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Caliphate of Crdoba

The Caliphate of Crdoba (Arabic: ; trans. Khilfat Quruba) was an

Islamic kingdom which ruled Al-Andalus and part of North Africa from the city
of Crdoba from 929 to 1031. The period was characterized by an expansion of
trade and culture, and saw the construction of masterpieces of al-Andalus
architecture (including the Great Mosque of Crdoba). In January 929, Abd-ar-
Rahman III proclaimed himselfcaliph (Arabic: abodrC fo )
in place of his
original title, Emir of Crdoba (Arabic: 'Amr Quruba). Abd-ar-
Rahman III was a member of the Umayyad dynasty, which had held the title
of Emir of Crdoba since 756.
The caliphate disintegrated during a civil war (the Fitna of al-Andalus) between the
descendants of the last caliph, Hisham II, and the successors of his hayib, Al-
Mansur. In 1031, after years of infighting, the caliphate fractured into a number of
independent Muslim taifa(kingdoms)
Caliphate of Crdoba

Khilfat Quruba (Arabic)



Caliphate of Crdoba (green), c. 1000.
Capital Crdoba
Languages Classical
Arabic,Berber, Mozarabic,Medieval
Government Monarchy
Caliph of Crdoba

929 961 Abd-ar-Rahman III

IIIproclaimed Caliph of

Disintegrated into several
independenttaifa kingdoms 1031

1000 est. 600,000 km(231,661 sq mi)
Today part of Gibraltar (UK)

Umayyad Dynasty
Abd-ar-Rahman I became Emir of Crdoba in 756 after six years in exile after
the Umayyads lost the position of Caliph in Damascus in 750. Intent on regaining
power, he defeated the existing Islamic rulers of the area who defied Umayyad rule
and united various local fiefdoms into anemirate. The first of a series of incursions
to Corsica occurred in 806.
Rulers of the emirate used the title "emir" or "sultan" until the 10th century, when
Abd-ar-Rahman III was faced with the threat of invasion by the Fatimids (a rival
Islamic empire based in Cairo). To aid his fight against the invading Fatimids, who
claimed the caliphate in opposition to the generally-recognized Abbasid Caliph
of Baghdad, Abd-ar-Rahman III claimed the title of caliph himself. This helped
Abd-ar-Rahman III gain prestige with his subjects, and the title was retained after
the Fatimids were repulsed.
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 stopped the
Fatimid advance into caliphate land in Morocco and al-Andalus. 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. 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.
The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the caliphate.
Before his death, al-Hakam named his 10-year-old son Hisham II (9761008)
successor. Although the child was ill-equipped to be caliph, since he had sworn an
oath of obedience to him Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (top adviser to al-Hakam, also
known as Almanzor) pronounced him caliph. Ibn Abi Aamir was guardian to the
boy, exercising Hisham's powers until he matured. He isolated Hisham in Crdoba
while systematically eradicating opposition to his own rule, allowing Berbers from
Africa to migrate to al-Andalus to increase his base of support. 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 Crdoba and Abd al-Rahman never
The decision to name Hisham II caliph shifted power from an individual to his
advisers. The title of caliph became symbolic, without power or influence. The
Caliphate would be rocked with violence, with rivals claiming to be the new
caliph. The last Crdoban Caliph was Hisham III (10271031). Beset by
factionalism, the caliphate crumbled in 1031 into a number of independent taifas.
Crdoba was the cultural centre of al-Andalus. Mosques, such as the Great
Mosque, were the focus of many caliphs' attention. The caliph's palace is on the
outskirts of the city, and had many rooms filled with riches from the East. Crdoba
was the intellectual centre of al-Andalus, with translations of ancient Greek texts
into Arabic, Latin and Hebrew. The library of Al-akam II was one of the largest
libraries in the world, housing at least 400,000 volumes. During the al-Andalus
period, relations between Jews and Arabs were cordial; Jewish stonemasons helped
build the columns of the Great Mosque. After the fall of al-Andalus in 1492, the
incoming Christians banished the Jews from Spain.
Advances in science, history, geography, philosophy and language occurred during
the Caliphate. Al-Andalus was subject to eastern cultural influences as
well. Ziryab is credited with bringing hair and clothing
styles, toothpaste and deodorant to the Iberian peninsula.
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.
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 (although they were considered inferior to the Arabs and
Berbers). Jews comprised about five to ten percent of the population: 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 comprised the lower strata of society, heavily taxed with
few civil rights, and were 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). The word of a Muslim was valued more than that
of a Christian or Jew in court, and some offenses were harshly punished when a
Jew or Christian was the perpetrator against a Muslim; the same offenses were
permitted when the perpetrator was a Muslim and the victim a non-Muslim. Half
of the population in Cordoba is reported to have been Muslim by the 10th century,
with an increase to 70 percent by the 11th century. This was due less to conversion
than to immigration from North Africa and other regions of Hispania. This,
combined with the mass expulsions of Christians from Cordoba after a revolt in the
city, explains why during the Caliphate Cordoba was the greatest Muslim centre in
the region. Jewish immigration to Cordoba also increased at this time.
History of Al-Andalus
Muslim conquest
Battle of Guadalete
Battle of Toulouse
Battle of Tours
Umayyads of Crdoba
Emirate of Crdoba
Caliphate of Crdoba
Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir
First Taifa period
Almoravid rule
Battle of Sagrajas
Second Taifa period
Almohad rule
Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
Third Taifa period
Emirate of Granada
Nasrid dynasty
Battle of Granada
Related articles

Interior of the Mezquita (Mosque), one of the finest examples of Umayyad
architecture in Spain.
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 Spanish, 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.
Umayyad Emirs of Crdoba
Abd ar-Rahman I, 756788
Hisham I, 788796
al-Hakam I, 796822
Abd ar-Rahman II, 822852
Muhammad I, 852886
al-Mundhir, 886888
Abdallah ibn Muhammad, 888912
Abd ar-Rahman III, 912929
Umayyad Caliphs of Crdoba
Abd ar-Rahman III, as caliph, 929961
Al-Hakam II, 961976
Hisham II, 9761008
Muhammad II, 10081009
Sulayman II, 10091010
Hisham II, restored, 10101012
Sulayman II, restored, 10121016
Abd ar-Rahman IV, 1017
The Umayyad dynasty was interrupted by the Hammudid dynasty:
Ali ibn Hammud al-Nasir, 10161018
Al-Qasim ibn Hammud al-Ma'mu, 10181021
Yahya ibn Ali ibn Hammud al-Mu'tali, 10211023
Al-Qasim ibn Hammud al-Ma'mu, 1023 (restored)
The Umayyad dynasty returned to power:
Abd-ar-Rahman V, 10231024
Muhammad III, 10241025
Interregnum of Yahya ibn Ali ibn Hammud al-Mu'tali, 10251026
Hisham III, 10261031

Exterior of the Mezquita
Al-Andalus (Arabic: , trans. al-Andalus; Spanish: Al-
ndalus; Portuguese: Al-Andalus; Aragonese: Al-Andalus; Catalan: Al-
ndalus; Berber:Andalus or Wandalus), also known as Moorish Iberia or Islamic
Iberia, was a medieval Muslim state occupying at its peak most of what are
todaySpain, Portugal, Andorra, and part of southern France. The name more
generally describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by
Muslims (given the generic name of Moors) at various times between 711 and
1492, though the boundaries changed constantly in wars with Christian kingdoms.
Following the Muslim conquest of Hispania,
Al-Andalus was divided into five administrative units, corresponding roughly to
modern Andalusia, Galiciaand Portugal, Castile and Len, Aragon, county of
Barcelona and Septimania. As a political domain, it successively constituted a
province of theUmayyad Caliphate, initiated by the Caliph Al-Walid I (711750);
the Emirate of Crdoba (c. 750929); the Caliphate of Crdoba (9291031); and
the Caliphate of Crdoba's taifa (successor) kingdoms. Rule under these kingdoms
saw a rise in cultural exchange and cooperation between Muslims and Christians,
with Christians and Jews considered as protected people who paid a tax to the state
but enjoyed "internal autonomy'. It is noted that under the Caliphate of Crdoba,
al-Andalus was a beacon of learning, and the city of Crdoba became one of the
leading cultural and economic centres in both the Mediterranean Basin and the
Islamic world.
For much of its history, Al-Andalus existed in conflict with Christian kingdoms to
the north. After the fall of the Umayyad Andalusian kingdom, Al-Andalus was
fragmented into a number of minor states and principalities, most notably
the Emirate of Granada. Attacks from the Christian Castillians intensified, led
byAlfonso VI. The Almoravid empire intervened and repelled the Christian attacks
on the region, deposing the weak Andalusian Muslim princes and including Al-
Andalus under direct Berber rule. In succeeding centuries, Al-Andalus became a
province of the Berber Muslim empires of the Almoravids and Almohads, both
based in Marrakesh.
Ultimately the Christian kingdoms of the north overpowered their Muslim
neighbors. In 1085, Alfonso VI captured Toledo, starting a gradual Muslim
decline. With the fall of Crdoba in 1236, the Emirate of Granada was the only
Muslim territory in what is now Spain. The Portuguese Reconquista culminated in
1249 with the conquest of the Algarve by Afonso III. In 1238, the Emirate of
Granada officially became a tributary state to the Kingdom of Castile, then ruled
by King Ferdinand III. Finally, on January 2, 1492, Emir Muhammad
XII surrendered the Emirate of Granada to Queen Isabella I of Castile, who along
with her husband KingFerdinand II of Aragon were known as the "Catholic
Monarchs." The surrender ended Al-Andalus as a political entity, though aspects of
Islamic culture are still evident in the region.

Al-Andalus & Christian Kingdoms circa 1000 AD
History of Al-Andalus
Muslim conquest
Battle of Guadalete
Battle of Toulouse
Battle of Tours
Umayyads of Crdoba
Emirate of Crdoba
Caliphate of Crdoba
Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir
First Taifa period
Almoravid rule
Battle of Sagrajas
Second Taifa period
Almohad rule
Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
Third Taifa period
Emirate of Granada
Nasrid dynasty
Battle of Granada
Related articles

The etymology of "Al-Andalus" is disputed, as is the extent of Iberian territory
encompassed by the name over the centuries. The name is first attested to by
inscriptions on coins minted by the new Muslim government in Iberia, circa 715
(the uncertainty in the year is due to the fact that the coins were bilingual
in Latin and Arabic and the two inscriptions differ as to the year of minting).
At least three specific etymologies have been proposed in Western scholarship, all
presuming that the name arose after the Roman period in the Iberian Peninsula's
history. Their originators or defenders have been historians. Recently, linguistics
expertise has been brought to bear on the issue. Arguments from toponymy (the
study of place names), history, and language structure demonstrate the lack of
substance in all following proposals, and evidence has been presented that the
name predates, rather than postdates, the Roman occupation.

Vandal theory
The name Andalusia or Vandalusia is traditionally believed to be derived
from Vandal (the Germanic tribe that briefly colonized parts of Iberia from 409 to
429). The proposal is sometimes associated with the 19th-century
historian Reinhart Dozy, but it predates him and he recognized some of its
shortcomings. Although he accepted that Al-Andalus derived from Vandal, he
believed that geographically it referred only to the harbor from which the Vandals
departed Iberia for (North) Africathe location of which harbour was unknown.
Visigoth theory
In the 1980s, the historian Heinz Halm, also rejecting the Vandal proposal,
originated an innovative alternative. Halm took as his points of departure ancient
reports that Germanic tribes in general were reported to have distributed conquered
lands by having members draw lots, and that Iberia during the period
of Visigothic rule was sometimes known to outsiders by a Latin name, Gothica
Sors, whose meaning is 'Gothic lot'. Halm thereupon speculated that the Visigoths
themselves might have called their new lands "lot lands" and done so in their own
language. However, the Gothic language version of the term Gothica Sors is not
attested. Halm claimed to have been able to reconstruct it, proposing that it
was *landahlauts (the asterisk is the standard symbol among linguists for a
linguistic form that is proposed but has not been attested). Halm then suggested
that the hypothetical Gothic language term gave rise to both the attested Latin
term, Gothica Sors (by translating the meaning) and the Arabic name, Al-Andalus
(by phonetic imitation). However, Halm did not offer evidence (historical or
linguistic) that any of the language developments in his argument had in fact
Atlantis theory
Another proposal is that Andalus is an Arabic-language version of the
name Atlantis. This idea has recently been defended by the Spanish
historianVallv, but purely on the grounds that it is allegedly plausible phonetically
and would explain several toponymic facts (no historical evidence was offered).
Vallv writes:
Arabic texts offering the first mentions of the island of Al-Andalus and the sea of
al-Andalus become extraordinarily clear if we substitute this expressions with
"Atlantis" or "Atlantic". The same can be said with reference to Hercules and the
Amazons whose island, according to Arabic commentaries of these Greek and
Latin legends, was located in jauf Al-Andalusthat is, to the north or interior of
the Atlantic Ocean.
The Island of Al-Andalus is mentioned in an anonymous Arabic chronicle of the
conquest of Iberia composed two to three centuries after the fact. It is identified as
the location of the landfall of the advance guard of the Moorish conquest of Iberia.
The chronicle also says that "Island of al-Andalus" was subsequently renamed
"Island of Tarifa". The preliminary conquest force of a few hundred, led by the
Berber chief, Tarif abu Zura, seized the first bit of land that is encountered after
crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in 710. The main conquest force led by Tariq ibn
Ziyad followed them a year later. The landfall, now known in Spain as either Punta
Marroqu or Punta de Tarifa, is in fact the southern tip of an islet, presently known
as Isla de Tarifa or Isla de las Palomas, just offshore of the Iberian mainland.
This testimony of the Arab chronicle, the modern name Isla de Tarifa, and the
above mentioned toponymic evidence that Andaluz is a name of pre-Roman origin
taken together lead to the supposition that the Island of Andalus is the present day
Isla de Tarifa, which lies just offshore from the modern day Spanish city of Tarifa.
The extension of the scope of the designation "Al-Andalus" from a single islet to
all of Iberia has several historical precedents.

Islamic period garden in Granada, Spain

Moorish Bazaar
Province of the Caliphate
During the caliphate of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I, the Berber
commander Tariq ibn-Ziyad led a small force that landed at Gibraltar on April 30,
711, ostensibly to intervene in a Visigothic civil war. After a decisive victory over
King Roderic at the Battle of Guadalete on July 19, 711, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, joined by
Arab governor Musa ibn Nusayr of Ifriqiya, brought most of the Visigothic
Kingdom under Muslim occupation in a seven-year campaign. They crossed
the Pyrenees and occupied Visigothic Septimania in southern France.
Most of the Iberian peninsula became part of the expanding Umayyad empire,
under the name of Al-Andalus. It was organized as a province subordinate
to Ifriqiya, so, for the first few decades, the governors of al-Andalus were
appointed by the emir of Kairouan, rather than the Caliph in Damascus. The
regional capital was set at Crdoba, and the initial influx of Muslim colonists were
widely distributed Arab colonists were assigned to the south and east,
while Berber colonists were scattered across the west and center. Visigothic lords
who agreed to recognize Muslim suzerainty were allowed to retain their fiefs
(notably, in Murcia, Galicia, and the Ebro valley). Resistant Visigoths took refuge
in the Cantabrianhighlands, where they carved out a rump state, the Kingdom of

The Age of the Caliphs
Muhammad, 622632
Patriarchal Caliphate, 632661
Umayyad Caliphate, 661750

The province of al-Andalus just after the Islamic conquest, 720

In the 720s, the Andalusian governors launched several sa'ifa raids into Aquitaine,
but were severely defeated by Duke Odo the Great of Aquitaine at the Battle of
Toulouse (721). However, after crushing Odo's Berber ally Uthman ibn Naissa on
the eastern Pyrenees, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi led an expedition north across the
western Pyrenees and defeated the Aquitanian duke, who in turn appealed to
the Frankish leader Charles Martel for assistance, offering to place himself under
Carolingian sovereignty. At the Battle of Poitiers in 732, the Andalusian raiding
army was defeated by Charles Martel. In 734, the Andalusians launched raids to
the east, capturing Avignon and Arles and overran much of Provence. In 737, they
climbed up the Rhne valley, reached as far as Burgundy. Charles Martel of the
Franks, with the assistance ofLiutprand of the Lombards, invaded Burgundy and
Provence and expelled the raiders by 739.
Relations between Arabs and Berbers in al-Andalus had been tense in the years
after the conquest. Berbers heavily outnumbered the Arabs in the province, and
had done the bulk of the fighting, but they had been given the lesser plums of the
conquest and were assigned the harsher duties (e.g. garrisoning the more troubled
areas). Although some Arab governors had cultivated their Berber lieutenants,
others had grievously mistreated them. Mutinies by Berber soldiers were frequent,
e.g. in 729, the Berber commander Munnus revolted and managed to carve out a
rebel state in Cerdanya for a spell. In 740, a great Berber Revolt erupted in
the Maghreb (North Africa). To put down the rebellion, the Umayyad
Caliph Hisham dispatched a large Arab army, composed of regiments (Junds)
of Bilad Ash-Sham to North Africa. But the great Syrian army was crushed by the
Berber rebels at the Battle of Bagdoura (in Morocco). Heartened by the victories of
their North African brethren, the Berbers of al-Andalus quickly raised their own
revolt. Berber garrisons in northern Spain mutinied, deposed their Arab
commanders, and organized a large rebel army to march against the strongholds of
Toledo, Cordoba, and Algeciras. The Andalusian Arab governor, joined by the
remnant of the Syrian army (some 10,000) which had fled across the straits,
crushed the Berber rebels in a series of ferocious battles in 742. However, a quarrel
immediately erupted between the Syrian commanders and the older Andalusian
Arabs. The Syrians defeated the Andalusians at the hard-fought Battle of Aqua
Portora in August 742 but were too few to impose themselves on the province. The
quarrel was settled in 743 with the distribution of the Syrians in regimental fiefs
across al-Andalus the Damascus jund was established in Elvira (Granada), the
Jordan jund in Rayyu (Mlaga and Archidona), the Jund Filastin jund in Medina-
Sidonia and Jerez, the Emesa (Hims) jund in Seville and Niebla, and the Qinnasrin
jund in Jan. The Egypt jund was divided between Beja (Alentejo) in the west and
Tudmir (Murcia) in the east.
The arrival of the Syrians increased substantially
the Arab element in the Iberian peninsula and helped deepen the Muslim hold on
the south. However, at the same time, unwilling to be governed, the
Syrian junds carried on an existence of autonomous feudal anarchy, severely
destabilizing the authority of the governor of al-Andalus.
A second significant consequence of the revolt was the expansion of the Kingdom
of the Asturias, hitherto confined to enclaves in the Cantabrian highlands. After the
rebellious Berber garrisons evacuated the northern frontier fortresses, the Christian
king Alfonso I of Asturiasset about immediately seizing the empty forts for
himself, quickly adding the northwestern provinces of Galicia and Len to his
fledgling kingdom. The Asturians evacuated the Christian populations from the
towns and villages of the Galician-Leonese lowlands, creating an empty buffer
zone in the Douro River valley (the "Desert of the Duero"). This newly emptied
frontier would remain roughly in place for the next few centuries as the boundary
between the Christian north and the Islamic south. Between this frontier and the
Andalusian heartland in the south, the Andalusian state organized three
large march territories (thughur): the lower march (capital initially at Mrida,
later Badajoz), the middle march (centered at Toledo), and the upper march
(centered at Zaragoza)
These disturbances and disorders also allowed the Franks, now under the
leadership of Pepin the Short, to invade the strategic strip ofSeptimania in 752,
hoping to deprive Andalusians of their easy launching pad for raids into Francia.
After a lengthy siege, the last Arab stronghold, the citadel of Narbonne, finally fell
to the Franks in 759. Al-Andalus was sealed off at the Pyrenees.

A gold Dinar minted in Al-Andalus
The third consequence of the Berber revolt was the collapse of the authority of
the Damascus Caliphate over the western provinces. With the Umayyad Caliphs
distracted by the challenge of theAbbasids in the east, the western provinces of the
Maghreb and al-Andalus spun out of their control. From around 745, the Fihrids,
an illustrious local Arab clan descended from Oqba ibn Nafi al-Fihri, seized power
in the western provinces and ruled them almost as a private family empire of their
own Abd al-Rahman ibn Habib al-Fihri in Ifriqiya and Ysuf al-Fihri in al-
Andalus. The Fihrids welcomed the fall of the Umayyads in the east, in 750, and
sought to reach an understanding with the Abbasids, hoping they might be allowed
to continue their autonomous existence. But when the Abbassids rejected the offer
and demanded submission, the Fihrids declared independence and, probably out of
spite, invited the deposed remnants of the Umayyad clan to take refuge in their
dominions. It was a fateful decision that they soon regretted, for the Umayyads, the
sons and grandsons of caliphs, had a more legitimate claim to rule than the Fihrids
themselves. Rebellious-minded local lords, disenchanted with the autocratic rule of
the Fihrids, intrigued with the arriving Umayyad exiles.
Umayyad Emirate and Caliphate of Crdoba
In 756, the exiled Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman I (nicknamed al-Dkhil, the
'Immigrant') ousted Ysuf al-Fihri to establish himself as theEmir of Crdoba. He
refused to submit to the Abbasid caliph, as Abbasid forces had killed most of his
family. Over a thirty-year reign, he established a tenuous rule over much of al-
Andalus, overcoming partisans of both the al-Fihri family and of the Abbasid
For the next century and a half, his descendants continued as emirs of Crdoba
with nominal control over the rest of al-Andalus and sometimes parts of
western North Africa, but with real control, particularly over the marches along the
Christian border, vacillating depending on the competence of the individual emir.
Indeed, the power of emir Abdallah ibn Muhammad (circa 900) did not extend
beyond Crdoba itself. But his grandson Abd-al-Rahman III, who succeeded him
in 912, not only rapidly restored Umayyad power throughout al-Andalus but
extended it into western North Africa as well. In 929 he proclaimed
himself Caliph, elevating the emirate to a position competing in prestige not only
with the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad but also the Shi'ite caliph in Tuniswith
whom he was competing for control of North Africa.
The period of the Caliphate is seen as the golden age of al-Andalus. Crops
produced using irrigation, along with food imported from the Middle East,
provided the area around Crdoba and some other Andalus cities with an
agricultural economic sector that was the most advanced in Europe by far. Among
European cities, Crdoba under the Caliphate, with a population of perhaps
500,000, eventually overtook Constantinople as the largest and most prosperous
city in Europe.
Within the Islamic world, Crdoba was one of the leading
cultural centres. The work of its most important philosophers and scientists
(notably Abulcasis and Averroes) had a major influence on the intellectual life of
medieval Europe.
Muslims and non-Muslims often came from abroad to study in the famous libraries
and universities of al-Andalus after the reconquest of Toledo in 1085. The most
noted of these was Michael Scot (c. 1175 to c. 1235), who took the works of Ibn
Rushd ("Averroes") and Ibn Sina ("Avicenna") to Italy. This transmission was to
have a significant impact on the formation of the European Renaissance.

The Caliphate of Cordoba c. 1000 at the apogee of Al-Mansur
First Tawaaef period
The Crdoba Caliphate effectively collapsed during a ruinous civil war between
1009 and 1013, although it was not finally abolished until 1031 when Al-
Andalus broke up into a number of mostly independent mini-states and
principalities called taifas ("Tawaaef" in Arabic). These were generally too
weak to defend themselves against repeated raids and demands for tribute from the
Christian states to the north and west, which were known to the Muslims as "the
Galician nations", and which had spread from their initial strongholds
in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque country, and theCarolingian Marca
Hispanica to become the Kingdoms of Navarre, , Len, Portugal, Castile and
Aragon, and the County of Barcelona. Eventually raids turned into conquests, and
in response the Tawaaef kings were forced to request help from the Almoravids,
Muslim Berber rulers of the Maghreb. Their desperate maneuver would eventually
fall to their disadvantage, however, as the Almoravids they had summoned from
the south went on to conquer and annex all the Taifa / Tawaaef kingdoms.

The Caliphate broke up into many Taifa / Tawaaef states in 1031. (The northern areas
shown here in white, red, yellow, and dark blue were Christian.)
Almoravids, Almohads and Marinids
In 1086 the Almoravid ruler of Morocco, Yusuf ibn Tashfin, was invited by the
Muslim princes in Iberia to defend them against Alfonso VI, King
of Castile and Len. In that year, Tashfin crossed the straits to Algeciras and
inflicted a severe defeat on the Christians at the Battle of Sagrajas. By 1094, Yusuf
ibn Tashfin had removed all Muslim princes in Iberia and had annexed their states,
except for the one at Zaragoza. He also regained Valencia from the Christians.
The Almoravids were succeeded by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty, after
the victory of Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur over the Castilian Alfonso VIII at
the Battle of Alarcos in 1195. In 1212 a coalition of Christian kings under the
leadership of the Castilian Alfonso VIII defeated the Almohads at the Battle of Las
Navas de Tolosa. The Almohads continued to rule Al Andalus for another decade,
though with much reduced power and prestige. The civil wars following the death
of Abu Ya'qub Yusuf II rapidly led to the re-establishment of taifas. The taifas,
newly independent but now weakened, were quickly conquered by Portugal,
Castile, and Aragon. After the fall ofMurcia (1243) and the Algarve (1249), only
the Emirate of Granada survived as a Muslim state, and only as a tributary of
Castile. Most of its tribute was paid in gold that was carried to Iberia from present-
day Mali and Burkina Faso through the merchant routes of the Sahara.

Almohad dynasty and surrounding states, c. 1200
The last Muslim threat to the Christian kingdoms was the rise of the Marinids in
Morocco during the 14th century. They took Granada into their sphere of influence
and occupied some of its cities, like Algeciras. However, they were unable to
take Tarifa, which held out until the arrival of the Castilian Army led by Alfonso
XI. The Castilian king, with the help of Afonso IV of Portugal and Peter IV of
Aragon, decisively defeated the Marinids at the Battle of Ro Salado in 1340 and
took Algeciras in 1344. Gibraltar, then under Granadian rule, was besieged in
134950. Alfonso XI and most of his army perished by the Black Death. His
successor, Peter of Castile, made peace with the Muslims and turned his attention
to Christian lands, starting a period of almost 150 years of rebellions and wars
between the Christian states that secured the survival of Granada.
In 1469 the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile signaled the
launch of the final assault on the Emirate of Granada (Gharnatah). The King and
Queen convinced the Pope to declare their war a crusade. The Christians crushed
one center of resistance after another and finally, in January 1492, after a long
siege, the Moorish sultan Muhammad XII surrendered the fortress palace, the
renowned Alhambra (see Fall of Granada).

Map showing the extent of the Almoravid empire
The society of Al-Andalus was made up of three main religious groups: Christians,
Muslims, and Jews. The Muslims, though united on the religious level, had several
ethnic divisions, the main being the distinction between the Berbers and the
Arabs. Mozarabs were Christians who had long lived under Muslim rule, adopting
many Arabic customs, art, and words, while still maintaining their Christian rituals
and their own Romance languages. Each of these communities inhabited distinct
neighborhoods in the cities. In the 10th century a massive conversion of Christians
took place, and muladies(Muslims of native Iberian origin), formed the majority of
Muslims. The Muladies, together with other Muslims, comprised eighty percent of
the population of Al-Andalus by around 1100.
The Berbers, who made up the bulk of the invaders, lived in the mountainous
regions of what is now the north of Portugal and in the Meseta Central, while the
Arabs settled in the south and in the Ebro Valley in the northeast. The Jews worked
mainly as tax collectors, in trade, or as doctors or ambassadors. At the end of the
15th century there were about 50,000 Jews in Granada and roughly 100,000 in the
whole of Islamic Iberia.

A manuscript page of the Qur'an in the script developed in al-Andalus, 12th century
Non-Muslims under the Caliphate
The non-Muslims were given the status of ahl al-dhimma (the people under
protection), with adults paying a "Jizya" tax, equal to one dinar per year with
exemptions for old people, women, children, and the disabled. Those who were
neither Christians nor Jews, such as Pagans, were given the status ofMajus.
The treatment of non-Muslims in the Caliphate has been a subject of considerable
debate among scholars and commentators, especially those interested in drawing
parallels to the coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims in the modern world.

Image of a Jewish cantor reading thePassover story in al-Andalus, from a 14th-century
Spanish Haggadah
Jews constituted more than five percent of the population. Al-Andalus was a key
centre of Jewish life during the early Middle Ages, producing important scholars
and one of the most stable and wealthy Jewish communities. Bernard Lewis takes
issue with this view, arguing its modern use is ahistorical and apologetic. He
argues that Islam traditionally did not offer equality nor even pretended to, and that
it would have been both a "theological as well as a logical absurdity." However,
even Bernard Lewis states:
Generally, the Jewish people were allowed to practice their religion and live
according to the laws and scriptures of their community. Furthermore, the
restrictions to which they were subject were social and symbolic rather than
tangible and practical in character. That is to say, these regulations served to
define the relationship between the two communities, and not to oppress the
Jewish population.

, Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984)
The Caliphate treated non-Muslims differently at different times. The longest
period of tolerance began after 912 with the reign of Abd-ar-Rahman III and his
son, Al-Hakam II, when the Jews of Al-Andalus prospered, devoting themselves to
the service of the Caliphate of Crdoba, to the study of the sciences, and to
commerce and industry, especially trading in silk and slaves, in this way promoting
the prosperity of the country. Southern Iberia became an asylum for the oppressed
Jews of other countries.
Under the Almoravids and the Almohads there may have been intermittent
persecution of Jews, but sources are extremely scarce and do not give a clear
picture, though the situation appears to have deteriorated after 1160.
Muslim pogroms against Jews in Al-Andalus occurred in Crdoba (1011) and
in Granada (1066).
However, massacres of dhimmis are rare in Islamic

A later illustration, depicting the Jewish soldiers fighting alongside the forces of
Muhammed IX, Nasrid Sultan of Granada, at the Battle of La Higueruela, 1431
The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids' Maghribi and
Andalusian territories by 1147, far surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist
outlook, and they treated the non-Muslims harshly. Faced with the choice of either
death or conversion, many Jews and Christians emigrated. Some, such as the
family of Maimonides, fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands, while others went
northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.

Rise and fall of Muslim power
The Iberian peninsula (modern Medieval Spain and Portugal) was the scene of
almost constant warfare between Muslims and Christians. The last Muslim
bastion, Nasrid Granada, fell in 1492. By this time Muslims in Castile had
numbered a half a million. After the fall, "100,000 had died or been enslaved,
200,000 emigrated, and 200,000 remained as the residual population. Many of the
Muslim elite, including Muhammad XII, who had been given the area of the
Alpujarra mountain as a principality, found life under Christian rule intolerable and
passed over into North Africa.

Image of a Jewish cantor reading thePassover story in al-Andalus, from a 14th-century
Spanish Haggadah
Many tribes, religions, and races coexisted in al-Andalus, each contributing to its
intellectual prosperity. Literacy in Islamic Iberia was far more widespread than
many other nations in the West at the time. From the earliest days, the Umayyads
wanted to be seen as intellectual rivals to the Abbasids, and for Crdoba to have
libraries and educational institutions to rival Baghdad's. Although there was a clear
rivalry between the two powers, freedom to travel between the two Caliphates was
allowed, which helped spread new ideas and innovations over time.
Andalusian philosophy
The historian Said Al-Andalusi wrote that Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III had collected
libraries of books and granted patronage to scholars of medicine and "ancient
sciences". Later, al-Mustansir (Al-Hakam II) went yet further, building a
university and libraries in Crdoba. Crdoba became one of the world's leading
centres of medicine and philosophical debate.
However, when Al-Hakam's son Hisham II took over, real power was ceded to
the hajib, al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir. Al-Mansur was a distinctly religious man and
disapproved of the sciences of astronomy, logic, and especially astrology, so much
so that many books on these subjects, which had been preserved and collected at
great expense by Al-Hakam II, were burned publicly. However, with Al-Mansur's
death in 1002, interest in philosophy revived. Numerous scholars emerged,
including Abu Uthman Ibn Fathun, whose masterwork was the philosophical
treatise "Tree of Wisdom". Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti (died 1008) was an
outstanding scholar in astronomy and astrology; he was an intrepid traveller who
journeyed all over the Islamic world and beyond and kept in touch with
the Brethren of Purity. Indeed, he is said to have brought the 51 "Epistles of the
Brethren of Purity" to al-Andalus and added the compendium to this work,
although it is quite possible that it was added later by another scholar with the
name al-Majriti. Another book attributed to al-Majriti is the Ghayat al-Hakim,
"The Aim of the Sage", which explored a synthesis of Platonism with Hermetic
philosophy. Its use of incantations led the book to be widely dismissed in later
years, although the Sufi communities kept studies of it.

Averroes, founder of the Averroismschool of philosophy, was influential in the rise
of secular thought in Western Europe.
A prominent follower of al-Majriti was the philosopher and geometer Abu al-
Hakam al-Kirmani. A follower of his, in turn, was the great Abu Bakr Ibn al-
Sayigh, usually known in the Arab world as Ibn Bajjah, "Avempace"
The Andalusian philosopher Averroes (11261198) was the founder of
the Averroism school of philosophy, and his works and commentaries had an
impact on medieval thought in Western Europe. Another influential Andalusian
philosopher was Ibn Tufail.

One detail of the arabesques completed towards the end of Muslim rule of Spain
byYusuf I (13331353) and Muhammed V, Sultan of Granada (13531391),
theAlhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last centuries of the Moorish rule of Al-
Andalus, reduced to the Emirate of Granada.
J ewish philosophy and culture
As Jewish thought in Babylonia declined, the tolerance of al-Andalus made it the
new centre of Jewish intellectual endeavours. Poets and commentators like Judah
Halevi (10861145) and Dunash ben Labrat (920990) contributed to the cultural
life of al-Andalus, but the area was even more important to the development of
Jewish philosophy. A stream of Jewish philosophers, cross-fertilizing with Muslim
philosophers (see joint Jewish and Islamic philosophies), culminated with the
widely celebrated Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, Maimonides (11351205),
though he did not actually do any of his work in al-Andalus because his family fled
persecution by the Almohads when he was 13.
After the disintegration of the Caliphate, Islamic control of Spain was gradually
eroded by the Christian Reconquista. The Reconquista (Reconquest) was the
process by which the Catholic Kingdoms of northern Spain eventually managed to
succeed in defeating and conquering the Muslim states of the Iberian Peninsula.
The first major city to fall to Catholic powers was Toledo in 1085, what prompted
the intervention of Almoravids. After the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212,
most of Al-Andalus fell under control of the Catholic kingdoms, the only exception
being the Nasrid dynasty Emirate of Granada.
The Granada War (Guerra de Granada or First Rebellion of Alpujarras) of the
Reconquista began in 1482 against the Emirate of Granada.
It was not until 1492 that the Emirate of Granada with city of Granada and
the Alhambra and Generalife Palaces, the last remaining Muslim territory in al-
Andalus, fell in the Battle of Granada to forces of the Catholic Monarchs (los
Reyes Catolicos), Queen Isabella I of Castile and her husband King Ferdinand II of
Aragon. The conquest was accompanied by the Treaty of Granada signed by
Emir Muhammad XII of Granada, allowing the Spanish crown's new Muslim
subjects a large measure of religious toleration. They were also allowed the
continuing use of their own language, schools, laws and customs. But the
interpretation of the royal edict was largely left to the local Catholic authorities.
Hernando de Talavera, the first Archbishop of Granada after its Catholic conquest,
took a fairly tolerant view.
However 1492 started the monarchy's reversal of freedoms beginning with
the Alhambra Decree. This continued when Archbishop Talavera was replaced
by Cardinal Cisneros, who immediately organised a drive for mass forced
conversions and burned thousands of texts in Arabic. Outraged by this breach of
faith, in 1499 the Mudjar rose in the Second Rebellion of Alpujarras, which only
had the effect of giving Ferdinand and Isabella the excuse to revoke the promise of
toleration. That same year the Muslim leaders of Granada were ordered to hand
over almost all of the remaining books in Arabic, most of which were burned.
Beginning in Valencia in 1502, Muslims were offered the choice of baptism or
exile. The majority decided to accept the former, becoming 'New Catholics', of
very great interest to the newly established Spanish Inquisition, authorised by Pope
Sixtus IV in 1478.
The Morisco conversos (converts), though outwardly Catholic, continued to adhere
to their old beliefs in private as crypto-Muslims in a practice known as taqiyyah or
precaution, conduct allowed for by some Islamic authorities when the faithful are
under duress or threat of life. Responding to a plea from his co-religionists in
Spain, in 1504 the Grand Mufti of Oran issued a decree saying that Muslims may
drink wine, eat pork and other forbidden things, if they were under compulsion to
conform or persecution. There were good reasons for this; for abstinence from
wine or pork could, and did, cause people to be denounced to the Spanish
Inquisition. But no matter how closely they observed all of the correct forms, the
Morisco or Little Moors, a term of disparagement, were little better than second-
class citizens, tainted, it might be said, by blood rather than by actions.
Despite all of these pressures, some people continued to observe Moorish forms,
and practice as Muslims, well into the 16th century. In 1567, King Philip II finally
made the use of the Arabic language illegal, and forbade the Islamic religion,
dress, and customs, a step which led to the Second Rebellion of Alpujarras and
the Morisco Revolt. This was suppressed with considerable brutality. In one
incident, troops commanded by Don John of Austria destroyed the town
of Galera east of Granada, after slaughtering the entire population. The Moriscos
of Granada were rounded up and dispersed across Spain. 'Edicts of Expulsion' for
the expulsion of the Moriscos were finally issued by Philip III in 1609 against the
remaining Muslims in Spain, who by that time were concentrated in the Kingdom
of Aragon in the north, and areas around Valencia where they made up 33% of the
population. The corresponding expulsion of Muslims from the Kingdom of
Castillewas officially completed in 1614, although it is believed that up to 10,000
Moriscos remained in Spain.
The decline in revenue, and loss of technical skills, from the expulsion of Muslims
from Aragon precipitated the downfall of Aragon, and the prominence of Castille
a reality which remains until today. Further, the loss of revenue and skills from
Valencia led to a shift of Catalan power from Valencia to regions
around Barcelona which had far fewer Muslims and were thus less-affected.
Present-day cultural survivals of Islamic influence in Spain and Portugal include
expressions such as Spanish "ojal" and Portuguese "oxal", meaning "may God
will it" or "I hope" which is a close adaptation from an Arabic equivalent "insha
Allah" evoking Allah.
The Reconquista ("reconquest") is a period of approximately 781 years in the
history of the Iberian Peninsula, after the Islamic conquestin 711-718 to the fall of
Granada, the last Islamic state on the peninsula, in 1492.
It comes before the discovery of the New World, and the period of
the Portuguese and Spanish colonial empires which followed.
Traditionally, historians mark the beginning of the Reconquista with the Battle of
Covadonga (718 or 722), in which a small army, led by the Visigothic
nobleman Pelagius, defeated an Umayyad army in the mountains of northern Iberia
and established a small Christian principality in Asturias.

A battle of the Reconquista from the Cantigas de Santa Maria

Islamic Conquest of Hispania
(711 - 718)

Islamic invasion of Gaul

Concept and duration
Nineteenth and much of twentieth-century Spanish and Portuguese historiography
stressed the existence of a continuous phenomenon by which the Christian Iberian
kingdoms opposed and conquered the Muslim kingdoms understood as a common
enemy from the early eighth century to the late fifteenth century. However, the
ideology of a Christian reconquest of the peninsula started to take shape at the end
of the 9th century.
A landmark was set by the Christian Chronica Prophetica (883-884), a document
stressing the Christian and Muslim cultural and religious divide in Iberia and the
necessity to drive the Muslims out. However, Christian and Muslim rulers
commonly became divided and fought amongst themselves. Co-existence and
alliances were as prevalent as frontier skirmishes and raids, especially in the eighth
and ninth centuries. Blurring distinctions even further were the mercenaries from
both sides who simply fought for whoever paid the most.
The Crusades, which started late in the eleventh century, bred the religious
ideology of a Christian reconquest, confronted at that time with a similarly staunch
Muslim jihad ideology in Al-Andalus: the Almoravids and even to a greater
degree, in the Almohads. In fact previous documents (10-11th century) are mute on
any idea of "reconquest" Propaganda accounts of Muslim-Christian hostility came
into being to support that idea: most notably the Chanson de Roland, a highly
mythical 12th-century French re-creation of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass
(778) dealing with the Iberian Saracens and taught unquestioned in the French
educational system as of 1880.

The Reconquista, 790-1300
Islamic conquest of Christian Iberia
In 711, Muslim Moors, mainly North African Berber soldiers with some Arabs,
crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and began their conquest of the Visigothic Kingdom
of Hispania. After their conquest of the Visigothic kingdom's Iberian territories, the
Muslims crossed the Pyrenees and took control of Septimania in 719, the last
province of the Visigothic kingdom to be occupied. From their stronghold
of Narbonne, they launched raids into the Duchy of Aquitaine.
At no point did the invading Islamic armies exceed 60,000 men. However, those
armies established an Islamic rule that would last 300 years in much of the Iberian
Peninsula and 781 years in Granada.
Islamic rule
After the establishment of a local Emirate, Caliph Al-Walid I, ruler of
the Umayyad caliphate, removed many of the successful Muslim commanders.
Tariq ibn Ziyad, the first governor of the newly conquered province of Al-Andalus,
was recalled to Damascus and replaced with Musa bin Nusair, who had been his
former superior. Musa's son, Abd al-Aziz ibn Musa, apparently
marriedEgilona, Roderic's widow, and established his regional government
in Seville. He was suspected of being under the influence of his wife, accused of
wanting to convert to Christianity, and of planning a secessionist rebellion.
Apparently a concerned Al-Walid I ordered Abd al-Aziz's assassination. Caliph Al-
Walid I died in 715 and was succeeded by his brother Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik.
Sulayman seems to have punished the surviving Musa bin Nusair, who very soon
died during a pilgrimage in 716. In the end Abd al-Aziz ibn Musa's cousin, Ayyub
ibn Habib al-Lakhmibecame the emir of Al-Andalus.
The conquering generals were necessarily acting very independently, due to
methods of communication available. Successful generals in the field and in a very
distant province would also gain the personal loyalty of their officers and warriors
and their ambitions were probably always watched by certain circles of the distant
government with a certain degree of concern and suspicion. Old rivalries and
perhaps even full-fledged conspiracies between rival generals may have had
influence over this development. In the end, the old successful generals were
replaced by a younger generation considered more loyal by the government
in Damascus.
A serious weakness amongst the Muslim conquerors was the ethnic tension
between Berbers and Arabs. The Berbers were indigenous inhabitants of North
Africa who only recently had been converted to Islam; they had provided most of
the soldiery of the invading Islamic armies but sensed Arab discrimination against
them. This latent internal conflict jeopardized Muslim unity.
After the Islamic Moorish conquest of nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula in 711-
718 and the establishment of the emirate of Al-Andalus, an Umayyad expedition
suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Toulouse and was halted for a while on its
way north. Odo of Aquitaine had married his daughter to Uthman ibn Naissa, a
rebel Berber and lord of Cerdanya (maybe of all current Catalonia too), in an
attempt to secure his southern borders in order to fend off Charles Martels attacks
on the north. However, a major punitive expedition led by Abdul Rahman Al
Ghafiqi, the latest emir of Al-Andalus, defeated and killed Uthman, and the Muslim
governor mustered an expedition north across the western Pyrenees, looted areas
up to Bordeaux and defeated Odo in the Battle of the River Garonne in 732.
A desperate Odo turned to his archrival Charles Martel for help, who led the
Frankish and leftover Aquitanian armies against the Muslims and defeated them at
the Battle of Tours in 732, killing Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi; this proved to be the
high-water mark of the Islamic conquests in western Europe and of the expansion
of Al-Andalus. Moorish rule began to recede, but it would remain in parts of the
Iberian peninsula for another 760 years.
Beginning of the Reconquista
The year 722 saw the first Asturian victory against the Muslims. In late summer, a
Muslim army overran much of Pelayo's territory, forcing him to retreat deep into
the mountains. Pelayo and a few hundred men retired into a narrow valley
at Covadonga. There, they could defend against a broad frontal attack. From here,
Pelayo's forces routed the Muslim army, inspiring local villagers to take up arms.
Despite further attempts, the Muslims were unable to conquer Pelayo's mountain
stronghold. Pelayo's victory at Covadonga is hailed as the beginning of the
A drastic increase of taxes by the new emir Anbasa ibn Suhaym Al-Kalbi had
provoked several rebellions in Al-Andalus, which a series of succeeding weak
emirs were unable to suppress. Around 722 a military expedition was sent into the
north to suppress Pelayo's rebellion, but his forces prevailed in the Battle of
Covadonga. This battle was considered by the Muslims as little more than a
skirmish, while the Battle of Toulouse (721), with a death toll of maybe tens of
thousands, was mourned for centuries as a large scale tragedy by the Iberian
Muslims. However for Pelayo, the Christian victory secured his independent rule.
The precise date and circumstances of this battle are unclear. Among the
possibilities is that Pelayo's rebellion was successful because the greater part of the
Muslim forces were gathering for an invasion of the Frankish empire.
During the first decades, Asturian control over the different areas of the kingdom
was still weak, and for this reason it had to be continually strengthened through
matrimonial alliances with other powerful families from the north of the Iberian
Peninsula. Thus, "Ermesinda, Pelayo's daughter, was married to Alfonso, Peter of
Cantabria's son. Alphonse's children, Froila and Adosinda, married Munia, a
Basque from Alava, and Silo, a local chief from the area of Pravia, respectively."
After Pelayo's death in 737, his son Fafila was elected king. Fafila, according to the
chronicles, was killed by a bear during a trial of courage.
Pelayo's dynasty in Asturias survived and gradually expanded the kingdom's
boundaries until all of northwest Iberia was included by roughly 775. However,
credit is due not to him but to his successors. Alfonso I (king from 739-757) rallied
Galician support when driving the Moorish army out of Galicia and an area of
what was to become Leon. The reign of Alfonso II (from 791-842) saw further
expansion of the northwest kingdom towards the south and, for a short time, it
almost reached Lisbon.

Coat of arms ofAlcanadre. La Rioja, Spain. Depicting heads of slain Moors
It was not until Alfonso II that the kingdom was firmly established with Alfonso's
recognition as king of Asturias by Charlemagne and the Pope. During his reign, the
holy bones of St. James the Great were declared to have been found in Galicia,
at Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims from all over Europe opened a channel of
communication between the isolated Asturias and the Carolingian lands and
The emirate's greatest failing was its inability to eradicate Christian resistance in
the Basque country and the Cantabrian mountains. The two resistances, Basque
Navarre and Cantabrian Asturias, despite their small size, demonstrated an ability
to maintain their independence. The resistance in the Cantabrian mountains soon
spread to Galicia in the north-west, where the occupying Moorish army was
expelled and the territory was incorporated into Asturias. Because the Umayyad
rulers based in Crdoba were unable to extend their power into Frankish territory,
they decided to consolidate their power within the Iberian peninsula. Muslim
forces made periodic incursions deep into Asturias but failed to make any lasting
gains against the strengthened Christian kingdom.
Franks and Al-Andalus
After the Umayyad conquest of the Iberian heartland of the Visigothic kingdom,
the Muslims crossed the Pyrenees and gradually took control
of Septimania starting in 719 (Narbonne conquered) up to 725 (Carcassone,
Nmes). From its stronghold of Narbonne, they tried to conquer Aquitaine but
suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Toulouse (721).

Northeastern al-Andalus, the Pyrenees and southern Gaul at the time of the Berber
rebellion (739-742).
After halting their advance north, ten years later, Odo of Aquitaine married his
daughter to Uthman ibn Naissa, a rebel Berber and lord of Cerdanya(maybe of all
current Catalonia too), in an attempt to secure his southern borders in order to fend
off Charles Martel's attacks on the north. However, a major punitive expedition led
by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, the latest emir of Al-Andalus, defeated and killed
Charles Martel
The Umayyad governor mustered an expedition north across the western Pyrenees,
looted its way up to Bordeaux and defeated Odo in the Battle of the River
Garonne in 732. A desperate Odo turned to his archrival Charles Martel for help,
who led the Frankish and leftover Aquitanian armies against the Muslims and beat
them at the Battle of Tours in 732, killing Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi.
In 737 Charles Martel led an expedition south down the Rhone Valley to assert his
authority up to the lands held by the Al-Andalus Umayyads. These had been called
in by the regional nobility of Provence in a military capacity, probably fearing
Charles' expansionist ambitions. Charles went on to attack the Umayyads in
Septimania up to Narbonne, but he had to lift the siege of the city and make his
way back to Lyon and Francia (at the time north of the lower Loire) after subduing
various Umayyad strongholds (Arles, Avignon, Nmes,...), not without leaving
behind a trail of ruined towns and strongholds.
Pepin the Younger and Charlemagne
After expelling the Muslims from Narbonne in 759 and driving their forces back
over the Pyrenees, the Carolingian king Pepin the Short conquered Aquitaine in a
ruthless eight-year war. Charlemagne followed his father by subduing Aquitaine by
creating counties, taking the Church as his ally and appointing counts of Frankish
or Burgundian stock, like his loyal William of Gellone, making Toulouse his base
for expeditions against Al-Andalus.
Charlemagne decided to organize a regional subkingdom in order to keep the
Aquitanians in check and to secure the southern border of the Carolingian
Empire against Muslim incursions. In 781, his three year-old son Louis was
crowned king of Aquitaine, under the supervision of Charlemagne's trustee
William of Gellone, and was nominally in charge of the incipient Spanish March.
Meanwhile, the takeover of Al-Andalus by Abd ar-Rahman I in 756 was not
unopposed. Certain local Muslim wlis decided to oppose him, but instead of
appealing to the distant Caliph, they decided to enlist the nearby Christian Franks.
According to Ali ibn al-Athir, a Kurdish historian of the 12th
century, Charlemagne received the envoys of Sulayman al-Arabi, Husayn, and Abu
Taurat the Diet of Paderborn in 777. These rulers of Zaragoza, Girona, Barcelona,
and Huesca were enemies of Abd ar-Rahman I, and in return for Frankish military
aid against him offered their homage and allegiance.
Charlemagne, seeing an opportunity, agreed upon an expedition and crossed the
Pyrenees in 778. Near the city of Zaragoza Charlemagne received the homage
of Sulayman al-Arabi. However the city, under the leadership of Husayn, closed its
gates and refused to submit. Unable to conquer the city by force, Charlemagne
decided to retreat. On the way home the rearguard of the army was ambushed and
destroyed by Basque forces at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. The Song of Roland,
a highly romanticized account of this battle, would later become one of the most
famouschansons de geste of the Middle Ages.
Around 788 Abd ar-Rahman I died, and was succeeded by Hisham I. In 792
Hisham proclaimed a jihad, advancing in 793 against the Kingdom of Asturias and
the Franks. In the end his efforts were turned back by William of Gellone, Count of
Barcelona, a major city, became a potential target for the Franks in 797, as its
governor Zeid rebelled against the Umayyad emir of Crdoba. An army of the emir
managed to recapture it in 799 but Louis, at the head of an army, crossed the
Pyrenees and besieged the city for two years until the city finally capitulated on
December 28, 801.
The main passes were Roncesvalles, Somport and Junquera.
Charlemagne established across them the vassal regions
of Pamplona, Aragon and Catalonia (which was itself formed from a number of
small counties, Pallars, Gerona, and Urgell being the most prominent) respectively.
Four small realms pledged allegiance to Charlemagne at the start of the 9th century
(not for long): Pamplona (to become Navarre) and the counties
of Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. Pamplona's first king was Iigo Arista, who
allying with his Muslim kinsmen the Banu Qasi rebelled against Frankish
overlordship, and overcame a Frankish expedition in 824 that led to the setup of
the Kingdom of Pamplona. It was not until Queen Ximena in the 9th century that
Pamplona was officially recognised as an independent kingdom by the Pope.
Aragon, founded in 809 by Aznar Galndez, grew around Jaca and the high valleys
of the Aragon River, protecting the old Roman road. By the end of the 10th
century, Aragon was annexed by Navarre. Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were small
counties and had little significance to the progress of the Reconquista.
The Catalan counties protected the eastern Pyrenees passes and shores. They were
under the direct control of the Frankish kings and were the last remains of the
Spanish Marches. Cataloniaincluded not only the southern Pyrenees counties of
Girona, Pallars, Urgell, Vic and Andorra but also some which were on the northern
side of the mountains, such as Perpignan and Foix.
In the late 9th century under Count Wilfred, Barcelona became the de facto capital
of the region. It controlled the other counties' policies in a union, which led in 948
to the independence of Barcelona under Count Borrel II, who declared that the new
dynasty in France (the Capets) were not the legitimate rulers of France nor, as a
result, of his county.
These states were small and, with the exception of Navarre, did not have the
capacity for attacking the Muslims in the way that Asturias did, but their
mountainous geography rendered them relatively safe from being conquered. Their
borders remained stable for two centuries.
Military culture in medieval Iberia
In a situation of constant conflict, warfare and daily life were strongly interlinked
during this period. Small, lightly equipped armies reflected how the society had to
be on the alert at all times. These forces were capable of moving long distances in
short times, allowing a quick return home after sacking a target. Battles which took
place were mainly between clans, expelling intruder armies or sacking expeditions.
In the context of the relative isolation of the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of
Europe, and the contact with Moorish culture, geographical and cultural
differences implied the use of military strategies, tactics and equipment that were
markedly different from those found in the rest of western Europe during this
Medieval Iberian armies mainly comprised two types of forces: the cavalry (mostly
nobles, but including commoner knights from 10th century on) and the infantry,
or peones (peasants). Infantry only went to war if needed, which was not common.
Iberian cavalry tactics involved knights approaching the enemy and
throwing javelins, before withdrawing to a safe distance before commencing
another assault. Once the enemy formation was sufficiently weakened, the knights
charged with thrusting spears(lances did not arrive in Hispania until the 11th
century). There were three types of knights: royal knights, noble knights
(caballeros hidalgos) and commoner knights (caballeros villanos). Royal knights
were mainly nobles with a close relationship with the king, and thus claimed a
direct Gothic inheritance.
Royal knights were equipped in the same manner as their Gothic predecessors
braceplate, kite shield, a long sword (designed to fight from the horse) and as well
as the javelins and spears, a Visigothic axe. Noble knights came from the ranks of
the infanzonesor lower nobles, whereas the commoner knights were not noble, but
were wealthy enough to afford a horse. Uniquely in Europe, these horsemen
comprised a militia cavalry force with no feudal links, being under the sole control
of the king or the count of Castilebecause of the "charters" (or fueros). Both noble
and common knights wore leather armour and carried javelins, spears and round-
tasselled shields (influenced by Moorish shields), as well as a sword.
The peones were peasants who went to battle in service of their feudal lord. Poorly
equipped, with bows and arrows, spears and short swords, they were mainly used
as auxiliary troops. Their function in battle was to contain the enemy troops until
the cavalry arrived and to block the enemy infantry from charging the knights.
The longbow, the composite bow and the crossbow are the basic types of bows and
especially popular in infantary.

Forces of Muhammed IX, Nasrid Sultan of Granada, at the Battle of La Higueruela,
Typically armour was made of leather, with iron scales; full coats of chain
mail were extremely rare and horse barding completely unknown. Head protections
consisted of a round helmet with nose protector (influenced by the designs used
by Vikings who attacked during the 8th and 9th centuries) and a chain mail
headpiece. Shields were often round or kidney-shaped, except for the kite-shaped
designs used by the royal knights. Usually adorned with geometric designs, crosses
or tassels, shields were made out of wood and had a leather cover.
Steel swords were the most common weapon. The cavalry used long double-edged
swords and the infantry short, single-edged ones. Guards were either semicircular
or straight, but always highly ornamented with geometrical patterns. The spears
and javelins were up to 1.5 metres long and had an iron tip. The double-axe, made
of iron and 30 cm long and possessing an extremely sharp edge, was designed to
be equally useful as a thrown weapon or in close combat. Maces and hammers
were not common, but some specimens have remained, and are thought to have
been used by members of the cavalry.
Finally, mercenaries were an important factor, as many kings did not have enough
soldiers available. The Norsemen, the Flemish spearmen, the Frankish knights, the
Moorish mounted archers and Berber light cavalry were the main types of
mercenary available and used in the conflict.
Technological changes
This style of warfare remained dominant in the Iberian Peninsula until the late 11th
century, when couched lance tactics entered from France, although the traditional
horse javelin-shot techniques continued to be used. In the 12th and 13th centuries,
soldiers typically carried a sword, a lance, a javelin, and either bow and arrows or
crossbow and darts/bolts. Armor consisted of a coat of mail over a quilted jacket,
extending at least to the knees, a helmet or iron cap, and bracers protecting the
arms and thighs, either metal or leather.
Shields were round or triangular, made of wood, covered with leather, and
protected by an iron band; the shields of knights and nobles would bear the
family's coat of arms. Knights rode in both the Muslim style, a la jineta (i.e. the
equivalent of a modern jockey's seat), a short stirrup strap and bended knees
allowed for better control and speed, or in the French style, a la brida, a long
stirrup strap allowed for more security in the saddle (i.e. the equivalent of the
modern cavalry seat, which is more secure) when acting as heavy cavalry. Horses
were occasionally fitted with a coat of mail as well.
Expansion into the Crusades and military orders
In the High Middle Ages, the fight against the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula
became linked to the fight of the whole of Christendom. The Reconquista was
originally a mere war of conquest. It only later underwent a significant shift in
meaning toward a religiously justified war of liberation (see the Augustinian
concept of a Just War). The papacy and the influential Abbey of Cluny in
Burgundy not only justified the acts of war but actively encouraged Christian
knights to seek armed confrontation with Moorish "infidels" instead of with each
From the 11th century onwards indulgences were granted: In 1064 Pope Alexander
II allegedly promised the participants of an expedition against Barbastro (Tagr al-
Andalus, Aragon) a collective indulgence 30 years before Pope Urban II called
the First Crusade. The legitimacy of such a letter establishing a grant of indulgence
has been disputed at length by historians, notably by Ferreiro. Papal interest in
Christio-Muslim relations in the peninsula are not without precedent Popes Leo
IV (847-855), John VIII (872-882) and John XIX (102433) are all known to have
displayed substantial interest in the region. Whilst there is little evidence to
invalidate the letter as a whole, both the recipient(s) of the letter and whether such
a letter actually nominates Barbastro as the first 'crusade' are still a matter of
Neither is there evidence to support the contention that the Cluniacs publicised the
letter throughout Europe. It was addressed to the clero Vulturnensi. The name has
been associated with the castle of Volturno in Campania but even this is not
concrete. Baldwin, for example, stipulates that the name is simply "garbled" and
that it was intended for a French bishopric. Not until 1095 and the Council of
Clermont did the Reconquista amalgamate the conflicting concepts of a peaceful
pilgrimage and armed knight-errantry.
But the papacy left no doubt about the heavenly reward for knights fighting for
Christ (militia Christi): in a letter, Urban II tried to persuade
the reconquistadores fighting at Tarragona to stay in the Peninsula rather than
joining the armed pilgrimage to conquer Jerusalem, saying that their contribution
for Christianity was equally important. The pope promised them the same
indulgences that he had promised to those who chose to join the First Crusade.
Later military orders like the Order of Santiago, Montesa, Order of Calatrava and
the Knights Templar were founded or called to fight in Iberia. The Popes called the
knights of Europe to theCrusades in the peninsula. After the so-called Disaster of
Alarcos, French, Navarrese, Castilian, Portuguese and Aragonese armies united
against the Muslim forces in the massive battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212).
The big territories awarded to military orders and nobles were the origin of
the latifundia in today's Andalusia and Extremadura, in Spain, and Alentejo, in
Northern Christian kingdoms
Kingdom of Galicia (4091833)
Kingdom of Asturias (718924)
The Kingdom of Asturias was located in the Cantabrian Mountains, a wet and mountainous region in the
north of the Iberian Peninsula.
By the end of the 15th century there was a myriad of autonomous Christian
kingdoms and principalities. The first Christian power was Asturias. The kingdom
was established by a nobleman, Pelagius (Pelayo), who possibly had returned to
his country after the Battle of Guadalete in 711, where he was elected leader of the
Asturians and laid the foundations for the Kingdom of Asturias. However, Pelayo's
kingdom initially was little more than a gathering point for the existing guerrilla
During the first decades, the Asturian dominion over the different areas of the
kingdom was still lax, and for this reason it had to be continually strengthened
through matrimonial alliances with other powerful families from the north of the
Iberian Peninsula. Thus, Ermesinda, Pelayo's daughter, was married
to Alfonso, Dux Peter of Cantabria's son. Alfonso's son Fruela married Munia, a
Basque from lava, after crushing a Basque uprising (probably resistance). Their
son is reported to be Alfonso II, while Alfonso I's daughter Adosinda married Silo,
a local chief from the area of Flavionavia, Pravia.
Alfonso's military strategy was typical of Iberian warfare at the time. Lacking the
means needed for wholesale conquest of large territories, his tactics consisted of
raids in the border regions ofVardulia. With the plunder he gained further military
forces could be paid, enabling him to raid the Muslim cities of Lisbon, Zamora,
and Coimbra. Alfonso I also expanded his realm westwards conquering Galicia.
During the reign of King Alfonso II (791842), the kingdom was firmly
established, and a series of Muslim raids caused the transfer of Asturian capital
to Oviedo. The king is believed to have initiated diplomatic contacts with the kings
of Pamplona and the Carolingians, thereby gaining official recognition for his
kingdom and his crown from the Pope and Charlemagne.
There, the bones of St. James the Great were proclaimed to have been found in Iria
Flavia (present day Padrn) in 813 or probably two or three decades later. The cult
to the saint was transferred later to Compostela (from Latin campus stellae,
literally "the star field"), possibly in the early 10th century when the focus of
Asturian power moved from the mountains over to Len, to become theKingdom
of Len or Galicia-Len.
Santiago's were just one of the many saint relics proclaimed to have been found
across north-western Iberia. Pilgrims started to flow in from other Iberian Christian
realms, sowing the seeds of the later Way of Saint James (11-12th century) that
sparked the enthusiasm and religious zeal of continental Christian Europe for

The Islamic Almohad dynasty and surrounding states, including the Christian Kingdoms
of Portugal, Len, Castile,Navarre, and Aragon c. 1200.
Despite numerous battles, neither the Umayyads nor the Asturians had sufficient
forces to secure control over these northern territories. Under the reign of Ramiro,
famed for the highly legendary Battle of Clavijo, the border began to slowly move
southward and Asturian holdings in Castile, Galicia, andLen were fortified and an
intensive program of re-population of the countryside began in those territories. In
924 the Kingdom of Asturias became theKingdom of Len, when Len became the
seat of the royal court (it didn't bear any official name).

Santiago the Moor-slayer
Kingdom of Navarre (8241620)
The Kingdom of Pamplona was one of the important Christian powers of Iberia
during the Reconquista. The kingdom was formed when local leader igo Arista
led a revolt against the regional Frankish authority and was elected or declared
King in Pamplona (traditionally in 824), establishing a kingdom inextricably linked
at this stage to their kinsmen the muwallad Banu Qasi of Tudela.
Although relatively weak up until the early 11th century under the Sancho III
(10041035), Navarre took up a more active Christian role after the accession to
the throne of the Jimenez lineage (905). The Kingdom of Pamplona (after 12th
century, Navarre), was a Christian kingdom extending after the 13th century (and
briefly in the early 11th century) at either side of the Pyrenees alongside the
Atlantic Ocean.
Throughout the early history of the Navarrese kingdom, there were frequent
skirmishes with the Carolingian Empire, from which it maintained its
independence, a key feature of its history until 1513. The reign of Sancho the Great
not only expanded the Navarese territories when they absorbed Castile, Leon, and
what was to be Aragon in addition to other small counties which would also unite
and become the Principality of Catalonia, but it also helped form the Galician
independence as well as getting overlordship on Gascony.
The conquest of Leon did not consume Galicia, as the Leonese king retreated and
was left to temporary independence. Galicia was conquered soon after (it was
conquered by Sancho's son Ferdinand around 1038). However, this small period of
independence meant that it was fashioned as its own kingdom and the subsequent
kings named their titles as king of Galicia and Len, instead of merely king of
Len, even though Galicia was never to be independent again.

The Moors request permission fromJames I of Aragon
Kingdom of Len (9101230)
Alfonso III of Asturias repopulated the strategically important city Len and
established it as his capital. From his new capital, King Alfonso began a series of
campaigns to establish control over all the lands north of the Douro. He
reorganized his territories into the major duchies (Galicia and Portugal) and major
counties (Saldaa and Castile), and fortified the borders with many castles. At his
death in 910 the shift in regional power was completed as the kingdom became
the Kingdom of Len. From this power base, his heir Ordoo II was able to
organize attacks against Toledo and even Seville.
The Caliphate of Crdoba was gaining power, and began to attack Len. Navarre
and king Ordoo allied against Abd-al-Rahman but were defeated in
Valdejunquera, in 920. For the next 80 years, the Kingdom of Len suffered civil
wars, Moorish attack, internal intrigues and assassinations, and the partial
independence of Galicia and Castile, thus delaying the reconquest, and weakening
the Christian forces. It was not until the following century that the Christians
started to see their conquests as part of a long-term effort to restore the unity of the
Visigothic kingdom.
The only point during this period when the situation became hopeful for Leon was
the reign of Ramiro II. King Ramiro, in alliance with Fernn Gonzlez of
Castile and his retinue of caballeros villanos, defeated the Caliph in Simancas in
939. After this battle, when the Caliph barely escaped with his guard and the rest of
the army was destroyed, King Ramiro obtained 12 years of peace, but had to give
Gonzlez the independence of Castile as a payment for his help in the battle. After
this defeat, Moorish attacks abated until Almanzor began his campaigns.
It was Alfonso V in 1002 who finally regained the control over his domains.
Navarre, though attacked by Almanzor, remained.
Kingdom of Portugal (11391910)
In 1139, after an overwhelming victory in the Battle of Ourique against
the Almoravids, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal by
his troops. According to the legend, Christ announced from heaven Afonso's great
deeds, whereby he would establish the first Portuguese Cortes at Lamego and be
crowned by the Archbishop of Braga. In the Treaty of Zamora in 1143, Alfonso
VII of Len and Castile recognized Portuguese independence from the Kingdom of
In 1147, Portugal captured Santarm, and seven months later the city
of Lisbon was also brought under Portuguese control after the Siege of Lisbon. By
the papal bull Manifestis Probatum, Pope Alexander III recognized Afonso
Henriques as King of Portugal in 1179.
With Portugal finally recognized as an independent kingdom by its
neighbours, Afonso Henriques and his successors, aided by Crusaders and the
military monastic orders the Knights Templar, the Order of Aviz or the Order of
Saint James, pushed the Moors to the Algarve on the southern coast of Portugal.
After several campaigns, the Portuguese part in the Reconquista came to an end
with the definitive capture of the Algarve in 1249.

Statue of Gerald the Fearless. A Portuguese folk hero with the head of a Moor
With all of Portugal now under the control of Afonso III of Portugal, religious,
cultural and ethnic groups became gradually homogenized.
After the completion of the Reconquista, the Portuguese territory was a Roman
Catholic realm. Nonetheless, Denis of Portugal carried out a short war
with Castile for possession of the towns of Serpa and Moura. After this, Denis
avoided war; he signed the Treaty of Alcanizes with Ferdinand IV of Castile in
1297, establishing the present-day borders.
During the suppression of the Knights Templar all over Europe, under the
influence of Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V requesting its annihilation by
1312, King Denis reinstituted the Templars of Tomar as the Order of Christ in
1319. Denis believed that the Order's assets should by their nature stay in any
given Order instead of being taken by the King, largely for the Templars'
contribution to the Reconquista and the reconstruction of Portugal after the wars.

Cross of the Order of Christ
Kingdom of Castile (10371230)
Ferdinand I of Len was the leading king of the mid-11th century. He
conquered Coimbra and attacked the taifa kingdoms, often demanding the tributes
known as parias. Ferdinand's strategy was to continue to demand parias until the
taifa was greatly weakened both militarily and financially. He also repopulated the
Borders with numerous fueros. Following the Navarrese tradition, on his death in
1064 he divided his kingdom between his sons. His sonSancho II of Castile wanted
to reunite the kingdom of his father and attacked his brothers, with a young noble
at his side: Rodrigo Daz (later known as El Cid Campeador). Sancho was killed in
the siege of Zamora by the traitor Bellido Dolfos (also known as Vellido Adolfo)
in 1072. His brother Alfonso VI took over Len, Castile and Galicia.
Alfonso VI the Brave gave more power to the fueros and
repopulated Segovia, vila and Salamanca. Then, once he had secured the
Borders, King Alfonso conquered the powerful Taifa kingdom of Toledo in
1085. Toledo, which was the former capital of the Visigoths, was a very important
landmark, and the conquest made Alfonso renowned throughout the Christian
world. However, this "conquest" was conducted rather gradually, and mostly
peacefully, during the course of several decades. It was not until after sporadic and
consistent population resettlements had taken place that Toledo was decisively
Alfonso VI was first and foremost a tactful monarch who chose to understand the
kings of taifa and employed unprecedented diplomatic measures to attain political
feats before considering the use of force. He adopted the title Imperator totius
Hispaniae ("Emperor of all Hispania", referring to all the Christian kingdoms of
the Iberian Peninsula, and not just the modern country of Spain). Alfonso's more
aggressive policy towards the Taifas worried the rulers of those kingdoms, who
called on the African Almoravids for help.
Kingdom of Aragon (10351715)
Christian In-fighting
The clashes and raids on bordering Andalusian lands did not keep the Christian
kingdoms from battling among themselves or allying with Muslim kings. Some
Muslim kings had Christian-born wives or mothers.
Also some Christian champions like El Cid were contracted by Taifa kings to fight
against their neighbours. Indeed, El Cid's first battle experience was gained
fighting for a Muslim state against a Christian state, at the Battle of Graus in 1063,
where he and other Castilians fought on the side of al-Muqtadir,
Muslim sultan of Zaragoza, against the forces of Ramiro I of Aragon. There is
even an instance of a Crusade being declared against another Christian king in

Following the disastrous defeat of Alfonso VIII, King of Castile, at Alarcos,
Kings Alfonso IX, of Kingdom of Len, and Sancho VII, of Navarre, entered an
alliance with the Almohads and invaded Castile in 1196. By the end of the year
Sancho VII had dropped out of the war under Papal pressure. Early in 1197, at the
request of Sancho I, King of Portugal, Pope Celestine III declared a Crusade
against Alfonso IX, and released his subjects from their responsibilities to the king,
declaring "the men of his realm shall be absolved from their fidelity and his
dominion by authority of the apostolic see.
Together the Kings of Portugal, Castile, and Aragon invaded Len. In the face of
this onslaught combined with pressure from the Pope, Alfonso IX was finally
forced to sue for peace in October 1197.
In the late years of Al-Andalus, Castile had the might to conquer the remains of the
kingdom of Granada, but the kings preferred to claim the tribute of the
Muslim parias. The trade of Granadan goods and the parias were a major means by
which African gold entered medieval Europe.
Christian repopulation of the Iberian Peninsula
The Reconquista was a process not only of war and conquest, but
also repopulation. Christian kings took their own people to locations abandoned by
Muslims, in order to have a population capable of defending the borders. The main
repopulation areas were the Douro Basin (the northern plateau), the
high Ebro valley (La Rioja) and central Catalonia.
The repopulation of the Douro Basin took place in two distinct phases. North of the
river, between the 9th and 10th centuries, the "pressure" (or presura) system was
employed. South of theDouro, in the 10th and 11th centuries, the presura led to the
"charters" (forais or fueros). Fueros were used even south of the Central Range.
The presura referred to a group of peasants who crossed the mountains and settled
in the abandoned lands of the Douro Basin. Asturian laws promoted this system
with laws, for instance granting a peasant all the land he was able to work and
defend as his own property. Of course, Asturian and Galician minor nobles and
clergymen sent their own expeditions with the peasants they maintained. This led
to very feudalised areas, such as Len and Portugal, whereas Castile, an arid land
with vast plains and harsh climate only attracted peasants with no hope in Biscay.
As a consequence, Castile was governed by a single count, but had a largely
mostly non-feudal territory with many free peasants. Presuras also appear in
Catalonia, when the count of Barcelona ordered the Bishop of Urgell and the count
of Gerona to repopulate the plains of Vic.
During the 10th century and onwards, cities and towns gained more importance
and power, as commerce reappeared and the population kept
growing. Fueros were charters documenting the privileges and usages given to all
the people repopulating a town. The fueros provided a means of escape from
the feudal system, as fueros were only granted by the monarch. As a result, the
town council was dependent on the monarch alone and had to help their lord
(auxilium). The military force of the towns became the caballeros villanos. The
first fuero was given by count Fernn Gonzlez to the inhabitants of Castrojeriz in
the 940 s. The most important towns of medieval Iberia had fueros or forais. In
Navarre, fueros were the main repopulating system. Later on, in the 12th century,
Aragon also employed the system; for example, the fuero of Teruel, which was one
of the last fueros, in the early 13th century.
From the mid-13th century on no more charters were granted, as the demographic
pressure had disappeared and other means of repopulation were created.
While presuras allowed Castile to have the only nonfeudal peasants in Europe
other than Scandinavians and Frisians,
[citation needed]
fueros remained as city charters
until the 18th century in Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia and until the 19th century
in Castile and Navarre. Fueros had an immense importance for those living under
them, who were prepared to go to war to defend their rights under the charter. In
the 1800s the abolition of the fueros in Navarre would be one of the causes of
the Carlist Wars. In Castile disputes over the system contributed to the war against
Charles I (Castilian War of the Communities).
Muslim decline and defeat
Fall of the Caliphate
The 9th century saw the Berbers return to Africa in the aftermath of their revolts.
During this period, many governors of large cities distant from the capital
(Crdoba) planned to establish their independence. Then, in 929 the Emir of
Crdoba (Abd-ar-Rahman III), the leader of the Umayyad dynasty, declared
himself Caliph, independent from the Abbasids in Baghdad. He took all the
military, religious and political power and reorganised the army and the
After regaining control over the dissident governors, Abd-ar-Rahman III tried to
conquer the remaining Christian kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula, attacking them
several times and forcing them back beyond the Cantabric range.
Christian political forces then accused Abd-ar-Rahman III of pederasty with a
Christian boy who was later canonized Saint Pelagius of Cordova for his refusal of
Abd-ar-Rahman's advances. As part of a pattern of portraying Islamic morality as
inferior, the story provided political strength and popular support to the
Reconquista for centuries.
Later Abd-ar-Rahman's grandson became a puppet in the hands of the
great Vizier Almanzor (al-Mansur, "the victorious"). Almanzor waged several
campaigns attacking and sacking Burgos, Leon, Pamplona, Barcelona and Santiago
de Compostela before his death in 1002.
Between Almanzor's death and 1031, Al-Andalus suffered many civil wars which
ended in the appearance of the Taifa Kingdoms. The taifas were small kingdoms,
established by the city governors establishing their long wished-for independence.
The result was many (up to 34) small kingdoms each centered upon their capital,
and the governors, not subscribing to any larger-scale vision of the Moorish
presence, had no qualms about attacking their neighbouring kingdoms whenever
they could gain advantage by doing so.
This split into the taifa states caused Islamic presence to be greatly weakened in
the face of the strengthening Christian kingdoms to the north. When Alfonso VI
brought Toledo under his authority in 1085. Mortified by the concept of being
surrounded by the enemy taifa rulers sent a desperate appeal to the Berber
chieftain Yusuf b. Tashufin leader of the Almoravids.

The Battle of the Puig at El Puig de Santa Maria in 1237

The Almoravids
After a brief period of disintegration (second Taifa period), the rising power in
North Africa, the Almohads, took over most of Al-Andalus. But they would be
decisively defeated at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) by a Christian
coalition, losing almost all the remaining lands of Al-Andalus in the following
decades. By 1252 only the Kingdom of Granada remained as sovereign Muslim
state in the Iberian peninsula.

Extent of the Reconquista into Almohad territory as of 1157
Granada War and the end of Muslim rule in Iberia
Ferdinand and Isabella completed the Reconquista with a war against the Emirate
of Granada that started in 1482 and ended with Granada's complete annexation in
early 1492. The Moors in Castile previously numbered "half a million within the
realm." By 1492 some 100,000 had died or been enslaved, 200,000 had emigrated,
and 200,000 remained in Castile. Many of the Muslim elite, including Granada's
former Emir Muhammad XII, who had been given the area of
the Alpujarras mountains as a principality, found life under Christian rule
intolerable and emigrated to Tlemcen in North Africa.
Conversions and expulsions
During the Islamic administration, Christians and Jews were allowed to retain their
religions by paying a tax (jizya). Penalty for not paying it was imprisonment.
During the time of the Almoravids and especially the Almohads some were treated
badly, in contrast to the policies of the earlier Umayyad Caliphs and later Emirs.

Moros y cristianos celebrated in many towns and cities of Spain, to commemorate the
battles of Reconquista.
The new Christian hierarchy demanded heavy taxes from non-Christians and gave
them rights, such as in the Treaty of Granada (1491) only for Moors in recently
Islamic Granada.
It expelled the Jews. In 1492 the Alhambra decree under Archbishop Hernando de
Talavera dismissed the Treaty of Granada and now the Muslim population of
Granada was forced to convert or be expelled. In 1502, Queen Isabella I declared
conversion to Catholicism compulsory within the Kingdom of Castile.
King Charles V did the same to Moors in the Kingdom of Aragon in 1526, forcing
conversions of its Muslim population during the Revolt of the Germanies. Despite
the monarchs' wishes, many local officials took advantage of the situation to seize

The Surrender of Granada by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz
Spanish Inquisition
Most of the descendants of those Muslims who submitted to conversion to
Christianity rather than exile during the early periods of the Spanish and
Portuguese Inquisition, the Moriscos, were later expelled from Spain after serious
social upheaval, when the Inquisition was at its height. The expulsions were
carried out more severely in eastern Spain (Valencia and Aragon) due to local
animosity towards Muslims and Moriscos where they were seen as economic rivals
by local workers who saw them as cheap labor undermining their bargaining
position with the landlords. A major Morisco revolthappened in 1568 and the
final Expulsion of the Moriscos from Castile in 1609, and from Aragon in 1610.
Making things more complex were the many former Muslims and Jews known
as Moriscos, Marranos Conversos and shared ancestors in common with many
Christians, especially among the aristocracy, causing much concern over loyalty
and attempts by the aristocracy to hide their non Christian ancestry. Those that
the Spanish Inquisition found to be secretly practicing Islam or Judaism were
executed, imprisoned or expelled. Those descended from Muslims or Jews
practicing at the time of the Reconquista's close were perpetually suspected of
various crimes against the Spanish state including continued practice of Islam or
Judaism, and any survivors were finally all expelled by the close of the next
Classifications and consequences post-Reconquista
The many advances and retreats created several social types:
The Muladi: Christians under Islamic rule who converted to Islam after the
arrival of the Moors.
The Mozarabs: Christians in Muslim-held lands. Some of them migrated to the
north of the peninsula in times of persecution bringing elements of the styles,
food and agricultural practices learned from the Moors, while they continued
practicing their Christianity with older forms of Catholic worship and their own
versions of the Latin language.
The Marranos: Jewish conversos. Jews who either voluntarily or compulsorily
converted to Catholicism. Some were Crypto-Jews who continued
practicing Judaism secretly. All remaining Jews were expelled from Spain in
Treaty of Granada of 1492, and from Portugal in 1497. Converso Jews often
became victims of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions.
The Mudjar : Muslims in Christian-held lands.
Moriscos: Muslim conversos. Muslims who were compulsorily converted to
Catholicism. Most were Crypto-Muslims who continued practicing Islam
secretly. They ranged from successful skilled artisans, valued and protected in
Aragon, to impoverished peasants in Castile. After the Alhambra Decree the
entire Islamic population was forced to convert or leave, and within a century
most, if not all, were expelled.

Real, legendary, and fictional episodes from the Reconquista are the subject of
much of medieval Galician-Portuguese, Spanish, and Catalan literature such as
the cantar de gesta.
Some noble genealogies show the close relations (although not very numerous)
between Muslims and Christians. For example, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, whose
rule is considered to have marked the peak of power for Moorish Al-
Andalus Iberia, married Abda, daughter of Sancho Garcs II of Navarra, who bore
him a son, named Abd al-Rahman and commonly known in pejorative sense
as Sanchuelo (Little Sancho; in Arabic: Shanjoul).
After his father's death, Sanchuelo/Abd al-Rahman, as a son of a Christian
princess, was a strong contender to take over the ultimate power in Muslim al-
Andalus. A hundred years later, King Alfonso VI of Castile, considered among the
greatest of the Medieval Spanish kings, designated as his heir his son (also a
Sancho) by the refugee Muslim princess Zaida of Seville.
It can be questioned due to the Portuguese Reconquista that had ended in 1249, and
both the Castilian and Portuguese kingdoms may have begun profiting from
maritime expansion along Africa before the Jews and Moors were expelled. The
huge wealth from the Americas was still to arrive after Columbus's first voyage
and the surrender of Granada in 1492.
The Reconquista was a war with long periods of respite between the adversaries,
partly for pragmatic reasons and also due to infighting among the Christian
kingdoms of the North spanning over seven centuries. Some populations practiced
Islam or Christianity as their own religion during these centuries, so the identity of
contenders changed over time.
Reconquista recreations in modern Spain
Currently, the festivals of moros y cristianos (Castilian), moros i
cristians (Catalan), mouros e cristos (Portuguese) and mouros e
cristins (Galician), these meaning "Moors and Christians", recreate the fights as
colorful parades with elaborate garments and lots of fireworks, especially on the
central and southern towns of the Land of Valencia,
like Alcoi, Ontinyent or Villena.
Timeline of major dates
Main article: Timeline of the Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula
711: Conquest of Iberia by Umayyad Arab-Berber armies begins.
717: First Umayyad foray over the Pyrenees into Visigothic Gaul.
718: Islamic Umayyad rule in Iberia at its widest, covering almost all of the
Iberian Peninsula and the fringes of the Pyrenees.
718 or 722: Battle of Covadonga in the north-west of Iberia, establishing a
Christian principality in Asturias.
742: Berber garrisons give up their positions in Galicia and north of the Duero
River (join the Berber rebellion).
759: Pepin the Short conquers the last Muslim strongholds in present-day
801: The Carolingians led by Louis the Pious conquer Barcelona, sack Lleida,
and establish the Spanish March.
809: The Carolingians fail to take and hold Tarragona and Tortosa, retreating to
their Ebro marches.

868: Conquest of the city of Porto, leading to the establishment of the County
of Portucale (Latin for later Portugal).
871: Capture of Coimbra by the Asturians, County of Coimbra established.
914: Iberian Muslims briefly retake Barcelona.
1085: Landmark conquest of Toledo by Castilian forces. Over half of Iberia
conquered by Christian-ruled kingdoms.
1097: First Crusade, two-thirds of the Iberian peninsula conquered by
Christian-ruled kingdoms.
1118: Navarro-Aragonese troops capture the Muslim strongholds
of Tudela and Zaragoza.
1147: Siege of Lisbon, where Second Crusade and the Kingdom of Portugal
defeat the Almoravids.
1195: The Battle of Alarcos establishes Almohad authority in the south of the
1212: The key battle of Navas de Tolosa heralds the steady political decline of
the Iberian Muslim kingdoms.
1236: Cadiz and the former capital of the caliphate Crdoba are conquered by
Castilian forces.
1249: King Afonso III of Portugal takes Faro (in the Algarve), ending the
Portuguese Reconquista in 1249.

1250: The lowercased Emirate of Granada remains the only Muslim state in
1300s and 1400s: Marinid Muslims seize control of some towns on the southern
coast but are soon driven out, now only a few isolated towns in the south of
Granada was still controlled by the Moors.
1491: Treaty of Granada (signed on 25 November), completes the Reconquista.