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European Kingdoms

Iberia

 

Umayyad / Omayyid Amirs of Iberia
AD 756 - 912

Roman interest in Iron Age Iberia began once it had defeated Carthage in the third century BC Punic Wars. Once control had been fully established in the first century BC, the peninsula remained a Roman possession until the start of the fifth century AD. Various disruptions and regional usurpations by Roman officers had already demonstrated that the peninsula was beginning to slip away, but it was the Visigoth creation of a kingdom in AD 418 which hammered home the final nail in the coffin.

After being conquered from the Visigoths, the main portion of Iberia was part of the Islamic empire between the period 711-756 to the thirteenth century, although there was still some resistance to the invaders in the form of the border counties of Navarre and Barcelona, and the Christian kingdom of Asturias.

After the Abbasid overthrow and massacre of the Umayyads in 749, Iberia was one place where Abbasid authority was never asserted. Instead, the Umayyad prince, AburRahman, escaping the massacre, established himself and his line. Eventually, in response to the Fatimid Shiite Caliphate, the Spanish Umayyads proclaimed their own caliphate.

Cadiz (Morrish Qadis) in southern Iberia, the former Phoenician city of Gadir, was expanded to become a major naval port.

(Additional information from Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1985 Edition (Revised 1993), from La Ciudadela de Barcelona: Cataluña vindicada, Lluís Cutchet, from Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados, y Cronología y Genealogía de los Reyes de España considerados como Soberianos Independientes de su Marca. Tomo I: abraza los siete primeros, desde el año 874 al 1035, Prosper de Bofarull, 1836 (reprinted 1990), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia.com, and Lleida Tourism, and Enciclopèdia Catalana, SAU, and Representació de SE Copríncep Francès (in French and Catalan).)

737 - 743

There is a seven year interregnum in the Frankish monarchy during which the Carolingian mayors govern the empire. So sure are they now of their power that they don't feel the need for a figurehead Merovingian king on the throne. By 737, Iberian Navarre is formed as a Frankish march county in the face of the Islamic invasion of the peninsula.

756

The Umayyad prince, AburRahman, escaping the massacre of his dynasty, establishes himself and his line in Iberia. Eventually, in response to the declaration of the Fatimid Shiite caliphate, the Spanish Umayyads proclaim their own Iberian emirate.

756 - 788

AburRahman I

Grandson of Hisham. Escaped to Iberia during the massacre.

778

The Frankish emperor, Charlemagne, campaigns against the Arabs in Iberia. Tradition asserts that he grants the Andorran people a charter in return for their help in fighting the Moors of the Islamic empire, possibly following this campaign. Confirmation seems to come around 785 when the county of Urgel is created as a division of the march (border area) of Toulouse following territorial seizures from the Umayyads by the Franks.

The Battle of Roncevaux Pass
The Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland) was an eleventh century poem by an anonymous author which covered the events of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778, shown here in an illustration from a fourteenth century manuscript

However, while the Frankish army is returning northwards in 778, Charlemagne's rearguard is cut off and attacked by rebellious Basques at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. The commander of the Frankish forces is Roland, military governor of the Breton March (referred to by Einhard as Brittannici limitis praefectus (prefect of the borders of Brittany)). He and his men stand their ground, falling in such valiant fashion that the example is later incorporated into the knightly code of chivalry (Roland is immortalised in The Song of Roland).

788 - 799

Hisham I

799 - 822

al-Hakam I

806 - 810

The first of a series of incursions onto Corsica from Moorish Iberia takes place. They are defeated by one of Charlemagne's lieutenants, only to return in 807. Burchard, Charlemagne's constable, defeats them this time, but again, in 810, they return. An alliance of local nobles and Franks deals them a decisive defeat this itme, virtually wiping out their forces.

822 - 852

AbdurRahman II

840 - 843

Before his death, Louis of the Franks, who is also duke of Alemannia, promulgates the Ordinatio Imperii in 817, proclaiming, despite the ancient Frankish custom of dividing territory between surviving sons, that his eldest son, Lothar, will be sole beneficiary of the imperial dignity and sole inheritor of the empire. By means of this he hopes to avoid the fragmentation of territory which so weakened the Merovingians.

The new idea proves too much, provoking rebellions and rivalries between all four of Louis' sons which last until after the king's death. (One of the sons, Pepin I of Aquitaine, has already predeceased his father.)

Lothar initially claims overlordship over all three regions and Louis and Charles have to go to war to convince him to relent. The counties of the Spanish March in northern Iberia all take sides during this period, with the powerful Bernard of Septimania, count of Barcelona (along with a large number of other marches and counties, including Agde, Béziers, Girona, Melgueil, Narbonne, Nîmes, Septimania, and Toulouse, capital of Aquitaine) siding with Pepin II of Aquitaine.

Opposing them in favour of Charles are Sunifred, count of Urgel and Cerdanya (and master of the Andorrans), his brother Sunyer I, count of Empúries, and their sons (who collectively are sometimes referred to as the Bellonid dynasty or the Bellonids).

Lothar does relent in 843, and the Treaty of Verdun confirms the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's surviving three grandsons, with rule over the empire as a whole being nominal. Lothar receives Middle Francia (the Rhine corridor, the kingdom of Burgundy, and Italy); Charles 'the Bald' receives Western Francia (France and the duchy of Burgundy), as well as holding onto Aquitaine; and Louis the German receives Eastern Francia (Germany, including Alemannia, Bavaria, Khorushka, and Saxony).

In 841, taking advantage of the chaos in the Frankish empire, the Umayyads invade Barcelona and penetrate Cerdanya as they attack Narbonne. Sunifred, count of Urgel and Cerdanya, stops the invasion dead in its tracks.

852 - 886

Muhammad I

855

The amirs lose control of Leon to the kingdom of Asturias & Galicia.

868

The first county of Portugal is established. Alfonso III of Asturias & Galicia had commissioned Vimarano Perez to fight the Umayyad Moors in the west of Iberia, and he had managed to push them south of the River Douro.

In thanks, Alfonso grants him the lands between that and the River Minho (which even today forms the western eighty kilometres of Portugal's northern border) to govern in the king's name (Vimarano, or Vimara, comes from the name Weimar or Guimar).

871

Coimbra, to the south of Portugal, is freed from the Moors and created a county, and this becomes closely aligned with the county of Oporto.

886 - 888

al-Mundhir

888 - 912

Abdullah

912

In response to the Fatimids establishing an independent caliphate in Tunisia, the Omayyads declare their own Caliphate in Iberia.

Umayyad / Omayyad Caliphs of Iberia (Cordoba)
AD 912 - 1031

Assumed the caliphate in opposition to the Fatimids.

Under the early rulers of this dynasty, Iberia's Jewish Diaspora population of Sephardi Jews prospered, with their culture and learning experiencing something of a golden age. They held high offices, produced notable poetry and literature, and excelled in transcribing Arabic texts into romance languages, thereby assisting lost knowledge from the ancient empires (especially Rome and the Sassanids) to re-enter Europe as it continued to recover from its dark age.

(Additional information from External Link: Jewish Encyclopaedia.)

912 - 961

Abdur Rahman III

957

Sancho I of Leon removes the ruling counts of Portugal from power and seeks support from the Omayyids to protect him from retaliation.

961 - 976

al-Hakam II

976

With the death of al-Hakam II the caliphate begins to deteriorate. Its territory becomes subject to fracturing and division into smaller principalities.

976 - 1008

Hisham II

981

The county of Coimbra is re-conquered by the Omayyids. Portugal again becomes the front line between Moor and Christian in western Iberia.

1008 - 1009

Muhammad II

1009

Sulayman

1010 - 1012

Hisham II

Restored?

1012 - 1017

Sulayman

Restored?

1017 - 1021

(Ali ibn Hamud)

1021 - 1022

AbdurRahman IV

1022

(al-Qasim)

1022 - 1023

AbdurRahman V

1023 - 1024

Muhammad III

1024 - 1027

(Yahya ibn Ali)

1027 - 1031

Hisham III

1066

The traditional tolerance and understanding between the ruling Muslims in Iberia and their Jewish Diaspora subjects suddenly declines through one incident. The Granada Massacre of 1066 erupts on 30 December 1066 when a Muslim mob storms the royal palace in Granada.

After having conspired with neighbouring Almeria to become a vassal ruler of Granada, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Joseph ibn Naghrela, is killed and crucified, and then much of the city's Sephardi Jew population is massacred.

1071 - 1072

Nuno II of Oporto loses the Battle of Pedroso to Garcia II of Galicia, and Garcia claims the title king of Galicia and Portugal (only the second to do so). The county loses its autonomy under his short-lived rule.

Almost immediately he is defeated by his own brother, Sancho II of Castile, and in 1072 Alfonso VI of Leon takes control of all three kingdoms, imprisoning Garcia for the rest of his life.

1086

With an expansion of the Almoravid empire which has not been foreseen by anyone, Yusuf ibn Tashufin crosses over into Islamic Iberia. Having received an appeal for help from the minor Islamic princes of the fractured kingdom there, he saves them from immediate defeat by the Christians of the north by defeating Alfonso VI of Leon at the Battle of Zallaqa. However, he is appalled by the lack of dedication shown by the Muslim princes to the tenets of their faith.

1090

Yusuf ibn Tashufin returns to Iberia and defeats the minor princes one by one, first at Cordoba, then at Seville, and finally at Zaragoza. Only Zaragoza is not conquered despite the defeat of its ruler.

Yusuf's Almoravids add southern and eastern Iberia to their empire, uniting a great area of western Africa and Southern Europe under one ruler for the first time since the days of the Roman empire. However, the subsequent situation for the country's Sephardic Jews tends to deteriorate under this puritan dynasty.

1093

The county of Portugal becomes autonomous again under Henry of Burgundy, the great-grandson of Robert II of France, removing it from the direct control of the kingdom of Leon.

1107

Ali ibn Yusuf succeeds as ruler of the Almoravid empire, and he appoints his brother, Tamin ibn Yusuf, as governor of Al-Andalus.

1107 - ?

Tamin ibn Yusuf

Brother of Almoravid sultan. Governor of Al-Andalus.

1129

The future Almoravid ruler, Tashufîn ibn Alî, is appointed by his father, the reigning sultan, as governor of Granada and Almeria.

1129 - 1143

Tashufîn ibn Alî

Son of Almoravid sultan. Governor of Granada & Almeria.

1139

Afonso I of the county of Burgundy is proclaimed king of Portugal on 26 July 1139 immediately following a resounding victory over the Islamic Moors at the Battle of Ourique. This is part of an aggressive push southwards which has lasted since 1112.

Wishing to gain recognition from his fellow monarchs, and from the Pope, he marries Maud (or Mafalda) of Savoy, daughter of Count Amadeo III. Then he sends ambassadors to Rome, builds many churches in Portugal, and declares himself the pope's servant, bypassing his direct overlord in Leon.

1147

After almost twenty years of laying siege to Marrakech, the Almohads finally break through the city's mighty walls. They begin their reign by tearing down all of the Almoravid mosques in the city, citing that they are not properly aligned with Mecca so they must be rebuilt. All that remains of Almoravid power is in the form of the Banu Ghaniya in the Balearic Islands which they continue to occupy.

1149 - 1229

The collateral line assumes the Fatamid throne in Tunisia and is no longer considered to be Shiite Imams. The Almohads occupy Tunis, stretching the empire farther east than the Almoravids had done before them. They also encroach into modern Libya, keeping mainly nearer the coast.

1157

Casting aside Pellegrina de Lacon, his wife of the Sardinian nobility, Barisone II of Sardinia's Logudoro marries Agalbursa de Cervera, niece of Count Raymond Berengar IV of Barcelona.

The marriage is the seal on an alliance with Barcelona, which also represents the first Iberian influence on the island. Barisone fights the Balearic Almoravids on behalf of Barcelona and Raymond Berengar supports his attempts to unite Sardinia under his rule.

1170 - 1171

Almohad Caliph Yusuf I abu Yaqub invades Iberia, conquering the region of al-Andalus (Andalusia) and attacking both Catalonia and Valencia. In the following year he establishes a capital at Seville, his second after Marrakech.

1184

Marching across the Straits of Gibraltar with an army to besiege Santarem, Yusuf I of the Almohads is wounded by a crossbow bolt fired by the forces of Afonso I of Portugal. He dies soon afterwards, on 29 July 1184.

The Christian victory is a major success, and a major blow for the presence of the Almohads in Iberia. Yusuf's son and successor is temporarily delayed in his plans for revenge by fighting against the dethroned Almoravids in Africa.

1191 - 1195

Fresh from failure in front of the walls of Tomar, stronghold of the Portuguese Templars, Yaqub of the Almohads recaptures Paderne Castle and nearby territory around Albufeira, Portuguese holdings since 1182. This victory and other seizures allow him to return to North Africa in triumph but as soon as he leaves Iberia, the Christians resume the offensive. They take several Islamic cities, including Beja, Silves, and Vera, necessitating another campaign. This time Yaqub returns to inflict a further defeat on them, taking hostages to sell as slaves. Once he leaves Iberia again, the largest Christian army of the period is assembled. Determined to put a halt to this, Yaqub defeats the army which is commanded by Alfonso VIII of Castile, slaughtering thousands of his men.

1212

Caliph Muhammad suffers a devastating defeat by the Christian Iberians of Aragon, Castile, Navarre, and Portugal at Los Navos de Tolosa. Humiliated, they are forced to give way, and their army never fully recovers from the disaster. In the east, the empire fades as local tribes begin to rebel against Almohad rule. Libya soon falls out of Almohad control. The rebel areas stop paying taxes, so internal expenditure is slowly crippled, and control over more territory is gradually lost, along with domination of the western Mediterranean Sea.

Battle of Los Navos de Tolosa
Ongoing battles between the Almohads and the Iberian Christians would end up in North African defeat at the Battle of Los Navos de Tolosa in 1212

? - 1224

Abdallah Abu Muhammad

Governor of al-Andalus. Became Almohad caliph (1224-1227).

1224

The selection of Abdul-Wahid as caliph of the empire is disputed by various members of the Almohads. Abdallah Abu Muhammad arrives to clear out the group at court that had forged ahead with the selection, and murders the caliph. His usurpation, whatever the legal implications, triggers a lasting period of instability within the empire which eventually contributes to its downfall.

1228 - 1229

Under Caliph Idris, the Almohads effect the abandonment of Iberia in order to secure their hold on the rest of the empire. Only the Nasrid kings of Granada remain there in the far south.

Nasrid Kings of Granada
AD 1238 - 1492

Granada was the small Moorish kingdom which survived the fall of Islamic control during the 'Reconquista' of Spain, surviving the expulsion of the Almohads. A client of the increasingly powerful kingdom of Castile, it only survived because it was the gateway to imports of gold from Niger in Africa.

These particular Nasrids should not be confused with the emirs of the same name who governed the territory around Seistan in the eleventh century AD.

(Additional information from External Link: Lost medieval synagogue (The Guardian).)

1238 - 1273

Mohammad I

1262

The ancient city of Cadiz (formerly Gadir) is conquered by Alfonso X of Castile.

1273 - 1303

Mohammad II

1286

The accession of Abu Yaqub Yusuf an-Nasr to the Merinid throne in North Africa is disputed by several of his relatives. Some of them are even backed by the Abdal Wadids in an effort to destabilise Merinid possessions. Desperate for support, Abu Yaqub agrees a treaty with Mohammad II of Granada which cedes almost all Merinid holdings in Iberia to him. Only Algeciras, Guadix, Ronda, and Tarifa are retained (although Guadix would be gained by Granada in 1288, Algeciras and Ronda handed over to Granada in 1295, and Tarifa captured by Sancho IV of Castile in 1292).

c.1300

Built in the 1300s in Nasrid-controlled Andalusia, a synagogue belonging to the region's community of Sephardi Jews is rediscovered by archaeologists in 2021. The location is the city of Utrera, with the building's survival after 1492 being an extremely rare case.

In his 1604 history of Utrera, a local priest, historian, and poet by the name of Rodrigo Caro describes an area of the city centre as it has been in earlier centuries, writing: 'In that place, there were only foreign and Jewish people... who had their synagogue where the Hospital de la Misericordia now stands'.

Jewish synagogue in Utrera, Andalusia, Spain
The importance of the 'extraordinary' archaeological find of a Jewish synagogue in Andalusia's Utrera was difficult to overstate, making it one of now only five such buildings across the whole of Spain to have survived

1303 - 1309

Mohammad III

1309 - 1312

Nazar

1312 - 1325

Ismail I

1325 - 1333

Mohammad IV

1330

The future Yusuf I is defeated at the Battle of Teba. Somewhat desperate to maintain the Granadan position he contacts Sultan Abu al-Hasan ibn Uthman of the kingdom of Fez. Hasan sends a fleet and an army which arrives in 1333 and within two months the Castilian outpost on Gibraltar has fallen. The combined Granadan and Merinid forces go on to win further victories while in Morocco Hasan builds up a massive invasion army which is intended to undo a century of Christian advances in Iberia.

1333 - 1354

Yusef I

1340

Sultan Abu al-Hasan ibn Uthman launches his grand invasion of Iberia from his capital at Fez. The Castilian fleet is instantly destroyed off the coast of Gibraltar. Tarifa is besieged but Hasan, believing that the Castilians are no longer a threat at sea, lays up much of his own fleet. Alfonso, though, has sought the help of his uncle, Alfonso IV of Portugal, and the king of Aragon. The fleet this produces cuts the Merinid chain of communications across the straits of Gibraltar. The Christian army then relieves Tarifa at the Battle of Río Salado (or the Battle of Tarifa) on 30 October 1340. The Merinids are thoroughly defeated and a North African ruler never again threatens Iberia. Granada now fights alone.

1354 - 1359

Mohammad V

1359 - 1361

Ismail II

1361

Abu-Said

1361 - 1391

Mohammad V

Restored?

1391 - 1396

Yusef II

1396 - 1408

Mohammad VI

1408 - 1425

Yusef III

1425 - 1427

Mohammad VII

1427

Mohammad VIII

1427 - 1431

Mohammad VII

Restored?

1431

Ibn Alhamar

1432 - 1445

Mohammad VII

Restored?

1445 - 1454

Ibn Ostman

1454 - 1456

Ibn Ismail

1456 - 1482

Mulay Hasen

1482 - 1492

Abu Abdullah / Boabdil

1492

The Nasrids are conquered by Castile & Aragon, marking the end of Islamic Spain. One of the leading Spanish soldiers is Juan Ponce de Leon, who becomes the first European to visit Florida, helps conquer Hispaniola, and becomes the first governor of Puerto Rico.

 
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