Conquest and loss of Al-Andalus


<i>La civilització del califat de Còrdova en temps d'Abd al-Rahman III</i>, by Dionís Baixeras (1885). The painting is in the Paranimph of the UB.

La civilització del califat de Còrdova en temps d’Abd al-Rahman III, by Dionís Baixeras (1885). The painting is in the Paranimph of the UB.

UB researcher Jordi Pérez, member of the Classical Antiquity Studies on Provincial Interdependence Centre (CEIPAC) of the Faculty of Geography and History, has created an interactive map on the conflicts of the Al-Andalus territory through 500 battles. This map offers the users the possibility of understanding with one single image the Andalusian rise and fall in the Peninsula, and it has been presented in the Gaudir UB course From Roman Empire to Al-Andalus. Europe until the year 1000, coordinated by the lecturer Lluís Pons, from the Faculty of Faculty of Geography and History.

Pérez’s work is based on Josep Suñé’s thesis Ǧihād, fiscalidad y sociedad en la Península Ibérica (711-1172): evolución de la capacidad militar andalusí frente a los reinos y condados cristianos (2017). The objective of this study is to find the reasons to explain how Al-Andalus lost its military hegemony to the northern peninsular counties and kingdoms and how it entered a process of decline and would later disappear. The publishing house La Ergástula will publish a brief synthesis and review of this thesis titled Guerra, ejército y fiscalidad en al-Ándalus (ss. VIII-XII): de la hegemonía musulmana a la decadència.

With the map drawn up by Jordi Pérez, one can see the campaigns undertaken by each of the political entities of Muslims and their field of action. One can see that operations in the north, both in the south of France and the area of Asturias and Galicia, come from the period of governors, the emirate and the caliphate. The attack in Asturias –with its mystical episode of Covadonga–, the battle of Poitiers and the Almansor campaign in Santiago de Compostela are represented in this map, in the first phase of the conquest. Subsequent losses of territory and subsequent Muslim counterattacks were conditioned by a lesser ability to mobilize military resources. The campaigns carried out by Almoravids and Almohads show the territorial boundaries reached by their respective empires, unable to restore past power despite their initial strength. What is now northern Spain, from Castile and Leon, marks the military frontier that the Almoravids tried to cross, with varying degrees of luck, in their peak as an empire.

The interactive map also serves to understand which places, according to the accumulation of fights, played a more strategic role in the so-called Reconquest. Pamplona and Álava, with thirteen and ten battles in their territory respectively, were the places with more campaigns in the 500 years studied. In the background, there are cities such as Toledo, Córdoba, Zamora, Barcelona and Zaragoza, each with more than five battles, which shows the enormous historical importance of these cities.

Jordi Pérez graduated (2009) and holds a PhD in History (2017) from the UB. He has conducted research stays at La Sapienza University in Rome (2017) and at the University of Verona (2018). He is currently a research technician, member of CEIPAC and, since 2009, he has been part of the archaeological mission to Monte Testaccio (Rome). His lines of research are luxury trade in ancient Rome, the interprovincial and intercontinental economic relations of the ancient world, and the forms of dependence and communication in the society of the high Roman empire.

Josep Suñé holds a PhD in History from the UB (2017) and has focused his research on the analysis of Andalusian armies and the study of the causes that explain their retreat before the Christian kingdoms. He was recently awarded the AIHM – Banco Santander Totta Young Researchers Prize (2018). In addition, he has outstanding publications in Gladius, Yearbook of Medieval Studies, Al-Qantara and Al-Masaq.

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