The People of Gibraltar

2020 - Once upon a time in Islamic Gibraltar - Part 48

Reinhart Pieter Anne Dozy (1900)
Dozy (1820-1883 was a Dutch Arabist who wrote a four volume Histoire de Musulmans d’Espagna  - History on the Muslims in Spain - which was published in Spanish in 1910. Unfortunately, Gibraltar does not seem to warrant too much of a mention in this monumental work.

Reinhart Pieter Anne Dozy

However, his more fancifully written Spanish Islam, a History of the Moslems in Spain which was published in English in 1913 does. The following quotes are taken from this book.

The Umayyad leader, Musa ibn Nusayr

The Governor of Africa, Musa ibn Nusayr, had extended the limits of the Arabian dominion to the Atlantic. The town of Ceuta alone held out against him. Ceuta belonged to the Byzantine Empire, which had formerly included the whole northern littoral of Africa, but the Emperor being too distant to afford it effectual aid, it had entered into close relations with Spain. P230 

Julian and Roderick
Julian, the Governor of Ceuta, had sent his daughter to the court of Toledo to be educated as became her birth, but she unfortunately found favour in the eyes of the king, Roderic, who dishonoured her. Beside himself with rage, Julian threw open the gates of Ceuta to the Arabs, but not before he had concluded an advantageous treaty with them: then, dilating upon the wealth and fertility of Spain, he urged Musa to attempt its conquest, and assured the Arab general that the necessary ships should be placed at his disposal. P230

Notes: Dozy is not the only historian to describe Julian as a governor of a province of Byzantium – but he gives no reference so I don’t know where this idea originally comes from. The Spanish edition of this work – translated by Magdalena Fuentes, gives us this equally unreferenced note:

La crítica moderna, basada en el testimonio de antiguas crónicas, sustituye la leyenda de Florinda - móvil de honor - por un móvil patriótico que, tal vez, Indujo al conde Don Julián que se creo no era visigodo, sino bizantino - a prestar apoyo a los árabes, con la esperanza de que sus compatriotas recuperasen algunos de sus perdidos dominios en la península. 

Supónese que los árabes vinieron a España como auxiliares de los hijos de Witiza. El conde Don Julián creyóse también obligado a ayudarlos, no sólo por haber sido amigo de Witiza, sino porque este rey le había auxiliado con hombres y víveres cuantió los árabes habían atacado varias de las plazas y castillos de Mauritania, que quizá posteriormente les fue entregando Don Julián a cambio de ventajosas condiciones para él y su familia. Tomo 2 p32.

Witiza was the Visigothic king prior to Roderick.Dozy also notes that Julian’s daughter was called Florinda and that – surprisingly - her mother was Witiza’s daughter.  Dozy continues:

Musa sought instructions from the Khalif Walid (Walid I). The Khalif thought the undertaking too perilous. "Explore Spain with some light troops," he replied," but do not, at any rate for the present, expose a large army to the dangers of an expedition beyond the seas."

Tarif successfully carries out the first raid
Musa accordingly sent Abu Zora Tarif (Tarik ibn Malik Abu Zara), one of his clients, into Spain with four hundred men and a hundred horses. These troops crossed the Straits in four vessels supplied by Julian, pillaged the neighbourhood of Algeciras, and returned to Africa, July AD 710. P230
Tariq is sent to invade Iberia

Next year, Musa took advantage of the absence of Roderic, who was engaged in quelling a rising of the Basques, to despatch another of his clients, Tariq ibn Ziyad . . . with seven thousand Moslems. They were conveyed in batches across the Straits in the four ships which Tarif had previously made use of, for the Moslems possessed no others. 

The Visigothic King Roderick prepares to face Tariq
Tariq assembled his men on the mountain which still bears his name — Jabal Tarik, (Jabal Tariq) Gibraltar. At the foot of this mountain lay the town of Carteya. Tarik sent a division to attack it, com- manded by one of the few Arab officers in his army Abd al-Malik of the tribe of Moafir. Carteya fell into the hands of the Moslems, and Tarik had advanced as far as the Laguna de Janda when he heard that King Roderic was marching against him at the head of a large army.

Tariq and his troops possibly near Carteya with the Rock of Gibraltar in the background (Modern – adapted - Ángel García Pinto, with thanks)

Notes: According to Dozy, “In Arabic there is no distinction between "Carteya" and "Cartagena." In the seventeenth century a tower in the ruins of Carteya was called "Cartagena," now Torre del Rocadillo.

Torre del Rocadillo - Guadarranque (With thanks to Sergio Ruiz Valle)

Tariq asks Musa for reinforcements
Since there were only four vessels available, it would have been difficult for him to withdraw his men to Africa even if he had wished to do so. But Tarik never thought of retreat; ambition, cupidity, and fanaticism urged him on, and calling for reinforcements from Musa, who sent him five thousand more Berbers in some ships which he had built since his lieutenant's departure, he found himself in command of a force of twelve thousand men. 
Witiza’s brothers and sons plot against Roderick
This was small in comparison with Roderic's host, but treachery came to the aid of the Moslems. Roderic had usurped the throne. Aided by many nobles, he had deposed and, as it appears, murdered his predecessor Witica (Witiza). He was consequently antagonized by a very powerful party, headed by the brothers and sons of the late king. Wishing to conciliate the leaders of this party, Roderic invited them to join him when he marched against Tarik. 

They were obliged by law to obey, but they came full of anger, hatred, and defiance. The king tried to appease them and to win their confidence, but with so little success that they schemed to betray him in the presence of the enemy. It is not that they had any intention of handing over their country to the Berbers - indeed, since they aimed at sovereignty, such a course would have been suicidal - but the disaffected nobles believed, not unreasonably, that the Berbers had not landed with the intention of establishing a dominion, but merely of making a foray. P231

"All that these foreigners want is booty," they argued, "and when they have amassed enough, they will return to Africa." They trusted that Roderick when defeated would lose his prestige as a brave and fortunate leader and thus enable them to urge their claims to the sovereignty with more success than heretofore; while, if he were slam, their chances would be much improved. They yielded themselves, in fact, to the guidance of a short-sighted selfishness but if in the event they delivered their country to the infidel, they did so neither wittingly nor willingly. p232

Notes: According to a note in the Spanish edition of this work:

Posteriores investigaciones parecen demostrar que Witiza murió en Toledo, de muerte natural, en 708 o 709. Intentó sucederle su hijo Achila; pero la nobleza se negó a reconocerle, y tras un período de anarquía fue elevado al trono, en 710, Don Rodrigo, duque de la Bética, apoyado, por el partido romano-eclesiástico, mientras los descendientes de Witiza se refugiaron en África.

The names and number of Witiza’s sons have been impossible to pin-point so far:

Ibn al-Qutiyya - Alamundo, Rómulo and Artobas 
Ajbar Machmua - Sisberto and Obba
Alfonso X Primeras Crónicas - Siseberto and Ebba
Luis de Mármol y Carvajal - Sisisberto and Ebasio 
Al-Himyari - Sisebuto  
Reinhart Dozy - Achila
The Battle of Wady Bekka (Guadalete)
The battle took place on the banks of the Wady Bekka, July 9, 711. The two wings of the Spanish army were led by two sons of Witica (Witiza), and mainly consisted of the serfs of these princes. The serfs only too readily obeyed their lords' injunctions to turn their backs upon the foe. The centre, commanded by Roderic in person, held its ground for some time, but at last gave way, whereupon the Moslems smote the Christians hip and thigh. P232
According to Dozy, “Wady Bekka” is a stream which enters the sea not far from Cape Trafalgar, between Vejer de la Frontera and Conil. 

The Spanish edition of this work translated by Magdalena Fuentes offers the following note:

Este riachuelo se llama hoy el Salado. . . Tomo 2

Philip K. Hitti in his History of the Arabs (1984) backs his claim with the following note.

This small river is now called Salado. The Arabs called it Wadi Bakkah (Lakkah), corrupted into Guadilbeca and therefore confused with Guadelete. P494

However, more modern research by the 20th century historian Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz insists that the battle actually took place on the banks of the river Guadalete.

Ironically, the Battle of Rio Salado is usually associated with that fought in 1340 by the Marinid Abu al-hasan and the Nasrid Yusuf I of Granada against the Christian forces of King Afonso IV of Portugal and King Alfonso XI of Castile which was lost by the Muslim armies. 

Death of Roderick
It seems that Roderic was slain; at any rate he was seen no more, and the country found itself without a king just when it had most need of one. Tarik (Tariq) grasped the situation. Instead of returning to Africa, in obedience to Musa's instructions, he boldly pushed on. This was all that was needed to bring about the collapse of the crumbling edifice. The disaffected and oppressed everywhere facilitated the task of the invaders. The serfs would not raise a hand, lest in saving themselves they should save their masters. . . .p232


The Battle of Wady Bekka-Guadalete (Unknown)

Notes: According to Magdalena Fuentes:

De las últimas investigaciones se deduce que Don Rodrigo, refugiado primero en Mérida y después en la sierra de Francia – Salamanca - sostuvo contra Muza y Taric la batalla de Segoyuela (a town in Salamanca) , en la cual, nuevamente derrotado, se supone que murió este rey, sobre cuya, vida y muerte se han forjado multitud de leyendas. Tomo 2 P35

The sons of Witiza claim their due

(The sons of Witiza) relying upon their act of treachery as furnishing a title to the gratitude of the Moslems, they asked for and obtained the crown lands, of which the king had only enjoyed . . . and which included three thousand farms. Oppas, one of Witiza's brothers, was even appointed Governor of Toledo. By an unexpected stroke of good fortune, a mere raid had resulted in a conquest. p233

Musa envies Tariq
But this was by no means gratifying to Musa. He had looked forward to Spain being conquered - but, by himself: he envied Tarik the glory and material advantages of his victory. Happily, there was still scope for Musa's activities in the Peninsula. Tarik had not captured all the towns, nor had he appropriated all the wealth of the country. Musa therefore determined to follow his lieutenant, and in June, 712, he crossed the Straits with eighteen thousand Arabs. . . The rest of Spain - with the exception of some northern provinces - was conquered without difficulty.

Notes: The action now moves on towards the north as the Muslim armies continue their conquest of the Peninsula. Gibraltar is no longer anywhere near the news. The next time we hear anything about it nearly 350 years have gone by. Most of al-Andalus was under Islamic control – presumably including Gibraltar. I will pick up the story again from Dozy.

Introducing Al-Mu’tadid
On the death of the Kady of Seville, at the end of January, 1042, his son Abbad (Abu Amr Abbad II al-Muʿtadid (1042-1069), then twenty-six years old, succeeded him as kajib . . . Abbad is best known in history as al-Mu'tadid, and though he did not adopt this surname until later, it will be convenient thus to designate him from the outset.

The new chief of the Arabs of the South-west was one of the most striking personalities ever produced in the green old age of a civilization. . . Suspicious, vindictive, perfidious, tyrannical, and cruel . . .addicted to drunkenness. . . capricious and sensual by disposition, his appetites were insatiable. No prince possessed so numerous a harem as his: it is said that eight hundred maidens passed through its doors. P628

Dozy then dedicates several not just pages but chapters describing al-Mu’tadid’s exploits, his conquests, rages, multiple murders and executions and so forth, none of which – fortunately had anything to do with Gibraltar. Then one day:

Mu'tadid then turned his arms against the Hammudite (Hammudid) Kasim, (Muhammed ibn al Qasim) lord of Algeciras. He was the weakest of all the Berber princes.

Al-Mu’tadid then forced Muhammad to leave the Taifa, which he then annexed to that of Seville. It meant that Gibraltar, which had been part of the Taifa of Algeciras, had now become yet another of al-Mu’tadid’s many possessions in al-Andalus.   

Gibraltar becomes part of the story p659
One day when he was reading again and again a letter which he had received from Sakot, prince of Ceuta, informing him that the advance-guard of the Almoravids had encamped in the plain of Morocco, one of his Viziers exclaimed: 

“Why should this news cause you uneasiness, my lord? . . . What if these barbarians are encamped there? Between them lie deserts and great armies and the waves of the sea.”

“I am convinced”, replied Mu’tadid. “that one day they will come hither . . . Write instantly to the Governor of Algeciras, order him to strengthen the fortifications of Gibraltar, bid him be on his guard and watch with the utmost vigilance events on the other side of the Straits” p660

The historian George Hills in his Rock of Contention mentions this story – but with one important difference: He wrote that al-Mu’tadid had ordered his governor of Algeciras “to build a fort in Gibraltar” which of course, is not quite the same as “to strengthen the fortifications”.

In fact, accepting the second interpretation as correct leads to the intriguing question of who ordered the original defences to be built. Most historian tend to agree that the town of Gibraltar and its first set of proper fortifications were ordered by the Almohad Caliph Abd al-Mu’min in 1160. Unfortunately, Dozy decided to end his history before the arrival or the 12th century.

Death of Al-Mu’tadid
Mu’tadid of Seville expired on Saturday February 28th 1069 p659

Al-Mutamid Ibn Abbad 

After his death in 1069, his son, al-Mu'tamid Muhammad ibn Abbad Ibn Ismail al-Lakhmi – also confusingly known as al-MutaMid (1040-1095) - took over. He would be the last Abbasid ruler of Seville. 

According to Reinhart Dozy, just like his father, he was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand the Christians were causing him endless trouble, on the other he was fearful of what would happen if the religiously fanatical Almoravids set foot in al-Andalus. He pondered contacting the Almoravid leader Yusuf Tashfin to attempt some sort of an arrangement. 

Al-Mu’tamid’s dilema
When his eldest son Rashid pointed out the dangers of introducing the Almoravids into Spain, Mu’tamid replied:

“That is true, but I have no desire to be branded by my descendants as the man who delivered Andalusia a prey to the infidels . . . for my part I would rather be a camel-driver in Africa than a swineherd in Castile”. p694/695

Notes: In the end the Almoravid commander Tashfin gave Gibraltar a miss and landed in Algeciras.