The Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba (Part 05) | 976CE – 1031CE
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The Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba (Part 05) | 976CE – 1031CE


If you are interested in stories with happy
endings, you would be better off watching some other video. My heart truly aches to continue this story
knowing what I know. You, however, still have a chance. You can still pretend that everything is great
with the Umayyad Caliphate and the golden age, under Abd al-Rahman and al-Hakam never
ended. If, however, you are stubborn enough to continue
this story, let me tell you that there were caliphs after Al-Hakam II but they were extremely
unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery,
and despair. I’m sorry to tell you this, but that is how
the story goes. The night Al-Hakam died, two of his top officials,
Faiq an-Nizami and Jaw’dhar were there with him. They realized that Hisham was not fit to the
caliph. So, they decided to remove him from succession
and replace him with al-Mughira ibn Abd al-Rahman, Al-Hakam’s brother. They kept the caliph’s death a secret and
reached out to his Hajib, Al-Mushafi. While Faiq wanted to murder Al-Mushafi, Jaw’dhar
suggested talking to him. Al-Mushafi told them that he believes that
al-Mughira would be the better choice here. However, al-Mushafi was lying. Al-Mushafi called on the supporters of Hisham,
including one man named Muhammad ibn Abi Amir. They reached out to al-Mughira. Muhammad ibn Abi Amir took a hundred slave
soldiers and met him. Al-Mughira did not appear to have any political
aspirations, however, just to eliminate the threat, al-Mughira was strangled in front
of his family by the order of al-Mushafi. Young Caliph Hisham II ascended to the throne
of the caliphate. However, he had none of the training and skill
that his own father had at his age. Al-Hakam II was old by the time Hisham was
born. In addition to that, he had a stroke. So, he was unable to train his son in the
ways his own father Abd al-Rahman III had trained him. So, as anyone who plays Crusader Kings II
knows, an underage ruler only leads to trouble. Immediately, the Christians to the north started
raiding Umayyad cities. Muhammad, despite the fact that he had no
military experience, volunteered to lead an army against them. Since al-Hakam had done most of his work for
him by fortifying the norther frontier, Muhammad was able to push the Christians out. During this campaign, Muhammad met Ghalib,
al-Hakam’s most trusted general, a Muladi. He formed an alliance with Ghalib. Promised him autonomy in the upper march. Muhammad returned to the city, where he sought
to throw out the old Hajib, al-Mushafi. The army was effectively under Ghalib’s
command so Muhammad had an advantage. However, al-Mushafi sent a marriage proposal
between his son and Ghalib’s daughter to outmaneuver Muhammad. Ghalib, realizing that he was better off with
Muhammad, married his daughter to Muhammad instead. Eventually, al-Mushafi was arrested in 978CE
and thrown in prison where he died a few years later. As the young caliph was unable to rule himself,
Muhammad ibn Abi Amir rose as the mentor of the young caliph. His family claimed Arab descent and even claimed
to have been amongst the first army to invade Al-Andalus in 711CE. This way, he actually had an older claim to
the caliphate than the Umayyads did. However, since Muhammad wasn’t born in the
right family, he couldn’t become the caliph. But Muhammad wasn’t about to let the accident
of birth stop him. Muhammad formed relations with Umayyad elites. Most notably, Subh, the mother of young Hisham. He became the manager of her considerable
wealth and according to some, the manager of her other affairs as well… if you know
what I mean. Muhammad learned from the Buyids in Iraq. Basically, Buyids had become the puppet masters
of the Caliph in Baghdad. They kept the caliph in luxurious state but
had him as nothing more than a powerless figurehead. Muhammad decided to do the same. Muhammad assumed the honorable position of
the Hajib, The Grand Vizier. He also took a new title. He named himself Count Olaf. Wait, no. That’s someone else who eyed the inheritance
of orphans. No, he chose the name, “Al-Mansur”. Probably another thing he took from the Abbasids. Al-Mansur, effectively, the caliph, decided
to eliminate the last powerful man in the Caliphate. He took an army up north to face Ghalib. Both armies had religious lines blurred. Christians allies and mercenaries were fighting
on both sides. Eventually, Ghalib was killed in battle and
his army broke. Al-Mansur came out unrivalled in all of Iberia. A particular trait of Al-Mansur was that he
used people to kill other people and then killed those people as well. Al-Mansur respected the caliph’s religious
authority and didn’t interfere with him. By this point, Abd al-Rahman III’s city,
Madinat az-Zahra was in disuse. Al-Mansur put the caliph in the Palace in
Cordoba and moved his administration out of the city into a new palace. He isolated the caliph but kept close tabs
on the comings and goings of everyone in the palace He started to dismember the old Umayyad elites
and replacing them entirely with Saqaliba and Berbers loyal to him and gold, of course. This, as you might expect, led to an increase
in taxes and financial distress on the caliphate. The old Syrian Mawali were reduced to tax
paying citizens. Al-Mansur painted himself to be a religious
man. Everywhere, on each campaign, he carried a
Qur’an with him that he had copied himself. He also carried a white cloth that his body
would be buried in if he died on the campaign. He collected soil from all his campaigns to
be mixed with perfumes when his body was washed during his last rites. He made the final extensions to the mosque
of Cordoba for the Berbers. These still stand today. He cracked down hard on other schools of thought,
publicly executing a scholar for having Mu’tazila beliefs This religious reputation solidified his power further. Like all good politicians, he knew how to
use religion to distract people from domestic issues like those increased taxes. Even though, he wasn’t a seasoned general,
he still won many campaigns. He sacked Barcelona in 985CE and Santiago
de Compostella in 997CE. However, in the long term, this had little
effect. The Christians proved resilient. He had the prisoners from Santiago carry the
church bells to Cordoba for propaganda purposes. Muhmmad ibn Abi Amir Al-Mansur died in 1002CE. His reign might’ve been the zenith of the
Caliphate of Cordoba; however, it was the beginning of the end for the Umayyad Dynasty
in Al-Andalus. Al-Mansur managed to maintain the stability
of Al-Hakam II’s reign. He did so ruthlessly but effectively, for
example, he killed his own son for conspiring to take power from him. He killed anyone who helped him gain power
to eliminate potential rivals. His reputation is divisive. While some historians appreciate his victories
against the Christians, other also note that those victories came from campaigns that were
only started to distract the people. Nevertheless, he was an incredible politician
who managed to bring together unlikely allies for the need of the moment. Later, he would usually kill those allies
but let’s ignore. Al-Mansur was succeeded by his son al-Muzaffar. He managed to hold on to quite a bit of power
because he was a good general and had led some successful campaigns. However, he wasn’t interested in administration
and was usually found in a garden drunk. He was very unpopular because of the high
taxes and his uselessness. During his time, the Saqaliba were starting
to rise again. Al-Mansur had effectively purged all the heads
of Saqaliba. There were no leaders during his reign but
now, a new generation was rising up. The Saqaliba rose to powerful positions throughout
the administration and eventually formed a powerful bloc to resist the Berbers. The Saqaliba even tried to overthrow the entire
administration. They wanted to install another one of Abd
al-Rahman III’s grandson to the throne. However, the plot was discovered and the plotters
and the claimant to the throne were executed. Al-Muzaffar realized that his power was in
danger and tried to get his crap together. Unfortunately, he died before he could do
that. In the year 1008CE, after Al-Muzaffar’s
death, his half-brother Abd al-Rahman ibn Al-Mansur became the hajib. He was also known as Sanchuelo (little Sancho)
because his maternal grandfather was Sancho II of Pampalona. He made some serious mistakes. Like, absolutely terribly decisions. First of all, Little Sancho decided to force
Hisham to appoint him as the heir to the Caliphate. He didn’t come from Quraysh, which was Prophet
Muhammad’s tribe, so Muslims weren’t a fan of the idea of his caliphate. His father, Al-Mansur had made sure that the
caliph was at least a figurehead but Little Sancho just wanted to do away with it. He had it declared in a Friday prayer that
Hisham couldn’t find any suitable heirs in Quraysh. No one liked that. Secondly, Little Sancho openly displayed his
reliance on the Berbers. He made Turbans, a typically Berber headgear
in Al-Andalus, the formal headgear of the court. This alienated the remaining factions like
the Saqaliba and the Muwallad. Little Sancho sensed his unpopularity and
decided to do what every good politician does when in trouble, he started a war. He invaded Christians lands in the north to
prove his manliness and justify his claims to the title. However, what he didn’t take into account
was that this was in the middle of the goddamn winter and he was headed to the mountains. HOW STUPID CAN ONE GUY BE?! As soon as news reached Cordoba that he had
entered Christian land, his enemies struck. Muhammad ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Jabbar ibn
Abd al-Rahman III, the great-grandson of Abd al-Rahman III, whose father had previously
been executed for aspiring to the throne, led some men into the palace and forced Hisham
to abdicate in his favor. He declared himself Caliph. He took on the regnal title of Al-Mahdi, in
an attempt to appear a messiah who would return the Umayyad rule to its glory. This was in February 1009CE. Al-Mahdi quickly installed his cousins to
positions of power in an attempt to consolidate his rule. On the other side, Little Sancho’s army
melted in the winter and was obliterated. He was arrested and executed when he tried
to enter Cordoba with just one companion. The Saqaliba quickly aligned themselves with
Al-Mahdi. Their leader Wadih decided that this was preferable
to the rule of the puppet masters. Hence, the provided the force Al-Mahdi needed. Al-Mahdi felt threatened by the Berbers. The Cordovans weren’t fans of the Berbers
in their city that al-Mansur had brought and they forced Al-Mahdi to humiliate them. They were forbidden from carrying arms and
were eventually expelled. They moved north to Calatrava. There, they raised a man named Sulayman, a
member of the Umayyad dynasty, to be their candidate for the throne. The allied with the King of Castile, Sancho
Garcia, and attacked the capital. Al-Mahdi fell to Toledo with the Saqaliba. In November of 1009CE, Sulayman entered Cordoba
and was crowned Caliph. He chose the regnal title of al-Musta’in. He threw a feast in honor of Sancho Garcia
and NO ONE LIKED THAT. Al-Mahdi and the Saqaliba, now aligned with
the Christian count of Barcelona, marched on Cordoba. Sulayman realized that he wasn’t popular
in the city so he retreated North to face al-Mahdi with his Berber army. The Berbers were defeated and Al-Mahdi was
once again, crowned Caliph. However, al-Mahdi wasn’t all that popular
and the Saqaliba realized that they didn’t need a real caliph, they just needed a caliph
so, they executed him in June, 1010CE. Hisham II ibn Al-Hakam II was installed as
Caliph once again. The defeated Berbers bounced back and laid
siege to Cordoba which went on for three years. Wadih, the head of the Saqaliba was executed. Cordovans, tired of the siege, surrendered. The city was sacked. The Jewel of Spain was robbed and burned by
the Berbers. Hisham fled the city, abandoning it to its
fate. Let’s see what our good friend Hugh Kennedy
has to say… The caliphate of Cordoba was claimed by one
man or the other for the next few years but no one was able to sustain it. The title passed on to various people like
Abd al-Rahman IV, Muhammad III, Hisham III and Abd al-Rahman V. It was even claimed by
a Berber dynasty called Hammudid for a while. This period was one of confusion and instability. Often called the Fitna of Al-Andalus. Finally, in 1031CE, the Caliphate of Cordoba
was officially abolished, after two hundred and seventy-five years, because the Cordovans
were so tired of the past few decades of mess that they decided to do away with the caliphate
altogether. The last caliph, Hisham III was exiled to
Catalonia where he died some years later. The territory was divided up into various
Ta’ifa, Arabic for “group” or “faction”. To think, it all basically started with Al-Hakam
having his first child at the age of 46. The home that embraced Abd al-Rahman I, that
was tamed by the Umayyads and shaped into a proper realm, was now broken up into various
kingdoms and it seemed to the Muslims of Al-Andalus that they were moving in an aberrant direction
– the word “aberrant” here means “very, very wrong, and causing much grief”.

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