The Struggle for North Africa between Almohads, Ayyubids, and Banū Ghāniya
By Amar Salem Baadj
PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2013
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the invasion of the Almohad Empire by the Banū Ghāniya of Majorca and the Ayyubid amir Sharaf al-Dīn Qarāqūsh in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries A.D. This long and destructive conflict, which sapped the strength of the Almohad state in North Africa, has received little attention from modern scholars, particularly in the west.
It is our aim to contextualize the revolt of the Banū Ghāniya and Qarāqūsh’s expeditions within the wider African and Mediterranean worlds. In particular, we will shed light on the economic background of the great power rivalries that affected North Africa during this period. The Banū Ghāniya were descendants of the Almoravids who established a principality in the Balearic Islands after the fall of the Almoravid state in the mid-twelfth century. In 1184 they invaded North Africa and fought against the Almohads in a struggle which lasted until the 1230s and ranged from Tripoli to Sijilmāsa under the amirs ʿAlī (1184-1187) and Yaḥyā b. Ghāniya (1188-1235?).
The arrival of the Banū Ghāniya in North Africa coincided with the conquest of Almohad Ifrīqiya (Tunisia) by the Ayyubid amir Sharaf al-Dīn Qarāqūsh. For several years Ayyubid forces fought side by side with the Banū Ghāniya and various Arab tribes against the Almohads until Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn made peace with the latter in 1190. The tenacious resistance of the Banū Ghāniya and their allies, though ultimately unsuccessful, put an end to Almohad dreams of an empire embracing all of northwest Africa and forced them to eventually relinquish their hold on Ifrīqiya and the Central Maghrib which passed under the rule of the local Hafsid and Zayyanid dynasties in the first half of the thirteenth century.