elledwarfhunter submitted to medievalpoc:

Abu ‘l-Qasim Khalaf ibn ‘Abbas al-Zahrawi (ca 936–1013(?)) was a Muslim surgeon living in Cordoba under the Umayyad dynasty.

Al-Zahrawi was the first to describe an ectopic pregnancy as well as the first person to figure out that there was a hereditary component to hemophilia. He wrote a medical treatise based on his study of ancient Greek medical texts and his own personal experience, He intended his text, titled kitab al-tasrif li-man ‘ajiza ‘an al-ta’ alif, to be a compendium of medical knowledge for its reader. It included all facets of medicine including descriptions of diseases, treatments, medicines and useful herbs and minerals. Its most famous chapter was “On Surgery and Instruments.”

During the Middle Ages, al-Zahrawi was revered along with other luminaries such as Galen as one of the father’s of medicine and his text served as one of the foundational texts for surgery.

Unlike other medical works, his text is actually fairly straight forward. He does not bury his ideas beneath mounds of philosophy or theology. As a consequence, it became immensely popular with would be doctors and surgeons. His text also helped to raise the status of surgery in medieval Europe from being perceived as a lowly, menial trade to ultimately becoming a medical specialty.

His surgical text included a number of illustrations of surgical tools. Some were based on Ancient Greek and Roman designs while others were al-Zahrawi’s own invention. His cephalotribes— a tool designed by al-Zahrawi to be used in extracting a dead fetus from the uterus—for example are quite close to the forceps that would be designed by Hugh Chamberlen in the 19th century.

[mod note] You can read more here at

Moorish invasion of Iberia - Part 1: “The Rise”

crazypreacher, ethelwulfhrodberht, irminsul-crepusculum-soporis 

Most of what will be said are from vague and mostly unreliable sources so just treat this more so as a story and less as a history lesson.

Military campaigns under Caliph Uthman

During the reigns of Umar and Uthman bin Affan, the Muslims became powerful and economically successful naval power in the Mediterranean. Under Umar, both Egypt and Syria were given permission to create navies which were used against the Byzantines successfully. Gradually they became one of the greatest naval powers at the time, both militarily and economically.

Before the Islamic conquest of Western Africa, Judaic Berbers would often launch raids against Visigothic Iberia. Whether this was solely for profit or because of the abuses that the Christian Visigoths committed against the Jews in Iberia is up to speculation. During the reign of Uthman bin Affan, Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, North Africa was conquered and in time Iberia became the next target. 

Islamic Empire during Uthman’s reign – 654 AD

According to Muslim historian, Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari [Events of the Year 26 (646/647)], 2 generals (with the help of the newly conquered Berbers) were sent to raid the coast of Spain and maybe even establish colonies.

“He also assigned command over the [Egyptian] army to the two Abdallah al-Fihri’s, reinforced them with [additional] men, and sent them against Spain. He ordered the two of them and Abdallah Bin Sa’d to combine forces against the Ajall. There after Abdallah bin Sa’d would remain in his province [namely Ifriqiyah] while the other two would continue toward their own province [namely Spain].”

“Uthman bin Affan sent in 647-8 (AD), Abdullah bin Nafiah bin al-Husayn and Abdullah bin Nafi’ bin Abdul al-Qays at the head of a force to Spain via Ifriqiyah (Africa) and the sea.”

“The affair of al-Andalus continued to be like the affair of Ifriqiyah till the time of Hisham Bin Abd al-Malik; the Berbers protecting their land and those in al-Andalus remaining in their own state.”

The men later met the governor of Egypt, Abdullah bin Saad, and while there Caliph Uthman sent a letter saying:

“Verily. Constantinople is to be conquered from the direction of the sea only. Now, if you conquer al-Andalus you are surely to share the reward and commendation with the conquerors of Constantinople, till the end of time. And, peace be upon you.”

According to Abu l-Fida:
“Uthuman ordered Abd Allah Bin Nafi Bin al-Husayn to march in the direction of al-Andalus. He therefore fought in that direction, and then returned to Ifriqiyah.”

Umayyad Caliphate’s invasion of Iberia

Spain at this time was fragmented and weak, parts of it were racked with plague. Coins show that there was a dispute in terms of rule, likely between the usurper Roderic (last Visigoth king of Hispania, 710 and 712) and King Wittiza (and Achila II, believed to have been Wittiza’s son). 

“- [Roderic] tumultuously invaded the kingdom [regnum] with the encouragement of the senate.”

Before the death of Wittiza’s, he sent his two sons (Evan and Siseburto) to Tangier (in modern day Morocco) where they are believed to have been one of the invasion’s instigating forces. Soon Roderic became king of southern Hispania while Achila II was king of the northeast (Girona, Zaragoza, Tarragona, and Narbonne). As part of their custom, Count Julian of Cueta (Septum) sent his daughter to Roderic to be educated and as a sign of loyalty but Roderic is said to have raped and impregnated her.

Tariq ibn Ziyad was appointed governor of Tangiers in 711 AD by Musa bin Nusayr (governor of Ifriqiya and Tariq’s former slave owner), he would soon play an important role in the invasion of Iberia. Julian of Cueta asked for help from Tariq ibn Ziyad against Roderic and so using Cueta as a base to launch their raiding into Hispania.

Cueta, previously known as Septem (or Septa)

Julian of Cueta had forts in Hispania as well as merchant vessels so he decided that he would ferry Tariq bin Ziyad’s army secretly into Hispania. Tariq’s army consisted of Arabs and a majority of recently converted Berbers, Tariq himself is believed to have been a Berber. It is believed that Musa bin Nusayr, another Berber general, didn’t take part in this invasion because it was supposed to just be a raid but when it proved to have been much more successful than expected, he crossed over into Hispania and helped Tariq the next year.

On the 29th of April 711 AD Tariq ibn Ziyad’s forces landed in Hispania, he set foot on the Rock of Gibraltar, which now bears his name (Jabal al Tariq, “mountain-of-Tariq”. The mountain on the side of modern Morocco was called Jebel Musa, after the other Berber general, Musa bin Nusayr).

Western face of The Rock of Gibraltar

Historian, Ibn Abd-el-Hakem, states; “the people of Andalus did not observe them, thinking that the vessels crossing and recrossing were similar to the trading vessels which for their benefit plied backwards and forwards.”

Tariq bin Ziyad took many cities without a fight, many of which fled the cities to the hills for safety, hinting at the possibility that Berber raids were common enough that the people became accustomed to simply fleeing. Other cities are thought to have openly accepted the Berbers, as the Visigoths had proven to be cruel and harsh rulers, discriminating and forcefully converting non-Christians. It is said that before the Battle of Guadalete, Tariq bin Ziyad ordered his men to set their own boats on fire

Before the battle that would decide the future of Spain, Tariq gave his men a sermon:
“Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy. Remember that in this country you are more unfortunate than the orphan seated at the table of the avaricious master. Your enemy is before you, protected by an innumerable army; he has men in abundance, but vou, as your only aid, have your own swords, and, as your only chance for life, such chance as you can snatch from the hands of your enemy.

If the absolute want to which you are reduced is prolonged ever so little, if you delay to seize immediate success, your good fortune will vanish, and your enemies, whom your very presence has filled with fear, will take courage. Put far from you the disgrace from which you flee in dreams, and attack this monarch who has left his strongly fortified city to meet you. Here is a splendid opportunity to defeat him, if you will consent to expose yourselves freelv to death. Do not believe that I desire to incite you to face dangers which I shall refuse to share with you. In the attack I myself will be in the fore, where the chance of life is always least.

Tariq bin Ziyad by Aslam Rahi

Remember that if you suffer a few moments in patience, you will afterward enjoy supreme delight. Do not imagine that your fate can be separated from mine, and rest assured that if you fall, I shall perish with you, or avenge you. You have heard that in this country there are a large number of ravishingly beautiful Greek maidens, their graceful forms are draped in sumptuous gowns on which gleam pearls, coral, and purest gold, and they live in the palaces of royal kings. The Commander of True Believers, Alwalid, son of Abdalmelik, has chosen you for this attack from among all his Arab warriors; and he promises that you shall become his comrades and shall hold the rank of kings in this country.

Such is his confidence in your intrepidity. The one fruit which he desires to obtain from your bravery is that the word of God shall be exalted in this country, and that the true religion shall be established here. The spoils will belong to yourselves. Remember that I place myself in the front of this glorious charge which I exhort you to make. At the moment when the two armies meet hand to hand, you will see me, never doubt it, seeking out this Roderick, tyrant of his people, challenging him to combat, if God is willing.

If I perish after this, I will have had at least the satisfaction of delivering you, and you will easily find among you an experienced hero, to whom you can confidently give the task of directing you. But should I fall before I reach to Roderick, redouble your ardor, force yourselves to the attack and achieve the conquest of this country, in depriving him of life. With him dead, his soldiers will no longer defy you.” -
al-Maqqari, The Breath of Perfume

God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe
The Earliest Muslim Invasion of Spain
Chronicle of 754

Floor Mosaic from Hisham’s Palace

A floor mosaic in the baths of an Umayyad palace depicting the symbolic Tree of Life surrounded by three grazing antelopes, one of which is viciously attacked by a lion.

Pieced together out of colored tesserae.

Made in the 700s by the caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik near Jericho in the West Bank. Currently located in situ.

Floor Mosaic from Hisham’s Palace

An extraordinarily detailed floor mosaic in the baths of an Umayyad palace with a circular design, ribbon pattern, and oculus. Most likely emulating a mosque ceiling.

Pieced together out of colored tesserae.

Made in the 700s by the caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik near Jericho in the West Bank. Currently located in situ.