1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
A Mahommedan dynasty which arose in Spain on the downfall of the western caliphate. It lasted from about 1023 till 1091, but during the short period of its existence was singularly active and typical of its time. The founder of the house was Abd-ul-Qasim Mahommed, the cadi of Seville in 1023. He was the chief of an Arab family settled in the city from the first days of the conquest. The Beni-abbad were not of ancient descent, though the poets, whom they paid largely, made an illustrious pedigree for them when they had become powerful. They were, however, very rich. Abd-ul-Qasim gained the confidence of the townsmen by organizing a successful resistance to the Berber soldiers of fortune who were grasping at the fragments of the caliphate. At first he professed to rule only with the advice of a council formed of the nobles, but when his power became established he dispensed with this show of republican government, and then gave himself the appearance of a legitimate title by protecting an impostor who professed to be the caliph Hisham II. When Abd-ul-Qasim died in 1042 he had created a state which, though weak in itself, was strong as compared to the little powers about it. He had made his family the recognized leaders of the Mahommedans of Arab and native Spanish descent against the Berber element, whose chief was the king of Granada. Abbad, surnamed El Motaddid, his son and successor, is one of the most remarkable figures in Spanish Mahommedan history. He had a striking resemblance to the Italian princes of the later middle ages and the early renaissance, of the stamp of Filipo Maria Visconti. El Motaddid was a poet and a lover of letters, who was also a poisoner, a drinker of wine, a sceptic and treacherous to the utmost degree. Though he waged war all through his reign he very rarely appeared in the field, but directed the generals, whom he never trusted, from his "lair" in the fortified palace, the Alcazar of Seville. He killed with his own hand one of his sons who had rebelled against him. On one occasion he trapped a number of his enemies, the Berber chiefs of the Ronda, into visiting him, and got rid of them by smothering them in the hot room of a bath. It was his taste to preserve the skulls of the enemies he had killed - those of the meaner men to be used as flower-pots, while those of the princes were kept in special chests. His reign until his death on the 28th of February 1069 was mainly spent in extending his power at the expense of his smaller neighbours, and in conflicts with his chief rival the king of Granada. These incessant wars weakened the Mahommedans, to the great advantage of the rising power of the Christian kings of Leon and Castile, but they gave the kingdom of Seville a certain superiority over the other little states. After 1063 he was assailed by Fernando El Magno of Castile and Leon, who marched to the gates of Seville, and forced him to pay tribute. His son, Mahommed Abd-ul-Qasim Abenebet - who reigned by the title of El Motamid - was the third and last of the Abbadides. He was a no less remarkable person than his father and much more amiable. Like him he was a poet, and a favourer of poets. El Motamid went, however, considerably further in patronage of literature than his father, for he chose as his favourite and prime minister the poet Ibn Ammar. In the end the vanity and featherheadedness of Ibn Ammar drove his master to kill him. El Motamid was even more influenced by his favourite wife, Romaica, than by his vizir. He had met her paddling in the Guadalquivir, purchased her from her master, and made her his wife. The caprices of Romaica, and the lavish extravagance of Motamid in his efforts to please her, form the subject of many stories. In politics he carried on the feuds of his family with the Berbers, and in his efforts to extend his dominions could be as faithless as his father. His wars and his extravagance exhausted his treasury, and he oppressed his subjects by taxes. In 1080 he brought down upon himself the vengeance of Alphonso VI. of Castile by a typical piece of flighty oriental barbarity. He had endeavoured to pay part of his tribute to the Christian king with false money. The fraud was detected by a Jew, who was one of the envoys of Alphonso. El Motamid, in a moment of folly and rage, crucified the Jew and imprisoned the Christian members of the mission. Alphonso retaliated by a destructive raid. When Alphonso took Toledo in 1085, El Motamid called in Yusef ibn Tashfin, the Almoravide (see Spain, History, and Almoravides). During the six years which preceded his deposition in 1091, El Motamid behaved with valour on the field, but with much meanness and political folly. He endeavoured to curry favour with Yusef by betraying the other Mahommedan princes to him, and intrigued to secure the alliance of Alphonso against the Almoravide. It was probably during this period that he surrendered his beautiful daughter Zaida to the Christian king, who made her his concubine, and is said by some authorities to have married her after she bore him a son, Sancho. The vacillations and submissions of El Motamid did not save him from the fate which overtook his fellow-princes. Their scepticism and extortion had tired their subjects, and the mullahs gave Yusef a "fetva" authorizing him to remove them in the interest of religion. In 1091 the Almoravides stormed Seville. El Motamid, who had fought bravely, was weak enough to order his sons to surrender the fortresses they still held, in order to save his own life. He died in prison in Africa in 1095.
Dozy, Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne, Leiden, 1861; and Historia Abbadidarum (Scriptorum Arabum loci de Abbadidio), Leiden, 1846. ( D. H.)
These files are public domain.
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Abbadides'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/a/abbadides.html. 1910.