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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

On account of which he was called Almansor


[Sidenote:

Almansor.]

Hakem II (961-976) continued his father's policy in all respects, but was able to devote even more attention to intellectual activities. In military affairs the next reign, that of Hisham II (976-1013), was particularly brilliant, but it was not the caliph who directed affairs. In the time of Hakem II a certain Mahomet-ben-Abdallah-abu-Amir had attracted the attention and won the heart of the caliph's favorite wife. Through her aid he became the chief minister of Hisham II, who was a minor at the time of his succession. Hisham was soon put aside by Mahomet, who sequestered the caliph in the palace, and ruled in the name of the virtually deposed monarch. Mahomet was principally famous for his victories, on account of which he was called Almansor, meaning "the aided of God," or "the victorious by divine favor." He reorganized the army, making it a machine which was not only efficient in a military way but also personally devoted to him. Then in repeated campaigns he defeated the Christian kings of the northwest and northeast, reducing the greater part of their territories to his authority, and making himself arbiter in the kingdoms which were allowed to exist.

[Sidenote: Downfall of the caliphate.]

Almansor died in 1002, but the military supremacy of the Moslem state was sustained by his son Abdul Malik, who succeeded as chief minister and virtual ruler. The latter

did not live long, however, being followed in authority by another son of Almansor, who was not so fortunate in his rule. The Moslem nobles were hostile to the military absolutism of the Almansor family, chiefly, no doubt, because of the usual intractability of the aristocracy, but also because the military element, composed of Berbers and foreigners of all descriptions, even slaves (who might be powerful generals), had become the most important in the country. Civil wars broke out, therefore, and they resulted in the fall of the Almansor family, in 1009. The wars continued, however, between the generals of Almansor's army and the various pretenders to the caliphate (even though Hisham was alive during part of the time and was believed to be living for many years after he had probably died or been put to death). In 1027, the last of the Ommayads, Hisham III, became caliph, but in 1031 was deposed. Thenceforth, no one was able to make good a claim to the throne; Moslem Spain fell apart into a number of independent units, and the caliphate came to an end.

[Sidenote: Social classes in Moslem Spain.]

Although the differences in social status were much the same in Moslem Spain as in other parts of Europe, there were added complications, owing to the differences of race and religion. There were the usual gradations of aristocracy, freemen, freedmen, and slaves, but the real aristocracy was the Arabic. This was nearly destroyed in the time of Abd-er-Rahman III, and a new aristocracy of soldiers and merchants took its place. Prior to that time both the Arabic and Berber nobility had gone on increasing their holdings until they had attained vast estates, and it was perhaps on this account that they lived for the most part in the country, leaving the cities to the Renegados and "Moz?rabes," as the Christians living under Moslem rule were called. The Renegados were an especially important element in the population, both industrially and intellectually, but were despised by the other groups; indeed, many were descendants of slaves. The Moz?rabes usually lived in a separate district, and were allowed to govern themselves to some extent, having law courts and some administrative officials of their own. In daily life they mixed freely with the Moslem population. The old differences between the Hispano-Roman and Visigothic Christians were maintained for a time, but seem at length to have passed away. The Moz?rabes were allowed to retain their Christian worship, and as a rule were not persecuted, although frequently insulted by lower class Moslems. Late in the ninth century, especially in the reign of Mahomet I, there was a period of persecution, caused very largely by the excessive zeal of some of the Christians. The law inflicted the penalty of death on anybody who publicly cursed the founder of the Mohammedan faith, wherefore a number of Christians, already exasperated by certain harsh measures of the emir, began to seek martyrdom by cursing the prophet. A Christian church council disapproved of this practice, but it continued and was later sanctioned by the church, which canonized many of the martyrs. The Jews were another important element, not only in administration, but also in commerce and in general culture. Cordova became the world's centre for Jewish theological studies. In all of this period the Jews were well treated.


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