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The Emirate of Granada (Arabic language: إمارة غرﻧﺎﻃﺔ‎, trans. Imarat Gharnāṭah), also known as the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada (Spanish language: Reino nazarí de Granada ), was an emirate established in 1238 following the defeat of Muhammad an-Nasir of the Almohad dynasty by an alliance of Christian kingdoms at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. After Prince Idris left Iberia to take the Almohad leadership, the ambitious Mohammed I ibn Nasr established the last Muslim dynasty on the Iberian peninsula - the Nasrids. The Nasrid emirs were responsible for building the Alhambra palace complex. Arabic was the official language and mother tongue of the majority of the population.


Tributary State

With the Reconquista in full swing after the conquest of Córdoba in June 1236, Mohammed I ibn Nasr aligned Granada with Ferdinand III of Castile in 1238, thereby creating a tributary state, or taifa, under the Crown of Castile. Granada remained a tributary state for the next 250 years, with Nasrid emirs paying tribute to Castilian kings mostly in the form of gold from present-day Mali and Burkina Faso that was carried to Iberia through the merchant routes in the Sahara. The Nasrids also provided military assistance to Castile for its conquest of areas under Muslim control, most notably Seville in November 1248 and the Taifa of Niebla in 1262.[citation needed].

In 1305, Granada conquered Ceuta, but lost control of the city in 1309 to the Kingdom of Fez with the assistance of the Crown of Aragon. Granada re-captured Ceuta a year later, but again lost it in 1314. Granada again held the city from 1315 to 1327. In 1384, Granada again re-took Ceuta but lost it definitively in 1387.

Granada's peace with Castile broke down on various occasions. Granada lost territory to Castile at the Battle of Teba in 1330. In 1340, Granada under Yusuf I supported the failed Marinid invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, which ended at the Battle of Río Salado.

Regional Entrepôt

Granada's status as a tributary state and its favorable geographic location, with the Sierra Nevada mountains as a natural barrier, helped to prolong Nasrid rule and allowed the Emirate to prosper as a regional entrepôt with the Maghreb and the rest of the Africa. In fact, Granada was a prosperous city during the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages when much of Europe stagnated. Granada also served as a refuge for Muslims fleeing during the Reconquista. Regardless of its comparative prosperity, intra-political strife was constant, skirmishes along the border occurred frequently and territory was gradually lost to Castile.

Granada was tightly integrated in Mediterranean trade networks and heavily financed by Genoese bankers aiming to gain control of the gold trade carried in through Saharan caravan routes.[1] However, after Portugal opened direct trade routes to Africa by sea in the 15th century, Granada became less important as a regional commercial center. With the union of Castile and Aragon in 1469, these kingdoms set their sights on annexing Granada.

Fall of Granada

The invasion of Granada would offer an opportunity for Ferdinand and Isabella to harness the restless Castilian nobility against a common enemy and instill subjects with a sense of loyalty to the crown.[2] The Emirate's attack on the Castilian frontier town of Zahara in December 1481 provided the provocation for a Christian invasion.[2] The Granada War began in 1482, with Christian forces capturing Alhama de Granada in February 1482. This marked the beginning of a grinding 10-year war. The Christian force was made up of troops provided by Castilian nobles, towns, and the Santa Hermandad, as well as Swiss mercenaries.[3] The Catholic Church also encouraged other Christian countries to offer their troops and their finances to the war effort. Meanwhile civil war erupted in Granada as a result of succession struggles in the Nasrid ruling house. Castile used this internal strife as an opportunity to push further into Granada. By 1491, the city of Granada itself lay under siege. On November 25, 1491, the Treaty of Granada was signed, setting out the conditions for surrender. On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim leader, Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil to the Spanish, gave up complete control of Granada, to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Católicos ("The Catholic Monarchs").


The Christian ousting of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula with the conquest of Granada did not extinguish the spirit of the Reconquista. Isabella urged Christians to pursue a conquest of Africa.[4] About 200,000 Muslims are thought to have emigrated to North Africa after the fall of Granada. Initially, under the conditions of surrender, the Muslims who remained were guaranteed their property, laws, customs, and religion[according to whom?]. Following an uprising in 1500, these rights were withdrawn and Muslims in the area saw a steady decline in these liberties, until a second revolt in 1568-1571 led to their expulsion from the former Emirate.[better source needed]

List of Sultans of Granada

Years Ruler Reign
1238–1272 Muhammed I ibn Nasr
1273–1302 Muhammed II al-Faqih
1302–1309 Muhammed III
1309–1314 Nasr
1314–1325 Ismail I
1325–1333 Muhammed IV
1333–1354 Yusuf I
1354–1359 Muhammed V
1359–1360 Ismail II
1360–1362 Muhammed VI
1362–1391 Muhammed V Second
1391–1392 Yusuf II
1392–1408 Muhammed VII
1408–1417 Yusuf III
1417–1419 Muhammed VIII
1419–1427 Muhammed IX
1427–1429 Muhammed VIII Second
1430–1431 Muhammed IX Second
1432-1432 Yusuf IV
1432–1445 Muhammed IX Third
1445–1446 Yusuf V
1446–1448 Muhammed X
1448–1453 Muhammed IX Fourth
1453–1454 Muhammed XI
1454–1461 Sa'd
1462-1463 Yusuf V Second
1464–1482 Ali Abu l-Hasan
1482–1483 Muhammed XII Abu 'abd Allah
1483–1485 Ali Abu l-Hasan Second
1485–1486 Muhammed XIII Abū `Abd Allāh
1486–1492 Muhammed XII Abu 'abd Allah Second

See also

  • Nasrid dynasty
  • Romance of Abenamar
  • Taifa of Granada
  • List of Sunni Muslim dynasties


  1. Arrighi, Giovanni (2010). The Long Twentieth Century. Verso. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-84467-304-9. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Barton, Simon (2004). A History of Spain. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-230-20012-8. 
  3. Barton, Simon (2004). History of Spain. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-230-20012-8. 
  4. Barton, Simon (2004). A History of Spain. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-230-20012-8. 


  • Fernández Puertas, Antonio (1997). The Alhambra. Vol 1. From the Ninth Century to Yusuf I (1354). Saqi Books. ISBN 0-86356-466-6. 
  • Fernández Puertas, Antonio. The Alhambra. Vol. 2. (1354 - 1391). Saqi Books. ISBN 0-86356-467-4. 
  • Harvey, Leonard Patrick (1992). Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-31962-8. 
  • Watt, W. Montgomery (1965). A History of Islamic Spain. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-0847-8. 
  • Arié, Rachel (1990) (in french). L’Espagne musulmane au Temps des Nasrides (1232–1492) (2nd ed.). De Boccard. ISBN 2-7018-0052-8. 
  • Bueno, Francisco (2004) (in Spanish). Los Reyes de la Alhambra. Entre la historia y la leyenda. Miguel Sánchez. ISBN 84-7169-082-9. 
  • Cortés Peña, Antonio Luis; Vincent, Bernard (1983-1987) (in Spanish). Historia de Granada. 4 vols.. Editorial Don Quijote. 
  • Cristobal Torrez Delgado (1982) (in Spanish). El Reino Nazari de Granada. 

External links

Coordinates: 37°11′N 3°36′W / 37.183°N 3.6°W / 37.183; -3.6

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