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The term taifa in the history of Iberia refers to an independent Muslim-ruled principality, an emirate or petty kingdom, of which a number formed in Spain (Arabic: "Al-Andalus") after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.

The origins of the taifas must be sought in the administrative division of the Ummayad Caliphate of Córdoba, as well in the ethnic division of the elite of this state, divided among Arabs (a powerful but tiny minority), Berbers, Iberian Muslims (known as Muladíes) and Eastern European former slaves.

There was a second period when taifas arose, toward the middle of the 12th century, when the Almoravid rulers were in decline.

During their heyday, in the 11th century and again in the mid 12th century, Taifa emirs competed among themselves, not only militarily but also for prestige. They tried to recruit the most famous poets and artisans.

Reversing the trend of the Ummayad period, when the Christian kingdoms of the north often had to pay tribute to the Caliph, after the disintegration of the Caliphate the divided Muslim kingdoms were much weaker than their Christian counterparts, particularly the Castilian-Leonese monarchy, and had to to submit to them, paying tributes known as parias.

Due to this military weakness, on two occasions, taifa princes called North African warriors to fight Christian kings. The fanatically religious Almoravids, were invited after the fall of Toledo (1085), and the Almohads, after the fall of Lisbon (1147). These Islamic radicals, didn't help the taifa emirs but rather annexed their lands to their own North African empires.

Taifas often hired Christian mercenaries to fight their neighbours. One famous case is that of El Cid.

Some major taifas were:

Zaragoza, Toledo and Badajoz had previously been the border military districts of the Caliphate.

List of all taifas

The names are in modern Portuguese and Spanish.

  • Albarracín: 1011-1104 (to Almoravids)
  • Algeciras: 1035-58 (to Seville)
  • Almería: 1011-91 (to Almoravids); 1145-47 (briefly to Castile and then to Almohads)
  • Alpuente: 1009-1106 (to Almoravids)
  • Arcos: 1011-91 (to Almoravids); 1143 (to Almohads)
  • Badajoz: 1009-1094 (to Almoravids); 1145-50 (to Almohads)
  • Baeza: 1224-26 (to Castile)
  • Balearic Islands or Mallorca: 1076-1116 (to Almoravids)
  • Beja and Évora: 1114-50 (to Almohads)
  • Carmona: 1013-91 (to Almoravids); a second period is diffuse
  • Constantina and Hornachuelos: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Córdoba (Cordova) (organized as republic): 1031-91 (to Seville)
  • Denia: 1010/12-76 (to Zaragoza); 1224-1227 (to Almohads?)
  • Granada (Garnata): 1013-90 (to Almoravids); 1145 (to Almoravids?); 1237-1492 (this last period not usually considered to be a taifa; to Castile); 1568-71 (rebellion of Las Alpujarras after Arabic and Muslim customs were forbidden, two successive kings were appointed by the rebels)
  • Guádix and Baza: 1145-51 (to Murcia)
  • Jaén: 1145-1159 (to Murcia); 1168 (to Almohads)
  • Jérica: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Lisboa (Lisbon): 1022-? (to Badajoz)
  • Lorca: 1051-91 (to Almoravids); 1240-65 (to Castile)
  • Málaga: 1026-57/58 (to Granada); 1073-90 (to Almoravids); 1145-53 (to Almohads)
  • Menorca: 1228-87 (to Aragon)
  • Mértola: 1033-91 (to Almoravids); 1144-45 (to Badajoz); 1146-51 (to Almohads)
  • Molina: ?-1100 (to Aragon)
  • Morón: 1013-66 (to Seville)
  • Murcia: 1011/12-65 (to Valencia); 1065-78 (to Seville); 1145 (to Valencia); 1147-72 (to Almohads); 1228-66 (to Castile)
  • Murviedro and Sagunto: 1086-92 (to Almoravids)
  • Niebla: 1023/24-91 (to Seville); 1145-50? (to Almohads); 1234-62 (to Castile)
  • Orihuela: 1239/40-49/50 (to Murcia or Castile)
  • Purchena: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Ronda: 1039/40-65 (to Seville); 1145 (to Almoravids)
  • Saltés and Huelva: 1012/13-51/53 (to Seville)
  • Santa María del Algarve: 1018-51 (to Seville)
  • Santarem: ?-1147 (to Portugal)
  • Segorbe: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Segura: 1147-? (destiny unknown)
  • Sevilla (Seville): 1023-91 (to Almoravids)
  • Silves: 1040-63 (to Seville); 1144-55 (to Almohads)
  • Tavira: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Tejada: 1145-50 (to Almohads)
  • Toledo: 1010/31-85 (to Castile)
  • Tortosa: 1039-60 (to Saragossa); 1081/82-92 (to Denia)
  • Valencia: 1010/11-94 (to El Cid, nominally vassal of Castile); 1145-72 (to Almohads); 1228/29-38 (to Aragon)
  • Zaragoza: 1013-46 (then divided into several minor states); 1046-1110 (to Almoravids); continuity in Rueda until 1030 (to Aragon)

External links:

Cronology of the taifa kingdoms (in Spanish)

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