Spain History – The Caliphate of Spain

However, unity was again restored to Muslim Spain; and this time by ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān III (912-61), ex filio nephewof ‛Abdallah, the greatest of the Spanish Umayyads, who for the political directives followed, for the prefixed ideal, for the skill shown and for the results achieved at the time acquired great fame in Europe and anticipated the rulers of the modern age. Profiting from the death of the leaders of the aristocracy, especially ‛Omar (917) – to whom the conversion to Christianity had alienated the sympathies of Muslims – favored by the general weariness of the country and also benefiting from the help and advice of Jews, of Christians and “renegades” in a few years restored his authority in Seville (913), in Bobastro (928), in Toledo (932), the last bastion of resistance: the Arabs, the Berbers, the Spaniards submitted to him and, imitating the Fāṭimid example, since 929 he assumed the title of caliph. At the same time, he moved against the Christian states of the North: he won the kings of León and Navarre in Valdejunquera (920); to their raids he opposed others very boldly, reaching as far as Pamplona; he obtained that Queen Tota of Navarre declared herself his tributary; and, aided by the civil and dynastic struggles that broke out in those states, he could also frustrate some of their lucky offensive returns and become arbiter of the fate of the kingdom of León; whose king Sancho I, together with the kings of Navarre, perhaps went personally to him in Cordova to invoke his help against a usurper and regained the throne with his valid support. Finally he managed to definitively remove the threat of the Fāṭimiti from Spain by pushing against them the Berbers of North West Africa, who recognized him as their own caliph.

His son el-Ḥakam II (961-76) passed on his father’s inheritance intact to his son Hichām II (976-1008). And during the latter’s caliphate, the policy of daring military enterprises, in the nature of profitable raids, against the Christian states of the Vord, acquired dominance, to stop their possible progress and especially as a means of maintaining a powerful army and to conserve with its help the unity of the country: its true architect was Muḥammad ibn Abī‛Amir al Manṣūr, the greatest general of the Umayyads of Spain.

To make himself independent from the Arab and Berber aristocracy and to be able to dominate it completely, ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān I had already used mercenaries; and then ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān III had thought of abolishing the ancient partition by tribe in the army, which had always diminished its discipline, and had surrounded himself with foreigners, the so-called eslavos, originating from every part of Europe, who were educated at court as children, with a solid preparation and very devoted to the sovereign, were called to hold high positions in the administration and in the army. Now the latter was organized with the substitution of the technical units of the regiments to the tribes and with the enlistment of the eslavos in its ranks., of the Berheri of Ceuta, of Christians of León, of Castile, of Navarre, attracted by the high pay, by the passion for adventure, by the certainty of victory; and became a sure instrument in the hands of the leader. Who, always victorious over his rivals, invaded the kingdom of León in 981, sacked Zamora, took Simancas; the iJuly 985 conquered Barcelona; in 987 he seized Coimbra, destroyed León, occupied Zamora; in 997 in a terrible raid he reached Santiago de Compostela, where he spared only the tomb of the Apostle. Finally, in 1002, al Manṣūr was surprised by his death in Medinaceli on the return of another incursion into Castile, perhaps less fortunate than the previous ones, although the battle of Calatañazor really did exist, in which, according to some later Catholic chroniclers, it would have been beaten by Christians.

Muslim Spain. – The age of the independent emirate and especially of the Caliphate of Cordoba is undoubtedly the most flourishing period of Muslim Spain. Then the country gave itself a new, brilliant civilization, like that of the whole Arab empire resulting from the fusion of many eastern and western elements – and in the Iberian Peninsula especially with the help of the Roman-Spaniards – who had the upper hand over the contribution given by the conquering race and by the Berbers, its auxiliaries. And to its flourishing development much contributed some of the rulers of whom we have spoken, such as ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān III, who, besides the rest, wanted Cordoba to rival Baghdād for beauty, and like el-Ḥakam II, who preferred politics to always the letters; and especially Christians, “renegades”, Jews.

According to, economic life became particularly flourishing. The development of agriculture was marvelous: since, renewing the Roman traditions and taking advantage of the experience of the Asian peoples, great irrigation works were carried out; a whole series of new crops was introduced, such as rice, sugar cane, pomegranate; intensified that of the vine, the olive tree and especially that of the mulberry, which in the century. IX was the predominant in the territories of Granata, Cordova, Seville. The import of merinos, due to the Beni-Merin of North Africa, gave a whole new impetus to pastoralism. Also in this field, taking up the Roman traditions, a rational exploitation of the mines was provided. Equally superb was the simultaneous increase in industries: chemicals were enriched with great discoveries; textiles developed in Cordoba, Granada, Murcia, Seville, Almeria, which became one of the largest industrial squares in the West, and Spain’s silk was able to compete with that of Syria; steel was worked in famous weapons in Cordoba and Toledo; leather in Cordoba; glass in Almeria, and then we went back to making crystal; esparto in Murcia, ceramics in Valenza, in Calatayud, in Málaga. And finally, very active commercial exchanges took place in the Mediterranean basin.

This intense life led to the formation of a rich middle class and contributed to the development of the city, which regained the upper hand over the countryside. Thus in Cordoba there were two hundred thousand houses, six hundred mosques, nine hundred baths, and one million residents. And the general economic well-being and the wealth of means that they had at their disposal for the strong revenue of the state revenues allowed the emirs and caliphs to make wonderful constructions and to protect the arts and studies, and to private individuals to collaborate with the monarchs. in this work of reconstruction of the past Roman greatness, thus providing Spain with days of superb splendor.

Apparently, at the time of al Manṣūr, that is, at the time of its greatest political, economic and military power, Muslim Spain came to have between seven and eight million residents: an impressive group of individuals from almost every part. Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, which in three centuries of immigration had joined the indigenous and the first comers and were divided by profound ethnic, religious and social differences, which the inevitable mixes of blood, which also occurred in the ruling house, had made it more and more complicated. Now, undoubtedly, the collaboration in the life of the country of such disparate elements gave the Spanish civilization a powerful development and its particular character, allowing it to benefit from the experience accumulated over centuries of development by the civil world; and from the fusion, from the reconciliation or from the clash of multiple interests, new elements of life always arose. But the lack of national unity was at the same time the weak point of the political organism and determined many of the upheavals which, as we have seen, troubled the existence of the monarchy. So, when the conquering Arab race was exhausted or lost its dominance due to the prevalence of indigenous people or immigrants of recent date, then it was no longer possible to stop forever the threat of the Christian states of the North, by permanently occupying their territories, and The political unity of the state depended on the skill of the emir or the caliph.

Spain History - The Caliphate of Spain