Emirate of Cordoba

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Al-Andalus, the area of ​​the Iberian Peninsula conquered by Muslims, around 880

As the Emirate of Córdoba , the 756 by is Abd ar-Rahman I established Umayyad exile rich on the Iberian Peninsula called.

Umayyad ruler

Since the conquest of the Visigothic Empire by the Muslims under Tāriq ibn Ziyād and Mūsā ibn Nusair (711–714), Muslim Al-Andalus hardly came to rest. Fights flared up again and again between Arabs and Berbers as well as among the Arabs themselves. The reasons for this were, on the one hand, the dissatisfaction of the Berbers, who, as warriors, had borne the brunt of the conquest of southern Spain, but were hardly considered in the distribution of offices and lands, and on the other hand, tribal disputes between the Arab garrisons from the various military districts ( Jund ) of the tribal empire. The governors of the Umayyad caliphs in Damascus also tried to rule the province of al-Andalus independently of the central power, which was also favored by the great distance from the imperial center in Syria . However, an Umayyad should then justify the statehood of Muslim Andalusia:

In 749 AD (132 according to the Islamic calendar ) the last Umayyad caliph of the Islamic core empire, Merwan II , suffered a crushing defeat at Wadi Zab, a tributary of the Tigris. His army of around 12,000 men was wiped out by a coalition of different tribes from southern Arabia and the Shiites under the command of a general named 'Abd Allahs ibn' Ali. Power in the empire fell to the so-called Abbasids , the descendants of the patriarch al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib. The first caliph of the new dynasty was Abu l-Abbas as-Saffah . He had the country cleared of members of the previous ruling family and some of them were brutally killed. The Umayyad council of elders invited Abu al-'Abbas to an alleged reconciliation dinner in Abu Futrus in Palestine and murdered them.

Only the Umayyad prince Abd ar-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya escaped the massacre in Abu Futrus because he stayed away from the banquet and instead went hunting. After several years of fleeing through what is now Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria as far as Morocco , Abd ar-Rahman first went to relatives to stay safe. According to tradition, he was the son of a high-ranking Umayyad prince and a slave named Rah imprisoned in North Africa. He spent a few years in exile with the maternal tribe of the Nafza, until he finally landed with Berber troops in Almuñécar (Andalusia) in 755 . With the support of Arab troops stationed in Andalusia, he overthrew the governing governor of Al-Andalus Yusuf al-Fihri in Cordoba in May 756 . In the entire Arab world, the first emir of Córdoba is known as Abd ar-Rahman ad-Dakhil, as the “newcomer” or “newcomer”.

With his elevation to the rank of emir (756–788) the political organization of the Umayyad Empire began in Spain. So he founded the margravates of Saragossa , Toledo and Mérida to secure the border against the Christian empires in northern Spain.

In September 786 AD (169/170 after the Hidjra ), Abd ar-Rahman I began the construction of the Friday mosque in his capital, Cordoba, with the demolition of a Christian church, which in turn probably stood on the remains of a Roman temple. The Great Mosque was expanded again and again over generations by his successors in office.

For the West, the Islamic Empire on the Iberian Peninsula came into focus in connection with the defeat of Charlemagne in 778. It appears the emir was not directly involved in this dispute. The governors of Barcelona and Girona had visited the king of the Franks in Paderborn and invited them to the campaign against Abd ar-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya's empire. But then they did not hand over the city of Saragossa without a fight, as agreed . On his retreat, Charlemagne was harassed by angry Vaskonen , ancestors of today's Basques. He was able to cross the Pyrenees and get to safety with a small escort and with little need . The main contingent of the army was almost completely destroyed. The rearguard under Hruotland was ambushed at the Roncesvalles (Roncevaux) pass and wiped out. The event went into the old French Chanson de Roland and its later German version, the Roland song . A source reports that Emir Abd ar-Rahman went to meet Karl, but he does not seem to have found the Franconian on the soil of the emirate.

After Abd ar-Rahman's death on September 30, 788, his son Hisham I took over the reign of the Emirate of Córdoba. He ascended the throne on October 7, 788.

Under al-Hakam I (796-822) the construction of the emirate could be continued. Again there were clashes with the Franks under Charlemagne, who conquered Barcelona in 801 and founded the Spanish mark south of the Pyrenees in 806 . A series of officially sealed armistices followed (such as 810 and 812), but they were always broken. The Franks seem to have acted aggressively, the Umayyads more defensively. In 812, Admiral Yahya ibn Hakam, obviously the grandson of Abd ar-Rahmans I and son of the second emir, was even sent an Andalusian ambassador to the Franconian capital Aachen . Although he was described as very committed, this peace hardly lasted beyond Charles's death in 814. As early as 815 new hostilities broke out.

In 818 an uprising in Cordoba had to be put down. Thousands of insurgents fled to Morocco to the Idrisids and settled in Fez .

In the 9th century the coasts of the emirate were threatened by the Normans , but they were successfully fought and repulsed after building a fleet. At the same time, the subsidized immigration of Syrians led to an increased orientalization of the empire. However, this led to an increasing emigration of Christians from the emirate to the Christian empires of northern Spain.

In the middle of the 9th century, under Muhammad I (856-886), a serious crisis began in the emirate, when the margravates of Mérida, Toledo and Zaragoza fell from the Umayyads and the revolt of Umar ibn Hafsun of Bobastro broke out in the south (880-917) . Under Abdallah (888–912), the Umayyads only ruled Córdoba and the surrounding area for a time. The fall of the empire could only be prevented through an alliance with Castile . Even if the recapture of al-Andalus began under Abdallah, it was only his successor, Abd ar-Rahman III. (912–961) finally pacify and reunite the empire. In 929 he was proclaimed caliph and thus founded the Caliphate of Cordoba .

Cultural and civilizational significance

The emirate of Cordoba became the first advanced civilization in medieval Europe outside of Byzantium . The coexistence of different peoples and religions in a common state played a considerable part in this. The fact that this coexistence was largely peaceful is an achievement of civilization that was based on the one hand on the composition of the population and on the other hand on the tolerance of the prevailing Andalusian Islam. The emirate was still inhabited by descendants of the Roman colonialists, but also by descendants of the Celts , the Iberian indigenous population, a small contingent of Jews, the Visigoths ( visogothi ) and their descendants in large numbers, the Berber mercenaries of the Arab conquerors and mainly Arabs from Syria and Yemen. The latter held political power, but probably only made up 10 percent of the total population. A certain tolerance was therefore advisable for them.

The religious communities accepted in al-Andalus were the three Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, although various sub-groups such as the Shiites were initially tolerated. The parallel existence of different religions led to a comparability and thus ultimately to a relativization of the beliefs.

The Islamic lawyer, theologian and philosopher Abu al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ruschd ( Averroes in Latin ) (1126–1198) later turned against fatalism, which permeated Christianity and Islam equally. Instead, he developed the idea that the material world is eternal and that God is only part of the world, a kind of inner engine. After studying the scriptures, he ruled out a divine creation, a creatio ex nihilo , as well as the existence of an immortal soul and the resurrection . This differentiated position of Averroes was carried far into medieval Europe through his writings and resulted in so-called Averroism, which denied any divinity and became one of the original sources of the European philosophy of reason , the ideal of a knowledge free of religious premises.

Averroes' commentary has been known in the West since 1230. He plays a role in Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas . The main doctrines of Averroism were condemned at two synods in 1270 and 1277 under the Parisian bishop Stephan Tempier.

The Andalusian doctor Abu al-Cassis al-Zahri used cat intestines to close wounds after surgical interventions in the 10th century. His Surgical Encyclopedia served as teaching material in European universities for 500 years.


  • Ulrich Haarmann, Heinz Halm (Hrsg.): History of the Arab world . 4th edition. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47486-1 .
  • Wilhelm Hoenerbach (Ed.): Islamic History of Spain: Translation of the Aʻmāl al-a'lām and additional texts. Artemis, Zurich / Stuttgart 1970, DNB 457049499 .
  • Arnold Hottinger : The Moors. Arabic culture in Spain . Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 1995. ISBN 3-7705-3075-6 .
  • Christian Müller: Legal practice in the city-state of Córdoba. On the law of society in a Malikite-Islamic legal tradition of the 5th / 11th Century . Brill, Leiden and others 1999, ISBN 90-04-11354-1 .
  • Antonio Muñoz Molina : City of the Caliphs. Historical forays through Cordoba. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1994, ISBN 978-3-499-13281-0 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Manuel Nieto Cumplido: Del Eufrates al Guadalquivir - Abd al-Rahman I. Sevilla, RC 1991, ISBN 8487041418 .
  2. a b c Évariste Lévi-Provençal : Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane, (710-912). Paris, 1950.
  3. ^ William Montgomery Watt : The Influence of Islam on the European Middle Ages. Wagenbach, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-8031-2420-4 .
  4. ^ André Clot : The Moorish Spain. Albatros, Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-491-96116-5 .
  5. a b Evangelical Church Lexicon. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-50132-3 .