1902 Encyclopedia > Almohades


ALMOHADES (Almoahedun, Unitarian), a Mahometan dynasty that flourished in Africa and in Spain during th 1 2 th and 13th centuries. Mohammed-Ibn-Abdallah, the founder of the Almoahedun sect, was the son of a lamplighter in the great mosque at Sous-el-Aksa. He studied at Cordova, and afterwards visited Cairo and Baghdad, where he became the disciple of the famous philosopher Algazali. In order to establish his power with his countrymen, he connected himself with Abd-el-Mumen, a young Mussulman of great abilities, whom he sent forth as his apostle to propagate the new doctrine (1116-17) ; while in his own person he affected an unusual degree of piety and mortification, appearing in tattered garments, and interdicting the use of wine and music and every gratification of the senses. His fame spread rapidly among the mountain tribes of Mahgreb, and the ignorant multitude adopted his opinions with eager zeal. His followers saluted him as the Al-Mehedi on the 28th November 1121. Entering the city of Marocco, this new prophet foretold the downfall of the existing dynasty, and mocked the authority of the reigning prince Ali-Ibn-Yussef. Ali, lulled in security, despised his predictions as the mere ravings of a fanatic ; and it was not without some difficulty that he was at length prevailed on to banish him from the city. Mohammed retired to the mountains, and fortified the town of Tinmal, which he defended against every assault of his enemies (1123). His retreat became the rendezvous of a numerous sect, who assumed the title of Almoahedi, or Almohades, and asserted that they alone of all the Mussulmans maintained the religion of Islam in its original purity. Many Arab and Berber tribes acknowledged him as their political chief, and 20,000 soldiers rallied around his standard. Ali only perceived the error he had committed when it was too late : his armies, at each encounter, were panic-struck, and fled. Yet notwithstanding the great success of the Almohades, the vast empire of the Almoravides was not at once subdued : and Mohammed, after an ineffectual attempt to reduce the city of Marocco, died in the year 1130, having failed to accomplish the object of his ambition, the possession of a throne. He was succeeded by Abd-el-Mumen, who assumed the title of Emir-el-Mumenin, or Commander of the Faithful. During the thirty years that he reigned, and under his descendants, Yussef and Yakub, called Almanzor-Billah, the dynasty of the Almohades was exceedingly illustrious, and the arts flourished greatly. They rendered themselves masters of the provinces of Fez, Marocco, Tlemcen, Oran, and Tunis; and passing into Spain, they overran Andalusia, Valencia, and a part of Aragon and Portugal, as far the Ebro on one side and the Tagus on the other. But this vast empire was not of long continuance; for in the year 1212, when the Moslems under Mohammed were defeated by the Christian princes of Spain in the great battle of Las Navas, near Tolosa, the governors of the several provinces took advantage of that disaster to throw off their allegiance, and declared themselves independent - en example that was the signal for a general revolt. The dynasty of the Almohades became extinct in Spain in the year 1257, and in Africa in 1269. The last sovereign of this race, Abu Dabus Edris, who had with difficulty maintained a shadovv of power in the city of Marocco, was assassinated by a slave. They were succeeded by the dynasties of the Hassides, the Mevanides, and the Merinides. See ALMORAVIDES.

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