spain arabs conquest arab rule christians
SECTION III. - MEDIEVAL HISTORY.
The The Arab invasion of Spain had been intended by Miiszt, Arab thegovernor of Africa, to be merely a plundering raid invasion.
(compare MOHAMMEDANISINI, vol. xvi. p. 573). A single For the West-Gothic kingdom in Spain, Gibbon's Decline and Fall should be consulted, chapters 31, 36, 37, 38, 41, 51. In note 122 (ch. 38) he remarks on the obscurity of the subject, Spain having had during this period no chronicler like Bede for the Saxons or Gregory of Tours for the Franks. As to the West-Gothic laws, there is a good deal of easily accessible information in Gnizot's History of Civilization, lectures 3, 6, 10, 11. Compare ROMAN Law, vol. xx. p. 712, and SALIO LAW, VOL xxi. p. 216, section (11).
unexpected success turned it into a conquest. Taritc had already made himself master of Cordova and Toledo when Miisa arrived from Africa and rewarded his too successful lieutenant by consigning him to prison. But his military ability was too valuable to be dispensed with, and he was speedily released to aid in completing the conquest. Within four years the whole Peninsula, except the mountainous districts in the north, had submitted to the invaders. It was now Milsa's turn to suffer from the jealousy of his superior. Recalled to Damascus by Walid, he arrived just after the caliph's death, and at once fell under the displeasure of his successor Suleiman. His sons, who had been left to rule in Spain, were involved in his disgrace, and the father died broken-hearted on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Few things in history are more remarkable than the Causes ease with which Spain, a country naturally fitted for of its defence, was subdued by a mere handful of invaders. success. The usual causes assigned are the misgovernment of the Visigoths, the excessive influence enjoyed by the clerical caste, internal factions and jealousies, and the discontent of numerous classes, and especially of the Jews. All of these doubtless co-operated to facilitate the conquest and to weaken the power of resistance, but the real cause is to be sought in the fact that the Visigoths had never really amalgamated with the conquered population. The mass of the inhabitants regarded their rulers as aliens, and had no reason to resent a change of masters. This feeling was strengthened by the conduct of their new conquerors. The Arab invasion undoubtedly brought with it considerable bloodshed and destruction of property, but it was merciful when compared with the previous inroads of the German tribes, and in the end it proved a blessing rather than a curse to the country. To all who submitted the Arabs left their laws and customs, and allowed them to be administered by their own officials. The cultivation of the fields was left to the natives, and the overthrow of the privileged classes gave rise to a system of small holdings or properties, which was one of the causes of the flourishing condition of agriculture under Arab rule. The slaves found their lot much improved under a religion which taught that the enfranchisement of a slave was a meritorious action. The Jews, as they had suffered most under the Visigoths, were the chief gainers from a conquest which they had greatly contributed to bring about.
But nothing was so influential in securing ready submission Toler-to the Arabs as their tolerance in religious matters. Even an"- the most bigoted adherents of Islam found a practical check to their zeal for proselytism in the loss that would accrue to the exchequer. The Christians had to pay a poll-tax, which varied according to the class to which they belonged. All property was subject to the khar4j, a tax proportioned to the produce of the soil, but converts to Mohammedanism were excused from the poll-tax. A clerical chronicler of the 8th century, while bewailing the subjection of Spain to an alien race, says nothing against the conquerors as the professors of a hostile religion. His silence is an eloquent testimony to the haughty tolerance of the Arabs.
As time went ou, and the Arabs felt more secure in their position, their rule became not unnaturally harsher. Many of the treaties which had secured favourable terms to the conquered were broken, and the Christians were provoked to resistance by persecution. A notable instance of this was the edict making circumcision compulsory for Christians as well as Moslems. Greater hardships still were endured by the " renegades," most of whom had embraced Mohammedanism from a desire for safety or for temporal gain, and who found that return to the old faith was blocked both to themselves and to their children by the law which punished a perverted iiussulman with death. At the same time their social position was intolerable, and they were excluded from all lucrative offices and from all share in the government. Their discontent led to numerous and stubborn rebellions, but they belong to a later period, and in the 8th century the chroniclers record only a single rising, that of the Christians of Beja, and they seem to have been merely the tools of an ambitious Arab chieftain.
Moham- It was fortunate for the Arabs that they succeeded at medan first in conciliating the natives, as otherwise their rule in discords. the Peninsula would have been short-lived. Internal discord offered the Christians an easy opportunity for successful revolt if they had chosen to avail themselves of it. The conquerors were united by religion but not by race. When the task of conquest was achieved, and the need for unity was removed by the submission of the vast majority of the natives, quarrels arose between the various races which had taken part in the invasion. Besides the Arabs proper, who regarded themselves as the true conquering race, there were Berbers or Moors, Egyptians, and Syrians. So difficult was it to prevent their quarrels that it was found necessary to subdivide the conquered territory and to allot separate settlements to the different tribes, a measure which only tended to perpetuate their differences. Matters were made worse by the constant efforts of ambitious chieftains to raise themselves to power or to ruin their more successful equals. The first forty years of Arab rule in Spain are a period of woeful confusion, and it is difficult even to enumerate the names of the emirs who followed each other in rapid succession. The great empire of the Arabs began to fall to pieces as soon as it had reached its greatest extent. A movement whose end was conquest began to fail directly it ceased to conquer. The overthrow of the Omayyad dynasty by the Abbasids was a proof that disorder prevailed at the centre. The extremities inevitably displayed the same symptoms. Each new caliph sent a fresh emir to Spain ; the governor of Africa claimed to interfere in the affairs of a province which had been conquered by one of his predecessors ; and the native chiefs were often unwilling to submit to a new ruler whose arrival was the result of a revolution in which they had no share and which they would have prevented if they could. A capable and energetic governor, confronted with internal dissension and always dreading the arrival of a successor to supersede him; could only devise one way of solving the problem. The Arabs were unable to live at peace, and the one means of preventing them from warring with each other was to find them new lands to conquer. Hence came the frequent invasions of Gaul, now ruled by the degenerate Merwings, which resulted in the conquest of the provinces of Septimania, and Narbonne, and at one time threatened to subject the whole of western Europe to the successor of Mohammed. But the battles of Toulouse (721) and of Tours (732) checked the advance of the Moslems, and by 759 they had been compelled to retire from all possessions beyond the Pyrenees. Thus thrown back upon the peninsula, it seemed probable that their empire in Spain would speedily succumb to the disruptive forces which had no longer any external outlet.