The Ballad of East and West : Part 2 Islamic Invasion of Europe ; Al Andalus

This article is the part of series about the conflicts between Europe and Asia since antiquity

  • Part 1 Greco-Roman world against Persia
  • Part 2 Arab Invasion of Europe ;  Al Andalus
  • Part 3 Christendom Strikes Back ; Reconquista
  • Part 4 The Holy wars ; Crusades
  • Part 5 The Mongol Horde
  • Part 6 Ottoman Intrusion
  • Part 7 Colonialism

(all the portraits used in the article are under public domain)

Arab conquest of Spain 711-714

After capturing huge territorial gains in north Africa Arabs made Qayrowan , near Tunis ,their capital of eastern realm . The Berber tribes native to these lands resented the Muslim rule and drove out Hassan Bin Noman  , the appointed governor general of Maghreb by the Omayyad Empire.

At this moment Caliph Al-Walid1 appointed an ethnic Arab Musa Bin Nusayr the commander of the eastern possessions of Omayyad Empire.Musa was an able commander  who pacified the Berber rebellion and take the control over all the northern Africa till Morocco.

Omayyad empire

Omayyad Empire

The main cause of Spanish conquest were the growing ambitions of the Arab Empire was to stretch their rule to another continent .The casus belli of this war was apparently the mistreatment of Count Juliann’s daughter.Arabs were also aware about the despotic regime of the Roderic  and the succession feud after the Witiza’s death which has created problems for the last king sons.

Florinda lost her flower ,

The king was soon repentant

But Spain lay in thrall

Because of Roderick lust

Initially caliph was reluctant to invade a new continent so Musa , now the governor general of the Maghreb of Northern Africa sent Tarif to probe the situation of the unknown country in 710. The expedition was a success Tarif returned with a large booty.

The promise of riches inspired both the Arabs and Berber tribes to invade Spain.An ethnic Berber general Tariq was commissioned to invade the Visigoth Spain.Tariq’s troop landed on southern coast of Spain , the landing site later came to be known Gibraltar Jabl Al Tariq (The Rock of Tariq) or Gibraltar.Musa reinforced Tariq’s armada with another 5000 soldiers almost all Berbers.The Spanish king gathered a huge army variously estimated from 25000 to 100,000 strong.This was the most pivotal battle in the saga of conquest of Christian Spain by the Muslim horde.

Battle of Barbarate/Battel of Guadalete July 19-26,711

800px-The_battle_of_Guadelete

The famous speech of Tariq as reported by the Arab historians

“My men, wither can you flee? Behind you lie s the sea and the  we have burnt, while before you stand the ,strong in numbers .yet you possess something that your enemies do not ; courage and consistency. And you are present in this country poorer than orphans before a greedy guardian’s table.it will be easy tot turn this on him if you will but risk death for one instance!”the battle lasted about a weak.Spanish army was strong in numbers but weak in moral. At a critical juncture in battle Witiza’s sons deserted the king Rodrigo and joined Count Julian, now on Muslim side. This turned the tide , Muslim army vanquished Spanish army  sure of the defeat Roderick fled the battle but was never seen after probably drowned crossing the nearby river Barbate.”

Tarik_ibn_Ziyad_-

The tussle between the military commander Tariq and the governor general Musa paved the seeds of dissension amongst the Arab elite and fighting Berber faction which lasted throughout the Muslim reign in ins Spain and was probably the biggest reason behind the decline of Muslim Spain.

Tariq resumes advance , contrary to the wishes of his master who was  now envious of the successes of Tariq.Tariq divided his army into three wings and dispatched them against Malaga  on the Mediterranean coast, Cordoba on the west and other against Elvira in the south.

Conquest of Toledo; October 711

Musa joins the campaign

Musa gathered 18000 men, almost all the Arabs and landed at Tarifa near Algeciras in June,712.Musa was able to captured the cities of Medina Sidonia,Carmona and Seville in 712.Toledo, Saracus and Merida defied Arabs by putting stiff resistance against invaders but were eventually vanquished.

Conquest of south Spain.

Seville revolted but was recaptured by Musa’s son Abd al Aziz.in 713.Theodomir was a gothic count who was able to retain his army and lands after the battle of Barabarate but later on he sued for peace with Muslim forces ins pain.

Musa meets Tariq , 713

First time during the invasion both Musa and Tariq meet .Tariq defied his military commander’s orders to wait for him , Musa wanted to give him harsh punishment but spared him fearing a mutiny in the forces.

Conquest of North ; Pyreens to Galacia.

The nobles and the military  garrison were now starting to gather in the mountainous region  , to put an end to resistance Musa and Tariq both combined their forces .Tariq first subdued Guadalajara, later on the province of Saragossa signed the treaty with Moors. Tariq managed to conquer Barcelona. Musa was able to capture Gerona and Narbonne.

Musa wanted to invade France but the caliph called him to Damascus. it rounds up the first round of Arab invasion of eastern Europe of Iberian peninsula.

English: The Iberian Peninsula in 750. Español...

English: The Iberian Peninsula in 750. Español: La península ibérica en el año 750. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Omayyad Governorate of Muslim Spain

  • Abd al aziz, 714-716
  • As Samh
  • Abdur Rehman Al Ghafiqi 731-732

Arab Invasion and Defeat in France

Between the Frankish kingdom and Muslim lied three territories.

  • Septimania
  • Duchy of Aquitaine
  • Provence in southern Gaul

As-Samh subdues Septimania

Battle of Toulouse, May 721

The battle was disastrous defeat for the governorate of Spain as the appointed govern As-Samh was himself slain in this battle. After this a long civil war broke out between different Arab tribe and their compatriot Berbers.

After some time when order was restored in Muslim Spain another governor general Abdur Rahman invaded Aquitaine. Though initially successful in the pitched battles of Lyons, Besancon and Sens. now the  “Rois fainéant” ,i.e. do-nothing kings  of Merovingian dynasty stood against the Muslim Saracens  , as the French called them. But the real power lied in the hands of Charles who late assumed the title of Martel

729px-Steuben_-_Bataille_de_Poitiers

Battle of Tours October 731

The battle ended in the decisive victory for the franks and they defeated the Muslim army and killed their commander. The results were enormous for the future history of Europe. After this never were Muslims able to command such an offensive against the Western Europe unless until the times of Ottoman Empire. Christendom was saved by the Saracens by the true son of Europe Charles Martel.

Vasconia_wide_740_3_-_80

The next few governors were able to maintain their presence in southern France. The Berber revolt in North Africa and growing dissension against the Omayyad elite in Middle East left the governors unable to pursue further advance in Europe, from the Muslim perspective this was just another defeat on the ongoing battle saga to build an empire. Omayyad rule stretched from Spain to Indian Sind the huge distances made it difficult for the Arabs to rule.

Princely state of Spain under Omayyad rule

Abd Ar-Rhaman 1 757-788

After the fall of Omayyad dynasty in the heartland of Muslim world a young prince survived the massacre and made to western outposts of the Islamic empire .He rallied Arabs around him put an end to civil war in Muslim Spain and rule the Iberian  peninsula as a princely state independent of Muslim center first  time in the history.

A poem is attributed to him

I, and I alone, driven by consuming anger, bared a two edged sword,

Crossed the dessert and furrowed the sea , mastering waves and waste-land

I won a kingdom, gave it strength and built a mosque for prayer:

I rallied a disbanded army and peopled deserted cities.

Timeline of Omayyad rulers in Spain

Hisahm Bin Abd Ar –Rahman  788-796

Akam 1   796-822

Abd ar-Rahman 2   822-852

Muhammad 1 852-866

Munzir 886-888

Abdullah

The grand rebel Umar ibn Hufsan

Abd a Rahman 3  912-961

Abr ar –Rahamn 3 was the first ruler of Spain who formally seceded frpm the central lands of Muslim and established a formal kingdom of Muslim Spain.

Al Hakam 2 961-976

Hisham 2 and the Prime Minister Hajib al-Mansur 967 -1009

Al Mansur was an ambitious minister he not only subdued the rival Christian kingdoms with both his military prowess and cruelty, but he was also the virtual rule of emirate or kingdom of Muslim Spain. The unpopularity  of Al Mansur took the dynasty into a new low which caused the eventual fall of Omayyad Spain.

694px-The_Emirate_of_Córdoba.svg

civil war and the collapse of the Omyyad dynasty

1002-1009

This was the end of the glorious period of the Muslim empire in Spain .Now the tide was turn in favor of Christian kingdom of Spain. The reconquista started in the new millennium which ended in 1492 after the capitulation of the last Muslim stronghold of Nasird duchy.

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2 thoughts on “The Ballad of East and West : Part 2 Islamic Invasion of Europe ; Al Andalus

    • Actually what i am trying to do here is to analyze the phenomenon of “je suis charlie” in the historical context between Europe and Asia.Both sides have attacked each other since antiquity and have failed to have a long lasting impact.Muslim invasion of western Europe and particularly the Iberian peninsula in eight century was unable to maintain foothold in Europe ,The Ottoman intrusion was nothing but an onslaught with a fleeting effect on Eastern realm of Europe.On the other hand Crusades were unable to take Holy lands more then a few decades.But the colonialist empires have a long lasting impact on human culture in both Asia and Europe .Most important legacy of colonialism is perhaps the language and inoculation of western values.

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