This is episode 45 called Umayyad interventions and in this episode you will learn:
- A brief overview of the history of Catalonia of the 950s and 960s
- Muslim expeditions against the Kingdom of León during the reign of Ordoño III
- The Umayyad interventions in North Africa and Umayyad-Fatimid conflict in the 950s
- Civil war during the reign of Ordoño III of León and its aftermath
- The coup d’état against Sancho the Fat
- The trip of Toda of Pamplona and Sancho the Fat to Córdoba to ask for the help of Abd al-Rahman III
- The Umayyad-Christian coalition to depose Ordoño IV of León
- The legacy of Abd al-Rahman III
- The humiliating audience of Ordoño IV with al-Hakam II of Córdoba
- The failed Christian anti-Cordoban coalition and the succession of Sancho the Fat
- A reflection about why the fact that Christian rulers declared themselves vassals of the Caliphate of Córdoba is often forgotten
I’m David Cot, host of The History of Spain Podcast, and this is episode 45 called Umayyad interventions. In this episode you will learn about the period of splendor of the Caliphate of Córdoba during the late reign of Abd al-Rahman III and al-Hakam II, which allowed the Umayyads to become the arbitrators of Christian affairs. Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to the podcast!
Before talking about the Caliphate or the Kingdom of León, I want to talk about the few things that we know about the history of Catalonia around this time. In Catalonia, Count Suñer of Barcelona consolidated the frontiers of his county by building castles like the Castle of Olérdola in the region of Alto Penedés, and Suñer made numerous donations to churches and monasteries. Later, in 947 Suñer decided to retire in a monastery and he left the Counties of Barcelona, Girona and Osona to two of his sons, Borrell II and Miró I, who had to co-rule the counties until the death of Miró in 966. Count Miró had some important initiatives, like the restoration of the acequia, that is, a community-operated watercourse, that brought the water from the Besós river in Moncada to Barcelona. Miró also ordered the building of another acequia for the Llobregat river, both of which are still in use, and these irrigation systems helped to improve the agricultural production of the County of Barcelona.
Count Miró made important donations to the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallés and Sant Joan de les Abadesses, and as he didn’t have descendants, in his last will Miró donated to the bishop of Barcelona half of his properties. From 966 and until 992, Borrell II continued to rule alone Barcelona, Girona, Osona and also Urgell. Because Borrell ruled the majority of Catalan counties, he used titles like Duke of Gothia or Duke of Iberia, to express his supremacy over the other Catalan counts and the continuity of the Hispano-Gothic tradition. Remember that the concept of Catalonia didn’t exist at that time, and people still didn’t know how to refer to this region, that’s why we see the coetaneous historian Richer of Reims using an old geographical concept like Hispania Citerior.
An event worth to mention from this period is how the abbot Cesáreo tried to emancipate the Catholic church of the Catalan counties from the jurisdiction of Narbonne. The abbot Cesáreo, founder of the monastery of Santa Cecilia de Montserrat, appears in a council at Santiago de Compostela, where he asked the bishops of Galicia and León to restore the archdioceses of Tarragona. Those present acceded to his petition and named Cesáreo archbishop of Tarragona, but neither back home nor in Rome Cesáreo found support to his claim, as the bishops of Barcelona, Girona, Vic and Urgell didn’t accept an abbot as their superior. But even of more relevance is the fact that the clergy and magnates of the former Marca Hispanica intensified their contacts with the Papal States in the second half of the 10th century, as if they were gradually substituting the legitimacy that the Carolingians theoretically gave them for the legitimacy of the Pope. Catalan counts, bishops and abbots continued to seek the legitimacy of their office and privileges by asking Carolingian rulers to confirm them, but now they also did a peregrination to Rome.
Moving on to León, the death of Ramiro II marked the decadence of the Kingdom of León during the second half of the 10th century, a period in which royal power was weak and couldn’t prevent the foreign interventions of Córdoba and Pamplona, nor the emergence of autonomist movements, notably in the County of Castile. It wouldn’t have been so easy to predict that development in 951, since the succession of Ramiro was peaceful. The man who occupied the Leonese throne was Ordoño III, son of Ramiro II and his first wife, a Galician noblewoman named Adosinda. From his second marriage with the Pamplonese princess Urraca Sánchez, Ramiro had one son, Sancho, nicknamed the Fat, and a daughter, Elvira, who became a nun and years later the regent of the Kingdom of León.
But focusing on Ordoño III, he had been first raised in the Portuguese cities of Viseu and Coimbra before moving to León, and he later got married with Urraca Fernández, the daughter of the Count of Castile Fernán González. As his father-in-law, Fernán González had no problems recognizing Ordoño as the King of León, but soon after the succession the half-brother of Ordoño, Sancho the Fat, sought refuge in Pamplona. Sancho the Fat had the ambition to become the King of León, and it was probably his grandmother Toda of Pamplona the person who gave wings to his dreams. Meanwhile, the all-powerful Caliph of Córdoba continued to send incursions against León in 951, 952, 953 and 955.
Abd al-Rahman launched three simultaneous expeditions from the marches against the Christians in 951, all with good results for the Muslims. The governor of Badajoz defeated a Leonese army of Galicia and made captive or enslaved 300 women and children. The governor of Toledo and the governor of Huesca, from the Banu Tujib clan, successfully dealt with the Leonese, Castilians and Pamplonese. In 953, there were two expeditions, one led by the governor of Badajoz and another by Ghalib ibn Abd al-Rahman, the supreme military commander of the Caliphal forces and governor of Medinaceli, the city that had substituted Toledo as capital of the Middle March. Again, from these razzias or raids the Muslims killed Christian soldiers, captured women and children and their riches, burned villages, and brought to Córdoba crosses and bells from churches.
The Caliph of Córdoba didn’t only launch expeditions against the Christian north, as the Umayyads had been busy with their interventions in North Africa. Around 950, Ceuta, Melilla and Tangiers were under the direct control of the Caliphate of Córdoba, while they had built a network of local alliances as well, mainly with members of the Zenata confederation and the Idrisids. In the 940s there was an important Berber rebellion against the Fatimids in Ifriqiya, led by Abu Yazid, known as the Man on the Donkey. Abu Yazid was a messianic leader, like many that have appeared among the Berbers, and he followed the Ibadi Islam, a movement that rejects the need of having only one caliphate to rule all Muslims and that rejects the need of Islamic leaders to be Arab. A Sunni caliphate like that of Córdoba considered Ibadi Islam a heresy, but that wasn’t an impediment for Abd al-Rahman III to support the cause of Abu Yazid and weaken the Fatimid Caliphate.
But even though the rebellion of the Man on the Donkey supposed a serious threat to the Fatimids for some years, it was ultimately crushed and the Fatimids won the support of several Zenata Berbers. In the 940s al-Nasir nominally dominated practically all Morocco and parts of Algiers, but the Caliph probably knew the fragility of these links and problems soon appeared. A branch of the Idrisid dynasty, former rulers of Morocco, showed signs of insubordination, with the defeat of Abu Yazid Abd al-Rahman had lost valuable allies, and the leader of the Zenata group of Algiers known as the Maghrawa switched sides and pledge allegiance to the Fatimids. Moreover, the new Fatimid caliph showed the same belligerence against the Umayyads as the first Fatimid caliph, so now things looked pretty bad for Abd al-Rahman III. And to make things even worse, an Andalusi ship attacked a Fatimid ship around Sicily, and the Fatimids responded overwhelmingly: they burned the harbor of Almería, including all its ships, and Fatimid soldiers sacked and killed people of the nearby area.
The attack on Almería, then a port of Pechina, was the first time a Fatimid army directly attacked Andalusi soil. Furious, Abd al-Rahman ordered his general Ghalib to lead a squadron against the coasts of Ifriqiya, and the capable general and now admiral caused important damages. Another consequence of the attack was that an influential sailor named Muhammad ibn Rumahis convinced the Caliph to convert the port of Pechina known as Almería in a city of its own right. Almería was then officially founded in 955, and Muhammad ibn Rumahis became governor of the province and the Admiral of the Caliphal fleet moored in Almería. On another note, the Caliph of the Fatimids launched an ambitious expedition in 958 and 959 to conquer Western North Africa, and as a result important cities like Tahert, Fez or Sijilmasa fell, and only Ceuta and Tangiers remained under Umayyad control. These two strongholds weren’t much, but Ceuta and Tangiers were enough to allow the successor of Abd al-Rahman, al-Hakam II, to continue the Umayyad interventions in North Africa.
Going back to the Kingdom of León, in 955 Ordoño III didn’t have to confront the Muslim forces, but he had to deal with something worse: a civil war. In the extremely concise Chronicle of Sampiro we are informed that Sancho the Fat took up arms against his half-brother Ordoño in 954, with the aid of his uncle García Sánchez of Pamplona and the Castilians led by Fernán González. The armies of Pamplona and Castile marched towards León to depose Ordoño III, but what seemed like an easy job proved to be impossible. Ordoño III had experience leading armies, and he proved to be an able military commander defending the cities of the Kingdom of León against the invading armies. With the probable aid of Leonese, Asturian and Galician troops, Ordoño III managed to frustrate the plans of Sancho the Fat and his allies. As I commented in episode 43 ‘Fernán González, Count of Castile’, the traditional theory of why Fernán González attacked his own son-in-law was that Ordoño had repudiated his wife Urraca, but that’s based on a false story that claims that the future king Bermudo II of León was a bastard son of Ordoño III. As an opportunist, Fernán González made an alliance with his father-in-law García Sánchez, probably to weaken the Kingdom of León and gain more autonomy.
But in any case, as the coup d’état failed, Fernán González had to become once again a vassal of King Ordoño III of León, while King García Sánchez and the pretender Sancho returned to Pamplona with the tail between their legs. The Chronicle of Sampiro mentions that Ordoño had to subdue some rebels in Galicia and he then sacked Lisbon, in the Lower March. Moreover, Christian sources mention a victory of Count Fernán González at San Esteban de Gormaz in 955, but Muslim sources tell a very different story. The Arabic chronicles say that general Ghalib and several frontier lords attacked Castile and the Castilians tried to attack their rearguard, but the Andalusis won and took 5,000 Christian heads to Córdoba. Whatever is the truth, we know that Abd al-Rahman III sent his Jewish foreign minister Hasdai ibn Shaprut to the court of León to negotiate peace. The Caliph promoted the truce, but formally it was Ordoño III who requested it, because in accordance with the Islamic mentality, a caliph couldn’t sue for peace and instead the dhimmis had to show their submission. King Ordoño III agreed to either hand over or at least shut down several frontier fortresses, and Count Fernán González was included in the agreement sometime later.
The peace treaty was the last major decision of Ordoño III before his death, because the eldest son of Ramiro died at the age of 30 in 956. His son Bermudo was a kid, so with the support of the Jimena dynasty and Fernán González the infante Sancho was finally able to fulfill his dream and become King of León. But although Sancho didn’t encounter open opposition against his coronation, part of the nobility of Galicia and León didn’t like him. Moreover, he was extremely obese, and that made him earn the nickname the Fat and the laughing stock of the realm. His first mistake was rejecting the truce agreed by Abd al-Rahman and his predecessor, Ordoño III, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to find out that the Cordobans soon restarted hostilities against León. The old Caliph of Córdoba launched an aceifa led by general Ghalib against Pamplona, and another against León, both being successful Muslim raids.
Because of his decision to reject the peace with Córdoba, his obesity, and the fact that he relied on Pamplona and Castile there was a coup d’état in 958. The conspirators were likely from León and Galicia, and they elected the infante Ordoño IV, son of Alfonso IV. Sancho the Fat had to take refuge once again in Pamplona, with his beloved grandmother Toda and his uncle King García Sánchez, while Ordoño IV made some important donations to Galician and Leonese bishops, proving that he enjoyed their support. Unlike it was traditionally said, Count Fernán González of Castile didn’t participate in the coup, and he remained loyal to Sancho the Fat for some months. If Ordoño III wanted his loyalty, he would have to pay a high price, and as a result of the negotiations Ordoño IV married Urraca Fernández, widow of Ordoño III and daughter of the Count of Castile.
Due to the brevity of his reign, we barely know anything about the domestic policy of Ordoño IV. The next thing we know is that the Queen dowager Toda of Pamplona sent an embassy to his nephew al-Nasir, to sign a peace treaty with Pamplona, cure the obesity of Sancho, and reinstall her favorite grandson on the Leonese throne. Toda recognized the superiority of Islamic medicine at that time, and Abd al-Rahman III knew very well who the physician of Sancho the Fat would be: Hasdai ibn Shaprut. The Caliph of Córdoba invited Toda and Sancho to the capital, and they were received there with all the pomposity that such an important victory for Islam represented. In effect, by requesting the help of Abd al-Rahman and travelling to Córdoba in person, the Jimena dynasty and the deposed King Sancho I of León were recognizing the hegemony of the Umayyads and their influence over the entire Iberian Peninsula. The Umayyad interventions and interferences in the Christian kingdoms would continue until around the year 1000, and if Christian rulers wanted to keep their position, they had to be obedient vassals.
In Córdoba, the Jew Hasdai ibn Shaprut prescribed a diet and a treatment with herbs, which successfully cured the obesity of Sancho the Fat. He was now Sancho the Medium Build, capable of riding a horse, leading armies, and more importantly, able of earning the respect of his former subjects. In exchange of their vassalage, the payment of tribute, and the cession of several fortresses, Sancho and the Pamplonese were able to form a coalition with the Umayyads to invade the Kingdom of León and depose Ordoño IV. In the spring of 959 the Muslim-Christian coalition took Zamora and then León, and Ordoño had to flee to Asturias. The old Queen dowager Toda of Pamplona had accomplished her wish to reinstall Sancho on the Leonese throne, and satisfied with her political successes she passed away, leaving a strengthened Kingdom of Pamplona.
After getting his throne back, King Sancho married the sister of the powerful Count of Monzón and gained the support of the influential Galician bishop Saint Rosendo to consolidate his rule over León and Galicia. Fernán González and the magnates of Asturias continued to support Ordoño IV for two years. The next thing we know is that Ordoño IV was expelled from Asturias in 961 and that he travelled to the main city of Castile, Burgos. It’s not clear where Fernán González was at that time, but according to some sources he was held prisoner for some months by his brother-in-law, King García Sánchez of Pamplona. In his absence, the citizens of Burgos held Urraca Fernández and her children, and they expelled from the Christian lands Ordoño IV. Ordoño IV had lost all his supporters, and like Sancho of León had done, he only had an alternative to recover the throne: Ordoño had to seek the help of the Caliph of Córdoba.
But Córdoba had a new Caliph, since the exceptional Abd al-Rahman III had died, and because of his relevance he deserves a discussion about his legacy. Abd al-Rahman III died in Córdoba on 15 October 961, at the age of 70 and in the apogee of his fame and power after ruling al-Andalus for almost 50 years. In his late reign, al-Nasir enjoyed the fruits of his labor, a result of his smart hard work, although he also had to see how Umayyad influence over Morocco and Algiers disappeared almost as easily as it was won. The days in which the Umayyad dynasty itself was threatened were all gone, although the memories of the broken unity of al-Andalus were not. The Emirate of Córdoba that Abd al-Rahman inherited was essentially Córdoba and little more, as a result of decades of internal strife and ethnic, religious and factional tensions. From that broken kingdom, al-Nasir knew how to turn it into a pacified and rich caliphate, thus becoming the first Umayyad to reclaim the title of his Syrian ancestors. Córdoba became one of the greatest metropoles of the world, only rivaled by cities like Baghdad or Constantinople, and thanks to the centralization and investments of the Umayyads Córdoba and Medina Azahara became the ornament of the world.
During the reign of Abd al-Rahman III, the processes of Arabization and Islamization of the Andalusi society were accelerated and practically culminated, and a common Andalusi identity emerged. That happened in part because Abd al-Rahman reduced the influence of the ancestral Arab clients of the Umayyads both in the army and the administration, although according to the 11th century historian Ibn Hayyan the increasing reliance on Berber soldiers was the main cause of the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba and the Umayyad dynasty. As soon as he could, he didn’t give a break to the Christian kingdoms of the north, as any good Muslim ruler would do, and although the Caliphal troops were sometimes soundly defeated, like at Simancas, in the end the Christian rulers declared themselves vassals of the Umayyads and paid tribute. Almost no new territories were annexed at the expense of the Christians, at least the Muslim marches had become secure again and the Christians had to stop their incursions.
Not only did the Caliphate of Córdoba became the absolute hegemonic force in the Iberian Peninsula, but the Umayyads also exerted much influence in Maghreb and Abd al-Rahman skillfully dealt with the Fatimid threat. As he consolidated his position over the years, he became a more absolute ruler, a true despot and autocrat. In the Caliphate of Córdoba of al-Nasir, the will of one man decided everything, but he was such an exceptional ruler in all aspects that everything worked fine. Problems in autocratic states usually start when a weak and mediocre ruler governs, as such rulers become puppets of people in the shadows, or people who don’t even try to hide their influence, as it will happen with Almanzor after the death of al-Hakam II.
The strong personality of Abd al-Rahman, his political cleverness, his determination, and the length of his reign is what allowed Abd al-Rahman III to become the most admired Andalusi ruler of all time. When people complained about the high taxes of the Taifa period, they remembered how taxes were collected in accordance with religious law under Abd al-Rahman III. Or when an Almoravid ruler criticized the construction of the opulent Medina Azahara, the Andalusis replied that Abd al-Rahman could start such an ambitious and expensive project because there were no Muslim captives at that time. This story reflects a criticism to the tight-fistedness of the Almoravids in patronizing arts, and also the pride and nostalgia of the Andalusis when they remembered how they used to rule themselves, without the intervention of the Moroccans. For the Andalusis, the reign of Abd al-Rahman III represented an era of prosperity and supremacy of the Muslims over the Christians, a time that would never come back.
Abandoning Abd al-Rahman III, his son al-Hakam II was a worthy successor, capable of continuing the legacy of Abd al-Rahman. Nonetheless, the reign of al-Hakam II is difficult to study, because we don’t have many sources talking in detail about the events of his reign, despite being a period of splendor for the Caliphate of Córdoba. The chroniclers mainly pay attention to the North African policy of al-Hakam II or his relationship with the Christian rulers, while we barely know anything about his domestic policy of his fifteen years of reign. Historians suppose that the reign of al-Hakam II was marked by peace in al-Andalus and it was basically a continuation of the same policies seen in the late reign of his father. Nonetheless, the government of al-Hakam II was less personalistic and authoritarian than Abd al-Rahman III, as he delegated the affairs of government to entrusted men. The prestigious general Ghalib ibn Abd al-Rahman continued to lead the Caliphal army, while the administration of the state was entrusted to a man named Jafar ibn Uthman al-Mushafi.
When he succeeded his father, al-Hakam II adopted the regnal title al-Mustansir bi-llah, meaning the one who seeks the victorious help of Allah. But as soon as he assumed the throne, he had to face the challenge of Sancho I of León and Count Fernán González and prove himself worth of that title. Sancho the Fat refused to cede ten fortresses of the Duero, as he had promised to Abd al-Rahman, and as we saw in episode 43 García Sánchez released Fernán González from prison and the Count of Castile then attacked Muslim possessions. The Christian rulers possibly thought that the succession would not be as smooth as it happened to be, or that al-Hakam II would not be a worthy heir of Abd al-Rahman. But al-Hakam II reacted quickly and prepared the Caliphal and frontier armies to fight the Christians. Meanwhile, without any safe-conduct and only 20 followers, Ordoño crossed the Muslim frontier and met general Ghalib ibn Abd al-Rahman at Medinaceli, the capital of the Middle March. Ghalib escorted Ordoño IV to Córdoba, where he was received as if he was still the King of León.
Al-Hakam II saw in him an opportunity to instill fear in the disobedient King Sancho, it didn’t matter that his father had supported Sancho, because the Umayyads only cared about extending their influence over the northern Christians. When he arrived in Córdoba, Ordoño IV visited the tomb of Abd al-Rahman III and prayed during a long time. For some days, Ordoño and his entourage were treated with the greatest attention and respect at Medina Azahara, and then Caliph al-Hakam II prepared an audience with a very strict protocol. In the audience, Umayyad family members, the saqaliba soldiers, viziers, judges, secretaries, civil officers, poets, and Islamic theologians were all present to show the opulence and power of the Caliphate. Ordoño and his entourage, this time including the judge of the Christians of Córdoba and the metropolitan archbishop of Toledo, arrived mounting horses.
Ordoño IV dismounted right before the pavilion where Caliph al-Hakam II would soon show up, and only when the Caliph arrived Ordoño was allowed to move forward very slowly. Near the throne, Ordoño threw himself on the floor in a humiliating position, and he continued to move forward while repeatedly standing up and throwing himself on the floor. He did so until he was so close to the Caliph that he could kiss his hand, as a symbol of submission, and Ordoño then walked backwards. Ordoño sat in a golden seat and after a moment of silence, al-Hakam promised him the best possible welcome. Ordoño then kissed the floor and exclaimed: “I’m a slave of the Commander of the Faithful, my lord and master. I’ve come to implore your favor, to contemplate your majesty, and to place myself and my people under your protection. May you grant me your powerful patronage and consent to count me among the number of your slaves. I believe that I’ve come to you with just demand and with the purest intention.”
The conversation went on, with Ordoño exposing his version of the story and humiliating himself, and Caliph al-Hakam promising to support his cause. The stateman and right-hand of al-Hakam, Jafar al-Mushafi, then met Ordoño and gave him some luxurious gifts, and a few days later the prime minister delivered the treaty that Ordoño had to sign to get the support of the Caliph. Ordoño had to proclaim himself vassal of Islam, hand over his son García as a hostage, and promise to never ally the Count of Castile Fernán González. When news of the aid that the Caliph had promised to Ordoño IV reached León, Sancho was terrified and he didn’t doubt to put an end to the Christian incursions and send an embassy to the sovereign of al-Andalus. According to Arabic sources, Sancho the Fat recognized himself and all his subjects as vassal of the Umayyads, but we don’t know the details of this agreement. All the promises al-Hakam had made to Ordoño turned out to be false, and after the audience Ordoño IV disappears from the historical record, presumably dying soon afterwards. However, his humiliating behavior both while facing the Christian and Umayyad coalition and the audience with al-Hakam II earned him the nickname the Bad, due to his cowardice and actions unworthy of a king. The two times widowed daughter of Fernán González, Urraca Fernández, married then the heir to the Pamplonese throne, Sancho Garcés II.
According to 14th century historian Ibn Khaldun and based on lost texts of Ibn Hayyan, peace between Córdoba and the Christian kingdoms didn’t last long. King Sancho I of León formed a coalition with all the Christian sovereigns of Spain, including the King of Pamplona, the Count of Castile, and the Counts of Barcelona, Borrell II and Miró I. This was the first time in which rulers of Catalonia formed an alliance with the other Christian powers of the Iberian Peninsula. The Caliph of Córdoba responded to the anti-Cordoban coalition with incursions against all the fronts, and the mighty Andalusi armies came back home victorious. The prestigious general Ghalib ibn Abd al-Rahman conquered the very disputed Castilian stronghold of San Esteban de Gormaz and the Basque stronghold of Calahorra, located in La Rioja. Caliph al-Hakam also ordered Ghalib to rebuild and expand the Castle of Gormaz, which then became the largest castle of Europe, strategically located on a hill north of the Duero river. Muslim armies from the Upper March attacked the lands around Barcelona in 965 too, and that’s why in the following year Count Borrell II sent an embassy to restore peace. The Count of Barcelona agreed to tear down some outposts and to declare himself vassal of the powerful Caliph of Córdoba. The diplomatic and military supremacy of the Caliphate over the Christians was confirmed with these victories.
The reign of Sancho the Fat continued to face challenges, as he didn’t enjoy the support of a large part of the Galician aristocracy. Sancho particularly lacked supports south of the Duero, in northern Portugal. The Count of Portugal Gonzalo Menéndez, the most powerful nobleman of the region, openly opposed Sancho, and the King of León had no choice but to suppress the revolt. However, according to the chronicler Sampiro, Sancho the Fat died near Chaves in 966 because he ate a poisoned apple that Gonzalo Menéndez sent to him during peace negotiations. The succession would fall in the shoulders of the 5-year-old son of Sancho, Ramiro III, and his aunt, the nun Elvira, assumed the regency. The internal weakness of the Kingdom of León continued, and Christian princeps kept sending envoys to Córdoba to keep the terrifying dragon half-asleep.
THE VERDICT: In today’s verdict I want to discuss the fact that, in the collective Spanish imaginary, people selectively forget that Christian rulers declared themselves vassals of the Caliphs of Córdoba. More people know that in the 11th century Taifa rulers paid tributes known as parias to the Christians, to the point that the term paria now means outcast. But that image of the victorious Christians of the Reconquista is only a partial image of the historical reality, to precisely fit the narrative of the Reconquista, but we have seen what happened in reality in this period. If you were a Christian ruler and you knew that the Caliphs of Córdoba could replace you at will, why would you try to fight a war that you can’t win?
In addition to losing your throne, you could lose your life and your family could be ruined, and your subjects would suffer the consequences of your arrogance too. Instead of assuming that high risk, better to swallow your pride, pay tribute, and declare yourself and your state vassal of the Caliph. That doesn’t mean that you are acknowledging your defeat, it can mean that you are smartly avoiding total destruction and waiting for an opportunity to attack. So please try to be empathetic with the realities and situations that people had to face throughout history, because that’s the only way to really understand history. And with that, The Verdict ends.
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