Abd ar-Rahman I

Adb ar-Rahman, born in 734 near Damascus, Syria, was the son of a prince. When he was only 20 his family was overthrown by another tribe trying to take control of Damascus. This was known as the Abbasid Revolution. Abd fled from his home and went towards the Euphrates River. With him was his brother Yahiya, his 4year old son Sulayman, some of his sisters and his former Greek slave, Bedr. Their path was danger filled. The Abbasids were intent on killing the prince, so a group of assassins were sent after them. He had to leave his son and sisters at one village because the assassins were getting very close. After that is was just him, his brother, and Bedr. They were traveling down the river when they saw the assassins. They all started to swim across but he was separated from his brother. His brother started to head back toward the assassins because the current was so strong. when he got there the assassins cut off his head and left. Adb ar-Rahman was now free but had lost his brother, son, and sisters along the way.

Not knowing who would help him among other leaders in the Muslim kingdom, Abd and Bedr slowly made their way across north Africa towards his mother's homeland. When he reached Morocco and found little hospitality from the Berber in control of the area. Instead, Abd heard that some former allies who were also from Damascus were high ranking leaders in the Andalusia (Muslim controlled) region of southern Iberia. He had Bedr travel across the sea to reach out to these men, but their Emir (Muslim king), denied him Abd any help, fearing that he'd want to become Emir himself.

That wasn't a terribly good idea. Abd was a very popular prince in Syria, and most of the Syrians who had fled Damascus for Iberia thought he had been killed back in Syria by the Abbasid assassins, so they were happy to hear he was alive. Abd was able to amass an army and defeat the Emir of Cordoba.

As Emir of Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman improved al-Andalus a great deal. He built roadways, aqueducts, and began construction on what would become the Great Mosque of Cordoba. He also purchased an army of 40,000 Berbers and slaves to protect his kingdom. Under Abd's control, Cordoba was very tolerant of other religions. Christians, Jews, and other monotheistic religions were allowed, but a tax had to be paid by any non-Muslims. Abd al-Raham I was a respected leader who did many good things for the region, and after his death, his family continued to lead in Andalusia for many generations.