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Abd al-Rahman III Timeline

Abd al-Rahman III Timeline

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  • 18 Dec 890

    Abd al-Rahman III is born in Cordoba.

  • 912

    Death of 'Abd Allah, Emir of Cordoba.

  • 912 - 961

  • 912

    Abd al-Rahman III becomes the Emir of Cordoba.

  • 915

    The autonomous Muslim leader Umar ibn Hafsun surrenders to the Umayyad forces of Abd al-Rahman III.

  • 916

    Abd al-Rahman III leads a campaign against the Kingdom of León.

  • 924

    Umayyad forces sack the Navarrese capital of Pamplona.

  • 928

    The rebel city of Bobastro falls to Abd al-Rahman III.

  • 929

    Abd al-Rahman III retakes the Lower March, including the city of Merida.

  • 929

    Abd al-Rahman III declares himself caliph, transforming the Emirate of Cordoba into the Caliphate of Cordoba.

  • 932

    Abd al-Rahman III retakes the city of Toledo from its regional warlord.

  • 934

    Abd al-Rahman III leads a northern campaign against Zaragoza, Navarre, and León and receives the submission of Navarre.

  • 936

    Abd al-Rahman III establishes the new Umayyad palace of Madinat al-Zahra outside of Cordoba.

  • 937

    Abd al-Rahman III retakes the city of Zaragoza from its autonomous ruler, Muhammad ibn Hashim al-Tujibi.

  • 939

    Leónese forces defeat the Umayyads at the Battle of Simancas (also known as the Battle of Alhandega).

  • 940

    Peace treaty between the Caliphate of Cordoba and the Kingdom of León.

  • 950

    Barcelona becomes a vassal of Abd al-Rahman III of Cordoba.

  • 957

    Umayyad forces raid Navarre and León.

  • 958

    The kings of Navarre and León become vassals of Abd al-Rahman III.

  • 961

    Abd al-Rahman III dies.

Caliphate of Córdoba

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Caliphate of Córdoba, Muslim state that existed in Spain from January 16, 929, when ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III assumed the supreme title of caliph, to 1031, when the puppet ruler Hishām III was deposed by his viziers and the caliphate disintegrated into the so-called kingdoms of the taifa. During this century there were 12 caliphs, all except the first two of whom were puppets and most of whom died by violence.

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III was followed by the studious al-Ḥakam II (961–976), who gathered a library of 400,000 catalogued volumes, founded 27 free schools in Córdoba, and attracted scholars from the east to teach in the university. His reign was succeeded by the dictatorship of Abū ʿĀmir al-Manṣūr (Almanzor), a courtier who achieved power through the favour of the Basque-born sultana Subh during the minority of her son Hishām II.

Al-Manṣūr’s rule (978–1002) marked a period of brilliant military successes abroad and increasing unrest at home. With his mercenary army he won a series of spectacular victories against the Christians, capturing Zamora (981), Barcelona (985), and Coimbra (987). In 997 he razed Santiago de Compostela and returned with the bells of the city’s cathedral to serve as braziers in the mosque of Córdoba. Popular opposition to al-Manṣūr’s successors degenerated into partisan warfare between the Cordobans, the Berbers, and the slave officials of the royal household, sometimes with Castilian intervention. All sides used the caliphs as pawns in the competition for control of the state. The last caliph was imprisoned with his family in a vault attached to the great mosque and reportedly reacted to the news of his deposition by begging for a crust of bread.

The collapse of the caliphate shortly after attaining its military zenith was partly due to the weakening of Umayyad authority by al-Manṣūr’s dictatorship but mostly due to continuous hostilities between Arabs, Berbers, slave officials, Jews, native Spanish converts to Islam, and Arabized Christians (Mozarabs). Under the caliphate, Muslim Spain was the most populous and prosperous country in Europe. Increased irrigation produced an agricultural surplus which, with manufactured luxury goods (such as Cordoban leather, Valencian pottery, and Damascus steel arms and woven silk from Toledo), was exported mainly eastward.

Abd al-Rahman III

Abd al-Rahman III, called al-Nasir or the Defender (of the Faith), was born at Cordova on Jan. 7, 891, the son of Prince Muhammad and a Frankish slave. Like most of his family, he was blue-eyed and blond, but he dyed his hair black to avoid looking like a Goth. In 912 he succeeded his grandfather, Abd Allah, as emir. The first period of his half-century reign was marked by campaigns of pacification against various rebellious groups. Between 912 and 928 he steadily wore down the forces of Umar ibn Hafsun, whose coalition of neo-Moslem peasants from southern Spain proved the most serious challenge yet mounted against Cordova's authority.

During the next phase of his reign Abd al-Rahman was able to concentrate his energies on foreign problems. He applied pressure to his Christian enemies to the north and waged a diplomatic campaign against Fatimid influence in North Africa. In 920 he stopped the southward advance of King Ordoño III of León and in 924 sacked Pamplona, the capital of Navarre. Abd al-Rahman was defeated at Simancas in 939 by Ramiro II of León, who was unable, however, to press his advantage further. In 927 Abd al-Rahman captured Melilla on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco as an advanced defense against possible moves by the Tunisia-based Fatimids this was followed in 931 by the conquest of Ceuta. From these two bases the Spanish ruler extended an Umayyad protectorate over much of western North Africa which lasted until the end of the century.

An astute politician, Abd al-Rahman adopted the supreme titles of Caliph and Prince of the Believers in 929, a significant political decision designed to legitimize his imperial pretensions over the claims of Abbasid and Fatimid rivals. The assumption of the caliphal title reflected the total pacification of Islamic Spain, for the powerful group of orthodox Islamic theologians had always opposed any challenge to the religious unity of Islam, symbolized in the Abbasid caliphate.

After reigning for 25 years, Abd al-Rahman III launched the construction of a luxurious pleasure palace and administrative city, Madinat al-Zahra, just outside Cordova. Begun in 936, the construction took 40 years, and for a while the Caliph spent one-third of his annual income on it. He occupied the palace in 945, moving most of the governmental administrative bureaus there. Cordova itself, as the capital of Islamic Spain, became during his reign the greatest metropolis of western Europe, rivaling Constantinople.

Abd al-Rahman III died at the apex of his power on Oct. 15, 961. He had pacified the realm, dealt ably with his Fatimid rivals, and stabilized the frontier with Christian Spain.

Abdur Rahman III of Spain

Three men of giant stature dominated Islamic history in the 10 th century. These were Abdur Rahman III of Spain, Muiz of Egypt and Mahmud of Ghazna. The first two determined the flow of historical events in the Mediterranean region, whereas Mahmud of Ghazna had a decisive impact on Central Asia and the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

Abdur Rahman III was the ablest and most accomplished of the Omayyad rulers of Spain. As a young man he received an excellent education under the ulema of Cordoba. His intellect made him a prince among the scholars and a favorite among the literary circles of the day. His character and exemplary conduct won him the allegiance of the court and the common man alike. His first act after becoming the ruler of Spain was to abrogate all taxes that were not in accordance with the Shariah. These taxes had been imposed to support the lavish expenditures of the royal household. The move won for him the support of the peasant and the merchant alike. His second act was to offer a general amnesty to all rebels who accepted him as their sovereign.

In the year 912, when Abdur Rahman ascended the throne as a young man of 23, Spain was adrift without central authority. It had been more than two hundred years since Tariq and Musa had landed at Jabl al Tariq and marched forth to conquer Spain in the name of Tawhid. By the 10 th century, chiefs and noblemen were more animated by the love of money than the love of God. Tribal affiliation and wealth moved them far more than any transcendental idea. Upon ascending the throne, the young ruler faced two major challenges. The first was from the Arab aristocracy based in the old Visigoth capital city of Toledo. The second was the military-ideological challenge from the Fatimids who had made no secret of their desire to conquer Spain.

The challenge from the Arab aristocracy was inherent in the pattern of invasions from North Africa. As successive waves of Muslim armies landed in Spain, they settled in the various provinces according to the desires of their tribal chiefs. Thus the Bani Hud controlled Saragossa, the Zul Nun settled in Toledo, the Banu Abbad were powerful in Seville, the Berbers controlled Granada and the newly arrived Slavs from eastern Europe settled in Valencia and the Mediterranean coast. The court of Cordoba was sustained by the allegiance of these tribes. Gradually, the tribal chieftains accumulated privileges, which they were reluctant to give up. The spartan simplicity of the desert warrior gave way to the luxurious life style of the emirs. The court in Cordoba gradually became a prisoner of this privileged class. So, when Abdur Rahman abandoned the excessive taxes and took away the privileges of this class, there was an immediate uproar. Particularly upset were the noblemen of Toledo. They had harbored a long-standing grudge against Cordoba for moving the capital out of Toledo. Abdur Rahman put down each of the rebellions with firmness. When he was victorious, he treated the vanquished with dignity and won over their allegiance. The principalities of Bobastro, Badejoz, Zamorra, Simancas, Osma and Toledo were subdued one by one. He then turned his attention to the Christian territories to the north. The Christian chieftains had conducted numerous raids on the Emir’s territories and had devastated border areas. In a series of brilliant campaigns, Abdur Rahman forced Leon, Castile, Navarre, Galicia and Alva into paying him tribute.

The challenge from the Fatimids was far more serious. The Fatimids considered the progeny of Imam Ismail to be the only legitimate heir to the leadership of the Islamic community and were bitter enemies both of the Abbasids in Baghdad and the Omayyads in Cordoba. By 923, they had captured all of North Africa, had displaced the Idrisi kingdom from Morocco and Algeria and had their eyes on Spain. A renegade Spanish chieftain, Omar bin Hafsun, who had become a Christian, openly challenged the rule of Cordoba and sought the help not only of the Fatimids but also of the Christian principalities to the north. Abdur Rahman was busy at the time rendering military assistance to his Idrisi allies against the Fatimids. He was forced to withdraw from North Africa to face the rebel.

The Fatimids sent a fleet across the Mediterranean to assist Omar bin Hafsun, but this sea-borne force was intercepted by Abdur Rahman’s navy and was destroyed. Cornered in the mountains of eastern Spain, Omar bin Hafsun sued for peace. Abdur Rahman pardoned him and let him keep a small principality under his own authority.

The breakup of tribal influence enabled Abdur Rahman to establish a standing professional army of more than 150,000, perhaps the finest in the world at that time. But it also destroyed the tribal cohesion that had sustained Umayyad power in Spain for more than 200 years. In the view of Ibn Khaldun, this act sowed the seeds for the ultimate disintegration of the Spanish Caliphate of Cordoba.

In North Africa the Fatimid threat was persistent. In 910, the Fatimid Ubaidullah had declared himself the Mahdi and the Caliph of all Muslims. At this time, the Caliphate in Baghdad was in disarray and the Abbasid Caliphs had become mere pawns in the hands of their Turkish generals. The Buyids from Persia had become rulers of the Abbasid domains in all but name. These were clear signals that the Abbasids had lost their political and military power. In 929, Abdur Rahman declared himself to be the Caliph and took the title of Emir-ul-Momineen. In effect, this was a response to the political and military challenge from the Fatimids in North Africa. Thus there emerged three claimants to the Caliphate in the 10 th century. With the ascent of Muiz in 953 and his capture of Egypt in 969, the balance of power tilted decidedly in favor of the Fatimids. One by one, Fatimid armies overran Spanish strongholds in North Africa. Except for a small stretch of land around Ceuta, Muiz subdued all of North Africa. The Fatimids had not given up their dream of capturing Andalus and continued to provide assistance to any insurrection that challenged Omayyad rule in the peninsula. In 955, Abdur Rahman’s navy intercepted and sank some of Muiz’s ships ferrying supplies to Andalusian insurgents. In retaliation, Muiz ordered his viceroy in Sicily, Hassan bin Ali, to raid and lay waste the Spanish coast of Almeria.

The mutual rivalry between the Omayyads in Spain and the Fatimids in Egypt destroyed the last chance for Muslims to conquer southern Europe. After the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire in France in the 9 th century, Europe was in political disarray. The devastating raids from the Nordic Vikings had crippled northern and central Europe. Faced with this onslaught from the north, Europe was vulnerable in the south. However, the Sunni Omayyads and the Shi’a Fatimids spent more energy fighting each other than projecting their power into Europe. Indeed, the emergence of two centers of political power in the Mediterranean, one based in Cairo and the other in Cordoba, gave an opportunity to the Christian monarchs to play off one against the other. Sensing this historic rivalry, the Greek monarch of Constantinople, involved as he was in a military confrontation with the Fatimids for control of Crete and Sicily, sent an ambassador to Abdur Rahman III. The monarchs of Germany, France and the principalities of the Italian peninsula made similar representations. Spain, under Abdur Rahman had become a major player in the geopolitics of North Africa, southern Europe and West Asia.

Abdur Rahman was a consummate soldier, an accomplished scholar, a great builder and a just ruler. He forged Spain into a single military-political entity shorn of the petty rivalries of regional chiefs and Arab tribes. Scholars flocked to his court from Kairouan, Cairo, Baghdad and Bukhara. His personal collection of books exceeded 400,000. The court nobility, copying the ways of their sovereign, had their own collections of books. No writer, no scribe, no teacher was without work. Under Abdur Rahman, Cordoba grew to be the largest and most cosmopolitan urban center in the world with a population exceeding one million. The city had more than 100,000 homes, 80,000 shops, 700 mosques and 900 public baths. The streets were paved and were patrolled. The shops were filled with goods from all over the world and Andalusian merchants were known in distant parts of Eurasia. Agriculture received particular attention and Spain became an agricultural paradise. Abdur Rahman enlarged and embellished the great mosque of Cordoba. His principal architectural achievement was the construction of his capital Madinat az Zahra, a marble city constructed three miles from Cordoba. So beautiful was this city that visitors came from far and wide to see and marvel at its beauty.

Abdur Rahman ruled over his kingdom with justice towards people of all religions. Christians and Jews received equal protection under the law. Spain became the most cosmopolitan kingdom on earth. The Caliph made no distinction between his own household and the common man in matters of justice. When one of his sons was tried by the courts and convicted of treason, Abdur Rahman sentenced him to death against the entreaties of his own household. After the sentence was carried out, Abdur Rahman was so struck with sorrow that he was never seen to smile again.

Abdur Rahman III passed away in the year 961 and was buried at Madinat-az-Zahra. His reign marked the zenith of Islamic civilization in Spain and the pinnacle of its golden age.

History of Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba is steeped in over 2,000 years of history &ndash the Romans, the Visigoths, the Jews, the Moors and then the Spanish all left their distinct imprint on Cordoba, making it one of the most mesmerizing and interesting cities in Spain.

Cordoba started as an Iberian settlement in 169 B.C., providing it with a mix of Carthaginian, Greek and Punic influences. Evidence of the Iberian presence &ndash cups, sculptures and other everyday items can be found at the Archeological Museum.

The Roman governor Claudius Marcelus developed this into a city, most probably because of its strategic location on the Guadalquivir River. Under Pax Romana, it blossomed into a port city of great importance. Agriculture, mining and the olive trade thrived at this time. At present, vestiges of the Roman presence can be seen in structures such as the El Puente Romano, the bridge which spans the Guadalquivir River, the Roman Theater, Roman Walls, Aqueduct and other structures.

Cordoba reached the height of its glory under the rule of the Moors, who wrested Cordoba from the hands of the Romans in 711. Cordoba was proclaimed an emirate under the rule of the Damascus caliphate. In 756, Abd al-Rahman I rose to power and declared Cordoba independent of Damascus. It was in this era that Cordoba started to emerge as the biggest and greatest city in the world.

Indeed, by the 10th century, Cordoba reached its very peak. Under Cordoba&rsquos three great rulers, Abd-ar-Rahman III, al-Hakam II and Ia-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (also known as Almansor), Cordoba became the center of education, economy and culture. Cordoba enjoyed prominence and majesty that was unequaled in all of Europe. It was the largest city in Europe, with its population reaching one million. It was also the first city to have lighted streets and indoor plumbing. The number of lavish baths reached to the hundreds.

It was also during this time that the Jews enjoyed Cordoba&rsquos eminence, living in Al-Andalus for almost four hundred years. The Jews established their community at the southwest of the city during the middle ages. In turn, the Jewish community gifted Cordoba and the world with Moises Maimonides and perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of the Historic Quarter of Cordoba today. Indeed, Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures peacefully coexisted during the enlightened rule of Al-Andalus.

However, the Almoravids (Berbers from North Africa) attacked and overthrew the Moors. This began the decline of Cordoba. Its once formidable political structure collapsed, making it vulnerable to outside attacks.

The Requenquista (Reconquering) campaign waged by Spain ended the era of the Moors. In 1236, Cordoba fell into the hands of the Catholic Kings, particularly Ferdinand III. Ferdinand III entered the city and gained control of it. He ordered the construction of the cathedral at the very center of the Mezquita. In different parts of the city, there was a flurry of construction activities &ndash most of the cathedrals and monasteries built during this time still stand today.

Cordoba&rsquos illustrious, although tumultuous, past greatly shaped its history. It is what makes it the fascinating city that it is today. Its former glory can be seen virtually anywhere! And even today, Cordoba&rsquos contribution to science, the arts and culture remains very much alive. The spirit of the Cordobans attest to this. The Cordobans are living reflections of its history &ndash fiery, enlightened and filled with hope and greatness.

Abd al-Rahman III Timeline - History

At the Battle of Guadalete Tariq ibn Ziyad defeats King Roderic, the last Visigothic ruler of Hispania, at the Guadalete River in the south of the Iberian peninsula. Tariq goes on to take Toledo, while a detachment under Mugit al-Rumi takes Córdoba.

715 - By this year, virtually all of southern Iberia is in Muslim hands. Abd al-Aziz ibn Musa is left in charge and makes his capital the city of Seville, where he marries Egilona, widow of King Rodrigo, who encourages him to convert to Christianity. The Umayyad Caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik, orders Abd al-Aziz ibn Musa assassinated.

716 - Lisbon is captured by the Moors.

717 - Córdoba becomes the capital of Muslim Al-Andalus. During the wars between Christians and Muslims, Jewish courtiers are valued as diplomats, translators, and advisors to both sides.[citation needed]

719 - Muslims attack Septimania in southern Francia and become established in the region later known as Languedoc.

720 - Moorish conquest of Barcelona and Narbonne.

725 - Muslim raids reach Autun in Frankish France.

729 - Berbers rebel in Cerdanya, but despite being allied with Duke Odo of Aquitaine, the rebellion is suppressed.

732 - A Muslim army led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi defeats an Aquitanian force under Duke Odo of Aquitaine on the Garonne near Bordeaux. The Moors then set about pillaging Aquitaine

737 - Arabs take Avignon in the Rhône Valley.

739 - Berbers revolt in North Africa and Iberia.

Rebels in North Africa defeat a Syrian force and kill its commander Kulthum.

By order of Alfonso I of Asturias, the Moors are driven out of Galicia.

740 - Berbers rebel against the ethnically exclusive Arab Umayyad Caliphate and refuse to support them with tax revenues.

742 - Internal conflict in Al-Andalus continues for the next 4 years.

759 - The Moors lose the city of Narbonne (in France), their furthest and last conquest into Frankish territory. In capturing this city, King Pippin the Younger ends all Muslim rule north of Iberia.

768-777 - A Berber reformer rebels in central Iberia and occupies Mérida and other towns to the north of the Tagus. The rebellion is suppressed after nine years.

785 - Building of the Great Mosque of Córdoba begins on the grounds of a Visigothic church it is completed in 976.

788- Death of Abd ar-Rahman I, founder of the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba. His successor is Hisham I.

799 - The Basques revolt and kill the local Muslim governor of Pamplona.

809 - An Umayyad prince defeats and executes Tumlus, a Muslim rebel who had seized power in Lisbon some years before.

825 - Muslims attempt to invade Christian territory from Coimbra and Viseu but are driven back.

827 - Bernat of Septimania holds Barcelona against Gothic rebels who have Umayyad assistance.

850-859 - Perfectus, a Christian priest in Muslim-ruled Córdoba, is beheaded after he refuses to retract numerous insults he made about Muhammad. Numerous other priests, monks, and laity would follow as Christians became caught up in a zest for martyrdom.

Forty-eight Christians men and women are decapitated for refusing to convert or blaspheming Muhammad. They will be known as the Martyrs of Córdoba.

918 - Battle of Talavera where Muslims under Abd al-Rahman III defeat the Christians.

Pope John X recognizes the orthodoxy and legitimacy of the Visigothic Liturgy maintained in the Mozarabic rite.

920 - Battle of Valdejunquera, where the armies of Abd al-Rahman III defeat the armies of the Kingdom of León.

Madrid is recaptured from Muslim forces. The encounter between the two rulers finally took place in 939, when, at the so-called ditch of Simancas (Shant Mankus), Ramiro II of León severely defeated the Muslims, and Abd al-Rahman III narrowly escapes with his life. After that defeat Abd al-Rahman III resolved never to take personal charge of another expedition. But Madrid recaptured by Muslims in 940.

985 - Under Al-Mansur and subsequently his son, Christian cities are subjected to numerous raids.

997 - Under the leadership of Al-Mansur, Muslim forces march out of the city of Córdoba and head north to capture Christian lands.

1008 - On the death of al-Muzaffar, Abd al-Rahman ibn Al-Mansur, another son of Al-Mansur, takes over the role of unofficial ruler. In winter he leads his army against the Christians.

1012 - Berber forces capture Córdoba and order that half the population be executed.

1065 - Civil War in Castile-León. In April Emir Al-Muqtadir of Zaragoza, aided by 500 Sevillian knights, besieges Barbastro. The governor, Count Ermengol II of Urgel, is killed in a sortie, and a few days later the city falls, whereupon the Iberian and French garrison is put to the sword, thus bringing an end to Pope Alexander II's prototype crusade.

1085 - Christians take Salamanca.

1112 - By this time the Aragonese have taken Huesca. Almoravid (ibn al-Hajj) raids into Aragonese territory and reaches the foothills of the Pyrenees.

1233 - Castile defeats Granada at the Battle of Jerez.

1248 - Christian armies under Ferdinand III of Castile take Seville after 16 months of siege, despite Muslim catapults, Greek fire, and bowmen who pierce armor. Castilian forces include urban militia.

1287 - Menorca falls to the Reconquista and will remain in Christian hands thereafter.

1410 - An attack against Granada is led by Ferdinand of Aragon. He does not take Granada, but he takes the city of Antequera. This is considered the most important victory against the Muslims since the reign of Alfonso XI.

1415 - Portugal takes the city of Ceuta in North Africa.

1487 - Málaga falls to the Reconquista.

1489 - Spain captures Baza. Al-Zagal surrenders to Spain.

Almería falls to the Reconquista.

1491 - The Muslims in Granada surrender to the Christians. Abu 'abd Allah Muhammad XII Emir of Granada relinquishes the last Muslim controlled city in the Iberian Peninsula to the Christians and signs the Treaty of Granada.

Key Elements of Warcraft

Greek Fire

One of the most effective and intriguing weapons used in the Middle Ages was Greek fire. It was developed around 673 by a Byzantine named Callinicus, an architect from Heliopolis (modern Baalbek in Syria). As Callinicus was a refugee from Syria during the Arab conquests, the creation of Greek fire appears to have been a direct response to Arab expansion and the Byzantium’s inability to stop the Arabs. The recipe for it was one of the most closely guarded secrets in the empire indeed, there does not seem to be any evidence that the recipe ever left Byzantine hands.

Its secret was so closely guarded that even today its exact composition is still uncertain. Nonetheless, scholars have determined that it was most likely a composition of naphtha, quicklime, and sulfur. Naphtha is a product derived from distilling oil. When combined in the correct recipe, these ingredients would ignite on contact and even burn in water. Because of its petroleum base, Greek fire stuck to objects and was difficult to extinguish, much like its modern equivalent, napalm.

Greek Fire Against Wooden Ships

Greek fire was primarily used as a naval weapon, but only the imperial fleet was equipped with it on a regular basis. The provincial navies were equipped in emergencies. In combat, Greek fire was spread through a nozzle that sprayed it with a high velocity. (Scholars are not in agreement on exactly how this spraying was done.) The person who manned the apparatus was known as the siphonarios. Protected by a large iron shield, the siphonarios stood in the bow of the ship and aimed it at enemy ships. Greek fire was also used in bombs made of pottery, which functioned like hand grenades. Once thrown, these bombs would shatter and spread the Greek fire, which ignited when exposed to oxygen.

Greek fire played a vital role throughout the history of the Byzantine Empire, particularly during the time of Arab conquests. During the Umayyad sieges of Constantinople in 674–678 and 717–718, it was a critical weapon not only in defending the walls, but especially in naval battles. Indeed, its appearance at the first siege may have been the debut of Greek fire in warfare, as it was invented around 673.

Arabs would not be the only enemy to face Greek fire, as the Byzantines fended off an attack by the Russians in 941 with it. Only on one occasion—the Fourth Crusade in 1204—did it fail to thwart an attack by an outside force. Still, considering the ups and downs of the efficacy of the Byzantine navy, there were periods where Greek fire does not seem to have constituted a primary weapon for the navy. The reason for this remains unknown.

Although it was a closely guarded secret that appears to have never been revealed to outsiders, eventually other powers did gain knowledge of its manufacture. How this was done is also not known. Nonetheless, several Islamic states did begin to use a variety of Greek fire in the Middle Ages. Indeed, it was used in a few naval encounters, and perhaps even sieges, during the Crusades.

The Invasion, Reign, and Decline: Timeline

711 – 900

  • The Moors invaded Spain in the beginning of the 8th century. It started with the defeat of the Visigoths in the year 711 by the Muslim troops, after which they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • In 718, the Muslim army was defeated at Alcama, by a brave Visigoth, called Pelayo.
  • In the year 732, the Muslims tried to invade France as well, but were driven away by Charles Martel.
  • The year 750 witnessed the Christian reconquest of Glaicia.
  • In the year 755, Abd-er-Rahman arrived at the coast of Granada, after which Al-Andalus saw a myriad of strategic developments.
  • In 778, Charlemagne was defeated by the Vascons.
  • Abd-er-Rahman established the Mezquita in 785.
  • Between 791 to 845, the Moors lost a number of lands they were captured by Alfonso II.
  • The Christian kingdom was set up between 870 to 898.

901 – 1000

  • This century saw a slight decline in the Moorish Empire Abd al-Rahman III was defeated by the King of Leon, Ramiro II, at Simancas and Osma, between 930 to 950.
  • By 981, Ramiro III was defeated by Al-Mansur at Rueda.
  • Post 1000, the reconstruction of some of the Moorish Empire commenced. This was undertaken by Alfonso V, and went on for almost two decades.

1001 – 1195

  • After Al-Mansur’s death, the Al-Andalus split up into smaller vassal states, and the unified rule ceased to exist.
  • For the three decades that followed, Sancho III took possession of the counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe, Castile, and Ribagorza.
  • He signed a pact with the King of Leon, Bermudo III, to possess the County of Castile.
  • After his death, however, Navarre was left to Garcia III, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were left to Ramiro I, and Castile to Fernando I, respectively.
  • Between 1035 to 1063, the Moors of Toledo and Seville were defeated by Fernando I.
  • His son, Alfonso VI, united Castile and Leon, and took over Toledo as well.
  • Further conquests were met with resistance from the Almoravids―the Muslim nomads from the Sahara.
  • They arrived in 1086, destroyed Alfonso’s army, and restored the power of the Moors.
  • The followers of the El Cid, Sancho III’s knight, left Valencia.
  • In the year 1118, the kingdom of Sagossa was captured by the Christians, and in 1135, Alfonso VII proclaimed himself as Emperor.
  • However, in 1151, the Moors reestablished power―they were the Almohades, another supreme African dynasty.
  • The year 1195 saw the defeat of the Castilians by the Almohades.

1200 – 1492

  • The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa was fought in the year 1212. The Spanish army was led by Alfonso VIII of Castile, along with Sancho VIII of Navarre and some other troops. This event marked the beginning of the end of Moorish Spain.
  • The conquest of Seville commenced in 1230, by Alfonso IX of Leon, who captured Merida and Badajoz.
  • By 1252, the Kingdom of Granada remained the sole independent Moorish kingdom. The ruler of Granada, Mohammed Ibn-Alhamar, signed a pact with Fernando III. In return for cooperating in the conquest of Muslim Seville, he would release Granada from the Muslim rule.
  • The period between 1252 to 1284 was the period of the ‘Mudejar’ revolts.
  • In 1340, the Battle of Rio Salado was won by Alfonso XI.
  • The Castilians were defeated by the Portuguese in 1385.
  • Between 1469 to 1490, the last Muslim rulers were plagued by internal rivalries.
  • In 1492, Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon (who got married in 1469) captured Granada and unified Spain, thus freeing the nation from Moorish rule.

Alhambra's timeline

7th century - military regiment from the Umayyad dynasty landed in Gibraltar

11th century - Alcazaba

15th century - Partal

Churches of Saint Maria de la Alhambra

Abd al-Rahman III Timeline - History



Arabs and Berbers, the Muslim tribesmen who conquered al-Andalus

The conquered population and the process of conversion

The Umayyad emirs: centralization, law, and clientage


Muslims against Muslims: the Umayyad confrontation with Arabs, Berbers, and Muwallads

Umayyads against Umayyads: the reign of emir ‘Abd Allah (r. 888-912)

A new beginning: ‘Abd al-Rahman III becomes emir (912)

Securing the central lands and the defeat of the Hafsunids (912-28)


The adoption of the caliphal title and the minting of gold

Extending Umayyad power in the frontier regions: the fall of Toledo and Zaragoza

Betrayal: the battle of Simancas-Alhandega (939)

Relationships with the Christian polities

Conflict with the Fatimids and North African policies


Men of the sword and men of the pen

Hierarchies and egalitarianism among the Muslim population


Cordoba and Madinat al-Zahra'

Scholars and men of letters

Religious policies and the Maliki identity


APPENDIX: How do we know what we know about ‘Abd al-Rahman III?

Watch the video: The Life and the Legacy of Abd Al Rahman I - WOTW EP4 P2 (June 2022).


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