Yusuf ibn Tashfin

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

Overview
Yusef ibn Tashfin also, Tashafin, or Teshufin; or Yusuf; (Berber: Yusef n Tacfin, ; reigned c. 1061 - 1106) was a king of the Almoravid empire, he founded the city of Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 and led the Muslim forces in the Battle of Zallaqa.

Yusef ibn Tashfin emerged from a line of Berber military leaders. Abu Bakr ibn Umar
Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar
Abu Bakr ibn Umar ibn Ibrahim ibn Turgut, sometimes suffixed al-Sanhaji or al-Lamtuni was a chieftan of the Lamtuna Berbers of the western Sahara, and commander of the Almoravids from 1056 until his death....

, one of the original disciples of ibn Yasin, a natural leader of Sanajha
Sanhaja
The Sanhaja or Senhaja were once one of the largest Berber tribal confederations of the Maghreb, along with the Zanata and Masmuda...

 extraction who served as a spiritual liaison for followers of the Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 school of thought, was appointed general after the death of his brother Yahya ibn Ibrahim.
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Yusef ibn Tashfin also, Tashafin, or Teshufin; or Yusuf; (Berber: Yusef n Tacfin, ; reigned c. 1061 - 1106) was a king of the Almoravid empire, he founded the city of Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 and led the Muslim forces in the Battle of Zallaqa.

Succession to power


Yusef ibn Tashfin emerged from a line of Berber military leaders. Abu Bakr ibn Umar
Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar
Abu Bakr ibn Umar ibn Ibrahim ibn Turgut, sometimes suffixed al-Sanhaji or al-Lamtuni was a chieftan of the Lamtuna Berbers of the western Sahara, and commander of the Almoravids from 1056 until his death....

, one of the original disciples of ibn Yasin, a natural leader of Sanajha
Sanhaja
The Sanhaja or Senhaja were once one of the largest Berber tribal confederations of the Maghreb, along with the Zanata and Masmuda...

 extraction who served as a spiritual liaison for followers of the Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 school of thought, was appointed general after the death of his brother Yahya ibn Ibrahim. His brother oversaw the military for ibn Yasin but was killed in a Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

n revolt in 1056. Ibn Yasin, too, would die in battle with the Barghawata three years later. Abu-Bakr was an able general, taking the fertile Sūs
Sous
The Sous or Souss is a region in southern Morocco. Geologically, it is the alluvial basin of the Oued Sous , separated from the Sahara by the Anti-Atlas Mountains...

 and its capital Aghmāt
Aghmat
Aghmāt was an important medieval Berber town in southern Morocco which is today an archaeological site known as "Joumâa Aghmat". It is situated approximately 30 km east of Marrakech on the Ourika road...

 a year after his brother's death, and would go on to suppress numerous revolts in the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 himself, on one such occasion delegating permanent governorship of Sūs and thus the whole of his northern provinces to his pious cousin Yusef, who had received such authority in the interim; even going so far as to giving him his wife, Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyat
Zaynab an-Nafzawiyyat
Zaynab an-Nafzāwiyyat , a Berber woman of influence in the early Almoravid movement which gained control of Morocco, Algeria and parts of Spain....

, purportedly the richest woman of Aghmāt. This sort of trust and favor on part of a seasoned veteran and savvy politician reflected the general esteem in which Yusef was held, not to mention the power he attained as a military figure in his absence. Daunted by Yusef's newfound power, Abu Bakr saw any attempts at recapturing his post politically unfeasible and returned to the fringes of the Sahara to settle the unrest of the southern frontier.

Taifa appeal


In the year 1091 the last sovereign king of al-Andalusia, al-Mu'tamid, saw his Abbadid
Abbadid
The Abbadi comprised an Arab Muslim Dynasty which arose in Al-Andalus on the downfall of the Caliphate of Cordoba . Abbadid rule lasted from about 1023 until 1091, but during the short period of its existence it exhibited singular energy and typified its time...

-inherited taifa of Seville
Taifa of Seville
The Taifa of Seville was a short lived medieval kingdom, in what is now southern Spain and Portugal. It originated in 1023 and lasted until 1091, and was under the rule of the Arab Abbadid family.-History:...

, controlled since 1069, in jeopardy of being taken by the increasingly stronger king of Castile-León, Alfonso VI
Alfonso VI of Castile
Alfonso VI , nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was King of León from 1065, King of Castile and de facto King of Galicia from 1072, and self-proclaimed "Emperor of all Spain". After the conquest of Toledo he was also self-proclaimed victoriosissimo rege in Toleto, et in Hispania et Gallecia...

. The 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...

 period followed the demise of the 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...

 Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

. Previously, the emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 launched a series of aggressive attacks on neighboring kingdoms, as to garner more territory for himself, but his military aspirations and capabilities paled in comparison to the Castilian
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...

 king, who in the name of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

, in 1085, capturing a culturally refined Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 and inducing parias
Parias
In medieval Spain, parias were a form of tribute paid by the taifas of al-Andalus to the Christian kingdoms of the north...

, or tribute, from proud 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...

 princes in places like Granada
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...

; al-Mu'tamid 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...

 being no exception. The tribute of the emirs bolstered the economy of the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 kingdom. These are the circumstances that led to the Almoravid conquest
Conquest (military)
Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of arms. One example is the Norman conquest of England, which provided the subjugation of the Kingdom of England and the acquisition of the English crown by William the Conqueror in 1066...

 and the famous quote, rebuffing his son, Rashid, who advised him not to call on Yusef ibn Tashfin, where al-Mu'tamid said

Military exploits


Yusef was an effective general and administrator, evidenced by his ability to organize and maintain the loyalty of the hardened desert warriors and the territory of Abu Bakr, as well as his ability to expand the empire, cross the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 onto the plains of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, reaching the Mediterranean and capturing Fez
Fes, Morocco
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

 in 1075, Tangier
Tangier
Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...

 in 1079, Tlemcen
Tlemcen
Tlemcen is a town in Northwestern Algeria, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located inland in the center of a region known for its olive plantations and vineyards...

 in 1080, 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...

 in 1083, as well as Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

, Ténès
Ténès
Tenes is an Algerian seaside resort located about 200 kilometers west of the capital Algiers; it has a population of 35,000 people, .-History:Ténès is an ancient town which existed in the 8th century BC. It was called Kartenas at that time...

 and Oran
Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

 in 1082-83. He is regarded as the co-founder of the famous Moroccan city Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

 (in Berber Murakush, corrupted to Morocco in English). The site had been chosen and work started by Abu Bakr in 1070. The work was completed by Yusef, who then made it the capital of his empire, in place of the former capital Aghmāt
Aghmat
Aghmāt was an important medieval Berber town in southern Morocco which is today an archaeological site known as "Joumâa Aghmat". It is situated approximately 30 km east of Marrakech on the Ourika road...

. By the time Abu Bakr died in 1087, after a skirmish in the Sahara as result of a poison arrow, Yusef had crossed over into 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...

 and also achieved victory at the Battle of az-Zallaqah, also known as the Battle of Sagrajas in the west. He came to al-Andalus with a force of 15,000 men, armed with javelins, dagger
Dagger
A dagger is a fighting knife with a sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations...

s, most of his soldiers carried two swords, shields, cuirass
Cuirass
A cuirass is a piece of armour, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso...

 of the finest leather and animal hide, as well as drummer
Drummer
A drummer is a musician who is capable of playing drums, which includes but is not limited to a drum kit and accessory based hardware which includes an assortment of pedals and standing support mechanisms, marching percussion and/or any musical instrument that is struck within the context of a...

s for psychological combat. Yusef's cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 was said to have included 6,000 shock troops
Shock troops
Shock troops or assault troops are formations created to lead an attack. "Shock troop" is a loose translation of the German word Stoßtrupp...

 from Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 mounted on white Arabian horse
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

s. Camel
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

s were also put to use. On October 23, 1086, the Almoravid forces, accompanied by 10,000 Andalusian fighters from local 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...

 provinces, decisively checked the 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...

, defeating the largest Christian army ever assembled up to that point, significantly outnumbered. The death of Yusef's heir, however, prompted his speedy return to Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.

When Yusef returned to al-Andalus in 1090, he saw the lax behavior of the taifa kings, both spiritually and militarily, as a breach of Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 and principles, and left Africa with the express purpose of usurping the power of all the Muslim principalities, under the auspices of the 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....

 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"...

 of Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, who he had shared correspondence with and under the shibboleth "The spreading of righteousness, the correction of injustice and the abolition of unlawful taxes." The emirs in such cities as 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...

, Badajoz
Badajoz
Badajoz is the capital of the Province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain, situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid–Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257....

, 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"...

 and Granada
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...

 had grown accustomed to the extravagant ways of the east. On top of doling out tribute to the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and giving Andalusian Jews unprecedented freedoms and authority, they had levied burdensome taxes on the populace to maintain this lifestyle. After a series of fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

s and careful deliberation, Yusef saw the implementation of orthodoxy as long overdue. That year he exiled the emirs 'Abdallah and his brother Tamim from Granada and 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...

, respectively, to Aghmāt
Aghmat
Aghmāt was an important medieval Berber town in southern Morocco which is today an archaeological site known as "Joumâa Aghmat". It is situated approximately 30 km east of Marrakech on the Ourika road...

, and a year later al-Mutamid of Seville would suffer the same fate. When all was said and done, Yusef united all of the Muslim dominions of the Iberian Peninsula
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...

, with the exception 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...

, to the Kingdom of Morocco, and situated his royal court at Marrakech
Marrakech
Marrakech or Marrakesh , known as the "Ochre city", is the most important former imperial city in Morocco's history...

. He took the title of amir al-muslimin (Prince of the Muslims), seeing himself as humbly serving the caliph of Baghdad, but for all intents and purposes he was considered the caliph of the western Islamic empire. The military might of the Almoravids was at its peak.

The Sanhaja
Sanhaja
The Sanhaja or Senhaja were once one of the largest Berber tribal confederations of the Maghreb, along with the Zanata and Masmuda...

 confederation, which consisted of a hierarchy of Lamtuna
Lamtuna
The Lamtuna were a powerful nomadic Berber tribe belonging to the Senhaja inhabiting the western Sahara.During the eighth century the Lamtuna created a kingdom out of a confederation of Berber tribes, which they dominated until the early tenth century. The Lamtuna probably did not convert to Islam...

, Musaffa and Djudalla Berbers
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...

, represented the military's top brass. Amongst them were Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

n Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and heretic Africans, taking up duties as diwan al-gund, Yusef's own personal bodyguard; including 2,000 black horsemen
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

, whose tasks also included registering soldiers and making sure they were compensated financially. The occupying forces of the Almoravids were made up largely horsemen, totaling no less than 20,000. Into the major cities of al-Andalus, 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...

 (7,000), Granada
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...

 (1,000), Cordoba
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...

 (1,000), 5,000 bordering Castile
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

 and 4,000 in western Andalusia, succeeding waves of horsemen in conjunction with the garrisons that had been left there after the Battle of Sagrajas, made responding, for the 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...

 emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

s, difficult. Soldiers on foot used bows
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

 & arrows, sabre
Sabre
The sabre or saber is a kind of backsword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger...

s, pike
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

s, javelins, each protected by a cuirass
Cuirass
A cuirass is a piece of armour, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso...

 of Moroccan
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 leather and iron piked shields. During the siege of the fort-town Aledo, in Murcia
Murcia
-History:It is widely believed that Murcia's name is derived from the Latin words of Myrtea or Murtea, meaning land of Myrtle , although it may also be a derivation of the word Murtia, which would mean Murtius Village...

, previously captured by the Spaniard
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....

 Garcia Giménez, Almoravid and Andalusian
Andalusian people
The Andalusians are the people of the southern region in Spain approximated by what is now called Andalusia. They are generally not considered an ethnically distinct people because they lack two of the most important markers of distinctiveness: their own language and an awareness of a presumed...

 hosts are said to have used catapult
Catapult
A catapult is a device used to throw or hurl a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. Although the catapult has been used since ancient times, it has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during...

s, in addition to their customary drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

 beat. Yusef also established naval bases in Cadiz
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....

, 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"...

 and neighboring ports along the Mediterranean. Ibn-Maymun, the governor of Almeria, had a fleet at his disposal. Another such example is the Banu-Ganiya fleet based off the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

 that dominated the affairs of the western Mediterranean for much of the 12th century.

Siege of Valencia


Although the Almoravids had not gained much in the way of territory from the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s, rather they merely offset the 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...

, Yusef did succeed in capturing Valencia. A city divided between 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...

s and Christians, under the waffling rule of a petty emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 paying tribute to the Christians, including the famous El Cid
El Cid
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar , known as El Cid Campeador , was a Castilian nobleman, military leader, and diplomat...

, Valencia proved to be an obstacle for the Almoravid military, despite their untouchable reputation. Abu Bakr ibn Ibrahim ibn Tashfin and Yusef's nephew Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad both failed in defeating the El Cid. Yusef then sent Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali al-Hajj but he was not successful either. In 1097, upon his fourth trip to 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...

, Yusef sought to personally dig down and fight the armies of Alfonso VI
Alfonso VI of Castile
Alfonso VI , nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was King of León from 1065, King of Castile and de facto King of Galicia from 1072, and self-proclaimed "Emperor of all Spain". After the conquest of Toledo he was also self-proclaimed victoriosissimo rege in Toleto, et in Hispania et Gallecia...

, making way toward the all but abandoned, yet historically important, Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

. Such a concerted effort was meant to draw the Christian forces, including those laying siege to Valencia, into the center of Iberia. On August 15, 1097, the Almoravids delivered yet another blow to Alfonso's forces, a battle in which the El Cid's son was killed.

Muhammad ibn 'A'isha, Yusef's son, who he had appointed governor of Murcia
Murcia
-History:It is widely believed that Murcia's name is derived from the Latin words of Myrtea or Murtea, meaning land of Myrtle , although it may also be a derivation of the word Murtia, which would mean Murtius Village...

, succeeded in delivering an effective pounding to the Cid's personnel at Alcira, still not capturing the city, but satisfied with the results of his campaigns, Yusef left for his court at Marrakesh only to return two years later on a new effort to take the provinces of eastern Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

. El Cid had died in the same year, 1099, and his wife, Jimena
Jimena
JIMENA seeks to educate and advocate for Jewish refugees from the Middle East.Prior to 1948, approximately 950,000 Jews lived in Muslim countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.-Historical background:The Jewish exodus from Arab lands in the 20th century was a result of the...

, had been ruling until the coming of another Almoravid campaign at the tail end of 1100, led by Yusef's trusted lieutenant Mazdali ibn Banlunka. After a seven month siege, Alfonso and Jimena, hopeless to the prospects of staving off the Almoravids, set fire to the great mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 in anger and abandoned the city. Yusef had finally conquered Valencia and exerted complete dominance over the east of al-Andalus, now unquestionably the most powerful ruler in western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. He receives mention in the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 epic Poema del Cid, also known as El Cantar del Mio Cid, the oldest of its kind.

Description and character


"A wise and shrewd man, neither too prompt in his determinations, nor too slow in carrying them into effect", Yusef was very much adapted to the rugged terrain of the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 and had no interests in the pomp of the Andalusian courts. According to Abd Allah's "Roudh el-Kartas" (History of the Rulers of Morocco) and A.Beaumier's French translation of the 14th century work, Yusef was of "Brown color, middle height, thin, little beard, soft voice, black eyes, straight nose, lock of Muhammad falling on the top of his ear, eyebrow joined, wooly hair"http://www.vitaminedz.com/articlesfiche/1006_toute_l_algerie_roudh_el_kartas___histoire_des_souverains_du_maghreb__espagne_et_maroc__et_annales_de_la_ville_de_fes__articles.pdf
He went on to live to 100 years old and, unlike his predecessors, not die in battle.

Legacy


His son and successor, Ali ibn Yusuf
Ali ibn Yusuf
Ali ibn Yusuf was the 5th Almoravid king he reigned 1106–1143.-Biography:Ali was recognized as the heir of his father Yusuf ibn Tashfin in 1102. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1106. Ali ruled from Morocco and appointed his brother Tamin ibn Yusuf as governor of Al-Andalus...

, was viewed just as devout a 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...

 as his father.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...

, in about 1119, served as the launch pad for Andalusian insurrection. Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s on the northern frontier gained momentum shortly after his father's death, and the Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

s, beginning about 1120, were to engulf the southern frontier. This ultimately led to the disintegration of Yusef's hard-fought territories by the time of Ibrahim ibn Tashfin
Ibrahim ibn Tashfin
Ibrahim ibn Tashfin was the fourth Almoravid king, who reigned shortly in 1146–1147. Once the news of the death of his father Tashfin ibn Ali reached Marrakech, he was proclaimed king while still an infant. He was soon replaced by his uncle Ishaq ibn Ali, but the Almohads quickly subdued...

 (1146) and Ishaq ibn Ali
Ishaq ibn Ali
Ishaq ibn Ali was the eight and last Almoravid king who reigned shortly in 1147.Ibrahim was the uncle of his predecessor as emir, Ibrahim ibn Tashfin, and was killed after the conquest of Marrakech by the Almohads.-Sources:...

 (1146–1147), the last of the Almoravid dynasty.

Much of the disparaging things written about the Almoravids, whether it be from Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

s or Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 sources, was propaganda. While Yusef was the most honorable 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...

 rulers, he spoke Arabic poorly. Ali ibn Yusef in 1135 exercised good stewardship by attending to the University of Al-Karaouine and ordering the extension of the mosque from 18 to 21 aisles, expanding the structure to more than 3,000 square meters. Some accounts suggest that Ali ibn Yusef hired two Andalusian
Andalusian people
The Andalusians are the people of the southern region in Spain approximated by what is now called Andalusia. They are generally not considered an ethnically distinct people because they lack two of the most important markers of distinctiveness: their own language and an awareness of a presumed...

 architects to carry out this work who also built the central aisle of the Great Mosque of Tlemcen
Tlemcen
Tlemcen is a town in Northwestern Algeria, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located inland in the center of a region known for its olive plantations and vineyards...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, in 1136.

According to Richard Fletcher's Moorish Spain:

In popular culture

  • Ben Yussuf is the name of Yusef ibn Tashfin in El Cid
    El Cid (film)
    El Cid is a historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in...

    .
  • Yusef appears in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
    Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
    Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion is the expansion pack to the 1999 real-time strategy game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. The Conquerors is the fourth installment in the Age of Empires series by Microsoft Game Studios and Ensemble Studios...

     as one of the primary antagonists in the "El Cid" campaign. However, he is described as "never showing his face", always covering it with a cloth.
  • Yusef ibn Tashfin appears as Hero in the Drama Serial "Pukaar" presented by Pakistan Television Center in 1995, Pakistan. In this series the main characters were Yousaf bin Tashfin,(played by Asal Din Khan), Zainab (Yousaf's wife), Ali (Yousaf's son), Alfonso VI (played by Ayub Khosa), Mutamid bin abi abbad (played by Hissam Qazi(Late)), and princesses of Leon (played by Laila Wasti).

Sources

  • Richard Fletcher, Moorish Spain, (University of California Press, 1992)
  • Ibn Idhari
    Ibn Idhari
    Abū al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Idhāri al-Marrākushi who lived in the late 13th and the early 14th century, was the author of an important medieval text on the history of the Maghreb and Iberia written in 1312.Little is known about the life of this author, who was born in Al-Andalus and...

    , Al-bayan al-mughrib
    Al-Bayan al-Mughrib
    Kitāb al-bayān al-mughrib fī ākhbār mulūk al-andalus wa'l-maghrib is an important medieval text on the history of the Maghreb and Iberia, written in Arabic in Marrakech in about the year 1312 by Ibn Idhari...

    Part III, annotated Spanish translation by A. Huici Miranda, Valencia, 1963.
  • N. Levtzion & J.F.P. Hopkins, Corpus of early Arabic sources for West African history, Cambridge University Press, 1981, ISBN 0-521-22422-5 (reprint: Markus Wiener, Princeton, 2000, ISBN 1-55876-241-8). Contains English translations of extracts from medieval works dealing with the Almoravids
    Almoravids
    The Almoravids were a Berber dynasty of Morocco, who formed an empire in the 11th-century that stretched over the western Maghreb and Al-Andalus. Their capital was Marrakesh, a city which they founded in 1062 C.E...

    ; the selections cover some (but not all) of the information above.
  • E. A. Freeman, History and Conquests of the Saracens, (Oxford, 1856)
  • Codera, Decadencia y desaparicion de los Almoravides en España (1889)
  • H. R. Idris, Regierung und Verwaltung des vorderen Orients in islamischer Zeit, (Brill Academic Publishers, 1997)