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The relations of King Sancho VII of Navarre with the Almohads

The relations of King Sancho VII of Navarre with the Almohads

By Nevill Barbour

Revue de l’Occident musulman, Vol. 4 (1967)

Introduction: The purpose of this paper is to discuss the relations between Sancho VII of Navarre and the Almohad rulers of Muslim Spain, with special reference to the story told by the English chronicler, Roger of Hoveden.

This story is that a daughter of the Almohad Caliph ‘Boiac’, by which is meant Ya`qub al- Mansfir, fell in love with King Sancho by hearsay, that is, by description without having seen him, and pestered her father until he agreed to offer her in marriage to him, with as much money as he wished for her dowry and all the land which, the account says, is called Saracen Spain from the limits of Portugal to the great mountain of Muncian. By Muncian was no doubt meant Montsia, then on the Aragonese-Muslim frontier, just north of Peñiscola.

The King accepted the proposition and set out for the Almohad court, then in Africa. On arrival he found that Ya ‘qub was dead and that the succession of his heir who was still under age was disputed. This was in fact Muhammad al-Nasir, then 17. The young ruler insisted that Sancho, before receiving his wife must first help him establish himself against his enemies; otherwise he would detain him in captivity indefinitely.

Seeing no alternative, Sancho helped to the best of his ability and within three years al-Nasir’s succession was assured. Meanwhile however the Kings of Castile and Aragon had jointly attacked Navarre, capturing a number of cities. Here the story breaks off abruptly, but a later paragraph tells us that Sancho thereupon returned home and made a truce with the two kings.

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