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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

A similar kingdom sprang up in Extremadura


times; in Murcia there was a

seven years' war between the Sunnites and Shiites. At this time, too, the Normans began to attack the coasts of Spain just as they were doing in other parts of Europe. They made no permanent conquest, but rendered the coasts unsafe during the greater part of the century. Toward the close of the ninth century the emirate began to break under the strain of constant war. After repeated rebellions the city of Toledo formed itself into a republic, and on the basis of an annual tribute to the emir was recognized by the latter, who had no other right there. In Aragon the Visigothic but Renegado family of Beni-Casi founded an independent kingdom. A similar kingdom sprang up in Extremadura, and another in the mountains of southern Spain. Meanwhile, the Christian kingdoms were making gains. Except for them the new states were usually made up of Renegados. They did not work together, however, or the Arabic domination might have been completely broken: rather, each little state followed a selfish policy of its own. The most important was that of Omar-ben Hafsun in the south. Omar founded his kingdom in 884, with his capital at the castle of Bobastro. In 886 the emir attacked him, and for more than thirty years thereafter there was war between Omar and the emirs of Cordova. Omar was usually successful, acquiring nearly all of Andalusia, but his political plans illustrate the lack of a truly Spanish ideal in the kingdoms carved out of the emirate. At first he planned only a tiny kingdom of
his own; later he aimed to get the governor of Africa to appoint him emir of Spain; finally he became converted to Christianity, and resolved to wage a religious war, whereupon his Renegado followers abandoned him. During the same period civil wars of a racial nature broke out in other parts of Spain between the Arabic aristocracy and the Renegados, especially around the cities of Elvira and Seville. The Arabs despised the Renegados, who were at this time the principal industrial and commercial class, especially in Seville, and envied their wealth. Many Arabic chiefs also refused obedience to the emirs. For a time the aristocratic party was successful, inflicting great blows on the Renegados, and increasing their own estates, but in the reign of Abdallah, early in the ninth century, they received a check. The same Abdallah inflicted a crushing defeat on King Omar. Thus the way was prepared for Abdallah's successor, Abd-er-Rahman III, who was to establish peace in Spain after two centuries of almost continuous disorder.

[Sidenote: Abd-er-Rahman III.]

Abd-er-Rahman III (912-961) was by far the greatest ruler in the history of Moslem Spain. His first problem was the establishment of the central power. Within a few years he had reduced not only the Renegado states of Toledo, Aragon, Extremadura, and Bobastro but also the aristocratic Arabs and the Berber chiefs in various parts of Spain. He then changed his title from that of emir to caliph, thus signifying his intention of maintaining a robust absolute monarchy. He also drove back the Christian kings in the north, after which he proceeded to cultivate friendly relations with them. Even the Moslem province in northwestern Africa fell under his sway. In administrative matters as well Abd-er-Rahman III proved his ability. Not only did he create a great army but he also increased the strength of the navy (which the emirs before him had already founded) until it became the most powerful fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Spain was recognized as the greatest state in Europe, and in western Europe it was also the centre of the highest culture. Through the caliph's measures agriculture, industry, and commerce, and education, literature, and the fine arts developed to a high point, and Cordova became a city of half a million inhabitants.


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