On April 29, 711 AD, the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad headed into Visigoth-held Spain. The goal was to take the Iberian Peninsula and take out the Visigoths.
ROAD TO THE INVASION
Tariq came to invade Spain after the nobleman Count Julian—who held Ceuta—sent his daughter to the country. Just prior, Visigoth ruler Roderic came to power in Spain and Julian’s daughter was to receive her education there. Instead, King Roderic assaults her.
Ceuta neighbors Tangiers, which is Tariq Ibn Ziyad rules. Julian opts to assist the Moors in dismantling the Visigoth empire. He also gives them the means to navigate the region as well as knowledge of the region’s politics and forces. The Moorish invasion of Spain marks the full clash between the two powers. Prior to the invasion, the Moors had engaged in several raids along the coast.
His military force numbered 7,000—mostly his horsemen the mujaffafa—and would add 5,000 from Musa bin Nusayr, a fellow governor. The Tariq ibn Ziyad’s campaign wasn’t a quick one as it took several years to bring Hispania under Moorish rule. His army was made up many soldiers from within the Umayyad Caliphate: Arabic warriors, Berbers Moorish, and Sudanese people.
Tariq landed in Spain in April 711 and went on to Algeciras. After taking the city, he would move on to take over Seville and Cartagena. Elsewhere, Roderic was facing the Basques when he received word that Tariq ibn Ziyad had taken several southern cities. He would turn his attention south to challenge the invader.
TARIQ IBN ZIYAD FACES RODERIC
According to Muslim chroniclers, Roderic’s forces greatly outnumbered Tariq’s. His forces also featured those loyal to his rival. Tariq ibn Ziyad’s forces managed to defeat the ruler on July 19 in the Battle of Guadalete. His victory was either down to the Visigoths’ fractured loyalty or Roderic killing off his best commanders. After Roderic’s defeat, the Moors took the capital city of Toledo.
Count Julian suggested Tariq split his force up to take other territories in Hispania. The tactic was successful and Tariq would hold the region as governor until the following year when Musa took over.