Friday, November 20, 2009


f you come from Chapter number 6 because you had some problems in understanding the history of Andalucia, please be welcome!

If you a newcomer, please be welcome too, and see how interesting is this topic about Muslim Spain!

It was one of the noble clans, the Witiza family, that, at the beginning of the 8th century, caused the decline of the Visigoth kingdom, by appealing for aid to Muslim and Berbers warriors from across the Strait of Gibraltar to fight the royal usurper. In fact, the Visigothic state apparatus' disintegration allowed the Muslims to make isolated pacts with an aristocracy that was semi-independent and opposed to the Crown.

By the middle of the 8th century, the Muslims had completed their occupation and the Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman, who had fled from the Abbasid slaughter of 750 A.D., took refuge among the Berbers. Finally, supported by one of the Peninsular Muslims tribes, the Yemenies, he managed to defeat, in 755, the Abbasid governor of Al-Andalus and have himself proclaimed in Cordoba Emir, independent of Damascus. In the first thrid of the 10th century, one of the Spanish Umayyads, Abd al- Rahman III, restored and extended the Al-Andalus emirate and became the first Spanish Caliph.

The proclamation of the Caliphate had a double purpose. In the interior, the Umayyads wanted to strenghten the Peninsular kingdom. Outside the country, they wanted to consolidate the commercial routes of the Mediterranean, guarantee an economic relationship with the east-Byzantium, and assure the supply of gold. Melilla was occupied in 927 and, by the middle of the same century, the Umayyad controlled the triangle formed by Algeria, Siyimasa and the Atlantic. The power of the Andalucian Caliphate also extended to western Europe, and by 950, the Germano-Roman empire was exchanging ambassadors with the Cordoban Caliphate. A few years prior, Hugo of Arles appealed to the powerful Spanish Caliphate for safe conduct f r his merchant ships in the Mediteranean. The small Christian strongholds in the north of the Peninsula became modest feudal holdings of the Caliphate, recognizing its superiority and arbitrage.

The foundations of Andalucian hegemony rested on a considerable economic capacity based on important trade, a developed craft industry and an agriculture know-how which was much more efficient than anything else in the rest of Europe. The Cordoban caliphate had a currency-based economy, and the injection of coinage played a central role in its financial splendour. The gold Cordobes coin became the principal currency of the period and was probably imitated by the Carolingian empire.

Therefore, the Cordoban caliphate was the first urban and commercial economy that had flourished in Europe since the disappearance of the Roman Wmpire. The capital and most important city of the Caliphate, Cordoba, had some 100,000 inhabitants, making it Europe's principal urban concentration during that epoch.

Muslim Spain produced a flourishing culture, aboce all after the Caliph Al-Hakam II (961-976) came to power. He is credited with founding a library of hundreds of thousands of volumes, which was practically inconceivable in Europe at that time. The most distinctive feature of this calture was the early readoption of classical philosophy by Ibn Masarra, Abentofain, Averroes and the Jew Maimonide. But the Spanish-Muslim thinkers stood out, abouve all in medicine, mathematics andastronomy.

The fragmentation of the Cordoban Caliphate took place at the end of the first decade of the 11th century; this came about as a result of the enormous war effort deployed by the last Cordoban leaders and the suffocating fiscal pressures. The thirty-nine successors of the united Caliphate became known as the first (1009-1090) Ta'ifas (petty kingdoms), a name which has passed into the Spanish language as a synonym for the ruin generated by the fragmentation and disunity of the Peninsula. This division occurred twice again, thereby creating second and third Ta'ifas and producing a series of new invasions from the north of Africa. The first time the Almoravides (1090), invaded the Peninsula, the second time it was the Almohads (1146) and the third, the Banu Marins (1224). This progressive weakening meant that by the middle of the 13th century, Islamic Spain was reduced to the Nasrid Kingdom in Granada. Located between the Srait of Gibraltar and Cape Gata, this historical relic did not capitulate until 2 January 1492, at the end of the Reconquest.

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