Born in present day Algeria, Tariq Ibn Ziyad was one of the most important military figures in the history of the Iberian Peninsula. In 711 AD as a deputy under the command of Ibn Musa Nusair, Tariq led an army into Iberia as the first attack on present day Spain and Portugal. A nobleman named Julian the commander of a Visigothic outpost in Cueta, became unlikely allies with Tariq. Julian sent his daughter to the court of the King of Spain to receive an education. Instead Julian’s daughter was raped by Roderick the King. Enraged by the incident, Julian partnered with Tariq to bring down Julian’s kingdom.
In April of 711 AD, Tariq led his army to what is now known as Gibraltar. The name “Rock of Gibraltar” derived from the Arabic name Jabal al Tariq; meaning rock of Tariq. The “Straights of Gibraltar” were also named after Tariq, the Moore who conquered Spain. Tariq’s army consisted of 12,000 soldiers and they met the Army of Roderick containing 100,000 soldiers at the Battle of Guadelete.
Before battle Tariq gathered his troops and delivered one of history’s most motivating and soul stirring sermons; The Breath of Perfume. “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.”
Tariq’s army defeated Roderick and his army killing Roderick during battle. Julian advised Tariq to split his army into several divisions. This strategy allowed them to capture cities such as Cordoba, Granada, Toledo and Guadalajara. After Tariq and his allies captured Spain he became the Governor of Hispaniola. He would govern the land until the arrival of Musa Nusair. In 714 AD both Tariq and Musa were ordered to return to Damascus where they lived until their final days. Tariq was a man who said to have been a slave that rose to conquer Iberia. Tariq conquering Iberia was the beginning of the 700 year Moorish rule of Spain. The Moors did not just conquer Spain they revitalized Europe out of the dark ages. A historical figure we never learned about in our history lesson lives on in the essence of history. Europe owes Tariq and the Moors for giving it life once again. Tariq Ibn Ziyad, We stand on your shoulders.
J. A. Ward.
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