Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir

Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir

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Abu Aamir Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abi Aamir, Al-Hajib Al-Mansur (c. 938 - August 8, 1002), better known as Almanzor, was the de facto ruler of Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Al-Andalus in the late 10th to early 11th centuries. His rule marked the peak of power for Moorish
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

.

Origins


He was born Muhammad Ibn Abi Aamir, into a noble Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 family from the area of 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,...

. He arrived at the Court of 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...

 as a student studying law and literature. He became manager of the estates of Prince Hisham II
Hisham II
Hisham II was the third Caliph of Cordoba, of the Umayyad dynasty. He ruled 976–1009, and 1010–1013 in the Al-Andalus ....

.

In a few years he schemed his way from this humble position to considerable heights of influence, eliminating his political rivals in the process. Caliph 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....

 died in 976 and Ibn Abi Amir was instrumental in securing the succession of the young Hisham II
Hisham II
Hisham II was the third Caliph of Cordoba, of the Umayyad dynasty. He ruled 976–1009, and 1010–1013 in the Al-Andalus ....

, aged twelve, to the throne. Almanzor had a great influence in Subh, ruler as mother the young Hisham II. Two years later he became Hajib
Hajib
The term "hajib" is not to be confused with the word "hijab", which is a headscarf for Muslim women.A hajib was a government official in Al-Andalus and Egypt. They began as treasurers or Chamberlains but by 756, the position had evolved to be equivalent to a vizier or higher....

 (a title similar to that of Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 in the Muslim East), or Chancellor. During the following three years he consolidated his power with the building of his new palace on the outskirts of 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...

, al-Madina az-Zahira, while at the same time completely isolating the young Caliph, who became a virtual prisoner in 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...

. Following 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....

's death, Al-Mansur had Hakam's library of "ancient science" books destroyed.

War Campaigns


In 981, upon his return to Córdoba from the Battle of Torrevicente
Battle of Torrevicente
The Battle of Torrevicente was fought on Saturday, 9 July 981 between two Córdoban generals: Galib ibn Abd al-Rahman, recently rebelled, and the loyalist Ibn Abi ‘Amir. Two Christian forces fought as allies of Galib: the Basques under Ramiro Garcés, King of Viguera, and the Castilians under Count...

, in which he crushed his last remaining rival (and father-in-law, Ghalib Al-Nasiri), he assumed the title of Al-Mansur bi-llah, Victorious by Grace of God. In Christian Europe he was referred to as Almanzor.

His grip to power within Al-Andalus was now absolute. He dedicated himself to military campaigns against the Christian states of the peninsula. He organized and took part in 57 campaigns, and was victorious in all of them. To wage these campaigns against the Christian states, he brought in many 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...

 mercenaries, which upset the political order over time.

Although he mainly fought against León
Kingdom of León
The Kingdom of León was an independent kingdom situated in the northwest region of the Iberian Peninsula. It was founded in AD 910 when the Christian princes of Asturias along the northern coast of the peninsula shifted their capital from Oviedo to the city of León...

 and the Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

, he sacked Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 in 985, Leon
Leon
-Europe:* Kingdom of León, an independent state in the Iberian Peninsula from 910 to 1230 and again from 1296 to 1301* Viscounty of Léon, a feudal state in France during the 11th to 13th centuries* Léon, Landes, a commune in France* Isla de León, a Spanish island...

 in 988 and Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

 in Galicia in 997, taking the cathedral bells to be melted down into lanterns for the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Almanzor, knew the magnitude of the devotion to Saint James' sepulcher, and ordered his generals to protect the tomb and all sacred objects that they encountered.

Almanzor also waged several campaigns against the Kingdom of Navarra, including his longest, in which he defeated a Castilian army at the Battle of Cervera
Battle of Cervera
The Battle of Cervera took place near Espinosa de Cervera on 29 July 1000 between the Christian troops of counts Sancho García of Castile and García Gómez of Saldaña and the Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba under the hajib Almanzor. The battle, "tremendous and difficult to describe", was a victory for...

.

He married Abda, daughter of Sancho Garcés king of Navarra, who bore him a son by the name of Abd al-Rahman. He was commonly known as Sanchuelo
Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo
Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo , born and died in Córdoba, was the son of Almanzor and chief minister of Hisham II, Caliph of Córdoba....

 (Little Sancho, in Arabic: Shanjoul).

Consequences


The consequence of his victories in the north was to prompt the Christian rulers of the Peninsula into an alliance against him (c. 1000).
He was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar
Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar
Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar was hajib of Cordoba from the death of his father Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir in 1002 until his own death in 1008. He was succeeded by his half-brother Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo....

, who continued to rule Al-Andalus as Hajib until his death in 1008.

After Abd al-Malik, his ambitious half brother Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo
Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo
Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo , born and died in Córdoba, was the son of Almanzor and chief minister of Hisham II, Caliph of Córdoba....

 took over. He however tried to take the Caliphate for himself from Hisham as al-Mansur had effectively made the caliph a figurehead ruler. This plunged the country into a civil war. The Caliphate disintegrated into rival Taifa
Taifa
In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, usually an emirate or petty kingdom, though there was one oligarchy, of which a number formed in the Al-Andalus after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.-Rise:The origins of...

kingdoms. This proved disastrous for Muslim Iberia as, being divided, the Christian Kingdoms were able to conquer the Taifas one by one.

Almanzor peak in central Spain is named after him.

In fiction


'Almanzor' is a major character in the thoroughly researched, but extremely anachronistic, historical novel The Long Ships
The Long Ships
The Long Ships or Red Orm is a best-selling Swedish novel written by Frans Gunnar Bengtsson . The novel is divided into two parts, published in 1941 and 1945, with two books each....

 (Red Orm)
by the Swedish author Frans Gunnar Bengtsson
Frans Gunnar Bengtsson
Frans Gunnar Bengtsson was a Swedish novelist, essayist, poet and biographer. He was born in Tossjö in Skåne and died at Ribbingsfors Manor in northern Västergötland.-Literary career:...

. Three chapters of the book take place in Muslim Iberia under Almanzor's rule, depicted from the point of view of Scania
Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

n Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s who are captured by Moors while on a raid into Spain, serving as galley slaves. Later they become mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 in Almanzor's bodyguard and finally manage to escape back to Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 after participating in the conquest and sacking of Santiago de Compostella.