Taifas2
Map of the taifas in 1031

A taifa (from Arabic: طائفة ṭā'ifa, plural طوائف ṭawā'if) was an independent Muslim-ruled principality. Taifas developed during the history of Iberia. They were usually emirates or little kingdoms, but there was one oligarchy as well. A number of taifas formed in the Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia) after the end of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordóba in 1031.

The reason that taifas developed was that there was an administrative division of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba and also an ethnic division of the elite of this state. It was divided among Arabs (they werde a powerful but tiny minority), Berbers, Eastern European former slaves and Iberian Muslims (known as Muladíes (those were the great majority).

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

In the 11th century and again in the mid 12th century, the emirs (rulers) of thr taifas competed very much among themselves, not only militarily but also for cultural prestige. They tried to recruit the most famous poets and artisans.

After the end of the Caliphate the rival Muslim kingdoms were much weaker than the Christian ones, and had to submit to them and to pay tribute.

The taifa princes appealed for North African warriors to help them fighting Christian kings on two occasions. The Almoravids were invited after the fall of Toledo (1085), and the Almohads after the fall of Lisbon (1147). These warriors did not in fact help the taifa emirs but rather annexed their lands to their own North African empires.

Taifas often hired Christian mercenaries to fight neighbouring realms (both Christian and Muslim). The most dynamic taifa, which conquered most of its neighbours before the Almoravid invasion, was Seville. Zaragoza was also very powerful and expansive, but inhibited by the neighbour Christian states of the Pyrenees. Zaragoza, Toledo, and Badajoz had previously been the border military districts of the Caliphate.

List of taifas

Reinos de Taifas 1080
The taifas in 1080

First period (11th century)

  • Albarracín: 1011–1104 (to Almoravids)
  • Algeciras: 1035–58 (to Seville)
  • Almería: 1011–91 (to Almoravids)
  • Alpuente: 1009–1106 (to Almoravids)
  • Arcos: 1011–68 (to Seville)
  • Badajoz: 1009–1094 (to Almoravids)
  • Carmona: 1013–91 (to Almoravids)
  • Ceuta: 1061–84 (to Almoravids)
  • Córdoba: 1031–91 (to Seville)
  • Denia: 1010/12–76 (to Zaragoza)
  • Granada: 1013–90 (to Almoravids)
  • Lisbon: 1022–? (to Badajoz)
  • Lorca: 1051–91 (to Almoravids)
  • Málaga: 1026–57/58 (to Granada); 1073–90 (to Almoravids)
  • Majorca: 1076–1116 (to Almoravids)
  • Mértola: 1033–91 (to Almoravids)
  • Molina: ?–1100 (to Aragon)
  • Morón: 1013–66 (to Seville)
  • Murcia: 1011/12–65 (to Valencia)
  • Murviedro and Sagunto: 1086–92 (to Almoravids)
  • Niebla: 1023/24–91 (to Seville)
  • Ronda: 1039/40–65 (to Seville)
  • Rueda: 1118–30 (to Aragon)
  • Saltés and Huelva: 1012/13–51/53 (to Seville)
  • Santa María de Algarve: 1018–51 (to Seville)
  • Seville: 1023–91 (to Almoravids)
  • Silves: 1040–63 (to Seville)
  • Toledo: 1010/31–85 (to Castile)
  • Tortosa: 1039–60 (to Zaragoza); 1081/82–92 (to Denia)
  • Valencia: 1010/11–94 (to El Cid, nominally vassal of Castile)
  • Zaragoza: 1018–46 (to Banu Tujib; then to Banu Hud); 1046–1110 (to Almoravids; in 1118 to Aragon)

Second period (12th century)

  • Almería: 1145–47 (briefly to Castile and then to Almohads)
  • Arcos: 1143 (to Almohads)
  • Badajoz: 1145–50 (to Almohads)
  • Beja and Évora: 1114–50 (to Almohads)
  • Carmona: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Constantina and Hornachuelos: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Granada: 1145 (to Almohads?)
  • Guadix and Baza: 1145–51 (to Murcia)
  • Jaén: 1145–59 (Murcia); 1168 (to Almohads)
  • Jerez: 1145 (to Almohads)
  • Málaga: 1145–53 (to Almohads)
  • Mértola: 1144–45 (to Badajoz)
  • Murcia: 1145 (to Valencia); 1147–72 (to Almohads)
  • Niebla: 1145–50? (to Almohads)
  • Purchena: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Ronda: 1145 (to Almoravids)
  • Santarém: ?–1147 (to Portugal)
  • Segura: 1147–? (destiny unknown)
  • Silves: 1144–55 (to Almohads)
  • Tavira: dates and destiny diffuse
  • Tejada: 1145–50 (to Almohads)
  • Valencia: 1145–72 (to Almohads)

Third period (13th century)

  • Arjona: 1232–44 (to Castile)
  • Baeza: 1224–26 (to Castile)
  • Denia: 1224–27 (to Almohads?)
  • Lorca: 1240–65 (to Castile)
  • Menorca: 1228–87 (to Aragon)
  • Murcia: 1228–66 (to Castile)
  • Niebla: 1234–62 (to Castile)
  • Orihuela: 1239/40–49/50 (to Murcia or Castile)
  • Valencia: 1228/29–38 (to Aragon)

Additionally, but not usually considered taifas, are:

  • Granada: 1237-1492 (to Castile)
  • Las Alpujarras: 1568–71 (to Spain)

Taifa Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.