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ʿAbd al-Muʾmin  

Allen J. Fromherz

builder of the Almohad Empire and great Moroccan military leader and able administrator, led the Almohad movement for tawhid, absolute monotheistic unity, after the death of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, the Almohad founder, in c. 1130. His full name was ʿAbd al-Muʾmin ibn ʿAli ibn ʿAlwi bin Yaʿla al-Kumi Abu Muhammad.

After defeating the Almoravid Empire at Marrakech, he established the administrative and military foundations of the Almohad state while securing a caliphal succession for his descendants, the Muʾminid dynasty. In a matter of decades ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his followers transformed the Almohads from a vigorous but vulnerable ideological movement in the small Atlas Mountain town of Tinmal to one of the largest and most successful Islamic empires in North African and Andalusian history.

Effectively an outsider ʿAbd al Muʾmin s ancestry was different from the noble Masmuda ethnic groups that made up the core of the Almohad ...


Badr, al-Jamali, Abu al-Najm  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

commander of the Fatimid armies in Egypt and Syria, was the first in a sixty-year era of Muslim viziers and military rulers of Armenian origin, a position he assumed following his restoration of order in the Fatimid lands after a period of political and social turmoil. Nothing is known about his birth or childhood, save the patronymic Ibn (son of) ʿAbdallah, which is sometimes included in his full name and title. He was father to at least two sons: al-Awhad, whom he likely executed after a brief rebellion, and al-Afdal, who succeeded him as military vizier. The earliest references to Badr’s life begin as an adolescent Mamluk (slave-soldier) in the service of a Fatimid governor of Aleppo around 1020 This official ʿAziz al Dawla had apparently begun recruiting Mamluks into his military from among those Anatolian communities that retained a sense of their Armenian identity but had in fact ...



James Allan Evans

Byzantine general, was born in what is now western Bulgaria. He was the military commander during Emperor Justinian’s reign (527–565 CE), whom we know best thanks to Procopius of Caesarea, the most notable historian of the period, who joined his staff as legal secretary (assessor) in 527 and remained with him during his campaigns in North Africa and, up until 540, in Italy. Hence Belisarius is the central figure in Procopius’ History of Justinian’s Wars, published in 551, where he appears full of promise early in his career, but as time wore on, there is an insistent undertone of criticism. In the same year in which Procopius completed Justinian’s Wars in seven books, he also wrote a coda containing information that he did not dare publish. This closet history is first mentioned in the Suda, a tenth-century lexicon, which refers to it as Procopius’ Anekdota ...


Cato the Elder  

Jonathan P. Roth

Roman military leader and politician, was born in Tusculum, a town southwest of Rome, to a wealthy landowning family. Some of his ancestors had distinguished themselves in military service, but none had ever held office in Rome or been members of the Senate. Cato’s father died when he was still a child, and he grew up on a farm he had inherited. One of his neighbors, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, belonged to a powerful Senatorial clan; he and Cato shared the idea that Rome’s traditional values were being undermined by the more sophisticated Hellenistic culture. Although both were about the same age, Flaccus became Cato’s patron, supporting him financially and politically.

Cato was seventeen when Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 BCE and like virtually every Roman male of his age he went to war Given his social class Cato probably served either in the legionary cavalry or as the commander of ...


Cruse, Harold  

Yusuf Nuruddin

Harold Cruse (8 March 1916–20 March 2005), an iconoclastic social critic and a largely self-educated cultural historian, achieved distinction as the preeminent African American dissident public intellectual of the 1960s. Although he authored several books, his reputation rests largely on his monumental work The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), a flawed yet brilliant, imaginative, sweeping, and provocative polemic. A thematically united collection of essays, Crisis presents a withering assessment of the black intelligentsia for its self-defeating embrace of both liberal and radical integrationist politics, especially its involvement in the Communist Party, of which Cruse was once a member.

Within the Communist Party and other leftist organizations black political interests according to Cruse historically have been subordinated to white political interests including Jewish and white ethnic nationalisms As a remedy Cruse calls upon the black intelligentsia to abandon its bankrupt integrationist strategies and embrace its ...



Osire Glacier

a princess of the Almoravid dynasty who dressed as a man and fought the Almohads during the conquest of Marrakech in 1147, was the daughter of Umar Ben Yintan. Very little is known about the life of Princess Fannu. What little information there is deals primarily with the nature of her death. An examination of the culture and politics of the region during this time provides further information and clarification on the nature of her life and death.

Fannu lived in the Almoravid palace during the first half of the twelfth century a period when the Almoravid Empire was in decline Considering that women played an important role in Almoravid society in general and within the royal palace in particular it is entirely possible that Fannu was visible and influential in the royal court The Almoravid dynasty s founder Yusuf ibn Tashfin and his wife Zaynab Nafzawiyya governed alongside ...


Hamilcar, Barca  

Jonathan P. Roth

Carthaginian military leader and politician was one of Carthage s greatest generals and the father of the famous Hannibal It has been suggested that Hamilcar s family came from Cyrene modern day Libya and that they were part of the landed nobility but we know next to nothing about his personal background not even the names of his father and mother Hamilcar was a child when the First Punic War broke out in 264 but would have been of military age when a Roman army invaded Africa in 256 He might have fought in this campaign and may also have seen service in Sicily in the late 250s and early 240s It seems likely that by this time he had become an officer in the navy since in 247 he was given command of the entire Carthaginian fleet in Sicily After launching a successful raid on southern Italy with this ...



Jonathan P. Roth

Carthaginian military leader and politician, was born in Carthage, in what in now Tunisia, the son of Hamilcar Barca, an important Carthaginian general. Although we know a great deal about his military career, few details of his personal life survive. Several stories about Hannibal’s youth are related in ancient sources, but these must be taken with a grain of salt. One, related by the historian Livy, has a young Hannibal asking his father to take him on campaign to Spain. Hamilcar agrees but insists that his son swear eternal hostility for Rome. In any case, it is true that Hamilcar took his nine- or ten-year-old son to Spain. After Hamilcar’s death in 229 or 228, the eighteen-year-old Hannibal served as an officer in the army commanded by his brother-in-law Hasdrubal.

Around 226 Hannibal married Imilce the daughter of the king of Castulo a town in south central Spain According to ...


Jawhar al-Siqilli  

Christine D. Baker

Fatimid general and administrator of Egypt, was born Jawhar b. ʿAbd Allah. His origins are obscure, but his epithets of al-Saqlabi (“the Slav”), al-Siqilli (“the Sicilian”), and al-Rumi (“the Greek”) shed some light on his possible ancestry. His date of birth is unknown, but is estimated to have been in the early tenth century. Although still debated, scholars believe that he was a Fatimid freedman of Slavic origin. His father, ʿAbd Allah, was likely a Fatimid slave.

Jawhar appears to have begun his career in the Fatimid dynasty as a ghulam or soldier or as the secretary of the third Fatimid caliph al Mansur r 946 953 However Jawhar rose to preeminence under the tenure of the fourth Fatimid caliph al Muʿizz li Din Allah r 953 975 who selected him to lead a campaign to dominate the western half of North Africa This campaign was exceedingly difficult and ...


Julius Alexander, Tiberius  

Duane W. Roller

Roman magistrate and military commander of equestrian rank, was from a distinguished family in Alexandria that had come to prominence in the early Julio-Claudian period: his father was renowned for his wealth and was on the staff of Antonia, the mother of the emperor Claudius; his uncle was the famous scholar and political leader Philo of Alexandria; and his sister married the son of King Herod, Agrippa I. Tiberius was probably born around 20 CE. His first known appointment was as epistrategos of the Thebais In 42 CE he joined in setting up a relief at the temple at Dendara which had long been associated with the Ptolemies and the Roman administration this raises the question of whether he converted to paganism It is more probable that as a Roman official in multicultural Egypt he was exposed to various cultural norms and like other famous Jewish leaders of the ...


Julius Caesar  

Duane W. Roller

was one of the most important military and political figures of Roman history—indeed, of world civilization. His brilliant and complex career is not the subject of this brief biography, which focuses on the last four years of his life, when he was heavily involved in the fortunes of Africa.

By 48 BCE Caesar at fifty two years of age was at the peak of his career He had been involved in Roman politics since the 70s BCE and had served throughout Roman territory He had reached the consulship in 59 BCE and had spent most of the following decade establishing a Roman presence in Gaul Yet continued internal instability within Rome had resulted in increasing polarization between him and his old political colleague now rival Gnaeus Pompeius Pompey the Great who consolidated power in the city while Caesar was effectively exiled in Gaul Realizing that political oblivion or worse awaited ...


Marius, Gaius  

Duane W. Roller

Roman consul and general, was born in the vicinity of Arpinum, southeast of Rome. In 134 BCE he took part in the war against the Keltiberians in Spain and was present at the siege of Numantia, which established Roman control in the region. At this time, he made the acquaintance of the Roman ally Jugurtha, prince of Numidia and grandson of the famous Massinissa.

Over the next twenty five years Marius s fortunes steadily increased both militarily and politically he led campaigns in Asia and Spain and then rose to the rank of praetor in 115 BCE Yet instability in the Numidian kingdom led to Roman involvement Jugurtha who had become king in 118 BCE had reacted against the claims of his brothers by killing one of them which caused the other to flee to Rome The king himself was summoned to the city and a Roman commission divided the ...


Petronius, Publius  

Eugenio Fantusati

was a Roman official in Egypt. There is not much evidence available on the family of Publius Petronius, and as a result the gaps and the doubts about his origins are numerous. It is, therefore, difficult to reconstruct his political and military career. It has been hypothesized that he could have been “tribunus militaris” under Crassus and could have taken part in the wars against the Parthians in the 50s BCE. The principal sources related to this personage, whose praenomen was Publius, refer above all to the years that he spent in the position of third Augustan prefect of Egypt.

His term of office is closely connected to that of the second prefect Aelius Gallus successor of Cornelius Gallus whose actions in Africa were limited to safeguarding the southern border of Egypt below the first cataract of the Nile Aelius Gallus s dispatch in Egypt in 25 BCE has to ...


Pompey the Great  

Duane W. Roller

Roman general and statesman, was of equestrian background. He attached himself to P. Cornelius Sulla and was sent by him to Africa in 82 BCE to settle the festering civil war in Numidia. King Hiempsal II had been expelled from his throne by a certain Hiarbas, perhaps a Gaetulian nationalist. There was already an extensive Roman presence in Numidia, and certain of Sulla’s opponents, especially C. Domitius Ahenobarbus, were allying themselves with Hiarbas.

At the beginning of 81 BCE Pompey engaged Domitius and Hiarbas and defeated them totally in a brilliant forty day campaign Both were killed Hiempsal was restored to his throne and Pompey also made further arrangements to stabilize the Numidian kingdom as well as to increase the Roman presence in the region Yet the engagement between Pompey and Hiarbas set ominous precedents for the future of Rome since Romans had died on both sides of a civil ...


Suetonius Paulinus  

Duane W. Roller

Roman military commander whose long career included the first Roman expedition into sub-Saharan Africa. Nothing is known about his early life, but given the dates of the stages of his career, he was probably born around CE 10.

In 40, the emperor Gaius Caligula summoned his cousin Ptolemy, king of Mauretania, to Rome to explain certain actions that were considered improper for an allied king. Gaius’s own erratic nature also played a role in the confrontation, and for reasons still uncertain, Ptolemy was executed. In Mauretania—whose inhabitants were not pleased at the removal of their king—a revolt broke out, led by a certain Aedemon, probably a member of Ptolemy’s court. The assassination of Gaius himself in January 41 meant that his successor Claudius inherited the Mauretanian problem.

It took at least three Roman commanders at least three years to pacify Mauretania Suetonius Paulinus seems to have been the second of ...



Duane W. Roller

leader of the Musulamii, a Numidian tribe, was active from 17 to 24 CE in opposing the power of the established governments in north central Africa, in other words, the Romans and the Mauretanian allied kingdom of Juba II. His career is known solely from the Annals of Tacitus, the point of view of the Romans who defeated him, and thus the data must be considered with caution.

Tacfarinas is an early example of the indigenous leader skilled in Roman ways who used his knowledge to fight against Roman power. As the Roman Empire spread, increasing numbers of peoples on its frontier became accustomed to Roman civilization without accepting Roman political control. In North Africa there was also the constant conflict between the agriculturalists—both indigenous and European settlers—and the transhumant peoples who found their routes blocked by the agrarian population, a historic problem still apparent today in many areas.

Tacfarinas ...


Tariq ibn Ziyad  

Stephen Cory

Muslim general and initial conqueror of Spain, was likely a freed Berber slave, who led a force of some twelve thousand soldiers (mostly Berbers) across the Straits of Gibraltar in 711. Later sources portray him as a hero and record an epic speech that he is said to have delivered to his troops shortly before going into battle against the Visigoths. However, Tariq’s accomplishments were not appreciated by his commander, the North African governor Musa ibn Nusayr, or by the caliph al-Walid in Damascus, both of whom saw him as expressing a dangerously independent spirit by launching the invasion. Despite many legendary stories and multiple contradictions found among the sources, the general sequence of events during Tariq’s famous expedition is fairly well established.

Tariq s origins are unclear although most historians identify him as being of Berber descent He first appears in historical accounts as a participant in Musa s ...



Carmen De Michele

soldier and Christian saint, presumably died on 11 January 304 in the city of Tigava in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis (present-day El Kherba in Algeria). The Roman Catholic Church venerates him as a military saint.

One of the very few sources reporting the life of Saint Typhasius is Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiqua et mediae aetatis, which only mentions his name and the place and date of his death: Typasius veteranus m. Ticavis in Mauritania, sub Diocletiano. Ian. 11. His martyrdom does not appear in any liturgical calendar or extant martyrology.

The Roman Emperor Diocletian 284 305 ruled as part of the first Tetrarchy The division of power to four emperors had become a political and military necessity since the borders of the immense Roman Empire could not be controlled by a single ruler Dicoletian who himself had no son to share his power adopted his comrade in arms ...