Abu ʿĀmir Muḥammad bin ʿAbdullāh ibn Abi ʿĀmir, al-Ḥājib
al-Manṣūr (Arabic: أبو عامر محمد بن عبد الله
بن أبي عامر الحاجب المنصور) (c. 938 –
August 8, 1002), better known as Almanzor, was for 24 years
(978–1002) the de facto ruler of
Muslim Iberia (al-Andalus) under
Caliphate of Córdoba
Caliphate of Córdoba (Arabic: خلافة قرطبة,
translit. Khilāfat Qurṭuba). His rule marked the peak of power
4 In fiction
5 See also
Almanzor was born Muhammad ibn Abi Aamir, into a noble family of
Yemeni origin in Algeciras. He arrived at the Court of Córdoba as a
student studying law and literature. He subsequently became manager of
the estates of Prince Hisham II.
In a few years
Almanzor had worked his way from this humble position
to considerable heights of influence, eliminating his political rivals
in the process. Caliph al-Hakam II died in 976 and Ibn Abi Amir was
instrumental in securing the succession of Hisham II, now aged twelve,
to the throne.
Almanzor exercised strong influence over Subh, the
mother and regent of the young Hisham II. Two years later he became
hajib (a title similar to that of vizier in the
Muslim East or
Chancellor in Western Europe). During the following three years
Almanzor consolidated his power with the expansion of Medina Azahara
on the outskirts of Córdoba, while at the same time completely
isolating the young Caliph, who became a virtual prisoner in Medina
Azahara. Following al-Hakam's death,
Almanzor had al-Hakam's library
of "ancient science" books destroyed.
In 981, upon his return to Córdoba from the Battle of Torrevicente,
in which he crushed his last remaining rival (and father-in-law),
Ghalib al-Nasiri, he assumed the title of al-Mansur bi-llah, [the]
Victorious by God. In Christian Spain he was referred to as Almanzor.
Almanzor's hold on power within al-Andalus was now absolute.
Purportedly in order to conceal his usurpation of the Caliph's
Almanzor dedicated himself to annual military invasions
of the Christian states of the peninsula. He organized and took part
in 57 campaigns, and was victorious in all of them. To wage warfare on
this scale against the Christian states, he brought in many Berber
mercenaries, which upset the political order over time.
Almanzor mainly fought against León and Castile, he also
Barcelona in 985. He sacked Leon in 988 and Santiago de
Compostela in Galicia in 997, taking the cathedral bells to be melted
down into lanterns for the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Almanzor
knew the magnitude of the devotion to Saint James' sepulcher, and
ordered his generals to protect the tomb and all sacred objects that
they encountered.
Almanzor waged several campaigns against the Kingdom of Navarre,
including his longest, in which he defeated a Castilian army at the
Battle of Cervera.
He married 'Abda "la Vascona" de Navarre, daughter of Sancho II of
Navarre, whom he freed and who converted to Islam. She bore him a son,
Abd al-Rahman, whose Arabic diminutive Sanchuelo (Shanjoul), indicated
his relationship to his maternal grandfather. In 992 as a pledge of
peace between the two states
Almanzor freed and married a second
daughter of Sancho Abarca, Teresa of León (born Leon).. In 993
king Vermudo II gave his daughter princess Theresa to Almanzor, who,
in the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun's account, was kept as a
The consequence of his victories in the north was to prompt the
Christian rulers of the Peninsula into an alliance against him (c.
1000). He was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar, who
continued to rule al-Andalus as hajib until his death in 1002.
After Abd al-Malik, his ambitious half brother Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo
took over. He however tried to take the Caliphate for himself from
Hisham, as al-Mansur had effectively made the caliph a figurehead
ruler. This plunged the country into a civil war, and the Caliphate
disintegrated into rival
Taifa kingdoms. This proved disastrous for
Muslim Iberia as, being divided, the Christian Kingdoms were able to
conquer the Taifas one by one.
Almanzor peak in central Spain is named after him.
Almanzor is a major character in the historical novel The Long Ships
(Red Orm) by the Swedish author Frans Gunnar Bengtsson. Three chapters
of the book take place in
Muslim Iberia under Almanzor's rule,
depicted from the point of view of Scanian Vikings who are captured by
Moors while on a raid into Iberia, serving as galley slaves. Later
they become mercenaries in Almanzor's bodyguard and finally manage to
escape back to
Denmark after participating in the conquest and sacking
of Santiago de Compostella. In the book
Almanzor is represented as
being driven to his ceaseless harrying of the infidel out of guilt for
having imprisoned his religious superior; the young Caliph.
Almanzor is the main character in the Syrian drama series Rabee'
Qurtuba (Arabic: ربيع قرطبة), which translates as
Cordoban Spring. This Arabic-language series follows Almanzor's life
story from beginning to end, although it is anachronistic in parts.
Jacob ibn Jau
^ Ann Christy, Christians in Al-Andalus:711–1000. Curzon Press,
2002. p. 142.
^ 15th Edition Encyclopædia Britannica, pages 407-408, vol. 15
^ Roger Collins, Caliphs and Kings, 796-1031, (Blackwell Publishing,
^ Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain:Unity in Diversity, 400–1000.
St.Martin's Press, 1995. p. 195.
^ Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The life and world of one of
civilization's greatest minds, (Doubleday Publishing, 2008), 32.
^ "Ibn Al-Mansur - Historical records and family trees - MyHeritage".
Myheritage.com. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
^ "The Legacy of
Muslim Spain", edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi,
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Almanzor.
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