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Old February 12th, 2013, 06:33 AM   #1

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Valencia finally falls to the Almoravids


El Cid died in 1099. His dream of his own lineage ruling over Valencia and his territories forever was destroyed by the death of his son Diego Rodriguez at Consuegra on 15th August 1097. From Jose Javier Esparza's second book (of a trilogy) in the history of Muslim Spain 'Moros y Cristianos':

But now, with Cid dead without a male heir, what would happen to Valencia? All the lands gained by El Cid would be left under the charge of Rodrigo's wife, Jimena. But the situation was certainly difficult: The Almoravids didn't take long to realise that the great christian warrior had died and soon renewed their pressure against Valencia. The hosts of Cid weren't few, but the defence of all Rodrigo's territory, without external support, was mission impossible.

All the key to the defence of Valencia was in 2 factors. One: to maintain good relations with the Muslim Taifa of Zaragoza, the adjacent territory to the north, in order to protect the rear. The other was to be in condition to move troops with ease to reinforce the attack point of any Almoravid offensive. Cid could achieve both these things with relative ease, but nobody else was able to do it. Of course Rodrigo's two daughters couldn't do it (married in Navarra and Catalunya) :the Navarro-Aragonese because they were in perpetual conflict with Zaragoza, nor the Catalans because they didn't have a sufficient army. Only Alfonso VI of Leon, good ally of Zaragoza, could send troops to Valencia, but that in turn would oblige him to disperse along the length of a frontier much more extensive than he could defend. And so, with Rodrigo dead, the position of El Cid's Valencia soon became unsustainable.

When Yusuf heard of the death of El Cid, he immediately sent toward Valencia an army under the command of a cousin of his named Mazdali. The Almoravids had already occupied then line of Jativa-Alzira. Now in August of 1101, they were surrounding Valencia. Under the Almoravid pressure the territories which up until that moment had obeyed El Cid preferred to pay tribute to Mazdali. The legend says that Jimena, besieged in Valencia, had them exhume the embalmed body of her husband, ordered him to be put on a horse and sent it out of the gates, frightening off the besiegers. In reality what Jimena did was to plead help from Alfonso VI. The King of Leon answered the call and arrived with an army under his own command. Faced with the arrival of this army the Muslims raised the siege. Alfonso pursued the Almoravids until Cullera, where there was an indecisive battle: there remained the front line between the 2 forces. And Alfonso, looking around, took the decision to evacuate the city.

In May 1102, Jimena disenterred the body of her husband. The Castillian forces, not disposed to leave anything to the enemy, burnt the city. The christians in the population left as well. The great entourage set off in the direction of Castille: hundreds of men, the same that in the last few years had starred in one of the most brilliant chapters of the Reconquest, returned now to their homes transporting the body of their dead chief. El Cid would be definitively buried in Burgos in San Pedro de Cardena. On 5th May 1102 Mazdali entered Valencia, having stayed for a while in front of the city. Valencia became just one province more in the extensive african empire of Yusuf ben Tashfin.

The conquest of Valencia was a decisive moment for the Almoravids, who now had an excellent base from which to pressurise the Condado de Barcelona and, above all, to conquer the Taifa of Zaragoza, which in this moment was the only remaining Spanish Muslim territory which still resisted the the power of Yusuf ben Tashfin. The old Almoravid Emperor, now well past 90, took an important decision: he nominated as heir his son Ali and put him in charge of all the province of Al Andalus, that is to say all Muslim Spain.
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