Featured Umayyad Spain and the Beginning of the Decline of Muslim Rule in Iberia

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sallent, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    The year is 976 AD. For over 200 years the remains of the once great Umayyad Caliphate have managed to keep their Abbasid enemies at bay, and have secured a few remaining territories in North Africa, as well as Al-Andalus in Iberia. By all accounts, they've done a good job of it. Islamic culture, science, mathematics, architecture, and literature have thrived under their rule, and the Christian kings of Iberia have been pushed back. A "permanent peace" appears to have been secured between the Caliphate and the Christian kings... and talk of the Christian Reconquista seems almost a thing of the past. What could possibly go wrong?

    Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, circa 972 AD

    Hisham II
    It is in this climate of optimism that the Umayyad Caliph Hisham II took the throne. Little could his subjects know that within 4 decades the seeds of the Islamic decline in Iberia would be firmly sowed, and the last remnants of the once great Umayyads would be whipped from the Earth.

    Hisham II.jpg
    Caliph Hisham II, of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba

    Umayyads of Spain AR Dirhem (Hisham II).jpg
    UMAYYADS of SPAIN. Hisham II, 976-1009 AD.
    AR Dirhem (3.93 gm) of al-Andalus, AH 393. Kalima / Hisham’s titles. M.325.

    Unfortunately for the Umayyads, Hisham II was a weak Caliph. Things went well enough initially when he led troops against the Christian Kingdoms, breaking the peace treaties between the Caliphate and the Christian Kingdoms. His attacks inflicted terrible losses on the Christians. Perhaps all of Iberia could be brought under Islamic rule? Well, history had other plans, and soon the mercenaries that Hisham II brought to Iberia for his campaigns against the Christians battled for power among each other instead. It wasn't long before the Caliph found himself a puppet of the
    Berber mercenaries he had hired to help defeat the Christians. Unsurprisingly, soon Hisham II was dead under mysterious circumstances and the Caliphate of Cordoba descended into a bitter civil war between the remaining Umayyad royals and the mercenaries.

    This Civil War, which lasted between 1009 - 1031 AD, called the Fitna of al-Andalus, saw the Christian Kings play the Muslim combatants against each other by pretending to aid different factions, while also aiding their enemies behind their backs. As a result, Islamic rule over Iberia weakened and the Christian kings were able to conquer a lot of land. As the Ummayad Caliphate in Spain fractured into warring Taifas (Islamic Kingdoms), Christian reconquest of all of Iberia seemed imminent.

    Although things eventually stabilized with the arrival of the Almoravids in 1040 AD, Islamic rule over Iberia would never be as strong or secure. The Almoravids were soon overthrown by the Almohads, who mismanaged Iberia and suffered terrible defeats at the hands of the Christian armies.

    muwahhids AR Dirham (anonymous).jpg
    Almohad Caliphate (Muwahid)
    Islamic Iberia and North Africa
    AR Dirham AH 524- 640 (AD 1156- 1272)

    The disastrous defeats suffered by the Almohads against the Christians led to rebellion among Iberian Muslims, and to the creation in 1238 AD of the last Islamic Kingdom in Iberia, the Emirate of Granada, which would survive only as a tributary state to the Christian Monarchs. By 1492 al-Andalus would be history, as the Christians decided to finish what they had started 450+ years earlier when Hisham II brought about the collapse of the Ummayyads of Spain.

    Surrender of Muhammad XII to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  3. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Nice write up and coin. Fun to capture your Heritage. Perhaps you will build a vignette of coins around your heritage? Cool.
    Sallent likes this.
  4. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago Supporter

    Very cool write-up and terrific coin!! It's amazing to realize just how far Islamic rule/dominion extended over 'Hispania' and nearly into 'France' as well....

    Hey any coins of the EL CID era???
  5. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    No coins from the time of El Cid yet. Eventually I hope to add half a dozen more Islamic coins that would have circulated or been minted in Spain during the Islamic occupation, and a couple of coins of Spanish Christian kings of the era. If you guys are interested in Islamic Spain, I'll be sure to do future write-ups when I add more of those coins to my collection.

    I also want to do future write-ups on the Umayyad and the Abbasid Caliphates, if you guys are interested in that stuff? I certainly intend to add a nice little Islamic silver collection to my overall collection...in fact, I'm bidding on some at different auction houses at the moment. Not sure if there is much demand for write ups on these subjects. Probably most people could care less about the Four Great Islamic Caliphates, but if you guys want to read about them, I'll certainly do them as I begin to acquire more and more Islamic coins. Let me know if there is any interest in those subjects. :)
  6. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago Supporter

    Cool!! I'd love to see them and I'm sure many others would too!!!
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  7. spirityoda

    spirityoda Coin Junky Supporter

    nice coins and great write up. enjoyed this post.
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  8. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    Fabulous article! I'm glad it's featured.

    Reminds me of the article, "Early Spain enriched with Islamic coins" written by Bob Reis and published in the June 2015 issue of World Coin News. The article covers the Muslim conquest of Iberia in the 8th C. and it includes some photos of those square pieces of the "taifa kings."
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  9. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

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  10. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    nice write up sallent! i'm embarrassed to admit i didn't know the there was an islamic state of some sort in spain by the time of ferdinand and isabella.

    i have this coin...


    Muwahid Caliphate, Islamic Iberia and North Africa, AR Dirham, AH 524- 640 (AD 1156- 1272)
    15 mm 1.7g

    i have this coin in my "eastern coins" box, to put it with my other islamic coisn...althought it was probably minted father west than any other medieval coin i own!
  11. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    Nice...we are coin bros. I didn't know anyone else had Muwahid coinage in this forum. Surprisingly Islamic coinage is not as popular as ancient and most European medieval stuff, which is fine by me as there are less competitors to bid up the prices. I can understand Arabic writing is not everyone's cup of tea...but the history of these Caliphates is just as interesting as anything else, and I certainly won't ignore them.
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  12. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    I'm not a huge fan of them because they're not very visually interesting. The history behind them makes them far more interesting - but all things considered - I would be happier with a nice provincial ;)
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  13. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    I'll admit that it is a bummer that we don't have any cool animals or ruler portraits on Islamic coins. And most of them throughout the centuries use the same recycled Islamic slogans, which can make it hard to distinguish one from another.

    However, I already have plenty of cool animals and ruler portraits with my Greek and Roman collections, so I definitely do not mind a little bit of dullness. After all, Islamic coins are still part of our numismatic history.
    Theodosius, Jwt708 and Mikey Zee like this.
  14. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Bammed

    I have one of those little square dirhams lying around somewhere - I always thought they were kind of cool. If I can find it I will post an image of it, it was minted in N. Africa but circulated in S. Spain in the Islamic caliphates there.

    One of the most beautiful architectural wonders is the Alhambra palace that was built during during the Islamic era and I would love to see it.
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  15. icerain

    icerain Mastir spellyr Supporter

    Haven't gotten around to getting Islamic coins, but I do find them interesting. There are lots of history behind them and though I'm not sure, the design may have led into some parts of Asian coin design. Some Asian coins in the later era have no pictures or very little on their coins. Ancient Chinese coins are one of the fields which are all texts. You can also see some modern Asian coins like Tibet and Morocco have similar text designs.
  16. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins

    No wonder the moor king shed sad tears while looking one last time from the Sierra Nevada hills to his Alhambra palaces and gardens after being expelled by the Queen Isabella of Castilla......

    Borrowed from the internet, but ingrained by a high school Spanish Teacher.
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  17. Sallent

    Sallent Supporter! Supporter

    Local legend states that as Muhammad XII reached the hills, he turned around and began to weep as he gazed down at Granada, and his mother turned to him, unimpressed at his sudden remorse, and cried out "Do not weep like a woman for that which you failed to defend like a man." After all, Muhammad XII had surrendered the city of Granada without a fight.

    That's pretty harsh coming from his mother, if indeed that's what she said, but I'd imagine she was non too pleased about being dragged into exile. Muhammad XII lived in a villa in Spain for many years, and he was well treated by his conquerors, but eventually he decided he wanted to die in Muslim lands and left Spain for Morocco. About 120 years later some European explorers reported meeting his descendants there, and they were living in poverty at the time, forced to rely on religious handouts to the poor in order to survive.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  18. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    My interest in these coins are low, but I almost always enjoy a well-written piece of history, irrespective of period or culture. Nicely done!
    TIF and Sallent like this.
  19. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    Have been to Granada, Sevilla and a few other places in what once was Al-Andalus. Yes, the Alhambra is absolutely worth a visit; so is the Mezquita-Catedral in Córdoba. And what I do not particularly find attractive with coins (texts and ornaments only ;) ) can be stunning as architectural elements.

    A little OT but a few years ago I watched "Spanien unter dem Halbmond", a documentary about (Southern) Spain in the Islamic years. The English original title is "Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain". If you have some time and find it interesting ...


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  20. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    From my banknote collection (apoligize)
    King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabel joined forces and married , they first drove the
    Moors out of Spain , united Spain into one country,and by sponsering C.Columbus , Spain became the richest country in the world for a long time.

  21. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thanks Christian, been watching them with interest!
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