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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XIII: Moslem North Africa, 1049-1394,   pp. 457-485 PDF (25.3 MB)

Page 464

gold struck at Mahdia in the name of Ma'add. However, if there was such an
attempt, it failed, and it is very unlikely that Ma'add could have recalled
the voracious horde he had sent against Tunisia.5 
 The other cities of Tunisia reached separate agreements with the invaders,
after the first murderous pillaging, and set up tiny sover eignties under
Arab or Berber nobles or adventurers. It is not too far-fetched to compare
their status in 1049 to that of provincial towns of the Roman empire at its
height, and in 1059 to that of the same towns after the barbarian invasions,
so shattered was the entire political and economic structure. 
 The Hammadids of eastern Algeria were slightly less hard hit. It is true
they were defeated in battle by the Arabs, and their countryside was stripped,
but the assault was weaker and less persistent, and a modus vivendi was soon
reached by which the Berbers held the towns and paid tribute to the invaders.
In partial recompense, Algeria inherited some of the commerce and culture
which fled ravaged Tunisia. Scholars, artisans, and merchants moved to Qal'at
Bani Hammad and, when Arab impositions made that inland stronghold untenable,
they accompanied the Hammãdids to the new capital at Bugia in 1069,
and again, definitively, in 1104. Yet the net effect of the Arab incursion
on eastern Algeria was to decrease its prosperity in agriculture and commerce
and to eliminate personal security for ruler and citizen alike. 
 This relatively unsatisfactory pattern became stabilized for the whole region
between Egypt and Algiers, with land commerce totally prevented by roving
marauders, with agriculture drastically curtailed, and with civilization
isolated in fortified towns paying tribute to the nomads. Among the permanent
effects of the Arab invasion must also be included the increase in the proportion
of pastoral nomads to sedentary cultivators, the displacement of Berber nomads—chiefly
Zanatah—by the newcomers, the diffusion of the Arabic language in rural
areas, the movement of whatever culture survived northward to the ports or
mountain towns such as Constantine, and the seaward orientation of Berber
commercial activity and military prowess.6 
 Morocco meanwhile was undergoing a sharply contrasting series of events.
An ascetic religious reformer, ' Abd-Allah ibn-Yasin, of the Kaztfli tribe,
had appeared in the desert fringes and secured support 
 5. The invaders, ironically enough, were admired by later generations as
the epitome of Arab chivalry, and inspired a popular ballad-cycle, Sirat
abi Zaid wa-Bani Hilal (for editions see Brockelmann, II, 74; sII, 64). 
 6. For further details consult Marcais, op. cit., and Les Arabes en Berbérie
du XIe au XIVe siècle (Constantine, 1913). 

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