July 30, 2021

The notary who narrated the splendor of Cordoba | Culture

The notary who narrated the splendor of Cordoba | Culture

There was a time when Cordova It was one of the capitals of the world. In it lived great poets, artists, thinkers and doctors, such as those who treated the king of León Sancho I the Crassus of his extreme fatness with a strict diet. It was the zenith of the Umayyad dynasty in Al Andalus, with the caliph Al Hakam II, who ruled between 961 and 976 the great power of the western world. From the last stage of his caliphate, a secretary of the court, Isa al-Razi, a scrupulous official, wrote some intramural chronicles in which he detailed whether it rained or if the crops were exhausted, the personalities that his lord received or how the numerous taxes that greased the great administrative machinery were collected. In these annals the medievalist historian Eduardo Manzano Moreno has been based to offer in his test The caliph's court (Review) a detailed fresco of the splendor of Cordoba Andalusia.

"The caliphate functioned in an effective manner that extended throughout its territory. The resources were centralized and then redistributed. Reading the chronicles of Isa al-Razi, one sees that nothing was left to chance, everything was planned ", Manzano explains (Madrid, 1960), Institute of History of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC). Another idea based on his study of the translation that exists in the Royal Academy of History of the 130 pages of the manuscript "is that the caliphate was not a despotic regime, as one wanted to show, the caliph could not do what he was given he wins it, but he was subject to some rules and if he left them he was strongly opposed, among others, by the ulemas, the sages of religion. "On the ground, the recent archaeological discoveries in the area" show that the Córdoba suburbs were very well designed, in an orthogonal layout, with houses with advanced water supply and sanitation systems, contrary to what can be thought of the typical Muslim medina ".

The caliphate, which stretched from the peninsula in the east to the river Ebro, in the center to Guadalajara and west to the Portuguese city of Coimbra, based its power "on a very homogeneous, Arabized and Islamized society, very urban, with a network of cities in which their governors collected taxes ", adds Manzano, who maintains in his books and articles, like those published in EL PAÍS, that part of the history of Spain can not be seen "in black or white". Neither the Muslims were heartless people who killed Christians, nor was al-Andalus a paradise of peace and tolerance. "There are historians who try to normalize this stage, without falling into the clichés. Of course, Andalusian poets should be included in our literature ", such as Ibn Hazm from Cordova or Ibn Zaydun, or" Avicenna and Averroes in the teachings of philosophy ".

Thus, the Christian kings maintained diverse and changing relations with the caliphate, with which they sometimes warred and others allied. "Al-Hakam II tried to favor diplomatic ties and secure borders with garrisons to prevent Christian incursions. With the Catalan counties it even had solid commercial deals. Also, it fueled disunions among its enemies. " This ruler, who is known to be barbilampiño, paticorto and rather sharp voice, was cultured, had a large library, liked the pomp and construction: expanded the mosque and built part of the palatine city of Medina Azahara. A baggage that did not prevent, as it records the book of Manzano, that spreading slander about their sexuality because an heir did not arrive.

Over the years, their alliance policy failed. The Christian attacks involved a huge cost and generated protests among those who suffered them and among those who, by means of a "brutal fiscal pressure", paid the warriors brought from North Africa to face the enemy. The one who best took advantage of this discontent was a high official, Almanzor, who after the death of the caliph and taking advantage of the minority of his successor, seized power. Its more aggressive policy against Christians did not work either, aggravated by the friction of the local population with the mercenaries brought from across the Strait. Until, at the time of the successor of Almanzor, a civil war broke out in Córdoba in 1009. "The other territories cut off their ties with the capital, although they tried to replicate their own Córdobas". A vain attempt to recover the golden age that al-Hakam II had starred, 40 years ago, from his throne in the Oriental Hall of Medina Azahara.

An elusive manuscript

Isa al-Razi was a diligent secretary of the caliph al-Hakam II who left writings to the smallest details of his administration between June 971 and July 975. This is known because in the eleventh century, at the beginning of the Taifa kingdoms , a historian wrote an account of al-Andalus, known as the Muqtabis, a nostalgic vision of the lost greatness of the caliphate, which included the annals of Isa al-Razi. Several volumes of Muqtabis they were lost and centuries passed until the Spanish Arabist Francisco Codera, in 1888, found part of this story in a library in Algeria and managed to have a copy made to the Royal Academy of History. The complicated text delayed its translation, until the one made in the sixties of the 20th century by the great Arabist Emilio García Gómez, on which Manzano Moreno has based his essay.


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