermudo II of León.

The battle followed a similar defeat at the Battle of Torrevicente.

Battle of San Esteban de Gormaz (917)

The Battle of San Esteban de Gormaz was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista which occurred in the year 917. The battle pitted the Omayyad forces of the Emirate of Cordoba under Abi-Abda against the troops of the Kingdom of Leon under Ordoño II of León. The battle resulted in a Leonese victory.

Battle of Simancas

The Battle of Simancas (also called Alhandega or al-Khandaq) was a military battle that started on July 19, 939, in the Iberian Peninsula between the troops of the king of León Ramiro II and Cordovan caliph Abd al-Rahman III near the walls of the city of Simancas. The battle decided the control of the lands of the Duero.

The battle unfolded after the army of Abd al-Rahman III launched toward the northern Christian territories in 934. Abd al-Rahman III had gathered a large army of caliphal fighters, with the help of the Andalusian governor of Zaragoza, Abu Yahya. The Leonese king Ramiro II led the counterattack with an army constituted of his own troops, those of Castile under Count Fernan Gonzalez and the Navarrese under García Sánchez I.

Arab witnesses chronicle a spectacular eclipse of the sun that took place on the first day of the battle:

As the army arrived near Simancas, there was an awful eclipse of the sun that covered the earth of a dark yellow amid the day and it filled us and the infidels with terror as neither had seen in their life such a thing as this. Two days passed without either side making any movement.The battle lasted some days, with the allied Christian troops emerging victorious and routing the Cordovan forces. Furtun ibn Muhammad, wali of Huesca, withheld his troops from the battle. He was hunted down near Calatayud by Salama ibn Ahmad ibn Salama, taken to Córdoba and crucified in front of its Al-Qasr.

Battle of Torrevicente

The Battle of Torrevicente was fought on Saturday, 9 July 981 between a force loyal to the Caliphate of Córdoba under the command of Ibn Abi ‘Amir and a rebel force under Galib ibn Abd al-Rahman and his Christian allies, King Ramiro Garcés of Viguera and Count García Fernández of Castile. It was Galib's intention to continue the policy of previous caliphs, Abd ar-Rahman III and al-Hakam II, which was to maintain supremacy over the Christian principalities in peace. Ibn Abi ‘Amir was pursuing a new policy of jihad, signalled by his seven aggressive actions against the Christians in the previous three years. Both Ramiro and Galib died during the battle and Ibn Abi ‘Amir was victorious. It was the twelfth of Ibn Abi ‘Amir's military campaigns, and was called in Muslim sources the "Campaign of the Victory" (Campaña de la Victoria).

The principal sources for the battle—all Arabic—are Ibn al-Khatib (A‘mal al-a‘lam), Ibn Hazm (Naqt al-‘arus), and al-Udri (Tarsi‘ al-ajbar), while Ibn Idari (Boyan), al-Maqqari (Nafh al-tib), and Ibn Alabar (in the biography of Asma, daughter of Galib and wife of Ibn Abi ‘Amir, in his Tekmila) give brief notices. Ibn Hazm relied for his account on his father, Ahmad ibn Hazm, a vizier who took part in the battle on the side of Ibn Abi ‘Amir, while Ibn al-Khatib appears to have relied on Ibn Hazm. No Christian or Latin source mentions the battle, but the Anales castellanos segundos states that "the Moors took Atienza" (prendiderunt mauri Atenza) in the year 1018 of the Spanish era (era mile XVIII), which correspondsd to 980. Atienza was conquered, not from the Christians, but from Galib's partisans as a result of their defeat at Torrevicente. The year, however, was 981.Ibn Abi ‘Amir left Córdoba on 4 Dhu al-Qi'dah 370 in the Islamic calendar (11 May 981 in the Julian). On Thursday, 2 Muharram 371 (7 July 981), according to Ibn al-Khatib, the armies of Galib and Ibn Abi ‘Amir arrived before the castle of Sant Biyant, that is, San Vicente (probably Torrevicente, near Atienza, as identified by Évariste Lévi-Provençal), as agreed upon beforehand through diplomatic channels. Friday passed without battle, perhaps out of respect for the Muslim holy day, but on Saturday combat began. According to the eye-witness account of Ibn Hazm's father, Ibn Abi ‘Amir was commanding the centre of his army, while the right, composed of Berbers, was under the command of Abu Ya‘far ibn ‘Ali al-Zabi and his brother Yahya, and the left was under the joint command of Ahmad ibn Hazm, Abu-l-Ahwas Ma‘n ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Tuyibi, and al-Hasan ibn ‘Abd al-Wadud al-Salami.The octogenarian Galib, riding a horse and wearing a tall helmet, himself led the initial charge against the Berbers, who immediately broke ranks and fled. The left wing likewise broke under a charge and, in Ahmad ibn Hazm's words, each man looked out for only himself. Having dispersed both of Ibn Abi ‘Amir's flanks, Galib reportedly prayed that God would aid whomever was better suited to lead the Muslims. Then, spurring his horse, he descended into a nearby ravine. His comrades, presuming he was relieving himself, did not follow, but when he was gone a long time they went in search of him and found him dead on the ground, his horse calm nearby. The cause of death was unknown. Believing Galib's death was a sign from God, a large group of his followers went to seek peace from Ibn Abi ‘Amir, who, thinking it was a ploy, demanded proof of Galib's death. One brought his seal, another his hand, and another his horse. It was then that the Muslims inflicted a severe defeat on Galib's Christian allies. Galib's remaining Muslim troops panicked and fled in the direction of Atienza, pursued the whole way by the Ibn Abi ‘Amir's forces. García managed to escape, but Ramiro was found among the dead, along with many other Christians. Muslim historians interpreted the battle as a victory over the Christians.Ibn Abi ‘Amir followed his victory by taking Atienza and Calatayud (Qalat Ayub), the centres of Galib's support, and directing a razzia into Castile. After seventy-eight days of campaigning, he returned to Córdoba in triumph on 27 July, taking the caliphal honorific al-Manṣūr bi-llāh (meaning "victorious through God"). It is by the medieval Latinisation of al-Manṣūr that Ibn Abi ‘Amir is best known today: Almanzor. In Córdoba, Galib's skin was stuffed with cotton and crucified in the gate of the alcázar. His head, also nailed to a cross, was placed in the gateway of al-Zahira, where it remained until the destruction of that place.

Battle of Torà

The Battle of Torà was a defensive battle of the Reconquista, fought between an alliance of Catalan counts and an army of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1003 at Torà, Lleida. The main source for the battle is Andrew of Fleury, who probably received his information, which is detailed and generally accurate, during a trip to the Catalonia. He incorporated the account in his Miracula sancti Benedicti around 1043.The four Christian counts of the battle were Raymond Borell of Barcelona, Bernard I of Besalú, Wifred II of Cerdagne, and Ermengol I of Urgell. The German historian of the Crusades Carl Erdmann supposed the leader of the Muslim army to be Abd al-Malik, the son of the recently deceased hajib Almanzor. When Andrew records that the caliph himself, then Hisham II, died in the encounter, he is probably rehearsing a local legend. The battle is not dated precisely by any chronicler, but the names of the counts (all given by Andrew) restrict it to between the years 992 and 1010. A date of 1003 has been deduced by Erdmann from other accounts that a Muslim army moved through the County of Barcelona and passed into the south of the County of Urgell in the summer of 1003. The exact location of the battle, Thoranum castrum (the castle, or fortified place, of Torà), is given by Andrew. The Muslims, according to both Latin and Arabic sources, were defeated and one of their leading men killed. The Muslims retreated to their own territory, where a second battle was fought at Albesa. The result of this second battle is unclear, but it was the end of the brief war, and possibly the campaigning season.

Importantly, Andrew reports the battle in terms as if describing a holy war. The Muslims, whose numbers he puts at 17,000, are "new Philistines". Bernard of Besalú he quotes as reasoning that if the saints Peter and Michael and the Virgin Mary each kill 5,000 Muslims, there will be a manageable number left for the soldiers. Bernard recalls that the Muslims are often slain before they have a chance to retreat. According to Andrew, after the battle the Virgin Mary miraculously brought news of the Christian victory to as far away as Monte Sant'Angelo. Despite the theme of religious warfare, Spanish historians have not picked up on Andrew's account.

Caliphal Baths

The Caliphal Baths are Arab baths in Córdoba, Spain. They are situated in the historic centre which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. The hammam ("baths) are contiguous to the Alcázar andalusí; ablutions and bodily cleanliness were an essential part of a Muslim's life, mandatory before prayer, besides being a social ritual.

Hammudid dynasty

The Hammudid dynasty (Arabic: بنو حمود‎, romanized: Banū Ḥammūd) was a Berberised Arab Muslim dynasty that briefly ruled the Caliphate of Córdoba and the taifas of Málaga and Algeciras and nominal control in Ceuta. Their Idrisid ancestors were Zaydi, which would explain why the Hammudids were described as Shi'ite whilst not displaying any practices nor tendencies of the Imami Shia.


The Maghrawa or Meghrawa (Berber: imeghrawen) were a large Zenata Berber tribe originating from what is now north of Morocco and Algeria to the mountainous Dahra region to western Algeria. They ruled these areas on behalf of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in the end of the 10th century and the first half of the 11th century.


In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa (from Arabic: طائفة‎ ṭā'ifa, plural طوائف ṭawā'if, a party, band, or faction) was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, of which a number were formed in Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia) after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031. Most of these were emirates, but there was one oligarchy, Seville.

Taifa of Alpuente

The Taifa of Alpuente was a medieval Berber taifa kingdom that existed from around 1009 to 1106 created following the end of the Caliphate of Córdoba in the Iberian Peninsula in 1010. It was ruled by the Kutama Berber family of the Banū Qāsim.

Taifa of Ceuta

The Taifa of Ceuta was one of the Berber taifa states formed after the breakup of the Caliphate of Córdoba in the early 11th century. The cities of Ceuta (Arabic: Sabta) and Tangiers were a part of the Ḥammūdid dynasty taifa of Málaga from 1026. From 1036 (427 AH) it was governed on behalf of the Ḥammūdids by the Barghawāṭa, a Berber tribe with a non-Islamic religion. Shortly before 1061 (453 AH), the Barghawāṭa, led by the illiterate Saqqūt, took power from the Ḥammūdids. They could field a large army of 12,000 cavalry, but were defeated and conquered by the rising power of the Almoravids in 1078/79.

Taifa of Majorca

The Taifa of Majorca was a medieval Moorish taifa kingdom which existed from 1018 to 1203 in Majorca.

The first taifa lasted for about 50 years (1076-1116), first succumbing to a Christian crusade and later being occupied by the Almoravids. After a period in which the Balearic Islands were integrated into the Almoravid Empire, it ended up disintegrating, suffering the same fate as the Caliphate of Córdoba.

A new, independent kingdom arose, the second taifa (1147-1203), which would become the last Almoravid stronghold in Al-Andalus against the Almohads advance.

Taifa of Toledo

The taifa of Toledo was a Berber Muslim taifa located in what is now central Spain. It existed from the fracturing of the long-eminent Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba in 1035 until the Christian conquest in 1085.

Umayyad dynasty

The Banu Umayya (Arabic: بَنُو أُمَيَّة‎, romanized: Banū Umayya, lit. 'Sons of Umayya') or Umayyads (الأمويون), were the ruling family of the caliphate between 661 and 750 and later of Islamic Spain between 750 and 1031. In the pre-Islamic period, they were a prominent clan of the Quraysh tribe descended from Umayya ibn Abd Shams. Despite staunch opposition to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the Umayyads embraced Islam before the latter's death in 632. A member of the clan, Uthman, went on to become the third Rashidun caliph in 644–656, while other members held various governorships. One of these governors, Mu'awiya I, won the First Muslim Civil War in 661 and established the Umayyad Caliphate with its capital in Damascus, Syria. This marked the beginning of the Umayyad dynasty, the first hereditary dynasty in the history of Islam, and the only one to rule over the entire Islamic world of its time.

The Sufyanid line founded by Mu'awiya failed in 683 and Umayyad authority was challenged in the Second Muslim Civil War, but the dynasty ultimately prevailed under Marwan I, who founded the Marwanid line of Umayyad caliphs. The Umayyads drove on the early Muslim conquests, including North Africa, Spain, Central Asia, and Sindh, but the constant warfare exhausted the state's military resources, while Alid revolts and tribal rivalries weakened the regime from within. Finally, in 750 the Abbasid Revolution overthrew Caliph Marwan II and massacred most of the family. One of the survivors, Abd al-Rahman, a grandson of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, escaped to Muslim Spain (al-Andalus), where he founded the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba, which Abd al-Rahman III elevated to the status of a caliphate in 929. After a brief golden era, the Caliphate of Córdoba disintegrated into several independent taifa kingdoms in 1031, thus marking a definitive end to the Umayyad dynasty.

Caliphs of Damascus
Emirs of Córdoba
Caliphs of Córdoba
Islam topics

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