Andalusian and Maghrebian Efforts at Synthesis (13th-l4th Centuries)

One would expect that Andalusian and Maghrebian historiographers of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries would provide fuller coverage and use a more precise ethnic terminology than their Middle Eastern peers use. However, although constant interaction between the realms of the Muslim West and the Iberian Christian North probably ensured that they were better informed, this is not necessarily manifest in their works.

Written around 621/1224,397 al-Marrakushi’s history of the Almohads contains a short history of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim invasion onwards. It describes the contemporary situation as follows:

Four kings of al-Rum [sic] rule the four parts of the Iberian Peninsula (jazirat

al-Andalus). One of the parts is called Aragon (Araghun)____Another part, and this is

a great kingdom, are lands called the lands of Castile (bilad Qashtal) which are ruled

by Alfonso (al-Adfunsh), may God curse him____ Another part is called Leon

(Liyun) . . . and ruled by a man called Babuj, the Arabic meaning of this name being ‘the playful’ (al-kathir al-la‘ab) [alternative: ‘the drooler’ (al-kathir al-luab)]. A man called Ibn al-Rlq rules the other part in the north, on the coast of the great sea.398

In another passage, al-Marrakushi reproduces the same information, clarifying that the ‘master of Barcelona, may God curse him’ (sahib Barshanuna la anahu Allah) is identical to the ruler of Aragon. In addition, al-Marrakushi names cities in the respective territory,

most of which have been conquered by the Christians. I will mention the names of the cities that are in the hands of the Christians in our times as well as their location in the east or west of the peninsula without going into details on the distances between them. For the Christians’ presence there impedes knowing this.399 [1] [2] [3] [4]

Al-Marrakushi does not list many Christian rulers by name. Aside from those cited above, he mentions Garcia Sanchez (Gharsiyya b. Shanjuh) as well as the ‘Son of Ramiro’ (Ibn Rudhm/r).[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] He does not focus on the Christian realms and thus fails to provide the historical overview that could have been expected from a Maghrebian historiographer who had spent some time on the Iberian Peninsula from around 603/1206 to 610/1213.401 Moreover, al-Marrakushi tends to use umbrella terms for the Christians. As opposed to Ibn al-Athir, he does not call them ‘Franks’ (al-Faranj) but either employs the term ‘al-nasara’, i.e. ‘the Christians’, or ‘al-Rum’, the ethnonym usually applied to Romans or Byzantines.^

Ibn 'Idhari (d. after 712/1312-13) provides more information in his history of North Africa and Spain. Since he drew on al-Razi and Ibn Hayyan for the eighth to eleventh centuries,^3 it is possible to concentrate on the third and fourth volumes of his work, which deal with the period of the tafa-kings as well as the period of Almoravid rule. Like al-Marrakushi, Ibn 'Idharl is well aware of the Christians’ thrust to the south and their increasing power. 4o4 In line with this, he reports on the many dealings between the Muslim south and the Christian rulers of the North, who occasionally carry the ethnonyms ‘al-Rum’, i.e. Romans or Byzantines,405 or even ‘al-Qut’, i.e. Goths.406 The frequency of references seems to increase proportionally with the rise of Christian power.407 Ibn 'Idhari even dedicates an individual chapter to ‘Alfonso, the ruler of Castile, may God humiliate him’ (al-Adhftmsh malik Qishtala akhzahu Allah). It provides an overview of the family background of Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile, going back from the death of the latter in 502/1109 to his great-grandfather Sancho Garcia of Castile.408 Notwithstanding, data on the Christian realms is subordinate to the annalistic depiction of Muslim history.

This is different in the works of two fourteenth-century authors from the Muslim West, i.e. Ibn al-Khadb (d. 776/1375) and Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406). They are the first Arabic-Islamic scholars to provide a systematic exposition of Iberian Christian history in self-contained chapters.409

Ibn al-Khatib’s account is based on the testimony of a Castilian envoy to Granada, the Jewish physician Yusuf b. Waqar al-Isralll al-Tulaytuli. During an official visit to Granada, he furnished Ibn al-Khatib with data taken from ‘histories dealing with the genealogy of the ruler of Castile and the branching out of their rulers’.410 In line with this source of information, the chapter is dated according to the Christian era (li-tarikh al-Sufr)4n and features various transcriptions of Romance words.412 The account begins with the duces (duqish) of Cantabria (Qantabriya) and highlights the role played by Pelayo (Bilayuh b. al-duq Fafila) for the defence of Asturias (ard Asturish) against the Muslims.413 Clearly focusing on the feats of rulers, it recounts the entangled history of Asturias and Leon (Liyun) and traces the rise of Castile (Qashtalla) in interaction with Leon and Navarre (Nabara).4i4 Dwelling on the alternating relations between Leon, Castile, and Navarre, subsequent passages take note of the increasing independence of Galicia and Portugal (Ghalisiya wa-Burtuqal) from Leon and Castile and mention important landmarks of the so-called Reconquista, e.g. the battles of Alarcos (591/1195) and of Las Navas de Tolosa (609/1212).415 The ensuing focus is on Castile and its southern expansion.416 Ibn al-Khatib then deals with the (first) Castilian civil war involving Peter I of Castile (Dun Bitruh), his rival brother Henry of Trastamara (Inriq) as well as the intervention of the ‘master of England’ (sahib al-Aghlitira), ending with the contemporary reign of Henry of Trastamara (ruled 1369_79).41? He then dedicates a longer paragraph to each of the rulers of Portugal and Aragon- Barcelona (Araghun wa-Barjaluna) up to his own times.41®

Ibn Khaldun’s account, in turn, cites Ibn Hayyan as the main source for the period before the fifth/eleventh century and mentions Almoravid historiography bi-bad akhbarihim’. On Ibn Khaldun’s chapter, see Martinez-Gros, ‘L’histoire’ (2007), pp. 77—86. Stearns, ‘Passages’ (2004), pp. 157—82, compares both texts.

  • 410 Ibn al-Khanb, a'mal al-a'lam, ed. Levi-Proven^al, p. 322: ‘al-tawarikh allat! waqaa fiha nasab malik Qishtala wa-tafarru' mulUkihim’.
  • 411 On the term ‘tarikh al-Sufr’, see Goldziher, Asfar’ (I960), pp. 687—8. The term al-Asfar in the sense of ‘light-skinned’ was used originally for the Byzantines and later applied to Europeans, especially on the Iberian Peninsula. According to Goldziher, the term ‘tarikh al-Sufr’ is equivalent to the so-called ‘Spanish era’ (1 ad = 38 все), cf. Roth, ‘Calendar’ (2003), p. 190. Ibn al-Khanb’s equations of hijri and Christian years neither fully correspond to the Spanish nor to the Christian (incarnation) era (се). Cf. Ibn al-Khanb, a'mal al-a'lam, ed. Levi-Proven^al, p. 323 (ah 114 = 772 instead of 732 се; ah 133 = 791 instead of 750 се), p. 324 (ah 248 = 875 instead of 862 се; ah 297 = 924 instead of 910 се; ah 305 = 932 instead of 917 се), p. 325 (ah 331 = 958 instead of 943 се; ah 336 = 963 instead of 947 се). The Christian dates given on the following pages up to p. 334 are not converted into hijri-years. Then, p. 335, ah 751 is ‘correctly’ converted into 1350 се. It seems as if Ibn al-Khanb (or his source) dated according to the ‘Spanish era’ in connection with the first two dates mentioned above. This would explain why they differ by around forty years from the Christian (incarnation) era (се). It is not clear, however, why the following dates differ by around thirteen to fifteen years from the Christian era. At the end of the chapter, Ibn al-Khanb (or his source) seemingly employed the Christian (incarnation) era, introduced in Castile in the course of the fourteenth century.
  • 412 E.g. Ibn al-Khanb, a 'mal al-a 'lam, ed. Levi-Proven^al, p. 322 (duces = duqish), p. 323 (catolico = al-qatuliquh), p. 324 (magno = maghnuh), p. 325 (corte = al-qurt, with the explanation ‘ra! kabir yusammUnahu al-qurt, tahdur fihi al-muluk wa-l-umara li-taqdir al-musalahat al-waqtiyya wa-l- abadiyya’), p. 330 (emperador = inbiradur), p. 332 (infante = al-ifanti, with the explanation ‘wa-ma na al-ifanti walad al-sultan’).
  • 413 Ibid., pp. 322-3. 414 Ibid., pp. 323-8. 415 Ibid., pp. 328-31.
  • 416 Ibid., pp. 332-5. 417 Ibid., p. 336. 418 Ibid., pp. 336-8.

in connection with events in the year 450/1058.[15] [16] [17] [18] Gabriel Martinez-Gros highlighted that the anthroponyms in the first half of his chapter are apparently transcriptions from Latin (Lat. Adefunsus—Arab. Adfunsh; Lat. Ferdinandus— Arab. Fardaland), while the second half features transcriptions from Romance (Rom. Alfonso—Arab. Alfunsh and al-Hansha; Rom. Fernando—Arab. Haranda). According to Martinez-Gros, this points to an oral source of information for the period post-dating Ibn H ayyan, which he locates in the Catalan or French milieu because of the linguistic character of the titles ‘count’ (Arab. qumt, French comte) and ‘Prince of Wales’ (Arab. al-bilins Ghalis, French Prince de Galles).420

At the beginning of the chapter, Ibn Khaldun introduces his readers to the contemporary powers Castile (Qashtala), Portugal (al-Burtughal), Navarre (Nabarra), and Barcelona (Barshaluna). Their origins lay in the valleys of Galicia populated by Christian peoples, who had been frightened away by the Muslim invasion.421 He disputes Ibn H ayyan’s opinion that their leaders had been part of the Visigothic elite, believing that the latter had become extinct.422 A new power emerged under Alfonso I (Adfunsh b. Batra) whose son Fruela (Fruwila) considerably enlarged the territory of Galicia (ardJilliqiyya) which flourished under several rulers, most of them named Alfonso.423 Under Sancho I of Leon (Shanja) several counts (qawamis), including their most powerful representative, the count of Alava de los Castillos (Alaba wa-l-Qila) Fernan Gonzalez (Fardaland b. Ghundishalb), rebelled against the king, ushering in a period of troubles (idtirab mulkihim).424 At the end of the fourth/tenth century, the regions ruled by the king of the Galicians, the count of Alava, and the king of the Basques suffered frequent raids at the hands of al-Mansur to the effect that the entire people of Galicia became obedient to the Muslims.425 With the Almoravid takeover and the end of Arab rule on the Iberian Peninsula in the middle of the fifth/eleventh century, the tide began to turn. Only checked by the Almohad expansion and infighting, various rulers, who are not clearly assigned to a specific people or territory, expanded the Christian sphere. The defeats and victories of al-Zallaqa, Alarcos, and Las Navas de Tolosa heralded a period of Castilian and Aragonese hegemony on the peninsula. Castile suffered a serious setback during the first Castilian civil war, which also involved the prince of Wales (al-Bilins Ghalis), a Frankish king (malik Ifranja) from the north around the regions of Germany (al-Lamaniya) and Britain (Fartanya).426 Like Ibn al-Khafib, Ibn Khaldun then dedicates a short paragraph to the realm of Portugal, and a longer paragraph to the realm of Aragon, tracing the history of the latter from Visigothic times up to Peter IV (ruled 1336-87).427

Ibn al-Khafib’s and Ibn Khaldun’s accounts differ substantially, not least because they draw on different sources. Both show that it was possible and deemed necessary to write the history of the Christian realms of the Iberian Peninsula in the fourteenth century. Both accounts feature important landmarks: these realms’ birth in the wake of the Muslim invasion, the rise of Castile, key moments of the Reconquista, the Castilian civil war, the independence of Portugal, the rise of Aragon. Although both authors were involved in Iberian affairs, they refrained from using polemic vocabulary.

  • [1] Ibid., vol. 24, p. 212: ‘wa-qad balaghna anna l-jazira al-khadra’ hasaraha al-Faranj, khadhala-hum Allah ta‘ ala, fi sanat khams ‘ ashar wa-sab' a mi’a wa-nahwiha. wa-lam yasil ilayna ma tajaddadamin dhalika. fa-in wasala ilayna min khabariha shay’ awradnahu fi hawadith al-sinin fi akhbar mulukal-diyar al-misr iyya, in sha’ Allah ta' ala.’
  • [2] Cf. al-Marrakushi, al-mu jib, ed. Dozy, p. viii (Introduction).
  • [3] 398 Ibid., p. 235: ‘jazirat al-Andalus yamlik jihatiha al-arba' arba' at muluk min al-Rum ihda al-jihattusamma Araghun . . . wa-l-jiha al-ukhra wa-hiya al-mamlaka al-kubra bilad tusamma bilad Qashtalyamlikuha al-Adfunsh la anahu Allah . . . wa-l-jiha al-ukhra tusamma Liyun . . . yamlikuha rajul yud abi-l-Babuj wa-ma na hadha al-ism bi-l- Arabiyya al-kathir al-lu ab [sic] wa-l-jiha al-ukhra fi l-shimalmimma yali al-bahr al-a' zam bahr Aqnabus yamlikuha rajul yu' raf bi-Ibn al-Riq . . .’.
  • [4] Ibid., pp. 267—8: ‘fa-amma dhikr muduniha fa-qad kanat fiha mudun kathira taghallabaal-nasara 'ala akthariha fa-ana dhakir asma’ al-mudun allati bi-aydi al-nasara fi waqtina hadhawa-mawadi'iha min al-jazira min mashriq wa-maghrib min ghayr ta'arrud ila ma baynaha minal-masafat idh kana kawn al-nasara bi-ha mani' an min ma' rifat dhalika . . .’.
  • [5] Ibid., pp. 25, 127. 401 Ibid., pp. vi—vii (Introduction).
  • [6] 402 Cf. ibid., p. 25: ‘Gharsiyya b. Shanjuh min muluk al-Rum’; p. 268, on the Christian lands
  • [7] beyond al-Andalus: ‘wa-wara’ hadhihi al-mudun mimma yali bilad al-Rum mudun kathira lam tash-tahir indana li-bu'diha anna’; p. 235, on the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (609/1212) where heidentifies Christian rulers as ‘muluk min al-Rum’.
  • [8] Dhanun Taha, Conquest (1989), pp. 10—11.
  • [9] Cf. Ibn 'Idhari, al-bayan, ed. Colin and Levi-Proven^al, vol. 3, p. 238.
  • [10] E.g. Ibn 'Idharl, al-bayan, ed. Abbas, vol. 4, p. 50: ‘taghiyat al-Rum al-azam Adhfunsh’.
  • [11] Ibn 'Idharl, al-bayan, ed. Colin and Levi-Proven^al, vol. 3, p. 5. See Chapter 5.3.3.
  • [12] Ibn ' Idhari, al-bayan, ed. Colin and Levi-Proven^al, vol. 3, pp. 4—5, 7, 11—12, 14, 24, 36, 42,51, 55, 83, 89-90, 93-100, 160, 163-4, 177, 220, 232, 238-9, 278, 281, 282, 310-11; Ibn 'Idhari,al-bayan, ed. 'Abbas, vol. 4, pp. 31-42, 44, 50-5, 58, 62, 69-71, 86, 88, 91-4, 98, 103, 114-17,120-1, 127-8, 130-2, 134-5, 143, 147, 148-51.
  • [13] Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 50-1.
  • [14] Ibn al-Khatib, acmal al-a'lam, ed. Levi-Proven^al, pp. 322-38: ‘dhikr al-ta rif bi-ma amkanamin muluk al-nasara bi-l-Andalus ala l-ikhtisar’. On this text, see: Antuna, ‘Version’ (1933),pp. 105-54; Marquer, ‘Figura’ (2011), § 32^7. Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 4,pp. 229-36: ‘al-khabar an muluk Bani Adfunsh min al-Jalaliqa muluk al-Andalus ba'd al-Ghut wa-li-'ahdal-muslimin wa-akhbar man jawarahum min al-Faranja wa-l-Bashkans wa-l-Burtughal wa-l-ilmam
  • [15] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 4, p. 229: ‘wa-yazum Ibn Hayyan . . .’;p. 230: ‘qala Ibn Hayyan . . .’; p. 232: wa-fi tawarikh Lamtuna wa-akhbarihim . . .’.
  • [16] Martinez-Gros, ‘Uhistoire’ (2007), p. 82.
  • [17] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 4, p. 229.
  • [18] Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 229—30. 423 Ibid., vol. 4, p. 230. 424 Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 230—1. 425 Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 231—2. 426 Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 233^. 427 Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 235-6. See Chapter 6.3.1.
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