The episode of the invasion of Spain comes next in chronological order. The condition of the venerable Iberian Church, still suffering under Moslem domination, appealed strongly to the king's sympathy. In 777 there came to Paderborn three Moorish emirs, enemies of the Ommeyad Abderrahman, the Moorish King of Cordova. These emirs did homage to Charles and proposed to him an invasion of Northern Spain; one of the, Ibn-el-Arabi, promised to bring to the invaders' assistance a force of Berber auxiliaries from Africa; the other two promised to exert their powerful influence at Barcelona and elsewhere north of the Ebro. Accordingly, in the spring of 778, Charles, with a host of crusaders, speaking many tongues, and which numbered among its constituents even a quota of Lombards, moved towards the Pyrenees. His trusted lieutenant, Duke Bernhard. with one division, entered Spain by the coast. Charles himself marched through the mountain passes straight to Pampelona. But Ibn-el-Arabi, who had prematurely brought on his army of Berbers, was assassinated by the emissary of Abderrahman, and though Pampelona was razed, and Barcelona and other cities fell, Saragossa held out. Apart from the moral effect of this campaign upon the Moslem rulers of Spain, its result was insignificant, though the famous ambuscade in which perished Roland, the great Paladin, at the Pass of Roncesvalles, furnished to the medieval world the material for its most glorious and influential epic, the "Chanson de Roland".
FOC: I have taken this from various sources to give an overview of the event(s) to which this memory may refer. I will add to this as I find more, or we get a definitive interpretation. If you don't like the lack of definitive interpreation, I simply ask you, do YOU have family oral tradtions this ancient??????
It was one of the noble clans, the Witiza family, that, at the beginning of the 8th century, caused the decline of the Visigoth kingdom, by appealing for aid to Muslim and Berbers warriors from across the Strait of Gibraltar to fight the royal usurper. In fact, the Visigothic state apparatus' disintegration allowed the Muslims to make isolated pacts with an aristocracy that was semi-independent and opposed to the Crown.
By the middle of the 8th century, the Muslims had completed their occupation and the Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman, who had fled from the Abbasid slaughter of 750 A.D., took refuge among the Berbers. Finally, supported by one of the Peninsular Muslims tribes, the Yemenies, he managed to defeat, in 755, the Abbasid governor of Al-Andalus and have himself proclaimed in Cordoba Emir, independent of Damascus. In the first thrid of the 10th century, one of the Spanish Umayyads, Abd al- Rahman III, restored and extended the Al-Andalus emirate and became the first Spanish Caliph.
The Moors who conquered Spain were themselves a mixture of Arabs and Berbers, who often fell out with each other and fought out their quarrels in Spain. The struggles between the Umayyad and the Abbasid dynasties also led to disruption, and soon the early anarchy of the Visigothic days returned. Although the Umayyads were overthrown as rulers of the Arab Empire in 750, they established themselves as emirs of Córdoba from 756. Shortly after this, in 777, the emir of Zaragoza requested the help of the Frankish king, Charlemagne, in his struggle with the emir of Córdoba. Charlemagne led an army across the Pyrenees in 778, but was later forced to turn back. It was during this retreat that Roland died in a rearguard action at Roncesvalles.
778 Charlemagne attempts to conquer Spain. He penetrates as far as Zaragoza when he is called back to France (not by his mother). On the return trip, his rear guard (including his great captain, Roland) is attacked and killed by Basque troops. Popular legend and countless toubadours (who probably had a lot to do with the popular legends) have blamed the Muslims, who seem to have been more interested in fighting with each other at this time than in attacking Charlemagne's rear guard at Roncesvalles....
800 Charlemagne takes Barcelona. He is granted the title of "Holy Roman Emperor" by Pope Leo III in order to guarantee his protection of Rome from the invading Lombards.
811 Charlemagne gains control of all of Cataluña, which is designated, "The Spanish Mark" or "March" until 874.
Expulsion of the Moors
Economic problems and costly wars split the Corboban Caliphate into 23 smaller, petty kingdoms. This division was called the "Ta'ifas." It was to occur 3 times, each accompanied by an invasion of African Muslims. The first invasion occurred in 1090. Five years earlier, Alfonso the VI defeated Muslim forces and captured Toledo and its valuable library. The Muslims summoned the Almoravids, a Berber Dynasty from Morocco. They defeated the Christians and returned to Africa only to return in 1090 and sieze control. While he was in exile from Castille, El Cid with a force of Christians and Muslims, had conquered and ruled the province of Valencia. In 1099, upon the death of "El Cid"*, the Moors captured Valencia. It was abandoned by his followers and fell to the Almoravids. The African Muslims now occupied the Peninsula as far as Saragosa. They had also conquered Morocco.
Edited version of original map located:http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~rs143/spain.jpg
In 1144 another Berber dynasty, the ALMOHADS defeated the Almoravids and took control of all territories. They had conquered Morocco in 1146 and in 1195 defeated the Castilians in battle at Alacros. But in 1212, Alfonso VIII defeated the Muslims in the battle of "Navas de Tolosa". The Christian forces now controlled the pass through the mountains allowing them to reach southern Spain and Muslim strongholds. The Almohads were exiled from Spain in 1212 .The third African invasion occurred in 1224.
Spainish Christians continually fought the invading forces throughout the almost 800 year domination. A battle in which the Visgothic king, Pelayo, defeated the Muslim army in 722 became the symbol of Christian Reconquest, "The Reconquista." Uprisings and revolts of Christians and Jews in Cordoba, 805, 817 and Toledo, 814 and 837 were all surpressed. It was the defeat and capture of Toledo from the Moors by Alfonso VI in 1085 that led to the summoning of Almoravids, a fundamentalist sect, from Africa. Alfonso sought the aid of El Cid and continued the Reconquest.
In 1236 Ferdinand III captured Cordoba and in 1248, Sevilla. His planned invasion of Africa was cut short by his death. From 1252 to1284 the Reconquest continued under Alfonso X, The Wise. He was a historian, lawyer and codifier who drafted "Las Siete Partidas. a set of laws which were to later effect the lives of African slaves in the Western Hemisphere. Alfonso XI began the fight for Granada in 1312. It was to last for 25 years. He defeated Spanish and Moroccan Muslims in the battle for Rio Salado and ended the African threat. It was to be the most significant battle of the Reconquest. The War of Reconquest saw the rise of three military orders; Santiago, Alcantara and Calatrava which strengthened Christian forces. In 1410 Ferdinand won a major battle at Antequera resulting in his being crowned King of Argon in 1412. By the end of the century Castilla and Aragon were Spain's most powerful states.
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