Abd-ar-Rahman III

Abd-ar-Rahman III

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Abd-ar-Rahman III was the Emir and Caliph of Córdoba (912–961) of the Ummayad dynasty in al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

. Called al-Nasir li-Din Allah ("the Defender of God's Faith"), he ascended the throne in his early 20s, and reigned for half a century as the most powerful prince of Iberia. Although people of all creeds enjoyed tolerance and freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 under his rule, he repelled the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

s, partly by supporting their enemies in Ifriqiya
Ifriqiya
In medieval history, Ifriqiya or Ifriqiyah was the area comprising the coastal regions of what are today western Libya, Tunisia, and eastern Algeria. This area included what had been the Roman province of Africa, whose name it inherited....

, and partly by claiming the title Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 (ruler of the Islamic world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

) for himself.

Early years


Abd ar-Rahman was born in Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

, the grandson of Abdullah, seventh independent Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 emir of Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

. His parents were Abdallah's son Muhammad and Muzna (or Muzayna), a Christian concubine. His paternal grandmother was also a Christian, the royal infanta Onneca Fortúnez
Onneca Fortúnez
Onneca Fortúnez or Iñiga Fortúnez was a Basque princess from the Kingdom of Pamplona, later known as the Kingdom of Navarre. She was the daughter of Fortún Garcés of Pamplona and his wife Oria. At the time of Onneca's birth, which occurred between 848 and 850, the Iberian Peninsula was largely...

, daughter of the captive king Fortún Garcés of Pamplona. Abd ar-Rahman was thus nephew in the half-blood of queen Toda of Navarre
Toda of Navarre
Toda Aznárez, also Teuda de Larraun or Tota , was the queen-consort of Pamplona through her marriage to Sancho I, who reigned 905–925, and was regent of Pamplona, 931–934...

. He is described as having:
Muhammad was assassinated by his brother Al-Mutarrif, who had allegedly grown jealous of the favour Muhammad had gained in the eyes of their father Abdallah. Al-Mutarrif had accused Muhammad of plotting with the rebel Umar ibn Hafsun
Umar ibn Hafsun
`Umar ibn Hafsun ibn Ja'far ibn Salim , known in Spanish history as Omar ben Hafsun, was a 9th century Christian leader of anti-Ummayad dynasty forces in southern Iberia.-Ancestry:...

, and Muhammad had been imprisoned. According to some sources, the emir himself was behind Muhammad's fall, as well as Al-Mutarrif's death in 895. Abd ar-Rahman spent his youth in his mother's harem. Al-Mutarrif's sister, known as al-Sayyida ("the Lady"), was entrusted with his education. She made sure that Abd ar-Rahman's education was conducted with some rigorousness.

Accession to throne


Emir Abdallah died at the age of 72. Despite the fact that four of his sons (Aban, Abd al Rahman, Muhammad and Ahmad) were alive at the time of his death, all of them were passed over for succession. Abdallah instead chose as his successor his grandson, Abd al-Rahman III (the son of his first son). This came as no surprise, since Abdallah had already demonstrated his affection for his grandson in many ways, namely by allowing him to live in his own tower (something he did not allow for any of his sons), and allowing him to sit on the throne on some festive occasions. Most importantly Abdallah gave Abd al-Rahman his ring, the symbol of power, when Abdallah fell ill prior to his death. Abd al-Rahman succeeded Abdallah the day after his death, 16 October 912. Historiographers of the time, such as al-Bayan l'Mogrib and the Cronica anonima de Abd-ar-Rahman III, state that his succession was "without incident". At the time, Abd al-Rahman was about 21 or 22 years old. He inherited an emirate on the verge of dissolution, his power extending not far beyond the vicinity of Córdoba. To the north, the Christian Kingdom of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

 was continuing its program of Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

in the Duero valley. To the south in Ifriqiya, the Fatimids had created an independent caliphate that threatened to attract the allegiance of the Muslim population, who had suffered under the harsh rule of Abdullah. On the internal front the discontented Muladi
Muladi
The Muladi were Muslims of ethnic Iberian descent or of mixed Arab, Berber and European origin, who lived in Al-Andalus during the Middle Ages. They were also called "Musalima" .-Etymology:...

 families (Muslims of Iberian origin) represented a constant danger for the Córdoban emir. The most powerful of the latter was Umar ibn Hafsun, who, from his impregnable fortress of Bobastro, controlled much of eastern Al-Andalus.

From the very early stages of his reign, Abd ar-Rahman showed a firm resolve to quash the rebels of Al-Andalus, consolidate centralized power, and reestablish internal order within the emirate. To accomplish his aims he introduced into the court the saqaliba
Saqaliba
Saqaliba refers to the Slavs, particularly Slavic slaves and mercenaries in the medieval Arab world, in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Al-Andalus. It is generally thought that the Arabic term is a Byzantine loanword: saqlab, siklab, saqlabi etc. is a corruption of Greek Sklavinoi for...

h
, slaves of East European origin. The saqaliba
Saqaliba
Saqaliba refers to the Slavs, particularly Slavic slaves and mercenaries in the medieval Arab world, in the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Al-Andalus. It is generally thought that the Arabic term is a Byzantine loanword: saqlab, siklab, saqlabi etc. is a corruption of Greek Sklavinoi for...

h
represented a third ethnic group that could neutralize the endless strife between his subjects of Muslim Arab heritage, and those of Muslim Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 heritage.

Early rule


During the first 20 years of his rule, Abd ar-Rahman avoided military action against the northern Christian kingdoms, Asturias and Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

. The Muladi rebels were the first problem he confronted. Those powerful families were supported by Iberians who were openly or secretly Christians and had acted with the rebels. These elements, which formed the bulk of the population, were not averse to supporting a strong ruler who would protect them against the Arab aristocracy. Abd ar-Rahman moved to subdue them by means of a mercenary army that included Christians.


He first had to suppress the rebel Umar ibn Hafsun. On 1 January 913 an army, led by the eunuch Badr, conquered the fortress of Écija
Écija
Écija is a city belonging to the province of Seville, Spain. It is located in the Andalusian countryside, 85 km east of the city of Seville. According to the 2008 census, Écija has a total population of 40,100 inhabitants, ranking as the fifth most populous city in the province...

, at some 50 km from the capital. All the city's fortifications were destroyed, aside from the citadel, which was left as residence of the governor and a garrison for the emiral troops. In the following spring, after sixty-five days of meticulous preparations, Abd ar-Rahman personally led an expedition to the south of his realm. His troops were able to recover the coras (provinces) of Jaén and Elvira
Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of three rivers, the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil. It sits at an elevation of 738 metres above sea...

, while a cavalry detachment was sent to free Málaga
Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

 from ibn Hafsun's siege. He also obtained the capitulation of Fiñana
Fiñana
-External links: - Sistema de Información Multiterritorial de Andalucía - Diputación Provincial de Almería...

 (in the modern province of Almería), after setting fire to its suburbs. Subsequently he moved against the castle of Juviles
Juviles
Juviles is a village and municipality in the central Alpujarras, in the province of Granada in Spain. The village is located at 36° 57' north and 3° 13' east, and stands at an altitude of 1,255 metres, on the road from Trevélez to Ugíjar...

 in the Alpujarras
Alpujarras
thumb|250px|A typical Alpujarran village, [[Busquístar]].La Alpujarra is a landlocked historical region in Southern Spain, which stretches south from the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada in the autonomous community of Andalusia. The western part of the region lies in the province of Granada...

. After devastating its countryside to deprive it of any resource, he encircled it. Finding it difficult to bombard with catapults, he ordered the construction of a platform where his siege weapons could be mounted to greater effect, and cut the water supply. The Muladi defenders surrendered after a few days: their lives, apart from fifty-five die-hards who were beheaded, were spared in exchange of their allegiance to the emir. The campaign continued in a similar vein, lasting for a total of ninety days. Abd ar-Rahman forced the defeated Muladi to send hostages and treasures to Córdoba, in order to secure their continued submission.

In the first year of his reign, Abd ar-Rahman took advantage of the rivalries between the Banu Hayyay lords of Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 and Carmona
Carmona, Spain
Carmona is a town of south-western Spain, in the province of Seville; 33 km north-east of Seville.Carmona is built on a ridge overlooking the central plain of Andalusia, to the north is the Sierra Morena, to the south is the of peak of San Cristobal. The city is known for its thriving trade...

 to force them to submit. He initially sent a special corps (hasam) under Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hudayr, governor of Écija, to Seville, to obtain their submission. This attempt failed, but gained him the support of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Hayyay, lord of Carmona, and a cousin of the Sevillan lord, Ahmad ibn Maslama. When the latter was surrounded by Umayyad troops, he sued for help to Ibn Hafsun, but the latter was defeated by the besiegers and returned to Bobastro. Seville finally capitulated on 20 December 913. Ibn al-Mundir al-Qurays, a member of the royal family, was named governor of the city, while the Lord of Carmona obtained the title of vizier
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim enjoyed his office for only a single day, for Abd ar-Rahman soon discovered his collusion with the rebel governor of Carmona. Muhammad was sent to prison, where he later met his death.

The region of Valencia submitted peacefully in 915.

Ibn Hafsun and other rebels


Abd ar-Rahman's next objective was to squash the longstanding rebellion of Ibn Hafsun.

His troops left Córdoba on 7 May 914 and, after a few days, encamped before the walls of Balda (identified with today's Cuevas de San Marcos). His cavalry ravaged the nearby woods and the countryside, while the rest of the troopes moved to Turrus, a castle located in the present municipality of Algarinejo, which was surrounded within five days, while its environs were also devastated.

The Umayyad army then moved to Bobastro, while the cavalry was sent to the castle of Sant Batir, which was abandoned by the defenders, allowing Abd ar-Rahman's troops to secure a large booty. Then it was the turn of the castles of Olías and Reina. The latter fell after a violent fight, leaving the road open to the major city and provincial capital of Málaga, which he captured after one day. Abd ar-Rahman then turned and followed the coast by Montemayor, near Benahavís
Benahavís
Benahavis is a Spanish mountain village situated between Marbella, Estepona, and Ronda, where it is located seven kilometers from the coast. Renowned for its restaurants, it is often called the dining room of the Costa del Sol....

, Suhayl (Fuengirola
Fuengirola
Fuengirola, in ancient times known as Suel and then Suhayl, is a large town and municipality on the Costa del Sol in the province of Málaga, autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. It is a major tourist resort, with more than 8 km of beaches, and home to a mediæval Moorish fortress...

) and another castle called Turrus or Turrus Jusayn (identified by Évariste Lévi-Provençal
Évariste Lévi-Provençal
Évariste Lévi-Provençal was a French medievalist, orientalist, Arabist, and historian of Islam.Born 4 January 1894 in Constantine, French Algeria, as Makhlóuf Evariste Levi, his name already revealing Gallicized tendencies in his North-African Jewish family...

 as Ojén
Ojen
Ojen is a town which sits in the mountains behind Marbella in Andalusia, Southern Spain.Its name is oddly derived from an Arabic word, hoxán, meaning "rough" or "bitter" place, and therefore curious that the Moors should establish a settlement in a place they presumably did not care for...

). He finally arrived at Algeciras
Algeciras
Algeciras is a port city in the south of Spain, and is the largest city on the Bay of Gibraltar . Port of Algeciras is one of the largest ports in Europe and in the world in three categories: container,...

 on 1 June 914. He ordered a patrol of the coast to destroy the boats that supplied Ibn Hafsun from North Africa. Many of them were captured and set afire in front of the emir. The rebellious castles near Algeciras surrendered as soon as the Cordoban army manifested itself.

Abd ar-Rahman launched three different campaigns against Ibn Hafsun (who died in 917) and his sons. Among them, Jafar ibn Hafsun held the stronghold of Toledo. Abd ar-Rahman ordered ravaged the city's countryside. Jafar, after two years of siege, escaped the city to ask for help in the northern Christian kingdoms. In the meantime Abd ar-Rahman obtained the surrender of the city from its population, after promising them immunity, although 4,000 rebel men escaped in a night sally. The city surrendered on 2 August 932, after a siege of two years.

In 921 the Banu Muhallab of Guadix
Guadix
Guadix, a city of southern Spain, in the province of Granada; on the left bank of the river Guadix, a sub-tributary of the Guadiana Menor, and on the Madrid-Valdepeñas-Almería railway...

 submitted, followed by those of Jerez
Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera is a municipality in the province of Cádiz in the autonomous community of Andalusia, in southwestern Spain, situated midway between the sea and the mountains. , the city, the largest in the province, had 208,896 inhabitants; it is the fifth largest in Andalusia...

 and Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

, as well as the trading republic of Pechina
Pechina
-External links: - Sistema de Información Multiterritorial de Andalucía - Diputación Provincial de Almería...

 (922). In 927, Abd-ar-Rahman also launched a campaign against the rebel Banu Qasi
Banu Qasi
The Banu Qasi, Banu Kasi, Beni Casi or Banu Musa were a Basque Muladi dynasty that ruled the upper Ebro valley in the 9th century, before being displaced in the first quarter of the 10th century.-Dynastic beginnings:...

 clan, but was forced to break it off by the intervention of King Jimeno Garcés of Pamplona.

The last of Ibn Hafsun to fall was Hafs, who stood in his powerful fortress of Bobastro. Surrounded by the vizier Said ibn al-Mundhir who had ordered the construction of bastions around the city, he resisted the siege for six months, until he surrendered, having his life spared (928).

The Levente and Algarve rebels


The continued expeditions against the Hafsunids did not distract Abd ad-Rahman III from the situation of other regions in al-Andalus, which recognized him only nominally, if not being in open revolt. Most of the loyal governors of the cities were in a tottering position, such as the one of Évora
Évora
Évora is a municipality in Portugal. It has total area of with a population of 55,619 inhabitants. It is the seat of the Évora District and capital of the Alentejo region. The municipality is composed of 19 civil parishes, and is located in Évora District....

, who could not prevent the attack of the king of Galicia (future king of León), Ordoño II
Ordoño II of León
Ordoño II was king of Galicia from 910, and king of Galicia and León from 914 until his death. He was the second son of King Alfonso III the Great and his wife, Jimena of Pamplona....

, who captured the city in the summer of 913, taking back a sizable booty and 4,000 prisoners.

In much of the eastern and western province, Abd ar-Rahman's authority was completely unrecognized. The lord of Badajoz, Abd Allah ibn Muhammad, grandson of Abd-ar-Rahman ibn Marwan al-Yilliqi, not only fortified his city against a possible attack of Ordoño, but also acted in complete independence from Córdoba. To avoid the fall of Évora into the hands of Berber groups of the region, he ordered the destruction of its defensive towers and to lowered the walls, though a year later he decided to reconstruct it, giving its control to his ally Masud ibn Sa' dun al-Surunbaqi. The Algarve was dominated completely by a muladí coalition led by Sa'id ibn Mal, who had expelled the Arabs from Beja, and the lords of Ocsónoba, Yahya ibn Bakr, and of Niebla
Niebla
-Places:* Niebla, Chile, a coastal town in the municipality of Valdivia* Niebla, Huelva, a municipality in Huelva province, Spain* Taifa of Niebla, a medieval taifa kingdom of the Iberian peninsula-People:* Mr...

, Ibn Ufayr.

The absence of royal authority enabled Ordoño II to easily campaign in this area, his main objective being the city of Mérida
Mérida, Spain
Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, western central Spain. It has a population of 57,127 . The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.- Climate :...

, in the summer of 915. Abd ar-Rahman III did not send an army and only several local Berber jefes offered a pointless resistance.

Assumption of the Caliphate



In the next year, despite having quenched only the majority of the rebels, Abd ar-Rahman III found himself powerful enough to he declared himself as the Caliph of Córdoba (16 January 929), effectively breaking all allegiance to, and ties with, the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 and Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliphs. The caliphate was thought only to belong to the prince who ruled over the sacred cities of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

, and his ancestors had so far contended of the title of emir. But the force of this tradition had weakened over time; and the title increased Abd-ar-Rahman's prestige with his subjects, both in Iberia and Africa. He based his claim to the caliphate on his Umayyad ancestors who had held undisputed control of the caliphate until they were overthrown by the Abbasids.

Abd ar-Rhaman's move made him both the political and the religious leader of all the Muslims in al-Andalus, as well as the protector of his Christian and Jew subjects. The symbols of his new caliphal power were a sceptre (jayzuran) and the throne (sarir). In the mint he had founded in November 928, Abd ar-Rahman started to coin golden dinars and silver dirhams, replacing the "al-Andalus" specification with his name.

In his new role of caliph, he obtained the surrender of Ibn Marwan
Ibn Marwan
Ibn Marwân , was a Muladi Sufi whose family had come from northern Portugal and settled near Mérida....

 of Badajoz in 930. On the southern front, to counter the increasing Fatimid power in North Africa, abd ar-Rahmad ordered the construction of a fleet based in Almeria
Almería
Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the province of the same name.-Toponym:Tradition says that the name Almería stems from the Arabic المرية Al-Mariyya: "The Mirror", comparing it to "The Mirror of the Sea"...

: the caliph helped the Maghrawa
Maghrawa
The Maghrawa or Meghrawa were a Berber tribe in Morocco and central and western Algeria.-History:The Meghrawa, a tribe of Zanata Berbers, were one of the first Berber tribes to submit to Islam in the 7th century. They supported Uqba ibn Nafi in his campaign to the Atlantic in 683...

 Berbers conquer Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 (927), Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 (931) and Tangiers (951), which accepted his suzerainty. In 951 he signed a peace with the new king of León, Ordoño III
Ordoño III of León
Ordoño III was the King of León from 951 to 956, son and successor of Ramiro II . He confronted Navarre and Castile, who supported his half-brother Sancho the Fat in disputing Ordoño's claim to the throne....

, in order to have free hand against the Fatimids whose ships were hararssing the caliphal ones in the Mediterranean and had even launched an assault against Almeria. Abd ar-Rahman's force, led by prime minister Ahmad ibn Said, besieged the Fatimid port of Tunis, which bought its safety through a huge sum.

In the end he was able to create a sort of protectorate on the northern and central Maghreb, supporting the Idrisid
Idrisid
The Idrisids were a Zaydi-Shia dynasty of Arab origins in Morocco, ruling from 788 to 985, named after its first leader, Idriss I.-History:...

 dynasty; the caliphal influence in the area disappeared after a Fatimid offensive in 958, after which abd ar-Rahman kept only the strongholds of Ceuta and Tangiers.

War with the Christian kingdoms of the north


Even before having al-Andalus firmly under his rule, he restarted the war against King Ordoño II of León
Ordoño II of León
Ordoño II was king of Galicia from 910, and king of Galicia and León from 914 until his death. He was the second son of King Alfonso III the Great and his wife, Jimena of Pamplona....

, who had taken advantage of the previous troublesome situation to capture some boundary areas and menace the Umayyad territory. In 917 the then-emir had sent a large army under his general Ahmad ibn Abi Abda against León, but this was destroyed near San Esteban de Gormaz
San Esteban de Gormaz
San Esteban de Gormaz is a municipality in the province of Soria in the autonomous community of Castile-Leon, Spain. Its population is approximately 3,500...

 in September of that year.

Recognizing to have underestimated the power of Ordoño II, in 920 he mustered another powerful army to reclaim the territories lost after the previous campaign. After defeating, on 26 July, king Sancho Garcés I of Navarre at Junquera, he penetrated in Navarre overcoming the Aragon by the classic route of the invasions from the south. Abd ar-Rahman reached the Basque city of Pamplona
Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

, which was sacked, its cathedral church being demolished.

The succession crisis which struck León after Ordoño II's death in 924 caused hostilities to cease until Ramiro II
Ramiro II of León
Ramiro II , son of Ordoño II, was King of León from 931 until his death. Initially titular king only of a lesser part of Asturias, he gained the crown of León after his brother Alfonso IV abdicated in 931...

 obtained the throne in 932; a first attempt from him to assist the besieged rebels in Toledo was repelled in 932, despite the Christian king was able to capture Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 and to score a victory at Osma.

In 934, after reasserting supremacy over Pamplona and Álava
Álava
Álava is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Álava. Its capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz which is also the capital of the autonomous community...

, he forced Ramiro to retreat to Burgos
Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

, and forced the Navarrese queen Toda
Toda of Navarre
Toda Aznárez, also Teuda de Larraun or Tota , was the queen-consort of Pamplona through her marriage to Sancho I, who reigned 905–925, and was regent of Pamplona, 931–934...

, his aunt, to submit to him as a vassal and withdraw from direct rule as regent for her son García Sánchez I. In 937 he conquered some thirty castles in León. Next he turned to Muhammad ibn Hashim at-Tugib, governor of Zaragoza
Zaragoza
Zaragoza , also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain...

, who had allied with Ramiro but was pardoned after the capture of his city.

Despite early defeats, Ramiro and García were able to crush the caliphate army in 939 at the Battle of Simancas
Battle of Simancas
The Battle of Simancas was a military battle that started on July 19, 939, in the Iberian Peninsula between the troops of the Christian king Ramiro II of León and Muslim caliph Abd al-Rahman III near the walls of the city of Simancas...

, most likely, in part, to treason from Arabic elements in the caliph's army. After this defeat, Abd-ar-Rahman stopped taking personal command of his military campaigns. His cause was however helped by Fernán González of Castile, one of the Christian leaders at Simancas, who subsequently launched a sustained rebellion against Ramiro. The victory of Simancas enabled the Christian kingdom to maintain the military initiative in the peninsula until the defeat of Ramiro's successor, Ordoño III of León
Ordoño III of León
Ordoño III was the King of León from 951 to 956, son and successor of Ramiro II . He confronted Navarre and Castile, who supported his half-brother Sancho the Fat in disputing Ordoño's claim to the throne....

, in 956.

Until 961, the caliphate played an active role in the dynastic strife which characterized the Christian kingdom during the period. Ordoño III's half-brother and successor, Sancho the Fat
Sancho I of León
Sancho I , called the Fat, was the son of King Ramiro II of León. He succeeded his half-brother Ordoño III in 956 and reigned until his death, except for a two year interruption from 958 to 960, when Ordoño the Wicked usurped the throne...

, had been deposed by his cousin Ordoño IV
Ordoño IV of León
Ordoño IV, called the Wicked or the Bad , son of Alfonso IV of León and nephew of Ramiro II, was the king of León from 958 until 960, interrupting the reign of Sancho the Fat for a two year period...

. Together with his grandmother Toda of Navarre, Sancho sued for an alliance with Córdoba. In exchange for some castles, Abd-ar-Rahman helped them to take back Zamora
Zamora, Spain
Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier...

 (959) and Oviedo
Oviedo
Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. It is also the name of the municipality that contains the city....

 (960) and to overthrow Ordoño IV.

In 950 Abd ar-Rahman received in Córdoba an embassy from count Borrell II of Barcelona, by which the northern county recognized the caliphal supremacy in exchange for peace and mutual support.

Later years


Abd-ar-Rahman was accused of having sunk in his later years into the self-indulgent habits of the harem
Harem
Harem refers to the sphere of women in what is usually a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to men...

. He is known to have openly kept a male as well as female harem.

This likely influenced the polemical story of falling in love with a 13-year-old boy (later enshrined as a Christian martyr and canonised as Saint Pelagius of Córdoba
Pelagius of Cordova
Saint Pelagius of Cordova is said to have been a Christian boy left by his uncle at the age of ten as a hostage with the Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III of al-Andalus, in trade for a clerical relative previously captured by the Moors, the bishop Hermoygius. The exchange never occurred and Pelagius...

) who refused the Caliph's advances. However, the love story may have been a construct on top of an original tale, in which he ordered the boy-slave to convert to Islam. Either way, enraged, he had the boy tortured and dismembered, thus serving as Christian polemic demonising Muslims.

Abd-ar-Rahman spent the rest of his years in his new palace outside Córdoba. He died in October 961, and was succeeded by his son al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II
Al-Hakam II was the second Caliph of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus , and son of Abd-ar-rahman III . He ruled from 961 to 976....

.

Legacy


Abd-ar-Rahman was a patron of arts, and especially architecture. A third of his revenue sufficed for the ordinary expenses of government, a third was hoarded and a third spent on buildings. After declaring the caliphate, he had a massive palace complex, known as the Medina Azahara
Medina Azahara
Medina Azahara is the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III al-Nasir, Ummayad Caliph of Córdoba, and located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, Spain. It was an Arab Muslim medieval town and the de-facto capital of al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain, as...

, built some 5 kilometers north of Córdoba. The Medina Azahara was modelled after the old Umayyad palace in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and served as a symbolic tie between the new caliph and his ancestors.

Under his reign, Córdoba became the most important intellectual centre of Western Europe. He expanded the city's library, which would be further enriched by his successors.
He also reinforced the Iberian fleet, which became the most powerful in the Mediterranean Europe. Iberian raiders moved up to Galicia, Asturias and North Africa. The colonizers of Fraxinetum came from al-Andalus as well.

Ancestry


Abd-ar-Rahman III's mother Muzna was a Christian captive, possibly from the Pyrenean
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 region. His paternal grandmother Onneca Fortúnez
Onneca Fortúnez
Onneca Fortúnez or Iñiga Fortúnez was a Basque princess from the Kingdom of Pamplona, later known as the Kingdom of Navarre. She was the daughter of Fortún Garcés of Pamplona and his wife Oria. At the time of Onneca's birth, which occurred between 848 and 850, the Iberian Peninsula was largely...

 was a Christian princess from the Kingdom of Pamplona
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

. In his immediate ancestry, Abd-ar-Rahman III was thus three-quarters Hispano
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

, and only one-quarter Arab.



External links


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