Abbadid dynasty

The Abbadid dynasty or Abbadids (Arabic: بنو عباد, romanized: Banū ʿAbbād) was an Arab Muslim dynasty which arose in al-Andalus on the downfall of the Caliphate of Cordoba (756–1031). After the collapse, there were multiple small Muslim states called taifas, each ruled by a different family or tribe: the Hammudids, the Zayrids, the Jahwarids, the Dhul-Nunids, the Amirids, the Tojibids, and the Hudids. Of all of these small groups, the Abbadid were the strongest and before long absorbed most of the others.[1] Abbadid rule lasted from about 1023 until 1091,[2][3] but during the short period of its existence it exhibited singular energy and typified its time.[4]

Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad (ruled 1023–1042)

Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn Abbad (r. 1023–1042), the qadi of Seville, founded the house in 1023.[2]

The Abbadids had not previously played a major role in history, though they were of noble pedigree, hailing from the Lakhmids, the historical kings of al-Hira in south-central Iraq.[5] The branch that resulted in the Abbadids settled in Homs in Syria, and was among the first Muslim families to settle in al-Andalus after the Muslim conquest of Hispania.[5] Abu al-Qasim's father, Isma'il ibn Abbad (died 1023) was named as qadi of Sevilla by the regent Almanzor, and established his family's leading role in the city: the contemporary historian Ibn Hayyan reports that his son owned no less than third of Seville's territory, making him by far the richest man in the city.[5]

Abu al-Qasim gained the confidence of the townsmen by playing a major role in the successful resistance to the Berber soldiers of fortune who had grasped at the fragments of the Caliphate of Cordoba.[4] After the Berbers were forced out, he was, by near unanimous voice of the people and prompting of the merchant and nobles, given the reins of power.[6] Initially, he refused the position, worried of the fatal repercussions that could follow failure or the changing of the voice of the people.[7] At first, he professed to rule only with the advice of a council formed of the nobles.[4]

Abu al-Qasim's first order of business was to rebuild the military of Seville, which had, in recent times, disappeared. This, he accomplished by first creating recruiting posts in all settlements controlled by Seville. The promise of substantial pay along with promises of unrestricted looting brought many able men to him.[7] Second, he opened the ranks to all races and social class, as Berbers, Arabs, Christians, and foreigners were all accepted along with slaves from Nubia and Sudan.[8] Before the military could become a formidable force, a Berber army from Málaga was at the gates demanding entrance and fealty, in the form of sons of the richest and most powerful nobles and merchants as hostages. Abu al-Qasim, to show his people his trust in the situation, offered his own son as solitary collateral. This show of bravery, convinced his population to follow him with near zeal, and at this time dismissed the council and began his solitary rule.[9]

From this point on, he was able to make small inroads into the small principalities surrounding him. This began with an alliance forged with the governor of Carmona.[10] His first conquest was Beja, followed by the plunder and subsequent control of the coastal regions from Cadiz west.[10] The Taifa of Badajoz was next as he defeated and captured the son of the emir, and at this early time nearly defeated the Taifa of Córdoba, beaten back at the end by an alliance Cordoba made with the Berbers.[10]

The Berbers continued to be a thorn in the side of Abu al-Qasim, as they now recognized Yahya as their supreme leader, something that had not been accomplished before.[11] At this time, it was apparent to Abu al-Qasim that a coalition was needed to defeat the growing Berber threat; however it was also apparent that he would not be accepted as the head of this coalition of caliphates.[12] Abu al-Qasim was able to procure an imposter that resembled the caliph Hisham II. This man, who was a mat-maker by trade had previously been involved in an unsuccessful attempt at trickery. This time the deception was successful and the coalition formed starting with Cordoba, then followed by Dénia, Balearic Islands, Tortosa, and Valencia.[13] Angered by the growing forces against him, Yahya was lured into an ambush and along with the larger portion of his command killed.[14] When Abu al-Qasim died in 1042 he had created a state, which, though weak in itself, appeared strong as compared to its neighbours. He had made his family the recognized leaders of the Andalusian Muslims against the neo-Berber element arrayed under the king of Granada.[4]

Abbad II al-Mu'tadid (ruled 1042–1069)

Abbad II al-Mu'tadid (1042–1069),[2] the son and successor of Abu al-Qasim, became one of the most remarkable figures in Iberian Muslim history. He had a striking resemblance to the Italian princes of the later Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, of the stamp of Filippo Maria Visconti.[4]

Abbad wrote poetry and loved literature; he also appears as a poisoner, a drinker of wine, a sceptic, and a man treacherous to the utmost degree. Though he waged war all through his reign, he himself very rarely appeared in the field, but directed the generals, whom he never trusted, from his "lair" in the fortified palace, the Alcázar of Seville. He killed with his own hand one of his sons who had rebelled against him. In 1053, he tricked a number of his enemies, the Berber chiefs of southern al-Andalus, into visiting him, and got rid of them by smothering them in the hot room of a bath.[4] He then seized their kingdoms of Arcos, Moron, and Ronda.[2] He also forcibly annexed the kingdoms of Mertola, Niebla, Huelva and Saltes, Santa Maria do Algarve, and Silves[2]

He habitually preserved the skulls of the enemies he had killed; those of the meaner men to use as flower-pots, while those of the princes he kept in special chests. He devoted his reign mainly to extending his power at the expense of his smaller neighbours, and in conflicts with his chief rival the king of Granada. These incessant wars weakened the Muslims, to the great advantage of the rising power of the Christian kings of León and Castile, but they gave the kingdom of Seville a certain superiority over the other little states. After 1063 Fernando El Magno of Castile and León assailed him, marched to the gates of Seville, and forced him to pay tribute.[4] This fealty was so complete, for the remaining two years of Fernando's reign, that Abbad even surrendered the remains of St. Isidore.[15]

Muhammad al-Mu'tamid (ruled 1069–1095)

Coin minted during the reign of al-Mutamid

The son of Abbad II, Muhammad al-Mu'tamid (1069–1095) — who reigned under the title al-Mu'tamid — was the third and last of the Abbadids.[2] No less remarkable than his father, and more amiable, he also wrote poetry and favoured poets. Al-Mu'tamid went, however, considerably further in patronage of literature than his father, for he chose as his favourite and prime minister the poet Ibn Ammar. In the end, the vanity and feather-headedness of Ibn Ammar drove his master to kill him.[4]

Al-Mu'tamid came even more under the influence of his favourite wife, al-Rumaikiyya, than under that of his vizier. He had met her paddling in the Guadalquivir, purchased her from her master, and made her his wife. The caprices of Romaica, and the lavish extravagance of Abbad III in his efforts to please her, form the subject of many stories;[4] a brief tale of the queen appears in the book 'Libro de los ejemplos del Conde Lucanor y de Patronio (Book of the examples of Count Lucanor and Patronio), as the tale XXX, De lo que aconteció al rey Abenabed de Sevilla con su mujer, Ramaiquía (Of What Happened to King Abenabed of Seville with his Wife, Ramaiquía). On the other hand, the stories about Ibn Ammar and Rumaiqiyya that appear in much later western works probably describe imaginary events.

In 1071, al-Mu'tamid took control of Cordoba. This was a weak period of control as he had to re-assert control in 1078 and then lost it permanently in 1081.[2] During this period his vizier Ibn Ammar captured Murcia.[2] This period marked the beginning of the end for the Abbadid dynasty, as the following years saw them growing weaker and weaker due to a number of events: first, was the start of hostilities with Alfonso VI, followed by the Christians succeeding in Aragon, Valencia, and Toledo, finally domestic Muslims created issues at home.[2] When Alfonso VI, from Castile, took Toledo in 1085, Al-Mu'tamid called in Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the Berber Almoravid ruler. He had foreseen probability that Almoravids may overthrow him, nevertheless he choose to ally with them. When his son, Rashid, advised him not to call on Yusuf ibn Tashfin, Al-Mu'tamid rebuffed him and famously said,

I have no desire to be branded by my descendants as the man who delivered al-Andalus as prey to the infidels. I am loath to have my name cursed in every Muslim pulpit. And, for my part, I would rather be a camel-driver in Africa than a swineherd in Castile.[16]

With the assistance of the Almoravids, they were able to defeat Alfonso in 1086.[3] During the six years which preceded his deposition in 1091, Abbassid behaved with valour on the field, but was politically inept and cruel. At the end what he had foreseen happened to him: in 1095 his kingdom was overthrown by Yusuf ibn Tashfin and Almoravid sympathizers within his city, following which he was deposed.[3] He was exiled to Morocco[2]

Al-Mu'tamid was the father-in-law, through his son, Fath al-Mamun (d. 1091), of Zaida, mistress, and possibly wife, of Alfonso VI of Castile.[17] She is said by Iberian Muslim sources to have been the daughter-in-law of Al Mutamid, the Muslim King of Seville, wife of his son Abu al Fatah al Ma'Mun, Emir of Cordoba,[18] (d. 1091). Later Iberian Christian chroniclers call her Al Mutamid's daughter, but the Islamic chroniclers are considered more reliable.[19] With the fall of Seville to the Almoravids, she fled to the protection of Alfonso VI of Castile, becoming his mistress, converting to Christianity and taking the baptismal name of Isabel.[19]

See also


  1. Stearns 2001, p. 218
  2. Hoiberg 2010, p. 8
  3. Lagassé 2000, p. 2
  4.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Hannay, David (1911). "Abbassid". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 8–9.
  5. Soravia 2011.
  6. Scott 1977, p. 117
  7. Scott 1977, p. 118
  8. Scott 1977, p. 119
  9. Scott 1977, p. 120
  10. Scott 1977, p. 121
  11. Scott 1977, p. 122
  12. Scott 1977, p. 123
  13. Scott 1977, p. 127
  14. Scott 1977, p. 128
  15. Barton 2004, p. 47
  16. Mu'tamid 1915
  17. Reilly 1992, p. 92
  18. Cawley, Medieval Lands; Canal Sánchez-Pagín; Lévi-Provençal; Montaner Frutos; Palencia; Salazar y Acha
  19. Canal Sánchez-Pagín; Montaner Frutos; Palencia; Salazar y Acha


  • Barton, Simon (2004). Black, Jeremy (ed.). A History of Spain. Palgrave Essential Histories. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-63257-5. LCCN 2003066374.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abbadies". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Lagassé, Paul, ed. (2000). "Abbadies". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-7876-5015-3. LCCN 00-027927.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mu'tamid (1915). The poems of Muʹtamid, King of Seville. Translated by Dulcie Lawrence Smith. London, UK. LCCN 82085220.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Reilly, Bernard F. (1992). The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain: 1031-1157. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. ISBN 0-6311-6913-X. LCCN 91017670.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Scott, S. P. (1977) [1904]. History of the Moorish Empire in Europe. II (Reprint ed.). New York, NY: AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-09672-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Soravia, Bruna (2011). "ʿAbbādids (search results)". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.
  • Stearns, Peter N., ed. (2001). "g. The Iberian Peninsula". The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Chronologically Arranged (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-65237-5. LCCN 2001024479.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading

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