Reconquista Timeline: Arab Conquest 711 – 754

Although raiders had crossed from Morocco for several years it was Tariq ibn Ziyad, in 711, that led the first major invasion force.


The Berber General Tariq ibn Ziyad took Tangier (Collins, 1983). Several Muslim expeditions raid across the straits into Spain, including a fairly large one led by a Berber called Tarif ibn Malluq.

Civil war between rival kings in Visigothic Spain; Achila in the north-east, and Roderic in the rest (Collins, 1983).

711 Transductine Promontories

Tariq ibn Ziyad invaded Spain with 7,000 Berber Infantry and 300 Arab Cavalry (Collins, 1983; Heath, 1980). King Roderic, who was campaigning against the Basques in the north Spain, headed south to face the new threat. Tariq’s army, reinforced by a further 5,000 Berber Infantry, defeated 24-30,000 Visigoths (King Roderic) including a large number of cavalry on the Wadi-laqqa (possibly either the Guadalete or Salado rivers) (20 Jul); this was called the battle of the Transductine Promontories by the Christians. The Visigothic wings (under Sisbert and Oppa, disaffected relatives of the previous King) deserted and the centre crumbled with heavy losses. Many Visigoths are killed in the 3 day pursuit, including Roderic. Subsequently all the Berbers are mounted on captured horses. Tariq went on to take Toledo while a detachment under Mugit al-Rumi took Cordoba.


10-18,000 Arabs and Syrians arrived in Spain (Heath, 1980).


First Muslim campaigns in the lower Ebro (Collins, 1983).

718 or 722 Covadonga

Austerians defeated Muslims at Covadonga (Collins, 1983).


Arab conquest of Barcelona and Narbonne (Collins, 1983).

721 Toulouse

A mixed force of Aquitanians and Franks (Duke Eudo) defeated an Arab army (al-Samah) near Toulouse (Collins, 1983; Heath, 1980). The Franks quickly surround and kill Al-Samah and most of his force for the loss of only 1,500 men. .


Muslim raid reached Autun in Francia (Collins, 1983).


The Berber leader Munnus rebelled in Cerdanya, but despite being allied with Duke Eudo of Aquitaine, the rebellion was suppressed (Collins, 1983).

732 Tours and Poitiers


An Arab Army (Abd al-Rahman al-Ghafiqi) defeated a Aquitanian force (Duke Eudo) on the Garonne near Bordeaux (Collins, 1983; Heath, 1980). The Arabs then set about pillaging Aquitaine.


Eudo rallied Frankish reinforcements (Charles Martel) who caught the Arab raiders near Poitiers (Collins, 1983; Heath, 1980). Abd al-Rahman covered the retreat of his baggage train for some days, but was eventually forced to stand and fight to protect the loot. In the subsequent battle, the Franks, fighting mainly as infantry, defended high ground against repeated Arab Cavalry attacks. Toward evening Eudo and his Aquitanian Nobles rode around the flank of the Arabs and started looting the baggage train. Some Arab Cavalry moved to defend the baggage but other units, believing the Cavalry are retiring, broke. Confusion spread and Abd al-Rahman was killed by Austrasian spearmen. The Arabs broke when they discovered they were leaderless and left the field. There was no Frankish pursuit. (Arab sources record this as a 2 day battle.)


Arabs take Avignon in the Rhone Valley (Collins, 1983).


Berber revolts occurred in Africa and Spain (Collins, 1983). Rebels in North Africa defeated a Syrian force and kill its commander (Kulthum).


The 10,000 survivors of Kulthum’s force arrived in Spain under a new leader (Talaba ibn Salama) (Collins, 1983; Heath, 1980). Talaba ibn Salama and the Jordanians settled in Cordoba, Seville got the Homs contingent, the Damascus contingent settled in Elvira, Qinnasrin in Jaen, and Palestine in Algeciras and Medina Sedonia. Civil war erupted between the Syrians and the Spanish Arabs the latter being supported by a contingent of African Arabs under abd al-Rahman ibn Habib.


Internal conflict continued in Al-Andalus (Collins, 1983).


Collins, R. (1983). Early Medieval Spain: Unity in Diversity, 400-1000 [2nd ed.]. NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Heath, I. (1980). Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 (2nd ed.). Wargames Research Group.

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