Online Encyclopedia

THE NASRIDES

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 250 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THE NASRIDES, of Granada, were the last of the Mahommedan dynasties in Spain. They ruled from 1232 to 1492. They arose at the time when the king of Castile, Fernando the Saint, was conquering Andalusia. The dynasty was of remote Arabic origin, but its immediate source was the mountain range of the Alpujarra, and the founder was Yusuf (or Yahia) 1'Nasr, a chief who was engaged in perpetual conflict with rival chiefs and in particular with the family of Beni-Hud, once kings at Saragossa, who held the fortress of Granada. Yusuf's nephew (or son) Mahommed completed the defeat of the Beni-Hud largely by the help of the king of Castile, to whom he did homage and paid tribute. Mahommed I., called el Ghalib, i.e. the Conqueror (1238-1273), served the Christian king against his own co-religionists at the siege of Seville and contrived to escape in the general wreck of the Mahommedan power. The internal history of the dynasty is largely made up of civil dissensions, personal rivalries, palace and harem intrigues. The direct male line of Mahommed el Ghalib ended with the fourth sultan, Nasr, in 1314. Nasr was succeeded by his cousin Imail (1314-1325), who is said to have been connected with the original stock only through women. From Mahommed el-Ghalib to Mahommed XI., called Boabdil, and also the little king " El Rey Chico " by the Christians, who lost Granada in 1492, there are counted twenty-nine reigns of the Nasrides, giving an average of nine years. But there was not the same number of sultans, for several of them were expelled and restored two or three times. Nor did all the members of the house who were allowed to have been sultans reign over all the territory still in Mahommedan hands. There were contemporary reigns in different parts, and tribal or local rivalries between plain and hill, and the chief towns, Granada, Malaga and Guadix. The dissensions of the Nasrides reached their greatest pitch of fury during the very years in which the Catholic sovereigns were conquering their territory piecemeal, 1482-1492. Their position imposed a certain consistency of policy on these sultans. They submitted and paid tribute to the kings of Castile when they could not help doing so, but they endeavoured to use the support of Mahommedan rulers of northern Africa whenever it was to be obtained. Granada became the recognized place of refuge for rebellious subjects of the kings of Castile, and on occasion supported them against rebels. The end came when the weakness plateau having an elevation of about 1800 ft. through which a of Mahommedan rulers in Morocco coincided with the rule of strong sovereigns in Castile. Frontier wars between Mahommedan and Christian borderers were incessant, and at long intervals the kings of Castile made invasions on a considerable scale, without, however, following up any successes they might gain. The comparative prosperity of Granada was due to the concentration of a large population driven from other parts of Spain, and the consequent necessity for the intensive cultivation of the rich valleys lying among the ranges of mountains which encircle the kingdom, and the extensive " Vega " or plain of Granada. The reputation for civilization which the agitated Mahommedan state enjoys in history is based on the surviving parts of the highly decorated fortress palace of the Alhambra, which was mainly the work of three of the sultans, the founder, Mahommed el Ghalib, and his two successors. See S. Lane-Poole, The Mahommedan Dynasties (London, 1894); and Historia de Granada, by Don M. Lafuente Alcantara (Granada, 1884).
End of Article: THE NASRIDES
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