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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The Ommayads were ordered to be put to death


Coming of Abd-er-Rahman to Spain.]

Other parts of the Moslem world had been afflicted by the same sort of internal strife as that which was occurring in Spain. In particular there was a dynastic struggle, which resulted in the dethronement of the caliphs of the Ommayad family and in the rise to power of the Abbasside caliphs. The Ommayads were ordered to be put to death, but one of them, a youth named Abd-er-Rahman, contrived to escape. He took refuge successively in Egypt and northwestern Africa, and in 755 came to Spain with the object of establishing himself there. This he was able to do, though not without a struggle, setting himself up as emir with his capital in Cordova, and proclaiming his independence of the caliph.

[Sidenote: Abd-er-Rahman I.]

The entire reign of Abd-er-Rahman I (755-788) was one of war. He had to fight the Yemenite (Sunnite) Arabs, the Berbers, and many chiefs of various tribes, as well as the governors sent out by the Abbassides, before his authority was recognized. His ideal was that of an absolute monarchy which should bring to an end the aristocratic independence and anarchy in Spain, but in order to accomplish this he had to combat Arabic tradition and pride, Berber democracy, and inter-tribal hatred. Abd-er-Rahman was at least able to subject his opponents if not to change them. It was during his reign that the Frankish king Charlemagne invaded

Spain and got as far as Saragossa. Obliged by events in France to recross the Pyrenees he was attacked by the Basques in the pass of Roncesvalles, and his rear-guard was completely destroyed. It was this event which gave rise to the celebrated French epic poem, the _Chanson de Roland_ (Song of Roland), in which the Frankish hero Roland is supposed to combat the forces of Islam. No Mohammedan forces in fact engaged in the battle, for the Basques were Christians; they were then, as later, opposed to any foreign army which should invade their lands.

[Sidenote: Internal strife.]

Hisham I, the next emir, was not free from wars, but his reign was more notable in its religious aspects. He was a devout Mohammedan, and enabled the religious class to attain to great power. His successor, Hakem I, was a sincere believer, but did not refrain from drinking wine, thus breaking the religious law, and he conceded less influence in the government to the church than his father had. This led to several uprisings, in which the Renegados were a principal element. Hakem subdued them, and exiled many thousands, most of them Renegados, who went to different parts of northern Africa and Egypt. Another serious revolt broke out in Toledo, which had been enjoying virtual independence, though nominally subject to the emir. The citizens of Toledo were most of them Renegados, but they were also Spanish, and were unable to forget that Toledo had once been the capital of Spain. Hakem resolved to bring them into real subjection, and was able to effect his will. Seven years later, in 829, when Abd-er-Rahman II was emir, the people of Toledo revolted again, and it took eight years to subdue them. War and disorder were also prevalent in other parts of the realm. The inhabitants of M?rida, who were Christians, rose several

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