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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Then followed the caliphate of Abd er Rahman III


[Sidenote:

Two centuries of scant progress in Asturias.]

[Sidenote: The independence of Castile.]

[Sidenote: Sancho the Fat.]

For nearly two centuries after the death of Alfonso II, or until the fall of the Moslem caliphate, very little progress was made by the kings of Oviedo and Le?n, which latter city had become the capital of the Christian kingdom in the northwest early in the tenth century. There was a marked opposition between the Asturian-Leonese and the Galician parts of the realm, and the Galician nobles maintained almost continuous war with the kings. Similarly the counts of the frontier often acted like petty sovereigns, or even joined with the Moslems against their own compatriots. So, too, there were contests for the throne, and neither side hesitated to call in Moslem aid. Some kings achieved conquests of temporary moment against the Moslems; for example, Alfonso III "the Great" (866-909) added considerably to his territories in a period of marked weakness in the caliphate, but was obliged to abdicate when his sons and even his wife joined in rebellion against him; the kingdom was then divided among three sons, who took respectively Le?n, Galicia and Lusitania, and Asturias, leaving to the king the town of Zamora alone. Then followed the caliphate of Abd-er-Rahman III, when the Christian kingdoms, except Galicia, were most of the time subject in fact to the Moslem state,

although allowed to govern themselves. To the usual quarrels there was added a new separatist tendency, more serious than that of Galicia had been. This proceeded from the eastern part of the kingdom in a region which came to be called Castile because of the numerous castles there, due to its situation on the Moslem frontier. The counts of Castile, centering around Burgos, had repeatedly declined to obey the kings of Oviedo and Le?n,--for example, when they were called to serve in the royal armies. During the reign of Ramiro II (930-950), Count Fern?n Gonz?lez united the Castilians under his standard, and after repeated wars was able to make Castile independent of the king of Le?n. The reign of Sancho "the Fat" is typical of the times. Sancho became king of Le?n in 955, but was soon dethroned by his nobles, who alleged among other things that because of his corpulence he cut a ridiculous figure as a king. Sancho went to the court of Abd-er-Rahman III, and got not only a cure for fatness but also a Moslem army. Aided, too, by the Christian kingdom of Navarre he was able to regain his throne. He had promised to deliver certain cities and castles to the caliph, but did not do so until compelled to by the next caliph, Hakem. Civil wars between the nobles and the crown continued, and many of the former joined with Moslem Almansor in his victorious campaigns against their coreligionists and their king.

[Sidenote: Advance of the Christian states in the early eleventh century.]

[Sidenote: Sancho the Great.]

When the caliphate began to totter, following the deaths


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