This is episode 35 called Christians vs Muladis and in this episode you will learn:
- Announcement of the social media plan I’m executing this May
- Recap and main characters of Christians vs Muladis
- The consolidation of the Kingdom of Asturias, with the repopulation of Zamora
- The foundation of Burgos in the County of Castile and the temporary division of Castile
- What happened in the Kingdom of Pamplona of the Aristas, from 860 to 905
- The last two great Banu Qasi leaders: Muhammad ibn Lubb and Lubb ibn Muhammad
- How the Arista dynasty was deposed and replaced by another great Basque linage, the Jimenos
- The disappearence of the Banu Qasi clan and the absorption of the County of Aragon by the Kingdom of Pamplona of Sancho I of Pamplona
- The creation of the independent County of Ribagorza-Pallars between Aragon and Catalonia under Count Ramón
- A brief overview of the economy of the Kingdom of Asturias
- A reflection on the importance of this period for the consolidation of the Kingdoms of Asturias and Pamplona
I’m David Cot, host of The History of Spain Podcast, and this is episode 35 called Christians vs Muladis. In this episode you will learn about the conflicts between the northern Christians and the Muladis of the Upper March, and the end of the Arista dynasty of Pamplona. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to the podcast!
Okay, since the last episode was published almost 2 months ago due to the coronavirus outbreak, I think all of you will find a recap helpful. Two episodes ago, in episode 33 ‘Muladis in Revolt’, I explained how the Andalusi society was changing around the mid 9th century, to become more Arabicized and Islamized. Related to these cultural and religious phenomena, there was another phenomenon more worrisome for the Umayyads of Córdoba. The Muladis, the Hispano-Goths who converted to Islam, didn’t like to see how they were discriminated after they had made the effort to convert to Islam and adopt a new culture, and that’s one of the many reasons why some Muladis started important revolts that undermined Umayyad authority throughout al-Andalus. On the other hand, in episode 34 ‘County of Castile and Portugal’ we saw how Ordoño I and Alfonso III of Asturias made a huge progress to advance south, by conquering and repopulating the Duero valley. This is when León was repopulated, the Counties of Castile, Álava, Portugal and Coimbra were founded, and the Reconquista ideology was developed. All these events were important for later developments in Spanish Medieval history, so with that said let me introduce you today’s episode.
In this episode, Christians vs Muladis, we are going to discover many different things about the Kingdom of Asturias, Pamplona, the Counties of Castile, Aragon, Ribagorza and Pallars, and the Muslim warlords of the Upper March. So I’m going to mix very different narratives, as it’s impossible not to do so because events are very interconnected. However, the most important idea that you should take away from this episode is that the emergence and rise of new lords and powers in the north and in al- Andalus was only made possible by the collapse of Umayyad authority outside of Córdoba on one hand and the collapse of the Carolingian Empire on the other. In the next episode I will talk about the birth of Catalonia, that was part of the process of disintegration of Carolingian power.
Let me begin by introducing the main characters of today’s episode because I’m going to refer to them frequently. We have King Alfonso III, who greatly expanded the Kingdom of Asturias up to the Duero river. Then the two last caudillos of Pamplona and the first true king of Pamplona, García Íñiguez and Fortún Garcés of the Arista dynasty and Sancho Garcés of the Jimena dynasty. Then we have three important Muslim warlords of Muladi origin in the Upper March, Muhammad ibn Lubb and Lubb ibn Muhammad of the Banu Qasi clan, and Muhammad al-Tawil of Huesca. The Banu Qasi fought the Banu Tujib and Banu al-Tawil for the hegemony of the Upper March, while conflicts with their Christian neighbors continued, and sometimes with Córdoba too. In the second half of the 9th century there were three Emirs in Córdoba, Muhammad I, one of the leading figures of the previous episode, and then al-Mundhir, who ruled for only two years, and Abd Allah, who ruled Córdoba and the nearby areas. As secondary characters, we have Count Diego Rodríguez of Castile, son and successor of Count Rodrigo; Aznar Galíndez II and Galíndez Aznárez II of the then small County of Aragon; and Ramón I of the Counties of Ribagorza and Pallars, between Aragon and Old Catalonia. These are the main characters in this episode, so let’s start by finding out about the Kingdom of Asturias and the County of Castile.
The defeats that Emir Muhammad I suffered at the hands of Alfonso III forced him to sue for peace in 884, being the first time an Umayyad ruler had done so in relation to the Christian kings. The Emir gave the remains of the Mozarab martyrs Eulogio and Leocricia, a woman who was executed along the instigator of the movement of the Martyrs of Córdoba. It was truly a humiliation and a clear indication that Córdoba was losing control and hegemony over al-Andalus and the other powers of the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, it wasn’t until 916 that an Umayyad ruler launched again an aceifa, a summer raid, against the Christian north, and in the meantime only the Muslim lords of the borderlands engaged in war against them for their own self-interests. The truce with Córdoba allowed Alfonso III to fortify and consolidate the lands he had recently conquered between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Duero river, and to progress and repopulate the lands of the Meseta south of León. Moreover, three of Alfonso’s brothers revolted around that time, so peace with Córdoba allowed the Asturian king to suppress the revolt and he later had his brothers blinded. Alfonso the Great decided to focus on domestic policy and repopulation instead of supporting, for instance, the revolt of Umar ibn Hafsun, probably because at that time it wasn’t yet a major threat to Umayyad authority. The lack of support from other Muslim rebels may also have to do with the fact that relations with the Muladi rebel Ibn Marwan had soured, because Alfonso III had massacred some Muslims of a castle near Badajoz and Ibn Marwan had also reconciled with the Emir Muhammad.
Having reached peace with Córdoba, Alfonso III was able to colonize new lands south of León, mainly with Mozarabs who had fled al-Andalus. It’s likely that the King of Asturias made a call to attract settlers from all over Spain, promising them lands religious freedom, and protection. Alfonso ordered the repopulation of Simancas, Toro and Zamora in the 890s, and the latter became the southernmost outpost of the Leonese part of the Kingdom of Asturias, built along the Duero river. Apart from these official repopulations, there were other villages repopulated through the private initiative of peasants and monks. As I have explained in other episodes, this kind of colonization was based on presura, the principle of squatter’s rights that recognized the ownership of land by whoever occupied a previously unoccupied land. That’s how the region known as Tierra de Campos or Gothic Plains was colonized, and the same is true for many villages of northern Portugal.
In the County of Castile, the son of Rodrigo, Diego Rodríguez, succeeded his father in 873. He scored some victories and suffered defeats against Muhammad ibn Lubb of the Banu Qasi, but the most important event of Diego’s rule was the foundation of Burgos in 884. Burgos then became the southernmost outpost in Castile, along with the castle of Castrojeriz that was reconstructed by Munio Núñez, grandson of the count of the same name who conceded the municipal charter or carta puebla of Brañosera in 828. These outposts are even further south of the Defile of Pancorbo, the Doors of Castile from where the Muslims warlords attacked Castile and Álava. The foundation of Burgos and Castrojeriz were indeed very bold and risky decisions, because there was a substantial number of Muslim settlements in La Rioja, which was only a day’s ride away on horseback. The foundation of Burgos is also very remarkable because it eventually became the capital and most important city of the County of Castile, nicknamed the Cabeza de Castilla or Head of Castile, although initially Burgos was just another border outpost.
Later, in 885 Count Diego Rodríguez was killed, probably in a battle against Muhammad ibn Lubb, although some historians speculate that Diego may have supported Afonso’s rebel brothers. They argue that this would explain why the County of Castile was divided after the death of Diego. However, Gonzalo Martínez Díez, author of El Condado de Castilla: La historia frente la leyenda argues that a more likely explanation is that Diego Rodríguez didn’t have an adult son capable of ruling a key borderland like Castile. The fact is there are very few historical records that detail events in Castile between 885 and 899, except for a few charters that don’t refer to a Count of Castile. Munio Núñez, who had repopulated Castrojeriz a few years before, is cited as the Count of Castile between 899 and 912, but there were also other counties that suddenly appear and that used to be under Castile. These counties are Amaya, Lantarón, Cerezo and Burgos, and they weren’t reunited by the Count of Castile until 931.
Moving on to Pamplona, in episode 33 ‘Muladis in Revolt’ I briefly mentioned how after the Second Battle of Albelda the Cordoban forces attacked Pamplona and captured the Pamplonese heir, Fortún Garcés. Fortún Garcés, nicknamed the One-eyed, spent the next 20 years of his life living in Córdoba, not in a prison though, he was well-treated during his stay, but he couldn’t go back to Pamplona until his father García Íñiguez died in 882. Fortún wasn’t the only captive of the Arista dynasty, his daughter, Onneca Fortúnez was held with him in Córdoba. The then 14-year-old Basque princess is known for marrying a member of the Umayyad dynasty, Abd Allah, who became Emir in 888 following the death of al-Mundhir. This is how Onneca became the grandmother of the Caliph of Córdoba Abd al-Rahman III, and as I explained in episode 25 ‘Emirate of Córdoba and Abd al-Rahman’ this is an example of sex as a symbol of power. As a result of all the intermarriages since the time of Abd al-Rahman I, the Arab identity of the Umayyads of Córdoba is a great example of how race can be or is a social construct, because there was little Arab blood running through Abd al-Rahman III’s veins . Later in 882 Onneca returned to Pamplona along with her father, and she married a Basque count, and as a result of that marriage she became an ancestor of the current King Felipe VI of Spain.
And what happened in Pamplona after Fortún Garcés was captured? Well, not much is known about the next 40 or 45 years, and we have contradictory interpretations of what happened. According to some historians such as José Lacarra, the caudillo García Íñiguez continued to play a role in the Upper March by reestablishing the alliance with the Banu Qasi, in this case through four sons of Musa ibn Musa who coordinated the seizures of Tudela, Huesca, Zaragoza and Monzón. With the help of the Banu Tujib, Emir Muhammad was able to reoccupy Huesca and ravage Pamplona, so the success of the Banu Qasi proved short-lived. The heir-apparent al-Mundhir launched campaigns against the strongholds of the Banu Qasi and Pamplona, but with the chaotic situation in al-Andalus and the campaigns of Alfonso III, Córdoba was unable to launch new raids. According to this version of the story, in 881 or 882 García Íñiguez died and Fortún Garcés returned.
However, based on some Arabic sources, Lévi-Provençal, a French historian gives a different version and interpretation about what happened before and after this little- known period. The Arista dynasty couldn’t have started to rule Pamplona in the first place if it wasn’t for the support of another great Basque family, the Jimenos, also called Jiménez or Jimena dynasty. According to Lévi-Provençal, after the sons of Viking Ragnar Lodbrok captured the caudillo of Pamplona, García Íñiguez, the Jiménez dynasty ruled in his absence. The large sum needed to free Íñiguez came not only from the Aristas, but also from the Jimenos and probably the Asturians too. Because of this incident, the Jimenos had enough influence to change the foreign policy of Pamplona and form an alliance with the Kingdom of Asturias, as they didn’t have kinship ties with any Muladi family. On the contrary, the Jimenos sealed marriages with the ruling Asturian dynasty, which was key to later remove the Aristas from power in 905. Íñiguez may have died in 860 or 870 instead of 882, and if that was the case the Basque leader García Jiménez acted as regent of Pamplona instead of Fortún Garcés, who was still captive in Córdoba. The weak foundations of the Aristas and the fact that Frankish chronicles give the Aristas and Jimenos the same rank reinforces the idea that the so-called Kingdom of Pamplona of the 9th century was not yet a kingdom.
Obviously the Umayyads didn’t like to see a united and stronger north, and within this context we can understand why the Andalusis were unable to launch more raids. When Fortún Garcés returned, Cordoban troops accompanied him, and the marriage ties with the Umayyads forced the Aristas to accept their position of vassals of Córdoba. The Jimenos were still loyal to the Aristas and there were marriages between the two houses. However, Fortún was already an old man, and so lacked the vitality, energy and military skills needed to defend attacks from some members of the Banu Qasi, Muhammad ibn Lubb and later his son Lubb ibn Muhammad. Muhammad ibn Lubb tried to restore the former glory of the clan, by first serving the Emir in the suppression of a revolt of another member of the Banu Qasi clan. This event happened in the context of a major and disastrous Cordoban offensive to liberate the hajib or prime minister Hashim ibn Abd al-Aziz, who had been captured by the Muladi rebel of Badajoz Ibn Marwan and handed over to Alfonso III. The apparent loyalty of Muhammad towards the Emir allowed him to reunite the Banu Qasi under his leadership and gain control over several strongholds of the Upper March.
From then on Muhammad ibn Lubb remained relatively loyal to the Emir, and he fortified the frontier with the Kingdom of Asturias of Alfonso III and the Kingdom of Pamplona. The Banu Qasi then ravaged Castile, Álava and Pamplona several times, and both Emir al-Mundhir and Abd Allah recognized the authority of Muhammad ibn Lubb, mainly because they couldn’t impose direct rule. Muhammad was trying to emulate his grandfather Musa ibn Musa, by controlling several fortresses including Arnedo, Tudela, Nájera or Lleida, in present-day Catalonia. However, the ambition of the new patriarch of the Banu Qasi became clear when he briefly gained control over Toledo, in the Middle March, where the Banu Qasi had to compete with the Berber Banu Di-l-Nun. The fame and power of Muhammad ibn Lubb earned him powerful enemies, and the governor of Zaragoza of the Banu Tujib clan conspired to have him killed in 898. His head was displayed for 8 days in the palace of the Umayyads of Córdoba, as a reminder of what happens to traitors and to show that the Umayyads were still powerful, even though at that time this wasn’t really the case.
However, the Banu Qasi would still cause trouble to Córdoba and the Christian kingdoms for a few more years. The son of Muhammad, Lubb ibn Muhammad, proved to be a worthy successor. Alfonso III of Asturias and Fortún Garcés of Pamplona joined forces and entered Banu Qasi territory, but they suffered a crushing defeat at Borja, near Tudela and Zaragoza. He was also successful raiding Álava and the Counties of Ribagorza and Pallars of Ramón I, and that earned him enough prestige to convince the Toledans that Lubb ibn Muhammad and the Banu Qasi were strong enough to rule them again. Nonetheless, as I said in the beginning of the episode, there was strong competition in the Upper March for hegemony, and other Muslim clans fought the Banu Qasi bitterly, notably the Arab Banu Tujib and an emerging Muladi family, the Banu al-Tawil of Huesca and Barbastro, who bordered the County of Aragon.
Lubb ibn Muhammad again defeated Alfonso III of Asturias and Ramón I of Ribagorza- Pallars in 904, and the successes of the Banu Qasi over the Asturians prompted Fortún Garcés of Pamplona to restore the alliance with the Muladi clan. Because of that, the Kingdom of Asturias, with the support of Ramón of Ribagorza-Pallars, planned a coup led by Sancho Garcés of the Jimena dynasty to overthrow the Aristas in 905. It’s possible that in exchange, the Jimenos recognized the Asturian pretension of hegemony over the other Christians of the Iberian Peninsula, at least theoretically. The dynastic change seems to have been peaceful, because the Aristas and Jimenos already had kinship ties and King Fortún Garcés was very old, although if there was military resistance it didn’t last long. This is how the Kingdom of Pamplona was constituted and consolidated, because as I explained in episode 29 ‘Kingdom of Pamplona and County of Aragon’ the Kingdom of Pamplona of the Aristas was ruled by a caudillo with weak institutions and a ruler that wasn’t much more powerful than other Basque lords. Therefore, the dynasty that continued to rule Pamplona and then Navarre until the 11th century started with Sancho Garcés, the first true King of Pamplona.
While this dynastic transition was happening in Pamplona, the Toledans assassinated their Banu Qasi governor and removed the influence of the Muladi clan, with the aid of the Banu Di-l-Nun and the Asturians. Things started to look bad for the Banu Qasi, and Lubb ibn Muhammad decided to attack Pamplona to restore his influence there. Unfortunately for him, he fell into an ambush and King Sancho Garcés killed him. This early military success was very important in confirming the legitimacy of Sancho Garcés’ rule over Pamplona. After that, the Banu Qasi still held out against the Pamplonese and Asturian advances in the region of La Rioja for some years. However, the power of the Banu Qasi clan quickly faded away and they disappeared completely from history in 924, when the remaining members split and some moved to the Córdoba of Abd al-Rahman III, while others moved to the Christian north.
We cannot speak about what was going on in the Pyrenean area without mentioning the County of Aragon. As discussed in previous episodes, the County of Aragon was a vassal state of the Kingdom of Pamplona, and during this tumultuous period there are two counts that should be mentioned. One is Count Aznar Galíndez II, who ruled Aragon from 867 until his death in 893. This Count of Aragon was married to a daughter of the caudillo of Pamplona García Íñiguez, and their daughter later married Muhammad al- Tawil, the Muladi governor of Huesca, in the area that bordered Aragon to the south. Muhammad al-Tawil was yet another Muladi rebel who competed for the hegemony of the Upper March. The Banu Qasi defeated him several times, although before Lubb ibn Muhammad died al-Tawil managed to conquer the stronghold of Barbastro. Muhammad al-Tawil was more successful against Ramón I of Ribagorza and Pallars and attacking his own brother-in-law Galindo Aznárez II of Aragon. Al-Tawil attempted to attack the Pamplona of Sancho Garcés I, but he was defeated, and he also attacked Barcelona in 913, resulting in his death in battle. As for Count Galindo Aznárez II of Aragon, one of his daughters married the son of Ramón I and, more importantly, another daughter married García Sánchez I of Pamplona, the heir of Sancho Garcés. Because of this marriage, after the death of Galindo Aznárez II in 922, the County of Aragon became fully integrated into the Kingdom of Pamplona until it regained independence in 1035.
To the east of the County of Aragon and west of the Spanish March were the Counties of Ribagorza and Pallars. This region consisted in a number of small valleys descending from the Pyrenees, which were at first administered directly by the Frankish counts of Toulouse. Nonetheless, all that changed when a son of Bernardo of Septimania killed the Count of Toulouse and usurped the county in 872. This instability allowed Count Ramón to gain independence from Toulouse and the Carolingian Empire. To stabilize his domains, he had to seek alliances and marriages with the Jimenos of Pamplona and the Banu Qasi, another of those links across religious divides that are common in the Pyrenees of this period, although later Lubb ibn Muhammad and Muhammad al-Tawil successfully raided and ravaged his counties. Nonetheless, the most interesting thing about Count Ramón is the constitution of a new bishopric, independent from the archdioceses of Urgell and Narbonne. In a sense, this is similar to how Alfonso II challenged the primacy of the episcopal see of Toledo, then under the Emirate of Córdoba, by claiming to have the remains of Apostle Santiago in Santiago de Compostela. The independence of the national ecclesiastical authorities was therefore as important as the political independence of a state. The newly established bishopric was that of Roda, and it’s quite interesting because that’s the reason why Roda de Isábena, a municipality with now only 40 inhabitants, has the spectacular Cathedral of Saint Vincent, a very impressive display of cultural heritage. Just before his death in 920, Ramón divided the ownership of the Counties of Ribagorza and Pallars in two among his four sons, and these two counties remained independent until they were absorbed by the Kingdom of Aragon one century and three centuries after their independence.
With the time we have left, I’d like to briefly discuss some economic aspects of the Kingdom of Asturias. The main idea is that the economy of the Kingdom of Asturias was a closed economy, based on the exploitation of the land and with very little trade. In that sense, it wasn’t different from the economy of the Visigothic Kingdom, or in fact the majority of economies of this time. Trade was restricted to essential goods that couldn’t be easily found, like salt or spices, and this economic self-sufficiency meant that each region had to produce almost everything that consumed, including food, clothes or tools. The circulation of currency continued the trend seen in the Visigothic Kingdom and currencies almost disappeared. Asturian kings never created new mints, and because of that products were traded based on a primitive barter system. Agriculture followed the rudimentary techniques of antiquity, with two-field and three-field systems and a lack of manure and fertilizers. While fields were privately exploited, pastures and forests were communal. On the other hand, animal husbandry was as important as agriculture in the Kingdom of Asturias, and aside from ecological reasons, some authors have suggested that the importance of cattle in the Christian north also has a political explanation. Since peasants were always worried about Muslim raiders, they intensified the production of those goods that could easily be taken to shelters. This explains the prominence of animal husbandry in the borderlands. although this argument is not very convincing to explain the prevalence of the activity in core Asturias or Cantabria, that were not threatened by Muslim raids. In any case, the economy of the Kingdom of Asturias contrasts sharply with the more open and market-oriented economy of the Emirate and Caliphate of Córdoba, as we will see in a few episodes.
THE VERDICT: In today’s verdict I want to discuss the importance of this period for the consolidation of both the Kingdom of Asturias and the Kingdom of Pamplona. With the colonization and foundation of fortified cities along the Duero river, from northern Portugal to Burgos, the Kingdom of Asturias ensured the protection of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria. Alfonso III managed to expand his kingdom and the Asturian church and network of monasteries to control lands with a good economic potential. Asturias was closer to regions more firmly controlled by Muslim communities than ever before, so at the same time it was evident that there would be more conflicts and things wouldn’t be as easy from then on. However, the power projection of the Kingdom of Asturias improved and King Alfonso III became a prestigious monarch, whose support was sought by some of the Andalusi rebels. At the same time, the establishment of the Jimena dynasty sealed a firmer alliance between Christians, in this case Asturias and Pamplona, who collaborated more frequently against the Muslims. The results of the alliance were very positive, as a more united Christian north could more easily defend from Andalusi attacks and even conquer their territories, as in the case of the region of La Rioja. Together, the northern Christians could resist a threat that was still some decades ahead, the Umayyad resurgence under Caliph Abd al-Rahman III and later the campaigns of dictator Almanzor. And with that, The Verdict ends.
In the next episode I will talk about the birth of Catalonia, with the establishment of the de facto independent Catalan counties under Wilfredo the Hairy. To end this episode, let me remind you that the podcast has a website, thehistoryofspain.com, that has a fantastic store with merchandising, history books, travel guides, books and materials to learn Spanish, and more. If you love the podcast, you may want to support it by becoming a patron or making a donation, but there are other non-financial ways to support the show, like reviewing the podcast or spreading the word. Please subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, YouTube and more and follow the social media accounts of the podcast, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Medium, because you will find exclusive content that I’m sure you will enjoy. I hope you enjoyed the episode and thank you for listening!
CALIPHS AND KINGS, 796-1031. Roger Collins
EL CONDADO DE CASTILLA (711-1038). LA HISTORIA FRENTE A LA LEYENDA. Gonzalo Martínez Díez
HISTORIA DE ESPAÑA IV. ESPAÑA MUSULMANA (711-1031). Ramón Menéndez Pidal
HISTORIA DE ESPAÑA VI. ESPAÑA CRISTIANA (711-1038). Ramón Menéndez Pidal
HISTORIA DE ESPAÑA. AL-ANDALUS: MUSULMANES Y CRISTIANOS (SIGLOS VIII-XIII). Editorial Planeta
HISTORIA DEL REINO DE NAVARRA. José Lacarra
HISTORIA MEDIEVAL DE LA ESPAÑA CRISTIANA. Editorial Cátedra
HISTORIA DE ESPAÑA DE LA EDAD MEDIA. Vicente Ángel Álvarez Palenzuela
NOTE: Credit for the intro and outro music to Jeris and Clarence Simpsons, the song is called ‘Conquistador’and it’s under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license