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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.