The Latin-based Narrative in the Late Medieval Muslim West

Curiously, the Latin-based narrative had much less impact on Arabic-Islamic scholars writing in the Muslim West of the twelfth and later centuries. This applies equally to works of geography and historiography as well as to mixed genres, which deal with both fields of knowledge.

The Andalusian geographer al-Zuhri (6th/12th cent.), for example, only offers very limited information on the Visigoths in his Book of Geography (kitab al-ja'afiya [sic]). In the section on Granada, he refers to the Goths (al-Qutiyyin) as the former

  • 201 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-a'sha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 238: ‘wa-lladh! dhakarahu Hurushiyush muarrikh al-Rum anna lladhi kharaja alayhim min Ruma thalath tawali' min al-Gharlqiyyln wa-hum: al-Anbiyyun, wa-l-Shawaniyyun, wa-l-Qandalush’; Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 2, pp. 280—1: ‘wa-lahiqa biha thalath tawaif min al-Gharlqiyyln fa-qtasamu mulkaha wa-hum al-Anbiyyun wa-l-Shawaniyyun wa-l-Qandalush’.
  • 202 al-Qalqashandi, subh al-a'sha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, pp. 238—41; cf. Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 2, pp. 281—3.
  • 203 On al-Qalqashandl’s sources see Vesely, ‘Quellen’ (1969), pp. 13—24; Bjorkman, Beitrage (1928), pp. lb-1.
  • 204 Both resided in Aleppo in their final years, cf. Rosenthal, ‘Ibn al-Athir’ (1971), p. 723.
  • 205 Yaqut, mu jam, ed. Wustenfeld, vol. 1, lemma ‘al-Andulus’, pp. 375-8; vol. 3, lemma ‘Tulaytula’, pp. 515-16.

inhabitants of al-Andalus.206 Always using a similar phrasing, he mentions them as possible founders of the cities of Toledo, Santarem, Seville, Algeciras, and Denia.207 Claiming to cite al-Mas'udl, he asserts that their last king Roderic (Ludhriq) resided in Cordoba for seven years after opening the sealed house in Toledo, parting from there to meet the Muslim troops in battle in the Wadi Lakka.208 Al-Zuhrl only mentions one other, unidentifiable Visigothic ruler. He credits a certain ‘Sanbaffm, allegedly ruler of Cadiz (Qadis), with the construction of an aqueduct that was to provide the city with water.209 Providing rather scarce information and mainly interested in geographic data, al-Zuhri seems to have merged rather feeble traditions of local history with the data provided by an obviously outdated source, allegedly al-Mas'udl. Several passages suggest that he had no idea of where to place the Visigoths chronologically and ethnically. He claims that the Visigoths founded Algeciras and Denia in the times of Abraham and Moses respectively^^ only to assert that they ruled from Toledo, which later (sic!) served as residence to the Romans/Byzantines (al-Rum).[1] [2]n Consequently, he defined Roderic as ‘ruler of the Romans/Byzantines’ (malik al-Rum), thus using an ethnic terminology hitherto not applied to the Visigoths.212

The historiographical account of the Muslim invasion called fath al-Andalus does not live up to the standards set by the earlier Latin-based narrative either. Written around the beginning of the twelfth century or heavily relying on a text from this period,213 the chronicle reproduces the main elements of the early standard narrative: Roderic’s (Ludriq) rule from the capital Toledo, his fatal decision to open the sealed housed[3] the causes for Julian’s (Wulyan or Bulyan) treason,2i5 Roderick campaign against the Basques (al-Bashkansh) at the beginning of the Muslim invasion^6 the effects of the marriage between the first governor 'Abd al-'Aziz with Roderic’s wife Egilona (Ayla)217 etc. The chronicle elaborates on all these themes and even adds some material not yet used in the early standard narrative. Notwithstanding, it fails to use the ethnonym ‘al-Quh or ‘al-Qutiyyun’, speaking of Roderic as the ‘ruler of al-Andalus’ (malik al-Andalus), of his people as ‘non-Arabs’ (al-cajam), and of Julian as a ‘Roman/Byzantine’ (Rumi).[1]i& Furthermore, it proffers no information on the time before Roderic. One might argue that a work on the Muslim invasion could afford to neglect the period before the invasion. Earlier, however, Ibn al-Qudyya and the chronicle akhbar majmua had also focused on the invasion, but had mentioned the penultimate Visigothic king Vitiza to explain the political constellation preceding the fall of the kingdom of Toledo.[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Ibn 'Idharl (d. after 712/1312-13), author of a history of North Africa and al-Andalus from the expansion up to the early fourteenth century, is also rather brief on pre-Islamic Visigothic history, but made use of some of the information characteristic of the Latin-based narrative. He knew that the Visigoths (al-Qut, al-Qutiyyun) took over al-Andalus from the Romans (mulk Ruma) and that Roderic (Ludhriq) was the last of a series of kings, allegedly sixteen in number. Aside from Roderic, Ibn 'Idharl only mentions the latter’s predecessor Vitiza (Wakhshandash). According to ‘the books of the non-Arabs’ (kutub al-cajam), Roderic had dethroned and killed this well-loved and righteous Christian king and then corrupted the mores of the kingdom, first opening the sealed house, then provoking the wrath of Julian.22° Although he cites proponents of the Latin-based narrative such as al-Razi, Ibn H ayyan, and al-BakrlThi Ibn 'Idharl did not furnish more information on the Visigoths before the invasion. Since we do not know which parts of their works were available to him, we cannot accuse him of having deliberately ignored the much richer data at their disposal, the more so as his work clearly focuses on the Muslim West after the expansion.

Equally uninformative, the historiographer of Granada, Ibn al-Khatib (d. 776/1375), only refers to Roderic (Ludhriq) and Julian (Yulyan) in a brief reference to the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. He uses the ethnonym ‘Ruml’ for Julian,222 and defines Toledo as the capital of the Romans/Byzantines (dar mulk al-Rum).223 It is surprising that he did not use the correct ethnonym for the dominant power defeated by the Muslim invaders in 711, especially considering that he knew Ibn Khaldun well, and frequently exchanged letters with him.224

Various counterexamples prove that interest in the Visigothic past was still alive and that the Latin-based narrative continued to inspire historiographical accounts. The geographical encyclopaedia ascribed to al-H^imyar! (13th-14th cent.), for example, cites al-Razi on the pre-Islamic history of al-Andalus.225 It mentions that the Visigoths (al-Qut) replaced the Romans on the Iberian Peninsula, taking Toledo as their capital.226 Nonetheless, it contains considerable distortions and much legendary material. It is impossible to identify the ruler called ‘Khanshush’, allegedly the Goths’ best and most righteous king and their first ruler who converted to Christianity. He allegedly supported the disciples of Christ (al-hawariyyin), called his people to the faith, collected, copied, and taught the gospels, thus firmly implanting the Christian religion among his people. This description neither applies to the Gothic conversion to Christianity in the late fourth century, nor to the

Visigoths’ conversion to Catholicism in 589, nor to the reign of a Catholic king like Sisebut (ruled 612-21), lauded as a most Christian king by various earlier Arabic-Islamic scholars.227 Al-H imyari claims that ‘Khanshush’ was succeeded by thirty-six rulers who continuously quarrelled up to the Muslim invasion. His explanation of the political constellation after the death of Vitiza (Ghaytasha) is rather elaborate. Aside from the legend of the sealed housed8 he mentions new details in connection with Roderick (Ludhriq) violation of Julian’s daughter.229 The lemma on Toledo reproduces data about the rule of Leovigild and his son Rec- cared. In line with al-Bakri, al-Himyari mentions Leovigild (Lubyan) as the founder of the city of Reccopolis and the first king to reside in Toledo. However, al-H imyari credits Leovigild with actions that al-Bakri had correctly ascribed to Reccared. Consequently, Leovigild falsely appears as the ruler who saved the kingdom from a period of strife.'227 228 229 230 * 232 233 234 235 236 A reference to the Gothic language in connection with the toponym Cordoba also points to al-Himyari’s use of al-Bakri.'3i Original, but not necessarily correct, are al-H^imyarl’s comments on the Visigoths’ architectural achievements. He claims that Roderic built the walls of Merida'3' as well as some vaults in the great mosque of Cordoba.'33

Apart from the universal history of Ibn Khaldun, a text called dhikr bilad al-Andalus provides probably the best example for the survival of the Latin-based narrative in the late medieval Muslim West. Of Maghrebian origin, it dates to the second part of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century.'34 The geographical section credits the Goths (al-Qutiyyun) with having built Zaragoza and Merida, claiming that the latter was constructed by a ruler named ‘Marid b. Larid’.235 Toledo is defined as the Visigoths’ capitals6 Ibn H ayyan provides the information that Cordoba was the residence of the last Visigothic king Roderic (Ludnq).237 The historical part of the work mentions wars between the Romans and the Goths east of Rome. Ensuing negotiations had the effect of conferring al-Andalus to the Goths, who took up residence in Toledo and Merida.'38 The section consigned to Visigothic history mentions the existence of thirty-seven Visigothic kings, nine of which ruled in al-Andalus for a period of about 300 years.239 The ensuing list of kings contains various errors as regards their length of

  • 227 al-Udhri, tarsi' al-akhbar, ed. al-Ahwam, p. 98; Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 4, AH 92, p. 443 (Leiden), p. 560 (Beirut).
  • 228 al-Himyari, al-rawd al-mi'tar, ed. Abbas, lemma ‘al-Andalus’, p. 34; lemma ‘Tulaytula’, p. 393.
  • 229 Ibid., lemma ‘al-Andalus’, pp. 34—5. On the final battle also see the lemma ‘Wadi Lakka’, p. 605. 23° Ibid., lemma ‘Tulaytula’, p. 394; cf. al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 1522,

p. 908. It seems, as if the editor of al-Bakri used the corresponding passage in al-Himyar! to reconstruct al-Bakri’s fragmentary text.

  • 231 al-Himyari, al-rawd al-mi'tar, ed. Abbas, lemma ‘Qurrnba’, p. 458; cf. al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 1508, p. 900. This reference, probably based on another source common to several Arabic-Islamic historiographers and connected in one way or another with the kitab Hurushiyush, is also found in al-'Udhri, tani' al-akhbar, ed. al-Ahwarn, p. 121; and al-Qalqashandi, subh al-a'sha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 226, who, however, claims to cite Ibn Sa' id.
  • 232 al-Himyari, al-rawd al-mi'tar, ed. Abbas, lemma ‘Marida’, p. 518.
  • 233 Ibid., lemma ‘Qurrnba’, p. 457.
  • 234 dhikr bilad al-Andalus, ed./trans. Molina, pp. xvii-xix (introduccion).
  • 235 Ibid., p. 56 (Merida), p. 70 (Zaragoza).
  • 236 Ibid., p. 47. 237 Ibid., p. 31. 238 Ibid., p. 91. 239 Ibid., pp. 91—2.

rule, dynastic relationships, and historical events, but undoubtedly constitutes a highly distorted version of earlier Latin-based lists. It seems to begin with Sisebut (ruled 612-21), a religious king who promoted learning and wrote books on medicine and astrology. His successors—probably Suinthila, Sisenand, and Tulga with the omission of Chintila—are treated briefly. His successor, probably Chindas- winth, is credited with strange and wonderful deeds that are not further specified. During the ruling period of his successor, possibly Reccesvinth, declared the Visigoths’ best and most righteous ruler, Muhammad began his struggle. The ensuing joint rule of two brothers, one of whom may represent Egica, ended when they both died on the same day, leaving the kingdom to Vitiza (Ghaytasha), the first identifiable ruler. Visigothic rule ends with Roderic (Ludriq), who usurps power after Vitizas deathTh0 The ensuing paragraphs on Roderic reproduce the well- known anecdotes about a king who corrupted the mores of the kingdom, opened the sealed house against the will of the Christian nobles and the clergy, and suffered defeat in the final battle. Julian is not mentioned. A few lines are dedicated to the final battle and Roderics defeatTh1

In spite of its flaws, and in view of its inferior contemporary alternatives with the exception of Ibn Khaldun, the dhikr bilad al-Andalus contains the best and most comprehensive narrative of Visigothic history produced in the late medieval Muslim West. Luis Molina drew links to exponents of the Latin-based narrative, i.e. Ibn Hayyan and al-'Udhri.242 In this case, however, it proves difficult to assert a direct relationship. As opposed to the dhikr bilad al-Andalus, Ibn Hayyan’s list provides recognizable Arabic transcriptions of rulers’ names and correctly correlates rulers and events in many cases. With regard to al-'Udhrl, it is not possible to establish a relationship, because the extant fragments only deal with Visigothic kings who ruled before the period treated by the dhikr bilad al-Andalus. If the author of the dhikr drew back on either of these two texts, he considerably distorted what they wrote.

Al-Maqqarl’s (d. 1041/1632) nafh al-tib min ghusn al-Andalus al-ratib treats the history of Muslim al-Andalus in retrospect as a territory lost to IslamTh3 It also fails to furnish a better version of Visigothic history. Al-Maqqar! cites several proponents of the Latin-based narrative, including al-Razi, Ibn Hayyan, and Ibn Khaldun.244 He mentions the Roman prehistory to the rule of thirty-six Visigothic kings. According to ‘old non-Arab works of history’ (tawarikh al-cajam al-qadima), their rule over al-Andalus lasted 407 or 342 years.245 But aside from Roderic and [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

the Muslim invasion^46 he only names one Visigothic king called ‘Khashnadash’ who was allegedly converted to Christianity by one of the apostles.247

  • [1] 06 al-Zuhri, al-ja'rafiya, ed. Hajj Sadiq, § 247, p. 95. 207 Ibid., § 217, p. 83, § 220, p. 85, § 230, p. 88, § 244, p. 93, § 270, p. 103. 208 Ibid., § 223, p. 86, § 242, p. 93. 209 Ibid., § 238, p. 90. 21° Ibid., § 244, p. 93, § 270, p. 103. 211 Ibid., § 217, p. 83: wa-qala annaha min bunyan al-Qutiyyln. wa-kanat dar mulkihim, wa-mulk al-Rum min ba dihim’. 212 Ibid., § 242, p. 93, § 247, p. 95. 213 Conquista de al-Andalus, trans. Penelas, pp. xvii—xix. 214 fath al-Andalus, ed./trans. Molina, cap. I,4, pp. 12—13. 215 Ibid., cap. I,5, pp. 13—15.
  • [2] 216 Ibid., cap. I,12, p. 18. 217 Ibid., cap. II,2, pp. 41—2.
  • [3] 218 Ibid., cap. I,4, p. 12 (rumi; malik al-Andalus); cap. I,5, p. 13 ( (ajam).
  • [4] 06 al-Zuhri, al-ja'rafiya, ed. Hajj Sadiq, § 247, p. 95. 207 Ibid., § 217, p. 83, § 220, p. 85, § 230, p. 88, § 244, p. 93, § 270, p. 103. 208 Ibid., § 223, p. 86, § 242, p. 93. 209 Ibid., § 238, p. 90. 21° Ibid., § 244, p. 93, § 270, p. 103. 211 Ibid., § 217, p. 83: wa-qala annaha min bunyan al-Qutiyyln. wa-kanat dar mulkihim, wa-mulk al-Rum min ba dihim’. 212 Ibid., § 242, p. 93, § 247, p. 95. 213 Conquista de al-Andalus, trans. Penelas, pp. xvii—xix. 214 fath al-Andalus, ed./trans. Molina, cap. I,4, pp. 12—13. 215 Ibid., cap. I,5, pp. 13—15.
  • [5] See Chapter 5.2.1. and 5.2.4.
  • [6] 22° Ibn ' Idharl, al-bayan, ed. Colin and Levi-Proven^al, vol. 2, pp. 2—3, 7.
  • [7] Ibid., vol. 2, p. 6; vol. 3, pp. 242, 298, as well as the Indices pp. 335, 366.
  • [8] Ibn al-Khatlb, al-ihata, ed. 'Inan, vol. 1, p. 100.
  • [9] 223 Ibn al-Khatlb, a'mal al-4lam, ed. Levi-Proven^al, p. 243.
  • [10] Cf. Talbi, ‘Ibn Khaldun’ (1971), p. 825.
  • [11] al-Himyari, al-rawd al-mitar, ed. 'Abbas, lemma ‘al-Andalus’, p. 33.
  • [12] Ibid., p. 34. More details on Toledo under the lemma ‘Tulaytula’, p. 394. On the Visigoths’independence from Rome also see the lemma ‘Marida’, p. 518.
  • [13] Ibid., pp. 92—3; cf. the Appendix. In the footnotes to the edition, Molina rules out any doubtsas to the exact correspondence of the respective Latin names to the Arabic versions by providingi mproved Arabic transliterations. However, the events attributed to most of these rulers except forSisebut, Vitiza, and Roderic hardly correspond to those which have been established by scholarship,nor to what is said about these kings in Latin sources such as Isidore’s Historia Gothorum or the Chronicle of754.
  • [14] dhikr bilad al-Andalus, ed./trans. Molina, pp. 93^, 97—9.
  • [15] Ibid., p. xvi (introduccion).
  • [16] al-Maqqarl, nafh al-tib, ed. Abbas, vol. 1, p. 13. Cf. Elinson, Looking (2009).
  • [17] al-Maqqari, nafh al-tib, ed. 'Abbas, vol. 1, pp. 137, 140, 143, 148.
  • [18] Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 138—40.
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >