It is difficult to determine in detail exactly what happened in Hispania during the crucial years after 700, for little direct source material has survived. Though the Visigothic aristocracy had achieved a degree of fusion with Hispanic society and had secured its dominance as a warrior caste, much of it was corrupted by wealth and power and it had at best a very feeble sense of political legitimacy. The Visigothic monarchy had failed to build stable institutions, successful means for transmitting power, or a stable and loyal elite behind the throne. Strife between rival pretenders and their supporters persisted throughout the history of Visigothic Hispania. Leovigild, the strongest of its rulers, had himself to face a five-year revolt by his son. Ratification of the elective, as opposed to the hereditary, right by the councils of Toledo in the seventh century sustained Visigothic law but guaranteed endemic civil war. It was not uncommon for factions to accept and encourage foreign intervention on their behalf. In part because of this, Byzantium had been able to control much of southern Hispania for approximately seventy years, from the mid-sixth century down to the third decade of the seventh century, and the Frankish monarchy intervened actively on several occasions in the seventh century. The quick and easy Muslim takeover is understandable only in terms of this persistent failure of political institutions, the accepted custom of foreign intervention, and the apathy or submissiveness of most of the  Hispanic lower classes, accustomed to nearly a millennium of rule by outsiders, first by the Romans, then by the Visigoths.
During the latter part of the seventh century the main antagonism was
between the descendants of Chindaswinth (642-653) and those of a subsequent
ruler, Witiza (702-710). Supporters of Witiza's clan rused to accept the
election of a rival candidate, Roderic, in 710, and sought assistance from
the newly established Muslim overlords of North Africa. The Visigothic
dissidents obviously failed to appreciate the dynamism and integrative
potential of the Islamic culture that had swept out of Arabia only a few
generations earlier. Their miscalculation was probably due in part to the
considerable difficulty encountered by the Muslims in subduing the Berber
Kabyles of the Maghreb during the preceding half-century. The latter, like
the Hispanic tribes confronting the Romans, had put up a more determined
resistance than had most of the more civilized regions farther east. The
conquest of the Maghreb had taken nearly forty years, and was nominally
completed only in 705-710.
After a small exploratory raid, the Muslim commander of Tangier, Tariq, led a force of perhaps no more than 12,000 men, mostly Berbers from northern Morocco, across the straits in 711. Their goals were apparently ambiguous at first. The intervention was organized at the behest of the Witizan clan; the invaders probably hoped at the least to win booty and to exert some degree of Muslim influence in Hispania, possibly to make it a client state of the Arab caliphate.
However, discovery of the hollowness of Visigothic power, both crown and oligarchy, coupled with a swift and decisive victory, expanded Muslim ambition. At that moment Roderic was engaged in trying to subdue Basque and Visigothic rebels in the northeast. He hurriedly marched south, where the invaders awaited him in July 711 at the Guadalete, a small stream in the extreme southern tip of Spain. There the Witizans arranged the withdrawal of the bulk of Roderic's forces; the outnumbered remainder resisted stubbornly but were destroyed. Roderic was killed, and the remnants of his army were shattered near Ecija, where they made a desperate attempt to bar the road to the north. Córdoba, demoralized and almost undefended, was quickly taken. Roderic's supporters in the Visigothic capital, Toledo, were then overthrown by the Witizans, who opened the gates to Tariq.
Civil war was at first even more debilitating to the Visigothic kingdom than the foreign invasion. By 712 the kingdom lay divided and virtually leaderless, its central military elite destroyed. Consequently the Arab governor of northwest Africa, Musa ibn Nusair, personally led a force larger than the first, some 18,000--a high proportion of them the best Arab warriors--in the second wave of  invasion. Muslim armies had perfected a swift, flexible, hard-hitting style of battle that proved extremely difficult for Visigothic levies to cope with. Seville, the largest city in the peninsula and center of Hispano-Roman culture, fell easily after a short siege. The remaining elements of the Roderician faction withdrew to Mérida, which withstood a long siege but finally fell on June 30, 713. Much of the Visigothic aristocracy resisted little or not at all. Theodemir, duke of the Cartagena district in the southeast, made a treaty allowing him to retain control of his territory so long as the inhabitants paid regular taxes to the Muslim command. The spring and summer of 714 were then devoted to subduing the heavily populated northeast. Zaragoza was conquered and many of its aristocrats put to the sword. Nearly all the territory northeast of Zaragoza was rendered tributary, after which the main Muslim column apparently marched westward across north-central Hispania before returning southward.
The Muslim "conquest" took only three years, but the Muslims in fact made no effort to conquer and occupy the entire peninsula. That would have been impossible for an army of no more than 30,000 to 40,000 men. They occupied directly only the main strongholds of south-central and northeastern Hispania, the old centers of Roman civilization. The old Suevic district in Portucale to the west and Galicia to the northwest were rendered tributary but not occupied. The Witizan clan served as clients of the Muslims, who could in a sense present themselves as the protagonists of a legitimist cause. During the first generation of occupation, three thousand estates from the royal domain were bestowed on the Witizans.
The Muslims were concerned first with booty and secondly with the prosecution of the jihad--the holy war to extend Islamic dominion ever farther afield. By 720 an expedition had crossed the Pyrenees and seized Narbonne, and this was followed for the next twenty years by intermittent onslaughts into France. Conquest beyond the Pyrenees was the major new concern of the overlords of "Al-Andalus" (literally "land of the Vandals"), as the Muslims called their new peninsular domain. Between 721 and 732 three governors of Al-Andalus were killed leading expeditions into France, the last expedition culminating in a major defeat by the Frankish army at Poitiers in 732. This did not put an end to the Muslim offensives, however, for the Muslims were further encouraged by internal strife in southern France. The Gallo-Roman inhabitants of Provence stubbornly resisted domination by the Frankish monarchy to the north and summoned Muslim forces to their aid in 735. Two expeditions were dispatched into Provence during the next three years, but the expansion of Frankish military power threw the Muslims on the defensive,  and they were barely able to retain a foothold in Septimania immediately northeast of the Pyrenees.
The relative ease with which Muslim domination was established over most of the peninsula can be explained by the fact that only some of the Visigoths resisted, and almost none of the rest of the population. Religious antagonism caused surprisingly little difficulty. Early Islam, despite its emphasis on the jihad, was comparatively tolerant of Christians and Jews as "peoples of the book." Moreover, there was little sense of racial antipathy; the majority of the first wave of invaders were not even Arabs, but Berbers who differed little in appearance from the Hispanic people. Some of these Berbers were themselves not yet fully assimilated into Islam. (For that matter, the Berbers of northwest Africa were not effectively converted until after the adoption of the local Kharijite doctrines in the eighth century.)
The Muslim invaders were greedy for land and booty, but the main targets of their rapaciousness were the Visigothic aristocrats who resisted them. To most of the population the conquest was represented as a liberation. Christians were promised free practice of their religion and in some cases greater social and economic justice as well. The rights of the minority of Hispanic smallholders were apparently respected. Though Christians were required to pay a special tribute, it was at first modest. In all, exactions were perhaps no greater than under the Visigoths. For more than a century, the Christians in the towns were permitted to live a semi-autonomous local existence, and in some cases shared their churches with Islamic worshippers.
People began to accept conversion to Islam almost immediately, in large numbers. The process went forward most rapidly in the population centers of the south and east, and in the meantime practically all the collaborationists among the Visigothic aristocracy embraced the Muslim religion. It is sometimes alleged that the rapid and comparatively facile Islamization of most of the peninsula was the result of the corruption and inattentiveness of the Hispanic church and the lack of piety and orthodoxy among the Visigothic aristocracy. In fact, it is difficult to demonstrate that the Hispanic church was significantly weaker than others of Latin Christendom or that the Visigothic nobles were appreciably less religious than their Frankish counterparts. Rather, Islamization probably stemmed primarily from the complete military and political defeat of the Catholic Visigothic state and from the prestige of the dynamic Muslim empire and its all-conquering armies. At first Islamic overlords did not encourage mass conversion, because it reduced the number of non-Muslims who paid heavier taxes, but once the Muslim authorities were firmly established in power many Christians converted simply to be on the dominant side,  escape special taxes, and gain greater economic opportunity. It has also been suggested that a portion of the enserfed sector of the peasantry accepted Islam to be freed of their servitude. Moreover, it is doubtful that many ordinary people perceived the great religious gulf between Christianity and Islam that has subsequently been taken for granted. Rather than as the antithesis to Christianity, many probably saw it as a mere variant of simplification. Finally, according to a later claim of Muslim chroniclers, some Visigothic aristocrats were attracted by the opportunity under Islamic law for polygamy and legal concubinage.
The third religious group in the peninsula, the Jews, who may have numbered 2 or 3 percent of the population, eagerly collaborated with the Muslims. Hispanic Jews had achieved considerable wealth under the Visigoths but were subjected to intermittent persecution. Muslim rule promised greater freedom and security. Jews sometimes assisted the Muslims, and a detachment of Jewish soldiers (perhaps related to Hispano-Jews exiled to the Maghreb) accompanied the invaders. Several important cities were given to Jewish leaders to govern temporarily after the Muslims took over. During the next three centuries Jewish financial and cultural influence expanded in southern and south-central Hispania. Because of their unique position, and also because of their linguistic skills, Jews served for generations as mediators between sectors of the Muslim and Christian populations.
The Arabs, who formed a minority among the mostly Berber invaders, assumed
the place of privilege from the beginning and began to set themselves up
as a landed Muslim neo-aristocracy. Urban life in the peninsula, too, attracted
many. Entering at a higher cultural level than had the Visigoths three
centuries earlier, they formed an urban elite, and though at first only
a small minority in the Hispano-Christian cities, sank deeper cultural
and economic roots and helped expand the influence of Islam in the cities
rapidly. The Berber warriors, the rank and file of the invaders, tended
to be shunted toward the less productive highlands. Many were settled on
territory seized from or abandoned by the Visigoths in the northwest-central
The destruction of the Visigothic system of state and society was one thing, and the building of a Muslim Hispania something else that was much more difficult and took more time--indeed, nearly two centuries. After the Visigothic collapse there was a tendency for the inhabitants of various parts of the peninsula to revert to the regionalism and localism characteristic of an earlier era. Muslim power advanced too far too fast to combine all these territories into a well-ordered system. The Arab clan leaders who formed the core of the new oligarchy quickly fell out with each other, and the heads of the caliphate in  faraway Damascus revealed concern about maintaining control of their most distant dominion. The first official governor of Muslim Hispania, Abdul Aziz (who incidentally married Roderic's widow), was murdered by rivals in 716. During the four decades 715-755 there were approximately twenty different governors, many of them assassinated and only three retaining office as long as five years.
In addition to feuds between Arab clans and factions, a broad ethnic split emerged between the Arab aristocrats and the Berber population. By 740 a major rebellion was underway across the straits in the Maghreb, where the Berbers were adopting Kharijism, a new, heretical form of Islam that accompanied protest against Arab domination of the Muslim empire. The revolt spread to the Berbers settled in the northwest-central part of the peninsula. They marched against the urban-associated Arab aristocracy in south-central and southern Hispania, outnumbering them, for the Arabs could not depend upon their new Christian subjects to fight for them. It may be that only the arrival of some 7,000 Syrian cavalry saved the aristocracy. During the 740s, the new polity in the peninsula virtually dissolved. The spectacle of general Muslim civil war did not encourage Hispanic loyalty, and small elements of the Christian population took advantage of this opportunity to migrate to the unoccupied northern mountains, whence border warfare had been waged since 718. After 750, crop failures and raiding brought widespread famine to the Berber-inhabited Duero valley of the northwest, forcing the remainder of the invaders to withdraw farther south. When political order was finally
Little effort was made to conquer and occupy the northern mountain areas, because of difficult geographic obstacles, the poverty of those regions, and the resistance of their inhabitants. Instead, three frontier districts or marches were established to hold the border, and the emirate adopted or accepted a variant of west European feudalism in dealing with the frontier areas. The key spots were mountains, castles, or fortified towns difficult to incorporate into a central system. Loose personal relations akin to vassalage were worked out with Muslim and at times with Christian overlords in the frontier area. This meant an uneven border and an incomplete political system on the Christian fringe, but the offensive military strength and the economic resources of the northern Christian hill people did not seem great enough to warrant the expenditure of means that would have been required to subdue those harsh, backward regions.
It is impossible to calculate the number of immigrants who entered the peninsula during the three centuries of the emirate. All told they may have accounted for the ancestry of 20 percent of the peninsula's population by the end of the tenth century, yet the influx in most years was quite small. Moreover, the bulk of the immigrants were not oriental Arabs but Maghrebian Berbers. The prosperous, increasingly cultured Al-Andalus must have looked very attractive to the rude tribesmen across the straits. But the more cultured Arabs tended to monopolize the most important lands, posts, and perquisites, and  relations with the Berbers and other elements were never very good. Muslim Hispania never achieved a fully homogeneous society. Descendants of Arabs jealously preserved their family and tribal identities, together with a distinct sense of superiority to the rest of the Muslim population. Many of the Berber immigrants did not at first speak Arabic and for some time retained their separate community identity. The majority of the Muslims were of course descendants of Hispanic converts and never managed to absorb fully the aristocratic Arab elements; rather, upper-class Hispano-Muslim muwalladun (or muladíes, as converts to Islam were later known in Castilian) later came to affect Arab ancestry or names for themselves. Interethnic tensions persisted throughout the history of Al-Andalus. They probably lay at the root of continuing internal political conflicts that were only temporarily assuaged, never eliminated.
The emirate was nevertheless free of such strong anti-Arab outbursts
as occurred among the native Muslim populace of Iraq and Iran during those
centuries. Abd-al-Rahman I encouraged the settling of Arab aristocrats
directly on the land, overseeing the cultivation of estates, and by the
tenth century the gap between the Muslim aristocrats and the muladí
peasants was apparently not as great as that which had existed in much
of the former Hispano-Visigothic society.
An Islamic culture in the peninsula developed with surprising rapidity. Though the first generation of Muslims had been relatively uncultured and had a rather weak grasp of Islamic theology, religious teachers arrived from the Near East soon after the conquest, and their numbers increased during the course of the eighth century. The roots of a genuine Muslim orthodoxy were established, in response to the problem of cultural heterogeneity and the challenge to the identity of the convert. Within three or four generations, Hispanic Islam was strongly identified with the Malikite rite. The religious teacher Malik (who died in Medina ca. 795) had propounded a rather simple and traditionalistic understanding of Islam, based on the formula of "the Koran, the words of the Prophet, and admitting that otherwise I do not know." The antirationalist conservatism of the Malikite rite was adopted as the semi-official observance of Muslims in the emirate during the reign of al-Hakam I (796-822). Malikite traditionalism, as propounded by local faqihs (jurists) throughout Al-Andalus, provided a degree of cultural unity for most of the Muslim population. Ultraorthodoxy was characteristic of Islam in the peninsula throughout almost the entire Muslim period, and contrasted notably with the greater tendency toward heterodoxy in other parts of the Muslim world. This may perhaps be explained by the peripheral location of Al-Andalus at the outer limit of Islamic lands, adjacent to Latin Christendom, containing a Christian minority (at first a Christian  majority), and usually in a state of tension with its religious and cultural rival. It is interesting, too, that during the Middle Ages western Christianity also emphasized pragmatic legalism, ethics, and orthodoxy in contrast with the more speculative metaphysics of the Christian east.
A wave of major "orientalization" began during the reign of Abd al-Rahman II (822-852), who imported numerous oriental Muslim artists and educators. The high culture of the Middle East elicited a strongly eastward-looking orientation; though a few individual Hispano-Muslim art forms were developed by the tenth century (the muwashaha and zéjel songs and poems), the art and literature of Al-Andalus was established almost completely on oriental Arabic forms.
Christian society in the south and east was completely unable to hold its own. The independent Christians of the north came to call their counterparts in the south Mozarabs, derived from the Arabic musta'rib, meaning Arabized or Arabic-speaking. Mozarab culture became fossilized, its postconquest literature for example rhetorical and usually mediocre, deficient in dialectic and analysis. Of course it must be recognized that Mozarab culture was placed under increasing pressure and not able to develop in full freedom. Limited tolerance never meant equality, and Christians were never permitted to dispute publicly the teachings of Islam. Religious practice and cultural opportunity were increasingly circumscribed. It is true that some towns had Christian majorities for a century or more, that most Mozarab dioceses were able to continue an uninterrupted line of episcopal succession for nearly three hundred years, that all-Mozarab church councils were occasionally called, and that some religious and cultural contacts were maintained with other parts of western Christendom. Nonetheless, the strength and influence of Islam was increasingly felt. From about the beginning of the ninth century pressure mounted; taxes were raised and new restrictions were introduced, while the Muslim proportion of society steadily increased. One response to latent and then mounting persecution was the Christian "martyrs of Córdoba" movement of 850-859 in the course of which several score Christian spokesmen, confronting Islam directly, were put to death. A more common response was Mozarab emigration to the Christian principalities in the northern mountains. The Muslim state did not embark on a policy of extreme persecution until late in the tenth century, however, and the Mozarab minority persisted, in ever-dwindling numbers, until almost the end of Al-Andalus.
The growing strength and sophistication of Hispano-Muslim society was
not reflected by political unity, for the ninth century was a time of political
troubles for the emirate. Resentment among both Christians  and
Hispano-Muslims increased: against the overlordship of Córdoba by
Muslims in other regions, against exclusivist Arab clans on the part of
non-Arab Muslims, and against supposedly heterodox emirs by fanatical Mahikite
faqihs. A major revolt occurred among the lower classes of Córdoba
in 814, when popular discontent took the form of an uprising against the
emir himself. This reflected the uncertainty about political legitimacy
that had existed in Muslim Hispania since the emirate broke away from the
central caliphate in the Near East. After the revolt was quelled, one-fourth
of the population of the Andalusi capital was expelled.
Muslim revolts grew serious during the second half of the ninth century. At times the emir controlled only the greater Córdoba region. Major rebellions occurred in the districts of Toledo in the center, Seville and Bobastro in the south, Mérida in the southwest, and Zaragoza and Lérida in the northeast. The partly Christian city of Toledo was more or less autonomous from 873 to 930, required only to pay a nominal tribute to the emirate. A more fully autonomous principality was carved out in the upper Ebro valley of the northeast by the Banu Qasi dynasty, descendants of the Visigothic overlord Casio (Cassius) of Tudela, who had accepted Islam in 714 at the start of the conquest. The Banu Qasi ruled the upper Ebro region for two hundred years, waxing at times rich and powerful. At their height in the late ninth century they were sometimes called "third kings of Hispania" (following the emirs of Al-Andalus and the kings of Christian Asturias-León). The most serious of the new revolts, however, was that begun by Omar ibn Hafsun at Bobastro in the hills above Málaga in 883. The descendant of muladíes, ben-Hafsun rallied Muslims and Christians alike and soon made most of the eastern Andalusian hill country independent of the emirate. In 894 he returned to Christianity, the religion of his ancestors. That cost the support of most of his Muslim following, but even so he held out in the Bobastro district until his death in 917. This domain was defended by his sons for another twelve years until it was finally reincorporated by the emirate in 929.
An effectively unified state was finally achieved during the long reign of Abd-al-Rahman III (912-961). The son of a Navarrese princess, this greatest of Cordoban rulers was a short, blue-eyed Muslim who dyed his red hair black to match that of most of his subjects. In 929 he took the step of raising his dominion from an emirate, or kingdom, to a caliphate, or empire. Originally the Islamic world had been unified under a single caliphate as the political successor to the prophet's authority. The Umayyad emirate of Al-Andalus had been nominally subordinate to the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, but establishment of a new caliphate under the aggressive Fatimids in  Egypt threatened military and political pressures through North Africa. Abd-al-Rahman III countered the claims and ambitions of the Fatimids by taking advantage of new Muslim theories to assert the imperial independence of Al-Andalus. This nominal authority also strengthened the claims of the Cordoban state over the local regions of the peninsula.
The caliph restored central control over all the Muslim population and carried on major border campaigns against the small Christian principalities of the north, receiving token submission from most of them. During the latter part of his reign he extended military dominion over part of the northwest Maghreb, briefly expanding Al-Andalus into an imperial domain.
The strength of the tenth-century caliphate was due as much to the efficiency of the state system as to the size and prosperity of its population, for the caliphate developed the best organized administration found anywhere in western Europe during that era. This had begun nearly a century earlier under Abd-al-Rahman II, who had commenced to refashion what had begun as a fairly simple despotism into a well-articulated structure patterned after the Abbasid caliphate in Damascus. Executive authority was nominally autocratic, administered by an hajib or chief minister through batteries of visirs or departmental ministers for varied aspects of administration, with complements of subsecretaries, scribes, and clerks. A fairly efficient treasury with some degree of central accounting was eventually developed. Theoretically, each district of the emirate was administered by a regional wali, or governor, responsible to the central government for the affairs of his province. The legal system was headed by a cadi aljamaa (chief justice), though his authority was restricted to the Córdoba district. The court structure was divided by region and municipality, with separate jurisdictions for different kinds of grievances according to civil need and Muslim custom.
Muslim military organization in the peninsula had long been rather rudimentary, resting upon the militia of the local Arab clans and other regional elites. Though originally made up mostly of infantry, Muslim armies came to rely especially on light cavalry, patterned in part on the Arabic model and armed with lances, darts, and small shields. Early in the emirate a permanent standing army had been begun with the formation of an elite corps of several thousand slaves from eastern Europe and Africa. Abd-al-Rahman III did not solve the problem of central military organization, but his forces were the most numerous yet employed by Muslim power in the peninsula and in their time were without peer in western Europe. The ports of the eastern, southern, and western coasts of the peninsula had long had large commercial fleets, but an armed navy of significance took form  for the first time under Abd-al-Rahman II. For a brief time it was perhaps comparable to that of the Byzantines.
The political strength and military glory of this reign coincided with the first full flowering of the high culture of Hispano-Muslim society as well as its broad economic expansion. During the tenth century the state, society, and culture of Al-Andalus were more advanced than anything to be found in Christian western Europe. The studies in philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, botany, and medicine carried on by the intellectual elite of Muslim Hispania between the mid-tenth and twelfth centuries have earned standard references in medieval history textbooks. Economic achievements were equally impressive. During the ninth and tenth centuries new Persian and Nabatean agricultural techniques were introduced, old irrigation systems restored, and new ones developed. East Mediterranean fruits, as well as grain, olives, and rice, were important crops. Conditions of land tenure varied greatly. Most farms were family farms, many of them rented or worked on shares from aristocratic overlords but a not insignificant number held independently by Muslim smallholders. Exact measurement is impossible, but productivity, at least in the irrigated valleys and huertas of parts of the south and east, was apparently well above ordinary west European standards of the time. Grain production in the dry areas was less successful; from the ninth century on grain had intermittently to be imported from northern Africa.
The real strength of Al-Andalus lay in its cities, with their productive economies, skilled labor, technological development, and learning. Nearly all had been effectively Muslimized and culturally Arabicized by the tenth century. They excelled in the production of silk and other textiles, ceramics, leather work, armaments, and some types of fine steelworking. Al-Andalus had proportionately more artisans in its cities than had any other part of western Europe at that time. Commerce flourished well beyond the range of the peninsula.
Above all other cities, the capital, Córdoba, was the urban showplace of the caliphate. Textbook estimates of a population of one million people may be dismissed, but there were apparently well over one hundred thousand. In size, services, culture, and economy, the city was without a peer in western Europe and rivaled in the east only by Constantinople. Some of the enduring works of Hispano-Muslim architecture in Córdoba and other cities were at least begun in the tenth century. The architecture of Al-Andalus is often referred to as Moorish, yet its surviving specimens considerably surpass what was built in Morocco during that (or most subsequent) periods.
Although aside from the great mosque at Córdoba, the outstanding examples of Hispano-Muslim architecture are of a later time (for example, the Giralda of Seville, twelfth century, and the Alhambra of Granada, fifteenth century).
 The population and cultural centers of Al-Andalus were for
the most part the same towns and regions that had flourished under the
Romans (and to a lesser
degree under the Visigoths). Some of the people and atmosphere of the cultural vanguard of Romano-Christian Hispania were absorbed into Hispano-Muslim society, and it was not merely an accident that the high culture of Al-Andalus was superior to that of the Maghreb during the same period. It started from a higher base.
That Hispano-Christian culture affected Hispano-Muslim society cannot be doubted, yet its effect was negligible compared to the great impact of orientalization brought by the establishment of Islam in the peninsula. There are many regional variations in Islam, but the Hispanic peninsula was the only major part of western Europe that was for some time torn out of the matrix of western Christendom. All the culture as well as the religion of Al-Andalus was patterned on oriental norms and precedents. Non-Islamic Hispanic precursors for these ideas and trends are simply not to be found. The high culture of Al-Andalus was derivative, and oriental in inspiration. The only major exceptions lay in some of the arts: architecture, metalworking, and popular literature, where a synthesis of sorts was worked out between autochthonous Hispanic skills and motifs and oriental forms.
The sweeping effect of orientalization may be seen not merely in the high culture but in the common social patterns. Family standards and practices were patterned on those of the upper-class Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, and social customs were profoundly orientalized. A major example was the seclusion and restriction of women, something for which there was no parallel or precedent in Hispano-Christian society. The medieval Hispano-Christian family was distinctly more individualistic and egalitarian. Even the minor aberrations of Hispano-Muslim society were probably not as unusual as they have sometimes been made out. Fondness for wine has been presented as a triumph of the Hispanic over the Islamic, but there was also drinking in the Middle East. Sexual mores were typically Muslim as well, particularly in the apparently high incidence of homosexuality.
The Cordoban state reached the height of its power in the middle of
the tenth century under Abd-al-Rahman III, yet survived for only seventy-five
years more. No state in Europe or the Mediterranean basin during the Middle
Ages possessed the instruments to guarantee central government unless strong
leadership and a continuous principle of legitimacy were preserved; by
the eleventh century these were  lacking in Al-Andalus. Abd-al-Rahman
III's successor, al-Hakam II, ruled for fifteen years, but when he died
in 976 he left as heir a twelve-year-old son who was recognized as Hisham
II. The government was soon dominated by its vigorous and efficient hajib,
an Hispano-Arab known to history as al-Mansur ("The Victorious"). In 981
young Hisham was forced to officially ratify the complete authority of
the hajib over all aspects of government.
Al-Mansur relied on two factors to cement his dictatorship: religion and a strong centralized army. He allied himself with the influential Malikite faqihs in suppressing the few scattered expressions of Islamic heterodoxy that had appeared at Córdoba and won a reputation among the superstitious lower classes as a defender of the faith. He also expanded the standing army. Large numbers of Berber mercenaries were brought in from the Maghreb, and Christian mercenaries were accepted as well. The ordinary militia levies of Al-Andalus were reorganized by special regiment rather than by local district in an effort to counteract the centrifugal effect of regional loyalties. Al-Mansur built the most powerful military machine yet seen in the peninsula, but it broke the traditional service patterns of Al-Andalus and severed bonds between local leaders and the Cordoban government. It became to some extent an instrument of control over the rest of Al-Andalus and a resented agent of centralization.
The historic title al-Mansur was won in a long series of summer campaigns against the Christian principalities of the north. The motives were more political and economic than religious, but al-Mansur found it useful to strengthen his position by preaching the jihad against the northern Christians, little troubled by the fact that Christian mercenaries sometimes served in his forces. At one time or another he ravaged every major part of Christian territory save Navarre, with whose ruling dynasty he was allied by marriage. No ruler since the original conquest had inflicted such heavy damage on Christian Hispania. Moreover, at the very end of the century his son, Abdul-Malik, restored Cordoban authority over the northwest corner of the Maghreb, of which the city of Fez was the center. Al-Mansur died in 1002 at the height of power, exhausted by his triumphant exertions. He was succeeded by Abdul-Malik, who quickly obtained from the impotent Hisham the same plenary authority held by his invincible father. Abdul-Malik survived his father by only six years, however, dying in 1008, possibly assassinated.
The Amirid dictatorship (1) wielded by al-Mansur and Abdul-Mahk from 976/981 to 1008 had raised the caliphate to the pinnacle of its military power, yet sowed within it the seeds of its political destruction.  For one thing, the dictatorship fatally weakened the principle of political legitimacy. Al-Andalus had always been difficult to rule, relying on both forceful leadership and administration and the legitimate authority of the Ummayad dynasty. In the long run, the dictatorship supplied force alone; it replaced the dynasty, yet could not develop a new principle of legitimate descent from Mohammed. By the tenth century Shiite doctrines in the Muslim orient had tried to establish a new principle of legitimacy on the basis of divinely appointed leaders, imams, who were nominal descendants of the Prophet and were held to enjoy divinely delegated charismatic authority. But the Amirids could claim no such descent from Mohammed. Appeals to the jihad proved insufficient to bolster what was eventually revealed as a purely opportunistic military regime. Traditional relations between the regions were disrupted, and replaced with purely military bonds.
Soon after the death of the second Amirid, the political unity and authority of the caliphate collapsed altogether. Once the legitimate succession had been interrupted it was never successfully restored. Many regions of Al-Andalus were resentful of their treatment under the dictatorship and refused to heed new leaders in Córdoba. The feckless Hisham was deposed in 1009, briefly restored the following year, then deposed again. Altogether, over a period of twenty-three years, six relatives of the Ummayads and three members of a rival, half-Berber family disrupted the throne. The slave pretorians functioned as a powerful independent faction and the bands of Berber mercenaries who had become more numerous during the preceding half-century usurped power in local districts. Regional Arab oligarchs and clans withdrew into local exclusivism, and the state system soon dissolved. Córdoba was wracked by demagogy, riots, and pillaging, while the educated and wealthy fled. In 1010 the city was sacked by a Catalan expedition brought in by Muslim dissidents at Toledo.
Had a leader as resolute and resourceful as Abd-al-Rahman III or al-Mansur emerged, he might have been able to restore caliphal authority. As it was, the caliphate had been unable to institutionalize political unity in the face of geographic obstacles, ethnic diversity, class divisions, and a persistent spirit of localism. The idea of Muslim unity had little currency, for Cordoban power in the tenth century had been based largely on political, not religious, standards and values. Nor did the small Christian states of the north seem very  threatening in the early eleventh century; united defense of the faith was not an issue. Rather than undergo the Amirid experience again, the regions almost unanimously preferred to pull apart. The localism and factionalism that had proved an almost insuperable obstacle for the Visigothic monarchy also undermined the caliphate, and its official end was finally declared by a group of local leaders meeting in Córdoba in 1031. In the former capital it was replaced by a local government of notables ruling only the greater Córdoba district.
After the collapse of the caliphate, political power coalesced around local leaders, oligarchies, or ethnic groups and coalitions in the principal urban economic centers of Al-Andalus. Nearly all the first overlords were local commanders and notables who had achieved power through the political and military network created by al-Mansur. The result was a series of about thirty regional taifa (local faction) kingdoms that divided up approximately the southern 75 percent of the peninsula. Some of the taifas, chiefly Seville, Granada, Badajoz, Valencia, Toledo, and Zaragoza, quickly developed into fairly strong regional emirates or principalities, dominating large areas of the surrounding countryside and devouring their weaker neighbors. The taifas were typically governed by local dynasties of Arab aristocrats or local Berber military factions, but power was sometimes disputed by a variety of heterogeneous claimants: Arab oligarchs, Berber mercenaries or immigrants, the "Andalusian" or ordinary Hispano-Muslim majority, and other mercenaries or forces of slave pretorians. Political transition went most smoothly in border districts dominated by military leaders. In the Andalusian interior quarreling was more protracted.
The taifas managed to preserve most of the economic achievements of Al-Andalus and often to develop them further. Some of their capitals reached a greater level of prosperity and sophistication in the eleventh century than any towns under the caliphate save Córdoba. Hence the collapse of the Hispano-Muslim state did not bring the collapse of Hispano-Muslim culture.
Indeed, the famous "high culture" of Muslim Hispania, while building on the achievements of the tenth-century caliphate, was mainly a product of the new scholarship and writing of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The same was true of the most enduring creations of Hispano-Muslim art and architecture. It was during the taifa and the subsequent Almoravid period that the popular Hispanic song  and verse forms--the muwashahas and zéjels--were formally incorporated into written literature and subsequently gained a vogue in Islamic art.
A striking and dominant characteristic of Hispano-Muslim literature was its essential materialism and hedonism. Love lyrics and erotic poetry in Al-Andalus often surpassed those of the middle East, religious literature and mystical verse were rather poorly developed. The society's religion remained hyperorthodox, but it did not lead to a high religious culture in literature or theology. There were few new religious ideas in Al-Andalus.
The taifa kingdoms and their successors were the late blooming of Muslim Hispania's Indian Summer. Wracked by incessant factionalism, they divided and dissipated their civic and military energies. When the military balance in the peninsula began to change in the middle of the eleventh century, the taifas could not defend themselves in regional isolation and were destroyed one by one. The dissolution of the caliphate had been the political prelude to the political and military decline of all of Al-Andalus.
There are certain intriguing parallels between the circumstances and
historical patterns of tenth-century Al-Andalus and sixteenth-century Spain.
Both empires were launched, as is customarily the case with expansionist
systems, before their respective societies had reached their fullest cultural
development. Both emphasized imperial expansion and foreign issues to the
detriment of internal problems. Neither achieved a fully integrated civic
entity: the Umayyad caliphate was not effectively integrated, and the Habsburg
monarchy was pluralistic, revealing centrifugal tendencies. Both strongly
emphasized religious issues in mobilizing for expansion; religious orthodoxy
was later stressed by both in their periods of political decline. The renewed
assertion of reorganized military power marked the last generation of strong
government and the prelude to civic decline (compare al-Mansur and Olivares).
The full flowering of Andalusi culture came after the collapse of the caliphate;
that of Habsburg Spain, at least in esthetics, after the apogee of politico-military
power under Felipe II. A major difference between the two was that the
economic prosperity of Al-Andalus survived the passing of the caliphate.
Seventeenth-century Spain exhausted its economy in war; the Muslim taifas
never organized the military strength that their economies could have supported.
 The first critical comprehensive study of Al-Andalus was Reinhardt Dozy, Histoire des musulmans d'Espagne, 711-1110 (Leiden, 1861; Eng. tr., London, 1913). Dozy's work has been extended and corrected by E. Lévi-Provençal, Histoire de l'Espagne musulmane, 2d ed., 3 vols. (Paris, 1950-53), which covers only the years through 1031. Lévi-Provençal has treated the apex of Al-Andalus in L'Espagne musulmane au Xme siécle (Paris, 1932). A useful brief survey in English has been provided by W. Montgomery Watt, A History of Islamic Spain (Edinburgh, 1965). On the events of the eighth century, see the last part of Harold Livermore's The Origins of Spain and Portugal (London, 1971).
James T. Monroe has written a stimulating analysis, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship (Leiden, 1970). C. Sánchez Albornoz, ed., La España musulmana, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1946), provides accounts of major aspects of the entire period. Cultural onentalization and its sources are examined in Mahmud Ali Makki, Ensayo sobre las aportaciones orientales en la España musulmana (Madrid, 1968). The most up-to-date general study of the Mozarabs is Isidro de las Cagigas, Los mozárabes, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1947-48). E. P. Colbert, The Martyrs of Córdoba (850-859) (Washington, D.C., 1962), presents a revised interpretation of the major incident of Mozarab history.
There are cogent insights on Andalusi culture in the work of the leading twentieth-century Spanish Arabist, Miguel Asín Palacios, Obras escogidas, 3 vols. (Madrid, 1946-48). Henri Terrasse, Islam d'Espagne (Paris, 1958), deals mainly with art and architecture. A general account of the remarkable development of science in Al-Andalus will be found in J. A. Sánchez Pérez, La ciencia árabe en la Edad Media (Madrid, 1954). Rodolfo Gil Benumeya, Marruecos andaluz (Madrid, 1942), discusses interaction between Al-Andalus and Morocco.
1. The title was derived from Al-Mansur's family name.