The Raptor of Spain: WI Abd ar-Rahman I became a Christian?
OOC: First timeline and story, be gentle but firm. The timeline is a mixture of story scenes and broad overview.
POD: Abd ar-Rahman I becomes a Christian.
Also, to be clear the POD is actually 731, Abd ar-Rahman's Christian mother has a greater influence on him to end result of his eventual conversion to Christianity.
RAPTOR OF SPAIN
"They call it Al-Andalus," Bedr said.
"Did we name it that? Well no matter. I have never seen it before," Abd ar-Rahman admitted. "But with luck, I will see more of it soon. I will await your return."
It was too long to wait standing there of course, but he did see Bedr leave in the Dhow, with a handful of Berber tribesmen to crew the vessel. He straightened his long frame silhouetted against the night and hoped Allah would see fit to grant him success. Returning to his tent through the Roman ruins of the city, he walked alone in the dark, all alone truly even among the other tribesmen. Closing his eyes he saw again the scenes of carnage, the rivers of blood as his family were massacred to the last. He'd run then, but here he was in the uttermost west and he was out of room--thus the risk.
The ruins he was surrounded by formed a building, with its dome open to the sky. He placed his hand on one of the walls and noted a cross made of stone and broken. It had been a church then, this green place. He could remember very well his mother telling him about the faith she practised. He'd been fascinated, listened to her stories as often as he could as a child and despite everything he'd never forgotten them just as he'd never forgotten her. His family had tried he knew, to get him to forget about the stories but he was never to have been Caliph, so there was no need.
It was as he stood quietly in the dark pondering his mother and her Christian stories that they found him.
"There he is," a voice said behind him.
He turned and in the darkness made out Tashfin the chieftan. A handful of armed men advanced toward him.
"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded though he knew, and even as he set his hand on his sword he let it go.
At start of the year, Abd ar-Rahman was captured by berber tribesmen while his servant laid the seeds for his arrival in Al-Andalus. A chance encounter with bandits had resulted in the loss of almost all the dinars he had managed to accumulate in his flight from Damascus and he could not afford to buy his way free. Angered, his captors sent messengers to the Abbasid authorities. They began to mistreat him, cursing him as being a fool, for being weak, for being impious as all his family were. And so the days passed. What the berbers wanted was money or favor from the ruling Abbasid authorities. What they got was neither as they were told to wait while officials were sent.
Ar-Rahman brooded. These berbers were terrible Muslims he knew. Following a debased form that they perhaps did not bother to practice as well as they might. But this was the fault of the Abbasids, not theirs. The true fault lay with al'Abbas. The young man hoped, waited, that Bedr would return and somehow set him free but as the days passed he sunk into depression but that hope was dashed too when Bedr was thrown into the cell with him. But the news was not all abd.
"Your arrival will be like a wild fire," Bedr explained. "Things there are in chaos with so few of them and so many Christians and if you bring them order they will be yours."
So how to escape?
In end, the Berbers provided the way. Word that the arrival of the Abbasid envoy was imminent put them into a distracted mood and they celebrated the good forture to have a captive. But this distracted them enough. Bedr and ar-Rahman slew the drunken guards and made their way down to the harbor. Their escape was noticed but it was too late. A few berbers tried to stop them but he and Bedr cut off some hands and the rest retreated.
"Like a hero in a story!" ar-Rahman had laughed.
And so, after over a year in captivity, in the early Spring of AD 752, Abd ar-Rahman reached Spain, one step ahead of the Abbasids.
PART I: CLEAN BREAK
It is well to be the prince, he thought indulging in a little conceit.
He was not fool enough to believe was Prince of anything but the ground he stood on, and maybe not even that as he staggered as one of the chieftains bumped into him. He turned around but managed to show a disarming smile and the other man laughed, slapped him on the back and moved on.
His arrival in Malaga the first town of note he’d seen was everything he’d hoped, Discontent with al-Fihri the governor was high and he’d managed to amass a sizable following of Syrian Arabs who had been oppressed since the new of the Zab had reached the land. So too the Berbers of al-Andalus who were oppressed on account of not being Arab. While ar-Rahman sympathized with the chieftans, after all he was very proud of his own heritage, he knew he had to cultivate the Berbers if he was going to have a chance. They’d done the leopard’s share of the work in conquering the land and had received little in return--the worst lands and the fewest.
After consulting with the chieftans, he and his still-small contingent decided his best move would be to head to Sevilla. That region was also badly discontented and had a strong population base. With al-Fihri reportedly in the north putting down revolt, he would have time to grow his following before the inevitable showdown. Strange though, he’d expected some kind of placatory offer but it had not come--he’d thought they would dither, maybe even offer to buy him off but they had not. He worried at it in his mind even after the feast, even after they’d set out west across the plain and his worried proved well founded when a force rather larger than his own appeared in front of them.
They were badly outnumbered, resistance would be suicide. He had no choice, his allies fickle as they were, were already surrendering. He was tempted to fight, to give up but something inside him refused. He could almost see his mother again, how sad she would be if he were to die here. That day.
And so he went into captivity but even as the irons were placed around his wrists, his and Bedr’s he heard the screams, the realized that al-Fihri was massacring his allies to the last. He had led them into nothing but disaster and he cast his face down in anguish.
In the summer of 752, Abd ar-Rahman was captured by the governor al-Fihri, of al-Andalus. The delay by ar-Rahman due to his capture by the berbers had meant that when Zaragoza rose against the governor, he had time to put down the revolt and turn south where he became aware of the rumors about the Umayyad prince. Perhaps because his blood was up due to the recent revolt he had acted swiftly and with brother in lay al-Sumayl, taken his force directly south from Zaragoza and intercepted ar-Rahman before he reached Seville.
Ar-Rahman was brought to Cordoba where al-Fihri delighted in humiliating him, accusing his family of being extremely bad Muslims, a poison to the Ummah, and he often brought ar-Rahman to him so he could denigrate his family from Muawiyah on down except for al-Aziz. He even, though Ar-Rahman did not know how, though he suspected a mixture of force and money, managed to bring out the population of Cordoba to ridicule him publicly setting him up in a square tied to a scaffold and ar-Rahman had insults hurled at him. Those he could usually bear though had no choice. Sometimes some of the people even pelted him with shoes. He began to lose hope again.
After capturing the almost-leader of the opposition, al-Fihri’s revenge was brutal. Towns all across the south east were massacred. Syrian Arabs slaughtered, berbers tortured and their families killed before their eyes. It grew so bad that the news reached the Abassid Caliph, Abu al’Abbas himself and his own rage was terrible to behold as he sent a new governor with a force toe al-Andalus to remove al-Fihri by any means necessary. However when he died in early 753 the expedition was halted for a time until the new Caliph al-Mansur could secure his power.
In the meantime Abd ar-Rahman’s hopes were at their nadir. Aside from the loyal Bedr, the only person who was kind to him at all (which al-Fihri had strictly forbidden) was a Christian slave girl named Lisina who sometimes brought him food. She encouraged him quietly and was the only person who ever smiled at him. As the months of torment passed he began to look forward to her visits.
OOC: It will get more traditional and less story based as I move ahead more quickly later on.
“Wake up! Wake up!” he opened his eyes to the sound of Lisina’s voice. She wasn’t alone, by her side was an old man, a berber. Any questions he wanted to ask died when they opened the gate. “Get Bedr up too,” Lisina said as she turned to exchange words with the older man.
Bedr woke quickly and with his characteristic of going fully awake almost immediately. He sat up and grasped the situation. “Thank you,” he said.
“Not for you sake,” she said but ar-Rahman noticed she did not look at him. “Follow us,” she said with a wave and he found himself amused momentarily that she was apparently in charge. But then the amusement vanished, was it funny that he was escaping? He concentrated on the headscarf she was wearing as he followed her, the cloth was a simple brown.
“I planned for this for some time,” Lisina whispered to him as they went down the empty hall. Suddenly they turned and slid behind a door partially obscured by a tapestry and he found himself in a store room. “Put these one,” she said handing him a bundle.
Robes of course, a fairly simple trick. They would all be Berber tribesmen from the country it looked like. But that was ridiculous, in the governor’s palace? She made a face when he said so, a cross between annoyance and excitement. Ah, she had an answer for him and she was full of what she knew of course.
“The disguise does not have to work well here, we’ve used other methods,” she said with a nod at the Berber.
“Money,” Bedr said quietly as he slipped into the robes. A rich old Berber man? This was beyond bizarre.
“But why would you help us?” Ar-Rahman asked the old man.
“I knew your mother.”
In the end it proved to a bit more complex than that. Lisina and the old man had managed to bribe their way out of governors palace and quickly merged into the streets of the capital. They had also ensured (or so they hoped) that the guards would not report him missing until the morning. The old man refused however to answer any questions staying quiet and saying only that would understand later. To his Abd ar-Rahman’s surprise, a pair of horses were waiting in a hidden place outside the city. A tense moment came when Lisina asked to come with them. It was known she often was selected to bring him his meals though no one had thought it suspicious before. This was only one of several rather good reasons for coming along. In the end, ar-Rahman led her ride behind him though it was not particularly proper. It was after all an emergency.
“Find a way,” the old man said as they left, “to bring us peace.”
“Where did you find him? ar-Rahman asked her.
But she only answered, “He found me.”
Preposterous as it made seem, Abd ar-Rahman made his escape with his servant and the slave with the help of a mysterious old man. But things were worse than he’d thought. The governor perhaps worried over his potential replacement had dealt very harshly with any potential troublemakers in the months ar-Rahman had been imprisoned. No one it seemed was willing to rally to his cause, and that was only partly because of the oppression; al-Fihri’s attempt to discredit him had worked--everyone had heard of or seen him mocked and embarrassed in the public squares of Cordoba and most of his aura as the last Prince of the Umayyad Dynasty was as dead as the rest of his family.
All across al-Andalus it was the same, made even more difficult by his need to keep silent. Most would not report him but a few did and two men and a woman traveling were not something to forget even if Lisina had dyed her blond hair black. He was forced to head north to Zaragoza, that endlessly rebellious region, surrounded by the Christians. If anyone would rebel it was the ruler of Zaragoza. But it was a slim hope, they had been crushed not 2 years before and it would take time for them to forget the retribution meted out. Despite himself, he was impressed, al-Fihri had managed to pacify Al-Andalus for the time being. Though of course, with this much repression when the revolts came they would be many times greater. Ar-Rahman even knew why he did it, to demonstrate to the Caliph that he deserved to keep this post far from the capital where he was a law largely onto himself and the presence of the frontier so close made everything an emergency.
But his attempt at support had not gone unnoticed.
And so it was that the three of them found themselves riding recklessly east and northwards along what Lisina called the Desert of Duero, named after the river. An utterly wild region, there was no where for them to hide as the governor’s men rode after them. He was not about to let ar-Rahman get away. He’d already tried to rebel and managed to escape captivity twice, this time ar-Rahman knew, he would not get a second chance.
But burdened as they were, they could not escape and so finally had to stop and contemplate a last stand. Even Lisina had a knife to die with at last, she said bleakly with a glance at ar-Rahman. And it was then that Bedr placed Lisina on his horse and urged ar-Rahman to go on. He refused of course but the other man insisted and they were forced to part. For the rest of his days he would think kindly on the Greeks of Bedr’s race. Loyal and faithful and courageous. Bedr was slain much as ar-Rahman’s brother had been years before when he had first fled, but they did not see because they were already riding north into lands Lisina vaguely remembered from her girlhood. And it was there, as the governor’s men were approaching them that they were surrounded by another armed group, but this one speaking a language he could hardly understand.
Behind them the governor’s men stopped considering their options. They were out numbered here, and far from the border with the Christians now. Looking back ar-Rahman could see them start to come after him but relent. When the stand off had passed the leader of the party of armed men approached him and said something, he caught a word here or there but could not understand.
He pointed at Lisina.
“Introduce yourself,” she said.
He gave his name.
“More,” Lisina said. “Tell them who you are, everything….” She looked excited. He noticed a hand clenching on reins of the horse. She shouldn’t know how to ride, not a slave girl, but she did. Odd. But he could delay no longer.
“Very well,” he sighed.
“You know my name, now know my ancestors. My grandfather was Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, of Damascus. Commander of the Faithful. 10 our line to be so.”
When Lisina translated that there was uproar. Even here they’d heard of the transfer of power from his family to that of al-’Abbas. One blurted out something. He looked to Lisina who seemed reluctant to translate but finally did.
“He said, he thought you were all dead.”
“I survive,” he said simply. The man nodded and waved to the others around him, who moved in and took his weapon but otherwise let him be. Then he said something else. Looking to Lisina again she translated it for him.
“He said: Welcome to Asturias.”
In September of 753, Abd ar-Rahman was taken into custody by the soldiers of Alfonso I, King of Asturias.
...interesting. I'd like to see more.
I like the sound of this...
The capital of Asturias was nothing of the sort, being rather unimpressive to the cities he’d seen before, either from his own people or the Romans and it was also rather small. But he felt no superiority. In the course of the journey north his new captors had relaxed enough around him to exchange some conversation through Lisina, and through himself. A quick study with languages, he’d been able to pick up a little of theirs and every once in a while a term clearly borrowed from Arabic would be used. It happened often enough that he thought he could learn it well in a few years. He’d also learned their stories and how they saw the struggle. On the one level it was religious of course, and that couldn’t be denied. But after what had happened to his own family he was no stranger to the bitterness of their losses. And they had persevered remaining independent--that argued well for them he thought.
Instead of being immediately taken to see the king as he’d though he was instead taken to a small room where he was able to clean himself up a little and sponge off the dust of the road. It wasn’t a true bath but more than he’d expected and perhaps a small sign that they respected him. There were other things too in the way they addressed him that spoke subtly of respect--maybe from confidence in their own power.
Allowed to rest and refresh himself, when he was taken to see the king in his private rooms it was in relatively good condition and with his mind sharp and concentrated on the issue at hand. His hands however, were tied. Alfonso of Asturias was a tall man, though slim much like himself. He had sharp eyes in a weathered face a testament to the long war he’d fought in the south.
Before he could say anything Alfonso spoke.
“He said I should leave” Lisina translated. Tagging along behind him she had been unobtrusive enough to be ignored. Now he made it clear with a gesture and waived her away.
“No,” ar-Rahman said shaking his head. “She is my translator and I require her services. She will be trustworthy on my honor.” Lisina turned rather scarlet translating that which gave him a perverse sense of satisfaction to see the young woman blush. The king studied them both for a moment.
“I speak your language,” he said quietly. “She is not required.”
“It’s all right then Lisina, wait for me outside,” he said. A gift for a gift. The girl waited fractionally a second longer than she should have then bent her head to him, and spread her skirts low to the king slowly backing out of the room.
“The rumors were true,” his Arabic was accented and his pronunciation was sometimes difficult but ar-Rahman had no trouble understanding him. “The hair, the way you carry yourself and your chosen words. Tell me, what do you want?”
“Revenge,” he answered at once. The king nodded.
“Then I will do the same. I can kill you,” here he paused to see what effect it had on him, and ar-Rahman successfully waited expressionless. The king nodded again as if he‘d passed a test. “I could send you back to al-Fihri. He would make some very worthwhile concessions for you. I could send YOU back with help, to raise rebellion and have you owe me later…” this was what ar-Rahman had been waiting for.
“I have no opposition to your people,” he said. “I’ve been treated fairly by them and that would continue.”
He was about to launch into his prepared remarks but the King cut him off.
“This is not a discussion. That is not what I am going to do.“
Ar-Rahman’s hands twitched and Alfonso noted it with a minute shift in stance.
“No,“ he went on, “Killing you would be a waste and al-Fihri is a treacherous dog--his promises are written on sand. If I send you back all you will do is die, I know for a fact you’ve been trying to raise rebellion for a year and all you’ve done is discredit yourself and then I would be his target.”
“So I remain a prisoner,” not the outcome he’d wished but better than some. As the King had pointed out, raising rebellion had not worked out well for him so far.
“That may be up to you. I have spoken with the man who led the patrol who captured you, he presented a favorable opinion.”
“A guard’s opinion?” A surprise.
“No,” Alfonso answered. “From the moment you escaped Cordoba I knew you would arrive sooner or later. I chose my patrols accordingly.”
“The berber was yours,” ar-Rahman said finally realizing but the king shook his head. He could not confirm it of course. “So what will you do with me?”
“Use you,” the king answered at once. “You have some talents, not the least of which is your survival. But whether I use you as a prisoner or an agent is up to you.”
An agent. Ar-Rahman was surprised by that. He’d not expected this offer from the Catholic king. Seeing his distress the King motioned to a chair and he sat down in it, putting his head down and deep in thought.
“What would be required of me?”
“What would be required of any of my knights. Though you need not convert as long as you remain loyal.”
“A wise man to present my only choice as not my only choice,” ar-Rahman responded. “For that little nicety I thank you.”
“And your response?”
“I have a condition. It is not onerous,” he added when the king looked dubious. “Let me keep the woman Lisina as my servant. She is not one of yours and she has proven herself to me. I do not believe she has any where else to go. If she did, I would release her.”
The next morning ar-Rahman stood in the presence of King Alfonso of Asturias and the nobility of the palace. All were wearing weapons save for the Umayyad prince. Honoring the king’s promise, the clergy were there to witness but not officiate. His clothes were clean and his hands no longer bound and his head was bare as he pledged his loyalty to King Alfonso the Catholic as a Knight of Asturias.
OOC: Comments! Thanks for taking the time to do so, much appreciated. This is the last section that really needed heavy "scripting" for a while.
Abd ar-Rahman wondered if he’d done the right thing, to which he always replied “what else could I have done?” It was what she’d said when he’d discussed it with her--she was his only confidant at the time and he still thought she was right. However, all he had left was the honor of his name and he worried if he had even that now.
Abd ar-Rahman swore to Alfonso I late in the year 753. The move had caused more than a little surprise among the other nobility, particularly Fruela, Alfonso’s eldest son. While obviously an outsider the deposed prince still represented the largest threat to him aside from his own family and that animosity grew as time passed. But Fruela was largely alone in his open distaste for the new and landless knight owing to his own character. Both ar-Rahman and Fruela had taken part in the capture of the Rioja district in the western marches which had been the next logical step after the region of Leon had been fully incorporated into Asturias. But Rioja had held several communities of Basques that were imperfectly enamored of Asturian control, having defied both the late Odo, and the Muslims to the south. It was not through lack of courage they’d been overcome but by being pressed on three sides at once. While ar-Rahman had performed well in the brief skirmishes there, he’d been recalled by the king leaving the region to be fully occupied by the heir, who had gone on to massacre several villages in the region to pacify the rest of it. The tactic had worked but it had not made Fruela very liked.
Abd ar-Rahman on the other hand fared better. Thanks to near constant language lessons from Lisina, he’d managed to acquire a decent command of the language in half a year and by 755 could speak it well enough to lead men and this Alfonso ordered him to do.
Initially ar-Rahman was under supervision, not just by any other nobles that went with him on the missions assigned to him but by the man, Mero, who’d led the patrol to find him but whom he had been allowed to learn was one of the king’s many spies. He was not naïve enough to think that was the only person the king had watching him, but still found it worth while to establish a relationship with the man who after all was a good fighter and necessarily intelligent--and good fighters were certainly needed. To his surprised the king’s younger son Vimerano also began to accompany him more often and they began to develop a bit of a friendship. Vimerano was disliked by his older brother as well, and combined with the somewhat precarious position of being a “spare” son he could relate to ar-Rahman a little.
News of ar-Rahman’s emergence under the service of the King of Asturias was widespread, but it was almost too unbelievable to be true and many in Al-Andalus didn’t. For reasons of his own the king had not proclaimed the news and the first most of his people knew of it was if ar-Rahman actually met them on tasks for the king. For unlike landed nobility, all he had was service to the aging king and so we constantly busy. By 755 he was already being trusted to lead raids against al-Andalus and his enemy, it’s governor al-Fihri. That he was often with more of Alfonso’s trustworthy nobles did not detract from his accomplishments which were admirable.
He’d been educated by the finest schools in Damascus and now he’d been blooded in small skirmishes and raids across the border, he knew of arts and sciences though not as much as a dedicated scholar would, and after learning the language and having his circumstances bettered, he displayed a decent sense of humor as well. He was able to suggest several administrative improvements in the kingdom that somewhat reduced the fractiousness of the nobles and tied the population together more tightly than had been the case and Asturias was better for it. As the king often sent him to small towns and regions to implement these suggestions, he became a somewhat familiar figure to most of the population of the mountainous kingdom with his Arab name and red hair and figure.
Even many of the nobles once seeing that he was not about to turn on them and slay them if they refused to convert or turn traitor at the first chance began to become more friendly to him. For ar-Rahman’s part that wasn’t particularly difficult. His family had always been rather practically minded and if more private obeisance was what the situation called for, that was acceptable.
As expected, he also grew closer to the servant who’d helped him escape and learned a little bit of her story--taken in a raid as a child from a convent she’d had some basic education. Being attached to one of the upper-class ladies associated with the governor’s family, her education had been furthered by her mistress who was amused at the presence of quick mind of one of the northerners and she was at that.
Adb ar-Rahman had resigned himself to living the life of a very minor noble for the most part, though he still often dreamed of revenge and did take more than a little pleasure in raiding the Abbasid lands on a regular basis. The situation was less serious than it had been it the past Vimerano told him, because the Franks were fully engaged in capturing the Narbonne area from the Caliphate as Pepin’s Kingdom was much the larger threat. As much news as they got seemed positive for the Franks.
Then in 757 everything changed. Alfonso died and Fruela became king. Ar-Rahman had been worried for that day for some time as without the king’s patronage he would have little but to his surprise the nobility led by Vimerano had managed to convince the king not to simply dismiss him out of hand. He was removed from the Duero marches and sent east to the edge of the Vasconian and Basque lands on a mission to try and extend Asturian power by diplomacy, a largely thank-less task he supposed but at least it was something and he needed that support now more than ever, for Lisina was newly pregnant and he had no doubts about the child.
To his surprise and likely the surprise of many others his mission succeeded. Not quickly at first, and there were many setbacks but over the course of 757, ar-Rahman had managed to convince most of the leadership of the countries, currently under Frankish influence to also assist them in future wars with the Muslims. They had chafed under Frankish leadership being so recently free as their cousins to the west and a promise of greater autonomy induced them to offer assistance as long as it did not involve attacking the Franks.
He was so occupied in the task that he had failed to notice the growing dissatisfaction with Fruela who was growing increasingly oppressive the more he ruled and if rumor could believe, paranoid. He began to worry about his family there so close to a man who hated him for mistress and their son, Salamon, a name acceptable to both his own culture and hers and wondered if he should send for them. All he had was in the capital and they would be living hard, so too his son was a newborn… but in the end the decision was taken from him.
In the spring of 758, several of the mid-ranking nobility with a shocking proposal. Over throw of the king in favor of his younger brother Vimerano. That was not particularly surprising but what was a shock was that they’d chosen to consult him. Abd Ar-Rahman’s reputation as a chivalrous and loyal man his popularity and his friendship with the younger son had apparently paid off to his advantage as the rebellious nobles chose to seek his approval for their plan--and more, they wanted him to be the one to convince Vimerano to rise against his brother.
After a long consultation with both the nobility, and he’d insisted the Basque counts who he’d newly tied to Asturias, they were finally agreed to do so. But before ar-Rahman set out on his trip to see Vimerano, his family arrived on horses exhausted and half dead. The news they came bearing was worth it: Vimerano was dead, and it was Fruela who had assassinated his brother. Having given in to paranoia, Fruela was beginning a massive purge of anyone suspected of loyalty and several of the Galicians were already in revolt in terror of their lives. Most of the men who’d come to see him were also pronounced as traitors. His own name was not there but it might have been an oversight, doubtless to be corrected later.
The nobility were afraid. Most were far from their power bases as they’d wanted to travel to meet with him secretly. None of them had anything like the requirements to mount much of a resistance and the populace was still largely loyal to the memory of Alfonso and thus his heir, none of the others could match it. The Basques were already beginning to talk about breaking any pledges to the Asturians and all seemed lost until the daughter of the most powerful count, a young woman named Munia, made a suggestion that was audacious enough to echo down through history. A simple question. “Why don’t you do it?”
After a moment of stunned silence and then one by one the nobles gathered turn to look at him, appraising some, most wary. He was frozen solid, expressionless but he felt Lisina slide behind him and was grateful for her quiet support. When the first of the nobility nodded he felt a tingling in his finger tips, not fear but excitement, a sense that his life was balanced on the point of a sword.
“Convert,” they said. “Convert and we will follow.” They all said it. All of them agreed. The Basques would follow him, they knew he would honor their interests. The nobles knew him now as a strong fighter, a noble knight, a canny administrator and loyal. The people knew him as well as he’d defended them and improved their lives implementing the King’s suggestions. He was the only one with the popularity to go against the line of Alfonso, in no small part because Alfonso himself had shown he trusted the Muslim prince.
He’d begged off for the moment, staggered away. He’d sat with his lover and their son quietly, contemplating. His religion….. It would a break with his past. But he remembered his mother and Lisina now too. It was the Asturians who’d taken him in, who’d trusted him. Used him too, but he’d used them to forge a life for himself. And too, it would be a chance for revenge. "What will be left for us if you do not?" Lisina had whispered.
In the end he’d looked at Salamon and knew what the answer had to be. He could not let Fruela come for his family. He made his decision.
His entire body tense he returned to the gathered nobles and they turned to him.
“Send for a priest,” he said at last.
At dawn on April 17, AD 758 Abd ar-Rahman converted to Christianity and was acclaimed King of Asturias by the rebels.
END PART I.
C: Carmona Massacre, 752, ar-Rahman captured (2nd time)
D: Zaragoza uprising defeated, 752
E: ar-Rahman captured by Christians (3rd capture)
F: Independant Basque and Vasconian counties
G: Septimania, Franks currently conquering
White lines: Areas under limited control of the central government
Black lines: Borders
Dotted line: Abd ar-Rahman's route until reaching Asturias
Part II: Thrones, Chapter I
If there was a smell of desperation around the rebellion against Fruela of Asturias, the man chosen to lead the rebels didn’t acknowledge. While the Basques and Vasconian locals were behind him his army would take time to grow stronger, time enough for Fruela to finish his purge and turn on them. However, moving west through heavily Basque county they were able to gain some support. In his short rein Fruela had caused them even more resentment than most of his nobles and it was likely that ar-Rahman’s personal diplomacy in the area was all that had prevented a revolt from occurring after Fruela took the throne.
Camping in the ruins of Miranda en Ebro, ar-Rahman made a decision to send some of the more trustworthy agents south into the Rioja. While currently it was under the nominal control of Asturias, the area was very much on the border and King Alfonso had managed to assert his power there only on occasion. At other times Al-Andalus had managed to hold the area, now ar-Rahman’s agents were sent to gain their support while his main effort would be directed at Santander, the largest of the cities in this part of the kingdom, and a port. With Asturias having no true navy to speak of, ar-Rahman could at least be assured of gaining some supplies from his allies farther west by water and in the trade that came to the city, the reason for its existence.
Marching as quickly as he could he managed to arrive at Santander on June 25 in the evening. He’d marched slowly towards it while keeping an eye out as best he could for any force Fruela would send against him, but his primary objective was to gather more men from the regions to the east that were in his camp.While the city at first resisted, shortly there after efforts to the south paid off and he was joined by more men from Rioja bringing his rebellious army to nearly 1200 men. Faced with an increasing army and a tense situation Santander managed to surrender without a fight and on July 6, Abd ar-Rahman entered the city. In fact he entered on foot to show that he would not act as an arrogant monarch and left most of the military forces outside the city though smaller groups were allowed to enter for a day at a time.
Before ar-Rahman had reached Santander, Fruela had become fully aware of his efforts and a force loyal to him had been assembled. Though he was not popular at this time ar-Rahman’s conversion was not widely known and Fruela wasted little time in claiming that ar-Rahman had been revealed as an agent of Al-Andalus at long last--as he’d always suspected. But he had been delayed by a matter he felt more pressing. While the propaganda about ar-Rahman was spreading he sent some of his most trusted men under a nobleman named Elipando of Pravia, to the southwest to make sure the man who was the real threat to his throne was subdued, his cousin Aurelius. It was only after he’d readied that expedition that he set out for the east to destroy ar-Rahman his hated rival personally.
Gathering more men on the way as he marched from his capital at Canagas de Onis, Fruela put a few of the villages he passed through to the sword to make sure the rest remembered who their king was. Soon he got word that ar-Rahman was heading for Santander and directed his own men towards it. When ar-Rahman got word of the situation and against the advice of nobles he elected to remain in Santander and stand siege. In a protracted war, he knew he would lose, and even if he didn’t the arable land in the kingdom would largely have been decimated by marching armies and he did not intend to inherit a ruin.
The nobles however, largely decamped, giving up on him and fleeing and leaving him with about 900 men (the Basque fighters). When Fruela finally arrived a few days later on July 21 the Siege of Santander began. Fruela had no intention of storming the place and instead concentrated on strengthening his position around the city. His only worry was the port itself, he didn’t have the ships to block it and he was worried ar-Rahman would escape him.
While ships did enter the port ar-Rahman quickly began to run out of anyone who would give him food and his money was no where near sufficient to buy it. Even has Basque allies were wavering and he over heard some talk of handing him over to Fruela for leniency. With the situation deteriorating so rapidly Abd ar-Rahman gathered the remains of his army and spoke with them. He praised their courage and loyalty and told them he was going to make a sally and if this failed he would release them all from any pledges he’d made. That night he led 300 of his men (almost all ones who followed the family of the audacious Basque lady, Munia) to the main gates of the city and in a moment of inspiration drew his sword and threw his scabbard into the fire pledging to conquer or die. Moved by his example his men did the same.
That night well before dawn, they emerged from the gate swept away the sentries and fell on the fatally inattentive men that Fruela had with him slaughtering hundred of them and setting fire to many of the army’s tents and baggage. By the time dawn had come, the battle of Santander was over and almost two thousand men lay dead on the field with more fleeing. Fruela himself escaped the carnage and fled back towards Canagas de Onis.
After looting what remained of the camp, ar-Rahman gathered all the soldiers he had left and set off in pursuit, now mounted on Fruela’s horses.
As ar-Rahman pursued the fleeing king he encountered another force of men, some 800 strong. Among them were the nobles who had fled, most with military contingents stronger than before but leading them was another man he recognized, Fruela’s cousin Aurelius.
Aurelius dismounted and bowed before ar-Rahman hailing him as king. When Elipando had moved to besiege he had taken as many men as he could, instructed his steward to stall Elipando but hand over the lands if needed and set out for the east and ar-Rahman. A quiet man by nature he was enraged by Fruela’s conduct toward him but the years ar-Rahman had spend in Asturias had convinced him that ar-Rahman would make a better king than he would. Thus proclaiming ar-Rahman as the rightful King, they reached the capital of Asturias in a place very near Covadonga. There ar-Rahman and his men surrounded the citadel where Fruela had retreated to. Inside it were a few men, mostly from Elipando’s force. Most of the king’s army was either dead or had scattered and not yet reformed. While the siege went on ar-Rahman took the opportunity to begin establishing his authority.
Finally, Elipando and Fruela emerged and demanded to speak to ar-Rahman. Wary of archers ar-Rahman, Aurelius and Julen the leader of the Basque contingent, rode up to the gates. Fruela insulted ar-Rahman again, and once again proclaimed him a false Christian with intentions only to hand over Asturias to Al-Andalus. Hearing it shouted again over the town sounded ridiculous and even the people who had begun to gather at a distance from the force surrounding the citadel could be heard to think so, doubly so when Aurelius rode forth, and fully threw his support behind ar-Rahman.
It was then that ar-Rahman weary of the fight and hoping to break the deadlock offered Fruela a chance at single combat to decide his fate. If Fruela won, he would be allowed to go free and Aurelius would be made king. As Alfonso had given ar-Rahman no choice, so he gave Fruela no choice--and Fruela knew it, his cause was lost. But if he knew it, so did his men and in that moment Elipando seized his king, flung him from the walls and sued for mercy as he ordered the gates opened.
In the ceremony that named him King in the capital, Aurelius disclaimed any claims he would have to the throne in favor of ar-Rahman and the nobility swore to him as King. In public then, he took part in the Eucharist with the nobility and for a wonder he did not feel shame.
After words after following the customs of Asturias, on September 14, AD 758. the man known as Abd ar-Rahman was proclaimed King Avidus I of Asturias.
TL for those who want to skip my Torrid Prose :D
Note, the events were moved to about 3 years earlier in TTL but otherwise most of them are simliar to OTL events.
731: Abd ar-Rahman born, POD his Christian mother has more influence on him (leading him to generally have more favorable relations with Christians)
751: ar-Rahman captured by N. African Berbers for ransom (in OTL he fought them off and it happened in 755, he's captured because he's younger and less experienced)
752: ar-Rahman reaches Al-Andalus and is recieved at Malaga, al-Fihri crushes a Zaragoza uprising, ar-Rahman he sets out for Seville and is captured near Carmona by al-Fihri and taken to Cordoba
(in OTL this happened in 755 but the uprising lasted long enough to allow ar-Rahman a much freer hand in Seville)
753: After being humiliated by al-Fighri in Cordoba, ar-Rahman attempts to rally support in Al-Andalus and fails, fleeing with his small retinue he is captured by Alfonso I's soldiers and begins a career in his service including diplomacy with the Basque regions
757: Alfonso I dies and his son becomes king (as in OTL)
758: Fruela kills his brother (as in OTL though it happens sooner cuz ar-Rahman's popularity and friendship with him make Fruela more paranoid), ar-Rahman converts and is proclaimed king by the rebels and the Basques. After securing the support of the person who in OTL did take the throne, he defeats Fruela and is installed as King
(Fruela defeated a Basque uprising in OTL but now because of ar-Rahman's reputation the rebels can rally behind someone, Aurelius did not seem the ambitious type but took the kingship when offered, in this TL he never had to)
So far the story was created because I needed to figure out a way to convert ar-Rahman. Perhaps it verges some on ASB, but hopefully it's at least a little plausibe. Then again as someone who writes fiction I tend toward dramatics.
Torrid prose isn't always a bad thing. Might I also suggest you break into song?
Thrones, Chapter II
The news of ar-Rahman’s ascension shot through the peninsula like lightning. For most of the people of al-Andalus who had been aware of his presence, they did not know what to think. But the governor of al-Andalus did and so did the Caliph in Baghdad. Even as al-Fihri began to gather his army to march north, the Caliph began to do the same, intending to finish the Umayyad legacy and bring the fractious al-Andalus under control, declaiming that the Umayyad’s very name was an afront to God. As the new governor of Africa he named Karim ibn Ubayd al-Misri, a protégé of the governor of the Egypt. With the governorate was included al-Andalus, and a force of almost 30,000 men accompanied by ships were gathered and set out on a slow march west from Alexandria in the fall of 761.
Meanwhile in al-Andalus news of al-Fihri forces arrived in Canagas de Onis where Avidos was already planning on how to extinguish the threat. He’d suspected this would happen and had made several preparations before hand including giving certain orders to the Berber agents Alfonso had co-opted and sending a delegation to the ruler of Zaragoza, one Musa ibn Fortun an ethnically Basque noble whose ancestors had converted and ended up being named governor after the last uprising. Obligingly they revolted again taking all the land up to the Pyrenees with them including several retreating Islamic groups there, and making the pacification of Septimania by the Franks proceed more swiftly.
With his eastern flank secure, Avidos marched south with as many men as he could gather in haste, some 900, with more en-route. He had asked for and gotten a full mobilization and sanctioned by the church. However the work his agents had done proved well and the Berbers, Islamic though they were once again rose in revolt across the north to support him. Denied the richer lands in the center of the country and shoved onto the frontiers or the mountainous regions they were eager to get back at the Arabs he ruled over them having last been crushed in the 740s. Constituting a large proportion of the Muslim population around Toledo, they joined his army swelling its ranks.
With such a mixed army, Avidos was able to prevent the whole-sale destruction of Muslim property by any vengeful knights for at the time Avidos went south the proportion of Muslims and Christians in the country was close and he would antagonize neither group for the other. As a consequence both were antagonized but was able to keep their ire directed at Cordoba until they arrived at Toledo with a force of almost 2500. Garrisoned largely by Berbers with a sprinkling of Qaysite Arabs the fortress in a stroke of luck capitulated, it’s masters brutally killed by their army and the gates opened to him in 761.
Avidos was master of Toledo and it was to Toledo that the news came that al-Fihri was approaching with almost 6,000 men.
Thrones, Chapter III
A messenger was sent out from Toledo to al-Fihri and his army, comprising most of his loyal forces in Al-Andalus. Sent in the name of the former governor of Toledo, It informed him that Avidus (Abd ar-Rahman) had been captured while leading a personal scouting mission and was being held in Toledo. His army had splintered but could still regroup and so patrols had been redoubled to the north, east and west and he should make all speed to take the new king south wary but aware that he would be warned. Al-Fihri believed this and left his infantry behind, advancing north with a cavalry force of about 2000 men. Never the less he placed some scouts on his own to supplement those of Toledo.
Of the course the message was a trap. Avidus (ar-Rahman) was shown to al-Fihri and when al-Fihri and his personal guard arrived in Toledo to see the new king he instead captured them and put al-Fihri to death, gutting al-Fihri in half.
A short time later the body was presented to the cavalry detachment along with some unwelcome news--they were nearly surrounded on three sides. The Berber patrols from Toledo had of course found nothing, and the Christian forces that had "scattered" had in fact taken up positions to surround al-Fihri's army and were rapidly closing the ring. Several times a part of the cavalry force attempted to break out of the encirclement and they were repulsed several with some loss but these engagements cost neither side many men.
With reinforcements coming from the north and Toledo's own soldiers they numbered something around 3400 men both horse and foot and it was likely a concerted effort could win them free. This however, was not known to the commanders of the cavalry detachment, all they knew based on their own information was that they would be rapidly set on soon by a hostile force and their leader had just been killed in a rather nasty manner. Not knowing how close or even if the infantry forces would arrive (in reality upon hearing news of al-Fihri's death they would disperse and return home pillaging the countryside on the way) they surrendered.
To the horror of some, Avidus slew the Qaysite Arabs to the man. To the survivors, Avidus offered them a choice: swear to him and join him, or be deprived of their weapons and sent on their way home on the condition that they not support the Abbasids again. Their third option of course was death. Most took the opportunity to decamp for home and raise revolts of their own, but several mostly Yemeni arabs, went over to the king who was showing a good balance between Christians and Muslims but also favor among the various disaffected Muslim groups.
Avidus seizing the opportunity, moved south towards Cordoba the Abbasid capital. In Cordoba, panic seized the populace, and now leaderless they turned to a council of ministers and qadis to exercise governance and they decided to fight. Avidus offered battle to them south of the river Guadalquivir to induce them to abandon the town itself. The Cordobans accepted sending their own men north, an army of 3000 though perhaps less than a thousand men of worth (the others are conscript fodder).
The battle itself was vicious. The Cordobans had less professional men than the king, but they were highly motivated and their enemy had his back to the River, ensuring any retreat would turn into a massacre. King Avidus for his part had to worry about his new allies loyalty and constantly watched them for signs of treachery that might see him dead and a new ruler of al-Andalus emerge, keeping many of them out of the fight. Finally as the day began to darken, he himself rode into battle with his personal guard driving into the heart of the Cordoban forces. He drove them back a ways, but in the battle he was unhorsed. Fearing his death, his men began to waiver and fall back.
In desperation, Avidus (Abd ar-Rahman that is) threw off the white cloak he was wearing over his armor and tied it to a lance, raising it above the melee and calling his men to rally. Seeing their King alive and fighting put heart into his men and they rallied, driving the enemy from the field and leaving it strewn with bodies in what chroniclers could only a call a complete victory. In the aftermath, the cloak and lance became his personal banner and that of his heirs.
With the defeat of the Cordoban army, King Avidus Arman* I entered Cordoba in triumph at the close of the campaign season of 761 and began the process of establishing control over his newly gained lands.
*Abd Ar-Rahman can't keep his name quite that way as it means "Servant of God/Allah" as near as I can figure, so he took the crown in a Romanized form.
Iberian political situation and important settlements, start of 765:
Very interesting premise, a Christian Spain being forged by an Arab former Muslim! I look forward to reading more!
Thrones, Chapter IV
Last update for a while.
--Almost a dozen Taifa kingdoms appear after the fall of Cordoba shatters Abbasid authority in Al-Andalus.
--After conquering Cordoba, Avidus was weds the Basque noble, Munia. Despite his marriage, the former slave girl Lisina is no longer his mistress but remains with him assisting him. The clergy disapproves of the marriage and certain nobles (including Elipando) begin to grumble.
--Musa ibn Fortun declares himself the Emir of Zaragoza after gaining full political control of both Barcelona and Tortosa.
--Deeper communication and trade links are established with the Franks with the principal point of contact being the port of Santander (since lands to the east are controlled by Zaragoza)
--Avidus Arman takes Porto and establishes more definsible borders along the southern fronts. As the Taifas are busily attacking each other, he severely limits raids into their lands causing more grumbling by some of the Christian nobility.
--Karim ibn Ubayd al-Misri and his army reach Kairoun after having to put down several small uprisings on the way west. Informed that the lands to the west are even more lawless he begins a pacification campaign (of the Rustamids) to establish himself as governor.
--Peio son of Avidus and Munia is born.
--Pepin the Short begins to plan an invasion of the Saxons
--King Avidus begins to re-shape the administration of Asturias along more Islamic lines. Since the administration is also inspired by Byzantine (Roman) administration, it is a little familiar but more nobles resent this as it places more power in his hands at their expense
--Jon son of Avidus and Munia is born.
--Invasion of the Taifa of Valencia.
Ahead of the King of Asturias Valencia burned. Not the entire city, fortunately, but the harbor district and the Citadel had caught. Before his eyes one of the towers collapsed in on itself and he ground his teeth. The invasion had proceeded well. Zaragoza had attacked Valencia to the south and taking advantage of the situation he'd invaded from the west and pushed on to the city. Most of Valencia's army had disintegrated after that but a few companies managed to keep together and launch attacks on him, attempting to relieve the city while Zaragoza consolidated it's hold in the north. It hadn't been a simple matter but the outcome had not been in doubt. Due to the flames, most of his men were milling around the out-buildings of the town or fighting the fire, there was comparatively little appetite for looting or rape though he would probably have to parcel out the widows in a few days.
Still he could rebuild the port and have on on the coast of the sea and that was no small gain. Trade with the Franks was increasing at a surprising rate and even a few ships from the island in the northern sea had come, but it could not compare to the trade in the south with the Lombards or the Romans.
All in all, things were going well. The foundation of the changes he planned to makein the administration practices of the Asturians had largely been completed and agricultural and medical techniques were also beginning to improve. In this he was fortunate--in light of who he was it might have been expected that many of the surviving Muslims would hate him--and many did. But not all, more than a few attached themselves to his court for he demonstrated a love of learning and repsect for knowledge that would mark this period of Islam and several of these had come from the east for various reasons bringing with them both knowledge and literacy. While a cutural fusion had already been well underway in the south, even in the northern parts of his land new ideas and modes of thinking were just beginning to emerge even after a few short years.
As he continued the work that night in his tent submerged in an endless pile of parchments, one of his guards informed him that he had a visitor, one he'd not expected. Munatas was a Berber, one of the aspies in relation to the Mahgreb he kept. He bowed quickly before him.
"Speak, you should not be here. What is the meaning of this?" he demanded quietly.
"My lord," Munatas began, "I have confirmation from my own agents. The governor of Ifriqiya is putting together a great armament in the ports to the south. He intends to cross the sea."
"So....," the king said feeling his face go still. "In the end, they came to me." The desire for revenge, submerged these past years as the daily concerns of the kingdom demanded his attetion, burst forth again and flamed inside him. Only his experience kept him from showing reaction.
"It is said, lord, that he has publicly declared you an enemy of Islam and will not return from his expedition without your head in a box." Munatas gestured to a wrapped bundle he placed on the table. My report will detail all we have learned about his movements but he will move soon."
"Hmm... and in the process he will put down the Taifas. What else?"
"35,000 men it is said, and many, many horsemen."
"Very well. Thank you, Munatas. Now I know you would wish to return but you must stay with me at all time, I would ask you more of the details and a human voice is all the better than writing. After all, I prefer my head attached to my body and my body is too large to fit in the small box he has no doubt readied at his side--so I must triumph."
His agents blanched a little, visible even in the dark on his face but nodded. The king smiled inside, best not to let him go, not with the knowledge of that great army that might prey on his mind and argue for defection.
That very night messengers were sent, his most trusted men, men of all tribes or peoples under his crown, men he chose for one reason, their loyalty. Messengers sent to the other parts of his realm, to Zaragoza, the other Taifas, even to the Franks. Those messengers had been found by Lisina, who often coordinated his intelligence reports and he trusted her judgment. The Caliph's governor was a threat to them all. He might not have started a King, but he would end as one, not a prisoner or supplicant.
But not yet, not while an Abbasid Caliph drew breath.
A fascinating timeline, and it is interesting to see a Reconquista than is as sudden as the conquista.
A small nitpick: I think than, having retaken both the old capital at Toledo and the islamic capital in Cordoba, Asturias would return to its old name of Hispania (Asturias considered itself the heir of Visigoth Hispania, and had not particular reverence for the name, wich in fact changed to the Kingdom of Galicia, then Leon and finally Castille before it returned to be Spain)
Thrones, Chapter V
@Rakhasa: I've got a plan for that.
Setting a strong guard to rebuild Valencia, the king reached Toledo well before the start of the summer. There he received the reports of his agents. From the Taifas came a variety of messages: Silves, Algarve, Malaga, Cartagena and Granada all sent word agreeing to his proposal of a joint operation against the Abbasid threat. None of them wanted to be ruled from Baghdad any more than they desired to be ruled by him and now that both were before them, it chanced the Caliph was mightier than he was. From Alcegiras came an answer begging off, but that was expected as Karim al-Misri was landing troops on his shores.
Karim wanted to accomplish his mission. Instead of moving straight toward the king, he had learned from crushing the Shi’ite rebellion in the Mahgreb that to have even a chance of permanently stabilizing al-Andalus he had to pacify the countryside first and to gain more adherents. Without uniting all the Muslims to create an enduring al-Andalus his mission would fail and in a generation a new general and a new army would be sent to pacify a rebellious region again. Alcegiras itself was quickly pacified but the countryside took longer and he received emissaries from several of the Taifas. Most of the Taifas sided with the Asturian but Badajoz responded favorably and after some more correspondence a force was sent to strengthen them The Zaragozan's too wanted to talk after Badajoz used them to invade Silves and Algarve.
The response came quickly. The King immediately sent word to the Taifa of Lisbon and with Asturian soldiers to back them up they invaded Badajoz in an act of self-preservation. While Karim al-Misri moved north west, soldiers from Malaga, Granada and Cartagena moved to block him and were reinforced by more Asturians. He also opened more urgent talks with the Franks.
During the late summer, some thrusts were made towards Cordoba but were repulsed with some loss forcing Karim to slow his expected advancement while he waited for more of his men to cross to the peninsula. In addition to having to hold North Africa he needed to regroup his scattered armies before going north. While Asturias did not have the force to confront him, neither did he have the strength necessary for a concerted push that would not leave him over-extended if he advanced past Cordoba, and the ambitious Karim al-Misri would like nothing more than to do just that. However the autumn rains are heavier than usual and he cannot advance that year while consolidating his position as more men flock to his banners.
Early in 766, the Emirate of Zaragoza which has offered only a tepid response to King Avidus, invades the Balearic Islands of Denia. After securing Ibiza they begin to launch sea-borne raids against mainland Denia and Cartagena forcing the latter to shift forces to the east an defend its towns.
Meanwhile news has come from the Franks in the form of Pepin’s son Charles and, a massive force that arrived at Santander by boat late that spring straining the port town, now enlarged in the years since Avidus Arman’s ascension, to capacity. Joining the Frankish prince is his closest friend and distant relative, Roland. Marching south along the border between Zaragoza and Asturias, they are joined by a force of Zaragozans who have publicly declared for Asturias. Their attacks on Cartagena and Denia continue with Asturian acquiescence the price of their help. The Zaragozans treat the Franks well as they take some time to enjoy the emirate’s eponymous capital city before continuing south.
Charles arrived to help battle Muslims and preserve the Christian realm in the peninsula on orders of his father Pepin, but he also has a much different objective. Because Frankish designs lay towards the east, he was to scout the terrain around the Emirate of Zaragoza for a forth coming Frankish invasion to safeguard the conquests of Septimania securing the western border and providing more outlets into the Mediterranean.
They join with the main Asturian force with a very large contingent of infantry trained in warfare on broken terrain each equipped with a reinforced quiver on their backs for a large number of heavy javelins much like the ancient Romans. However these javelins are so heavy that they cannot afford much armor. Avidus meets the 25 year old Frankish prince south at Cuenca, hosting him in the Conca Alcazaba built a generation before as they meet to plan strategy.
Shortly after their arrival word comes that Karim al-Misri has laid siege to Carmona and King Avidus Araman, Charles, Roland, and Yahya ibn Musa, the commander of the Zaragozan contingent and one of the Emir’s sons, ride south. When the Asturians and their allies reach Cordoba, they are met by several thousand men from the Taifas under their various commanders.
For Karim, the fortress at Carmona would be an excellent base for advances north or west if the Taifas prove recalcitrant. However the siege has not been a simple matter. After the conquest of Cordoba, the king had fortified the citadel and spared no expense to provision it. The garrison there is sizable, and has been increased due to the Abbasid invasion. When Karim received word that King Avidus was moving on his position he left a guard of some 3000 men to guard the fortress while he led the rest some 3 miles to the east and took up a position at the crossing of the Corbones river. Avidus could attack or take a detour through mountainous terrain and into the unfriendly lands of Badajoz-conquered Seville. Worried about the fortress falling to Karim, the allies decide they have no choice and prepare to attack Karim across the river.
Abd ar-Rahman (for he still though of himself as that) stood looking at the Abbasid banner, a black square of emptiness in the day and beneath it somewhere, Karim al-Misri, their chosen pawn. He looked back at his men, from Muslim light swordsmen to javelin armed Asturians, to Frankish heavy spearmen and light archers from around the kingdom.
“Those men over there are not cowards!” the king shouted to his men. “They are strong and determined--I know their mettle…. But I also know yours. I know the struggles you have fought through, and the triumphs you’ve gained and I would not leave your side now! Don’t concern yourself with plunder today, victory here and all the south will be in our hands with enough for all. Follow my orders, throw your javelins and stand firm with our allies, and we will win the day!”
Riding to the front with the heavy cavalry of the army, both the few mounted Frankish knights and his own, he drew his sword watching for a second the sun glancing off the serviceable, but simple blade.
“Horsemen! Forward!” he shouted.
The battle of Rio Carbones had begun.
Incidentally, I don't know if you already know it, but the hispaniced name for Abl Al-Ramhan was Abderramán
I don't know if the original map is yours or not but it's kid of odd to see "Madrid" appearing in both of them. At this point of history the city does not even exist and given the current set of events it's unlikely to ever be born.
About the TL I can't really comment until I give it a proper read.
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