The exact date, please
December 19, 2010 11:35 PM   Subscribe

What precise (or even approximate) date did the Umayyad Dynasty take control of Tangiers in 702 AD?
posted by msalt to Law & Government (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't find the answer but in looking for it I came across a translation of one of the original sources on the conquest by the Egyptian Ibn Abd-el-Hakam in the 9th century:

- in case it's of any use to you, but unfortunately it just says "This was in the year (AH) 92."
posted by XMLicious at 2:06 AM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: I searched pretty thoroughly, but every resource I found put the conquest of Tangier by Musa bin Nusair circa 706-710, with no hint of a date.

Unsurprisingly for such a distant and chaotic time, the historical record of Musa's conquest is muddled, with many conflicting reports:
  • "Islam had been introduced into North Africa as early as 646, when the eastern portion was raided by Abdallah Ibn Abi Sarh, whose efforts were followed by the foundation of Kairawan in 669, the taking of Tangier in 706 by Musa Ibn Nusair, and the invasion of Spain in 711."

  • "In 707 he occupied Tangier, and gradually made himself master of North-West Africa."

  • "By 708 he had marched into Tangier and secured Arab domination over the southern Mediterranean."

  • "708: Arabs led by Musa ibn-Nusayr conquer Tangiers (Morocco) and subdue the Berbers"

  • "The Arabs conquered Libya and Tunisia in 698 A. D. and Carthage as well as Tangier in 708 A. D. by the Arab general Musa."

  • "With the aid of the newly converted Berbers the Arabs were able to take Tangier in 708 and probably forced Count Julian to recognize their lordship over Ceuta in the next year. In October-November 709, Julian sent a reconnoitering expedition to Spain and reported the weakness of its defenses to the Muslims."

  • "He spent three years campaigning there between 705 (or 706) and 708 (or 709), in the course of which he conquered Tangier and appointed Tariq b. Ziyad, who was later to distinguish himself in the conquest of Spain, as its governor."

  • "Musa founded dock-yards and by 703 had built up the Muslim fleet at Tunis. He campaigned for three years in Morocco and conquered Tangier by 709."

  • "But early in the VIIIth century, the offensive resumed under the leadership of Musa b. Nusayr: the famous Kahina (rebel Berber) is defeated, the Berbers and the installation submitted to the Atlantic is final with the founding of Tangier in 709."

  • "Passing through Tlemcen in western Algeria, the onrush he released reached Tangier in 710"

  • Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on the Umayyad conquest of North Africa says Musa's subordinate, Tariq, conquered the city, though I can't identify the source for that claim:
    And so Musa ordered some initial raids on the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula in 710. In the spring of that same year Tariq ibn Ziyad—a Berber, a freed slave, and a Muslim general—took Tangier. Musa thereupon made him governor there, backed by an army of 1,700.
    It's possible the author confused Tariq's installation as the city's ruler with conquest of the city. The timing would work out better, since other sources say Tariq embarked on a foray against Spain in July of 710.

    Bottom line, it looks like even the year of the city's fall is in doubt, much less the day. But it was probably later than 702.
    posted by Rhaomi at 2:11 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

    Best answer: The 702 date refers to Hasan ibn al-Nu'man defeating Al-Kahina at the Battle of Tabarka, but I can't find an exact date for that either. No source I've found gives a date, or even a month. For instance, Sir John Bagot Glubb (what a name!) in his The Empire of the Arabs simply gives the year, while giving more exact dates for other events.
    posted by Kattullus at 2:22 AM on December 20, 2010

    Response by poster: A weird artifact of the Internet age -- certain phrases get picked up and repeated. Looking back through my searches, it's pretty obvious that all of the results I found Googling were quoting the same source -- all variations of this phrase:

    A century later (between 534 and 682), Tangier fell back into the Roman empire, before coming under Arab (Umayyad) control in 702.

    Some say "became part of the Byzantine empire" instead of "fell back into the Roman empire," which makes more sense.
    posted by msalt at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2010

    Response by poster: "This was in the year (AH) 92."

    Wouldn't that be 714? (622 + 92)
    posted by msalt at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2010

    Response by poster: Some other interesting details:
    Washington Irving has an interesting account of the taking of Tangiers and Ceuta.

    He mentions a story seen elsewhere about Julian, the local lord of Ceuta and Tangiers, who, having lost Tangiers, defended Ceuta for months against a seige, then helped Musa attack Spain. Other sources say it was retaliation for Visigothic King Roderic impregnating his daughter, who he had entrusted to the King's care. Irving refuses to say what Roddy did to tick Julian off.

    Also, the Muslim Conquests wikipedia page has a date of April 30, 711 for the invasion of Spain, but I can't find it in their sources (Britannica and the book XMLicious links to).
    posted by msalt at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2010

    msalt: "Wouldn't that be 714? (622 + 92)"

    Wiki sez 710-711.
    posted by Rhaomi at 1:52 PM on December 20, 2010

    Response by poster: There you go, then.

    Putting together various sources, it looks like you can work backwards from April 30, 711, through let's say 6 months of preparations -- once source says they checked with the Caliph twice, and he had them do a reconnaissance run first. That's October, 710.

    Another source says there was a seige of Ceuta for several months after Tangiers fell, until Julian switched loyalty. That puts you at the beginning of 710. Add a couple of months for general slow communication and chaos of regime change, and I'm going to say November 18th, 709 unless someone has a better idea. Thanks!
    posted by msalt at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2010

    Response by poster: Oops, Rhaomi's last source has the reconnaissance in July 710. OK, September 18th 709, then.
    posted by msalt at 4:35 PM on December 20, 2010

    Best answer: Between 704 and 710 pg 241
    Between 705 and 709 pg 88
    705 -710 pg 132
    posted by adamvasco at 3:45 AM on December 22, 2010

    I think 709 is too late.
    Musa would have watched over his son Marwan for awhile. Notice that he replaced him with Tarik; obviously something was not right, this would have taken 6months or so to come to the surface. Things tended to move slower in those days as well. To my mind more like 707 / 708.
    posted by adamvasco at 3:40 AM on December 23, 2010

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