90 Miles From Tyranny : The Gruesome Battle of Sagrajas: Muslims Worship Allah Atop 2,400 Decapitated Christian Heads...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Gruesome Battle of Sagrajas: Muslims Worship Allah Atop 2,400 Decapitated Christian Heads...









Today in history, a battle that radical Muslims of the ISIS variety all but venerate took place between Muslims and Christians in Spain, or al-Andalus.

Context: In 1085, Alfonso VI of Leon-Castile captured the Muslim city of Toledo, thereby formally initiating the Reconquista. Great was the lamentation among Muslims and great the rejoicing among Christians. The Muslim emirs of al-Andalus — notorious for their disunity, dissipated lifestyles, and disinterest in jihad — had to act fast, for "the arrogance of the Christian dogs," to quote one Muslim, had "waxed so great."

So they called on their fanatical coreligionists in North Africa, the Almorivades, a sect devoted to waging jihad and enforcing sharia. Their elderly leader was Yusuf bin Tashfin, "a wise and shrewd man," who had "passed the greater part of his life in his native deserts; exposed to hunger and privation, he had no taste for the life of pleasure." Dressed all in black with a veil covering everything but the zeal in his eyes, the 76-year-old sheikh accepted the invitation and entered al-Andalus.

The Moorish emirs quickly "acknowledged his sway," to quote an Arab chronicler, "hoping that he would stop the victorious course of the infidel, and thus open, for the prosecution of jihad, those gates which they had hitherto kept criminally locked," thereby "propping up the tottering edifice of Islam, and humbling the pride of the insolent Christian."

By October 1086, a vast coalition of thousands of Almorivades and Andalusians, under Yusuf's command, found themselves facing Alfonso and his knights at Sagrajas, near Badajoz. (Although exact numbers are unclear, the Muslim army outnumbered the Christian one by roughly three to one.) According to the Muslim chronicler:


When the two armies were in the presence of each other, Yusuf wrote to Alfonso offering him one of the three [conditions] prescribed by the law; namely, Islam, tribute, or death[.] ... At the receipt of this letter, the unbeliever was highly indignant; he flew into a most violent passion, and returned an answer indicative of the miserable state [of his mind].

On October 23, 1086, the Christians finally charged at the frontlines of the Muslim army, where Yusuf had placed the Andalusian emirs, while he and his African warriors held the rear. The battle soon "became fiercer than ever, and the furnaces of war burned with additional violence; death exercised its fury." As expected, it was not long before the Moorish frontline began to crumble and retreat before the Christians, who "repeated their attacks with increasing fury."

Yusuf's unperturbed reaction underscored the contempt he held for his "moderate" Muslim allies: "Let the slaughter continue a little while longer," he told a concerned general; "they no less than the Christians are our enemies." Moreover, the Christians would tire themselves out, added the shrewd sheikh, "and we shall vanquish them without great difficulty."

Before long, Alfonso and his knights had penetrated to the rear of the Muslim encampment. Yet Yusuf was nowhere to be found. He had divided his forces into three: one (finally) to aid the nearly routed Andalusians, and one to engage Alfonso; the last, led personally by the wily emir, had circumvented the field of battle. "Advancing with drums rolling and banners flying," they went straight to and put the Christian rear camp to fire and sword.

Realizing he had been outflanked, Alfonso, rather than continuing to rout his foes, ordered an about face back to his own camp. This was a mistake. The Christian knights crashed into their own fleeing men, even as "the Moslems began to thrust their swords into their backs and their spears into their flanks."

Always in the background was "[t]his weird drum beating, which so dumbfounded the Christians." It was, in fact, part of the new tactics brought into play by the Almorivades, whereby military units rhythmically advanced to the beat of drums. As one historian explains:
The thundering roll of the Almoravide drums, now heard for the first time on Spanish soil, shook the earth and resounded the mountains. And Yusuf, galloping along the serried ranks of the Moors, nerved them to bear the fearful sufferings inseparable from holy war, promising Paradise to the dying and the richest booty to those who survived the day.
Soon even the effete Moorish kings who had been driven off the field had returned to the fray. Now "the clash between the two kings was terrific." Now "the earth quaked under the hoofs of their horses," writes a Latin chronicler; "the sun was obscured by the clouds of dust rising under the feet of the warriors; the steeds swam through torrents of blood. Both parties, in short, fought with equal animosity and courage."

Muslim accounts agree: "the stormy din of drums, the clash of clarion and trumpet, filled the air; the earth quaked [under the weight of the warriors], and the neighboring mountains echoed the thousand discordant sounds."

At just the right moment, Yusuf unleashed his elite black guard — 4,000 bellowing Africans, armed with light blades, spears, and hippo-hide covered shields — toward where Alfonso and the bulk of his most stalwart knights were holding ground. He ordered them "to dismount and join the fight, which they did with awful execution, cutting the horses' houghs, spearing their...



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2 comments:

  1. Bullcrap! Just because it happened doesn't mean it's true....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Every time I tried to continue the story an ad/promotional screen for blogger would show up instead.

    ReplyDelete

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