Caliphate of Cordoba

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Standard of the caliphate under Caliph Abdurrahman III.

The Caliphate of Cordoba was an Islamic state on the territory of the Iberian Peninsula from 929 to 1031.

Prehistory: The emirate of Cordoba

The Caliphate of Cordoba (around 1000)

After the Umayyad Abd ar-Rahman I landed in Al-Andalus in 756 and expelled the governor of Córdoba , he founded the Emirate of Córdoba . In doing so, he prevented the Abbasids , who had overthrown the Umayyads in a civil war, from also being able to take control of the Iberian Peninsula. The emirate was exposed to several uprisings by Berber tribes or Arab aristocrats, so that the empire could not be finally pacified until the beginning of the 10th century.

The last resistance was Abd ar-Rahman III. (912-961). After the pacification of Al-Andalus, he assumed the title of caliph in 929 . The reason was, among other things, the rise of the Shiite Fatimids in the Maghreb , who also claimed the caliphate for themselves. In the following power struggles, the Umayyads were able to maintain their bases in Tangier and Ceuta . However, there was no direct fighting between the adversaries, as both powers allied with the Berber tribes in Morocco and Algeria . The Umayyads were mainly joined by the Magrawa , the Idrisids and the Salihids .

Period of the Caliphate (929-1031)



The Muslim empire was mostly superior to the Christian empires Castile , León and Navarre, despite some defeats ( Simancas 939 ), so that León, Castile and the county of Barcelona recognized the suzerainty of the Umayyads and had to pay tributes.

Under Abd ar-Rahman III. there was a great boom in the economy and trade. Culture and science were also promoted. With almost 500,000 inhabitants, Córdoba rose to become one of the most important cultural centers in the Mediterranean , along with Constantinople and Baghdad . The Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba was the center of Islamic culture and Arabic language in the Muslim West. It was considered one of the richest and most cultivated countries of its time. The Madinat az-zahra ' near Córdoba was built as part of a major construction activity .

Al-Hakam II (961–976) also promoted the economy, culture and science. So he founded a large library with over 500,000 books and expanded the main mosque of Cordoba. However, Al-Hakam II withdrew from daily politics, leaving the warfare to his generals and the administration to the viziers .

His underage successor Hisham II (976-1009) was soon ousted from power by the chamberlain Abi Amir al-Mansur / Almansor . Under Almansor, Barcelona, ​​Castile and León were successfully attacked and subdued. In 997 the Christian pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela was conquered. After the death of Abi Amir al-Mansur in 1002, power struggles for the office of chamberlain soon broke out among his descendants, which considerably weakened the caliphate (→ Amirids ).


In 1009, Hisham II and the successor of Almansor were overthrown in an uprising under Muhammad II in Cordoba. However, Almansor's Berber troops stormed Córdoba and sacked the city. Here the old conflict between Arabs and Berbers broke out again. In the following years there was fierce fighting between the Berbers, the Arab aristocracy and slave troops , of which those who controlled Córdoba appointed a caliph. At the same time, the provinces made themselves independent from the Caliphate of Cordoba ( Taifa kingdoms ) under their own dynasties , so that the territory of the Caliphate soon only included the city of Cordoba and its surrounding area. The entire power struggles of the Muslims in Al-Andalus were mainly concentrated around Cordoba. As a rule, the other regions of the empire were hardly affected.

From 1016 to 1023 the Umayyads were ousted from the Caliphate by the Berber Hammudids . Although Umayyads were reinstated as caliphs in Córdoba after 1023, the caliph had completely lost control of the empire and only controlled Córdoba. 1031 was with Hischam III. the last Umayyad caliph deposed by the notables of Cordoba and the caliphate finally repealed. Hisham III. died in exile in 1036.


  • Ernst Grube: World of Islam. Architecture, ceramics, painting, carpets, metalwork, carving. Mohn, Gütersloh 1967 (especially the chapters The Umayyads in Spain and The Art of the Nasrids in Spain ).
  • Ulrich Haarmann (Ed.): History of the Arab World. 4th edition, CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-47486-1 (especially the chapter by Hans-Rudolf Singer : The Maghreb and the Pyrenean Peninsula up to the end of the Middle Ages ).
  • Wilhelm Hoenerbach (Ed.): Islamic History of Spain: Translation of the Aʻmāl al-a'lām and additional texts. Artemis, Zurich / Stuttgart 1970.
  • Arnold Hottinger : The Moors. Arab culture in Spain , reprint of the 3rd edition, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7705-3075-6 .
  • Günter Kettermann: Atlas on the history of Islam. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2001, ISBN 3-534-14118-0 (in it especially Chapter C The Classical Time , Chapter D Cultural Unity in the Classical Epoch and Chapter E From the Middle Ages to the 19th Century , Section 1 Western Mediterranean ).
  • Antonio Muñoz Molina : City of the Caliphs. Historical forays through Cordoba. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1994, ISBN 978-3-499-13281-0 .