This is episode 23 called Fall of the Umayyad Caliphate and in this episode you will learn:
- Important announcement regarding the new website that has now a store and the start of monetization of the podcast, through Patreon, donations, ads and the store
- The military failures of wali Anbasa and the rise of taxes, leading to increasing internal strife, as it was happening in the rest of the Caliphate
- The reappointment of Abd al-Rahman al-Ghafiqi as wali of al-Andalus and the last major expedition of the Umayyad Caliphate in the West, devastating Aquitaine but ending as a disaster with the Battle of Tours
- After the death of al-Ghafiqi, factionalist Arab conflicts and ethnic struggles between Arabs and Berbers became uncontrollable
- The start of the Great Berber Revolt in Maghreb due to the second-class treatment that Muslim Berbers received
- Permanent political division of Islam after the success of the Great Berber Revolt in the Battle of the Nobles and the Battle of Bagdoura
- First steps towards the self-government of al-Andalus
- Rebellion of the Berbers of al-Andalus, who abandoned their garrisons of the north and allowed Alfonso I of Asturias to take them
- The coming of the Syrians who survived the Battle of Bagdoura under Balj ibn Bishr
- The suppression of the Berber revolt in al-Andalus and the seizure of power by the Syrians
- Last attempt to restore Umayyad caliphal rule in al-Andalus, by agreeing to a governor to reestablish peace and order and stop the civil war
- Restart of the civil war and coup d’état led by the Syrians al-Sumayl and Yusuf ibn Abd al-Rahman, who became the last wali of al-Andalus although he was de facto independent from Umayyad central authority
- Success of the Abbasid Revolution in 750 and fall of the Umayyad Caliphate
- The arrival in al-Andalus of an exiled survivor of the Umayyad dynasty, Abd al-Rahman, who would establish the Emirate of Córdoba in 756
- Reflection on the consequences of the Abbasid Revolution for the Islamic world
Hi listeners of The History of Spain Podcast, I’m your host David Cot, but before we listen to the episode as usual, I need to make some important announcements. If you follow the social media accounts of the podcast, you already know that I’ve been working on major changes for the website these last couple of weeks. The website now actually works and is responsive, but the most important new feature is that thehistoryofspain.com has now a store. In this store you can find merchandising that I’ve designed, like a The Verdict T-shirt, a History of Spain Podcast mug or meme pillow cases that honor Pokémon. Moreover, as soon as I sell three products, I will add history books, books to learn Spanish, travel guides, cookbooks and a few classics of Spanish literature. Meanwhile, you can check out the top 10s of each category in the blog of thehistoryofspain.com.
More importantly, I need to start monetizing the podcast, because it’s very time consuming and it has direct costs. I know that with the current number of downloads I won’t make much money, but at least I would like to stop losing money by making the podcast. That’s why there are four channels that I am going to use to monetize the podcast. One is the store of thehistoryofspain.com that I’ve already mentioned. Another is a donation page that you can find in the website, where you will be able to make a one-time contribution to support the show. The third is advertising, so starting with the following episode I will probably add one or two ads in each episode. Finally, one of the most widely used platforms to monetize content is Patreon, so I’ve set up a Patreon page, where you will be able to contribute starting from $1. There are different perks, like an ad-free and one-week early access to the episodes, T-shirts or a shout-out in every episode. I hope you all understand it and you don’t find any inconvenience. Thank you for listening to this announcement, and now let’s start with the show.
I’m David Cot, host of The History of Spain Podcast, and this is episode 23 called Fall of the Umayyad Caliphate. In this episode you will learn about the last years of al-Andalus as a province of the Umayyad Caliphate. Subscribe to the podcast to not miss an episode!
In the previous episode I talked about the start of the Reconquista, with the Battle of Covadonga and the establishment of a Christian bastion in northern Spain, the Kingdom of Asturias. In today’s episode I will go back to the history of Muslim Spain, following the narrative from where we left, with the appointment of Anbasa as wali of al-Andalus in 722. The government of Anbasa was characterized by a rise in taxes and the lack of success of the military campaigns, and we could say that from the Battle of Toulouse onwards both the Umayyad Caliphate in general and al-Andalus specifically faced increasing internal strife. During the caliphate of Yazid II from 720 to 724, there were financial issues, military setbacks and rebellions across the empire. For instance, the governor of Ifriqiya, who had supervisory power over al-Andalus, was assassinated due to his humiliations and increased taxes on the Berber population.
In Muslim Spain, the wali Anbasa sent expeditions in Septimania and Asturias, to suppress the rebellion of Pelayo. He failed in both attempts. In Septimania, the Umayyad soldiers preferred to raid the countryside rather than engage in a costly siege on Carcassonne or Nîmes, while in Asturias the terrain and the lack of a good potential booty caused the retreat of the Muslim forces to more secure positions. To make things worse, the Umayyad Caliphate raised taxes to the dhimmi subjects. It’s said that in al-Andalus taxes on Christians and Jews were doubled and even the non-Arab Muslim population had to pay more taxes. As you can imagine, that created general discontentment, except among the Arabs whose privileges remained intact.
Despite his previous failure, Anbasa attacked again Septimania in 725, and this time he managed to subdue Carcassonne and Nîmes. According to primary sources, there was a flux of Christian refugees into the Frankish kingdoms during this period, among them intellectuals from the Spanish clergy that would bring their knowledge and books to France. Those waves of Spanish Goths of the 8th century had a substantial influence in the later Carolingian Renaissance. Then between 725 and 730 there were quite a few governors, and this period was characterized by Arab factional strife between the Qays and Yaman and the restitution of properties to Christians and reduction of taxes on the People of the Book. The Caliph Hisham I, who reigned from 724 to 743, knew about the dangerous discontentment of the people of al-Andalus, as well as in other places of the caliphate, so he had to achieve a fragile balance between sustainable finances and preventing rebellions.
Then in 730 the general al-Ghafiqi was again appointed wali of al-Andalus. The election of this prestigious general augured the restart of military operations. According to some accounts, Munuza, the Berber governor of Asturias, had been transferred to the eastern Pyrenees, where he rebelled against the Umayyads by forming an alliance with Odo of Aquitaine and marrying one of his daughters. This way, Arab raids in Aquitaine would stop and Munuza and his Berber troops could rule themselves without the discrimination of the Arabs. An alliance as such shows how many times realpolitik overcame religious differences. Anyway, by 731 Charles Martel, de facto ruler of France, defeated the Saxons, which allowed him to turn his attention to the south against the independent Duchy of Aquitaine. Odo of Aquitaine was busy defending the northern frontier of his duchy, so when al-Ghafiqi decided to put down the rebellion of Munuza the governor and general faced no serious opposition. Al-Ghafiqi then executed Munuza and he marched towards Pamplona to prepare an expedition against Aquitaine and France. The Umayyad Caliphate had too many internal problems to keep conquering new lands, but they could raid the non-Muslim dar al-harb to capture slaves and booty.
The war between Charles Martel and Odo of Aquitaine ended favorably for France, but there would be no quarter for Aquitaine. From Pamplona the wali al-Ghafiqi crossed the Pyrenees through Navarre with an army numbering 15 or 20,000. When the Umayyad army managed to cross the Pyrenees, the army was divided into multiple smaller units to rampage the countryside of the region of Gascony, the southwestern region of modern France inhabited by Basques. The Muslims quickly ravaged the region and captured its main city, Bordeaux. The Duke of Aquitaine prepared an army to repel the army of al-Ghafiqi and the two armies met in the Battle of the River Garonne. As opposed to the Battle of Toulouse, the Aquitanian army suffered heavy losses and was defeated, which opened the way to march north of the Duchy into France. The prospects of a large booty were very good, and the Umayyad soldiers couldn’t be happier.
The Muslims plundered northern Aquitaine, and meanwhile Odo reorganized his decimated army and sent a messenger to notify his rival Charles Martel about the impending danger. The Duke of Aquitaine proposed an alliance to fight the Muslims, and Charles Martel agreed if Aquitaine formally submitted to France. Odo, in no position to bargain, accepted the deal. Al-Ghafiqi’s army continued to raid deep into France, until near central France the Frankish coalition and the Muslim forces met in the Battle of Tours in 732. In the Battle of Tours, the Frankish and Aquitanian army decisively defeated the Muslim army and killed its governor and general, al-Ghafiqi. The Franks were clever and had exploited the main aim of the invading expedition to their advantage. They had spread news that Frankish scouts were raiding the Muslim camp, so many Umayyad soldiers abandoned the battlefield to secure their booty and in a matter of a few hours they were all in full retreat. That’s the power of knowing the prime motives of your enemies.
About the magnitude of this battle, the number of troops involved in this battle has been inflated for many years, much like the Battle of Covadonga. The two sides probably numbered between 10,000 and 20,000, much larger numbers compared to Covadonga, but it’s exaggerated to say that the outcome prevented the Muslim invasion of France. This was a large-scale raid, and yeah you could say that if the Muslims had won the Battle of Tours as in the Battle of Guadalete, the objective of the expedition could have changed. However, even if that had happened, the Umayyad Caliphate was overstretched and opposition within the caliphate against the Arab elite was growing, so it’s unrealistic to think that the Muslims could have kept France under their control for long. Politically though, this battle was significant for France, because it paved the way for the emergence of the Carolingian Empire by reversing the independence of the Duchy of Aquitaine. For al-Andalus, the Battle of Tours marked the end of the booty economy, that had helped to relieve the dissatisfaction of the Berbers and the pressure on the resources of the conquered lands. After 732, there were a few other attempts to raid Frankish lands, but the magnitude of those raids never reached again the magnitude of al-Ghafiqi’s expedition.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the Umayyad troops retreated to Narbonne, in Septimania, in a quite disorganized way because they couldn’t come up with a candidate to lead them. The reasons behind the lack of agreement were both the factionalist struggles among the Arabs and the ethnic conflicts between Arabs and Berbers, a prelude of the increasing infighting that led to the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate. A few weeks later, the new wali appointed from Ifriqiya arrived in al-Andalus, a man named Abd al-Malik. Abd al-Malik ordered a few new incursions into France and Aquitaine, including an attack on Pamplona because the city had been captured by the Basques of Aquitaine. Unluckily for the governor, the results of those expeditions were poor, and he couldn’t take Pamplona back.
Because of his military failures, Abd al-Malik was replaced by Uqba ibn al-Hajjaj in 734. The new wali imprisoned his predecessor on charges of corruption and started a series of energetic expeditions against the Kingdom of Asturias, the Frankish region of Provence that was briefly occupied, and Pamplona, that was recaptured in 740. On the other hand, in the late 730s Charles Martel carried out a devastating campaign in Septimania. The Franks failed to take major cities such as Narbonne or Nîmes, but they devastated the countryside, so I guess that the emigration of the inhabitants of Septimania is very understandable now.
The appointment of Uqba needs to be understood within the bigger picture. The Caliph Hisham had managed to keep things relatively peaceful in the core of the caliphate, but unrest in the Western provinces was notorious. The Arabs belonging to the Qays faction, also known as Syrians, were excessively favored over the Yaman of southern Arabia, all while the Berbers were being discriminated. Furthermore, the finances of the caliphate were in bad shape, due to the recent military failures both in the East and West. To solve the situation, Caliph Hisham appointed a man named Ubayd to govern Ifriqiya, and therefore supervise Maghreb and al-Andalus too. But Hisham would regret to have appointed Ubayd, because it’s like this governor did everything to make the situation worse.
Ubayd made the stupid mistake of increasing taxation on the Muslim Berbers and treating them as dhimmi, contrary to Islamic laws that said that Muslims had to be taxed equally and that racial discrimination was not tolerable. If different taxation wasn’t enough, the governor of Ifriqiya seized many Berber girls to take as concubines for the Arab elite. And we need to add to all this explosive combination the traditional discrimination that Berbers had to face in terms of worse lands and worse positions within the administration and military. Those hungry for influence and power saw their opportunity to sow discontentment. The Kharijites, a sect of puritans of Islam, had been preaching in Maghreb since the 720s. The Kharijites promised a new order, where all Muslims would be equal regardless of the race or tribe. They even spoke about the duty of Muslims to revolt against those rulers who deviated from strict Islam, so from their point of view they had every right to revolt against the Umayyads.
As you can imagine, this message appealed to the Berbers and in 739 the Great Berber Revolt broke out. The main tribes of modern Morocco and Algeria formed an alliance and elected a Berber caliph to lead them, after the governor of Ifriqiya sent an expedition to Sicily that had left Maghreb almost defenseless. In a very short time, the whole Maghreb was under rebel control. An organized and large-scale revolt like that took everyone outside Maghreb by surprise. I’m sure that the wali of Ifriqiya Ubayd was very angry and displeased to see how those he considered second-class Muslims dared to openly oppose him and the Caliph. Ubayd had to quickly recall Sicily’s expedition and he gathered the Arab aristocrats of Ifriqiya. The governor formed a formidable army that was dispatched to Tangiers, another reserve army was stationed in Tlemcen in modern Algeria, all while the forces of Sicily still had to return.
In an epic encounter, the Berber rebels overwhelmed and slaughtered the Arab noble cavalry before they could get reinforcements, in what became known as the Battle of the Nobles in 740. The Berbers kicked the asses of those Arab nobles that had made the mistake of looking down on them, and news of the massacre spread like wildfire. The reserve army of Tlemcen fell into panic and started massacring the local population, which provoked yet another massive uprising. Not a very smart move, if you ask me. They could have foreseen that the Berbers have never been calm and pacifist, so if you are a minority don’t outrage them. The Sicilian expeditionary force arrived too late to join the nobles in the Battle of the Nobles, so they then retreated to Tlemcen only to find that the city had fallen too. The only thing they could do was to request reinforcements directly from Damascus. The Berber Revolt had definitely gone out of hand.
What was happening in Western North Africa echoed through al-Andalus. After the death of al-Ghafiqi, the treatment of the Arab elite towards their fellow Berber coreligionists worsened substantially. The Berbers vastly outnumbered the Arabs in al-Andalus, so the egalitarian message of the Kharijites threatened the Arab rule over the Iberian Peninsula as much as in Maghreb. The wali Uqba was as much responsible for the discontentment of the Berbers as the wali of Ifriqiya or Maghreb. Consequently, to prevent a general uprising the Arab Andalusis deposed Uqba and replaced him for his predecessor, the more popular Abd al-Malik. It’s very notorious that it wasn’t the governor of Ifriqiya or Caliph Hisham the one to depose Uqba, instead the local Arab Andalusis elected the wali themselves based on what they considered more suitable to calm the Andalusis down. That was the first step towards the self-government of al-Andalus.
Meanwhile, in Damascus the Caliph Hisham knew that the situation was very worrisome since it threatened the pillars of the caliphate and the unity of Islam. In early 741 he ordered the destitution of Ubayd and the dispatchment of a 30,000-men strong Arab Syrian army. The Syrian expedition made a stop in Kairouan, the capital of Ifriqiya, and then moved to where the remaining 40,000 troops of Ifriqiya were stationed. The Syrians and Ifriqiyans almost squabbled among themselves, because the early Arab settlers of both Ifriqiya and al-Andalus were of Yaman origin, the rival faction of the Syrians. This internal rivalry was to play a role in the upcoming disaster of the Battle of Bagdoura. In the Battle of Bagdoura, the Berber rebels, heavily outnumbering the Umayyad forces but ill-equipped, crushingly defeated the Arabs again. The Ifriqiyan army warned the Syrian one that the Berbers weren’t as easy to defeat as they were assuming, and that attacking without an actual plan and without being cautious of ambushes could be fatal. The Syrian army, looking down on the Yaman Ifriqiyans, dismissed their advice and decided to attack the Berbers without careful planning.
The nephew of the commander, Balj ibn Bishr, wanted to prove himself in the battlefield, so he convinced his uncle to let him command the Arab cavalry against the Berbers. But the Berbers, experienced in fighting in the mountains, had set up an ambush and started throwing stones at the Arab cavalry. Even though the weapons were very rudimentary, the ambush proved highly effective and the majority of the Arab horses laid now dead. Balj ibn Bishr, outraged because he hadn’t expected the Berbers to be that skilled, charged the Berber lines frontally. The Berbers opened a corridor, then closed it again, and that’s how they cleverly divided the remaining Arab cavalry from the infantry. The cavalry was the main advantage of the Umayyad forces, so now the Berbers had the upper hand with their numerical advantage. It wasn’t difficult to kill or capture the Syrian and Ifriqiyan troops, and only a third of the original force managed to escape. The remaining Ifriqiyan forces returned to Kairouan, while 10,000 Syrian troops under the too impetuous Balj ibn Bishr took refuge in Ceuta.
News of the Umayyad disaster in the Battle of Bagdoura quickly spread through North Africa and al-Andalus. In North Africa, even more Berber tribes joined the revolt and they gathered the largest Berber army the world has ever seen, with the aim to conquer Kairouan. Kairouan resisted thanks to the aid of an Egyptian army, but the human cost was very high for both the Umayyads and the Berbers. Kairouan, the core of Ifriqiya, remained under Umayyad hands, but modern Morocco and Algeria got their independence and were divided into multiple kingdoms and chiefdoms under Kharijite rebels. Nonetheless, what matters to us is what happened to al-Andalus. The situation following the disaster at Bagdoura was very unstable. The wali Abd al-Malik couldn’t prevent the spread of the Berber revolt in al-Andalus, and Berber garrisons north to the Douro or Duero river mutinied to march south. I will talk in detail about this in the next episode, but King Alfonso I of Asturias, successor of Pelayo, must have thought that God had finally heard his prayers. He exploited to his advantage the Great Berber Revolt and conquered the northern Muslim posts that would remain from then on under Christian control.
It’s in this moment when the remaining Syrian army under Balj ibn Bishr comes into play. The Syrian army was under siege in Ceuta, and they knew they wouldn’t last long there. So, Balj ibn Bishr desperately requested the aid of Abd al-Malik to guarantee a safe passage to al-Andalus. The Andalusi wali initially refused because he thought that they would only destabilize more the region, and he went as far as to publicly torture a merchant who had sent supplies to Ceuta. Nonetheless, when Abd al-Malik heard about the Berber rebels of the north heading south, he had no choice but to accept the Syrian offer to quash the rebellion. The Arab Andalusis only imposed one condition: the Syrians would leave as soon as the rebellion was put down. Balj ibn Bishr accepted.
Soon after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, the Syrians crushed the three Berber columns that were heading towards Algeciras, Córdoba and Toledo. Since many of the Berber warriors had been killed or captured, some lands were available to settle in al-Andalus. So, after the Berber rebellion in al-Andalus had been crushed, the Syrians had to make a choice: return to North Africa, where more Berbers were willing to wipe them out, or betray the Arab Andalusis and settle in Spain. It wasn’t a hard choice, since the Syrians were the most powerful military force present in al-Andalus. Balj ibn Bishr just deposed Abd al-Malik and had him brutally executed and crucified, claiming that he was avenging the death of the merchant that had helped the Syrians while in Ceuta. Balj ibn Bishr assumed power, but it wasn’t left uncontested. The Andalusi Arabs were mostly Yaman as opposed to the Syrians, so after the ethnic conflict between Berbers and Arabs had been suppressed, it was now the turn for a factional civil war between Arabs. The Andalusi Arabs launched an attack against the Syrians in Córdoba, only to be defeated, but at least they killed Balj ibn Bishr.
The two sides appealed to the governor of Ifriqiya to solve the situation, and the Ifriqiyan governor appointed a new wali that was expected to restore peace. The new governor decided to liberate the Arab and Berber prisoners, and to settle the Syrians in different cities of southern Spain. They were given a third of the revenues of the area they settled in, in exchange of military service. Politically, the presence of those Syrians was also important for the establishment of the Umayyads in al-Andalus, since some of them had tribal affiliations with the Umayyads. These events changed substantially the history of al-Andalus, because until this point the Berbers had a much more important presence compared to the Arabs, and they could have established their own separate state dominated by Berbers. But the coming of the Syrians changed that and Arab presence was more notorious from then on, especially in southern Spain which became the heartland of al-Andalus.
Peace in al-Andalus didn’t last long, though. The assassination of Caliph Walid II provoked the start of the Third Fitna, a civil war that undermined the Umayyad dynasty and allowed the success of the Abbasid Revolution. When news of the coup in Damascus reached al-Andalus, the civil war restarted. The agreed wali appointed by the governor of Ifriqiya was overthrown, and the Syrians seized control of al-Andalus, while the Yaman Arabs tried to regain control. In 747 the most influential Syrian was al-Sumayl, but he decided to place another man as governor of al-Andalus, thinking that he would just be a puppet governor. The last wali of al-Andalus was Yusuf ibn Abd al-Rahman, who had been acting as governor of Narbonne. Yusuf excluded the Yaman Arabs from office and he acted as al-Sumayl had expected, but the Yaman didn’t just wait and sit, they launched an offensive and the Syrian and Yaman armies clashed in a suburb of Córdoba. The Syrians defeated the Yaman and the victory consolidated the authority of Yusuf over his master al-Sumayl. Yusuf thought that he could get rid of the influence that al-Sumayl exerted upon him, and he literally distanced himself from al-Sumayl by sending him to govern Zaragoza.
All this was happening while the core of the Umayyad Caliphate was about to fall. The internal turmoil of the caliphate weakened central authority, and social tensions were at its critical point. From the eastern fringes of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Revolution spread, a revolution that was about non-Arab Muslims, Shia Muslims and non-Muslims overthrowing together the Umayyad dynasty. After the revolution succeeded in 750, non-Arab Muslims were granted equal social rights and that started a period of cultural, scientific and economic flourishment known as the Islamic Golden Age. The immediate consequence of this for al-Andalus was that the region became de facto independent, and Yusuf was very happy about that. He could already imagine himself establishing an independent dynasty in al-Andalus.
Unluckily for him, a certain exiled survivor of the Umayyad dynasty planned to land in Spain to rule these distant lands. The Abbasids had attempted to kill every member of the Umayyad dynasty, and they almost accomplished it, killing almost all of them except for a few, including prince Abd al-Rahman. Quick note here, his name is pronounced as Abd al-Rahman, but I will pronounce it in the Spanish way, Abderramán. Going back to the story, Abd al-Rahman barely escaped from the assassins that pursued him. In his escape from Damascus to the Atlantic fringes of North Africa, he saw how his own brother was assassinated, and the only thing that Abd al-Rahman could do was keep running away without looking back. Imagine how frustrated, depressed and humiliated the Umayyad prince must have felt. And there he was, with very few supporters to his cause, travelling without an army to a far distant land. Abd al-Rahman was in a desperate situation, but he didn’t give up the hope that he would succeed in surviving. Even if it was out of desperation, I can only admire Abd al-Rahman for his determination.
From Ceuta, Abd al-Rahman sent his loyal Greek freedman Badr across the strait to contact those Syrian clients that had always been loyal to the Umayyads. At that time, there was a revolt of the Yaman, they laid siege on Zaragoza, and Yusuf didn’t do anything to help his patron. While rebel Yaman troops were besieging Zaragoza, Badr approached al-Sumayl to receive Abd al-Rahman in al-Andalus, but al-Sumayl feared that the Umayyad prince would rule Muslim Spain and that he would get nothing from this offer. Therefore, the bulk of the Syrians, presumably the best potential supporters of the Umayyads, refused to let Abd al-Rahman in. A few, around 500, did swear their allegiance to the exiled prince, but Abd al-Rahman knew that he needed more than that. He approached the Yaman Arabs, an odd alliance, because the Umayyads had traditionally favored the Syrians. However, new circumstances demanded new alliances. Many supporters of Yusuf, Yaman Arabs and Berbers, switched sides and welcomed the arrival of Abd al-Rahman in the southern coast of Spain in September 755, after 5 years of running away. Both Yusuf and al-Sumayl had attempted to make concessions to him such as several estates or a marriage to prevent him from claiming legitimacy to rule over al-Andalus, but Abd al-Rahman didn’t take the bait.
The Umayyad prince landed in a land plagued by internal power struggles, ethnic tensions, and widespread famines caused by years of bad harvests. It was not the paradise, but if it had been a land ruled by order and peace Abd al-Rahman wouldn’t have stood a chance. By early 756, Abd al-Rahman had gathered a not very impressive army of around 2,000 soldiers. Despite its small size, the army of Abd al-Rahman was able to swiftly capture Seville, defeat the wali Yusuf and al-Sumayl, and install himself in Córdoba. There Abd al-Rahman proclaimed himself Emir of Córdoba in 756, an equivalent title to prince or ruler of an Islamic state smaller than a caliphate. But even though the Emirate of Córdoba was founded in 756, Abd al-Rahman was far from controlling al-Andalus. He essentially ruled the Guadalquivir Valley, and pretenders such as the former governor Yusuf or the Syrian commander al-Sumayl were still alive and rebellious. It wouldn’t be until 779 that the Emirate of Córdoba united all al-Andalus.
THE VERDICT: In today’s verdict I want to discuss more in-depth the consequences of the Abbasid Revolution. It’s true that the Umayyad Caliphate was not advancing any further and that it lost control over Maghreb a decade before its fall, but the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate led to the permanent political division of the Muslims. Afterwards, never again were the Muslims united under a single political entity, and it became much more difficult to expand Islam. The natural limits of expansion and the discrimination and overextension of the Arabs under the Umayyads certainly played a major role, but the Abbasid Revolution is to blame too. It’s also notorious that although the non-Arab Muslims and non-Muslims overthrow the Arab regime, the caliph was still Arab and the lingua franca for the Muslims was still Arabic. But the good thing that happened under the Abbasids, and that spread throughout the Islamic world, was the Islamic Golden Age, with important cultural and scientific works, as well as the introduction in Europe of new technologies such as paper. Overall, we can say that from a military point of view the Abbasid Revolution wasn’t good for Muslims, but from a social and cultural point of view it was. In the end, why would a non-Arab embrace Islam if he faced discrimination as non-Muslims did? The Umayyad regime was a victim of its own success, and it inevitably fell when the proportion of non-Arabs and non-Muslims was impossible to assimilate under the previous discriminatory policies. And with that, The Verdict ends.
In the following episode I will cover the expansion of the Kingdom of Asturias under Alfonso I, the Asturian kings from 739 to 783, and the intellectual life of Asturias. 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 material 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 Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I hope you enjoyed the episode and thank you for listening!
EARLY MEDIEVAL SPAIN: UNITY IN DIVERSITY, 400-1000. Roger Collins
KINGDOMS OF FAITH. A NEW HISTORY OF ISLAMIC SPAIN. Brian A. Catlos
MUSLIM SPAIN AND PORTUGAL. Hugh Kennedy
HISTORIA DE LA ESPAÑA DE LA EDAD MEDIA. Vicente Ángel Álvarez Palenzuela
A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL SPAIN. Joseph F. O’Callaghan
ESPAÑA MUSULMANA (SIGLOS VIII-XV). Rachel Arié
CONQUISTADORES, EMIRES Y CALIFAS: LOS OMEYAS Y LA FORMACIÓN DE AL-ÁNDALUS. Eduardo Manzano
LA CONQUISTA ÁRABE, 710-797. Roger Collins
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