The amount of detail shows a level of love that has gone into this timeline that is amazing. You sir, are building a masterpiece. Bravo, and I can't wait to see what you more you have in store for this world.
 
Wislania sounds more Slavic than Vistulia IMO -- interesting to see a rival statelet competing with the Poles (for now)...
Yes, I completely agree. Updated the post to reflect that and to remove some of the glaring grammar issues, I should never write at night.

The amount of detail shows a level of love that has gone into this timeline that is amazing. You sir, are building a masterpiece. Bravo, and I can't wait to see what you more you have in store for this world.
That's very kind of you, thank you very much! If you weren't able to tell, I'm currently trying to fill up some holes I've left behind while focusing on the Carolingian Empire, but we'll return to the Aquitanian kingdom as soon as possible.
 
As someone who is learning Polish history for grad school (albeit of a MUCH later era), gotta love East Central Europe show up in the timeline - I especially like the detailed look into the region and the tribal make up. May I ask what sources you used for this? Although I'm a 19th and 20th century Americanist by trade, my heart also belongs in the early Medieval period and I'm always looking for new books -(especially on region like EC Europe, where I can stand to learn a lot).

Also love that both of our timelines have turned briefly to Moravia in the past few months :)

Will we be seeing an eventual union of crowns between the Polans and Wisulanians at some point in the future?
 
As someone who is learning Polish history for grad school (albeit of a MUCH later era), gotta love East Central Europe show up in the timeline - I especially like the detailed look into the region and the tribal make up. May I ask what sources you used for this? Although I'm a 19th and 20th century Americanist by trade, my heart also belongs in the early Medieval period and I'm always looking for new books -(especially on region like EC Europe, where I can stand to learn a lot).

Also love that both of our timelines have turned briefly to Moravia in the past few months :)

Will we be seeing an eventual union of crowns between the Polans and Wisulanians at some point in the future?
My main sources for this update were the works of the German Slavicist Heinrich Kunstmann, although his works were apparently never translated into English which is a bummer because I liked his works on early Polish-German interactions.

And regarding Moravia, well, it's a shame if it didn't get any love in both of our weird timelines :p On a more serious note, the importance of Great Moravia for Christian Europe is oftentimes underestimated or even overlooked and I was quite relieved when I was allowed to get a glimpse to that region in your timeline. But oh well, by the time of my PoD, the Magyars were already moving and the Bohemians grew restless, similar, or the same issues as in our timeline. Sad because I was honestly toying with the idea of a longer-lasting Great Moravia, but I scrapped that early on.

And regarding Polania and Wislania, truth to be to told, I'm not sure yet how exactly the entities will interact in the decades and centuries, but both entities are definitely on a collision course for arable lands, and whether it is solved through diplomacy or warfare will be answered quite soon, I think. A unification of crowns is not impossible, considering that both Polania and Wislania are culturally very closely related and both will Christianize sooner or later, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Thank you for your interest in this timeline!
 
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BEYOND 4.II: The Reign of Ubayd Allah I
In the light of the flame of the candle, the Visigothic influence on the Umayyad residence becomes notable with the Romanesque pillars supporting an elaborately designed roof filled to the brim with mesmerizing geometric structures, the likes of which al-Hakam would never be able to come up with.
He was sitting in his private library studying a translated work of Ptolemy which was suggested to him by the court astronomer al-Qalasadi after a short, yet intense discussion over the nature of the moon as a satellite of the world and how far away it is located. It was only interrupted after some delegates of Saraqusta arrived pleading for help against some Pamplonan raiders.

“Don’t disturb me.”
As the footsteps grew louder and more hectic, he immediately understood what was coming. al-Hakam cleared his little table and set aside the collection of papers that can hardly be called a book.

“Who has sent you?”
A tall man of a darker complexion stood as the leader of a group of around ten, five or six with fair hair, with the other half consisting of what may look like Berbers. Or maybe some Muwallad? Palace guards, maybe.

“We grant you time for a final Isha prayer, my lord. Find solace in that this will not be done because of your person or actions, but rather your inaction.”
al-Hakam tried to look for some possible exit out of the situation, but all exits seemed to have been locked or are guarded by the traitors who were looking after him. Fighting them is impossible, of course, but he has thought about that option as well, maybe even going so far as to set the library ablaze… No, he couldn’t do that.

“Was it my brother?”
He expected some abashed silence by the guards, but instead, he saw one of the more exotic guards smirk in silence. So be it. After the adhan was recited by the imams of the city below the hill, he has prayed three times, according to the customs of the relatively young amirate and the Maliki scholars he employed in his court.

“I should have known.”
al-Hakam, second of his name, son of Hisham, aged around 56, died upon leaving these words, as his lifeless body collapsed on the floor of the library after the poison given to him unfolded its potency like a deadly blossom.


+ + +

Excerpt: The Land Without Rust and Snow: A History of the Spains – Hisham Al-Ahmadi, Moonlight Press (AD 1976)

Ubayd Allah I, second son of Hisham, succeeded his brother al-Hakam II in the Emirate of Cordoba by 934. How his brother al-Hakam II was killed and to which degree Ubayd Allah I himself might have played a role in history is not known, but the apolitical nature of amir al-Hakam II made him a prime target for Berber and Saqlabi factions within the Cordoban court who wished to renew the offensive against the Christian North. Ubayd Allah I was, at the time, already an accomplished general and warrior with various successful raids conducted in his name and that of the faith. He grew popular within the cities, particularly in Qurtubah where poets praised him within the crowded streets before the Grand Mosque of the capital.

To understand some of the upcoming policies of Ubayd Allah I, we must look at what has been happening within the amirate after the death of al-Mundhir in 901. In al-Andalus, a pattern arose similar to those found in more humid landscapes. With the advent of the Medieval Warm Period, the agricultural output in all of Europe started to grow slowly but steadily to unprecedented degrees over the coming decades and centuries, with both the Muslims of the South and the Christians of the North changing the lands they have inhabited in their favor. The increased agricultural output correlates to the rapid increase of the population of the Occident, with estimates ranging from a doubling to a tripling of the amount of Europeans in only around 300 years.

However, the climatic conditions were not the only reasons for the rapid increase in the population and the associated expansion of the farmlands. Agricultural progress and the use of more sophisticated technical devices such as the collar for horses, as well as the diversification of grain and the introduction of cash crops from Muslim Sicily to the Lombard principalities of Meridia and al-Andalus might have played a larger role in the experienced population growth. Nonetheless, these interactions made it possible to provide for a rapidly growing population with enough food to spare. As a result, there was a certain correlation between population growth and the acquisition of new arable land. The population began to expand the settlement area, transforming huge forest areas into arable land, as seen with the 10th- and 11th-century expansions of Francia into Polabia. [1]

For al-Andalus, all of this meant a small, but in the capital noticeable population surplus which had to be relocated somewhere to keep the cities along the al-Kabir running effectively and to combat general dissatisfaction within the court magnates which are starting to run out of allodial lands. al-Hakam II, although a capable administrator of the areas around Qurtubah, was neither capable of leading successful campaigns against Galicia or Asturias, nor has he been particularly interested in the court culture which grew increasingly disappointed by the heir of al-Mundhir and tried to install his younger and more charismatic brother Ubayd Allah as the amir of al-Andalus. Indeed, his brother has been able to stop the Fatimid advance at the gates of the Atlas near Tlemcen and restore the decaying Banu Idris in Fez. He also proved his diplomatic capabilities when he was playing off the Zenata Berber tribes, particularly the Ifranids and Maghrawa against each other, keeping the Maghreb al-Aqsa under the influence of the Banu Umayya.

The aforementioned surplus population which, in the 930s must have been around a 1000 to 2000 men and women, was, under the command of Ubayd Allah I and his powerful allies within the court and the military, in particular, the hero of Isbili, military commander and wazir Hudayl ibn Ali Iqbal, son of the aforementioned, and now deceased, Saqlabid governor of Isbili, resettled to the frontier region near the Spanish March, to Taraghuna, a town controlled by the Banu Tujib which rules from Saraqusta. This has been done in order to confront the growing threat emanating from Barcelona, and about six months after his final accession to the throne, Ubayd Allah I, with the support of the Maliki clergy and a large faction of the court, took the first step in the winter of 934 with the order to recruit workers and collect material for the construction of a fortress on the Mediterranean. Taraghuna was strategically well-chosen to control shipping traffic from and into Barcelona and the climate was humid enough for the agricultural development of the northern reaches of the amirate. At the same time, the geography between the two cities would ensure that the Muslims can cross the borders into the Spanish March at all times.

The preparations for the fortress construction seem to have been completely visible for the Christians, possibly intentionally so. In any case, the young count Alerm IV, who has just inherited the county of Urgell from his older brother Bernard I, was aware of the project and initially tried to react through diplomatic means. At the beginning of 937, a delegation appeared to have been sent to the Umayyad court in Qurtubah to push for compliance with previous agreements and discontinuation of the measures taken by the new amir, but it was unable to obtain any concessions from him. At the same time, Alerm IV sent an embassy to Lothair III to seek help and support, although it seems that only by the time of his successors Louis III and Charles II the diplomats reached the ears of the Carolingian world. Although the envoys were received in Aquitania, the Lateran, and other powers in a friendly manner, they were unable to obtain substantial support. Especially in Aquitania and Rome, the prevailing view was that the delegates sent by Alerm IV exaggerated the situation and that the amir posed no particular danger to the young and inexperienced count. Work on what will become the fortified city of Taraghuna began by the next year which caused considerable unrest in the Spanish March and the Kingdom of Pamplona. The construction of the fortress with the contemporary Arabic name al-Qaleat al-Sawda’ (meaning “Black Fortress”) just across the admittedly undefined border was an open provocation. The people living near the construction site were forced out and deported to Taraghuna itself. In the vicinity of the city, Christians were also attacked, and fields and farms of those unlucky few in the Northern Counties were burned down. While it was apparently decided to not intervene directly at the court of Alerm IV, some inhabitants and magnates of Barcelona and Urgell acted on their own and tried to sabotage the construction work. In the meantime, Alerm IV sent letters and gifts to Ubayd Allah I to stop the work and ease the growing tension in the area. When even this did not work, the count briefly had all the Muslims in Barcelona and its immediate surroundings arrested, but this too did not fundamentally change the situation. Alerm IV then tried to get the support of the fledgling Banu Qasi, ruling in the upper Ebro valley, although here he didn’t find any supportive reaction either, as the clan found itself in a succession crisis between two brothers. When two emissaries from the amir Ubayd Allah I were finally “accidentally” killed in 940, according to Christian chroniclers of Galicia, Alerm IV informed Louis III that the Spanish March is about to collapse if the king did not prevent it.

Unexpected help came when Ibn Ali Iqbal, perhaps out of jealousy of the extraordinary wit and undisputed power of Ubayd Allah I who now overshadowed the popularity of Ibn Ali Iqbal, fled to the court of Pamplona and later Barcelona to lend his skills to the opposition against the amir. This happened most likely after a failed coup that attempted to install Ubayd Allah I’s son Abd ar-Rahman III as the new amir, although these claims were only mentioned in 11th-century sources.

After the completion of the fortress on July 16, 940, Ubayd Allah I moved with troops towards Barcelona to inspect the city and its fortifications for five days. He then went back to Saraqusta, the base of operations of Ubayd Allah I at the time, to devote himself to further preparations for the siege. Before his departure, he had placed the newly built fortress under the command of an Ibn Qadim who enters history here for the first time and equipped it with a crew of 400 men. He gave the order that every passing merchant ship and infidel merchant had to pay a fee; and everyone who refuses to do so had to be killed. This measure was intended to underline the Umayyad claim to rule almost directly at the gates of the Aquitania. However, it quickly became clear that Ibn Qadim was not as righteous as required, and took bribes from Alerm IV to not harm anyone. Several Italian and Aquitanian ships managed to cross the strait without paying the required toll if reports are to be believed. As early as November 25, Umayyad control of the route between Taraghuna and Barcelona was then violently enforced for the first time when three Catalan landholders refused to pay the fee. Only one of whom was left to survive to inform Alerm IV of the request to pay tribute towards the amirate. According to contemporary sources, this incident was understood in Aquitania as a declaration of war by the Umayyad amir, activating Louis III as a force against Ubayd Allah I.

Louis III personally arrived in the threatened city on January 941 with 700 well-armed men from Auvergne and Burgundy. This was the first of only two wars in his lifetime he would personally intervene in. While his ambitions are oftentimes shrouded in history, Louis III certainly had the will to fight for his Kingdom and his perceived subjects, which included the Spanish March which was growing more and more autonomous by the day. When Louis III arrived he was greeted with exuberance, and the king gave Alerm IV command of the city walls and promised to give him the city of Taraghuna as a fief after the “inevitable” victory. Likewise, a small Pamplonan unit, sent in the will of Sancho II, committed to stay in the city and support the defenders. In February, according to Aquitanian chroniclers of the 14th century, there were around 5000 soldiers with weapons who were available for the defense. This small number of defenders was a shock to the king, but he ordered to stay anyway.

In the following weeks, the ongoing war was not yet marked by major battles. According to Andalusian customs, Ubayd Allah I sent the ultimate and final request to King Louis III to hand over the city without a fight, which was rejected, as expected. The first violent battles took place shortly after that request along the city walls, and about two hours after sunset, javelin and spear throwers, heavily armored foot soldiers and cavalry forces advanced against the city. Louis III, who expected a much broader attack on a different section of the city, hurried to the other side of the wall to eliminate the attackers before they reach the city - unnecessarily, as it turned out. Ibn Ali Iqtal coordinated the defenders onsite, thereby confirming his reputation as a competent military commander. All Umayyad attacks have been repelled over and over again in that night, Aquitanian, Pamplonan, Catalan, and Andalusian soldiers left all rivalries aside and worked together to stop Ubayd Allah I meteoric rise to power. The defenders benefited from the fact that the attackers only proceeded to attack in narrow formations so that their numerical superiority was not significant. After three hours with no tangible results, Ubayd Allah I ordered the soldiers to retreat to rest for the remainder of the night. On the first night, around two hundred Andalusian soldiers were left dead, while the defenders suffered only minor injuries, although Alerm IV was forced to leave the battlefield due to a wound inflicted near his shoulder.

The loss of Alerm IV on the battlefield shed hopes in the city. There were the first food shortages that forced more and more soldiers to steal from the supplies of the remaining inhabitants of Barcelona. At the beginning of the fourth day of the siege, Louis III finally used all the available funds to buy supplies and distributed it to the soldiers in fixed rations, thereby alleviating at least the worst of the hardships. On the night of the fifth day, Louis III conducted secret negotiations again with the amir Ubayd Allah I through Ibn Qadim to end the siege. But the conditions for peace of the amir remained unchanged: the city had to be handed over without further fighting, only then the possessions of its inhabitants would remain untouched, while the count Alerm IV could withdraw undisturbed to his fief Urgell. Even though some of his advisors urged him to accept this offer, the handover of the city remained unacceptable to Alerm IV and Louis III.

Thus, Louis III was forced to travel with his small force through a part of the county dominated by the Andalusians where he was at constant risk of being attacked by Muslim troops to relieve the city from the siege. Ubayd Allah I had noticed Louis III's advance and Louis III's army had been intercepted by Ubayd Allah I in Terrassa. This surprise effect caused some of Louis III's men to flee in panic, but the young king managed to hold a defensible position on a hill near the shallow waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Ubayd Allah I, as ambitious as a man could be, thought that his chance at a decisive battle had come. While he knew that Louis III held a more favorable position, he was outnumbered and with the agility of his soldiers, a retreat was impossible for him.

Alerm IV was notified of the encirclement of Louis III and his forces when he was about to free the Southern city walls from the Andalusian garrison stationed there. According to some controversial scholars, he could have dealt a crushing blow on the amirate there, and although this might be true, Alerm IV recognized the binding authority of Louis III and left the city in the cover of the night to free the Aquitanian army from the Andalusians.
In the early morning days, the army of Alerm IV was visible from the camp of Louis III from which celebratory chants were sung among the soldiers. Ubayd Allah I was forced to make a hasty decision: either destroy and possibly kill the reckless Aquitanian king right there on the hill at the cost of considerable losses of life on his side or to stop Alerm IV from linking up with the Christian forces of Louis III and thus risking the escape of the latter. The sudden and unexpected attack of Alerm IV was followed by intense fights along the aforementioned hill in which, thanks to skilled commanders, the two armies were linked up and retreated to Barcelona. In the storm of arrows that followed, Ibn Ali Iqtal was supposedly killed after being hit with seven arrows according to the Umayyad side of the story, although he simply vanished from the Christian record of the battlefield.

Both sides suffered heavy casualties, and both sides failed to achieve their targets, and yet both sides will eventually claim victory within the campaign: The Umayyads under Ubayd Allah I were able to punish the traitors who have fought under the Cross, the Christians prevented the city to fall under the White Banner of the Umayyads. Yet, Ubayd Allah I failed to take Barshiluna and Louis III and his Barcelonan subject Alerm IV failed to definitively push the Muslim forces out of Taraghuna which will eventually serve as the springboard for future raids into the Spanish March. Nonetheless, both parties, through a considerable amount of effort, succeeded in presenting themselves as the winners of this struggle between the faiths in the battles between the two secular defenders of their respective religions.

Thus, in Qurtubah, on one fateful Friday, as the adhan from the local mosques was recited and hundreds entered the congregational mosques of the city, the imams didn’t acknowledge the title of the Abbasid caliph al-Mustazhir [2] after the sermon as was customary in the Sunni world, but instead praised Ubayd Allah I as the “Prince of the Faithful”. In 942, Ubayd Allah I declared himself the amir al-Mu’minin, the commander of the faithful. He was thus considered to be the successor and representative of the Messenger of God (ḫalifat rasul Allah). At that time the Islamic world was in the midst a tripartite schism: In the East, there was the weakened Abbasid caliphate under the control of the Saffarid amirs of Iraq which continued to struggle to establish their preeminence over the lands of Arabia and Aryana; in Ifriquiya the Shiite Fatimid Caliphate stretched itself into both the Maghreb and the Mashriq, eyeing for the severely weakened Tulunids in Egypt, although the establishment of the Balkhids after the Battle of al-Ramlah (884) by the 910s would be another tremendous blow for the dreams of the Fatimid caliphs [2]. With his declaration of a new caliphate stationed in al-Andalus, Ubayd Allah I made himself the champion of a free and independent Sunnism, and gave himself and his successors the rights to mint their own gold coins and to act totally sovereign from the Abbasids of Baghdad.

While the loss of Barcelona was averted by the Aquitanians, the attempted acquisition of it proved the particularly exceptional ambitions of Ubayd Allah I in his quest to ensure his legitimacy within the nation and appeasement of rivaling factions within the now-caliphal court at Qurtubah, with its long history of plots and assassinations.
The reigns of the caliphs Ubayd Allah I, or Obeidala, as he will be known in the Christian North, and his son Abd ar-Rahman III, thus, unsurprisingly, would commence the Golden Age of al-Andalus under which the former amirate prospered thanks to capable leaders and reforms within the administration, agriculture and city planning and leave a considerable impact on the history of not only Iberia and the Maghreb, but also, thanks to continued exchanges of delegations, embassies, and envoys, on the remaining known world.


SUMMARY:
941
: Emir Ubayd Allah I's campaign in the Spanish March. Through the intervention of Louis III of Aquitania, the sacking of the city of Barcelona by the Umayyads was averted.
941: Ubayd Allah I founds the Caliphate of Córdoba. He will serve as its first caliph until his death.


FOOTNOTES:
[1] Sorry, folks. I doubt that this won't be attempted in this timeline as well. But I think you can already tell that things are going to look a lot different there, so stay tuned.
[2] The success of al-Saffar led to butterflies which ended Tulunid Egypt earlier, supplanted by 'Ali ibn Masrur al-Balkhi, the son of the al-Balkhi whose absence led to the success of the Saffarids. 'Ali ibn Masrur is a historical figure of OTL whose career was cut short in an assassination which is butterflied away. Instead, he enters the footsteps of his father as intended and entered the caliphal service under the stewardship of the Saffarids, subsequently ousting the disloyal Tulunids in the process. Nominally under Abbasid control, Balkhid Egypt acts with considerable autonomy and is on good terms with Baghdad, avoiding the troubles that eventually led to the Fatimid conquest of Egypt IOTL. That said, the Fatimids attempted to take over Egypt more than once, and who knows what the future holds for the young Balkhids and the Fatimids...
OOC: This will be the last update on the world outside of Carolingian Europe, we will bounce back to Aquitania for the next update. It will take some time though, considering I am a bit preoccupied with university, I am really sorry that I am updating this timeline so irregularly. But thank you for your support nonetheless. As always, I am very open to criticism, since that can help me to improve the quality of the individual updates!
 
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Maybe the Fatimids can fill the niche of the Almoravids and Almohads -- a West Africa religiously influenced by Shiism would be interesting, and the Shiites would have more opportunities to gain territory in the Western Med (whether Sicily or elsewhere). A Fatimid successor could also introduce Shiism to Iberia after the eventual collapse of the Umayyads...
 
In the light of the flame of the candle, the Visigothic influence on the Umayyad residence becomes notable with the Romanesque pillars supporting an elaborately designed roof filled to the brim with mesmerizing geometric structures, the likes of which Hisham would never be able to come up with.
He was sitting in his private library studying a translated work of Ptolemy which was suggested to him by the court astronomer al-Qalasadi after a short, yet intense discussion over the nature of the moon as a satellite of the world and how far away it is located. It was only interrupted after some delegates of Saraqusta arrived pleading for help against some Pamplonan raiders.

“Don’t disturb me.”
As the footsteps grew louder and more hectic, he immediately understood what was coming. Hisham cleared his little table and set aside the collection of papers that can hardly be called a book.

“Who has sent you?”
A tall man of a darker complexion stood as the leader of a group of around ten, five or six with fair hair, with the other half consisting of what may look like Berbers. Or maybe some Muwallad? Palace guards, maybe.

“We grant you time for a final prayer Isha prayer, my lord. Find solace in that this will not be done because of your person or actions, but rather your inaction.”
Hisham II tried to look for some possible exit out of the situation, but all exits seemed to have been locked or are guarded by the traitors who were looking after him. Fighting them is impossible, of course, but he has thought about that option as well, maybe even going so far as to set the library ablaze… No, he couldn’t do that.

“Was it my brother?”
He expected some abashed silence by the guards, but instead, he saw one of the more exotic guards smirk in silence. So be it. After the adhan was recited by the imams of the city below the hill, he has prayed three times, according to the customs of the Maliki scholars he employed in his court.

“I should have known.”
Hisham II Ibn al-Mundhir, aged around 56, died upon leaving these words, as his lifeless body collapsed on the floor of the library after the poison given to him unfolded its potency like a deadly blossom.


+ + +

Excerpt: The Land Without Rust and Snow: A History of the Spains – Hisham Al-Ahmadi, Moonlight Press (AD 1976) [1] [2]

Ubayd Allah I, second son of al-Mundhir, succeeded his brother Hisham II in the Emirate of Cordoba by 934. How his brother Hisham II was killed and to which degree Ubayd Allah I himself might have played a role in history is not known, but the apolitical nature of amir Hisham II made him a prime target for Berber and Saqlabi factions within the Cordoban court who wished to renew the offensive against the Christian North. Ubayd Allah I was, at the time, already an accomplished general and warrior with various successful raids conducted in his name and that of the faith. He grew popular within the cities, particularly in Qurtubah where poets praised him within the crowded streets before the Grand Mosque of the capital.

To understand some of the upcoming policies of Ubayd Allah I, we must look at what has been happening within the amirate after the death of al-Mundhir in 901. In al-Andalus, a pattern arose similar to those found in more humid landscapes. With the advent of the Medieval Warm Period, the agricultural output in all of Europe started to grow slowly but steadily to unprecedented degrees over the coming decades and centuries, with both the Muslims of the South and the Christians of the North changing the lands they have inhabited in their favor. The increased agricultural output correlates to the rapid increase of the population of the Occident, with estimates ranging from a doubling to a tripling of the amount of Europeans in only around 300 years.

However, the climatic conditions were not the only reasons for the rapid increase in the population and the associated expansion of the farmlands. Agricultural progress and the use of more sophisticated technical devices such as the collar for horses, as well as the diversification of grain and the introduction of cash crops from Muslim Sicily to the Lombard principalities of Meridia and al-Andalus might have played a larger role in the experienced population growth. Nonetheless, these interactions made it possible to provide for a rapidly growing population with enough food to spare. As a result, there was a certain correlation between population growth and the acquisition of new arable land. The population began to expand the settlement area, transforming huge forest areas into arable land, as seen with the 10th- and 11th-century expansions of Francia into Polabia. [1]

For al-Andalus, all of this meant a small, but in the capital noticeable population surplus which had to be relocated somewhere to keep the cities along the al-Kabir running effectively and to combat general dissatisfaction within the court magnates which are starting to run out of allodial lands. Hisham II, although a capable administrator of the areas around Qurtubah, was neither capable of leading successful campaigns against Galicia or Asturias, nor has he been particularly interested in the court culture which grew increasingly disappointed by the heir of al-Mundhir and tried to install his younger and more charismatic brother Ubayd Allah as the amir of al-Andalus. Indeed, his brother has been able to stop the Fatimid advance at the gates of the Atlas near Tlemcen and restore the decaying Banu Idris in Fez. He also proved his diplomatic capabilities when he was playing off the Zenata Berber tribes, particularly the Ifranids and Maghrawa against each other, keeping the Maghreb al-Aqsa under the influence of the Banu Umayya.

The aforementioned surplus population which, in the 930s must have been around a 1000 to 2000 men and women, was, under the command of Ubayd Allah I and his powerful allies within the court and the military, in particular, the hero of Isbili, military commander and wazir Hudayl ibn Ali Iqbal, son of the aforementioned, and now deceased, Saqlabid governor of Isbili, resettled to the frontier region near the Spanish March, to Taraghuna, a town controlled by the Banu Tujib which rules from Saraqusta. This has been done in order to confront the growing threat emanating from Barcelona, and about six months after his final accession to the throne, Ubayd Allah I, with the support of the Maliki clergy and a large faction of the court, took the first step in the winter of 934 with the order to recruit workers and collect material for the construction of a fortress on the Mediterranean. Taraghuna was strategically well-chosen to control shipping traffic from and into Barcelona and the climate was humid enough for the agricultural development of the northern reaches of the amirate. At the same time, the geography between the two cities would ensure that the Muslims can cross the borders into the Spanish March at all times.

The preparations for the fortress construction seem to have been completely visible for the Christians, possibly intentionally so. In any case, the young count Alerm IV, who has just inherited the county of Urgell from his older brother Bernard I, was aware of the project and initially tried to react through diplomatic means. At the beginning of 937, a delegation appeared to have been sent to the Umayyad court in Qurtubah to push for compliance with previous agreements and discontinuation of the measures taken by the new amir, but it was unable to obtain any concessions from him. At the same time, Alerm IV sent an embassy to Lothair III to seek help and support, although it seems that only by the time of his successors Louis III and Charles II the diplomats reached the ears of the Carolingian world. Although the envoys were received in Aquitania, the Lateran, and other powers in a friendly manner, they were unable to obtain substantial support. Especially in Aquitania and Rome, the prevailing view was that the delegates sent by Alerm IV exaggerated the situation and that the amir posed no particular danger to the young and inexperienced count. Work on what will become the fortified city of Taraghuna began by the next year which caused considerable unrest in the Spanish March and the Kingdom of Pamplona. The construction of the fortress with the contemporary Arabic name al-Qaleat al-Sawda’ (meaning “Black Fortress”) just across the admittedly undefined border was an open provocation. The people living near the construction site were forced out and deported to Taraghuna itself. In the vicinity of the city, Christians were also attacked, and fields and farms of those unlucky few in the Northern Counties were burned down. While it was apparently decided to not intervene directly at the court of Alerm IV, some inhabitants and magnates of Barcelona and Urgell acted on their own and tried to sabotage the construction work. In the meantime, Alerm IV sent letters and gifts to Ubayd Allah I to stop the work and ease the growing tension in the area. When even this did not work, the count briefly had all the Muslims in Barcelona and its immediate surroundings arrested, but this too did not fundamentally change the situation. Alerm IV then tried to get the support of the fledgling Banu Qasi, ruling in the upper Ebro valley, although here he didn’t find any supportive reaction either, as the clan found itself in a succession crisis between two brothers. When two emissaries from the amir Ubayd Allah I were finally “accidentally” killed in 940, according to Christian chroniclers of Galicia, Alerm IV informed Louis III that the Spanish March is about to collapse if the king did not prevent it.

Unexpected help came when Ibn Ali Iqbal, perhaps out of jealousy of the extraordinary wit and undisputed power of Ubayd Allah I who now overshadowed the popularity of Ibn Ali Iqbal, fled to the court of Pamplona and later Barcelona to lend his skills to the opposition against the amir. This happened most likely after a failed coup that attempted to install Ubayd Allah I’s son Abd ar-Rahman III as the new amir, although these claims were only mentioned in 11th-century sources.

After the completion of the fortress on July 16, 940, Ubayd Allah I moved with troops towards Barcelona to inspect the city and its fortifications for five days. He then went back to Saraqusta, the base of operations of Ubayd Allah I at the time, to devote himself to further preparations for the siege. Before his departure, he had placed the newly built fortress under the command of an Ibn Qadim who enters history here for the first time and equipped it with a crew of 400 men. He gave the order that every passing merchant ship and infidel merchant had to pay a fee; and everyone who refuses to do so had to be killed. This measure was intended to underline the Umayyad claim to rule almost directly at the gates of the Aquitania. However, it quickly became clear that Ibn Qadim was not as righteous as required, and took bribes from Alerm IV to not harm anyone. Several Italian and Aquitanian ships managed to cross the strait without paying the required toll if reports are to be believed. As early as November 25, Umayyad control of the route between Taraghuna and Barcelona was then violently enforced for the first time when three Catalan landholders refused to pay the fee. Only one of whom was left to survive to inform Alerm IV of the request to pay tribute towards the amirate. According to contemporary sources, this incident was understood in Aquitania as a declaration of war by the Umayyad amir, activating Louis III as a force against Ubayd Allah I.

Louis III personally arrived in the threatened city on January 941 with 700 well-armed men from Auvergne and Burgundy. This was the first of only two wars in his lifetime he would personally intervene in. While his ambitions are oftentimes shrouded in history, Louis III certainly had the will to fight for his Kingdom and his perceived subjects, which included the Spanish March which was growing more and more autonomous by the day. When Louis III arrived he was greeted with exuberance, and the king gave Alerm IV command of the city walls and promised to give him the city of Taraghuna as a fief after the “inevitable” victory. Likewise, a small Pamplonan unit, sent in the will of Sancho II, committed to stay in the city and support the defenders. In February, according to Aquitanian chroniclers of the 14th century, there were around 5000 soldiers with weapons who were available for the defense. This small number of defenders was a shock to the king, but he ordered to stay anyway.

In the following weeks, the ongoing war was not yet marked by major battles. According to Andalusian customs, Ubayd Allah I sent the ultimate and final request to King Louis III to hand over the city without a fight, which was rejected, as expected. The first violent battles took place shortly after that request along the city walls, and about two hours after sunset, javelin and spear throwers, heavily armored foot soldiers and cavalry forces advanced against the city. Louis III, who expected a much broader attack on a different section of the city, hurried to the other side of the wall to eliminate the attackers before they reach the city - unnecessarily, as it turned out. Ibn Ali Iqtal coordinated the defenders onsite, thereby confirming his reputation as a competent military commander. All Umayyad attacks have been repelled over and over again in that night, Aquitanian, Pamplonan, Catalan, and Andalusian soldiers left all rivalries aside and worked together to stop Ubayd Allah I meteoric rise to power. The defenders benefited from the fact that the attackers only proceeded to attack in narrow formations so that their numerical superiority was not significant. After three hours with no tangible results, Ubayd Allah I ordered the soldiers to retreat to rest for the remainder of the night. On the first night, around two hundred Andalusian soldiers were left dead, while the defenders suffered only minor injuries, although Alerm IV was forced to leave the battlefield due to a wound inflicted near his shoulder.

The loss of Alerm IV on the battlefield shed hopes in the city. There were the first food shortages that forced more and more soldiers to steal from the supplies of the remaining inhabitants of Barcelona. At the beginning of the fourth day of the siege, Louis III finally used all the available funds to buy supplies and distributed it to the soldiers in fixed rations, thereby alleviating at least the worst of the hardships. On the night of the fifth day, Louis III conducted secret negotiations again with the amir Ubayd Allah I through Ibn Qadim to end the siege. But the conditions for peace of the amir remained unchanged: the city had to be handed over without further fighting, only then the possessions of its inhabitants would remain untouched, while the count Alerm IV could withdraw undisturbed to his fief Urgell. Even though some of his advisors urged him to accept this offer, the handover of the city remained unacceptable to Alerm IV and Louis III.

Thus, Louis III was forced to travel with his small force through a part of the county dominated by the Andalusians where he was at constant risk of being attacked by Muslim troops to relieve the city from the siege. Ubayd Allah I had noticed Louis III's advance and Louis III's army had been intercepted by Ubayd Allah I in Terrassa. This surprise effect caused some of Louis III's men to flee in panic, but the young king managed to hold a defensible position on a hill near the shallow waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Ubayd Allah I, as ambitious as a man could be, thought that his chance at a decisive battle had come. While he knew that Louis III held a more favorable position, he was outnumbered and with the agility of his soldiers, a retreat was impossible for him.

Alerm IV was notified of the encirclement of Louis III and his forces when he was about to free the Southern city walls from the Andalusian garrison stationed there. According to some controversial scholars, he could have dealt a crushing blow on the amirate there, and although this might be true, Alerm IV recognized the binding authority of Louis III and left the city in the cover of the night to free the Aquitanian army from the Andalusians.
In the early morning days, the army of Alerm IV was visible from the camp of Louis III from which celebratory chants were sung among the soldiers. Ubayd Allah I was forced to make a hasty decision: either destroy and possibly kill the reckless Aquitanian king right there on the hill at the cost of considerable losses of life on his side or to stop Alerm IV from linking up with the Christian forces of Louis III and thus risking the escape of the latter. The sudden and unexpected attack of Alerm IV was followed by intense fights along the aforementioned hill in which, thanks to skilled commanders, the two armies were linked up and retreated to Barcelona. In the storm of arrows that followed, Ibn Ali Iqtal was supposedly killed after being hit with seven arrows according to the Umayyad side of the story, although he simply vanished from the Christian record of the battlefield.

Both sides suffered heavy casualties, and both sides failed to achieve their targets, and yet both sides will eventually claim victory within the campaign: The Umayyads under Ubayd Allah I were able to punish the traitors who have fought under the Cross, the Christians prevented the city to fall under the White Banner of the Umayyads. Yet, Ubayd Allah I failed to take Barshiluna and Louis III and his Barcelonan subject Alerm IV failed to definitively push the Muslim forces out of Taraghuna which will eventually serve as the springboard for future raids into the Spanish March. Nonetheless, both parties, through a considerable amount of effort, succeeded in presenting themselves as the winners of this struggle between the faiths in the battles between the two secular defenders of their respective religions.

Thus, in Qurtubah, on one fateful Friday, as the adhan from the local mosques was recited and hundreds entered the congregational mosques of the city, the imams didn’t acknowledge the title of the Abbasid caliph al-Mustazhir [2] after the sermon as was customary in the Sunni world, but instead praised Ubayd Allah I as the “Prince of the Faithful”. In 942, Ubayd Allah I declared himself the amir al-Mu’minin, the commander of the faithful. He was thus considered to be the successor and representative of the Messenger of God (ḫalifat rasul Allah). At that time the Islamic world was in the midst a tripartite schism: In the East, there was the weakened Abbasid caliphate under the control of the Saffarid amirs of Iraq which continued to struggle to establish their preeminence over the lands of Arabia and Aryana; in Ifriquiya the Shiite Fatimid Caliphate stretched itself into both the Maghreb and the Mashriq, eyeing for the severely weakened Tulunids in Egypt, although the establishment of the Tughjids after the Battle of al-Ramlah (884) by the 910s would be another tremendous blow for the dreams of the Fatimid caliphs [2]. With his declaration of a new caliphate stationed in al-Andalus, Ubayd Allah I made himself the champion of a free and independent Sunnism, and gave himself and his successors the rights to mint their own gold coins and to act totally sovereign from the Abbasids of Baghdad.

While the loss of Barcelona was averted by the Aquitanians, the attempted acquisition of it proved the particularly exceptional ambitions of Ubayd Allah I in his quest to ensure his legitimacy within the nation and appeasement of rivaling factions within the now-caliphal court at Qurtubah, with its long history of plots and assassinations.
The reigns of the caliphs Ubayd Allah I, or Obeidala, as he will be known in the Christian North, and his son Abd ar-Rahman III, thus, unsurprisingly, would commence the Golden Age of al-Andalus under which the former amirate prospered thanks to capable leaders and reforms within the administration, agriculture and city planning and leave a considerable impact on the history of not only Iberia and the Maghreb, but also, thanks to continued exchanges of delegations, embassies, and envoys, on the remaining known world.





FOOTNOTES:
[1] Sorry, folks. I doubt that this won't happen in this timeline as well. But I think you can already tell that things are going to look different there.
[2] The success of al-Saffar led to an earlier Ikhshidid Egypt nominally under Abbasid control, although under a different name since al-Ikhshid as a regnal title will be never given to Ibn Tughj in this timeline. Whether or not this will prevent Fatimid Egypt is a subject for a future update.
OOC: This will be the last update on the world outside of Carolingian Europe, we will bounce back to Aquitania for the next update. It will take some time though, considering I am a bit preoccupied with university, I am really sorry that I am updating this timeline so irregularly. But thank you for your support nonetheless. As always, I am very open to criticism, since that can help me to improve the quality of the individual updates!
Man I love this TL. Even if the updates are irregular, they are without a doubt worth the wait. Plus, this update is even better imo because Al-Andalus is one of my favorite things about Medieval history. Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see what happens next!
 
Maybe the Fatimids can fill the niche of the Almoravids and Almohads -- a West Africa religiously influenced by Shiism would be interesting, and the Shiites would have more opportunities to gain territory in the Western Med (whether Sicily or elsewhere). A Fatimid successor could also introduce Shiism to Iberia after the eventual collapse of the Umayyads...
Certainly a possibility! Part of it will be hard to pull that off, however, especially because al-Andalus was rigorously Sunni in nature. Morocco, on the other hand, given the right circumstances, could very well fall under a Shia dynasty, considering that even the Idrisids are speculated to be at least partially influenced by Shia doctrine. Either way, considering that we have a sort of revived Persian Empire in the East and a resurging al-Andalus in the West, things that happen in between are bound to be very interesting!

Man I love this TL. Even if the updates are irregular, they are without a doubt worth the wait. Plus, this update is even better imo because Al-Andalus is one of my favorite things about Medieval history. Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see what happens next!
I kid you not when I say that I initially wanted to write an al-Andalus timeline, but that was at a time where two al-Andalus timelines, namely "Moonlight in a Jar" by Planet of Hats and "A House of Lamps" by dontfearme22, were already very popular. I could and still can not hold a candle to the sheer quality of both timelines, which I revere and try to honor with my Late Carolingian timeline. On the other hand, if I had written an Andalusi TL back then, it would have been catastrophic since I knew very little about this little marble of history.
Therefore, I am glad that I got back to al-Andalus in this TL where I researched the stuff I was about to write down.
Thank you very much for your lovely feedback, these kind words will never cease to motivate me!
 
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CHAPTER 1.XXX: The Rebellion of Aymard
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

+ + +

The Kingdom of Aquitania was complicated, to put it lightly.

Stephan of Clarmont reports that Louis III began to overrule the claims of powerful nobles who despised him when the offices and vacant fiefs were filled with more loyal subjects. After the death of Duke Boso I from the Bosonid family at the end of 942 shortly after his short campaign in al-Andalus, Louis III occupied the post of chief military commander (princeps militae) of Aquitania with the second and only surviving son of Boso I named Theobald, instead of Duke Ramnulf IV who not only promised the hands of his daughter to Louis III’s infant son Hugh but also had the wit to be a military commander to be feared by the Widonids and the occasional Norman raiders. Louis III had thus changed the order of rank within the delicate balance of four great houses of Aquitania. This was indeed a concerning development, the Duchy of Burgundy was, by all means, the most isolated one in terms of interactivity with the Ramnulfids, Raymondids, and the Auvergnats, and the appointment of Theobald alienated those potentates who had hoped to gain an advantage over their rivals through the king. In 943, Ramnulf IV, possibly inspired by the success of Adalhard I of Neustria, would move against Aymard I of Auvergne and demanded taxes in the name of Louis III from the count. The count of Auvergne immediately noticed the insincerity of the support of Louis III by Ramnulf IV, upon which he relayed the message to Louis III that Ramnulf IV proclaimed himself king of Aquitania.

This matter quickly defused, however, when Ramnulf IV, who had already ruled almost like a king in Gascony with Louis III's approval, was reportedly killed by a wild boar, although later sources claim infection as the cause of death. Out of arrogance, if we want to believe near-contemporary hyperbolical accounts, his young sons Guilhèm I and Acfred scorned to follow the king's orders to visit his court. Guilhèm I, designated by his father to be elected by the Gascon potentates, refused to pay homage to Louis III in 947 after Louis III ordered Guilhèm I to forego the bishops' investiture in Gascony. After three minor military campaigns in the next years, Louis III was able to banish Guilhèm I; the Gascon Duchy was given to Guilhèm I's brother Acfred, who renounced both the investiture of vacant bishoprics and the old Carolingian royal estate of Ramnulfid Gascony. Acfred I remained loyal to Louis III until his premature death in 953.

Meanwhile, in the Neustrian-Aquitanian border area, Count Aymard I of Auvergne, equal to the dukes of Aquitania in terms of power in all but name, had victoriously fended off an attack of a Neustrian-Norman brigade of landless knights. In the course of this skirmish, Aymard I had burned down a fort near the city of Bourges. This unnamed fort was the place where a local count named Hardouin, most likely himself of Norman origin, exercised power over Berry in the name of the Widonids. Since Louis III did not tolerate autonomous violence against Neustrian counts out of fear of an escalation of the downwards spiral of his authority in the peripheries of Aquitania and war along the undefined borders of Aquitania and Neustria, he eventually punished Aymard I to deliver the sacked gold to his residency in Arles. Several petty counts who fought in that skirmish were also stripped of their titles and replaced with pro-Carolingian counts. Faced with pressure from Neustria, Gascony, and his nominal feudal lord, Aymard I was forced to comply with the directives of Louis III.

These oftentimes chaotic developments within the unstable early period of Aquitania are supported by the rediscoveries of the monastical book entries. Under Lothair III, there were a striking number of entries, and the structure of the rule at that time was based to a large extent on cooperative ties between the upper royalty including, but not limited to, Lothair III, and the remaining aristocracy. On the other hand, the memorial sources dry up almost completely in the first decades of the reign of Louis III. These monastical chronicles of St. Flor and other monasteries showcase how little has changed in Aquitania since the days of Louis the Pious; discordia and rebellio are to be found in contemporary sources in almost equal numbers as one century ago.

Things reached a boiling point after the aforementioned early death of Acfred I of Gascony who left behind no heirs, bringing his paternal cousins Ramnulf and Guilhèm, two powerful counts in Gascony in their own right, to the spotlight. What happens next is disputed; The monastical chronicles of St. Flor relied on rumors and anecdotes circulating at the court that defamed the opponents of Louis III. It named two reasons: on the one hand, the lust for power of Ramnulf, who felt disadvantaged by the sole succession of his younger brother Guilhèm, and on the other hand, the ambitions of the count Aymard I who “sowed discord among the noblemen”. It is assumed by Stephan that Aymard I wanted to gain the royal title to rule over after the elimination of Louis III and then his allies.

Stephan of Clarmont, on the other hand, reports that Louis III ignored the claims of the potentates of not only Gascony, but the entire kingdom, when filling the offices, ignoring the main purpose of the Capitulary of Limoges, brought into life by his father Lothair III. Ramnulf, according to Stephan, also married the younger sister of his wife Alda of Burgundy, a woman named Ansgarde, making the crossing of Ramnulf an act against the customs of the kingdom and a clear sign of Louis III for his distaste of this figure.

When filling vacant offices and fiefs, as mentioned before, Louis III wanted to assert his sovereign decision-making power and did not seek the necessary consensus with the potentates in his decisions, a new development rarely seen before in Aquitania. He particularly disregarded the claims of the dukes and their close family members to certain positions of power. Indeed, Louis III promoted on the base of loyalty and merit many members of the lower nobility to key positions, as seen with Aymard I, to secure the status quo within the kingdom which was known to value autonomy. While it was welcomed by the lower nobility, it would anger those already in power, fearing that their sons and brothers would not continue their family’s legacy in their respective duchies.

Other reasons for the coming rebellion included the still unusual primogeniture established through the aforementioned Capitulary, from which initially unanswered questions arose as to how the brothers and other sons of the potentates were to be looked after, and the authoritarian style of government of Louis III compared to his father. Lothair III had renounced the anointment of his father Odo I in Aquitania that would symbolically have elevated him above the dukes of Aquitania and based his government there on friendship pacts with all major potentates. These pacts were an essential basis of the conception of the rule of Lothair III, who continued the policies of his ancestors to grant the counts of Aquitania autonomy to keep them inside his realm. The anointed Louis III, on the other hand, believed that he could make his decisions regardless of claims and independently of the internal hierarchy of the noble dynasties, since his conception of royalty, in contrast to that expressed by his father at least in Aquitania, raised him far above the rest of the nobility. These decisions and policies of Louis III, therefore, snubbed many of the powerful nobles in Gascony, Septimania, Auvergne, and even Burgundy not soon after he declared Guilhèm II to be the duke of Gascony by his own grace.

"The Carolings lost all hope of being able to produce a new king", wrote Stephan about the seriousness of the situation. Not too long after, Ramnulf allied himself with the humiliated Aymard I and arose into open revolt in late February 954. When Louis III wanted to celebrate Easter in the Abbey of St. Flor, Ramnulf and Aymard openly announced to him the rebellionis signa, kickstarting a large revolt across the kingdom whose aim was to depose Louis III and install Aymard I of Auvergne as the new primate of Aquitania. The conspirators had brought together a large group of armed men – especially older counts and their levies from Gascony, Auvergne, and Septimania are said to have supplied the endeavor. The king was therefore unable to celebrate Easter as the most important act of exercised power in St. Flor. As more and more aristocrats began to ally themselves with Aymard I who promised great liberties among the dukes and counts, Louis III moved in a great hurry and amassed a body of soldiers to fight Aymard near Auvergne; Louis III already began the siege of Clarmont that summer. Bishop Uc of Arles tried to mediate at the beginning of the uprising, but Aymard I refused to negotiate if it does not include the abdication of Louis III. This demand was unsurprisingly unacceptable to Louis III.

Toulouse, which would have acted as the capital of the kingdom if it was not for the Norman raids of the previous century, under Count Odo II acted neutral in this conflict, angering both sides over this perceived betrayal. Theobald of Burgundy was too inexperienced to be of great help and Emperor Charles II, King of Italy, was fighting insurgencies in Spoleto. Nonetheless, the center of this conflict shifted to the County of Toulouse in 955. There, with the support of Ramnulf, the only son of Odo II, Bernard, had taken Saint-Cyprien, a village on the other side of the Garonne, seized the treasures that had accumulated through the local market and church and distributed them as booty among his followers. With this open provocation, the king's army immediately headed south to win Saint-Cyprien and thus Toulouse itself back, but Bernard was prepared, and a lengthy siege commenced. The siege of Saint-Cyprien dragged on until November when Gascon and Auvergnat supplies ran dry and Bernard was forced to flee the battlefield. Bernard would die unceremoniously in the next year in a skirmish with local counts in Septimania. At the same time as the war slowly dragged into the next year, Odo II died from natural causes, with his son having fallen from royal and public grace. With nobody able to press a believable claim on Toulouse, Louis III made an important personnel decision: His oldest surviving son Hugh was appointed Dux Gotiae et Narbonae, Duke of Gothia and Narbonne, which, despite its exaggerated name, effectively made Toulouse a royal domain (Domeni reiau in later Aquitanian sources) under direct royal authority after the nominal, and later factual, end of the Raymondid Toulouse. This bold move would indeed anger those already opposed to Louis III, but the redistribution and restoration of fiefs in the area made him a popular figure for the counts. Nonetheless, this radical step did not change much for the power distribution within Aquitania, as the royal Dukes of Toulouse would continue to rule only within the city for the remainder of this century, with the surrounding area outside the city walls being controlled by local counts. Furthermore, in a much more humiliating fashion, Louis III was forced to effectively pay a rather large ransom for the Counts and Viscounts of Carcassonne, Narbonne, and Béziers to not seize Toulouse in the name of Aymard I.

As mentioned before, this move would further radicalize Aymard I and his supporters who now began to strike Septimania in hit-and-run attacks adopted from the Saracens and the Norsemen. Louis III stood alone, despite his victory in Saint-Cyprien.
Adalhard I did not intervene between Aymard I and the Caroling Louis III, having both a low opinion of those two rivals and taking faults to be equal on both sides, not to mention his otherwise genuine loyalty to the Treaty of Metz. Neither Louis III nor Aymard I, each doubtless conscious of the weakness of his case, dared to ask for help to each other, until now. Louis III, due to the troubling situation within his kingdom, began to scheme with the King of Neustria, Adalhard I [1], to jointly invade and occupy Auvergne and Gascony, the two hotspots of the rebellion of Aymard I. Adalhard I was promised the official recognition of the Norman County of Berry. With the promise of new allodial lands to be given to the increasingly restless counts of Normandy where the number of counts, discounts, and their sons or brothers eligible for fiefs was larger than the number of potential fiefs, to begin with [2], and in the face of the threatened rebellion of Duke Lambert of Normandy, Adalhard I could not decline this offer. Adalhard I would dispatch an expeditionary force with himself as the head of it in 956 to meet up with an army of Louis III near Toulouse. But this never happened.

Adalhard I, a man probably in his late 60s by the time of the rebellion of Aymard I, fell ill and was forced to rest in Tours where he died in August of the same year. This news only slowly trickled down to Le Mans and Paris where the Neustrian nobles were divided on how to handle the situation; one faction advocated electing Wipert as the sole king, but another party favored each brother ruling a separate part of the kingdom. A compromise was eventually reached; the royal domain of Neustria was to be split between the brothers with Lambert remaining in Maine to become its duke and Wipert I reigning from Paris as the King of Neustria. The quick solution to this conflict only came to be in the face of the ongoing resistance of Lotharingian and Frankish potentates in the Duchy of the Moselle which was subordinated and later bequeathed to Adalhard I and Wipert I by Herbert I of Upper Lorraine [3]. Due to these circumstances in Lotharingia, Louis III lost another potential ally in the North.

SUMMARY:

953:
The Rebellion of Aymard. Several disgruntled Counts and Dukes rise up against the authoritarian rule of Louis III within Aquitania.
955: The Establishment of the Domeni Reiau of Aquitania. With the death of Count Odo II of Toulouse and his only heir Bernard, the County of Toulouse is nominally elevated to dukedom by Louis III and given to his son Hugh. Although vulnerable and small in size, it was the first fief to be directly possessed by the Aquitanian King.
956: King Adalhard I of Neustria passes away. He is succeeded by his oldest son Wipert I.


FOOTNOTES:
[1] Adalhard I of Maine and Louis III of Aquitania actually share a common ancestor, namely Louis the Pious who is the paternal and maternal great-great-great-grandfather of Louis III and Adalhard I (the latter through his mother Matilda, daughter of Louis II) respectively. Just as a side note I didn’t really point out in previous updates.
[2] A problem which was present within OTL Normandy as well, but it is worse ITTL thanks to the County/Duchy of Lisieux taking half of OTL Normandy.
[3] There will be an update regarding Lotharingia.
 
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Where is the capital of the kingdom of Aquitania ?

It is.... complicated. The notion of a capital city does not exist (yet), nor does the king of any post-Carolingian country constantly reside in one place of primary status among their respective kingdoms. Louis III of Aquitania, for example, traveled between Arles, Saint-Flor, and Toulouse within this update alone. Although, there are admittedly places of special importance, including Toulouse, Arles, Narbonne, Clermont, Poitiers, Limoges, among other places. Admittedly, Toulouse and Arles are arguably currently the most important ones, but this can and most likely will change as well.
I think capitals in the modern sense will sooner rather than later arise in nations with already established large and important cities like Rome or Pavia in Italy or Paris in Neustria. Then again, the HRE had such places IOTL such as Regensburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne, but never developed a permanent single capital there.
 
Louis looks like he's out of luck -- what dynasty is Aymard a part of?
Aymard is part of the... Aymardid Dynasty of the city of Clermont and Auvergne as a whole, after the Guilhemids of Auvergne died out in 940 ITTL (meaning they lived a decade longer than OTL). We're not (yet) in the age of cool dynastic house titles like Taillefer or Plantagenet.
 
CHAPTER 1.XXXI: And Its Quick End
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)



The following night Aymard I left Clermont and moved to the important Burgundian residence of Lyon. Thus the situation became critical for Louis III, since of the three nominal duchies of the kingdom (Gascony, Gothia, Burgundy) only Gothia, at the time a novel artificial creation, completely supported him. The local counts of Upper Burgundy invited Aymard I to restore order in the duchy; Since the middle of the 10th century, the counts in Burgundy increasingly withdrew support from the Bosonid dukes of Arles. The Counts and Viscounts submitted to other counts or duchies, including Auvergne, due to the Arelatian support of Louis III. The Burgundian dukes tried to compensate for the lack of support by establishing closer ties to the Carolingian rulers of Italy and Aquitania, ties were strengthened through several marriages. However, the autonomists remained in a stronger position, especially in Upper Burgundy where Aymard I was now resting.

Thereupon, maybe overconfident in his diplomatic skills, he left abruptly for Vienne; there he found the recognition of all bishops and some counts. After he failed in Septimania and his successes in Auvergne and Gascony, everything now depended on the decision of the potentates elsewhere. The Lower Burgundian noblemen and clerics under the leadership of the Bishop Uc of Arles and Duke Theobald of Burgundy were under no circumstances willing to question Louis III’s succession to the Aquitanian throne. This subtle threat was enough to make Aymard I and his entourage retreat from Burgundy for good, as Aymard I was afraid of a confrontation with Louis III and his forces. Here, sources become vaguer, but Aymard I seems to have retreated to a fortress in Auvergne. Louis III, preoccupied with the rebellion of Ramnulf in Gascony, left Bishop Uc of Arles to negotiate with Aymard I. Through these negotiations, Uc got Aymard to come to a diet in Toulouse in 957 as a vassal of Louis III. But Aymard I never appeared, as Louis III suffered a severe blow in Gascony when he was beaten in the Battle of Montréal of the same year by Ramnulf and his forces who ambushed the king’s army.

The Carolingian rule was weakened, which Aymard I knew to use to recapture the separated and isolated bases of support for his cause. He also started to campaign against nobles who turned their back on Aymard, fearing that he might be part of the losing side of the rebellion. When Aymard I besieged the pro-Carolingian Count Wulgrin II of Périgord in the Auberoche Castle, Louis III sent an army under his son Hugh which pushed Aymard I back to Clermont in 958, from where he was soon extradited by his own war-weary people. But Aymard I was a narrow-minded man who would not accept orders from any person other than himself; and so he began to move West again to siege down the Auberoche Castle again to retake control of the area West of Auvergne. When the nobles of Northern Aquitania once again called Louis III for help, the king set out on a campaign to Auvergne in 959. When he approached, Aymard I's troops refused to fight. In August of the same year, Louis III captured Clermont after a short battle and declared Aymard I to be deposed. Aymard I himself fled southwards where he and his men began to openly raid the countryside out of desperation. While Ramnulf’s uprising in Gascony continued, Aymard I was forced to fight a battle near Albi from which he retreated towards the Garonne River where he hoped to stumble upon the men of Ramnulf. He was, however, stopped near Cahors by its Bishop Gerardus II who denied him entry to the town. An attack on the town seems to have failed, which forced him to abandon his hopes of linking up with Ramnulf who was campaigning in Limousin within this year.

Meanwhile, Louis III began to reform. He renounced the demand that the rebels should be punished; and he reinstated rebellious subjects to their former possessions in grace. The structural peculiarities of these kinds of disputes that resurfaced under Louis III included the social norms that are applied in the feudal society of the 10th century. Only the opponents of the king that originated in the aristocratic ruling class or his own family, who publicly admitted their guilt and unconditionally submitted, could hope for a pardon. The punishment left to the king was then regularly so mild that the penitent was soon back in office and dignity, as seen initially with Aymard I or Guilhèm I. Ordinary conspirators, on the contrary, were usually executed.

In a letter from Louis III dated August 959 to Pope Benedict V, the king regretted his sins. He referred to the influence of false counselors and promised to improve both as a ruler and as a Christian. As Louis III was in the fight with the Gascons, at that time he could not afford a conflict with the clergy of the country. Whether there were more public acts of repentance can no longer be verified. In any case, more and more potentates began to believe in the option of peaceful cooperation and overlooked the fact that these pious words were not immediately followed by a change of his style of government. Nonetheless, with his promise of forgiveness, and the onset of weariness after the years of rebellion, many counts began to indefinitely withdraw their support of Aymard I.

The uprising finally failed due to rumors of Ramnulf having killed Bishop Gerardus II of Cahors. While never verified, it led to outrage and became a prime example of what will centuries later be known as Excommunicatio latae sententiae. Both Aymard I and Ramnulf accused each other of having caused the death of Gerardus and the general failure of the uprising, leading to the end of their pragmatic alliance. Their supporters thus began to move away from them. The unfortunate development regarding the growing absence of their supporters forced Aymard I to negotiate peace with the Caroling. Those minor potentates involved and Aymard I, now completely isolated, met King Louis III in Nîmes on February 10, 960. There, Aymard I threw himself at the kings' feet, begging for forgiveness; Louis III forgave him and took him in grace. Thus, the Rebellion of Aymard I ended. The rebellion may have ended as abruptly as it began, but it was not without consequences; Aymard I lost political control over Auvergne but was allowed to keep his allodial lands around the city of Clermont where he would vanish from historical records not too soon after, probably dying in in the late 960s.

The Rebellion of Aymard lasted for seven years in which the Kingdom of Aquitania was restructured to firmly establish the late Carolingian Kingdom. It was not that the idea of rebellion itself shocked Aquitanian feudal society. On the contrary, it was one of the legitimate courses open to a vassal needing to safeguard his rights against the encroachments of his suzerain. The apparent lack of historical sources has made the rebellion and the Carolingian king shadowy figures and events in our modern eyes. The Louis III we know today was an active king, and intelligent enough, it seems, to make use of the favorable circumstances in which he found himself. It is tempting but rash to conclude that he was a man of no significance, to be overshadowed by the acts of his sons. For he accomplished a difficult task which was yet indispensable for the future of the monarchy: He lasted and survived. Louis III was able to maintain the monarchical principle within the area already known in its time to be the most rebellious and to defend the idea of a kingdom of Aquitania, and this at a time when it might have been expected that the Carolingian monarchy would perish in Aquitania and the country would fall apart in a colorful carpet of separate and independent feudal principalities. Such principalities indeed arose, Gascony would never again be under the complete authority of the Aquitanian king during the life of Louis III, as an example, their lands far larger than the tiny royal domain around Toulouse, their lords much more powerful than the successor of Charlemagne and the king of Aquitania. But these overmighty subjects never managed to swallow up the royal domain and the allodial lands of loyal potentates during the course of the revolt nor did they succeed in questioning the Carolingian rule. Louis III remained king. To some extent fortune favored the Carolingian. Only a few of the great feudatories at the time saw that the royal house might become a danger to them in the future, and Aymard did not succeed in swaying a majority of the potentates of the country, as they never united against the king. Instead, they frittered away in conflicts with each other the strength which they might have used against him. Louis III knew to navigate through the preexisting rivalries of the country and ally with those who will most likely succeed in his eyes. Although it can be argued that he was the ultimate trigger for the Rebellion of Aymard and the insurgency in Gascony, he nonetheless managed to end the conflict in his favor after these seven arduous years. And yet, the overarching struggle between the crown and the potentates is far from over, and war and treason would rear its ugly head again very soon over the vast expanse of Aquitania.

As a counterweight to the secular power of the feudatories, Louis III probably relied on the weak episcopacy – this, too, is recourse to Carolingian traditions. During the time of the rebellion, the king asked bishops for their advice. In the following years, he regarded himself as the patron of the bishops and claimed for himself the right of supervision and even the right to decide in the election of new bishops. In 961, Louis III personally moved from Vienne to Cahors to take part in elections for a new bishop in Cahors, in 962 he came to Albi for the same reason. He also financed the multiple abbeys of the country, notably the Abbey of St. Flor which would produce notable philosophers of the time such as Abbot St. Rudolph or introduce the Christian World to the so-called Florian Principles [1] in the coming decades, a reaction to the degenerating Holy See, the decline of Western monasticism after a century of Saracen and Norse raids and the perceived lack of will to fight simony and amoralist attitudes. The Principles sought to revive the ways of Benedict of Nursia; It was not without a reason that it was the Abbey of St. Flor which would call for a Treuga et pax Dei, a Truce and Peace of God, for the lands of Christendom, a call to reason from the arguably most chaotic post-Carolingian kingdom.

After the political and military consolidation of his dominion, Louis III began to arrange his succession. Louis III had, in addition to the surviving children Hugh and Johanna from his first marriage to Alda, with his second wife Aélith of Toulouse, one of the last living Raymondids, the surviving sons Louis and Carloman as well as the daughters Frederuna and Rotrude. In a certificate issued in 961 for his wife, the main features of his succession policy can be seen. On August 26 of the same year, Louis III guaranteed his second wife Aélith extensive possessions near Marseille, Toulon, and Embrun as her dowry with the consent of the potentates and his sons. The document supposedly formulated by the king himself read, "We have considered it appropriate to take care of our house with God's assistance in an orderly manner."

Given the abundance of evidence, it becomes clear that the succession to the throne of Hugh had begun long before the death of his father. This was by no means an obvious or natural evolution because the Carolingian practice was to divide the empire among the legitimate sons. The abandonment of this practice and the individual succession was justified through the indivisibility of the kingship and the nation as a whole, which Louis III's successors should also retain. However, this measure will not be seen as a sign of the strength of the royal rule. Rather, Louis III was forced to take the dukes and counts into consideration: he could no longer divide the kingdom without risking new bloodshed among his sons and their subjects.

Hugh appears in the historical works as rex (king) as early as 954 and thus as the sole heir to the title of king, no other son or other relative bores this title. This proves that official steps were taken regarding the question of succession. Only one of the sons, the eldest, should hold the royal dignity in the future. However, there is no evidence of any ruling activity in the years 954 up to Hugh's assumption of power in 968. In 966 the youngest son Carloman was handed over to Bishop Uc of Arles for upbringing for a spiritual career. At this point negotiations with the Neustrian Widonids took place. The Neustrian king Wipert I, who had an interest in securing lasting peace with Aquitania in face of the Frankish threat, sent his sister Emma to Arles as possible wife for Hugh but wanted to leave the decision to Louis III. The latter's efforts to connect his house to dynasties outside Aquitania had been unusual in the post-Carolingian world. In addition to the legitimization through the connection with another ruling house, this also expressed a strengthening of the importance of the Carolingian bloodline, since the Neustrian rulers invoked their legitimization through blood and political ties to the Lotharian branch of the Carolingians for more than a century. In a tragic twist of events, Emma of Maine would die shortly after giving birth to Hugh's first daughter Hildegarde in 960, forcing Hugh to look for a new wife. In another turn of events, this would force him into the web of intrigues of the crumbling Kingdom of Italy of his uncle Emperor Charles II.

+ + +


SUMMARY:

960:
The End of the Rebellion of Aymard. Aymard I of Auvergne, politically isolated after the death of Bishop Gerardus II of Cahors, surrenders to Louis III in Nîmes. The Insurgency in Gascony under Ramnulf will continue well after the death of Louis III.


FOOTNOTES:
[1] Who needs Cluniac Reforms? The Holy See is still under the influence of Roman senators, especially the Giocomii of Rome, which didn't really improve the prestige of the Catholic Church. At all.
 
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I'd love to hear more about the shenanigans of the ITTL Pornocracy in Rome. The popes were more fun when they were catspaws of Roman senators.

Looks like the Aquitainian Karlings may be set up to unite their realm and Italy, leaving the 3 Francias to the Widonids and the Babenbergers...
 
I'd love to hear more about the shenanigans of the ITTL Pornocracy in Rome. The popes were more fun when they were catspaws of Roman senators.

Looks like the Aquitainian Karlings may be set up to unite their realm and Italy, leaving the 3 Francias to the Widonids and the Babenbergers...
Damn, I knew I hinted too much, good catch :coldsweat:
But you're absolutely right in that we'll go back to Italy very soon, definitely not only because TTL's pornocracy is arguably worse than OTL's saeculum obscurum.
 
this is a damn good TL! Sad medieval tls get so little attention!
I am happy that you're so receptive to my timeline. As mentioned on previous pages, I am already quite happy that my somewhat irregularly updated timeline still gets such welcoming feedback every time it does happen to get updated, so I won't complain.
 
As others have said - loving this timeline so far. And Tue writing style really captures the feel of an in-world history text.

Any chance of a map in the future? Would really help track the changes.
 
As others have said - loving this timeline so far. And Tue writing style really captures the feel of an in-world history text.

Any chance of a map in the future? Would really help track the changes.
I'm definitely very grateful that one likes my writing style which is more than inspired by Planet of Hats' al-Andalus TL. I'm trying my best to adapt the style of writing from the articles and books I read, so I'm glad that I was able to deliver on that front.

We're definitely drawing towards an end of Chapter 1 where I'll definitely post the first map of Europe and its immediate surroundings as some sort of nice conclusion of it. But for now, I would just refer to this map since nothing major has changed during this decade outside of Polabia and Lotharingia, but both will get their own minimaps for their respective updates once the time comes. I'm also a big fan of maps, so I'm actually quite excited to be able to do the big one soon-ish, considering it will probably serve as the foundation on which the next chapters will build upon.
 
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