Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Caliphs of Córdoba: Chapter II

Hisham II's Reign Leading up to the First Berber War
People ready to harass the ships full of Berber emigrants

Early on in the stages of his 'true' rule, Hisham II tried to refoucus the kingdom on many of the things his father wanted to accomplish. He foucused on increasing the academic and cultural output of the many libraries and mosques that fell into despair over the course of  Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir's regency. One major problem that came early on was that he found enemies in the Berber minority that had came to populate the country during Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir's time as regent. The people that had supported the lustful advisor would, not surprisingly, have little support for the current caliph. Some Berbers returned to their homeland in North Africa, but some stayed in Cordoba to try and agitate the local populace to petition for the reinstatement of the old rule.

Hisham knew that he needed to do something about this. At first he thought to make a decree to expel all Barbers from Cordoba from force, but that would likely cause too much tension with their southern neighbor, the Fatmid Caliphate, who valued Berbers. Instead, he settled upon trying to make the Berbers not as distrustful of him. He decided that they will be charged lower taxes next time the tax collector comes to their towns. This was something that made the Berbers very happy, but everyone else was much less enthused that they did not get a similar lowering.

In a few years, this tax was repealed and the Berbers paid the same amount as everybody else. Unfortunately, these Berbers were quick to forget and also quick to anger. Their immigration was yet again restricted as it had been during his father’s reign. They began leaving en masse just as quickly as they came to Cordóba. Many of them left from al-Jazirat on the southern tip of Iberia and headed to Tanja, a Cordóban city on the North African coastline. They went here instead of Marrakech, as the caliph was advising, because the travel was much cheaper. The movement of people reached its peak around June 1013. The town of Tanja was bursting at the seams with people trying to find places to stay and food to eat. Berbers were scooping up goods and food at the market with all of the money they saved from not spending taxes after they left everything they had at home. The locals were very angry that by the time they got to the markets, there was little left for them until the next caravan of goods came.

The day of June 18, 1013, the locals got together to plan to keep the Berbers away from their city. They ran through the streets yelling, looting, and causing some general chaos. They gathered on the port, where a ship full of Berbers was approaching. As it got closer, people yelled for them to turn away or go to Marrakech. The boat refused, and decided to land. Angry, the locals began throwing various objects at the ship. The Berbers panicked, and they tried to sail away. Instead, the side of the ship that had been weakened broke open, spilling its contents into the ocean or on the deck. The Berbers scrambled to swim to the coast or run from the mob of angry locals.

The hulk of the ship sailed out to the Atlantic with a few dozen Berbers still alive clinging on to the wreckage. Luckily for them, a trading ship full of gold and salt bound for Europe crossed paths. They took the men into their ships and asked them all about what had happened. The merchants were very angry about the whole event, but they carried on as usual selling their goods across the Mediterranean. When they returned to Marrakech, they told local leaders of how Hisham was prosecuting Berbers. Word spread quickly through the Fatmid Caliphate, and the caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah who ruled from Cario was angry when he heard this news. After all, Berbers were crucial in the founding of the caliphate and the Córdobans were the Fatmids enemies, so when the time came to strike back, there was no hesitation. Here began the First Berber War.

No comments:

Post a Comment