The Raptor of Spain
Part I: The New King
During the Caliphate of Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan, known as Marwan al-Himaar the last Caliph of the House of Umayyah, Abu al-‘Abbas rose against him and was proclaimed in Kufa. At the Battle of the Zab the lancers of Caliph Marwan broke on the shield wall of al-Saffah (the Shedder of Blood) and were invariably defeated and Damascus the capital, fell. Marwan was put to death in the fifth month, Jumada al-awal, 132 AH (spring of AD 750). Everywhere the members of this proscribed family were seized and put to death without mercy. Few escaped the searchers of ‘Abbas. A youth named Abd ar-Rahman the son of Mu’awiyah the son of Caliph Hisham Abd al-Malik was almost the only prince of that house to escape and he never ceased running as he escaped to the west…
–Al-Makkari, from the The Breath of Perfume from the Branch of Green Andalusia
and Memorials of its last kings
and Memorials of its last kings
The Flight to Al-Andalus
In 731, Abd ar-Rahman was born to Mu'awiyah, the son of Hisham, the son of Abd al-Malik, the son of Marwan I, the brother of Mu'awiyah I the nephew of Uthman the third Rightly Guided Caliph of the Faithful. His mother was a Christian slave girl from the Maghreb and from her his hair took on the reddish tints that would mark his line in its early days. Trained as a prince with a chance one day to become Caliph, he never-the-less became interested in his mother's heritage and as he grew there were questions about his orthodoxy.
After the defeat at the Zab, a bounty was placed on the head of any member of the Umayyad family by Al-Saffah so that chaos engulfed Damascus. He escaped Damascus with his sister Umniyah, and companions the Greek freedman Bedr, and Salim. With the rest of his family slain he abandoned the Middle East and the four companions made their way through Egypt
When he is born in 731, Abd ar-Rahman is influenced more by his Christian mother and while he is still trained as a prince there are a few doubts about whether or not he is really orthodox enough to become Caliph one day. When the Abbasids launch their revolution, a bounty is put out for any Umayyads. Abd ar-Rahman escapes a Damascus bent on capturing or killing him to preserve themselves with his sister, and two freedmen, Bedr and Salim. In the escape his brother and his son Sulameyn are killed. Dissuaded from a last stand, he took refuge in Palestine and Egypt among the few allies he had left. When Abd ar-Rahman learned the governor sought him to hand him over to Al-Saffah, he fled west to Ifriqiya and the Maghreb. In the Maghreb his blood proved a saving grace and he was taken in by his mother's people for a Jewish prophet had predicted his rise.
It was there Abd ar-Rahman first gave thought to the land of Al-Andalus.
In the year 752, Bedr was sent north to see what support the young prince had while Salim and Umniyah waited with Abd ar-Rahman. While Bedr was across the Strait of Tariq the money and promised of the governor of Egypt and Al-Saffah enticed one local leader Tashfin to attempt to sieze Abd ar-Rahman and hand him over. In the chase, Umniyah was slain by Tashfin and only the timely arrival of Bedr with allies prevented Abd ar-Rahman from being slain with his back to the sea at the edge of Sebta.
In AD 753, Abd ar-Rahman set foot in Al-Andalus.
A Rebellion Crushed
After bearing Salim in Al-Andalus, Abd ar-Rahman was taken to Málaga where he was made much of and word began to spread of his arrival. Upon his arrival he was to be given a captured Christian slave girl, Lisina, but refused to do anything other than treat her well, saying "Only as a king will I indulge in the fruits of luxury."
With his allies, Abd ar-Rahman set out to Sevilla to join with the governor of that district. But the Emir of Al-Andalus, Yusuf Al-Fihri had spent 6 long years bringing the fractious region under control and was not about to allow anything to threaten his goal. Abandoning the plans for an expedition to bring the rebellious Zaragoza under control, he turned south and caught Abd ar-Rahman unexpectedly and defeated and captured him, ignoring pleas from his father Ibn Habib who had sheltered Abd ar-Rahman in Ifriqiya. Instead, he imprisoned the prince in Córdoba and paraded him around in chains to ridicule and torture. The canny al-Fihri made Abd ar-Rahman a laughing stock for Al-Andalus so that no one would help him or Bedr. Abd ar-Rahman pleaded for al-Fihri to simply kill him but was refused.
As luck would have it, Abd ar-Rahman was tended to by the same Christian slavegirl he had treated well in Málaga who told him stories of her homeland in the north. Eventually falling in love with him, she helped him escape and the three of them attempted to raise a new revolt against al-Fihri. The mockery the Emir of Al-Andalus had subjected Abd ar-Rahman to was successful and none thought of aiding him. When al-Fihri successfully subdued Zaragoza the new year, Abd ar-Rahman's last hope was extinguished. Despairing the prince accepted a suggestion from Lisina to try to reach the tributary kingdom of Asturias where he was captured. Convincing his captors of his identity he was brought to the throne of Alfonso the Catholic who accepted his offer of service.
Knight to King
Because of his religion and his foreign origin Abd ar-Rahman, Lisina and Bedr depended on Alfonso's support. Setting his talents to serve the king Abd ar-Rahman was sent to secure the king's new hold on Galicia. Rejected by the entrenched nobility led by Alfonso's bastard son Mauregato, he sought allies among the population at large with one of the few noble exceptions being the young son of a minor noble, Gonsalus. Thanks to his education in administration in the east and his talent for command, Abd ar-Rahman strengthened the king's hold on Galicia and became popular in the province and became great friends with the king's brothers.
This disturbed the king's new adviser Elipando. Elipando had been a candidate for the Bishopric of Toledo, but al-Fihri had instead removed from his post and barred him from the church at the advice of other clergy attempting to discredit his Adoptionist stance. Disdaining the Church, Elipando had fled to Asturias where he evidenced a talent for military organization and with his education as a former churchman, became the tutor of Alfonso's son Fruela. When Alfonso died, it was widely suspected that Fruela had assassinated his brother-in-law Silo and his brother Vimarano to smooth his path to the throne. Among those most opposed to Fruela were the brothers of Alfonso I, Aurelius and Bermudo and both now became more friendly with the increasingly popular Abd ar-Rahman.
Hating and fearing Abd ar-Rahman building his own power-base in Galicia despite his faith, Fruela instead sent the knight east in 757 to deal with a Basque uprising in the mountains protesting his rule. It was a task he was expected to fail, but Abd ar-Rahman succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of anyone in Asturais, recapturing Tuleda by defeating the Banu Qasi and slaying the sons of Cassius. As a result of these events, Abd ar-Rahman first met al-Rahman ben Uqba the disgruntled governor of Zaragoza and the young prince of the Franks, Charles.
Meanwhile in the west, Fruela and his chief adviser Elipando proceeded to consolidate their rule. They brought Mauregato into their circle and Fruela turned on his uncles Aurelius and Bermudo. The former disappeared and the latter only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt that slew his family. These events were the catalyst, in 759 Bermudo rebelled and Asturias descended into civil war.
With a new son, Salamon, Abd ar-Rahman is wary of joining the rebellion though he has always been opposed to Fruela. However Bermudo himself seeks out the knight to join him. Bringing with him his ties to Galicia and his new allies in the Basque country, Abd ar-Rahman reluctantly joins Bermudo in the rebellion. Lisina is instrumental in bringing about his action as she reminds him that he has greater ambitions than to simply be a knight for the king.
With Abd ar-Rahman leading the armies of Bermudo, the rebels march west to wrest Oviedo from Fruela. Along the way Bedr rescues Alfonso's widowed daughter the wife of Silo, Adosinda from Fruela's captivity. In the final battle, Bermudo is slain and Elipando turns on Fruela in an effort to save himself, seizing him and casting him the castle walls to his death. Aurelius emerges from Fruela's dungeons and Abd ar-Rahman prepares to bend his knew to Aurelius--only to hear Aurelius declare his desire for the priesthood and upon learning of Bermudo's death, proposes Abd ar-Rahman's elevation as king.
At first reluctant because his wife Lisina is dying, she reminds him of his purpose before her death. After mourning her, Abd ar-Rahman converts to Christianity weds Munina the daughter of the new Basque lord of Tudela, and was acclaimed king of Asturias in 761.
Al-Makkari's relates the legend of the Jewish soothsayer as one possible reason ibn Habib gave refuge to Abd ar-Rahman.
Strait of Gibraltar. Named for Tariq ibn Zayad, the transliteration of the Arabic "Tariq's Mountain" is where the name Gibraltar comes from.
At the time of al-Fihri's rule, Al-Andalus was divided into five districts, among them, Toledo and Zaragoza.
Thus begins the inexplicable trend in RoS of OTL churchmen becoming effective military leaders.
The Asturian royals need an explanation. Alfonso had two brothers Aurelius and Bermudo who later became kings. He had a daughter Adosinda and two sons Vimarano and Fruela. Fruela murdered Vimarano but ITTL, he also killed his brother-in-law Silo since they were friendly toward each other because of Abd ar-Rahman's presence. Thus the revolts against Fruela happen faster ITTL since he is more brutal thank to Elipando.
In OTL Fruela put down a peasant revolt in Galicia. Here Galicia is happier because of Abd ar-Rahman and instead it's the Basques who are restless.
Thanks to his meeting with Abd ar-Rahman, Charles becomes far more engaged in Al-Andalus, focusing on Septimania and ignoring Aquitaine. Also because of his travels south, the Frankish marriages are radically different.
Historically the capital was Canagas de Onis, but Fruela moved it IOTL and does so again only earlier.
The love story between Lisina and Abd ar-Rahman was also a key emotional motivator for RoS as he depended on her and found his motivation thanks to her. The relationship with Munina is strictly based on ambition and politics. In OTL, Munina probably married Fruela.
Over at CF.net I have been posting a revised version of the Timeline. The main difference is to incorporate the improved techniques I implemented sometime around October of 2009 so that it has a similar "voice" to the current TL rather than somewhat haphazard early points. It also includes more historical personages and research. I know there is significant overlap with CF.net but I think it's good to have a definitive version here as well. The early bits are the most condensed because I am novelizing Abd ar-Rahman's life as a practice novel to show abilities (but without intention to sell). This initial post covers the period from about 731-791 in brief.
Finally, because the Live TL takes priority the re-writes are going to be irregular though I have reached 868 in the revisions. The Live Timeline will be unaffected.
Hopefully it'll be easier to follow here.