Sunday 22 October 2017

Caliphate of Cordoba

The Caliphate of Córdoba was a state in Islamic Iberia along with a part of North Africa ruled by the Umayyad dynasty. The state, with the capital in Córdoba, existed from 929 to 1031. The region was formerly dominated by the Umayyad Emirate of Córdoba (756–929).

Mezquita of Cordoba, Spain

Abd-ar-Rahman I became Emir of Córdoba in 756 after six years in exile after the Umayyads lost the position of Caliph in Damascus to the Abbasids in 750. Intent on regaining power, he defeated the area's existing Islamic rulers and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate. Raids then increased the emirate's size; the first to go as far as Corsica occurred in 806.

Abd-ar-Rahman I

Abd al-Rahman I was succeeded by Hisham I as second ruler of Cordoba who ruled from 788 to 796 CE. al - Rahman was succeeded by Al-Hakam I who ruled from 796 until 822 CE. Al-Hakam spent much of his reign suppressing rebellions in Toledo, Saragossa and Mérida. The uprisings twice reached Cordoba. In 818 he crushed a rebellion led by clerics in the suburb of al-Ribad on the south bank of the Guadalquivir river.

Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Abd ar-Rahman II  was the fourth Umayyad Emir of Córdoba from 822 until his death in 852 CE. He engaged in nearly continuous warfare against Alfonso II of Asturias, whose southward advance he halted (822–842). In 837, he suppressed a revolt of Christians and Jews in Toledo. He issued a decree by which the Christians were forbidden to seek martyrdom, and he had a Christian synod held to forbid martyrdom.

Statue of Alfonso II of Asturias

Abd ar-Rahman II was succeeded by Muhammad I of Córdoba who ruled as Umayyad emir of Córdoba from 852 to 886 CE. He was succeeded by his son al-Mundhir ibn Muhammad I in 886 CE. He died in 888 at Bobastro, possibly murdered by his brother Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Umawi, who succeeded him.

Ruins of Bobastro

In 911, Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Umawi, seventh emir of Cordoba signed a peace agreement with Ibn Hafsun. However, the war broke out again the following year, only to be halted by the death of Abdullah at Córdoba. The son he had designated as successor was killed by one of Abdullah's brothers. The latter was in turn executed by Abdullah's father, who named as successor Abd ar-Rahman III, son of the killed son of Abdullah.

Abd-ar-Rahman III and his court in Medina Azahara, by Dionisio Baixeras Verdaguer

The caliphate enjoyed increased prosperity during the 10th century. Abd-ar-Rahman III united al-Andalus and brought the Christian kingdoms of the north under control by force and through diplomacy. Abd-ar-Rahman stopped the Fatimid advance into caliphate land in Morocco and al-Andalus. This period of prosperity was marked by increasing diplomatic relations with Berber tribes in North Africa, Christian kings from the north, and with France, Germany and Constantinople.

Interior of Mosque of Cordoba

Abd ar-Rahman III considered himself powerful enough to declare himself Caliph of Córdoba (16 January 929), effectively breaking his allegiance to, and ties with, the Fatimid and Abbasid caliphs. His death led to the rise of his 46-year-old son, Al-Hakam II as the second Caliph of Cordoba in 961. He secured peace with the Catholic kingdoms of northern Iberia, and made use of the stability to develop agriculture through the construction of irrigation works.

Al - Hakam II

Al-Hakam II suffered a stroke near the end of his life in October 976 that curtailed his activities and may explain why he was unable to properly prepare his son for leadership. He was succeeded by his son, Hisham II al-Mu'ayad, who was 11 years old at the time and was a nominal ruler under Almanzor. The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the caliphate.

Medina Azahara, completed by Al-Hakam II.

The decision to name Hisham II as the 3rd caliph shifted power from an individual to his advisers. The title of caliph became symbolic, without power or influence. Hisham II was a minor at the time of his accession and therefore was unfit to rule. The Caliphate would be rocked by violence, with rivals claiming to be the new caliph. The last Córdoban Caliph was Hisham III (1027–1031). Beset by factionalism, the caliphate crumbled in 1031 into a number of independent taifas.


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