Biography of King of Granada Al-Hakam o Alhakem II (915-976)

Second Umayyad Caliph of Al - Andalus (961-976), son of Abd al-Rahman III, born November 20, 915 in Cordoba and died in the same city in October 1, 976. His brief reign represented the most splendorous time of the Caliphate and Al - Andalus in general. Thanks to its great political experience and the settler and structured State he/she inherited from his father, he/she was able to print a fruitful period of peace on the Peninsula and maintain intact Cordoba hegemony over the rest of Peninsular kingdoms. With his personal patronage, arts and science in al - Andalus reached its golden age.

Ascension to the throne

When ascended the throne of Cordoba with the title or laqab of al - Mustansir Bi - llah (' the one who seeks the victorious wing support'), al - Hakam II continued the policy undertaken by his father, confront the Christian rulers and strengthen the presence of the Cordoba State in North Africa. Not followed it line paternal for choose to their auxiliary of confidence in them tasks of Government, because relied more and more in their officials, mainly in the Chamberlain to the-Mushafi, in the vizier Ibn Abi-Amir (Almanzor) and in the general Galib, men of plenty competition but that, to the dessert, contributed to the decline definitive of the dynasty by the Crassus error of the Caliph of not name with advance a successor right and capable.

Relations and clashes with the Christian kingdoms

Since the beginning of his reign, al - Hakam II had difficulty to follow policy undertaken by Abd al-Rahman III with the kingdoms established North of the upper mark, since access to the throne he/she was 46 years old and proven experience in the tasks of Government got beside his father.

Become the arbiter of the successive dynastic lawsuits arising in the heart of the Northern Christian kingdoms, the first task which it had to resolve the new Caliph was the refusal of the astur-leones King Sancho I the Crassus (956-958, 960-966) and the navarro García Sánchez I (926-970) to surrender the fortresses stipulated in the Treaty that both monarchs signed with the Caliph, previous to ensure military support of Córdoba in the war that argued against Ordoño IV (958-960) and Castilian count Fernán González. Al - Hakam II made several complaints in vain, after which he/she had no choice but to threaten with weapons to his former allies, who continued making turn a deaf ear to the requests of the Umayyad. The scene became more tense when the Navarrese King decided to liberal to the Castilian count and with he/she and Sancho I to form a coalition to confront al - Hakam II. Defenestrated King Ordoño IV opted to ask for military aid, in the year 962, the Caliph, who have no qualms about welcome him in his own Palace of Medina Al - Zahara. Al - Hakam II pledged to replace him on the throne in Exchange for conditions enough onerous to the deposed King was forced to accept: the commitment to maintaining friendly relations with Córdoba, the annual payment of taxes and not to make any decisions in foreign policy that was not adopted by a Council of Cordoba tutelage. The look of such an Alliance, Sancho I retracted before al - Hakam II and sent him an Embassy of peace to Cordoba, who accepted. But, once removed from the political scene Ordoño IV, the monarch astur-leones reversed its decision and turned into a much more powerful alliance against Córdoba, comprising astur-leoneses, castellanos, navarros and several Catalan counts.

After several successful military campaigns on all fronts of the upper mark, led masterfully by the General Muhammad al - Tuchibi, Galib and Saïd, which inflicted severe losses to the Christian Coalition, al - Hakam II ordered the construction of the castle of Gormaz, where he/she established permanent troops well-trained and willing to stop any attempted enemy. From that moment, the military superiority of the Umayyad Caliphate ceased to be answered by the other peninsular kingdoms made East which had a lot that also see the emergence of a series of dynastic crisis in the Christian kingdoms. The death of Fernán González, García Sánchez I, succeeded by García Fernández and Sancho II Abarca (970-994), respectively, and the ascent to the astur-leones throne of Ramiro III (966-984), only three years old, caused all the kingdoms to pay obedience to al - Hakam II, in addition to the usual annual pariahs that every year their growth promptly the coffers of the Caliphate and that al - Hakam II could cover much of its costly buildings in the capital.

The period of calm military just broke in the year 974, when the Castilian count García Fernández tried to take advantage of the absence of the Umayyad army, which was pacifying North Africa, to attack the strategic Umayyad square of Gormaz, key to be able to penetrate into Al-Andalus territory. But the attempt was thwarted by the general Galib, who had expressly returned from Africa for this purpose.

With the pacified Kingdom and Peninsular borders secure, al - Hakam II enjoyed a recognition and prestige equal to which his father got. Cordoba received many embassies from all parts of the Peninsula, North Africa and even more distant realms, stressing that sent the Byzantine Emperor Juan Tzimisces, in March of 972, and the German Emperor Otto II, in July of 974.

New Norman invasions

Another event that had to face Al - Hakam II was the reappearance in the Peninsular coastline, in the year 966, a powerful fleet of Danish pirates, who previously Ricardo I, Duke of Normandy, had rejected in a southerly direction. Fearsome pirates were present on the coast of the region of Qasr Abi Danis (current Alcácer do Sal, in Portugal), from where it is ready to invade the entire plain of Lisbon with impunity until they were oxcar by the troops of al - Hakam II. At the same time, al - Hakam II rushed to sea the bulk of his squad, which managed to give scope to the invaders at the mouth of the river Silves, destroying much of 28 vessels and rescuing the captive Muslims.

After a period of calm, five years later, in 971, the Danish ships tried a new incursion by the Peninsular coast. Al - Hakam II, willing to put once and for all attempts of such troublesome visitors, commanded the fleet in the Mediterranean meet in Seville with the Atlantic, measure of force that gave positive results, since the pirates withdrew their always invading inspirations and prey.

North African policy

African Affairs were another issue that al - Hakam II spent much of their efforts, both by its special relevance and follow the line taken by his father on foreign policy. Just climb to the Throne from Cordoba, the North African political landscape not heralded nothing good for Cordoba, Umayyad prestige in his moments with lower as a result of the continuous military campaigns against the Allied Berber tribe of Córdoba, the zanata, by the Fatimid general Chawhar. Ceuta and Tangier were the only two squares in which the Umayyad power was real, although for quite a while the last was separated from its commitments to Cordoba, which managed to finalmentte shortly after the advent of al - Hakam II to the throne. Only the territorial expansion of the Fatimid caliphate to the East, started in 969 when Chawhar founded the city of Cairo (al - Qahira, 'victorious'), made it possible to al - Hakam II to recover much of the Western North African territory, from Ifriqiya until the current Morocco, which counted with the collaboration of the zanata, who were on war footing against the other major tribe in the area, the sinhacha, conveniently supported by the Fatimid Caliph al - Muizz.

The final transfer of the Fatimid Cairo in 971 Court, triggered the war by the possession of al - Maghrib between Cordoba and the new power represented by the idrisi Al - Hasam Ben Gannun, Lord of Arcila and several other places, which had long harbored desires to escape from any kind of political tutelage and had expanded their domains by the Moroccan plain toexercising an effective control over Tangier and Tetouan. Al - Hakam II would not, under any circumstances, let escape the great opportunity that had brought him the secluded Fatimid to rehabilitate the Umayyad prestige in North Africa, by which, in the year 972, commanded the Mediterranean fleet, under the command of Ibn al - Rumahis, with the aim of reconquering Tangier. But, general Muhammad ben Qasim, who had moved to Ceuta with a large contingent of troops, was severely defeated the 22 December 972 by the troops of al - Hasam ben Gannun. Al - Hakam II decided to cut by healthy, so he/she sent of his generals, Galib and Yahya ibn Muhammad, to the conflict zone, accompanied by a large number of troops recruited for that purpose, to which Al idrisi not was obliged to surrender and oath of loyalty to the Caliph of Cordoba, which gave beginning to a new era of Umayyad in Morocco protectorate.

The succession to the throne

At the end of the year 974, al - Hakam II suffered an attack of apoplexy that left him virtually unused to govern. Al - Hakam II hastened to appoint his successor - publicly because he/she sensed his upcoming death-, choice which went to his only son, Prince Hisham, who had just 11 years of age, to the nobles and commoners gave oath of allegiance.

The choice of Hisham left ample room for the struggle between the powerful and ambitious leaders who would occupy the power after the death of al - Hakam II. After the death of al - Hakam II October 1, 976, Hisham II took the throne, and then formed a Regency Council dominated by Abu al - Hasam crush and Ibn-Amir Muhammad (Almanzor), who soon long to become the real owners of Al - Andalus.

Al - Hakam II: protector of the arts and culture

Possessor of a great culture and love of all kinds of knowledge and wisdom, Al - Hakam II had a library with more than 400,000 volumes, of those who had read a large part. In the library of the Palace he/she founded a notary and a bookbinding workshop. Paid all the specimens at a fairly high price, as for example the book of the songs of Abu al - Farach to Al - Isfahani, so it wasn't him difficult to do with all the more precious or rare specimens that had in the book market, which sent a large group of scholars to explore all corners of the Islamic world in search of such precious treasures. His court became a real nest of intellectuals, writers, scientists and all kinds of people willing to give greatness and colorful to the Caliphate.

Al - Hakam II also took great interest in the most unprotected social layers of al - Andalus and by public education, for which ordered to build a charity near the mosque and twenty-seven public schools where scholars taught poor and orphans for free. Their desire to give the appearance of a real metropolis Cordoba him induced to carry out a large number of public works, among which stood out above all the expansion that made in the Aljama mosque and the construction of its magnificent mihrab (for the construction of the mihrab made come from Byzantium to several master craftsmen).

Finally, al - Hakam II did register the entire population of large cities of the Caliphate, benefited from the removal of the mines, promoted agriculture with the construction of a number of ditches in Granada, Murcia, Valencia and Aragon, as well as importing exotic plants to acclimate them on the Peninsula.

Bibliography

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GLICK, Thomas F. Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain (711-1250). (Madrid: Ed. Alianza Editorial. 1991).

GUICHARD, Pierre. The Muslim Spain: Umayyad al - Andalus (siglos VIII - XI). (Madrid: Ed. Group 16. 1995).

LÉVI-PROVENÇAL, E. Muslim Spain until the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba (711-1031). Volume no. 4 of the history of Spain of Menéndez Pidal. (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe ed. 1992).

VALLVÉ, J. The Umayyads. (Madrid: Ed. Group 16. 1985).

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