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date: 21 July 2019

Arab conquest

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Matthew EdwardsMatthew Edwards, Andrew MarshamAndrew Marsham

Arab conquest 

Era of rapid expansion of tribes from the Arabian Peninsula into Roman and Sasanian territory which led to the formation of the caliphate. Conquests beyond the peninsula are generally understood to have begun shortly after the death of Muhammad (632) and to have ended around the year 750, though later expansion did occur. By 750 the new empire conquered by the Arabs stretched from Spain to western Central Asia. The military and political success of the conquests yielded substantial economic resources through the seizure of agricultural lands and the domination of vital trade networks. The conquests also began the much more gradual and prolonged processes of Arabization and Islamization in the conquered territories.

The crucial battles against the Romans in Syria included Ajnadayn (634) and Yarmuk (636); victory at the latter opened northern Syria to the Arabians. In Iraq, the Sasanian armies initially resisted more effectively, defeating the Arabians at the Battle of the Bridge (mid-630s) but were themselves defeated at al-Qadisiyya (c.638) and then at Nihawand (c.642). Conquests in Egypt and much of the highlands of Iran followed in the 640s, with the last Sasanian King of Kings to rule in Iran being killed in 651. Two aggressive waves of expansion followed, in the 660s and 670s and from the 690s to the 720s, punctuated by Arab civil wars. By the 710s the Arabians had reached Spain in the west and Central Asia in the east. The failure of the Arabians’ siege of Constantinople in 717–18 marked a significant turning point in the war with the Roman Empire, securing the latter’s survival into the Middle Ages.

Matthew Edwards; Andrew Marsham


F. Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (1981).Find this resource:

J. Howard-Johnston, Witnesses to a World Crisis (2010).Find this resource:

H. Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests (2007).Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Africa

The conquest of North Africa by the Muslims took place over many years, repeated waves of invasion being interrupted by conflicts internal to the Umayyad administration and by Berber resistance. The 6th-century efforts of the Byzantines to establish control over the vast agricultural lands and coasts of Africa had weakened by the 7th century. Problems within the Eastern Empire withdrew resources and attention from the West, leaving cities and ports empty of garrisons. Berber tribes, some settled and Christian, some nomadic, dominated the landscape but were by no means unified amongst themselves. The narrative of the conquest is handed down from several sources, all later than the events. The broad outlines are plausible, but many details, such as Sīdī ‘Uqba’s dramatic ride into the Atlantic Ocean (Abd al-Hakam, Futūh), are better understood as literary embellishment than actual fact. The sources stress the importance of alliance with various Berber tribes—more powerful than the Romans—and convey the vastness of the landscape.

In 642–3 (ah 21–2), Amr b. al-Ās led an initial foray from Egypt west into Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Meeting little resistance, he returned to Egypt. In the 670s, ‘Uqba b. Nāfi’ founded a permanent settlement in Ifriqiya, Kairouan, whence he pushed westward across the continent along the foothills of the great mountain ranges. He turned south before Tingi (Tangiers) and then, after reaching the far west coast, turned back into the mountains. Over this journey of thousands of miles ‘Uqba conquered most of Mauretania; he put in place little administration but soldiered onwards. In 683 (ah 63), on his return east, ‘Uqba set out to defeat the Berbers south of the Aurès Mountains, but was met by Romans and Berbers led by Kusayla and the Arabs were slaughtered. The Muslims retreated to Byzacena, leaving Carthage to the Romans and Kairouan to the Berbers. In 698 (ah 78), the Arabs marched from Egypt and retook previously conquered cities and even coastal ports like Carthage, but were repelled by Kahina, a Judaized or Christianized Berber mother and queen. She was later defeated, but Berber resistance was a fierce challenge to Arab rule in the decades and centuries that followed. By 708 the main towns were conquered, a tax-collecting administration and local rule were in place, and Islam had reached across the whole of North Africa down to the desert. The earliest account of the conquest is the Kitāb Futūh Misr wa al-Magrib wa al-Andalus of Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam (ad 803–71).

Caroline Goodson


Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam: ed. (with preface in English) C. C. Torrey (1922); partial FT in A. Gateau, Conquete de l’Afrique du Nord et de l’Espagne (1942, rev. edn. 1948).Find this resource:

W. E. Kaegi, Muslim Expansion and Byzantine Collapse in North Africa (2010).Find this resource:

A. D. Tāhā, The Muslim Conquest and Settlement of North Africa and Spain (1989).Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Armenia

The principal sources for the Arab conquest of Armenia are the Armenian History attributed to Sebeos (7th cent. ad), and the Arabic Book of the Conquests of the Lands (Futūh al-Buldān) by al-Baladhuri (9th cent. ad). Islamic accounts date the Arab subjugation of Armenia to the campaign of Habib b. Maslama in 643, while Armenian accounts indicate that the Armenians did not acknowledge Arab suzerainty until the voluntary submission of Theodore Rshtuni to Mu‘awiya in 653. Despite this difference, a general outline of the conquest is discernible. According to the analysis of the sources by H. Manandean, there were three Arab campaigns into Armenia prior to 653. The first Arab incursion into Armenia occurred in 640 when troops from northern Mesopotamia sacked the Armenian administrative capital of Dvin. The second was the larger invasion into Transcaucasia from Atrpatakan in 643, which was only partially successful. A third raid against the fortress of Arcap‘, north-east of Lake Van, took place in 650. The Emperor Constans II (641–68) was able to restore at least nominal Byzantine control over Armenia in 657/8, but in 661 the Armenian dynasts reiterated their recognition of Arab sovereignty upon the accession of Mu‘āwiya as caliph.

Sergio La Porta


EI 2 vol. 1 (1960) s.v. Armīniya, cols. 634–50 (Canard).Find this resource:

J. Laurent, L’Arménie entre Byzance et l’Islam depuis la conquête arabe jusqu’en 886 (rev. edn. by M. Canard, 1980).Find this resource:

H. Manandean, ‘Les Invasions arabes en Arménie (notes chronologiques)’, Byzantion 18 (1948), 163–95.Find this resource:

Thomson, Howard-Johnston, and Greenwood, Sebeos.Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Cyprus

The first Arab assault on Cyprus is recorded to have taken place in 649, probably in part by way of retaliation for the Byzantine reoccupation of Alexandria in 646–7, for which Cyprus is likely to have served as a base for operations. The raid of 649 was repeated in 650, when the capital of the island (Constantia/Salamis) was taken by siege and tribute was exacted. In 654, a further force is recorded to have been sent to the island, possibly resulting in the establishment of an Arab garrison. Whilst there was an Arab presence on the island from the 650s, however, this fact should not necessarily be taken to imply that Cyprus had come under Arab ‘control’: at the end of the 7th century, the taxes of the island were split evenly between the imperial authorities in Constantinople and the caliphal authorities in Damascus. The Cypriots at this point were probably essentially self-governing, paying tribute to two masters, each of whose power over the island was in a state of flux (and would remain so until the Byzantine reconquest of the 9th century).

Peter Sarris


Howard-Johnston, Witnesses.Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Egypt

The Arab subjugation of Egypt took place over a period of some ten years. The Arabic narrative sources give precedence to decisive battles like the capture of Alexandria in 642, with which the fate of the province was allegedly sealed, but the conquest was rather a drawn-out process with small-scale attacks. Such skirmishes probably began before the arrival of the conquering army of ‘Amr b. al-‘As (d. 664). There were probably border disputes, in the course of which individual towns and strongholds were taken over, with some Byzantine army leaders and soldiers joining the Arabs, but then revolting against them.

As the Arab armies advanced, the Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyrus al-Muqawqis, seems to have come to an agreement in 636 that, in exchange for a yearly payment, the Arabs would not attack Egypt. When after three years the Emperor Heraclius refused to continue this settlement, the Arabs felt entitled to attack. Other sources indicate that the conquering general, ‘Amr b. al-‘As, was familiar with Egypt and was therefore convincing when he asked the Caliph ‘Umar (r. 634–44) for leave to invade a country ‘rich in resources and weak in defence’. Pursuit of Roman troops fleeing from Palestine and Syria might have furnished a further motive.

The Arab troops consisted of some 4,000 soldiers, mostly horsemen, and, according to the sources, they took the same road into the province as other invading forces. From al-‘Arish (Rhinocoloura) on the Palestinian–Egyptian border (on the Mediterranean), they travelled in a south-westerly direction along the edge of the desert, past al-Farama (Pelusium) and Bilbays (al-Qantara), which were taken after battles. At ‘Ayn Shams (Heliopolis) Roman forces were severely beaten, but the nearby fortress of Babylon, located at the head of the Nile Delta, appeared too strong for the Arab forces. ‘Amr b. al-‘As asked the Caliph for reinforcements and in the meantime subdued the Fayyum oasis. The advance on Babylon and the taking of the Fayyum oasis made good tactical sense, as it cut Egypt in two, so isolating the Roman troops and taking control of important political and military strongholds. This strategy is apparent in the account given by the (originally Coptic) Chronicle of John of Nikiu. After Babylon had been captured, the territory of Upper and Lower Egypt, as far as the border with the Nubians, was secured. The Arab forces then advanced on Alexandria, first taking the surrounding villages and countryside, and then in 642 the city itself.

The agreement originally made by Cyrus and ‘Amr b. al-‘As was subsequently applied to the entire province. Accounts in the sources disagree about the nature of the conquest of Egypt, whether it was by force (‘anwatan) or by treaty (sulhan). These disagreements reflect later concerns about the legal status of Egypt; whether it was a conquered land to be distributed amongst the soldiers and so subject to flexibly increasable impositions, or a land whose income should benefit all Muslims through taxation. All inhabitants of Egypt were granted protection (dhimma) and in exchange paid a poll-tax and provided the conquerors with food and clothing, mostly in the earliest period when the active Arab army had no established local sources of supplies.

Fighting, however, continued. Alexandria was soon retaken by the Romans in 645. Its recapture by ‘Amr b. al-‘As was violent, forcing all the Romans out of the city and destroying the city gates and walls. To counter future Byzantine attacks from the sea, the Arabs built a fleet with harbour facilities in Fustat, Alexandria, and Clysma, which participated in an attack on Constantinople as early as the 660s. Other Roman attacks on Arab forces in Egypt are reported, including one in which a Roman army roamed the Delta. A treaty concluded in 652 between the Arabs and the Nubians was supposed to ensure stability on the southern border, although unrest, especially with the Bedouin Blemmyes from the eastern desert, continued. Arab attacks on Libya were organized from Egypt throughout the 7th century.

Archaeological records and historical accounts do not suggest that the conquest generally led to mass emigration, the disowning of lands or goods, or large-scale destruction. Egypt suffered several military campaigns immediately before the Arab conquest, most significantly the Persian invasion and occupation of Egypt (619–29), while the largely Miaphysite population of Egypt experienced persecution under the Patriarch Cyrus. Egyptians must to some extent have experienced the arrival of the Arabs as one of a series of shifts in political power and thus were not necessarily motivated to fight to maintain Roman rule. The Roman army, whose commanders competed rather than cooperated between themselves, does not seem to have been well organized or motivated. The Arab invading army, although small and ill-equipped, made effective use of materials, such as artillery and siege machinery, captured along the way. It was composed of Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula, and Christian Arabs from the Roman and Persian Empires, as well as soldiers who had defected from the Persian and Roman armies.

Petra Sijpesteijn


Butler, Arab Conquest of Egypt.Find this resource:

D. R. Hill, The Termination of Hostilities in the Early Arab Conquests, ad 634–656 (1971).Find this resource:

Hoyland, Seeing Islam.Find this resource:

C. F. Petry and M. W. Daly, eds., The Cambridge History of Egypt I. Islamic Egypt, 640–1517, 2 vols. (1998).Find this resource:

W. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests (1995).Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Palestine, Syria, and Roman Mesopotamia

The main events of the Arab conquests of the Near East, carried out at the expense of the Byzantine and Sasanian empires, happened during a single decade after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. While the conquered were exhausted from fifty years of battling each other, the conquerors had speed, surprise, and a way of life well suited to raiding on their side, as well as—according to the medieval historical tradition and many, but not all, modern scholars—a shared identity and an ideology that mobilized them for conquest.

After several years of warfare within the Arabian Peninsula, both during and after Muhammad’s lifetime, a number of different Arab armies launched campaigns into Byzantine and Sasanian territory. The critical victories over the Byzantines were at Ajnadayn (in southern Palestine, 634) and Yarmuk (on the modern Syria–Jordan border, 636); Jerusalem was also conquered in 638, an event to which Patriarch Sophroniussermons provide contemporary witness. Decisive defeat of a Sasanian force at al-Qadisiyya, a few months after the Yarmuk in 636, opened up Iraq and made the young King Yazdegerd III, grandson of Khosrow II, a fugitive. After this, the Arab armies moved on into Iran (Nihawand, 642) and Egypt (Alexandria, 642).

If the broad outline of events is clear, the effects of the conquests are much less so. New research is continually modifying our picture. We now know that change was not as rapid or destructive as was once imagined, but simple continuity cannot be supported, either: the new regime brought with it some important innovations. Administrative structures were modified rather than abolished, and personnel were retained—in some cases for generations, like the family of heresiographer and polemicist John of Damascus—rather than replaced. At the same time, however, documentary evidence—most plentiful for Egypt, but also surviving for late 7th-century Palestine—shows that the new rulers either arrived with, or very swiftly developed, their own administrative language; requisition receipts were already being issued in the early 640s using dates in the Era of the Hijra, and many bilingual papyri use Arabic terminology, rather than direct translation or transliteration from Byzantine-Greek practice. Economic trends also varied from region to region, or even town to town. New commercial, residential, and religious (both churches and mosques) building was carried out after the conquests in towns like Jerash (Gerasa), Fihl (Pella), and Baysan (Scythopolis). Indeed, much of the demographic and economic decline visible in the archaeological record either pre-dates the 630s (e.g. Apamea in Syria) or can be linked to the shift in the centre of economic gravity from the mid-8th century, connected with—or perhaps prompting—the move of the caliphal capital from Damascus to Baghdad (e.g. Bosra).

Finally, the relative paucity of material evidence for the public expression of Islam from the first half of the 7th century, together with the patchy understanding shown by non-Muslim literary sources before the Armenian history attributed to Sebeos in the 660s, has suggested to some historians that early Islam remained a faith for the conquest elite, not one widely used as a language of legitimacy for Arab rule.

Nicola Clarke


See quotations and references in Hoyland, Johns, and Sijpesteijn under ‘Studies’.

F. M. Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (1981).Find this resource:

F. M. Donner, ‘The Formation of the Islamic State’, JAOS 86 (1986), 283–96.Find this resource:

C. Foss, ‘Syria in Transition, a.d. 550–750’, DOP 51 (1997), 189–269.Find this resource:

G. Fowden, From Empire to Commonwealth (1993).Find this resource:

R. Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw It (1997).Find this resource:

R. Hoyland, ‘New Documentary Texts and the Early Islamic State’, BSOAS 69 (2006), 395–416.Find this resource:

J. Johns, ‘Archaeology and the History of Early Islam: The First Seventy Years’, JESHO 46 (2003), 411–36.Find this resource:

W. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests (1992).Find this resource:

H. Kennedy, ‘From Polis to Madina: Urban Change in Late Antique and Early Islamic Syria’, P&P 106 (1985), 3–27.Find this resource:

H. Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests (2007).Find this resource:

A. Khazanov, ‘Muhammad and Jenghiz Khan Compared: The Religious Factor in World Empire-Building’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 35 (1993), 461–79.Find this resource:

J. Magness, The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine (2003).Find this resource:

M. G. Morony, Iraq After the Muslim Conquest (1984).Find this resource:

W. al-Qadi, ‘Population Census and Land Surveys under the Umayyads (41–132/661–750)’, Der Islam 83 (2008), 341–416.Find this resource:

C. F. Robinson, Empire and Elites After the Muslim Conquest (2000).Find this resource:

C. F. Robinson, ‘The Rise of Islam 600–705’, in NCHIslam, vol. 1, 173–225.Find this resource:

P. Sijpesteijn, ‘New Rule over Old Structures: Egypt after the Muslim Conquest’, Proceedings of the British Academy 136 (2007), 183–200.Find this resource:

A. Walmsley, Early Islamic Syria: An Archaeological Assessment (2007).Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Persian Empire and Central Asia

The murder of Khosrow II (628) inaugurated a four-year succession crisis in the Sasanian dynasty of the Persian Empire, crippling a regime weakened by internal strife and incessant war with the Eastern Roman Empire. In 632, the Caliph Abu Bakr (632–4) succeeded Muhammad and Yazdegerd III became the Persian ruler. Abu Bakr dispatched Arab armies to conquer the Near East; motivated by their new faith and the promise of booty, the Arab light cavalry defeated the Persian Empire within two decades.

The Arab conquest of Central Asia took longer. Transoxiana was not subdued until the mid-8th century and Turkic groups north of the Jaxartes remained outside Muslim influence for much longer. The conquest resulted in a strong Arab-Muslim influence in Persia and Central Asia and an evolving Iranian and Turkic influence on Muslim culture, especially under the later ‘Abbasids.

The conquest began in 632 with the capture of Persian territory on the Arabian Peninsula (al-Bahrayn), followed by raids into the Tigris–Euphrates delta. In 633, Khalid b. al-Walid led Arab forces into the Sawad (southern *Mesopotamia), defeating the Sasanians and their Arab allies (Lakhimids, Taghlibs, and others) and capturing the former Lakhimid stronghold of al-Hira. By early 634, the Sawad was pacified, Persian defences along the southern frontier were destroyed, and Khalid had arranged for tribute from the conquered *cities. A Persian counteroffensive, coupled with the death of Abu Bakr, resulted in the Sasanian reconquest of the Sawad later in 634.

Under Caliph ‘Umar I (634–44), al-Muthanna led the reconquest of the Sawad. Although initially defeated by the Persians at the Battle of the Bridge in 634, the Arabs subsequently crushed the Sasanians, capturing their frontier posts and opening the Sawad again to Muslim raids (635–6). These victories against the Persians led many of their former Arab allies to defect to the Muslims. By 636, the Muslim garrison city (ribat) of Basra was established. The defeat of the Roman Emperor Heraclius at the Battle of the Yarmuk in Syria (636) released more Arab troops for the conquest of Persia, led by Sa‘d ibn Abu Waqqas. In 636 or 637, the Muslims defeated the Persians at the decisive Battle of Qadisiyya, reoccupied Hira, captured Seleucia-Ctesiphon (al-Mada‘in), seizing the Persian treasury and causing Shah Yazdegerd III to flee.

From al-Mada’in, Muslim forces moved north to capture Takrit and east in pursuit of Yazdegerd. A second garrison city was established at Kufa in 637; Mesopotamia was now lost by the Persians, along with its administrative structure, tax revenues, and military resources; Basra and Kufa became the main bases for the Arab forces to conquer the remnants of the Persian Empire to the east and north. Between 638 and 642, under Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari, governor of Basra, the conquest of Khuzestan and Mesopotamia was completed. Another decisive Muslim victory at the Battle of Nihawand in 642 sealed the fate of the rump Sasanian Empire, as Yazdegerd fled further eastward to Isfahan and Istakhr (Staxr). By 644, Hamadan, Rayy, Qazvin, Ardabil, Dinavar, Isfahan, and the province of Fars had all fallen to the Muslims.

Under the Caliph ‘Uthman (644–56), ‘Abdallah b. ‘Amir, governor of Basra, re-established Arab authority in northern and eastern Iran; tribute was reimposed, new Muslim garrisons were built, and by 650, Azerbaijan and Fars had been pacified. The Persian army was in disarray and resistance to the Arabs dependent on regional marzbans. Yazdegerd fled to Kerman, then on to Merv, Balkh, and Tirmidh, then back to Merv, where he was killed in 651 at the behest of the local marzban and the Hephthalite ruler Nezak Tarkhan. The Arab conquest of Sistan (Sagastan) and Khorasan proceeded in 650/1; the Hephthalites were subdued and tribute was imposed on Nishapur, Zarang, Herat, Merv, Balkh, and Badghis (652). However, after Ibn ‘Amir withdrew (653), tribute was withheld and Arab garrisons were expelled from these areas. The Persian administrative structure continued after the demise of the Sasanian regime, but despite the incentive of exemption from the jizya poll-tax, conversion to Islam in Iran was a lengthy process.

With the death of ‘Uthman and the First Arab Civil War between ‘Ali (656–61) and Mu‘awiya I (661–80), the Muslims lost control of eastern Iran, but after Mu‘awiya’s victory and the establishment of Umayyad power, they reconquered Sistan and Khorasan, advancing as far as Kabul, recapturing Balkh (663), and garrisoning 50,000 Arab colonists in Merv (671). Crossing the Oxus first in 673, the Muslims initially subdued Bukhara in 674, Samarkand and Tirmidh in 676, and Khwarezm in 681, each time imposing tribute and withdrawing. Not until 681 did an Arab governor winter in Sogdiana. The Muslims again lost territory in Sistan and Khorasan due to the Second Arab Civil War (680–92), combined with Kharijite and Shi‘a revolts in Mesopotamia (Iraq). Eastward expansion resumed under al-Hajjaj, governor of Iraq (694–714).

During this time, the Emperor of China claimed nominal lordship over Transoxiana, having officially annexed the area in 658 after defeating the Western Türks. Aided by Sogdian disunity and lack of Chinese military opposition, the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana (Khwarezm, Sogdiana, Chach, and Farghana) began in 705 under Qutayba b. Muslim, governor of Khorasan. After subduing Tukharistan (705), Qutayba made annual campaigns into Transoxiana. He finally captured Bukhara (709), imposed tribute, established an Arab garrison, and installed a puppet ruler, Tugshada. In 712, Qutayba captured Samarkand; its ruler Ghurak withdrew, adopting a policy of non-resistance to the Arab armies until the later Türgesh-led revolt against the Arabs. After Nezak Tarkhan rebelled in Tukharistan, Qutayba defeated and killed him (710); he also repelled two Türk invasions in 707 and 712, the latter probably led by Köl Tegin. Stories of Arab forces reaching Kashgar under Qutayba in 715 are probably apocryphal; he was killed that year after rebelling against the new Caliph Sulayman b. ‘Abd al-Malik (715–17). Sogdian discontent with Arab rule increased under Jarrah, governor of Khorasan (715–17), resulting in open revolt; in 722, the Arabs massacred Sogdians in Khojand and executed Dewashtich, ruler of Panjikent. From 721 on, Suluk, Khaghan of the resurgent Türgesh (r. 715–38), led the Sogdians in resistance to the Arabs, his attacks bolstered by revolts amongst the Arab garrisons and Hephthalites in 734. Despite Türgesh victories in 724 and 731 (allied with Ghurak), the Arabs decisively defeated Suluk in 737. The subsequent collapse of Turkic power in Central Asia, coupled with the death of Ghurak (737/8) and murder of Tugshada (741), enabled the Arabs to reconquer Transoxiana by 741. Beginning in 748, Merv was an important base for the ‘Abbasid revolution under Abu Muslim, and the Chinese expanded military operations into former Türgesh territory north of the Jaxartes. However, the Arab victory over the Chinese at the Battle of Talas (751) ensured Muslim dominance under the new ‘Abbasid regime in Central Asia. The ongoing presence of non-Muslim Turkic groups on the northern steppe attracted many ghazis to both Khorasan and Transoxiana to continue the process of Islamization in Central Asia. A record of this expansion and the terms of surrender or conquest is given by al-Baladhuri (Futūh al-Buldān, I, 269–332, 387–493 and II, 3–206).

Mark Dickens


EI 2 vol. 4 (1978) s.v. Iran v; History; vol. 6 (1991) s.v. Mā Warā’ al-Nahr (W. Barthold, C. E. Bosworth).Find this resource:

EncIran II/2 s.v. Arab ii. Arab conquest of Iran, 203–10 (M. Morony).Find this resource:

W. Barthold, Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion (1968), 180–96.Find this resource:

C. E. Bosworth and O. G. Bolshakov in HCCA IV(1), 23–40.Find this resource:

H. A. R. Gibb, The Arab Conquests in Central Asia (1923).Find this resource:

B. A. Litvinsky, A. H. Jalilov, and A. I. Kolesnikov in HCCA III, 449–72.Find this resource:

M. Morony, Iraq after the Muslim Conquest (1984).Find this resource:

P. Pourshariati, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire (2008).Find this resource:

A. A.-H. Zarrinkūb, ‘The Arab Conquest of Iran and its Aftermath’, in CambHistIran IV, 1–56.Find this resource:

Arab conquest, Spain

Conquest, in 711, of the majority of the Iberian Peninsula by a North African army. Medieval accounts of this conquest were subject to later reworking to such a degree that it is impossible to reconstruct events beyond a bare outline: in 711, a force from North Africa overthrew the Visigothic King Roderic, and shortly thereafter a succession of governors sent from Damascus began using Arabic lead seals (with, alas, minimal information beyond terms related to division of loot) and minting gold coins bearing the shahada (‘There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God’) in both Arabic and Latin. Further coinage evidence suggests continuity of Visigothic authority in the far north of the Iberian Peninsula.

The Arabic tradition, whose earliest surviving examples are the works of Ibn Habib (d. 852) and Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam (d. 870), tends to stress that this was a Berber enterprise in which few Arabs were involved; most accounts say the invaders were led by a Berber named Tariq b. Ziyad. The degree to which these Berbers were either Romanized and/or Islamized remains largely a matter of conjecture. Tariq’s patron Musa b. Nusayr, the Umayyads governor of the Maghrib, plays a more minor role; another key figure is ‘Count Julian’, said to have ferried the invaders the short distance across the Strait of Gibraltar (a name derived, we are told, from Jabal al-Tariq, ‘mountain of Tariq’). The earlier Latin Spanish Chronicle of 754 names the same major players (except the probably fictional Julian) and is also well informed about Umayyad history.

Nicola Clarke


Crónica Mozarabe de 754, ed. and tr. J. E. Lopez Pereira (1980); ET K. B. Wolf, Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain (1999), 91–128.Find this resource:

Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr, ed. C. C. Torrey (1922); partial ET J. H. Jones, History of the Conquest of Spain (1858).Find this resource:

Ibn Habib, Kitab al-ta’rikh, ed. J. Aguadé (1991).Find this resource:

Ibn al-Qūtīya, Tarikh iftitah al-Andalus, ed. and SpT J. Ribera, Historia de la conquista de España (1926); ET D. James, Early Islamic Spain (2009).Find this resource:


N. Clarke, The Muslim Conquest of Iberia (2011).Find this resource:

R. Collins, The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710–797 (1989).Find this resource:

T. Ibrahim, ‘Nuevos documentos sobre la conquista Omeya de Hispania: los precintos de plomo’, 711: Arqueología e historia entre dos mundos 1 (2011).Find this resource:

E. Manzano, Conquistadores, emires y califas: los omeyas y la formación de al-Andalus (2006).Find this resource:

L. Molina, ‘Un relato de la conquista de al-Andalus’, al-Qantara 19 (1998), 39–65.Find this resource:

L. Molina, ‘Los itinerarios de la conquista: el relato de ʿArīb’, al-Qantara 20 (1999), 27–45.Find this resource: