Caliph of Córdoba

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Exterior of La Mezquita
The interior of the Great Mosque of Córdoba, now a Christian cathedral. The mosque, known as the Mezquita in Spanish, is one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture pioneered by the Umayyad dynasty.

The Caliph of Córdoba (Arabic: خليفة قرطبة‎‎) ruled the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) and North Africa from the city of Córdoba, in what is now Spain, from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by success in trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Islamic Spain, including the Great Mosque of Córdoba, were constructed during the caliph's reign.

The title was claimed on January 16, 929, by Abd-ar-Rahman III, who was previously known as the Emir of Córdoba (أمير قرطبة). All caliphs of Córdoba were members of the Umayyad dynasty, the same dynasty that controlled the Emirate of Córdoba and had ruled over roughly the same territory since 756. The caliph's rule coincided with the height of Muslim presence on the Iberian Peninsula.

Practically, the caliphate ended in 1010 with a fitna (civil war within Islam) between the descendants of the last legitimate caliph, Hisham II, and the successors of his prime minister (hajib), Almanzor. An additional strain was monetary, after a series of expensive military efforts. The caliphate officially existed until 1031, when it fractured into a number of independent taifas.

The Umayyad dynasty

Abd-ar-Rahman I became emir of Córdoba six years after the Umayyad dynasty lost the position of caliph of Damascus in 750. Rahman I was on the run from his enemies for six years before arriving in Spain. Intent on regaining power, he defeated the existing Islamic rulers of the area and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate.

Rulers of the emirate were content to use the title emir or sultan until the 10th century, when Abd-ar-Rahman III was faced with the threat of invasion by the Fatimids, a rival Islamic empire based in Cairo. Partly to help in his fight against the Fatimids, who claimed the caliphate in opposition to the generally recognized Abbasidian caliph of Baghdad, Rahman III claimed the title of caliph himself. This helped him gain prestige with his subjects, and he retained the title even after the Fatimids were repulsed.

After the battle of Melilla in 927, the Umayyad dynasty expanded to the north and, until 950, the Holy Roman Empire exchanged ambassadors with Córdoba. A few years before, Hugh of Italy had demanded safeguards for his merchant boats in the Mediterranean. In the northern Iberian Peninsula, small Christian kingdoms such as the Marca Hispanica, the Kingdom of Navarre, and Aragon had difficulty resisting the power of the caliphate. They sought a truce with the caliph, who took the opportunity to enlarge his territory in exchange for peace. The Moors sacked Barcelona in 985 and Santiago de Compostela in 997.

The last caliph of Córdoba was Hisham III (1027–1031). After his death in 1031, the territories he controlled, which had by then shrunk mainly to possessions on the Iberian Peninsula, fractured into a number of independent taifas. These fiefdoms continued until they were gradually pushed out by Christian forces during the Reconquista, unable to effectively resist as independent factions.

List of rulers

According to historians, the emirs and caliphs comprising the Umayyad dynasty in Al-Andalus were the sons of concubines (almost all Iberians from the northern part of the peninsula). The founder of the dynasty, Abd-ar-Rahman I, was the son of a Berber woman; his son, who succeeded him as emir, had a Spanish mother.[1] A genetic study concluded that the genome of Hisâm II, the tenth ruler of the dynasty, "would have mostly originated from the Iberian Peninsula and would not be more than 0.1% of Arab descent, although the Y chromosome would still be of fully Arab origin".[2][3]

Emirs of Córdoba

Caliphs of Córdoba

The Umayyad dynasty was interrupted by the Hammudid dynasty from 1016–1023:

The Umayyad dynasty returned to power in 1023:


  1. ^ Guichard, P. (1976). Al-Andalus: Estructura antropológica de una sociedad islámica en Occidente. Barcelona: Barral Editores. ISBN 8421120166. 
  2. ^ Ambrosio, B.; Hernandez, C.; Noveletto, A.; Dugoujon, J. M.; Rodriguez, J. N.; Cuesta, P.; Fortes-Lima, C.; Caderon, R. (2010). "Searching thie peopling of the Iberian Peninsula from the perspective of two Andalusian subpopulations: a study based on Y-chromosome haplogroups J and E". Collegium Antropologicum 34 (4): 1215–1228. PMID 21874703. 
  3. ^