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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 469

Ch. XIII MOSLEM NORTH AFRICA, 1049—1394 469 
able Arab allies continued smash-and-grab raids, disrupting agricul ture
and commerce from Tripolitania to Algeria. 
 In 1190 Saladin of Egypt sent ' Abd-ar-Rahmãn of the Banu Munqidh
to Ya'qub to ask for naval aid to intercept the supply ships of the crusaders
at Acre. Ibn-Khaldun says the Aiyubid forwarded a rich present to the Muwahhid,
who regretted his inability to aid but later reconsidered and sent 180 ships,
which prevented the Christians from landing in Syria. Al-Maqqari, writing
about 1630, says that Ya'qub was so offended by Saladin's failure to accord
him the caliphal title amir al-mu ' minin that he declined to grant help.
Gaude froy-Demombynes concludes that aid was withheld for three reasons:
because Ya'qub needed his ships for Spanish waters, because he did not wish
to anger the French, and because he was irritated by Saladin's connections
with the Banu-Ghãniyah. The truth is probably that a small flotilla
was sent as a gesture, but that it played no significant role in the Syrian
fighting. Two letters embodying this request and dated 1189 and 1190 appear
to be apocryphal.9 
 Ya'qub had other problems, of which the most urgent was the 
Christian counter-attack in Spain culminating in the taking of Silves. 
In 1195 he crossed to Andalusia and at Alarcos defeated the Spanish 
Christians decisively. This led him to adopt the sobriquet al-Mansur 
(the victorious, by the help of Allah), by which he is known to Arab 
historians. He then returned to Africa, where he died in 1199. 
 His son Muhammad, an-Nãsir, was faced with the same problems, the
increasing Christian pressure in Spain and the insolent brigandage of the
Banu-Ghãniyah in Tunisia. They took Mahdia in 1202 and Tunis in 1203,
at which time they held all Tunisia and pronounced the Friday prayer in the
name of the ' Abbãsid caliph. The only fixed policies attributable
to the Banu-Ghãniyah are extortion and devasta tion, at both of which
they excelled. An all-out effort by an-Nasir, his fleet, and his highly effective
general abu-Muhammad ibn-abi-Hafs finally trapped and exterminated the raiders,
restoring to the Mu wahhids their considerably damaged eastern provinces.
An-Nasir then turned his attention to Spain, but was decisively beaten by
the Christians in 1212 at Las Navas de Tolosa, the real turning point in
the struggle for the peninsula. 10 
 After an-Nasir's death in 1213 his son Yusuf II, al-Mustansir, reigned rather
tranquilly for eleven years, but after he was killed by a cow in 1224, the
Muwahhid strength was dissipated in internal 
 9. For these letters, and the exchange between Saladin and Ya'qub, see Gaudefroy
Demombynes's article in Mélanges René Basset, II, 279—304.
 10. On the reconquest of Spain and Portugal see chapter XII, above. 

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