The remaining Umayyads were killed - another great testament to the Muslim brotherhood
24,000 Christians were slaughtered and their heads distributed through the main towns
749AD signalled the end of the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus and the new Abbasid rulers tried to kill off all the remaining Umayyads - another great testament to the Muslim brotherhood. Abu al-Abbas managed to murder them all, save one, Abd al-Rahman, who escaped to Spain. Al-Abbas sent an army after him, but al-Rahman defeated it and established his control over al-Andalus (former Iberia). Charlemagne invaded from the north, but had to return to France to fight the Germans, so Abd al-Rahman was able to consolidate his power over his Muslim subjects. Hisham I (788-796) then succeeded Abd al-Rahman and invaded France again, but he was defeated by 'Christian' forces. Hisham's successor, al-Itakam (796-822 AD) was notorious for massacres and his reign was marked by violent quarrelling dissension among his Muslim subjects. In 801 AD, Louis I (son of Charlemagne) invaded Spain, but was repelled, particularly by the ferocious Basques. The next 'caliph', Abd al-Rahman II (822-852), led a relatively peaceful reign, focussing on his 97 children, but there was one bloody exception when about a dozen Christians, from Cordova, insulted the 'prophet', apparently deliberately, and were martyred.
The conquest of Sicily began in 827 AD, though there had been earlier raids. The conquest took place when Admiral Euphemius of the Byzantine navy rebelled against disciplinary action taken after he married a nun! He joined up with the emir of Tunisia and a slow and bloody campaign began, replete with many massacres. From Sicily the aided Islamic army took other islands (Corsica, Malta, Sardinia, Pantellerva), and then marched on to Italy, reaching Rome and pillaging the churches of St. Peter's and St. Paul's in 846 AD. In Sicily the Arab occupation lasted 264 years, but France continued to repel the Islamic hordes until, in 1091 AD, the Normans defeated the Saracens. Muslim sailors landed at St. Tropez and began a disjointed pattern of conquest throughout the French Riviera (in the periods 898-973 AD), and in the Alps, cutting off France from Italy. There was some inter-marriage which helped turn the tide and weaken the Muslim resolve, but the influence of Rome and the spineless behaviour of other 'Christian groups' also weakened and divided Christendom.
Disorganised battles between Muslims and Christians, and between factions on each side, characterised the early 10th century. Abd al-Rahman III (912-961 AD), following on the heels of Abdalla (882-912 AD), a notoriously cruel caliph, attempted to establish order through similar barbaric methods, e.g.: after the surrender of the Castle of Polei he ordered the decapitation of all Christians unless they converted - only one took the 'offer' and survived. Thus the 'almost as cruel' Abd al-Rahman III re-established the authority of Cordova, putting down insurgent Muslim cities and waging war against the 'Christian' kingdoms of the north. But the Reconquista continued to grind on in Spain where 'Christians' won a major victory at Simancas while Abd al-Rahman was preoccupied with Muslim rebels in the south. But these 'Christians' did not follow up on their victory, preferring instead to settle for peace with the Muslims and continuing internal dissension at home.
Ibn Abi Amir (also known as 'Almanzor') seduced the wife of Caliph Hakim II and became Vizier of al-Andalus. His power increased when his lover's 5-year-old son, al-Hisham II, became caliph. In 981AD, Almanzor lead the Muslim conquest of Zamora and executed over 4000 Christians. As a sign of his religious zeal he copied the whole Koran by hand and carried it around with him on campaigns and was physically involved in the building of a mosque. In the face of internecine warfare on the Christian side, Almanzor took Rueda, Barcelona, a group of villages in Castile and Leon, the shrine of Santiago De Compostela (reputed burial site of St. James), and Caneles. Each campaign was followed by a massacre of prisoners and civilians, the burning of the town and desecration of churches and monasteries. The great bells of Santiago de Compostela were carried off to Cordova, dragged by Christian slaves, to be hung in the new mosque built by Almanzor who fell ill and died in 1002 AD on his return from capturing Caneles.
The later Muslim dynasty, the Abbasid empire, was divided with the Buhaywids in Iraq and Persia, Damanids in China, Fatimids in Syria, Egypt, eastern North Africa, Sicily and the Hijaz. The Spanish Caliphate was the de facto ruler of western North Africa until disunity among Muslims in Spain lead to the fall of the Umayyads in 1031 followed by 'taifas,' a collection of about thirty little Muslim statelets, each ruled by their own king. In contrast, 'Christians' were making attempts to unify but, as those who know Scripture will realise, it is impossible to attain true unity with those who place authority in other factors, such as Popes and experience before the authority of the Word of God. Not much was done in the way of jihad or reconquista, though the latter gained momentum in the closing decades of the 11th century, culminating with the re-conquest of Toledo in 1085.
In 1085, re-conquest of Toledo stimulated the 'taifa' of Seville to ask for help from the Almoravid leader, Yusuf ibn Tashufin. The Almoravids were a puritanical movement, following the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Yusuf, an exceptional military leader, came eager to fight against Christians and with the intention of remaining in Spain. The kings of the Muslim taifas chose Islam over Spain, preferring the suzerainty of Africa rather than the 'Christian' kingdom of Castile. Near Badajoz, at the Battle of Zalaca (Sagrajas), Yusuf defeated the Castilian army of Alfonso VI. More than 24,000 Christians were slaughtered and their heads distributed through the main towns of al-Andalus and North Africa.After the 'Christians' re-conquered Lisbon in 1147 they massacred the Muslim inhabitants
El-Cid, born Rodrigo Diaz de Biuar, came to prominence as a military leader and proved to be one of the heroes of the Reconquista, and a tactical genius. He was estranged from Alfonso VI while the king appeared to be making progress against the Muslim taifas. After Zalaca, el-Cid and his knights joined the Christian knights of Leon and Castile in their assault on Valencia and the city was taken, after a 20 month siege, and its ruler burned alive. However, Yusuf and the Almoravids returned from Marrakech to attempt to retake Valencia. Their attempt to starve the city into submission failed when el-Cid led his troops in an attack that scattered the invaders but, after el-Cid's death in 1099, Valencia was retaken for Islam.
The French knight, Henry of Burgundy, led a crusade against Islam on behalf of Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon, as many French knights were at this time answering the appeal of the pontiff in Rome to save Spain from the Saracens. Henry married the daughter of Alfonso VI and was given the fiefdom of Portugal. His son, Alfonso Henrique, freed Portugal from the Muslims with the assistance of a fleet of 164 vessels carrying hundreds of crusaders bound for the Holy Land who stopped in Portugal and decided to stay. After the 'Christians' re-conquered Lisbon in 1147 they massacred the Muslim inhabitants and turned their attention against their Castilian overlords. By 1171 nearly all the Muslims had been expelled from Portugal and the Portuguese had established independence from Castile.Little in common but love of Islam, hatred of each other, and the practices of slavery and violence
In 961 the Byzantines had retaken Crete from the Muslims. In 1035 the Byzantine general, Giorgios Maniakes, assisted by the Viking, Harold Hadrada, invaded Sicily. In 1038 the Byzantines were victorious at Rametta, but no permanent landing was made because of fighting with the Normans in Italy and intrigues in the Byzantine court. The Normans had been brought to Italy as mercenaries in the wars between little Italian statelets and, in 1061, a contingent of >2000 Normans landed in Sicily, ready to fight both with Muslims and Greeks. Initially a war between roving bands, in 1084 it took on more religious overtones for the 'Christians' when the Muslims of southern Italy burned down the churches of Reggio and enslaved the monks of the Rocco d-Asino monastery. Noto, the last Muslim stronghold in Sicily, surrendered in 1091. After the conquest of Sicily was complete most of the Muslim population co-operated with their conquerors, some even joining the Norman army. A few rebellions were put down among those who would not co-operate, but a Muslim population remained until 1300 when the remnant was deported or forcibly converted to 'Christianity' (Roman Catholicism!).
How did Islam improve the Mongol hordes?
Yusef and the Almoravids introduced the North African rule of Spain. Spain became a secondary battlefield when war broke out between two rival Berber sects, the Almoravids and the Almorhads. This internecine 'jihad' (so-called by the mullahs on each side) was often as fierce as those against the Christians. This in-fighting finally assured Spanish victory in Spain. During the 12th century many of the Orders of 'Christian' warriors were founded (in reality more apostate sects, e.g. Knights of Calatrava, Knights of Santiago, Knights of our Lady of Montjoie), but they did begin to play a crucial role in the Liberation of Spain from the Moors in the 13th century. By 1114, the North Africans had taken nearly all the Muslim taifas and were pushing north. This conflict roused Christendom as if it were a crusade, and many knights, veterans of the re-conquest of Jerusalem in 1097, poured in to defend Spain. After some victories on both sides (complicated by power struggles between the 'Christian' kingdoms) the tide began to move against the Moors. The collapse of the Almoravids was not caused by the 'Christians', but by the Almorhads, who invaded Spain in 1146 and, by 1150, became rulers of al-Andalus. The Almoravids were desert nomads, ancestors of today's Tuareg, and the Almorhads were peasant farmers and pastoralists from the Atlas mountains. They had little in common but love of Islam, hatred of each other, and the practices of slavery and violence. Once firmly in power the Almorhads continued the jihad in Spain. In 1195 the Battle of Alarcos was fought between Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Almorhad el-Mansur. The expected 'Christian' victory turned into a terrible defeat, which shook the rest of Western Europe. The pope (Celestine III) then intervened on behalf of 'Christian' unity and ex-communicated the Leonese king who had formed an alliance with the Muslims, demanded the co-operation of rival kings against the Moors, and sent crusaders to Spain instead of to the Holy Land. King Alfonso VIII of Castile called together the largest 'Christian' army (more than 100,000 men) ever assembled in Spain. This army met the Almohads at Las Navos de Tolosa and, after fierce fighting, the Moors were routed. After the 'Christian' victory about one million Moors migrated back to Africa as the Christian campaign pressed forward.
La Reconquista took hundreds of years of bitter struggle to finally rid Spain of the colonial invaders in stages:
Stage I: 710-1080 - retake about a third of Iberia;
Stage II: 1080-1210 - retake another third of Iberia, including Portugal;
Stage III: 1210-1250 - retake final third (except Grenada).
The most important battles were at Simancas, Zalaca, Alarcos, and Las Navos de Tolosa and key 'Christian' leaders were Fernando III of Castile, and Jaime I of Aragon. Most of the 'Christian' soldiers were knights of military orders (un-Scriptural sects) while the Muslims helped to destroy themselves through in-fighting. Some even joined the 'Christians' as mercenaries while the rest fought among themselves for power (in the 1220's there were three rival caliphs in Spain). The Spanish Muslims could expect no help from North Africa, which was embroiled in its own civil war. Muslim leaders who claimed power were swiftly decapitated by their own 'brothers' as the 'Christians' moved inexorably south.
The Almohads were expelled from Spain in 1230 and, after their departure, five cities still remained in Muslim hands:
Cordova - re-conquered by Fernando III of Castile. The bells of the mosque of Cordova, which had been made for Santiago de Compostela and were carried by Christian slaves to Cordova upon the order of Almanzor, 300 years earlier, were now carried back to Compostela by Muslim slaves upon the order of Fernando III. La Reconquista had come a full circle.
Seville - re-conquered by Fernando III of Castile after the Muslim population assassinated their leader for suggesting they surrender. Instead the siege last 2 years and 2 months before the inhabitants finally surrendered and emigrated to Morocco in 1248.
Grenada - became a vassal state of Castile
Jaen - surrendered to Fernando III of Castile by its Muslim governor in exchange for permission to rule Grenada as a vassal of Castile.
Valencia - re-conquered by Jaime I of Aragon. The Muslim king quickly capitulated because he 'wanted' to convert to 'Christianity' (see Roman Catholic cult equivalent atrocities).
Othman, son of Ertognil, was born (1250) in Turkey and his tribe began moving into Anatolia, fighting the Byzantines in the west and the Mongols in the east. The Mongols had been sweeping across central Asia and, in 1258, Hulagu (grandson of Ghengis Khan) took Baghdad. After the adoption of Islam the Turkish advanced their holy war on Europe and, in a short time, they became the most feared threat to Eastern Europe, twice nearly reaching Vienna.
During their over-running of central Asia the Mongols [a.k.a. Tatars] had no formal religion, practising a vague form of shamanism but, after conquering Muslim lands, they adopted Islam (mid-13th century) and then moved north into Russia (at that time ruled by Lithuania in the east and Nougorad in the north). In 1223, the Mongols were victorious at the river Kalka and, although they made a few more reconnaissance raids, it was only in 1237 that they returned with real intent and crossed the Volga to conquer successive Russian principalities and, within about four years, brought all the Russian principalities, except Novogorod, under their dominion. Tatar control of the Russian lands lasted almost 250 years and had very important, far-reaching, consequences. The society ruled by the Mongols was a mixture of Mongols, Turks, Russians, Armenians and Greeks - a certain recipe for unrest.
In the late 14th century a Russian vassal state ruled from Moscow rebelled against the Mongols but, after initial success, they were trounced and Moscow sacked. But the Mongols did not stay this far north for long and returned to the south where they gradually disintegrated into different states. Those in the Crimea became known as the Tatars [sometimes spelt Tartars]. By the 15th century Russia was becoming a unified state and, in 1480, Russia refused to pay tribute to the Mongols and their two armies faced off and dispersed without a battle, effectively gaining a victory for Russia. 1491 brought the final battle of the Mongols in Europe at Zasalvi in Poldavia, where a Polish army defeated a mixed Tatar-Turkish force. At about this time, Orkhan I, the son of Muslim ruler Othman, created the Janissary force which was originally drawn from Christian slaves removed from their families as children. They were raised to be an elite fighting corp, loyal to the sultan alone, and for the next 300 years they were the best fighting force in Europe. These Janissaries were generally 'converted' to Islam, sometimes by force, sometimes 'willingly'. Under Orkhan I, the Ottomans conquered Thrace while Europe was in its usual disarray, with the French and English beginning their 100 years war, Genoa and Venice in a 30 years war, and Spain enduring internecine warfare between 'Christian' kingdoms. In Germany the Black Death raged and Lithuania and Hungary were fighting over the Ukraine while Russia was fighting the Mongols and the Balkans were resisting Hungarian imperialism. Murad I (Othman's son) began the first serious Ottoman invasion of Europe and tripled the size of the Empire. Pope Urban V, fearing a renewed Muslim invasion from North Africa and the rising Ottoman threat in the Balkans, called upon Catholic Hungary and Orthodox Serbia to stop the Turks through a 'Papal Bull'. 1371 saw the first major Eastern European response to jihad although the 'Christian' forces were stopped by Muslims at Cenomen. This was the first conflict between Janissaries and their 'Christian' relations, also between Turks and the Serbs. Murad cleverly intervened in the Byzantine civil war between the rival 'Johns', supporting now one, then the other. The sons of John V and Murad began having an affair and also planned to overthrow their fathers, but the coup was halted and Murad enthusiastically launched a new invasion of Europe causing Sofia to fall in 1385 and Salonika in 1387.
The king of Serbia (Lazar I), threatened by advancing Ottomans, gathered together a force of Serbians, Wallachians, Bosnians and Albanians to oppose the invaders. The 'Christian' force outnumbered the Muslims, but a well-timed addition of Janissaries to the fight turned the tide and the Ottomans won. Murad was wounded but ordered the execution of King Lazar before himself dying. The new sultan, Bajazet, immediately ordered his brother Yakub to be strangled, for he had led the counter-attack that turned the battle against the 'Christians' and might have proved a little too popular for the new sultan's comfort. The execution of surviving siblings proved to be a common political manoeuvre in the Ottoman court, just as it has been a popular feature of so many un-godly ruling families through history.