Abu ʿĀmir Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Abi ʿĀmir, al-Ḥājib al-Manṣūr (Arabic: أبو عامر محمد بن عبد الله بن أبي عامر الحاجب المنصور) (c. 938 – August 8, 1002), better known as Almanzor, was for 24 years (978–1002) the de facto ruler of Muslim Iberia (al-Andalus) under the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba (Arabic: خلافة قرطبة, translit. Khilāfat Qurṭuba). His rule marked the peak of power for al-Andalus. Some say that he claimed the title of a King, and was known as Al Malik Al Mansur (meaning, King Al Mansur).
Almanzor was born Muhammad ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Abi ʿĀmir, into a noble family of Qahtanite origin in Algeciras. He arrived at the Court of Córdoba as a student studying law and literature. He subsequently became manager of the estates of Prince Hisham II.
In a few years Almanzor had worked his way from this humble position to considerable heights of influence, eliminating his political rivals in the process. Caliph al-Hakam II died in 976 and Ibn Abi Amir was instrumental in securing the succession of Hisham II, now aged twelve, to the throne. Almanzor exercised strong influence over Subh, the mother and regent of the young Hisham II. Two years later he became hajib (a title similar to that of vizier in the Muslim East or Chancellor in Western Europe). During the following three years Almanzor consolidated his power with the expansion of Medina Azahara on the outskirts of Córdoba, while at the same time completely isolating the young Caliph, who became a virtual prisoner in Medina Azahara. Following al-Hakam's death, Almanzor had al-Hakam's library of "ancient science" books destroyed.
In 981, upon his return to Córdoba from the Battle of Torrevicente, in which he crushed his last remaining rival (and father-in-law), Ghalib al-Nasiri, he assumed the title of al-Mansur bi-llah, [the] Victorious by God. In Christian Spain he was referred to as Almanzor.
Almanzor's hold on power within al-Andalus was now absolute. Purportedly in order to conceal his usurpation of the Caliph's authority, Almanzor dedicated himself to annual military invasions of the Christian states of the peninsula. He organized and took part in 57 campaigns, and was victorious in all of them. To wage warfare on this scale against the Christian states, he brought in many Berber mercenaries, which upset the political order over time.
Although Almanzor mainly fought against León and Castile, he also sacked Barcelona in 985. He sacked Leon in 988 and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in 997, taking the cathedral bells to be melted down into lanterns for the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
In 983, Sancho II of Navarre was forced to turn over a younger son and his daughter, Urraca Sánchez. Taken from a convent, she would converted to Islam and become the most powerful women in his harem, and was known as 'Abda "la Vascona". She bore Almanzor a son, Abd al-Rahman, whose Arabic diminutive Sanchuelo (Shanjoul), indicated his relationship to his maternal grandfather. In 992 as a pledge of peace between the two states following Sancho's visit to Córdoba, Almanzor allowed Urraca/'Abda to visit her father. The North African historian Ibn Khaldun reported that in 993, Almanzor married a daughter of king Bermudo II of León, and she is usually identified as his daughter Teresa, whom Bishop Pelagius of Oviedo reported was married by her brother to a pagan king of Toledo. However, Bermudo only married in 991, so it has been suggested that Ibn Khaldun's 993 mariage is a confused reference to Urraca/'Abda of Navarre, and that if Teresa married a Muslim prince at all, this must have occurred later, involving one of Almanzor's sons.
The consequence of his victories in the north was to prompt the Christian rulers of the Peninsula into an alliance against him (c. 1000). He was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar, who continued to rule al-Andalus as hajib until his death in 1008.
After Abd al-Malik's death, Abd al-Malik's ambitious half brother Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo took over. He however tried to take the Caliphate for himself from Hisham, as al-Mansur had effectively made the caliph a figurehead ruler. This plunged the country into a civil war, and the Caliphate disintegrated into rival Taifa kingdoms.
Almanzor peak in central Spain is named after him.
- Ann Christy, Christians in Al-Andalus:711–1000. Curzon Press, 2002. p. 142.
- 15th Edition Encyclopædia Britannica, pages 407-408, vol. 15 macropaedia
- Roger Collins, Caliphs and Kings, 796-1031, (Blackwell Publishing, 2012), 191.
- Roger Collins, Early Medieval Spain:Unity in Diversity, 400–1000. St.Martin's Press, 1995. p. 195.
- Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The life and world of one of civilization's greatest minds, (Doubleday Publishing, 2008), 32.
- Laura Bariani, Almanzor, 2003, p. 19
- Simon Barton, Conquerors, Brides and Concubines, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015, pp. 27-30
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