Early Islamic Spain
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Early Islamic Spain

The History of Ibn al-Qutiyah

David James

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Early Islamic Spain

The History of Ibn al-Qutiyah

David James

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About This Book

This book is the first published English-language translation of the significant History of Islamic Spain by Ibn al-Qutiya (d. Cordova 367 / 977). Including extensive notes and comments, a genealogical table and relevant maps, the text is preceded by a study of the author and his work, and is the only serious examination of the unique manuscript since Pascual de Gayangos' edition in 1868.

Ibn al-Qutiya's work is one of the significant and earliest histories of Muslim Spain and an important source for scholars. Although like most Muslims of al-Andalus in this period, Ibn al-Qutiya was of European origin, he was a loyal servant of the Iberian Umayyads, and taught Arabic, traditions (hadith) and history in the Great Mosque of Cordova. Written at the height of the Umayyad Caliphate of Muslim Spain and Portugal (al-Andalus), the History describes the first 250 years of Muslim rule in the peninsula. The text, first fully translated into Spanish in 1926, deals with all aspects of life, and includes accounts of Christians, Jews and Muslim converts.

This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of the history of Spain and Portugal, Islamic history, and Mediaeval European history.

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ibn Zīyād invades al-Andalus

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
God bless and save our lord
and his Companions
Abū Bakr
ibn ‛Umar ibn ‛Abd al-‛Azīz, known as Ibn
, ‘the son of the Gothic woman’ informed us.2 Several learned men, including Shaykh
ibn ‛Umar ibn Lubāba,
ibn Sa‛īd ibn
ibn ‛Abd al-Malik ibn Ayman and
ibn Zakarīyā' ibn
al-Ishbīlī, have told us, according to all their masters:
The last king of the Goths in the land of al-Andalus was
, -[Witiza]-who died leaving three sons. Almund—[Almund] was the eldest, Rumulu—[Aquila/Waqla/Rómulo] the next, then
[Ardabast].3 All were very young when their father died so their mother became regent in
[Toledo]. But Lūdharīq, [Roderik], their father’s army commander, and his supporters in the army, rebelled and seized
ibn Zīyād entered al-Andalus, in the time of the caliph al-Walīd ibn ‛Abd al-Malik [86–96/705–715], Lūdharīq wrote to the sons of
, who had grown up and could ride, calling on them to help him, so together they would be united against the enemy. They marshalled their forces, advanced and camped at Shaqunda [Secunda] as they did not trust Lūdharīq enough to enter Cordova.5 He went to meet them and together they went to confront
. But when the two sides came close, Almund and his brothers decided to betray Lūdharīq. That very night they sent a messenger to
, saying that Lūdharīq was no better than one of their father’s dogs, a mere client. They sought safe conduct if they came over to him the next morning, saying that he should confirm their possession of their father’s estates, which numbered some three thousand in al-Andalus. These were afterwards known as ‘the royal territories’
. Thus, the next morning they went over to
with their supporters, and that clinched the victory.6
When they met
they asked, ‘Are you the commander (amīr) in charge, or is there another commander over you?’ To which he replied, ‘There is a commander over me, and another one over him!’ He gave them leave to contact Mūsā ibn
…[in North Africa to confirm what he had agreed with them. They asked
to write to Mūsā about what had happened between them and him, and the promise he had given them: which
They set off to meet Mūsā and met him on the way to al-Andalus]7 …near Berber territory, where they presented
letter announcing their submission and what he had authorised in return.8 Mūsā directed them to the caliph al-Walīd ibn ‛Abd al-Malik where al-Walīd confirmed
promise and gave each of them a document to that effect. The documents stipulated that: they shall never have to rise to anyone who approaches them, nor to anyone who takes leave of them.9
They returned to al-Andalus, and their situation remained as had been agreed until the death of Almund when his daughter, Sāra [Sarah]
, and his two young sons inherited his property. One was later Bishop of Ishbīlīya [Seville] and the other, ‛Abbās [Oppas], died in Jillīqīya [Galicia].10 Then
seized their lands and added them to his own. This occurred at the beginning of the rule of Hishām ibn ‘Abd al-Malik as caliph [105–125/ 724–743]. So Sāra made ready a ship at Seville, where her father had preferred to live because he owned a thousand estates in the western part of al-Andalus.
had an equal number in the middle of al-Andalus, and chose to live in Cordova, where Abū Sa‛id al-Qawmis, is one of his descendants.11 Rumulu owned his estates in the east so he preferred Toledo, where
ibn Albar [Alvar—Alvaro], the Christian judge
, is among his descendants.12 As we hope to relate soon, according to the learned,
showed good judgement with
and the Syrians who came with the Umayyads and Arabs to al-Andalus.
Sāra and her two young brothers sailed to Syria, where they landed at Ashqalūn [Ascalon]. They continued overland until they arrived at the seat of Hishām ibn ‛Abd al-Malik, where Sāra related her story, recalled the agreement given to her father by the caliph al-Walīd and complained of the injustice of her uncle
Hishām had her brought into his presence. It was there that she saw with him the you...

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