Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
XIII: Moslem North Africa, 1049-1394, pp. 457-485 PDF (25.3 MB)
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.
Copyright 1975 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. Use of this material falling outside the purview of "fair use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. To buy the hardcover book, see: http://www/wisc/edu/wisconsinpress/books/1734.htm