History - Spain's Moorish History - Moorish Invasion of Iberia - 8th Century

Tariq´s Invasion - Moorish Invasion of Iberia - 8th Century

In Toledo, where the gorge of the river Tagus opens out onto the plane, there are ruins called the Baths of La Cava. According to legend, it was here that Rodrigo, the last Visigothic King in Spain, seduced fair Florinda as she bathed in the river. ‘Florinda La Cava' was the daughter of Count Julian, Rodrigo's Governor in North Africa, and to avenge the dishonoring of his daughter, Julian joined with Muslim forces to promote the Islamic invasion of Iberia.

Julian approached Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Moorish commandant at Tangier in the name of Musa, the Governor of Ifriqiya (North Africa). Following their agreed plans, Julian himself lead a small party over the straits in coasting boats and went underground to await their leader. Tariq joined the last contingent, landing at Gibraltar and seizing Algeciras.

In fact, a year earlier in 710, Musa had launched an initial reconnaissance, sending Tarif ibn Malik with 400 infantry and 100 horsemen from Tangier over to Tarifa (Tarif is hence the city's namesake) in four ships. They pushed as far as Algeciras, laying hands on money and bedding captive women; Tariq's later invasion would push their mission further North.

Hearing that Rodrigo was on his way south with an army of 100.000, Tariq requested reinforcements from Musa. He received 7,000 men, giving him a total of just 12.000. Nonetheless, Tariq met Rodrigo on the banks of a river, which had been identified as the Guadalete. Battle of Guadalete lasted from morning to nightfall. When the two flanks of Rodrigo's army fled, the centre lead by Rodrigo was left with the swampy areas behind them. Whereas most reports state that Rodrigo disappeared during the fight, modern research beleives he died at the confluence of the Arroyo Vico and the Almodóvar river, when his horse became bogged down in the mud. His body was never recorded as found.

More recent research in "The battle of the Montes Transductinos: location and reconstruction of the itineraries of the battle that decided the fate of the Visigoth kingdom" by the Spanish Association of Military History journal Atenea, places the battle on the Almodóvar River, between the Torrejosa hill (near Facinas, Tarifa) and the lagoon of the Janda, about 60 kilometers from Guadalete. See map below. Source.

Next, Tariq routed the remains of Rodrigo's army at Ecija, and took Julian's advice to march on Toledo, where the city gates were simply opened up to him. He entrusted the siege of Cordoba to his lieutenant Moghit and dispatched different military detachments for Elviria, Malaga and Murcia.

Tariq's rapid conquering force was overtaken by that of Musa, who picked up numerous successes, carrying on to Zaragosa, throughout the Ebro and even into France.

These combined military forces conquered Iberia very quickly, and following Rodrigo's death there was no counter movement by the Visigothic nobility, nor Wanda's prince sons or the people, to push them back. Perhaps the Visigoths saw Tariq's berber tribesman as involuntary allies who were going to rid them of fiscal and clerical tyranny and, once they were gorged with booty, turn their horses round and head back to North Africa. Indeed, almost everybody helped them on their way, like a liberating army, guiding them and opening city gates. Research published in the journal Nature identifies a drout as a contributing cause.

All of Iberia, except Galicia and Asturias, was now in Muslim hands. Musa was not even certain he could retain control over so vast a country with so few resources. He made Seville, rather than Toledo, his base as it would be easier to evacuate.

Musa then went to Damascus to give his account of the opportune conquest to the Caliph, and laid at his feet an immense booty and thousands of captives.


Moorish history of Andalucia
Tariq’s Invasion
Almoravids and Almohads
Las Navas de Tolosa


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