The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 9: The Last Taifa

Chapter 9 – The Last Taifa – 1178 to 1190

After months of meeting with kings and brokering treaties between rivals, Pope Innocent takes to the stands in Rome with a momentous announcement, declaring the dawn of the Crusades.

Rather than set the sails eastward and towards Jerusalem, however, the Pope has decided that the far more dangerous threat was that of the Aftasid Sultanate. The only thing stopping the Aftasids from dominating Iberia was the Kingdom of Aragon, and if the Catalan bulwark fell, then all the road into Europe would lay open.

The crusade would rage across the width of Iberia for half a decade, with volunteers and armies from all across Christendom marching and dying under the hot southern sun. The Jizrunids and north African powers both refused to intervene, having just ended equally-devastating wars of their own, and the Aftasids were force to struggle against the entire might of Christendom alone.

Eventually, the combined Crusader forces were able to defeat the Aftasid army in a decisive battle outside Porto, sacking the capital and killing the sultan shortly afterwards. It took just a few months for the greater part of the Sultanate to come under Catholic control after that, and once a treaty was signed between the two enemies, Pope Innocent crowned an Anglo-Saxon lord as the King of Portugal.

And just like that, Muslim fortunes in Iberia plummeted, with both the Aftasids and Jizrunids suffering crushing defeats to the Christian powers. And to make matters worse, the decade-long war between Cádiz and Aragon had left their coffers bare, with Emir Galind steeped in debt and surrounded by enemies - both within and without.

Within his own borders, the most powerful of these enemies was Galind’s own brother, Sheikh Adfuns, who held a legitimate claim to the Emirate of Cádiz. After Emir Galind had finally conceded defeat to Aragon, Adfuns decided to strike at this moment of weakness, demanding that Galind surrender his absolute power and abdicate from the emirate.

Galind was not known for being meek, however, and he certainly would not be bending the knee to his own vassal.

Adfuns leapt into action, with half of Galind’s vassals joining him in revolt and marching towards Cádiz with an army standing 2000-strong.

Ordinarily, Emir Galind would have been able to easily defeat any enemy one-on-one, and he certainly would have won with superior numbers. But he was 400 gold dinars in debt, so he couldn’t afford to pay his own soldiers, and the recent losses had left morale at an all-time low.

All of this left Galind in an especially weakened position, and after his own retinue was shattered and his forces were routed, his makeshift army crumbled and the battle was lost.

One thing Galind didn’t do, however, was give up. He maintained his self-belief and refused to take responsibility for any of the battlefield failures, instead laying the blame at his commanders and generals. He was facing an uphill battle, but he was determined to regain all that he’d lost, regardless of the consequences.

To that end, he spent the next couple months re-building his army, filling in the ranks with young, untrained boys. Once he felt confident enough, Galind led a bloody assault of the fortress at Granada, scaling the walls and taking the citadel.

Shortly after taking Granada, unfortunately, news reached him that his brother was torching and pillaging Cádiz. Eager to bring an end to the civil war, Emir Galind led his hardened force back to his capital, engaging Adfuns’ army in the streets and alleyways of Cádiz.

This time, the numbers were firmly on his side, and Galind’s recent victory was enough to raise the morale of his troops once again. After just two hours of fighting, Adfuns was forced to retreat and abandon Cádiz, effectively admitting defeat as he did so.

And indeed, just a few days later, Sheikh Adfuns sent envoys to Galind to sue for peace. The Emir wanted to press harder and force his brother to capitulate, but his emirate was on the verge of collapsing, so his council convinced him to accept the favourable terms offered. White peace, and a return to the status quo.

With the first of many difficulties overcome, Emir Galind returned to Cádiz to begin rebuilding. Before he could do so, however, his court physicians insisted on carrying out a few tests on their Emir.

Galind has recently found himself breathless and weak, where he had always been robust and strong. And even worse, lumps had begun taking shape around his loins, quickly followed by incessant bleeding and constant pain. His court physicians carried out a full examination, prodding and poking and pinching, and they all reached the same grim conclusion: cancer.

After consulting with their colleagues, the court physicians decided that the only way to rid Galind of the disease was to purge it from his body, carving away all the flesh that was rotted or lumpy. This was the same treatment that had been carried out on his father and grandfather, and after the painful operation, Emir Galind became the third Jizrunid ruler to bear a peg leg.

Despite the immense pain he was in, Emir Galind refused to take time off for rest, not when his emirate was in the midst of a crisis. The first matter on the agenda was that of bankruptcy, which he attempted to solve by demanding tribute from his vassals.

Not all accepted, but some of the more powerful lords in Cádiz knew that more could be gained by playing along with the Emir than fighting him, and agreed to contribute to solving the Emirate’s money problems.

Galind also busied himself with quashing the many peasant rebellions and highway bandits that popped up in wake of the war, crushing resistance brutally and publicly flaying any bandit leaders he could get his hands on, sending a clear message to any prospective rebels.

After a few months of stringent regulations and tight purses, the budget deficiency was finally overcome, with the Emirate going into the green once more.

Whilst Galind had been busy re-asserting his authority, the King of Aragon had gone to war yet again, seizing large tracts of land from the already-beaten Aftasids. And since they were amongst the largest and richest dynasties in the west, dozens of Aftasid noblemen fled south as their fortunes flailed, with Emir Galind eagerly accepting them into his domains. They carried riches and symbolism with them, and between the constant expansion of both Portugal and Aragon, it was quickly looking like the Emirate of Cádiz might end up being the last Muslim holdout in Iberia.

Emir Galind was becoming more anxious with every Christian victory, and now that his fortunes were looking up again and the Almoravid civil wars had come to an end, he began drawing up plans for another invasion of Aragon.

Before he could even broach the matter with his generals, however, the unruly Sheikh Adfuns once again rose up in revolt. Ever since he had been beaten and forced to return to Granada, Adfuns had been stewing with resentment and anger, sure that every decision Galind made was wrong and sure that he would make the better Emir. After several long years, that resentment had reached boiling point, and he declared his intention to seize the Jizrunid capital of Cádiz.

Galind was not in the same ditch he'd been stuck in five years ago, however, he had managed to slowly climb his way back up the ladder. He raised a large army of 8000 men and led them into rebel territory, all too happy to be back on the march, before sieging down and capturing the city of Malaga.

Adfuns had not expected his brother to have so much support, and he frantically avoided a confrontation with his army, instead marching on Cádiz in a desperate hope to seize the city by assault. As soon as Galind received word of Adfuns’ plans, however, he led his army on a forced march to engage the rebels, pinning them down near the port-town of Algeciras.

The battle was won even before it had begun, Adfuns simply couldn’t match Galind’s tactical brilliance, and after just an hour of fighting the rebel Sheikh surrendered to his half-brother and sued for peace.

Adfuns probably expected to be treated similarly to when he'd last surrendered, but this time, Emir Galind held all the cards. He ordered his guards to put his brother in chains and throw him into the oubliette, stripping him of his family name and seizing all the titles and honours he’d once held, along with those of any other lords who’d joined him in revolt.

And with that, in one fell swoop, Emir Galind found himself stronger than ever before. Most of the emirate was now part of his personal demesne, and the palaces and cities he’d captured enabled him to pay off the rest of his loans, finally bringing his debts to an end.

Galind even had enough money to begin investing in his retinue again, bolstering its ranks with new recruits, training them for the inevitable battles they’d be deciding.

Meanwhile, just beyond his borders, the Anglo-Saxon King of Portugal had been busy. King Morcaer had gone to war and conquered the entirety of the Zirid and Abbadid Emirates, integrating Sevilla into his domain before cracking down on the local Muslim populace.

In the east, the King of Aragon had gotten bogged down in a difficult war with the French, who were pressing a Capetian claim to the Aragonese throne. The two sides were roughly on par in terms of levies, so the war would undoubtedly be long and difficult, presenting the perfect opportunity for Emir Galind to expand.

Galind wanted nothing more than to defeat the Aragonese, it would put an end to the shame that had burdened the Emir ever since his loss, but he wasn't nearly strong enough to face another Christian alliance. Before he could do that, he needed to eliminate any potential enemies who would join Aragon as allies, playing out his divide-and-conquer tactic on a grand strategy level.

The most dangerous of these potential enemies was the nascent Kingdom of Portugal. So Galind invited the exiled princes of the Abbadid and Zirid dynasties to Cádiz, and with their claims backing him up, the Emir declared war for the first time in almost a decade, raising his levies and summoning his banners once more.

The war was remarkably short and decisive, it didn’t last any longer than a month. Emir Galind began by marching across the border with 11000 men, the largest force he’d ever raised. He had intended to begin by sieging down and capturing the strategic city of Seville, but he didn’t even have the time to reach the city before King Morcaer attacked him with a 15000-strong army, apparently hoping to catch the Muslims off guard.

And the Muslim force was certainly outnumbered, but there wasn’t a finer strategic mind than Galind's in all of Iberia, and it didn’t take much for him to quickly turn the battle to his advantage. After withstanding wave after wave of Crusader charges, Emir Galind leapt onto the offensive by leading his cavalry retinue on an unexpected counter-attack, routing the enemy and forcing them to fall back in a single brilliant manoeuvre.

Over the next few hours, the Portuguese army was barraged with men and pushed back inch by inch, before being chased off the battlefield in a stunning victory for Emir Galind.

With the enemy broken, he then capitalised on the victory by pursuing King Morcar deeper into Portugal, eventually laying siege to Lisbos. Unable to defeat Emir Galind on the battlefield or stop his capital from falling, King Morcar was forced to sue for peace, agreeing to cede Seville and its immediate environs to the Emirate of Cádiz.

And with that, at long last, Galind scores his first major victory.The Abbadids and Zirids were restored to a few paltry castles and towns, but the richest pickings were kept for Galind himself, with the Emir ruling Sevilla as part of his personal demesne.

With the Portuguese bloodied, Emir Galind set his eyes on Aragon, whose war against France had taken a turn for the worst. His last war with the Kingdom of Aragon had cost him a leg and his reputation, but Galind was as determined as ever to etch his name into history, however disastrous the consequences.