Spain History – The Kingdoms of Taifas

The politics of ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān III and the military exploits of al-Manṣūr had destroyed, it is true, the ancient turbulent Arab aristocracy; but they had replaced it with a no less turbulent sword nobility, made up of Berbers and Eslavos ; and this, having become very powerful, had recently been held in check only by the personal prestige of the victorious leader, who had replaced his own authority, of de facto caliph, to the authority of the caliph by right. On the other hand, this did not mean that the country had changed its traditional monarchical sentiments, which led it to condemn the evident aspirations to the throne of al-Manṣūr; nor the fuqah ā ‘they had been completely convinced by the gesture of the powerful minister, who, to remove any doubt about his own orthodoxy, had made you burn all the books of philosophy in the great library of el Ḥakam II. Furthermore, the same notable increase in economic life and the ever-increasing needs of the state engaged in costly wars and the luxury of the court forced to serious expenses, causing shifts in the distribution of wealth and a deeper differentiation of classes and making taxation greedy, had opened the way to great social conflicts. Finally, to deepen the movement and to give it solid unity, the religious revolution arrived, which had shocked the Muslim world, recovered from its passion and set about transforming Islam into a theological-moral organism, and which, spread beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, in the century. XI also dragged Spain into its coils. Then, in contrast to the upper classes who kept away from the movement, the Mohammedan people, again dominated by fanaticism, became intolerant towardsMozárabes and in his condemnation he accumulated them in al-Manṣūr, in internal and financial politics considered a violator of the maxims set out in the Koran. For Spain history, please check

In this state of affairs, the death of al-Manṣūr, who had ruled the state with an iron hand, caused the end of the political and social equilibrium which had been painstakingly preserved in previous years; and the crisis, already underway, could develop freely and subvert the whole regime. In fact, only a few years did the dynasty of ministers (‛ amirides) hold power, which al-Manṣūr wanted to create with his descendants, in order to open the way to the throne for them. Fought by the fuqah ā ‘ and by a rival relative of Hichām II, in 1009, killed by the soldiers, his son fell, who had been recognized as heir by the weak caliph. And then a period of appalling anarchy (el fitna) began for Muslim Spain, torn apart by the civil war between Berbers and Eslavos and shaken by social upheavals with a religious background. Hichām II mysteriously disappeared; none of the various caliphs who fought for the place, managed to strengthen himself on the throne, and in 1031 the caliphate was abolished in Córdoba: the historical mission of the city, as the capital of a powerful monarchy, was over. As had already happened in Persia at the time of the Arsacids, the state, having lost its unity, was divided into small states, which came to be more than twenty and which were governed by families that had become powerful in previous years: to indicate them, the Arab historians they adopted the same expression they had used for Persia, and called them “kingdoms of Taifas”.

In the eastern regions the eslavos prevailed(Almeria, Dénia and Balearic Islands, Tortosa, Valenza); in the south the Berbers (Málaga, Algeciras, Granata, Carmona, Ronda, Jerez); in the others the Arabs or Africans who came at the time of the conquest. The new rulers, anticipating the Italian lords of the fifteenth century, alternated the life of luxury and patronage for the arts and especially for letters with military enterprises, with acts of subtle cunning, profound sagacity, savage cruelty: sometimes, literati, philosophers, poets themselves, as well as their ministers and advisers. The most important states were those of Zaragoza, Valencia, Badajoz, Málaga, Almeria, Dénia, Granada, Seville. And between them the civil war which had provoked their rise continued to burn. The Ḥammudites of Málaga tried to restore the caliphate to their advantage, placing themselves at the head of the Berbers; but they found themselves against the ‛Habbādids of Seville, and then Málaga fell under the dominion of the sovereign of Granada. Instead, the ‛Habbādids, who in the early days to legalize their power had used the name of Hichām II by supporting the fiction of a certain Calatrava, who strangely resembled the late caliph and pretended to be such, managed to assume the leadership of the Arab party of the SE., took possession of Carmona, Mértola, Niebla, Huelva, Silves, Santa Maria de Algarbe, Morón, Ronda, Jerez, Algeciras, finally Cordova and Murcia, and assumed the title of “emir” of Spain. However, various events had their contention against the kingdoms of Badajoz, Granada and Málaga, of Almeria, which remained independent, like those of Toledo, Zaragoza, Albarracín, Alpuente.

Then, to throw the dismay in the minds came the advance of the Christian states which, for the past left alive by the emirs and caliphs even in the periods of greater power for the Muslims, in those years they had reorganized and strengthened and had progressed towards the South not without the unwitting help of the kings of Taifas, who had entered into close relations with them, had participated in their disputes, had used their weapons in their own civil wars, had supported them in their enterprises against this or that Muslim monarch, according to his own special interests. Faced with their great progress, which they could no longer restrain, the Muslim sovereigns tried to save themselves by bowing to the enemy: those of Seville, Toledo, Badajoz, of Zaragoza they declared themselves vassals or tributaries of Fernando I of León and Castile; and the ruler of Seville gave his daughter in wife to Alfonso VI and renewed with him the pacts already stipulated with Fernando I. But no less serious for this the threat of a complete reconquest of the peninsula to Christianity. And on the other hand, opposition was added to this policy offuqah ā ‘and of the Muslim people, increasingly dissatisfied with the poor orthodoxy of the principles, with the ties they contracted with Christians, with their fiscalism already in itself contrary to the Koran and now all the more hated as it was imposed by the need to pay tributes to Catholic sovereigns . Threatened from within and without, where they wanted to use only their own strength, Muslim rulers would have had to choose only between submitting to Christian monarchs and emigrating. And then the kings of Grenade, Almeria, Seville, Badaioz, gathered in the face of danger, preferred to ask for the help of the Almoravid Berbers of Africa, who supported the principles of the religious revolution that had broken out in the bosom of the Mohammedan world and, as we said, also spread in Spain, and they were at the head of an empire that, founded precisely in a revival of Muslim fanaticism by a branch of the Sanhagiāh, at the end of the century. XI stretched from Algeria to Senegal.

Spain History - The Kingdoms of Taifas