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Dinastía Omeya (Arab rulers)

Recepción en Medina AzaharaABDERRAMÁN I

Abderraman was nicknamed "the Immigrant" since he was forced to flee his native land when the Abasides had murdered his family. He was blond and very tall, blind in one eye, with his hair parted into two long curling strands. He was a sober man who shunned earthly pleasures but loved hunting, and who was well-read and passionately fond of poetry.

After fleeing for his life, "the Immigrant" landed on a beach in Almuñecar, and from there set off to conquer Cordoba on 15th May 756. Here he was to become Emir, and the main achievements of his rule were the new buildings such as the Mosque or the Arruzafa country estate, the conservation of existing buildings, and establishing peace in the peninsula. He made Cordoba the capital of his kingdom, Al Andalus, and thus began centuries of splendour, and later decadence, for our city.

HIXEM I

Al-Hakem I came to power at the age of 26, against the opposition of his uncles, Sulayman and Abdala, who tried to seize the throne from him. He was tall and thin, with a very dark complexion - a tough, arrogant character who was often extremely cruel and ruthless.
His nickname was "Rabali", meaning "the one from the Arrabal (the suburbs)". When he tried to impose a new tribute, a rebellion broke out, and Al-Hakem dealt with it ruthlessly, killing over 500 of his subjects, having others castrated and banishing over 20,000 to Africa. The southern suburb named Arrabal del Mediodia or Secunda was completely razed to the ground, and building was prohibited in the area under pain of death.
On the other hand, he did show interest in the education of his subjects, and had several schools built, bringing the best teachers from the Middle East to instruct the Cordoban population in all the branches of knowledge.
He died on 21st May 822.

AL-HAKEM I

Al-Hakem I came to power at the age of 26, against the opposition of his uncles, Sulayman and Abdala, who tried to seize the throne from him. He was tall and thin, with a very dark complexion - a tough, arrogant character who was often extremely cruel and ruthless.
His nickname was "Rabali", meaning "the one from the Arrabal (the suburbs)". When he tried to impose a new tribute, a rebellion broke out, and Al-Hakem dealt with it ruthlessly, killing over 500 of his subjects, having others castrated and banishing over 20,000 to Africa. The southern suburb named Arrabal del Mediodia or Secunda was completely razed to the ground, and building was prohibited in the area under pain of death.
On the other hand, he did show interest in the education of his subjects, and had several schools built, bringing the best teachers from the Middle East to instruct the Cordoban population in all the branches of knowledge.
He died on 21st May 822.

ABDERRAMÁN II

Abderraman II was 20 years old when he came to the throne, and like his father and grandfather before him, had to fight against his uncle Abdala?s claims to the throne, as well as resisting the Christians from Asturias and the Pyrenees and the rebellious cities of Merida and Toledo.
He was a wise, highly-talented person who loved poetry and was a patron of writers and artists. Tall and dark, with big dark eyes and a long beard, he established the most brilliant court of his day, and under his rule Cordoba became universally famous ? it was the first city in the world to have paved streets and public street lighting.
He had roads repaired, installed lead piping to carry the water supply, extended the Mosque, and built a school with room for 300 orphans. He was responsible, too, for inventing and setting up the great wooden Albolafia water wheel, which, driven by the current of the river, was used to water the gardens of the Alcazar (castle).
He died on 22nd September 852.

MUHAMMAD I

Muhammed I came to the throne at the age of 29. Very well-read and a first-rate poet, he also particularly loved Mathematics. He was short, with a small head and bushy beard.
He made improvements to the Great Mosque by repairing the old parts and looking after the new.
He fought, like his predecessor, against the Christians from Asturias and the Pyrenees, and later made a truce with their king Don Alfonso.
He died on 4th August 886.

AL-MUNDIR

Al-Mundir came to the throne at the age of 42. Dark-skinned with curly hair and a pock-marked face, he was a brave, fearless warrior who was injured many times.
His main worry after taking over was keeping the peace in a kingdom permanently torn apart by risings and rebellions.
He was poisoned, possibly by his own brother and successor, on 12th April 888.

ABDALÁ I

On claiming the throne, Abdala I was the same age as his brother who had ruled before him. He was medium height and blond, with blue eyes and a pale complexion.
He was forced to put down a series of family rebellions, which had serious consequences on the daily life of the city.
In the years 900 and 902, Cordoba suffered one of the worst floods on record, when the River Guadalquivir burst its banks, flooding the Axerquia (lower city) and the Arrabal del Mediodía (southern suburbs). Many were drowned and a terrible food shortage followed, which caused outbreaks of plague.
He died on 15th October 912.

ABDERRAMÁN III

Abderraman III was fair-skinned, with an attractive face, dark blue eyes and blond hair, which he used to dye black. He was educated by the best teachers in the court, and when he came to the throne, his prime objective was to rebuild the damaged prestige of the Omeyan dynasty. After seven years of war, he achieved his aim.
He extended his power to the north of Africa as far as Egypt, and several Central African kings paid tribute to him. As a result of these conquests, the Committee of Nobles agreed to form the Western Caliphate, with Abderraman III as its first Caliph.
This heralded a golden age in Cordoban history, when Cordoba became the biggest city in Europe and standards of literacy and culture were the highest in the known world. Many new schools were built and students, both Moslem and Christian, flocked to the classes.
Contemporary critics heaped praise on the city, calling it -"Emporium of the Sciences" - "Cradle of Islamic Law " - "The Pearl of the Earth" - "Court of the Caliphs" - "Light of the West ". In a time when in the Christian territories only the monks and some nobles knew how to write, in Moslem Cordoba illiteracy was practically non-existent.
Abderraman III started several building projects, although he will surely be remembered most for building the legendary palace-city of Medina-Azahara.
Work was begun on 19th November 936, seven kilometres west of Cordoba, to build a new city on the slopes of a hill called Monte de la Novia (the Hill of the Bride). According to legend, the Caliph had it built to please a favourite young courtesan who he had fallen passionately in love with.
By the year 941, it was finished and the whole court moved there, along with all the organs of government as well as his civil and military households. From then on, it became the official residence of the Caliph.
To describe Medina-Azahara would be like describing a palace out of "A Thousand and One Nights".
Abderraman III died on 16th October 961.

AL-HAKEM II

Inheriting from his father a love of literature, Al-Hakem II was perhaps the most learned of the Andalusian Omeyas. He was certainly the least cruel, and was possibly the only one who never took pleasure in bloodshed and violence. He came to the throne at the age of forty-six.
Although he was not a war-mongerer, there were times he had to fight, albeit against his will, and he proved such a skilled fighter that his enemies soon sued for peace.
Al-Hakem was patron to the most distinguished wise men of his day, such as the surgeon Albucasis, whose treatise on surgery was translated into Latin and soon spread to all the other European centres of learning. There was also the mathematician and alchemist Maslama al-Mairiti, the first famous name to come from the city of Madrid, who wrote a treatise on arithmetic and a manual for making astrolabes. He also translated for the first time the "Planisphaerium" of Ptolemy.
One of the Caliph?s greatest passions was books ? not only was he a fanatical collector, but he was also a discerning, voracious reader. As he read, he took down copious notes of his own ideas in the margins and always wrote down the date he had finished reading, as well as the name and nationality of the authors of each volume.
However, fate was just as cruel with Al-Hakem?s library, along with nearly all the libraries in Cordoba, as it was with the palace planned and built by his father. A few years after the Caliph?s death, thousands of his books were thrown on bonfires and consumed by flames.
He died in the year 976.

HIXEM II

Hixem II was proclaimed Caliph at the tender age of six, with his mother the Sultana Sobeida as regent, who named Muhammad ben Abi-Amir as governor of the kingdom.
Hixem II proved to have a weak and lazy character ? he by far preferred to be shut up in Medina-Azahara, surrounded by singers and dancers, than directing affairs of government.
It was left to Muhammad to take on the Caliph?s responsibilities. He fought against the Christians and caused widespread destruction, capturing the pilgrims? city of Santiago. For these exploits he was named Almanzor ? "the famous victor".
On the Caliph?s death (1013) Almanzor proclaimed himself ruler. Wanting the same treatment as the Caliphs before him, he ordered a new royal city to be built about three kilometres from Cordoba on the banks of the Guadalquivir, which he called Medina-Zahira or City of Brilliance. During this period, he also connected up all the city?s suburbs.

ABDERRAMÁN IV AL-MURTADA

A well-educated, virtuous man, Abderraman IV was a worthy descendent of the Omeyan family. He was proclaimed Caliph of Cordoba by his followers in Jaen, and gathered a great army to go to war, expel the usurper Almanzor, and reinstate his ancestors? dynasty.
However, soon afterwards, while preparing to march with reinforcements to the lands of Granada to force an end to the war, he was treacherously drowned in his bath by his own slaves, who had probably been bribed by the Alaminies, a rival tribe. The murder, which took place in the year 1018, was announced to the public as if it had been a death from natural causes.

YAHAYÁ BEN ALÍ BEN HAMMAD

After making a pact with his uncle to reign jointly in Spain, Yahaya entered Cordoba protected by his guard of negro warriors from the Morrocan city of Sous, and then completely ignored his uncle?s claims.
He tried his best to win over the populace and avoid committing injustices, but by now the people were so used to rebellion and fast changes of government that they rose up against him. Yahaya fled the city for Algeciras at the beginning of February 1023.

ABDERRAMÁN V

Abderraman V came to the throne with the promise of curing all the ills of the state, but as soon as he raised the taxes to try and replenish the public treasury, he immediately lost the people?s support.
A bloody revolution soon broke out in Cordoba, and one night the rebels stormed the castle, slaughtering the royal guard and raping the women of the harem. Abderraman himself, sword in hand, put up a brave stand but was soon cut down and his body horribly mutilated.
He had ruled for just two months, from December 1023 to 3rd February 1024, and was the last of the Omeyan dynasty: his death marked the end of the Caliphate in Cordoba.
 

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