Biography of Califa de al-Andalus Abd al-Rahman o Abderramán III (891-961)

Eighth emir of the dynasty of Umayyad independent of Córdoba (912-929) and first Caliph of Córdoba (929-961), born on January 7, the year 891 in Cordoba and died on 15 October of the year 961 in the Palace of Medina Azahara (Córdoba), at the peak of his fame and power, at the age of seventy and forty-nine's reign. It was known also as al - Nasir li-Din Allah ('the Victor for the religion of Allah').

Succeeded his grandfather Abd Allah (888-912) in one of the most critical for the Emirate. Faced with success the independence claims of the unruly part Andalusian nobility, disarmed from external threat of the Fatimid caliphate and braked the territorial advance of the different Christian kingdoms of the North. Self-proclaimed Caliph (929), favored the cohesion and prosperity of their territories with a prudent administrative policy. In religious matters, the Cordoba ruler was more tolerant with Jewish and Christian communities and protected the cultivation of all the arts.

The Caliphate of Cordoba.

Ascension to the throne of the Emirate

Abd al-Rahman III was the son of Crown Prince Muhammad and the Princess Íñiga, daughter of the one-eyed Fortun, and grandson, therefore, of the Navarrese King Íñigo Arista (820-852).

The emir Abd Allah appointed his son Muhammad heir to the throne, but this was brutally murdered by his brother al - Mutarrif, which in turn was killed by the own Abd Allah as retaliation for such abominable act. The tragic death of the heir forced the emir to designate as successor to his grandson Abd al - Rahman, who postponed their other children to a secondary role. The Prince grew from a young age surrounded by the best teachers, in addition to being trained in the secrets of the State policy. His grandfather was giving gradually charges and issues of great responsibility, until, to his death, Abd al-Rahman III inherited the throne of the Emirate without any opposition, when he already was a valuable experience. On 16 October of the year 912, Abd al-Rahman III received the customary obedience sworn by his uncles and other members of the Umayyad family.

Civil wars: work uniter of Abd al - Rahman III

Just go up to the throne, Abd al-Rahman III met with the huge task of unifying a State with tremendous internal divisions, threatened externally by powerful adversaries, situation which is aggravated by the continuous state of upheaval in which all the provinces of the Kingdom were. Although Abd al-Rahman III inherited a position that nobody seemed to want to, their first objective was to take, slowly but firmly, the task of pacifying and unify again everything Al - Andalus under the rule of the Umayyad dynasty.

First the young emir was to determine what alliances and allegiances had, for which sent emissaries to all the Governors asking them their respective oaths of loyalty, getting few accessions and Yes many denials. Given that the diplomacy not took effect, Abd al-Rahman III used force against all their subjects rebels; Thus, he went first to the South, specifically against Sevilla, city which had become independent under the family of the Banu Hachchach, and which was quickly reconquered, without great bloodshed at the end of the year 915, as well as a number of fortresses in the surrounding area.

The second objective of Abd al - Rahman III, and that more it cost him without any doubt, it was to stop the continuous raids of the muladi Omar Ibn Hafsún, which had profited from the chaotic years of Abd Allah to rise up and rule as effective sovereign Government much of Eastern Andalusia from their impregnable headquarters in Bobastro. Abd al - Rahman III directed all their troops against Ibn Hafsun, thanks to which conquered, in the year 913, Ecija first and then over seventy seats thanks to the campaign of Monteleon, all of them included in the provinces of Jaén, Granada and Malaga and the serrania de Ronda, which considerably limited the scope for action of the rebel, which was forced to remain in Bobastro without possibility to move and private access to the sea. Ibn Hafsun continued their obstinate opposition to Cordoba until his death in the year 917, circumstances which favoured the designs of Abd al - Rahman III. His four sons followed the tactics of his father, i.e., signing the peace one day to break it the next day, but all of them were unable to keep the uprising with the same fortune as his father, which does not prevent that they could survive long twelve years to the constant siege by the troops of Abd al - Rahman III. Finally, in the year 928, last son of Ibn Hafsun, Hafs, was forced to yield Bobastro, last safe family haven. Abd al-Rahman III visited the fortress of Bobastro and destroyed all the emblematic buildings of the place, as well as which ordered to dig up the remains of Ibn Hafsun to expose them publicly in Cordoba nailed to crosses.

Bobastro accountability provided to Abd al - Rahman III great prestige in the eyes of its enemies, against which was immediately launched with all forces that could have. Secured Sevilla and ended the threat of the Hafsún, the cordoban emir turned to the first of the pro-independence sources remaining, Badajoz, city which had enjoyed total independence during the reign of his grandfather by the family of the Banu Marwan, which saw the powerful army that arose Abd al - Rahman III to the gates of the city had no choice but to submit to his authority and swearing loyalty to you in the year 930.

A year earlier, Abd al-Rahman III took the most significant political decision of his career: sort all the Governors that the title of amir Al muminin ('Prince of the believers') was used in all official writings addressed to it and invokes in all the prayers as Caliph rasul-Allah ('successor of the Messenger of Allah'). He also took the alias or nickname (laqah) of al - Nasir li-Din Allah. The intentions of such a measure were very clear: the caliphal institution Baghdad abassi had gone into decline, while the Fatimids in North Africa began to show signs of respectability and power, due to the institution of the Caliphate. Abd al-Rahman III, for the purpose of counteracting the Fatimid ambition and claim his role of Orthodox in the Islamic world, decided to adopt the title of Caliph.

The cordoban Caliphate

Before being able to direct your attention to border problems in the upper mark and the North of Africa, Abd al - Rahman III suffocated two recent pro-independence foci of importance inside: Toledo and Zaragoza. In the first place, the diplomatic methods deployed by the Caliph failed, so it had to organize a long siege for more than two years until, lacking food, the Toledo ended up surrendering on 2 August of the year 932. In Zaragoza, Abd al-Rahman III had to be content with maintaining a kind of semiprotectorado with the Governor Muhammad el Tuerto, powerful dynasty of the Tujibi, agreement all necessary point for both parties: while the Governor continued to maintain a privileged position when it comes to govern the city with absolute freedom, this, at the same timeHe undertook before the Caliph to stop all Christian attacks on the Caliphate to provenieran from its borders and, above all, to constantly monitor the movements of the Banu Qasi muladi family, more and more weakened but still dangerous by the intricate ties of kinship that had the high nobility with Navarre and Catalan.

Back to Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman III managed to do with control of the latest cities and unwilling populations to its power, such as Beja and Ocosnoba, while another contingent of his troops did the same with Sagunto and Játiva in the East of peninsular.

Thereafter, Abd al-Rahman III returned to the domain of Cordoba across the territories of the former al - Andalus, with the exception of some rebel nuclei of little importance at the top mark, all of which paid their taxes normally to the Caliphate State, which became the most rich and powerful in Western Europe.

Confrontation with the Spanish Christian kingdoms

Occupied in the internal reconstruction, the first years of his reign resulted in negative results in the war which held with Christians. The Asturian King Ordoño II (914-924) conquered in the year 913 square of Evora, who literally swept, repeating a year after the operation against the castle of Alanje in Merida. The Asturian monarch sowed terror in the region of the Algarve, whereupon well little could do Abd al - Rahman III. In the year 917, the cordoban emir instructed his general Ibn Abi Abba leonesa lands to seize San Esteban de Gormaz, in the Valley of the Douro, with a bad result, as the vast majority of its soldiers perished in the course of a bloody battle against the armies of Ordoño II on September 4.

From the year 920, Abd al-Rahman III was in best position to confront the Christian attacks. Thus, the same year prepared thoroughly the famous "campaign of Muez", which led in person to confront a dangerous Alliance astur-navarra. The aceifa lasted three months long, and it conquered Osma, San Esteban de Gormaz, the strengths of Carcar and Calahorra, apart from beating forcefully the Alliance at the battle of Valdejunquera July 26, thanks to which the emir troops penetrated into the heart of Navarre lands to plunder Pamplona. Years later, in retaliation to the ferocity of the attacks from Navarre against the last remnants of the Banu Qasi, Abd al-Rahman III returned to loot the same city, after winning a battle of location uncertain the Navarrese King Sancho Garcés I (905-926), who was forced to flee precipitately.

After a period of relative calm on the borders, coincided with the years of succession and political crisis in the Kingdom of astur-leones, the ascent to the throne of the King Ramiro II (930-950) brought about the resumption of hostilities between the two kingdoms. In the year 932, Ramiro II seized the frontier town of Magerit (Madrid), were followed by a triumphant campaign that defeated Cordoba troops before the walls of Osma. In the year 937, Ramiro II concluded an important alliance with the King of Navarre and the Muslim Governor of Zaragoza, Muhammad Ibn Hashim, grandson of the one-eyed. Upon learning of the betrayal of its Governor, Abd al-Rahman III moved hastily to Zaragoza. After passing it through the weapons, the city ended up surrendering to Cordoba. Two years later, on 1 August of the year 939, the Caliph suffered the greatest military debacle in the disastrous battle of Simancas, where the contingent astur-leoneses of Ramiro II, the Spaniards of the count Fernán González (930-970) and the navarros García Sánchez I (926-970) covered in glory. Abd al-Rahman III saved the life of miracle to flee to a horse, experience made it ever more personally directed an aceifa. Thunderous victory was used by Leon and Castile to repopulate the banks of the Tormes (Salamanca, Alba, Ledesma) and Sepulveda.

The death of Ramiro II in the year 950 enabled Abd al-Rahman III to retrieve the paper almost hegemonic across the Peninsula. His successor, Ordoño III (950-956), was defeated by a coalition of Muslim officers in the year 956 and lost more than ten thousand men. The cordovan Caliph signed with the astur-leones monarch advantageous for Cordoba and peace pretty onerous for Leon failed to recognize his successor, Sancho the Crassus (956-966), which forced the Caliph to resume fighting in the North.

In the year 957, Sancho the Crassus suffered a severe defeat which meant you lost the throne in favour of Ordoño IV (957-960), son-in-law and workmanship of the powerful Castilian count Fernán González. The dethronement caused a deep split among the supporters of one and another side that Abd al-Rahman III was quick to exploit in its favour to become the arbiter of disputes. Sancho the Crassus took refuge in Pamplona under the direct protection of his grandmother, the Queen of all, and, in turn, asked for help to Córdoba to replace on the throne to his grandson. Both sides soon reached an agreement whereby the Caliph promised to help the dethroned King recover his throne in Exchange for several squares border of important strategic value. In the year 960, astur-leones monarch regained the throne after conquering Zamora with the help of the cordovan troops, while the Navarrese captured the annoying Castilian count. The Leonese Kingdom went on to become a tributary of the cordoban Caliphate.

North African policy

Abd al-Rahman III was not obliged to develop a great political activity by all North Africa to ensure the stability and security of al - Andalus, seriously threatened by the presence in Morocco of the Fatimid caliphate. Abd al-Rahman III used a tactic so wise as bold to attract into the orbit of the Umayyad to a good number of supporters well in advance to the only serious attempt to the Fatimids against al - Andalus, the sacking of Almeria, in the year 955, by troops of the Fatimid Caliph al - Muizz. Abd al-Rahman III served on the Princes Idrisid and Berber tribes a protectorate managed and based more on the use of money than military intervention, making it possible that you seize Cuta (927) and Tangier (951), the most important maritime squares on the African coast in the Strait. Finally, the Fatimid Caliph launched in the year 958, a large ground offensive which snatched all North Africa, except the two above squares, Umayyad sovereignty, all of which came to sour the last years of the Caliph.

The succession to the throne

Abd al-Rahman III appointed as successor to the throne to his eldest son, Prince Al - Hakam II (961-976) when this was only eight years old; It received the best education that was then possible to give a Prince in its category since his early childhood, and from a young age accompanied his father on several expeditions of punishment against the Christians and to deal with important matters of State, which provided him with a huge experience and maturity when he reached the throne.

The second son of Abd al-Rahman III, the Prince Abd Allah, never willingly accepted the appointment of his brother as successor, given the obvious inclinations of al - Hakam to the world of culture and his disinclination to politics, while he Yes was like war in the ongoing aceifas. Induced by his tutor, the ambitious Ahmed Ibn Muhammad, Abd Allah mounted a Palace conspiracy to overthrow his father and proclaim himself Caliph, but the plot was discovered by the intelligence services of Abd al-Rahman III, until this will take practice. Abd al-Rahman III, faced with the evidence of the plot, took the tragic decision to send to decapitate his son, in June of the year 949, to protect the State and the candidacy of al - Hakam.

Twelve years after the tragic events, imbued by a profound melancholy, died Abd al - Rahman III in his splendid palatial residence in Medina Zahara, after a long reign in which, according to his own words, just enjoyed fourteen days of rest and happiness.

Government and administration

One of the main features of the administration of the reign of Abd al-Rahman III was its great mobility. The many viziers, supervised initially by the haajib or Chamberlain (charge introduced by Abd al - Rahman II) and under the direct control of the Caliph, ultimately carried out missions similar to a species of Heads of office, i.e. top Secretaries responsible for a very specific administrative function. All of them were constantly renewed to avoid the concentration of power and the establishment of pesky and dangerous clienteles. As for the provincial administration, it also showed the same dynamism, with constant appointments, transfers and reversals of charges.

Even so, the Caliphate civil service did not stop being in the hands of the almost monopoly consisting of core power Umayyad-qaisi, who ended up constituting the only trump card of power since the early years of the Constitution of the cordovan Emirate on the different Governors. On the other hand, it is also interesting to note the growing importance of the position of the Berbers and gradually restricted the muladíes paper.

The role of the army and the Treasury

African politics, continuous expeditions against the Christians and military operations aimed at the maintenance of internal order that Abd al-Rahman III deployed to maintain his authority needed an effective army whose cost, by force, should be quite high.

The soldier Andalusí, funded from obtained pensions own Royal Treasury or from provincial taxes, saw his role gradually diminished due to the massive recruitment of mercenaries and soldiers from Central and Northern Europe. These docile at first, came to play an important role in the Court and in the subsequent political affairs of al - Andalus.

The guarantee given on several occasions the rebels who accepted submission, which allowed only the payment of Quranic taxes, suggests caliphal taxation sought, as logical in any Muslim State, is alleviate the chronic inadequacy of income by imposing supplementary taxes badly accepted by the population to deal with the huge machinery of the State and to the maintenance of military strength. Taking into account that under the reign of Abd al - Rahman III the Treasury came to collect taxes in the amount of 5 million and a half dinars (Muslim gold coin), stands to reason that the number of taxes on the population must be considerable. On the other hand, the minting of currency maintained a steady pace during much of his reign, only ralentizadas in recent years.

Assessment of his reign

Man of great intellectual gifts, Abd al-Rahman III behaved in religious matters as the most tolerant of all the cordoban Umayyad Princes. Both the Christians and the Jews enjoyed a peaceful and prosperous life. It possessed to printed better than anyone the exact caliphal Majesty's sense, and imposed a rigid Protocol tag that prevented him to arise very often to the people, which was only occasionally very special and always surrounded by a great magnificence and ostentation of power, according to a protocol that was more pompous and theatrical as growing economic state possibilities, which also brought with it an increase in expenditure of buildings public, civil and religious, as the creations and reconstructions of buildings: enlargement of the Aljama mosque of Cordoba, the construction of the arsenal of Tortosa give Al - Sikka (the ECSC of Cordoba), Dar Al - Rawda (House of the flower inside the Alcazar garden), the construction of its superb Palace of Medina al - Zahara, residence andFinally, the launching of a magnificent network of irrigation channels that significantly improved the Agriculture of the Caliphate. The Court of Abd al-Rahman III, served by about ten thousand slaves, comparable only to the Byzantine Emperor, surpassed in magnificence to all Europe.

Abd al-Rahman III can be perfectly compared with Abd al - Rahman I insofar as it, it left a chaotic situation, established a solid and firm United who earned respect for Christians, rebels, African and Byzantine; He forced the Fatimids to retire eastward until Egypt failed in their attempt to dominate al - Magrib and, even more, Al - Andalus. Praised by poets, the Muslim tradition regarded as one of the most illustrious rulers of the history of Islam.

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