The Zirids

Gestart door Al Zenati, 09/02/2006 om 19:19:50

Al Zenati

The Zirids were a Berber dynasty, originating in Petite Kabylie among the Kutama tribe, that ruled Ifriqiya (roughly, modern Tunisia), initially on behalf of the Fatimids, for about two centuries, until weakened by the Banu Hilal and finally destroyed by the Almohads. Their capital was Kairouan. An offshoot branch of the family ruled Granada until 1090.

The Hammadids were an offshoot of this dynasty.

The Zirids were Sanhaja Berbers from the area of modern Algeria. In the 10th century this tribe served as vassals of the Fatimids, defeating the Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid (943-947, under Ziri ibn Manad (935-971). Ziri was installed as the governor of central Maghreb and founded the gubernatorial residence of Ashir south-east of Algiers, with Fatimid support.

When the Fatimids moved their base to Egypt in 972, Ziri's son Buluggin ibn Ziri (971-984) was appointed viceroy of Ifriqiya. The removal of the fleet to Egypt made the retention of Kalbid Sicily impossible, while Algeria broke away under the governership of Hammad ibn Buluggin, Buluggin's son.

The relationship with the Fatimid overlords was variable - in 1016 thousands of Shiites lost their lives in rebellions in Ifriqiya, and the Fatimids encouraged the defection of Tripolitania from the Zirids, but nevertheless the relationship remained close. In 1045 the Zirids broke away completely by recognising the Abbasids of Baghdad as rightful Caliphs.

The Fatimids sent the Bedouin tribes of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym to Ifriqiya. The Berber troops defected and the Zirids were defeated, and the land laid waste by the Bedouin. The resulting anarchy devestated the previously flourishing agriculture, and the coastal towns assumed a new importance as conduits for maritime trade and bases for piracy against Christian shipping.

After the loss of Kairouan (1057) the rule of the Zirds was limited to a coastal strip with Mahdia as the capital, while several Bedouin Emirates formed inland. Between 1146 and 1148 the Normans of Sicily conquered all the coastal towns, and in 1152 the last Zirids in Algeria were superseded by the Almohads.