The world’s adornment… Andalusia from the conquest to the fall in paintings
The panels depict both the gains won and the losses incurred by both teams; Muslims and Goths.
The conquest of Andalusia, led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, under the banner of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, was the beginning of the Islamic expansion towards the West and Europe. The Goths initially resisted conquest until the Visigothic kingdom fell and became the Umayyad state of Andalusia. This happened from 711 AD to 718 AD.
The Islamic conquest of Spain, like many historical events, was a rich material for many painters, writers and poets to excel in. After the defeat of the Visigothic king Rodrigo in the decisive battle of Guadalete (Valley of Luke), many painters from then until the 20th century began to imagine the event and depict it in paintings that embody both the gains he won and the losses incurred by both teams; Muslims and Goths.
The beginning and end of the Islamic presence in Andalusia can be traced in a historical sequence through the paintings of several painters, including the Spanish painter Bernardo Blanco y Pérez (1828-1876), who presented one of the most famous paintings depicting the Visigothic army as divided and antagonistic before fighting the Battle of Wadi Laka, which ended The Visigothic presence in that region, and then the “state of Andalusia” was declared.
The work highlights the historical moment when King Rodrigo went into battle wearing his jeweled crown and seated on his throne on a chariot drawn by white horses. The throne itself appears in the painting covered with tiger fur, leaving its head hanging on the side of the chair, and the king refers to the soldiers to advance towards the army of Tariq bin Ziyad, while he will die shortly, and his soldiers will disperse.
The Spanish historian García Moreno, in his book “Archaeology and History between Two Worlds”, refers to that incident as arrogance that led to heavy losses in the battle against Muslims.
Years of good and light
Agriculture and horticulture flourished in Andalusia, and Muslims introduced crops and crops that did not exist before the conquest, such as figs. The best types of figs were grown in Malaga and exported to India and China. The cultivation of oranges, almonds and other fine foods also spread until they invaded the tables of Europe.
One of the miniatures, painted in 1200 in Andalusia by an unknown painter, shows the agricultural revolution that took place at the hands of Muslims in Andalusia, according to Ibn Basal, a botanist and one of the most famous agricultural scholars in the 12th century (5th century AH). This led to the development of medicine and medication, as many herbs and plants had a role in modern day medicines, and the same was confirmed by Ibn Wafid in his book “Al-Dawaa al-Mufradah”.
The study of mathematics and astronomy went hand in hand with the development of agriculture. Al-Khwarizmi’s famous book, Calculation of Integration and Equation, reached Andalusia at an early age, and became the basis of mathematical development at a later time. Also, writers and poets lived their golden age in that era when science and creativity were appreciated by rulers and princes.
We see in the miniatures and illustrations presented by the Iraqi painter and calligrapher Yahya bin Mahmoud al-Wasiti (from the 13th century) in the late Abbasid era a wonderful depiction of the nature of life in Andalusia.
Al-Wasiti, the founder of the Baghdad School of Miniatures, was a well-versed intellectual who translated many mental images into reality. Scholars in an Abbasid library appear in his drawing, in which he decorated the book “Maqamat al-Hariri”; They are studying science, and behind them is a multi-shelved library loaded with dozens of books arranged according to topic.
Historian Paul Lund says in his book “Islam” that the Cordoba region “only contained about 500,000 books. The cultural difference between East and West in the Middle Ages can be partly attributed to the fact that the Arabs had paper imported from China, while the Latin West had only A little less.”
In his painting “La rendición de Granada”, painted in 1882, the Spanish painter Francisco Pradilla, who lived from 1848 to 1921, presented one of the most famous painful scenes depicting the fall of Andalusia, where the last king of Granada, Abu Abd, surrendered God Muhammad the 12th, the last stronghold of Muslims in Andalusia, to the Catholic King Ferdinand II in his Aragonese dress, to bring down Andalusia and establish the Spanish Empire on its ruins.
“Weep like women for a king you did not protect like men.”
The painting today adorns the Spanish Senate because it is a “representation of Spanish unity” and “a starting point for the great deeds of our ancestors,” in the words of Marquis Manuel García Barzanalana, then president of the Senate.
The painting is painted on the realistic doctrine, and it has a high craftsmanship represented in the accuracy of characters, horses and humans. And Pradia was able to convey the spirit of victory that Ferdinand II felt while he was on his decorated horse and next to him was his wife in the best suit and on her head the king’s crown.
The two teams stand facing each other, the flashy colors in the Catholic section denote the euphoria of victory, while Pradia uses darker colors on the side where the Muslims stand.
Historian Maria Rosa Menocal points out in her book “The Decoration of the World” that the Islamic presence in Andalusia was one of tolerance and peace. Muslims, Christians and Jews lived under the Islamic rule of Andalusia in justice and safety, which led to the prosperity of the region, which would not have achieved all these wealth if it was suffering from corruption of authority or religious conflicts.
“Not only Córdoba, but the whole of Andalusia, so that the immense intellectual wealth of Andalusia, which is inseparable from its prosperity in the material world, made it the adornment of the world in the end,” says historian Maria Rosa Menocal.
Nostalgia for the lost paradise appears in several artistic and literary works, including the painting “Memories of Granada” by the Spanish painter Antonio Munoz Degrín (1840-1924), painted in 1881, on the realist doctrine, although the painter was mourning it Granada’s glorious past in a contemporary scene.
Dejren depicts torrential rain falling on the city of Granada. The choice of this city as the subject of the painting is a matter of artistic idiosyncrasy, as Degrein was drawn to Granada’s historical past and the possibility of the return of the legendary Islamic state that had been “hijacked” according to the painter.
The painting’s subject matter of the weather gives a sense of the romance and sadness of Granada’s past. Degrenne achieved a very high level of lyricism and melancholy in the painting as in all of his works.