Siege of Narbonne (752–59)

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The Siege of Narbonne took place between 752 and 759 led by Pepin the Short against the Muslim stronghold defended by an Andalusian garrison and its Gothic and Gallo-Roman inhabitants. The siege remained as a key battlefield in the context of the Carolingian expedition south to Provence and Septimania starting in 752. The region was up to that point in the hands of Andalusian military commanders and the local nobility of Gothic and Gallo-Roman stock, who had concluded different military and political arrangements to oppose the expanding Frankish rule.[1] Umayyad rule collapsed by 750, and Muslim territories were ruled autonomously by Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri and his supporters.

Approaches[edit]

In 752, after obtaining the Pope´s recognition and the dignity of King of the Franks and deposing the last Merovingian king, Pepin the Short felt free to focus all his might on subduing the Septimania and Provence. Previously his father Charles Martel failed to conquer the whole region, and left a deep scar by devastating various cities that had failed to support him. While the Gothic magnates didn´t support the Franks formerly, things were changing this time: Nîmes, Agde and Béziers were handed over to him by the Gothic count Ansemundus.[2] Mauguio surrendered too. Count Miló was at the time ruling in Narbonne as a vassal of the Andalusians, but when Ansemundus handed over several cities to Pepin, Miló didn´t join, probably deterred by the strong Muslim garrison stationed in the city.

Muslim troops leaving Narbonne in 759

Start of the siege[edit]

The Frankish king Pepin finally lay siege to the Gothic-Muslim Narbonne in 752 with a view to seizing it with no delay. However, Pepin suffered a major blow when his main local, Gothic ally Ansemundus was killed by a rival Gothic faction during the besieging operations in 754. The death of the count was followed by a revolt in Nîmes that was put down by Pepin, and a Frankish governor imposed. Furthermore, the Aquitanian rival duke Waifer is recorded about this period leading an army of Basques against the Carolingian king on the rearguard of his siege of Narbonne. The Narbonnese garrison and residents were able to withstand Pepin´s siege thanks to the supplies provided by sea by the Andalusian navy.

Conquest of Narbonne[edit]

In 759, Narbonne wasn´t receiving reinforcements from Al-Andalus, rife as it was with internal fights. Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri, wali of al-Andalus, had to quash a rebellion in Zaragoza in 756, and immediately head south to fight Abd ar-Rahman I, who defeated him. Northeastern Iberia and the remainder of Septimania was left without any relevant commander in charge. Finally, the defenders of Narbonne (made up of Muslims and non-Muslims alike) surrendered to the Frankish forces after killing the Andalusian garrison and opening the gates of the stronghold to the investing forces of the Carolingian king. Previously, the king Pepin had promised to uphold and respect the Gothic laws and probably their own government, so garnering the allegiance of the Gothic nobility of Septimania.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

After the conquest of Narbonne, the Muslims retreated to their Andalusian heartland after 40 years of occupation, and the Carolingian king Pepin came up reinforced. The government of the city was assigned to the Gothic count Miló, who had fled the city 5 years before when it was besieged, and had retreated to Trausse (Aude). The submission of Septimania allowed the Frankish King to divert his attention to his only internal opponent, the independent duke of Aquitaine Waifer. In the wake of Narbonne´s submission, Pepin took Roussillon, and then directed his effort against Toulouse, Rouergue and Albigeois in Aquitaine leading to the battle for Aquitaine.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Meadows, Ian (March–April 1993). "The Arabs in Occitania". Saudi Aramco World 44: 24–29. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Archibald R. (1965). The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718–1050. Austin: University of Texas Press. Retrieved June 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ Lewis, Archibald R. 1965