African History 3: Fighting for Control of Northern Africa
Caliphates came and went in northern Africa, but only one was cali-fated to rule it. Let's see what happened.
|World History||African History|
The Umayyad rule was generally great for wealthy merchants, lords, and urban citizens, but
significantly less great for desert nomads on the fringes of society. [Drinks coffee]
Turns out being on the fringe of society kinda sucked in every society.
Back in medieval times, Morocco, in the northwest corner of Africa, was the Wild West and the
fringiest part of the African Islamic world.
It was dry, depopulated, and undeveloped, but worth mountains of cash…
Or should we say great big sand dunes of cash? [Piles of money]
Nah, we’ll go with mountains.
As the gateway between Western Europe and Africa, the trade routes through Morocco were
worth more than the land taxes of most of North Africa put together.
However, lots of bandits, nomads, pirates, and local lords all fought each other for
And by 740 CE, the Umayyads let their Wild West slip from their fingers.
When Umayyad armies were like, "forget this…",
Morocco was taken over by a gang of nomad lords.
As the western frontier of the Islamic world in the 900s CE, Morocco was the place where
Islamic soldiers occasionally crossed the sea to bump heads with Christian Spaniards.
Luckily, their mom’s made them wear helmets.
It was natural that such a rough place would breed some rebels.
In the 10th century, a new type of rebel leader went into hiding among the nomads.
This guy was Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah
whom Shi'a Muslims believed was a prophesized leader of the Islamic world.
We bet he stress ate.
The 12th Imam won over the nomads and conquered the rest of Islamic Africa from 909 to 934
CE, creating the Fatimid Caliphate
Don’t call it fat, though, if you value being alive and unconquered.
The Fatimid Caliphate was a big deal.
Arabic became an everyday language for everyone, even working stiffs, and that's still the
Instead of being colonized and exploited by the Middle East, like under the Umayyads,
North Africa became a center of power unto itself.
Yeah, it was an Arabic culture, but it had a truly African flavor.
For the rest of the European Middle Ages, North Africa's rulers were some of the strongest
in the Muslim world.
Hm…guess they worked out.