Reinterpreting the Conquest: 9th-13th Century Portrayals of Andalusi History
In 711 CE, a Muslim army led by Ṭāriq ibn Ziyād crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and conquered much of the Iberian Peninsula (known in Arabic as al-Andalus). Beginning in the 9th century, Muslim authors began to record stories about the conquest. As time went on, these stories were interpreted and re-interpreted by authors who used the conquest as a mirror for their contemporary concerns. In this dissertation, I take a diachronic approach to the conquest stories and examine how Muslim authors from the 9th-13th century wrote about the conquest. How did authors represent the conquest of al-Andalus, and in what ways did these representations change over time? How did these changes reflect the shifting importance of the Andalusi past? To answer these questions, I analyze four case studies: the landscape of the conquest (JabalṬāriq and the Strait of Gibraltar), Ṭāriq ibn Ziyād’s changing ethnicity, the story of the pre-Islamic king Ishbān, and conquest accounts’ descriptions of Visigothic Christians. I conclude that although changes in the conquest accounts occurred regularly, we can identify certain historical “turning points” during which the conquest was subjected to more intense focus by Muslim authors and historians. These periods include the 10th century, which saw the establishment of the Andalusi Umayyad caliphate, and the late 11th/early 12th century, during which the political integrity of the Islamic world was threatened by Christian advances in Iberia and the Levant. Above all, this dissertation demonstrates that the conquest remained relevant to Muslim authors centuries after it had occurred. Rather than remaining a relic of the past, stories about the conquest were increasingly important as a way for authors to reflect on their contemporary concerns.
al-Andalus; Ishban; Islamic conquest; Islamic Spain; Tariq ibn Ziyad
Powers, David Stephan; Haines-Eitzen, Kim
Near Eastern Studies
Ph. D., Near Eastern Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis