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In fiction, there are examples of conquerors laying claim to a place (castle, town, city, region) and then changing its name, sometimes even after themselves.
There are plenty of streets, towns, and regions named after people in non-fiction, too, but are there any that were named by its conqueror?
Alexandria of Egypt actually would count… Perhaps?. While it's true Alexander founded the city. It's also true he built it on top of the existing Egyptian city of Rhacotis.
Alexander the Great both founded cities and renamed existing cities after himself. It is claimed Alexander named 70 cities for himself in total.
From: The Many Alexandrias of Alexander the Great
According to the great biographer/philosopher Plutarch, Alexander founded at least 70 cities, although this number probably include pre-existing settlements renamed and/or repopulated by Alexander.
Alexander also named two cities after his horse Bucephalus and after his dog Perita respectively.
Examples of existing cities which Alexander renamed after himself include:
Also From: The Many Alexandrias of Alexander the Great
- Alexandria, Egypt: Easily the most famous of all Alexandrias and one that remains a major metropolis today of well over 4 million people, Alexandria, Egypt was founded in 331 BC by Alexander to be the new centre of Hellenism in Egypt. The new city was built on the site of the pre-existing city of Rhacotis; within a century, it was the largest city in the world. Despite the various rulers that have come and gone in the ensuring millennia (the Ptolemies, the Romans, the Sassanids, the Ottomans, the British, and the current republic of Egypt), Alexandria has maintained its prominence as the second city of Egypt behind Cairo…
- Alexandria by the Latmus: This is likely the ancient fortress city of Alinda in the modern-day Aydın Province of Turkey which dated back many hundreds of years before Alexander. Apparently refounded as a military settlement in 333 BC, the city was returned to its previous name sometime before 81 BC. Coins were still being minted here into the 3rd century AD. It, too, remains a titular Catholic see, although no bishop has held the title since 1976…
- Alexandria Arachosia: This is Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan. Prior to Alexander's arrival at the end of 330BC, this was likely the Achaemenid city of Kapisakaniš. Arachosiawas another satrap roughly equivalent to today's Kandahar and Helmand provinces. The name 'Kandahar' itself derives from 'Alexandria' (Iskandariya). Despite its location near the edge of the empire, the city remained culturally Greek for some time after Alexander's death. Today, Kandahar is known primarily as one of the major battlegrounds of the War in Afghanistan.
For a more complete list see the source given above.
Was there ever a conqueror who named the place after themselves? - History
William the Conqueror (c. 1028-1087), also referred to as William the Bastard, or William of Normandy, was the first English King of Norman origin. He reigned from 1066 to 1087. William was an illegitimate son of Duke Robert I and Arletta (Tanner’s daughter), probably the reason why his contemporaries decided to refer to him as “William the Bastard.” William became famous after he killed and defeated the very last Anglo-Saxon king of England during the Battle of Hastings.
William the Conqueror was born in 1028 in Falaise, Normandy. It is believed that William’s mother was one of the members of the Ducal household. However, she never married Robert and instead became the wife of Herluin de Conteville. Robert I became Duke on August 6, 1027, after succeeding Richard III, his elder brother.
Rising to the Throne
Before his death, Robert had convened a council early in January 1035 where the assembled Norman magnates swore fealty to William as his successor. Robert died on his return journey to Normandy in July, 1035 at Nicea, after embarking on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
By the time his father died, William was only 7 years old, which was a major challenge for him in becoming the duke. Another complication was that he was an illegitimate son. Fortunately, he received support from King Henry I of France and Archbishop Robert (William’s great uncle). The support of these two prominent figures enabled William to inherit his father’s duchy.
Authority of Duke William continued to get more established as he matured. In 1047, he won a battle at Val-es-Dunes and became a master of Normandy. William married Matilda in 1053, and together they raised 4 sons and 4 daughters. Matilda was Baldwin V’s daughter (the Count of Flanders).
From 1047 henceforth, William succeeded in dealing with rebellion in Normandy that involved his kinsmen. He also dealt with external threats successfully, including the 1054 attempted invasion by King Henry I. William’s military experience, success, and political expertise enabled him to elevate the powers of the Duke of Normandy to a whole new level. In 1063, he finished the conquest of Maine, and in the following year, he was acknowledged as overlord of Brittany.
Conquest of England
England’s King Edward died in early 1066 and was succeeded by Harold, who was the Earl of Wessex. Edward was William’s distant cousin. In 1051, Edward had promised William the throne and Harold swore to support that claim. So, when Harold was crowned as the new king, William became very furious.
On September 28, 1066, William went to England and established a camp near Hastings. At that time, Harold was in the northern region where he was fighting king Hardrada of Norway, who had invaded England. Harold defeated Hardrada at Stamford Bridge and then marched quickly south. On October 14, 1066, Harold’s army met William’s and the two were involved in a close-fought battle that lasted all day. During the battle, Harold was hit by an arrow and died on the spot. In addition to that, his two brothers were also killed and the English army collapsed.
On December 25, 1066, William was crowned in Westminster Abbey. With his victory came many changes. Many members of the local English leaders were replaced with Normans. Other changes included a more strictly controlled system of feudal government and castle construction.
The feudal system of governing was unheard of in England before the conquest but was very prominent in northern France. King William and his followers managed to secure their position during the next four years, especially after 1069 Yorkshire rising. At Yorkshire, William destroyed a lot of crops, livestock and houses, making sure that the area remained deserted and indigent for many years. He took over large parts of land that was seized from Saxon rebels and the old royal estates. He kept about 1/4 of the earnings from the land to himself.
William spent his first years of reign in England destroying any resistance and establishing his borders. He maintained authority of Anglo-Saxon law and gave little legislation. The famous Laws of William were not assembled until the Twelfth century. He placed the local government resolutely under his command and made use of recognized land tax and broad commitment to military service.
King William also exercised powers over the church. In 1070, he appointed Lanfranc (abbot of Saint Stephen’s Abbey) as the archbishop of Canterbury. Henceforth, Lanfranc became William’s agent and trusted adviser.
With William’s support, Lanfranc managed to promulgate many verdicts in a succession of councils that planned to bring the English Church in proportion to developments abroad. However, William persisted on his civil liberties to have authority over the church as well as its associations with the papacy. In fact, he would not allow a pope to be acknowledged and papal letters would not be given without his permission. In addition to that, he presided over the selection of prelates and did not allow bishops to excommunicate his tenants-in-chief or officials without his permission.
One of William’s most noteworthy acts was the commissioning of the Domesday Survey on December 25, 1086 that catalogued England’s population. Primarily, the survey was carried out so as to record accountability to the land tax. The results of the survey were recapitulated in the 2 great volumes called the Domesday Book. Six months after this, William demanded for pledges of fealty from vast landowners regardless of whether they were tenants-in-chief or not. This way, he was affirming his rights not just as a feudal aristocrat over vassals, but as a king over his subjects.
Final Years and Death
After making sure that his kingdom was well settled, King William went to Normandy, where he spent his last 15 years. He left his regents, mostly clergymen, to run the government of England. He spent his last few months of reign fighting the French under leadership of King Philip I.
On September 9, 1087 at Siege of Mantes, William fell from his horse and died from injuries received. Prior to his death, King William had divided his land between his 2 sons, with William Rufus getting the land in England and Robert receiving the one in Normandy. Soon after his death, a war broke between his sons William and Robert over control of Normandy as well as England.
King William was treasured for his interest in reforming the church, his efforts to uphold order, and his fair judgment in political matters.
2 responses to “William the Conqueror”
Where can I find more detail about his early life in Normady. ‘According to Wikitree’, lol, my ancestors supposedly helped him get away from pursuers during the conflicts surrounding his birthrights by loaning him horses and 3 sons, who apparently accompanied him to England and helped him establish his rule there. I read in one location that this same Gr, gr, gr….. grandfather was the only one who later volunteered to go to England in some official capacity after there had been a deceptive invite of hospitality then a massacre of the Norman troops at some castle in Southern England.
Thank you as T really enjoyed reading abot William the Conqueror . My research started with King Henry the 8 of England and it led me to William the Conqueror. Seems I do have Normandy blood line also. Interesting
The Conqueror’s fortress
In the 1070s, William the Conqueror, fresh from his victory but nervous of rebellion, began to build a massive stone fortress in London to defend and proclaim his royal power. Nothing like it had ever been seen in England before.
William intended his mighty castle keep not only to dominate the skyline, but also the hearts and minds of the defeated Londoners.
The Tower took around 20 years to build. Masons arrived from Normandy, bringing with them stone from Caen in France. Most of the actual labour was provided by Englishmen.
Image: King William I ('The Conqueror') by an unknown artist, © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Church and State
Initiallly it is thought that William hoped to retain many of the ruling families in their positions of power, yet by the time the Domesday Book is published (1086) it is obvious that there has been a major social change with only two of the previous ruling families still being in possession of considerable lands and estates. It appears that more than 400 rulers (or thegns) had lost their lands and were replaced by only 200 Norman Barons who had much larger estates and more power than the previous rulers.
In the church as befits a more literate organisation, records were kept of clergy appointments. In 1070 William deposed a number of English bishops and from that date ensured that no other English clerics were promoted to the role of Bishop.
The Chernobyl Three
On the morning of April 26, 1986, scientists got to work on a new series of tests in Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine. Soon after the tests began, things started going wrong. Very wrong. Two explosions rocked through the unit. Two unfortunate engineers were killed instantly. But that was just the start of the problem. More seriously, a fire had started in the light water graphite moderator reactor. Plumes of radioactive smoke were sent into the sky. A further 49 workers quickly fell ill and died over the next few weeks &ndash often enduring slow, agonizing deaths.
The accident meant that more radioactive fallout was sent into the atmosphere than was caused by either of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. The damage was massive. But it could have been so much worse. A second explosion could have caused the whole Chernobyl complex to go into full meltdown. Had this happened, experts estimate that nuclear fallout would have spread over half of Western Europe, killing untold numbers as well as destroying land and food crops. Tensions between the Western world and the Soviet Union might have also deteriorated significantly.
Thankfully, a second explosion was avoided, thanks to the three men who have gone down in history as âThe Chernobyl Three&rsquo &ndash or, testament to their bravery, as the Chernobyl âSuicide Squad&rsquo. The story goes that, several weeks after the first explosion, the plant chiefs became seriously worried that radioactive material was traveling in a molten flow towards the huge pool of water under the reactor. If the two came into contact, it would have caused a second steam explosion, potentially destroying Chernobyl&rsquos three other reactors. Someone needed to go into the pool and drain it.
According to most accounts, two plant workers and one soldier stepped forward to take on the job. Undoubtedly, the plant workers &ndash and most likely the soldier, too &ndash would have known that the basement of the reactor was highly radioactive. Even if they could get the job done quickly, they would still be exposed to lethally high doses. In short, it was a true suicide mission, and the Soviet authorities even assured the men that their families would be looked after financially.
Some historians have tried to separate myth from reality. It&rsquos been pointed out that all the men may well have been plant workers who were just unfortunate enough to be on shift at that time rather than actively volunteering for the work. The depth of the water in the cooling pool is also disputed. But what can&rsquot be denied is that, in darkness and in treacherous conditions, the three men put concerns of their own safety to the back of their minds and, after much trying, finally found the correct valves to open and drain the pool.
Since the Soviet authorities were determined to downplay the Chernobyl &ldquoaccident&rdquo, what happened to the three men is also a question of historical debate. It&rsquos believed that none of them actually died in the immediate aftermath of their heroic actions. Even if they didn&rsquot die of radioactive fallout &ndash and many workers did &ndash their heroism is by no means diminished. The three men stepped into the darkness beneath a molten radioactive core and put the good of humanity before their own safety.
(1) Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Version E, entry for 1087.
King William and the chief men loved gold and silver and did not care how sinfully it was obtained provided it came to them. He (William) did not care at all how wrongfully his men got possession of land nor how many illegal acts they did.
(2) In his book Ecclesiastical History, the monk, Ordericus Vitalis described what happened after an English rebellion in the winter of 1069. (c. 1142)
In his anger William ordered that all crops and herds. and food of every kind should be brought together and burned to ashes, so that the whole region north of Humber might be stripped of all means of survival.
(3) William of Jumieges, Deeds of the Dukes of the Normans (c. 1070)
William, Duke of Normandy, never allowed himself to be deterred from any enterprise because of the labour it entailed. He was strong in body and tall in stature. He was moderate in drinking, for he deplored drunkenness in all men. In speech he was fluent and persuasive, being skilled at all times in making clear his will. He followed the Christian discipline in which he had been brought up from childhood, and whenever his health permitted he regularly attended Christian worship each morning and at the celebration of mass.
(4) William of Poitiers, The Deeds of William, Duke of the Normans (c. 1071)
Duke William excelled both in bravery and soldier-craft. He dominated battles, checking his own men in flight, strengthening their spirit, and sharing their dangers.
William was a noble general, inspiring courage, sharing danger, more often commanding men to follow than urging them on from the rear. The enemy (at the Battle of Hastings) lost heart at the mere sight of this marvellous and terrible knight. Three horses were killed under him. Three times he leapt to his feet. Shields, helmets, hauberks were cut by his furious and flashing blade, while yet other attackers were clouted by his own shield.
(5) Pope Gregory VII made the following comments about William the Conqueror in a letter to a friend. (1081)
The king of England, though in certain respects he is not as religious as we would wish, still shows himself to be more acceptable than other kings. he neither destroys nor sells the churches of God.. and he bound priests by oath to dismiss their wives.
(6) Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Version E, entry for 1083.
He (William) made large forests for the deer, and passed laws, so that whoever killed a hart or a hind should be blinded. The rich complained and the poor murmured, but the king was so strong that he took no notice of them.
(7) William the Conqueror, confession on his on his deathbed (September, 1087)
I tremble my friends/ when I reflect on the grievous sins which burden my conscience, and now, about to be summoned before the awful tribunal of God, I know not what I ought to do. I was bred to arms from my childhood, and am stained from the rivers of blood I have shed. It is out of my power to count all the injuries which I have caused during the sixty-four years of my troubled life.
(8) David Bates, William the Conqueror : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)
Tutors named Ralph the Monk and William appear in charters which date from the late 1030s and early 1040s. Their presence, along with later indirect evidence, such as the poetry and histories written to celebrate the conquest of England, suggest that the young William received some sort of literary education, but specific detail is entirely lacking. The main contemporary narrative sources for William's career from the Norman side are the histories written by William of Jumièges and William of Poitiers and, from the English, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. All present problems of interpretation. Jumièges, who initially finished writing in the late 1050s, subsequently resuming work after 1066 and finishing in 1070 or 1071, wrote to glorify the history of Normandy's rulers. Poitiers, whose history was finished before 1077, wrote specifically to praise and justify William's career and the conquest of England. The chronicle, though annalistic and factual, has something of the character of a lament for the English defeat. The two most important historians of the first half of the twelfth century, Orderic Vitalis and William of Malmesbury, also have their own angles on events both were of Anglo-French parentage, with the former seeing the conquest as a moral problem to be analysed and the latter aiming to set events in the longer-term course of England's history.
#6 He carried out the Harrying of the North
In 1069, Edgar the Atheling, the last remaining person with a claim to throne of England, joined forces with the Danes and was able to take hold of the north from William. William responded by devastating the countryside in the north and paying off the Danes to return back home. To eliminate possibility of further revolt, William’s army continued slaughtering people and destroying all means of food production. Thousands of people died due to these campaigns and the famine that followed. This 1069-1070 devastation of northern England under the orders of William is called ‘Harrying of the North’.
John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and 90 other people developed cancer after filming “The Conqueror” near a nuclear testing site
Nowadays, no one in their right mind would choose to shoot a feature film near a functioning nuclear testing site. In 1927, American geneticist Herman Joseph Muller discovered that prolonged exposure to radiation can have crippling effects on human health, and by the early 1950s it was known that nuclear blasts produce massive amounts of fallout that is highly radioactive and potentially lethal. Still, the producers of the film The Conqueror, which was released in 1956, decided to shoot the film near the remote town of St. George in the Utah desert, merely a hundred miles away from the infamous Nevada Test Site.
Approximately 100 nuclear bombs of various yields were detonated at the Nevada Test Site throughout the 1950s. In 1953, 11 atmospheric nuclear tests were carried out in the area as a part of Operation Upshot-Knothole: The mushroom clouds were tens of thousands of feet high, and strong winds carried radioactive particles all the way to the Utah desert. In 1954, when the filming of The Conqueror began, the barren hills around St. George were likely covered with a layer of deadly nuclear dust.
The Conqueror, a film that depicts a turbulent love affair between a Mongol warrior chief named Temujin and the beautiful daughter of his worst enemy, features a stellar cast of John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Pedro Armendáriz. However, despite its high-profile cast and moderate box office success, the film was an absolute critical flop. Due to Wayne’s catastrophically bad portrayal of a barbarian warlord and Hayward’s underwhelming portrayal of his lover, the film was even listed as one of the 50 worst films of all time in 1978.
Poster for the film The Conqueror (1956).
Wayne and Hayward weren’t too dismayed by the harsh comments of the critics of the time. They were both filthy rich and immensely popular, so they simply continued making films. Unfortunately, the fact that the film was shot in the vicinity of a nuclear test site is thought to have affected their lives in a lasting way.
Namely, out of 220 people who worked on the production of The Conqueror, 92 died of cancer, including Wayne, Hayward, and Armendáriz. At the time when the filming took place, the authorities labeled the filming site as safe from harmful effects of radioactive fallout even though abnormal levels of radiation were detected when the area was examined.
Wayne in The Challenge of Ideas (1961)
Still, modern research has shown that the soil in some areas around the town of St. George likely remained dangerously contaminated until 2007. Therefore, the fact that almost half of the cast and crew died of cancer likely wasn’t a coincidence but a result of prolonged exposure to radiation.
Wayne first suffered from lung cancer and then died of stomach cancer in June of 1979. Although many of his friends tried to convince him that his condition was a result of exposure to radiation on the set of The Conqueror, he claimed that the illness was caused by his deadly habit of smoking six packs of cigarettes per day. However, Wayne’s sons Patrick and Michael, who visited the set in 1954 and played with Geiger counters around contaminated rocks, both developed benign tumors that had to be surgically removed.
Susan Hayward won her first and only Academy Award in 1958, two years after The Conqueror was released, for her role as a death row inmate named Barbara Graham in the influential film I Want to Live!. Fifteen years later, her career abruptly ended when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, which also likely resulted from exposure to high levels of radiation. She died 1975, at the age of 57.
Publicity photo of Susan Hayward
The Conqueror was produced by none other than the famous producer and business magnate Howard Hughes. In the early 1970s, Hughes realized that the people involved in the production of the film were dying. Since he was the person who approved the filming at the site near the town of St. George, and since he knew that the site was potentially dangerous, he felt so guilty that he paid $12 million to buy all existing copies of the film.
Although it cannot be definitively proven that the cancers that killed half of the cast and crew of The Conqueror were linked to the shooting location, experts argue that so many cases of the deadly illness among people who worked on the set cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence.
The Conquest of Spain
The conquest of Spain was the beginning of a new era in world history. It was the first interaction of Islamic civilization with the Latin West. For centuries, Muslim Spain was a beacon of knowledge to a European continent that was shrouded in the stupor of the Dark Ages. It was Spain, along with southern Italy, that was destined to act as a conduit for learning to the West. It played a central role in the reawakening of Europe.
The very name Andalus conjures up images of a bygone golden age of a brilliant civilization. Spain, as Andalus is known today, is situated in the northwestern corner of the Mediterranean. It is a peninsula, bound to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Mediterranean Sea. To the north the Pyrenees Mountains separate it from France and the rest of Europe. To the south the narrow Straits of Gibraltar connect the waters of the Atlantic with the Mediterranean. Geographically, it is a part of the Mediterranean world, although topographically, the rugged mountains of the Peninsula make it more a part of North Africa than southern Europe.
The Atlantic Ocean had arrested the westward advance of Muslim armies. But the narrow straits separating Morocco from Spain were not wide enough to stop their inexorable march northward into Europe. They were propelled by the vision of a world order wherein tyranny was abolished and freedom of religion guaranteed. The early Muslims considered Tawhid (meaning, a God-centered civilization) to be a Divine trust and the establishment of Divine patterns on earth, a mission. Neither the ocean nor the desert was an insurmountable barrier in their drive to establish a just order on the globe.
Faith was the driver for centralization of power during the first centuries of Islamic rule, just as today economics is the driver for centralization of power in the world. Faith cements civilization, advances knowledge and brings prosperity. Absence of faith destroys civilization, fosters ignorance and invites poverty. When the human soul is motivated by faith, nothing in this world—not greed, nor passion nor even glory—can detract it from the single-minded pursuit of a higher goal. People with faith work together and create civilizations. It is only when faith is weak that greed and passion win, co-operative struggle becomes impossible and civilization crumbles.
In the 5 th century, the Visigoths conquered Spain and established a kingdom there with Toledo as their capital. Not noted for their skills in administration and statecraft, the Visigoth monarchs invited the Latin Church in 565 to manage the affairs of state. In return, the church obtained official sanction to propagate its faith. The economic condition of the Spanish peasant improved little under this arrangement because he was now subject to double taxation, one from the despotic monarchs and the other from the local monasteries. The rich lived in opulence while the farmers suffered abject poverty. The condition of the Jews was even worse. They were precluded from owning land and prohibited from openly practicing their religion. When they protested, the Church came down hard on them. In 707, when the Visigoth king Vietza slackened in the persecution of the Jews, the clergy promptly deposed him and installed a playboy army officer, Rodriguez, as the new king. The Jews were forced into slave labor and their women condemned to servitude.
The contrast between Spain and North Africa at the beginning of the 8 th century was as marked as it can be between two geographically adjacent areas. The Muslims had arrived on the scene with a new creed and a new mission, preaching the freedom of man and justice before the law. The openness of the Muslims was not unknown in Spain and many of the serfs and the Jews had escaped and found a new home in Maghrib al Aqsa (Morocco).
North Africa was seething with vibrant energy. The Berber revolts had been overcome. The Berbers were enlisting in the Muslim armies with the newfound zeal of faith. In Damascus, Waleed I had ascended the Omayyad throne. A skillful administrator and shrewd statesman, he had successfully crushed a rebellion in far-away Khorasan and had even outmaneuvered the Chinese emperor into a stalemate in Sinkiang. Waleed is known in history as the Emir who gathered around himself the most capable generals of any Omayyad. Noteworthy among these generals were Muhammed bin Qasim (the conqueror of Sindh and Multan), Qutaiba bin Muslim (the conqueror of Sinkiang), Musa bin Nusair and Tariq bin Ziyad (conquerors of Spain). The Omayyad governor of the Maghrib, Musa bin Nusair, waged a constant struggle with the Visigoths for the control of Maghrib al Aqsa (The western frontier, today’s Morocco). One by one, the Visigoth strongholds on the Mediterranean had been captured. Only Ceuta remained under Visigoth control and Count Julian, a Visigoth deputy, governed it.
It was customary among the Visigoth nobles to send their daughters to the royal palace so they could learn the etiquette of the court. In accordance with this custom, Count Julian sent his daughter Florinda to the court in Toledo. There, the profligate Rodriguez raped her. Julian was outraged and sought to take revenge on Rodriguez for this act of dishonor. Besides, Julian’s wife was the daughter of Vietza, whose throne Rodriguez had usurped. At this time, the area around Ceuta was governed by Tariq bin Ziyad, a deputy of Musa bin Nusair. Julian traveled to Kairouan to confer with Musa and ask him to invade Spain and humble Rodriguez. The timing was right. Musa ordered Tariq to cross the straits with a contingent of troops.
According to Ibn Khaldun, there were three hundred Arab and 10,000 Berber troops in the army of Tariq bin Ziyad. The towering rock near which Tariq landed is called Jabl al Tariq, the mountain of Tariq ( in English Gibraltar), and the straits separating North Africa from Spain are called the Straits of Gibraltar. Tariq was an outstanding soldier, a brilliant general, a man of faith and determination. He burned the boats that had brought his forces across the straits and extolled his men to march forward in the name of Tawhid or perish in the struggle. A skirmish ensued with the local Visigoth lord, Theodore Meier, in which the latter was soundly defeated. The year was 711.
Rodriguez heard of the invasion and collecting a force of 80,000, advanced to meet the Muslim force. Tariq called for reinforcements and received an additional contingent of 7,000 cavalrymen under the command of Tarif bin Malik Naqi (after whom Tarifa inSpain is named). The two armies met at the battlefield of Guadalupe. The Muslims were fighting to establish a just political order whereas the Visigoths were fighting to protect and preserve an oppressive scheme. The Arabs were superior in the art of mobile warfare. They were superb horsemen and had mastered the art of rapid enveloping movements in their advance from the desert across Asia and . The Visigoths were accustomed to fighting in static, fixed positions. There was no contest. Even though the Muslims were outnumbered, the Visigoths were cut to pieces. Rodriguez was slain in battle.
The defeated Visigoths retreated towards Toledo, the ancient capital of Spain. Tariq divided his troops into four regiments. One regiment advanced towards Cordoba and subdued it. A second regiment captured Murcia. A third advanced north towards Saragossa. Tariq himself moved swiftly towards Toledo. The city surrendered without a fight. Visigoth rule in Spain came to an end.
Meanwhile, Musa bin Nusair landed in Spain with a fresh contingent of Berber troops. His first advance was towards Seville. The defenders closed the city gates and a long siege ensued. The offensive capability of the Arabs, backed by military engineering and technology, was superior to the defensive capabilities of the Visigoths. Musa had brought his Minjaniques (machines) with him, which threw heavy projectiles at the city ramparts demolishing them. After a month, the city surrendered. The Umayyad armies now fanned out across the Spanish peninsula. In rapid succession, Saragossa, Barcelona and Portugal fell one after another. The Pyrenees was crossed and Lyons France was occupied. The year was 712.
Musa was ready to continue his drive into France and Italy. But in the meantime, CaliphWaleed I fell ill in Damascus. In the power struggle that ensued, Musa was called back to take his oath to the next Caliph Sulaiman. Musa appointed his son Abdel Aziz as the Emir of Spain, left another son Abdallah in charge of North Africa and hastened to the Umayyad Capital. During their conquest of Spain, the Muslims had captured an enormous amount of booty. Musa was eager to hurry up and bring the conquered booty to Walid I so that the dying Emir would appreciate the services rendered by Musa. Meanwhile, Sulaiman, the heir-apparent, wrote to Musa to slow down his return so that by the time the war booty arrived in Damascus, Walid I would be dead and the booty would belong to Sulaiman. However, Musa, out of courtesy to the dying Emir, did not oblige Sulaiman. He arrived before Walid died. Sulaiman was very upset at losing his chance to claim the war booty. So, when he ascended the throne, he stripped Musa of all rank, accused him of misappropriating war funds and reduced him to stark poverty. Musa lived the rest of his life as a beggar, half blind and at the mercy of public charity.
The Jews and the peasants in Spain received the Muslim armies with open arms. The serfdoms were abolished and fair wages were instituted. Taxes were reduced to a fifth of the produce. Anyone who accepted Islam was relieved of his servitude. A large number of Spaniards became Muslim to escape the oppression of their former masters. The religious minorities, the Jews and the Christians, received the protection of the state and were allowed participation at the highest levels of the government.
Spain, under Muslim rule, became a beacon of art, science and culture for Europe. Mosques, palaces, gardens, hospitals and libraries were built. Canals were repaired and new ones were dug. New crops were introduced from other parts of the Muslim empire and agricultural production increased. Andalus became the granary of the Maghrib. Manufacturing was encouraged and the silk and brocade work of the peninsula became well known in the trading centers of the world. Andalus was divided into four provinces and efficient administration was established. Cities increased in size and prosperity. Cordoba, the capital, became the premier city of Europe and by the 10 th century had over one million inhabitants.
Dr. Qanita Sedick, Consultant Hematopatholigist, Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wrote on July 17, 2017:
THE ISLAMIC CALIPHATE OF SPAIN-A BRIEF OVERVIEW
A century after the death of the Prophet (SAW), Islam had spread from the Arabian Peninsula to the Indus and Amu Darya rivers to the Pyrenees Mountains. Baghdad and Cordoba in Spain had become the economic super power of the world. Arabic was the universal language of culture and knowledge as the English language is today.
The Islamic Caliphate of Spain was established and led by early Muslims who were strong in Tawheed.
Al Andalusia, as it was known will forever remain a privileged place in the history of Islam, a dream that was a reality, tattooed in the hearts and minds of all that beholds the remnants of its Islamic splendor.
This magnificent empire began with invasion of Arabs and Berbers from the North, Morocco. In 711 (AH 92), these Arab and Berber forces crossed the strait of Gibraltar (or Jabal Tariq) and established an Islamic Caliphate on the Iberian peninsula. Between 711 and 1084 (AH 477), Islamic Spain, Al Andalusia became a magnificent land from which great scientific, astrological, medicinal and mathematical concepts emerged.
It was Musa ibn Nusayr, a young companion of the Prophet (SAW) and brave warrior with outstanding integrity that mediated events in the region.
Musa bin Nusayr was born in 19 AH during the reign of Umar bin Al Khataab (RA).He received his military training in Syria. During the reign of Marwan bin Al- Hakam (and Umayyad Caliph) he was appointed governor of Egypt and later of Qayrawaan (Tunisia) to bring peace and stability to the Berbers. In North Africa Musa encountered a young Berber from Morocco, Taariq bin Ziyaad. Tariq’s excellent commanding skills and superior courage attracted the attention of Musa bin Nusayr who appointed him as ruler of Tangier, a Moroccan Mediterranean city.
Spain was ruled by the Visigoth’s who conquered the region in the 5 th century and whose tyrannical King Rodriguez was at the time exploiting the inhabitants and ruling with severe oppression and racism. Increased uprisings lead to the ruler of Ceuta near Tangier to seek the assistance of Taariq bin Ziyaad whose reputation as a fair and just ruler had reached across the Mediterranean shores. Taariq sought permission from his senior Musa bin Nusayr. Musa discussed the situation with the caliph of Baghdad at the time, Waleed bin Abdul Maalik who instructed that a reconnaissance expedition be send forth to assess the situation. On the 5 th Rajab 92 AH (711), Taariq sailed across the Mediterranean Sea with seven thousand Muslim soldiers mainly Berbers and assembled at the Mountain later known as Jabal Taariq or Gibraltar. At this point Taariq burned the boats that had brought his forces across the straits encouraging his men to strive forth in the name of Allah. He marched towards Toledo to face the king’s army of over 100 000 warriors armed with the most powerful equipment. The ensuing battle lasted 8 days. The Muslims were courageous and fearless, their firm faith leading them to a remarkable victory on 28 th Ramadan 92 AH. The King fled the battlefield. Taariq marched ahead and conquered the cities of Cordoba, Granada and Malaga. In order to strengthen the Muslim army, Musa bin Nusayr, with eighteen thousand soldiers reached the Iberian shores and conquered Zaragoza, Tarragona and Barcelona. These battles lead Musa and Taariq all the way to central France when Waleed bin Abdul Maalik recalled them back to Damascus thus halting further progression.
Under Muslim rule oppression was abolished, fair wages was instituted and taxes were reduced. Christian and Jews received protection from the state to practice their religion.
The next era of Islamic progression in Andalusia occurred when the Abbasid Caliphate defeated the Umayyad Dynasty and assumed the power of the Caliphate in Bagdad.
In order to establish their position as the Caliphate, the Abbasids shifted the Islamic administration from Damascus to Baghdad and pursued in killing all the important members of the Umayyad Dynasty. Amongst them was the devout and brave Abdurrahman bin Muawiyyah (grandson of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham) who escaped the assassins and sought refuge in the Andalusian mountains in 755 (AH 138). Abdurrahman I was deeply religious adhering firmly to the Quran and Sunnah and his superb military and leadership skills ensured the cementing of an early Islamic state. After some years he established himself as the Amir and ruled from the capital Cordoba until 1030 (AH 421).
Abdurrahman I began the construction of the great Cordoba Mosque whose powerful presence symbolized the presence of Islam on the Iberian Peninsula. The grand mosque with its magnificent horseshoe arches became a renowned place to many scholars and scientists from around the world. It was also a central hub for congregational prayer, Islamic jurisprudence, military expeditions, research and learning for the next 300 years. Great scholars of medicine, astrology, mathematics, agriculture, literature and various other sciences both religious and academic emerged from Cordoba. For instance Al Zahrawi is renowned for the invention of surgical tools and sutures.
Each subsequent ruler of the region played a vital role in cementing an Islamic system. Hisham I 788-796 (AH 172-180) introduced a legal system based on Islamic jurisprudence which would be used for centuries to come in the western world. Abdurrahman 11, 822-852 (AH 207-38) was a warrior who bravely fought with emerging Christians in the north, the Vikings, internal revolts and continued to consolidate vast territory under his rule. In the year 929 (AH 316) when the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad disintegrated he proclaimed the title of Calipha.
As an expression of his increased power he commanded the construction of the magnificent Madinat Al Zahra. Madinat Al Zahra thus became the capital of Islamic rule. Madinat Al Zahra transformed into the ultimate palace of grandeur and luxury.
It was the period of Abdurrahman II that marked the arrival of an individual known as the legendary Ziryab. He was a musician from Iraq who arrived at Madinat Al Zahra and established a school of Music amongst other things. New concepts alien to the simple Berbers and Arabs was introduced by Ziryab. He taught them the etiquette of fine dining and sophisticated singing. Ziryab is also credited with new techniques for cooking and make up, dining with silken tablecloths, new fashions and hairstyles. The result was importation of luxurious consumer goods to obtain this elegant life.
The influence of this materialism on the Muslims in part epitomized by the coming of Ziryab to the Iberian Peninsula may have contributed to the trails and disintegration of Cordoba.
No doubt these influences lead the Muslims to preoccupation with extravagance, following worldly desires and abandonment of military expeditions.
The increasing threat of the Christians from the north in the wake of disunity and materialism amongst the Muslims lead to decentralization of the power of the Caliphate in Cordoba.
The next one hundred years was marked by the emergence of the Taifa Kings- the proliferation of separate states governed by power hungry kings striving for territory amongst each other.
When the discord of the Taifah kings increased in severity in conjunction to the Christian threat of Alfonso V1 in 1086 (AH 479), Yusuf bin Tashafin, the leader of the Al Moravids in Marrakesh was summoned by the Taifah rulers.
The Al Moravids (or Moors) were the Al Murabittun, who ruled Marrakesh at the time dedicating their lives to military expeditions. The empire was founded by Yusuf bin Tashufin between 1058 and 1060 (AH 450-52). They dominated North Africa from 1059 to 1147 (AH 451-539) and subsequently dominated Spain from 1070 to 1146 (AH 412-541).
After being summoned by the Taifah rulers, these powerful warriors surged across the Sahara desert to inflict a crushing defeat on the Christian King Alfonso VI in the famous battle of Zallakah. History bears testament to fearful horses from Alfonso’s cavalry bolting from the oncoming Moors, the king himself leaving the battlefield with a dagger in his thigh. Islam was once again firmly established on the Iberian Peninsula.
Yusuf bin Tashafin struggled to unite the Taifah rulers due to differences in legal and religious opinions. He eventually began to occupy Tarifah, Cordoba, Seville, Almeria, Lisbon, Badajoz, Denia, Jativa and Murcia under Al Moravid rule. Before his death in 1106 (AH 500), Yusuf ibn Tashafin designated his son Ali Ibn Yusuf as governor of Al Andalusia. In 1115 (AH 505), Ibn Yusuf conquered the Balearic Islands and the Kingdom of Saragossa.
In 1121 (AH 515) the Al Mohads emerged from Marrakesh. The Al Mohads were Berbers from the Atlas from the Atlas Mountains whose leader was Ibn Tumart 1089-1128 (AH 482-522). Their capital was Tinmal a city near to Marrakesh. They were firm monotheists and Islamic revivalists who believed that the Al Moravids had become lax with religious issues and subjected to extravagance. They declared the Al Moravids infidels and waged a war against them. After the death of Ibn Tumart, Abd Al Mumin was proclaimed the caliph and during his reign, he captured Oran, Tlemclen, Fez, Aghmat, Tangier, Seville and Marrakesh. During their reign the Al Mohads attempted to enforce a strict observance of Islamic laws. A period of uprising and instability followed. As a result of the unrest the Christians fled to the north of Spain. Many Jews relocated to Castille. Within a few generations, many of these Jews had moved on and settled in the south of France . The had brought many principal Arab works with them which they translated into Hebrew and then into Latin which was later distributed throughout Europe. The western world thereby acquiring the classical sciences through Arab translation.
The Al Mohads position was consolidated under the rule of Abu Yaqub Yusuf 1139-1184 (AH 534-580), the successor of Abd Al Mumim. He defeated Alfonso VIII at Alarcos in 1195 (AH 592) laying siege to Madrid, Toledo, Alcala and Gaudalajarra. His son and successor Abu Abdullah Muhammed conquered the Balearic Islands in 1202 (AH 599) however he was defeated at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 (AH 609).This battle marked the decline of the Al Mohad dynasty and the gradual entry of the Marinids to the capital Marrakesh. The loss of Al Mohad Seville to the Castillian King Ferdinand 111 in 1248 marked the end of the Al Mohad dynasty.
The Al Mohads had been religious reformers and attempted to discipline the extravagance of the Hispano –Muslims as evidence by the more conservative architectural style of the Al Mohads still witnessed to a certain degree in Seville today. During their rule, the Al Mohads founded public libraries under the influence of the Sultan Yusuf ibn Ali who had a passion for books and learning. Unfortunately, all of these libraries were destroyed.
It was during this period that Ibn Rushd, also known as Averoes, the Muslim philosopher who set out to integrate Aristotelian philosophy with Islamic thought was expelled from the Iberian Peninsula by the Al Mohads.
The fall of the Al Mohad dynasty left a vacuum in the Southern Iberia. This resulted in a struggle between native Iberians also known as Muladies. In the ensuing power struggle, Muhammad ibn Nasr Ibn Al Ahmar emerged as a formidable figure. He ruled the frontier town of Arjona and gradually expanded his influence. After much internal conflict and rebellion, he decided to surrender territory to King Ferdinand III of Castille in exchange for a twenty year truce and a tribute of 150 000 maravedis. This point marks the emergence of the Nasrid Kingdom in Granada in 1232.
The Banu Al Ahmar decided to establish a legacy in Granada and in the year 1238 Abdullah Ibn Al Ahmar laid the foundations and commanded the construction of the Al Hambra. The original castle was modest and largely abandoned during the first half of the 11 century. Between 1052 and 1056 the castle was rebuilt by Samuel ibn Nagrallah.
The Al Hambra had no water supply of its own. The Nasrid Sultans devised a complex and ingenious engineering system to divert water higher on the mountain from the Darro River through a network of pipes, communicating reservoirs and waterwheels. Water was channeled from a distant part of the river descending to the Generalife where it was able to serve both the Al Hambra and the city. Thus, the Al Hambra was gradually transformed from the old fortress to a palatine city.
The Nasrids emblazoned the phrase “There is no conqueror but Allah” on all buildings and by this believe, Islam survived for an additional two and half centuries on the Iberian Peninsula under Nasrid rule.
Granada fell under siege and in 1492 (AH 898) Mohammed X11 (Known as Boabdil) surrendered the city to Ferdinand and Isabella.
From the 13 th century many Muslims and those converts to Christianity whether sincere or not continued to live in Spain under harsh Christian Monarch rule until 1610 (AH 1019) when they were expelled from Spain by Phillip III.
Initially the Christian Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to respect the religion of the Muslims, however they did not honor their promise for very long. The Spanish Inquisition devised by the catholic sovereigns (1478) had begun which terrorized all of Europe.
The Muslims had brought the noble teachings of Islam to Spain and liberated Europe from the dark ages , bringing culture, civilization and knowledge to its shores for 800 years .Under Islamic rule Christians and Jews lived in tranquility. In tribute to this, the Spanish Inquisition instituted by the Catholic Monarchs was wrought with executions of those very same Muslims who refused to denounce their faith and those who denounced their faith out of fear. They were burned alive, burned at the stake and subjected to severe prolonged torture.
In parallel to ongoing torture of Muslims by the catholic Monarchs, captive Muslim scholars were forced to share their knowledge. Spanish Christians who persisted in the study of sciences, medicine, astrology and mathematics were few in number and even nonexistent. Vast numbers of original Arabic scripts and books were also destroyed. The last execution of the Spanish inquisition was in 1826 during the wars of independence.
The Al Hambra is the only palace from the Muslim era that has remained relatively intact because the king and queen declared it a Royal residence and ensured its preservation. It was the wish of the triumphant catholic sovereign to preserve the Al Hambra as an eternal testimony to their conquest.
When Napoleons troops occupied Granada, they established their barracks in the Al Hambra and when forced to flee the city in 1812, they used dynamite to destroy a large number of Towers.
The revolution of 1868 marked another change to the status of the Al Hambra. The state transferred the jurisdiction of the Al Hambra from the crown to itself and declared the complex a national monument in 1870.
Islam on the Iberian Peninsula, current day Spain, remained strong for eight centuries.
We have to wonder when beholding the remnants of this glorious period- How did the Muslims lose this domination?
While many theories can be discussed exhaustively, to a large extent we have only ourselves to blame. Preoccupation with extravagance, weak rulers and weakness in faith lead gradually to the loss of Islam on the Iberian Peninsula.
All that remains today of that great period in the world is the name of Allah- emblazoned on its walls, survived intact through centuries of wars, unrest, change and earth quakes bearing testament to that fact that indeed “There is no conqueror but Allah”.
Robert Wilde is a former writer for ThoughtCo who wrote about European history. Wilde received a master's degree in medieval studies and a bachelor's from Sheffield University. His first dissertation was on portents and miracles in the work of Gregory of Tours, and his second was on the 13th-century benefactors and purchases of Beaulieu Abbey.
As a historian, Wilde is interested in many periods. However, his professional specialty is early medieval European history.
Wilde received a master's degree in Medieval Studies from Sheffield University, where he also earned his bachelor's degree.
Robert authored two textbooks in the History in an Afternoon series:
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