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.