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The Ta’ifas of Al Andalus | 1031CE – 1086CE | Al Andalus Episode 06

December 16, 2019

Before the caliphate of Cordoba was even officially
dead, various emirates started to emerge throughout Al-Andalus. Lacking a central power and legitimacy to
claim, the local lords, tribal leaders, everyone who had any drop of power, raised their banner
and declared independence. Not many could protect it but after the dust
settled, a handful of those lords were able to carve out pieces of the former Caliphate. The term Muluk al-Tawaaif was originally used
for Alexander’s successor kingdoms, when his vast empire broke into smaller kingdoms. Tawaaif means “Groups” or “Factions”,
singular of which is Ta’ifa. Muluk, obviously means king. Tawaaif also means prostitute in Urdu. I do not really know how the two can be connected. There were essentially four types of Tawaaif. You know what, I’m just going to say Taifas
from now of. Tawaaif brings back some terrible memories. So, the four types of Taifas were; Arab Taifas, based around Seville, Cordoba,
Mercia and Zaragoza. After the sack of Cordoba, Seville had rose
up as the major city in the Guadalquivir area. The old dynasties of Ibn Khaldun and ibn al-Hajjaj
had lost all their power in Al-Hakam II’s reign and were now replaced with the Banu
Abbad whose patriarch, Ismail ibn Abbad had been installed as the Qadi by Al-Mansur. He managed to save Seville and kept it organized
during the confusion in Cordoba. The word Banu in Banu Abbad means, children
of, in this case, the children of Abbad. Zaragoza had been ruled by the Banu Tujib
since around the time of Emir Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman II. However, due to dynastic disputes the family
broke into chaos and a man named Sulayman ibn Hud took over Zaragoza and established
the Banu Hud as the rulers of Zaragoza. They claimed descent from the Arab tribe Banu
Judham. Cordoba was taken over by a council of noblemen
called the Juma’a. A man named ibn Jawhar took the title of the
leader of the Juma’a or Shaykh al-Juma’a. He belonged to the Banu Abi Abda, a Mawali
family that had served the Umayyad loyally for centuries. Cordoba became a sort of republic, actually. Something like Florence under the Medici. However, like Florence under the Medici, Banu
Abi Abda were, in fact, in total control. Cordoba seems like the nice guy in Al-Andalus
at the time. They mediated peace treaties and held a general
peaceful attitude towards everyone. A good model but like all peaceful people,
they couldn’t resist Seville’s aggression and were taken over by them. Saqaliba Taifas, based on the east coast of
Iberia. Cities like Valencia and Denia were their
bases. However, here’s the funny part. Most of them were eunuchs so they couldn’t
have children. Despite what the Ser Davos suggested in the
final episode of Game of Thrones, they couldn’t form their own houses so most of them were
replaced after their deaths. Valencia was taken over by a grandson of Al-Mansur. He governed for like forty years despite the
fact that he was the son of our useless old friend, Little Sancho. Tortosa and Denia fell to the Banu Hud of
Zaragoza eventually. Old Berber Taifas, based around Toledo, Badajoz
and Albarracin. Badajoz had been taken by a Saqaliba general
but when he died, his left-hand man, Ibn al-Aftas took over Badajoz. The Banu Aftas maintained a strong grip over
Badajoz and fortified their cities to fend off Banu Abbad of Seville. The People of Toledo invited the Banu Dhul-Nun
to take control of their city. They had been members of the Hawwara Berbers
and kept power since the time of Abd al-Rehman III. No one was able to tame them, not even Al-Mansur. They established a Ta’ifa in Toledo. Another notable Hawwara Berber family was
the Banu Razin who gave their name to the mountain town of Albarracin. Their ruler Abd al-Malik ibn Razin became
the longest reigning of any Ta’ifa rulers. Then, there were New Berber Taifas, these
Berbers moved here mostly during al-Mansur’s reign and managed to secure Granada, Malaga
and Almeria. These were the Berbers who had sacked Cordoba. After the sacking, they decided to do as the
city folk do and settled down. The most important of these were the Banu
Ziri of Granada. Their last ruler Abdullah actually wrote memoirs
about his dynasty and so we know quite a bit about them. There were other new Berber families here
and there but they were all short-lived. All of these Ta’ifas were eager to get some
legitimacy. In the Islamic world, rulership wasn’t exactly
like it was with the Europeans. At this point, everyone felt like the right
to rule only existed with the Caliph. So, no one really have the right to claim
the title of Muluk or King. So, naturally, they had to do what Al-Mansur
had done. Some of them, especially Seville, claimed
to be ruling on behalf of Hisham II, the useless son of Al-Hakam. His name is even mentioned in documents around
the year 1080CE when he would’ve been over one hundred years old. Around the fall of the Caliphate, there emerged
some 30 Taifas but by 1080CE, only nine of those remained. Rest were cannibalized. Notably absent from these Taifas were the
Umayyads. There were many princes still lurking around
but none of them is even mentioned anywhere after 1031CE. Secondly, there were no Muwallad Taifas. There are probably two reasons for that. First, the Muwallad had been reduced in their
influence very much by the Saqaliba and the Berbers. Secondly, the Muwallad were probably not written
as Muwallad anymore but just mixed with the Arabs. These Taifas weren’t powerful. Especially in the face of the Northern Christians. All of them sought alliance with them against
each other. Often times, they would pay money to the Christians
to leave them alone and harass their neighbors instead. The Muslims were so weak by this point that
when the Banu Hud sent an emissary to King Ferdinand I of Castile, he openly said that
he would stop harassing the Muslims when they left Iberia and returned to North Africa. Here’s something Abdullah, the Emir of Banu
Ziri of Granada writes… This is just one not uncommon example of Muslims
helping Christians against each other. The Banu Dhul-Nun of Toledo, for instance,
had a decent alliance with Alfonso VI of Leon-Castile. The same man Abdullah of Banu Ziri talks about
in the text previously read. During a civil war, Alfonso had even found
refuge with the Banu Dhul-Nun. However, in 1075CE, Yayha al-Mamun of Toledo,
Alfonso’s ally was assassinated and his young son was made the ruler. His son, Al-Qadir couldn’t keep things in
check and so, he was overthrown by a rival who swore allegiance to the Ta’ifa of Badajoz. Alfonso laid siege to Toledo, expelled the
new ruler and reinstalled Al-Qadir. Al-Qadir promised to pay a heavy tribute and
allow Alfonso to use some his forts. Al-Qadir was unable to control his Ta’ifa
and so, Alfonso laid siege to Toledo, deep into the heartland of Muslim Spain. By 1085CE, Toledo had fallen. Al-Qadir was installed as the ruler of Valencia
to rule it in Alfonso’s name. The fall of Toledo meant that there was nothing
between the Christians and the Muslims anymore. The capitals of all the Taifas, all major
cities of Al-Andalus were now within reach for the Christians. The most shocking and confusing thing about
the entire Ta’ifa period is that the Ta’ifas, even combined, didn’t have any considerable
military power. Just half a century ago, Al-Mansur raised
massive armies against the Christians but for some reason, there was no combined strength
in the Muslim Ta’ifas now. When Seville attacked Cordoba, a major campaign,
they had around 1,000 soldiers. Whereas, when Alfonso led a raiding mission
against Zaragoza, he had around 10,000 men. It was now, only a matter of time before Alfonso
destroyed all Taifas. With the fall of Zaragoza in 1086, it was
obvious that external help was required to curb the Christians and their ambitions. That help would come from across the Strait
of Gibraltar, from Maghreb – North Western Africa. See you next time.


  • Reply Culpable Injustice October 3, 2019 at 7:55 am


  • Reply الرشيدي October 3, 2019 at 7:59 am

    فَجَائِعُ الدَّهْرِ أَنْوَاعٌ مُنَوَّعَةٌ * وَلِلزَّمَانِ مَسَرَّاتٌ وَأَحْزَانُ
    وَلِلْحَوَادِثِ سُلْوَانٌ يُسَهِّلُهَا * وَمَا لِمَا حَلَّ بِالإِسْلَامِ سُلْوَانُ
    دَهَى الجَزِيرَةَ أَمْرٌ لَا عَزَاءَ لَهُ * هَوَى لَهُ أُحُدٌ وَانْهَدَّ ثَهْلَانُ
    أَصَابَهَا العَيْنُ فِي الإِسْلَامِ فَارْتَزَأَتْ * حَتَّى خَلَتْ مِنْهُ أَقْطَارٌ وَبُلْدَانُ
    فَاسْأَلْ بَلَنْسِيَةً مَا شَأْنُ مَرْسِيَةٍ* وَأَيْنَ شَاطِبَةٌ أَمْ أَيْنَ جَيَّانُ
    وَأَيْنَ قُرْطُبَةٌ دَارُ العُلُومِ فَكَمْ * مِنْ عَالِمٍ قَدْ سَمَا فِيهَا لَهُ شَانُ
    وَأَيْنُ حِمْصُ وَمَا تَحْوِيهِ مِنْ نُزَهٍ * وَنَهْرُهَا العَذْبُ فَيَّاضٌ وَمَلْآنُ
    قَوَاعِدٌ كُنَّ أَرْكَانَ البِلَادِ فَمَا * عَسَى البَقَاءُ إِذَا لَمْ تَبْقَ أَرْكَانُ

  • Reply The Young Ottoman October 3, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Despite the inherent demographic weakness of the Saqaliba Taifas that the video mentioned, they wielded a greatly outsized military power thanks to their origins as members of the Caliph's elite Sclavonian Guard. The Taifa of Denia alone conquered the Balearic Islands and partially conquered Sardinia, while also raiding Italy. One wonders what they might have done if the stable flow of slaves from the Rus hadn't collapsed along with the Caliphate.

    As always, amazing video.

  • Reply believe it October 3, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Dude it's 1am in LA I need to go to sleep Al Muqa.! c'mon my guy!

  • Reply md ziden October 3, 2019 at 8:17 am

    The taifas were nothing but a bunch of worthless group of morons who would constantly rebel against centralized Muslim leadership and create chaos but when faced with powerful Christian foe they just can't properly unite and fight back.

  • Reply Nino Strčić October 3, 2019 at 8:18 am

    I didn't know usefulcharts has taif'a blood (sorry for this)

  • Reply abdullah sagga October 3, 2019 at 9:02 am

    A nw Al-Muqaddimah video? I'll put a Like before even watching, because I know it'll be good.

  • Reply ALFONSO , October 3, 2019 at 9:15 am

    The word طائفة/taifa means faction or group it comes from thet word طائف/taif which means to float,roam or hover out i think that's why in urdu it means prostitute because the are roaming for customers i guess 😅 nice work as always 🤗

  • Reply Ahmed Muawia October 3, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Is it me or your voice is way bettter now. That's makes the video even GREATER.

  • Reply Total War Timelapses October 3, 2019 at 9:34 am

    In the Arab world it is common among some people to refer to the Arab states as the modern taifas

    Do you agree with this take? Or are there differences?

  • Reply Hernan Cortez October 3, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Time to play CK2 again…

  • Reply Stormwind October 3, 2019 at 10:00 am

    2:00 Ruling Cordoba ain't easy, especially not when you're surrounded by neighbours who are all bigger than you.

  • Reply Romanian Székely October 3, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I am happy to see that Usefull Charts has his petty kingdom that petty king.

  • Reply Alfian Sofakhair October 3, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Man, your video make me want to play CK2 all over again 😅

  • Reply Mo3a4 Omar October 3, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    No surprise great job as usual.

  • Reply TheGaming Squirrel October 3, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Perfect Video!

  • Reply Faris Abdurrahman October 3, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    What terrible memories does the word tawaif evokes ?

  • Reply Micahistory 2 October 3, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    You're back! I

  • Reply Micahistory 2 October 3, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Divide an conquer, the oldest strategy in the world

  • Reply Micahistory 2 October 3, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Divided, they held no chance against the Christians

  • Reply Micahistory 2 October 3, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    It's always fascinating learning about new things in history 🙂

  • Reply Rafael the Cannibal October 4, 2019 at 3:58 am

    The J in spanish is pronounced similarly as kh in "Khan".

  • Reply Gilang Rabbani October 4, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Seeing Alfonso somehow, I want to hear about El Cid.

  • Reply Fahadullah Ibn Mahmoud October 4, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Al muqqadimah Islam really has a fascinating history, no matter what islamphobes like apostate prophet say about our religion they will never understand our religions history.

  • Reply Kareem Khattab October 4, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Nice video, Can u do one on pakistan we only study about the mughals and jinnah. Love from jordan 🇵🇰🇯🇴

  • Reply BMC October 4, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Great content and production! Keep it up!

  • Reply TheGaming Squirrel October 5, 2019 at 10:12 am

    What is the Intro Music?

  • Reply History Squad October 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

    F in the chat bois

  • Reply Pony4Koma October 7, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    The Iberian Sengoku Jidai begins…
    I love your flags! The absense of the Andalusi flags in the historical records was always something that made me sad.

  • Reply laenor velaryon October 7, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I was offline for days and then got in and saw this, so happy!!! Great video!
    As for the military weakness of the taifas, it's neither shocking nor confusing, their annual budget was forked over heavy tributes (pariah) paid to the northern kingdoms and bribes paid to double cross each other, Alfonso was a genious at playing them against each other.
    Treachery was very common, Ibn Amar was notoriously treacherous, he even turned against his king Al mu'tamid, but they all did it.
    And in this climate no taifa could commit all its forces to one front because they could almost always count on a neighbour to stab them in the back (which was true)
    Also Thanks for presenting it from a political view and avoiding the "they fell because of wine and music" cliché.
    PS: Alfonso never actually conquered zaragoza

  • Reply Valon Yaver October 7, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    I love how some flags are history youtubers

  • Reply No Pls October 11, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    One piece of feedback – the constant zoom movement is disorienting.
    Keep your background static please – I did not finish the video for this sole reason. (Movement is fine ofcourse, but only when it makes sense!)

  • Reply Faizi Kharl October 15, 2019 at 7:21 am

    I am waiting for your next video

  • Reply FightPeople October 19, 2019 at 1:50 am


  • Reply Abd elhalim Dkair October 27, 2019 at 12:45 am

    almoravids will enter the game

  • Reply Let's Talk Religion November 4, 2019 at 12:07 am

    Hey, you're doing some incredible work here. Really impressed with the quality of the content, both visually and in terms of narrative. Covering these periods/places of history from an academic, unbiased perspective is something the world is in need of.
    Keep it up!

  • Reply عبدُالعزيزِ العُتيبِي November 15, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Andalus was the best rule the Arabs came to and it was peace and freedom of religion, but when the Spaniards came they killed Jews, Muslims and other religions, which shows the extent of their crimes.

  • Reply Tic Toc November 20, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Can we start Al Muqaddimah Bangla?

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