The Chronicles of Al-Andalus (Chapter I)

What would the world be like if the Muslims overran Europe in the 8th century? This is an alternate history of Al-Andalus and how the Reconquista never occurred.

Isidro de Beja (Isidorus Pacensis) recalls the arrival of the large Moorish army that invaded his homeland. In the confines of a small, remote monastery in the Muslim-ruled Hispania, he writes his chronicles of how his homeland fell apart because of the discord among the local elites and opportunity seized by the growing Umayyad Caliphate to conquer the region.

It was during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I of Damascus that his large Moorish army led by the famous Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and made landfall in 711. With 400 men and 100 horses, they made initial landings in the isle of Tarifa, where Gibraltar was named after him. The Umayyad governor of North Africa Musa ibn Nusair, who was encouraged by the dynastic rift within the Visigothic kingdom, sent ibn Ziyad to Hispania.

A year before, Ibn Ziyad captured Tangier in 710 while several Muslim expeditions raid across the straits into Hispania Baetica (modern Andalusia), including a fairly large one led by a Berber called Tarif ibn Malluk. Meanwhile, a civil war was raging that pitted rival kings.

Though scouts have already seen the approaching ships going to land in the southern beaches of Jebel Tariq, they were all stunned by the large contingent of Berber and Jewish and Christian mercenaries as well. Ibn Ziyad consolidated his army in preparation for a showdown with the Visigothic army of King Roderic. It will be a matter of time as the clash of culture will change course of history of kingdoms contrasted by religion, race, and ideals.

Upon landing, ibn Ziyad ordered all ships to be burned and made a speech that stirred his men to victory after victory against their enemies in the months ahead. He said:

Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy. Remember that in this country you are more unfortunate than the orphan seated at the table of the avaricious master. Your enemy is before you, protected by an innumerable army; he has men in abundance, but you, as your only aid, have your own swords, and, as your only chance for life, such chance as you can snatch from the hands of your enemy. If the absolute want to which you are reduced is prolonged ever so little, if you delay to seize immediate success, your good fortune will vanish, and your enemies, whom your very presence has filled with fear, will take courage. Put far from you the disgrace from which you flee in dreams, and attack this monarch who has left his strongly fortified city to meet you. Here is a splendid opportunity to defeat him, if you will consent to expose yourselves freely to death. Do not believe that I desire to incite you to face dangers which I shall refuse to share with you. In the attack I myself will be in the fore, where the chance of life is always least.

Remember that if you suffer a few moments in patience, you will afterward enjoy supreme delight. Do not imagine that your fate can be separated from mine, and rest assured that if you fall, I shall perish with you, or avenge you. You have heard that in this country there are a large number of ravishingly beautiful Greek maidens, their graceful forms are draped in sumptuous gowns on which gleam pearls, coral, and purest gold, and they live in the palaces of royal kings. The Commander of True Believers, Alwalid, son of Abdalmelik, has chosen you for this attack from among all his Arab warriors; and he promises that you shall become his comrades and shall hold the rank of kings in this country. Such is his confidence in your intrepidity. The one fruit which he desires to obtain from your bravery is that the word of God shall be exalted in this country, and that the true religion shall be established here. The spoils will belong to yourselves.

Remember that I place myself in the front of this glorious charge which I exhort you to make. At the moment when the two armies meet hand to hand, you will see me, never doubt it, seeking out this Roderick, tyrant of his people, challenging him to combat, if God is willing. If I perish after this, I will have had at least the satisfaction of delivering you, and you will easily find among you an experienced hero, to whom you can confidently give the task of directing you. But should I fall before I reach to Roderick, redouble your ardor, force yourselves to the attack and achieve the conquest of this country, in depriving him of life. With him dead, his soldiers will no longer defy you.

Ibn Ziyad's army against the Visigoths

A modest army of about 15,000 men crossed the straits with their ships mistaken as trading vessels. They were later joined by the 12000-man army of Julian, Conde de Ceuta. The count has an old score to settle with Roderic. As the armies prepare for the eventual showdown with the Visigoths, all seems quiet in Roderic’s camp.

Its just a matter of time before the fate of the world will be judged and all roads are pointed towards Guadalete.

This entry was published on July 22, 2010 at 3:49 am. It’s filed under Alternate History, History, Military History, War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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