Reconquista Timeline: Fanatic Berbers 1086 – 1250

“Better to pasture camels than be a swine-herd” (Al-Mutamid of Seville)

With the Christians putting increasing pressure on the Muslims of the south, the Taifa kings were forced to call upon their Moroccan brethren for assistance. This wasn’t an easy decision but in the end each decided it was better than subjugation by the Christians.


In spring the Castilians besiege Zaragoza, but the siege is called off when the Murabitun land in the south (Kennedy, 1996).

In June the Murabitun advance guard – 500 men – take possession of Algeciras (Kennedy, 1996). The remaining 12-20,000 soon follow.

Castilians under Alvar Fañez install al-Qadir as Emir of Valencia (Kennedy, 1996).

Spain 1086 AD

Spain 1086 AD

Spain 1102 AD

Spain 1102 AD

1086 Sagrajas (Zallaqa)

Berber Warrior

At Sagrajas (Friday 23 Oct) north-east of Badajoz, the Murabitun (12,000 or 20,000 men) under Ibn Tashufin and Andalusians (including Kings of Seville, Granada, Malaga, and Badajoz) defeat a predominantly Leonese-Castilian army (possibly 50-60,000 men including Jews, Aragonese, Italian and French) under Alfonso VI (Heath, 1989; Kennedy, 1996; Livermore, 1966; Nicolle, 1988). The Andalusians encamp separately from the Murabitun. The Christian vanguard (Alvar Fañez) surprise the Andalusian camp before dawn; the men of Seville (Al-Mutamid) hold firm but the remaining Andalusians are chased off by the Aragonese cavalry. The Christian main body then attacks the Murabitun, but are held by the Lamtuma, and then withdraw to their own camp in response to an outflanking move by ibn Tashufin. The Aragonese return to the field, don’t like what they see, and start a withdraw which turns to a rout. The Andalusians rally, and the Muslims drive Alfonso to a small hill. Alfonso and 500 knights escape in the night to Toledo. Al-Mutamid proposes that the Christians are pursued and crushed, but Ibn Tashufin retires back to his African domains leaving only 3,000 troops to defend the east of Al-Andalus. Al-Mutamid and the Murabitun generals Sir ibn Abi Bakr and Dawud ibn Aisha are reported to have fought well during the battle. (Nicolle, 1988 and Livermore, 1996, call this battle Zakalla.)


Alfonso takes the fortress of Aledo in the territory of Murcia, blocking the route from Seville and Granada to the eastern provinces (Kennedy, 1996).

In May French crusaders enter Spain to fight the Murabitun but as the Berbers had already returned to Africa most of the crusaders also return home (Livermore, 1966).


Ibn Tashufin arrives back in Algeciras (May-Jun) and is joined by al-Mutamid of Seville and Abd Allah of Granada, plus support from Almeria and Murcia (but not the Emirs) (Kennedy, 1996). The combined army besieges Aledo for 4 months, but Ibn Tashufin returns to Africa unsuccessful.


Ibn Tashufin returns to the Peninsular for the third time, takes over the kingdoms of Granada and Malaga in September and is back in Africa by the end of the year (Kennedy, 1996). However, this time his nephew Sir ibn Abi Bakr is left to continue the conquest.

Between 30 April and 8 May Christian troops enter Santarem, Lisbon and Sintra (Livermore, 1966). These were recently ceded by the Al-Mutawwakil of Badajoz in return for protection from the Murabitun.


Murabitun (Muhammad ibn al-Hajj) take Cordoba and the Guadalquivir valley early in the year, and then defeat a Castilian force under Alva Fañez who were attempting to aid Al-Mutamid of Seville (Kennedy, 1996). In September Seville surrenders without much of a fight to Sir ibn Abi Bakr. Subsequently other Murabitun armies take Aledo and Almeria. Ronda also falls and the Murabitun commander Garur executes al-Radi (the son al-Mutamid of Seville).


With El Cid away in Zaragoza, the Valencians under the qadi Ibn Jahhaf and supported by a small Murabitun force, drive the Castilian garrison out and execute their Emir al-Qadir (Kennedy, 1996). Ibn Jahhaf promptly sets himself up at Emir and starts negotiating with both El Cid and the Murabitun.


An Murabitun army (Abu Bakr ibn Ibrahiim) approaches Valencia but then retreats without striking a blow (Kennedy, 1996).


Murabitun (Sir ibn Abi Bakr) take Badajoz and Lisbon (Kennedy, 1996; Livermore, 1966).

El Cid reduces Valencia by siege (May) (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). El Cid then defeats a Murabitun army (Muhammad ibn Ibrahim) in a daring night-time attack. The Murabitun retreat to Jativa and El Cid executes Ibn Jahhaf.


Murabitun take Santarem (Livermore, 1966).


El Cid defeats Murabitun (Ali ibn al-Hajj) at Bairen south of Valencia (Kennedy, 1996).

Murabitun (Muhammad ibn al-Hajj) defeat Castilians (Alfonso VI) at Consuegra (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). El Cid’s son, Diego, is one of the dead.

Portugal recognised as autonomous (Nicolle, 1988).

Murabitun (Muhammad ibn Aisha) defeat Castilians (Alva Fañez) at Cuenca before ravaging the lands of Valencia (Kennedy, 1996).


Murabitun besiege El Cid’s Valencia (Nicolle, 1988).

El Cid dies (10 Jul) in Valencia (Kennedy, 1996).


Diego Gemírez, Bishop of Santiago, uses force to carry off the relics of St Victor and St Frucuosus from Braga – recently reinstated as a metropolitan see (Livermore, 1966).

Christians evacuate Valencia in April-May (Kennedy, 1996). Murabitun (Mazdali, presumably ibn Tilankan; Muhammad ibn Fatima) occupy the city.

Of the Taifa states only Zaragoza, Mallorca and Albarracin remain independent.


Ali, the brother of the Murabitun governor of Granada, Muhammad ibn al-Hajj, is killed in battle with the Castilians near Talavera (Kennedy, 1996).


Yusuf ibn Tashfin dies (2 Sep) and his son, Ali, takes over the Murabitun empire (Kennedy, 1996).

1108 Uclés

Murabitun (under Tamim ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the brother of the ruler; another general is Muhammad ibn Fatima, the grandson of Sir ibn Abi Bakr) take the small town of Uclés to the east of Toledo, but a ridge top fortress holds out (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). Alfonso VI sends a relieving army under Alvar Fañez. The Murabitun decisely beat the Castilians and many leaders are killed, including Sancho, Alfonso’s only son and heir. Subsequently, the Murabitun pretend to withdraw then launch a successful surprise attack on the castle. As a result the Christians abandon Cuenca and Huete. (Livermore, 1966, mentions the Count Henry of Portugal being involved).


Alfonso VI dies (end of Jun) (Kennedy, 1996).

Murabitun (Tamim ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin) storm Talavera on the Tagus to the west of Toledo (14 Aug) (Kennedy, 1996). The country to the north and south of Toledo is ravaged and the city unsuccessfully besieged for a month. Alvar Fañez leads the defence. Kennedy says Emir Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin joined this year’s Jihad but doesn’t mention him in the actions.


Al-Mustain of Zaragoza leads an expedition against the Christians, but is killed at Valtierra (Kennedy, 1996). His son, Imad al-Din fails to establish his rule and the Murabitun (ibn al-Hajj) march in (30 May) (Nicolle, 1988).

At Candespina (Oct) Alfonso the Battler of Aragon defeats the Castilian supporters of his wife Urraca and the Castilian candidate for the throne, Alfonso VII Raimúndez (Livermore, 1996).

Henry of Portugal unsuccessfully besieges Alfonso the Battler in Peñafiel (Livermore, 1996).


Murabitun (Sir ibn Abi Bakr) occupy Lisbon and Santarem in the west (Kennedy, 1996). As Kennedy, supported by Livermore (1966), also says these cities were occupied by the Murabitun in 1094-95 this suggests a fluctuating border in Portugal.


By this time the Aragonese have taken Huesca (Kennedy, 1996).

Murabitun (ibn al-Hajj) raid into Aragonese territory and reach the foothills of the Pyrenees (Kennedy, 1996).


A major Murabitun expedition (ibn al-Hajj from Zaragoza and Ibn Aisha of Valencia) raids into Catalonia (Kennedy, 1996). The army ravages Christian territory but is ambushed on its return and both Murabitun generals are killed.

The Catalans under Count Ramon Berengar III take over the Balearic Islands upon the death of Emir Mubashir ibn Sulayman of Mallorca.


The new Murabitun governor of Zaragoza, Abu Bakr ibn Ibrahim ibn Tifilwit, lays siege to Barcelona for 20 days (Kennedy, 1996). The Murabitun withdraw when Count Ramon Berengar III returns from Mallorca.

The Murabitun fleet takes the Balearic Islands (Kennedy, 1996).

The Murabitun general and governor of Granada Mazdali ibn Tilankan dies in battle this year, although I’m not sure where (Kennedy, 1996). He lead expeditions against the Christians from 1111 so might have lead a separate expedition to those of the Abu Bakr and the fleet. His son, Muhammad the governor of Cordoba, also dies in battle this year (against the Castilians), so it may have been the same expedition.


Murabitun under Emir Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin himself take Coimbra, but abandon the city after a few days (Kennedy, 1996).


Aragonese (Alfonso I the Battler) seize Zaragoza and most of the central lands of the Ebro (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). The siege of Zaragoza lasts from 22 May to 18 December. The garrison has 20 mangonels and is supported by a determined militia. As a result of a plea for help of 3 December the Murabitun governor of Valencia sends a relief force, but this is too small to help. Lerida only remains in Muslim hands because it is tributary to Barcelona.


The Aragonese (Alfonso I the Battler) decisively defeat an Murabitun army including many Andalusian volunteers at Cutanda (summer) (Kennedy, 1996).


Aragonese take Calatayud (Kennedy, 1996)

The Cordobans rebel against the Murabitun, and drive the governor and his troops from the city (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). The Emir Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin leads an army from Africa to suppress the rebellion. The Murabitun besiege the city from, and persuade the Cordobans to lay down their arms.


Aragonese take Daroca (Kennedy, 1996)


In September, Alfonso I the Battler of Aragon sets out south with an army of 4,000 knights (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988). He travels down the east coat, bypasses the cities and ravages the countryside. He reaches Guadix unopposed in December.


The Aragonese (Alfonso I the Battler) defeat the Murabitun at Arinzul near Lucena (Kennedy, 1996). After symbolically fishing at Motril on the south coast, Alfonso returns home undefeated.


Leon invades Portugal (Nicolle, 1988).


The Aragonese (Alfonso I the Battler) defeat an Murabitun army (Ali ibn Majjuz, the governor of Seville) deep inside Valencian territory (Kennedy, 1996). This is probably at Cullera or Alcala near Alcira. The Murabitun army includes many black slaves.


Tashfin ibn Ali ibn Yusuf (the son of the Murabitun Emir) takes the castle of Aceca south of Toledo (Kennedy, 1996).

Murabitun (Governor of Valencia) defeat invading Aragonese and kill Gaston de Bearn (of First Crusade fame) (Kennedy 1996).


The Christian militia of Toledo reach the gates of Seville and kill the Murabitun governor (Abu Hafs Umar ibn Ali ibn al-Hajj) (Kennedy, 1996). Further damage is averted by the intervention of Tashfin ibn Ali ibn Yusuf.


Murabitun (Tashfin ibn Ali ibn Yusuf) raid in Caceres area (Kennedy, 1996).

Aragonese (Alfonso I the Battler) besiege the small town of Fraga (Kennedy, 1996). An Murabitun relief army (Yahya ibn Ali ibn Ghaniya) defeats the overconfident Aragonese, and furthermore the besiegers camp is destroyed by a sally of the garrison. Alfonso is severely wounded and dies soon after. (Nicolle, 1988, says Alfonso is ambushed while raiding Lerida.)


King of Leon recognised as overlord of Navarre and Aragon (Nicolle, 1988).


Murabitun (Yahya ibn Ali ibn Ghaniya; Sad ibn Mardanish) reconquer Mequinenza on the lower Ebro (Kennedy, 1996).


Union of Kingdom of Aragon and Counties of Catalonia (Kennedy, 1996).

Murabitun (Tashfin ibn Ali ibn Yusuf) defeat the Castilians near Alcazar de San Juan and sack the castle at Escalona north of the Tagus (Kennedy, 1996).

1139 Ourique

Portuguese (under Count Alfonso who later became King) defeat Murabitun at Ourique (Livermore, 1934; Nicolle, 1988).


Portugal becomes a Kingdom (Kennedy, 1996; Nicolle, 1988).


The Muridun (“Disciples”) under Abul-Qasim Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Qasi rebel in the Algarve (Kennedy, 1996). Ibn al-Mundhir takes Silves in his name and the governor of Beja, Sidray ibn Wazir, also supports him. Ibn al-Mundhir and ibn Wazir kill the garrison of Monchique castle, and 70 men take Mertola by surprise (12 Aug). Soon after the Andalusian governor of Niebla, Yusuf ibn Ahmad al-Bitruji declares for the Muridun. The Murabitun Yahya ibn Ali ibn Ghaniya drives the Muridun back from Seville, and subsequently Sidray ibn Wazir splits off from the other Muridun.


The Cordovans evict the Murabitun governor at the beginning of the year and raise up Hamdin ibn Huhammad ibn Hamdin as Emir (Kennedy, 1996). A Zaragozan adventurer in Castlian employ (Sayf al-Dawla ibn Hud al-Mustansir) briefly seizes power from ibn Hamdin in March but flees to the Levante due to popular hostility. Ibn Hamdin returns to power but is soon dispossessed by the Murabitun (Yahya ibn Ali ibn Ghaniya).

In March the Andalusian Jund in Valencia raise up the qadi Marwan ibn Abd al-Aziz as Emir (Kennedy, 1996). When he can’t pay them they replace him with their own leader Ibn Iyad (Nov).


Al-Mustansir accepts the crowns of Valencia and Murcia from the hands of Ibn Iyad (Kennedy, 1996).

The Christians defeat the Valencians (Al-Mustansir) near Albacete (5 Feb) killing Al-Mustansir in the process (Kennedy, 1996). Ibn Iyad reassumes the title of Emir.

Ibn Iyad dies in a obscure conflict (Aug) and Muhammad ibn Sad ibn Mardanish becomes ruler (Kennedy, 1996).


Alfonso VII of Leon-Castile takes Calatrava (Jan) (kennedy, 1996).

Portuguese (Afonso Enriquez) take Santarem in a surprise attack (Mar) (Kennedy, 1996).

A international Christian coalition attacks Almeria by land and sea (Kennedy, 1996). Alfonso VII of Leon-Castile and Sancho Ramirez IV of Navarre march overland taking Andujar and Baeza en route. Ramon Berengar IV of Aragon-Catalonia and a Genoese naval contingent join them at Almeria – there is no opposition from the Murabitun fleet. The city falls on 17 Oct and is given to the Genoese.

Portuguese (Afonso Enriquez) and northern European crusaders (Cologne, Flanders, England) take Lisbon (24 Oct) (Kennedy, 1996; but Nicolle, 1988, only mentions the Portuguese and English).


Almohads take Seville (Kennedy, 1996; but Nicolle, 1988, says 1147).

Aragonese take Tortosa (Kennedy, 1996).


Aragonese take Lerida and Fraga (Kennedy, 1996).


After some years of negotiating with the Almohads ibn Qasi, head of one branch of the Muridun in the Algarve, changes his mind and decides to hand over Silves to the Christians (Kennedy, 1996). He is murdered by the townspeople (Aug/Sep) and his colleague Ibn al-Mundhir hands the city over the Almohads instead.


Almohads take Granada from Murabitun (Kennedy, 1996).


Almohads take Almeria from Genoese (Kennedy, 1996).


Union of Aragon and Catalonia (Nicolle, 1988).


Intermittent war between Leon and Castile (Nicolle, 1988).


Almohads capture Murcia (Nicolle, 1988).

Almohads take over Valencia when ibn Mardanish dies (Kennedy, 1996).


Castile and Aragon agree future partition of Al-Andalus (Nicolle, 1988).

1184 Santarem

Christians defeat Almohads at Santarem (Nicolle, 1988).

19 July 1195 Alarcos

A large Almohads army (Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur) defeats a much smaller Castilian force (perhaps 20-25,000) at Alarcos (Heath, 1989; Nicolle, 1988). The Almohad army has a Black Guard and a small force of the Beni Merin. The 8,000 Christian cavalry smash through the Muslim front rank, but are surrounded and decimated by the second rank. Alfonso’s reserve is not strong enough to recover the situation, and the survivors flee, the lucky ones including Alfonso to the castle of Guadalherza, and the unlucky ones to Alarcos which subsequently falls to the Almohads.


Almohads conquer Mallorca from Murabitun (Nicolle, 1988).

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa 1212 AD

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
1212 AD

Arms of Navarra

1212 Las Navas de Tolosa

Christians defeat Almohads (Caliph Mohammed abu abd-Allah) at Las Navas de Tolosa (Heathy, 1989; Nicolle, 1988). The Christians had 60-100,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, and had troops from Western Europe, Castile, Navarre, Aragon and Portugal, Military Orders (Templars, Hospitallers, Santiago, Cavatrava), and urban Militia. The Almohads reportedly had 460-600,000 men, including 100-185,000 cavalry and 10-30,000 Black guards. The Almohads tried to hold the line of the Sierra Morena, but a shepherd led the Christians through the mountains. After a 2 day stalemate the Christian cavalry vanguard attack the the Muslims, but are repulsed with heavy losses. The Andalusians of the Muslim centre and the Mauritanians of the right counterattack, but are contained by the Christian infantry (including the Military Orders). The Andalusians withdraw from the field. The Christian reserve reinforces both wings, and subsequently the Muslim left flank is destroyed. The Christian right under King Sancho of Navarre attack the Muslim infantry and Negro Guards entrenched around the Caliph’s tent, and after a hard fight overwhelm them. Mohammed escapes, but Almohad losses are very high.

In consequence of this battle King Sancho of Navarre adopts the chains and emerald emblem.


Aragon captures Mallorca (Nicolle, 1988).


Final reunion of Leon and Castile (Nicolle, 1988).


Castile defeats Granada at Jerez (Nicolle, 1988).


Castile captures Cordoba (Nicolle, 1988). Castilian forces include urban militia.


Portugal captures Algarve (Nicolle, 1988).


Aragon captures Valencia (Nicolle, 1988). Aragonese forces include urban militia.


Muslim troubles start in Valencia (Nicolle, 1988).


Muslim revolt in Valencia (Nicolle, 1988).


The Muslim rebels in Valencia retreat into the the territory controlled by the mudejar (tamed) lord Azraq who holds 8 castles in the Alcala valley (Nicolle, 1988). They seize more castles, continue a successful guerilla war.


Castle captures Seville (Nicolle, 1988). Castilian forces include urban militia.

Nasrid dynasty founded in Granada (Nicolle, 1988).


The Muslim rebels crush a major Christian offensive under King James around 1249, and almost capture the King (Nicolle, 1988).


Fighting flares up between the Valencia rebels and the Aragonese ((Nicolle, 1988).


King James takes al-Azraq’s main citidel and suppresses the Valencian rebellion ((Nicolle, 1988).

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