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ABDERRAHMAN THE THIRD
 THE second Abderrahman died before Eulogius, leaving Spain in disorder, through his
weakness as a ruler. He was followed by his son Mohammed; he by his son Mundhir, who was
assassinated; and he by his brother Abdallah, who reigned twenty-four years, and died in
During all these reigns the power of the Caliph was gradually dissolving. Almost all
Andalusia had risen in revolt and driven out the Caliph's officers. Seville declared its
independence. Saragossa defied the Caliph. Jaen was in the bands of the Berbers. Granada
was seized by Christians, who challenged the Moors to attack them. Toledo was up in arms
again. All Marcia, Estremadura, Algarve, had thrown off the Moorish yoke. In the whole of
the empire which had been ruled from Cordova, that city alone obeyed the orders of the
Caliph, and there poverty reigned by his side. There was no money to pay troops, and the
people had none to buy bread. Meanwhile the new chiefs of cities and provinces made
incessant war on each other, and quite often raided the suburbs of Cordova. Matters were
in this shocking condition when Abdallah died, and his throne fell to his grandson,
Abderrahman the Third, a boy of twenty-one.
Young as he was, he was full of vigor. He called upon the rebels against his authority to
lay down their arms, marched against those who hesitated, and beat them in the field. Town
after town, district after district submitted. They had tried rebellion for fifty years,
and as its chief result had been to hand over their vineyards and orchards
 and wheat-fields to bands of robbers, who destroyed more than they consumed, they
concluded it did not pay. Even the Christians of Granada felt that no caliph could be as
bad as the bandit chiefs, who, whenever their purses or their larders were empty, raided
the nearest town for fresh supplies. The last place to submit was Toledo, which the young
caliph beleaguered and starved into surrender.
Then Abderrahman returned to Cordova, prepared to reign in peace. It had taken him
eighteen years to put the rebels down.
But he had other enemies on his hands whom he could not put down; these were the
Christians of the North. Portions of the slopes of the Cantabrians, in Galicia, the
Asturias, Leon, Old Castile, and Navarre had never been conquered outright by the Moors;
here and there bands of Christians, feeding flocks in the mountains, had never surrendered
their independence, and fought the Moors whenever they could get at them. They were rude
and rough; they could neither read nor write; they gave no quarter in battle; but their
courage was dauntless, and their perseverance inexhaustible.
One of these barbarians, whose name was Pelayo, shut himself up in the cleft of a steep
mountain in the Asturias, and defied the Moors to take him. He had thirty men and ten
women all told; they lived in a cave in the cleft, which could only be reached by a ladder
of ninety steps. A Moorish general said:
"What are thirty barbarians perched on a rock? They must inevitably die."
They did die, of course, as all men must; but before they died they gathered round them
armies of Christians from the rocky steeps of Northern Spain, poured down under old Pelayo
into the valleys of Castile, and when they met the Moors in battle the Crescent was often
routed and the Cross victorious. The war began before Abderrahman had been two years on
his throne. It lasted, with some intervals of peace, till a few years before his death. It
 shocking and a cruel war. After some years of fighting—neither side asked nor gave
quarter—and after each battle women and children were sold into slavery, simply on
the ground of their religion. The generals who began the fifty years' fighting on both
sides died in the course of nature; but other generals took their place, and the war went
on. The net result was that before Abderrahman's death the Christians were masters of all
Northern Spain, and had pushed the Moors south of the Guadarrama Mountains. The valleys of
the Douro and of the upper Ebro, as well as the cities of Zamorra, Salamanca, Segovia,
Tarazona, and Tudela were in their hands, and the great work of the expulsion of the Moors
I must now tell you something of the city of Cordova in the time of Abderrahman the Third.
It was a fine city under Abderrahman the First. But it was the third caliph of the name
who made it one of the wonders of the world. According to the ancient historians, it
stretched ten miles along the river Guadalquiver, and for this distance the banks were
lined with houses of white marble, mosques, and gardens, in which Eastern trees and plants
grew luxuriantly, watered by irrigating ditches.
RESTORATION OF THE MOSQUE AT CORDOVA.
It is now a dead town, with about fifty thousand people in it, most of whom are poor and
ignorant; it is the chief city of a miserable district. Then it was surrounded by a strong
wall, on which square or octagonal towers rose at intervals; parts of the wall still
endure, and you can overlook the country from the turf on their top. A thousand years ago,
we are told, from the summit of these towers twelve thousand towns or villages could be
counted in the valley of the Guadalquivir.
At that time the Arab writers say that Cordova contained a million people, two hundred
thousand houses, six hundred mosques, nine hundred public baths, many thousand palaces of
the nobility, and a number of royal palaces with poetic names, such as the Palace of
Flowers, the Palace of Lovers, the Palace of Contentment. These palaces
 opened on gardens in front, and on the river in the rear; carpeted passages hung with
jewelled lamps connected them with mosques, in which the Sultan and his family paid their
devotions to God. The ceilings were supported by pillars of many-colored marble and
porphyry, and the floors were mosaic.
The great mosque of Cordova, which devout Moslems from all parts of Asia and Africa came
to pray in, was probably the grandest religious temple in the world. Its roof was light
and elegant, and was supported by a forest of pillars of different colors. There were over
twelve hundred of them, each with silver lamps kept constantly burning, and some with
jewelled cornices. When the Catholics took possession of Cordova they pulled down many of
the pillars and stripped the others of their lamps and ornaments. But enough remains to
show what it was.
The finest of the palaces was built in honor of the CaČliph's pet wife, Ez-Zabra. The Arab
writers say that Abderrahman kept ten thousand men and four thousand horses working on the
building for twenty-five years. It contained fifteen thousand doors of brass or iron. In
the centre of the Caliph's Hall was a lake of quicksilver, which was set in motion by a
spring. When it moved it flashed rays of light like lightning, and dazzled the eye. To
wait upon the queen in this palace we are told that there were thirteen thousand male
servants and six thousand females. The terraces and balls and pavilions and flower-gardens
were past numbering. Into one fish-pond it is said that twelve thousand loaves of bread
were flung daily to feed the fish. In the main court-room stood a throne glittering with
gold and gems. On the mosaic floors were Persian rugs, and silken portieres veiled the
bronze doors. I am not sure that you can believe all these stories; but however this may
be, you may feel sure that Cordova was the centre of art, science, and industry. It
contained doctors who understood anatomy and medical science, astronomers who knew all
that was known of the skies before Galileo
 and Kepler, learned botanists, profound philosophers, exquisite poets. Some of the poetry
of the Cordova bards is delightful. In architecture and bronze work the Cordovans of the
tenth century have not been surpassed to this day.
The working-men of Cordova were expert silk-weavers and skilled potters. They carved
admirably on silver and bronze. They made a steel which was not surpassed at Toledo. In
some of the museums in Europe you will see marvellous sword-hilts made at Cordova at a
time when our ancestors fought with stone hatchets.
These various attractions drew travellers to Cordova from every part of the world. We hear
of an ambassador who was taken by the Caliph to see the Ez-Zabra palace, and who fainted
at the sight of such an accumulation of splendors. The great college was thronged with
students from every country in Europe; they found professors there who could address each
of them in his own language. It was indeed the only place in Europe w here a seeker after
knowledge could obtain a good education.
GARDEN OF THE ALCAZAR, CORDOVA.
Its glories did not last long. Fifty years after the death of Abderrahman the Third an
army of Castilians and Berbers stormed Cordova, and pillaged it for several days.
Thousands of magnificent buildings were burned, among others the palace of Ez-Zabra, which
was thoroughly robbed before it was fired. Nothing was destroyed by the flames except that
which could not be carried away. So one generation undid the work of a preceding
generation, and after a century or more knowledge and civilization found themselves just
where they had been at the beginning.
If you wonder, as perhaps you may, at a nation which had made such progress in art and
science being as bigoted in matters of religion as both Moors and Christians were in the
time of Abderrahman the Third, you must remember that, in the country of your forefathers,
in the very year that the Caliph was putting Christians to death in
North-  ern Spain, an English priest dragged a young king from the altar at which he was being
married to the lady of his love, and that this same lady, who was virtuous and beautiful,
was shortly afterwards murdered by the order of an archbishop. The bigotry, you see, was
not in the race, but in the times.