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The Deconquista


Tafiflet falls to Musa ibn Nusair. All of North Africa except Ceuta (an old Byzantine stronghold and port) is now under Moslem rule.


Musa besieges Ceuta. However after a month he gives up because of the strength of its defences. In addition, he notes that it is being supported from Spain and thus can not be starved into submission


Musa reports to his overlord the Caliph of Damascus that it is possible to see Spain from North Africa. After discussing the possibility of carrying the Banner of the Prophet into Europe, the Caliph authorises an exploratory raid.



Witiza, King of the Spain dies from a plague. His sons are too young to ascend to the throne so Roderic, Duke of Toledo take the opportunity to seize it for himself. However, his rule is challenged by nobles of the Vascones region (north east Spain).


The comes in charge of Ceuta, Julian, is subverted by Musa. The count hands over the city to the Moslems as well as a number of large ships.

Roderic campaigns in the Vascones region with little success.


Tariq ibn Mulluk launches the raid on Spain. His force consists of 100 horse and 400 foot. They successfully land in Spain then return home without major incident and with much loot



Musa orders Tarifa to prepare for a full scale invasion of Spain.


Tariq lands at Tatida (Gibraltar) with 7000 men, mainly Berbers. News is quickly sent to Roderic who raises an army 6500 strong, some of which are led by the nephews of the deceased Witiza.


Tariq’s army encounters a force of Spanish in Baetica and routs them. The Duke of Cordoba, a nephew of Roderic is killed.


Moslem and Spanish forces meet near Gulalete. For a week, the two sides skirmish but on the seventh day, Roderic organises a full scale assault on the Moslem camp. There is hard fighting, but the Spanish advantage in cavalry succours them victory. In return for his services, the elder son of Witiza is made Duke of Cordoba whilst the younger is equally as well rewarded.

Tariq and the remnants of his army retreat to Tatida to winter there.


Roderic successfully negotiates a truce with Akhila, the Duke of Vascones. With the north now relatively secure, he prepares for a spring offensive against Tarifa.



Roderic assembles an army 15000 at Toledo then marches to Seville.


Musa lands with 18000 Arabs and Berbers at Tatida. Together with Tariq’s troops, the army marches to Seville. On the way, they are joined by some disaffected Spanish.


Roderic engages the Moslem army south of the city. The battle commences with both armies tentatively skirmishing. Then, Roderic’s right wing engages some of the disaffected Spanish and routs them. Seeing which way the wind is might be blowing, the rest retreat leaving a gap in the Moslem line. Musa orders Arab troops from his reserve to plug it, but not before Roderic’s heavy cavalry charge. The Arabs hold the line, but Berber troops also retreat. At that point Musa realises that the battle is lost and commences a disordered withdrawal back to Tatida.


Roderic conducts a scorched earth policy in the vicinity of Tatida. Musa ships in supplies, but also has to transfer some of the troops back to Africa in order to be able to feed them. The rest commence work on fortifying the town.



The Caliph of Damascus summons Musa to explain his conduct. Musa is reluctant to leave but does so, leaving Tariq in command.

After surveying Tarifa, Roderic orders the construction of the castle Santa Fe to block any advance out of Tarifa. He also orders construction of warships at Malaga.


Deciding not to throw good gold after bad, the Caliph sends orders to Tariq to retire his men back to North Africa. Musa is exiled to southern Egypt.


Tariq obeys the Caliph’s orders and the Moslems evacuate Tarifa. The port is promptly occupied by Roderic who orders the work on the Moslem fortifications to continue. In addition, he orders work to begin on additional defences on other southern Spanish towns.


Afraid that Tariq will be rebel rather than come to Damascus if summoned, the Caliph sends assassins to Morocco. All are killed by Tariq’s bodyguards, but he himself dies of his wounds three days later.

*              *                *

Historical notes. On OTL the Moslems won the Battle of Gulalete because of the defection of the nephews of Witiza. The reason for their treachery was that they believed that the Moslems were only raiding Spain and would retreat home in the autumn. As events went on to demonstrate, they were wrong and the Moslems went on to occupy most of Spain.

Also and contrary to the myth of the Arabs sweeping all before them until they reached the Pyrenees in the west and Himalayas in the east, a substantial element of the invasion of Spain were Berbers. After the initial successes, non-Gothic Spaniards flocked to the Moslem banner and fought in the later stages of the campaign. However, the Arabs provided most of the commanders and the core of the second wave.

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