Wednesday, December 14, 2016

As history cycles....................

     But to the south, Toledo's takeover by a powerful Christian monarch who was a real contender, not just another strongman of some minor city, provoked a historically fateful military reaction.  Alfonso's defeated and dismayed rival for control over Toledo, the equally ambitious and accomplished Mutamid, based in Seville, asked for military help from the Almoravids, the fundamentalist Muslim regime that had recently taken control of Marrakech and established the polity we know as Morocco.  The Almoravids were Berber tribesmen who had been building a considerable empire in North Africa.  These fanatics considered the Andalusian Muslims intolerably weak, with their diplomatic relations with Christian states, not to mention their promotion of Jews in virtually every corner of their government and society.  But the somewhat deluded Mutamid of Seville cared little about their politics, and imagined he could bring them in to help him out militarily and then send them packing.  The Almoravids thus arrived ostensibly as allies of the weak taifas and quickly succeeded, in 1086 in defeating Alfonso VI.  These would-be protectors, however, stayed on as the new tyrants of al-Andalus.
     By 1090, the Almoravids had fully annexed the taifa remnants of the venerable al-Andalus into their own dour and intolerant kingdom.  For the next 130 years, Andalusian Muslims would be governed by foreigners, first these same Almoravids, and later by the Almohads, or "Unitarians," an even more fanatic group of North African Berber Muslims likewise strangers to al-Andalus and its ways.  Thus did the Andalusians become often rambunctious colonial subjects in an always troublesome and incomprehensible province.  They had irretrievably lost their political freedom, but the story of Andalusian culture was far from over:  although bloodied, the Andalusians were unbowed, and their culture remained their glory - viewed with suspicion , yet often coveted by all their neighbors, both north and south.

-Maria Rosa Menocal,  The Ornament Of The World:  How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created A Culture Of Tolerance In Medieval Spain

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