53 Facts About Almanzor


Almanzor made numerous victorious campaigns in both the Maghreb and Iberia.


Almanzor was born into an Arab landowning family of Yemeni origin, belonging to the al-Ma'afir tribe.


Almanzor obtained a police command and he retained his responsibility for the heir and intestate estates.


Almanzor had been only eight or nine years old in 974 when his father first introduced him to the process of government, and was still a minor when his father died.


The young uncle of Hisham expressed his loyalty, and in the face of Almanzor's doubts, demanded compliance with the order for his own assassination.


Almanzor tried to counter the alliance between the other two members of the triumvirate by marrying another of his sons to Ghalib's daughter, Asma.


Almanzor continued north, but the confrontation with Ghalib, fortified in Atienza, ended the larger campaign, intended to be his second against Castile since 975.


The historian, Al-Dhahabi, attributes Almanzor's locking up the Caliph to the latter being "feeble minded, believing what can't be true".


Almanzor, still reeling from his eldest son's betrayal, disowned him, while ordering those who had killed him at Almanzor's command to themselves be executed.


Almanzor threw the poet Abu Marwan al-Jaziri in prison, where he died in 1003.


From 991 he positioned his son Abd al-Malik in a similar way as Al-Hakan had done with Hisham, appointing him chamberlain and supreme warden of the Caliphate's armies, although Almanzor did not step aside from those roles himself.


Almanzor reluctantly accepted the decision, and in the following years he gradually assumed even greater powers, corresponding to those of the Caliph: he confirmed the official appointments with his own seal rather than that of the Caliph, in spite of nominally acting on his behalf, he appointed a new mint official, appropriated new titles and moved part of the administration to Medina Alzahira.


Almanzor had his name mentioned after that of the Caliph in Friday prayers and maintained a court parallel to that of the sovereign at al-Zahira.


Almanzor discovered this thanks to his agents in the palace, and he reacted by successfully petitioning the council of viziers and Faqihs to transfer the treasury to his residence, Medina Alzahira, characterizing Subh's theft as a robbery by the harem.


Abd al-Malik, Almanzor's son, won the support of the viziers.


Almanzor, who had renewed his oath of allegiance to the Caliph with the proviso that he delegate his powers to his family, was strengthened.


Almanzor sent his son to fight the North African rebellion, and took charge of all administrative power.


Almanzor counted on the approval of the religious leadership who, fearing possible civil war, supported Almanzor's position as guarantor of stability and of the throne of the impotent Hisham.


State power was divided in two: with Almanzor blocking exercise of the symbolic and legitimate power of the Caliph, while that of the chamberlain and his successors, devoid of legitimacy for being Yemeni Mofarite and not of the Prophet's blood, controlled the Caliphate's policy.


Almanzor successfully continued the military reforms begun by Al-Hakam and his predecessors, covering many aspects.


In contrast to the prominent role the navy had played in previous decades under Abd al-Rahman III, under Almanzor it served only as a means of transporting ground troops, such as between the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula, or Alcacer do Sal's ships in the campaign against Santiago de Compostela in 997.


Almanzor repulsed raids by al-Magus or al-Urdumaniyun, in the west of al-Andalus in mid-971; at the end of that year, when they tried to invade Al Andalus, the admiral left Almeria and defeated them off the coast of Algarve.


The Caliphate ruled by Almanzor was a rich and powerful state.


Almanzor's realm had large cities like Cordoba, which surpassed one hundred thousand inhabitants; Toledo, Almeria and Granada, which were around thirty thousand; and Zaragoza, Valencia and Malaga, all above fifteen thousand.


The stability and prosperity of the regime and its rigorous defense of Islam, which Almanzor showed through various pious gestures, gave him popular support.


Almanzor's meddling in religious matters led to the appointment of his own uncle, himself a veteran qadi, as the principal qadi after the death of the hostile Ibn Zarb, who had opposed some of his proposals.


The main expression of his defense of religion was his military campaigns against the Christian states, a method of legitimization that the caliphs had used before but which Almanzor took to extremes.


Unlike his campaigns on the Iberian Peninsula and with the exception of the one carried out jointly with Ghalib at the beginning of his career, Almanzor did not take a personal role in the fighting in the Maghreb, but simply a supervisory one.


In 985, before the Idrisid Al-Hasan ibn Kannun, who had proclaimed himself Caliph, returned from his refuge in the Fatimid court in Egypt, Almanzor saw off a new army that crossed the Maghreb to confront him under command of his cousin.


Overwhelmed, the Idrisid negotiated his surrender and proceeded to the Cordoban court, but Almanzor had him assassinated on his way to the city, and later executed his cousin who had granted safe conduct to the rebel.


So, Almanzor gave all lands controlled by the Caliphate to Ibn Atiyya, who managed to defeat the rebels and supporters of the Fatimids in 994, and founded a small principality centered on Oujda.


The campaigns in the Maghreb had an important consequence for Iberian politics: Almanzor brought Berber troops and warlords to the peninsula, both to form his personal troops and as contingents in the campaigns against Christian territories.


Almanzor began carrying these out in 977 and he continued to do so until his death in 1002, although most were concentrated in his later years when he was most powerful.


In parallel with the Maghreb campaigns, Almanzor was devoted to the war against the Christian kingdoms of Iberia.


Almanzor's campaigns reached all of Christian Spain with the exception of the Cantabrian coast, and contributed to Leon and Galicia coming more solidly under the sovereignty of the Asturian Crown, but still with great autonomy, due to the weakness of the kingdom's expansion.


In general, Almanzor supported the noble families opposed to the monarch of the moment to take advantage of intra-Leonese squabbles.


In 983, Almanzor plundered the area surrounding Salamanca in the fall, after failing to take it, and Sacramenia at the beginning of winter, slaughtering the men and taking the rest of the population captive.


Almanzor had previously attacked the region in the summer of 978, when for several months he ravaged the plains of Barcelona and parts of Tarragona, conquered by the Barcelona counts some decades earlier.


Almanzor assaulted Zamora, Toro, Leon and Astorga, which controlled access to Galicia, and forced Bermudo to take refuge among the Galician counts.


In 993 Almanzor attacked Castile again, for unknown reasons, but failed to take San Esteban de Gormaz, simply looting its surroundings.


Almanzor succeeded in taking it the following year, along with Clunia.


Almanzor was succeeded by his prudent son Sancho, who had fought with Cordoba against his father and managed to maintain an informal truce with the Caliphate between 995 and 1000.


The Leonese setback was so great that it allowed Almanzor to settle a Muslim population in Zamora on his return from Santiago, while the bulk of the troops in Leonese territory remained in Toro.


Almanzor then imposed peace terms on the Christian magnates that allowed him to forego campaigning in the north in 998, the first year this happened since 977.


Sancho of Castile, until then a faithful ally who had managed to avoid the incursions of Cordoba into his territory, joined the alliance and provoked Almanzor into launching an attack.


Almanzor aimed to avenge the quasi-rout of Cervera and punish the Castilian count Sancho, architect of the alliance that almost defeated him.


San Millan de la Cogolla, dedicated to the patron saint of Castile and in the territory of Pamplona, allied with Sancho, was sacked and burned; in Pamplona, Almanzor ordered a retreat due to his worsening health, and he died en route to Cordoba before reaching the capital.


Almanzor's campaigns were a continuation of a policy from emirate times: the capture of numerous contingents of Christian slaves, the famous esclavos or francos, in Arabic Saqtiliba or Saqaliba.


Obviously, these figures must be carefully evaluated, but likewise given the enormity this type of trade reached during his tenure, Almanzor is described as "the slave importer".


Almanzor's body was covered with the linen shroud that his daughters had woven with their own hands from raw material derived from the income of the estate inherited from their ancestors in Torrox, seat of their lineage.


Almanzor's remains were interred in the courtyard of the palace, covered by the dust his servants had shaken from their clothes after each battle against the Christians.


The dynasty Almanzor founded continued with his son Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar, and then his other son, Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo, who was unable to preserve the inherited power, and was murdered in 1009.


Tradition holds that "in Calatanazor Almanzor lost the drum" a term indicating that he there lost his joy because of the defeat that was inflicted.