The Battle of Las Navas de Tolesa
Compiled by: Syed Muhammad Bokreta
The 16th of July 1212
* Las Navas de Tolesa(Spain)
It is true that History not only tells us about the past but it influences our present and shapes our future, as such in our ongoing momentum related to our Historic dairy, it seems that some historic encounters would not match our wishes and leanings , still truth–telling, intellectual maturity ,impartiality and above all Divine Conscience as direly mentioned in the Holy Quran: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin”4-135.
No wonder that a full-fledged mature man will not be enticed and will not be deceived by lust, whims and ego to describe events on a partial scale, rather telling historic facts is a rare attribute of great manhood maturity.
In this context, and back to our present historic dairy, it would be important to recall that after the crushing defeat of the Spanish troops led by Alphonso VI in the Battle of of Zallaqa (Sagrajas), that took place on the 23th of October 1086 against the combined forces of Yusuf Ibn Tashfin the Ruler of the Al Mourabitoun or Almoravids of North Africa and Mohamed Al Mu’tamid Ala Allah Ibn Abbad, the Ruler of Seville.
Sooth to say that such Muslim victory surely delayed for another 406 years the fall of the last Muslim stronghold in Granada on that sorrowful date of the 02nd of January 1492, but in the meantime, Spanish forces learnt a lot from this setback and went on to re-organise their forces and prepare themselves for next battle that took place exactly as this date, moreover the 12th century begun hard times for the Christians in the Iberian peninsula as the civilized Emirate of Cordoba started to distressed.
Then the remaining lands of ex- Emirate of Cordoba became part of the strong Almohad empire with centre in North Africa, the rulers of the Almohad empire begin aggressive expansion northwards and most of the men in the Almohad army came from the African side of the empire, which included Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and even as far away as Mauritania and Senegal and much of the Iberian peninsula's southern half moreover it is true that this army was countless and extremely fanatical against all Christians.
In 1195, Alfonso VIII of Castile had been defeated by the Almohads in the so-called disaster of Alarcos , after this victory the Almohads had taken important cities as Trujillo, Plasencia, Talavera, Cuenca and Uclés,then, in 1211, Muhammad al-Nasir had crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with a powerful war machine, and invaded the Christian territory and captured the stronghold of the Calatrava Knights in Salvatierra,this stronghold was extremely important and that lost made a hole in all Iberian defence. After this, the threat was so great for the Iberian Christian kingdoms that Pope Innocent IIIcalled European knights toacrusa,during the end of the year Castilians manage to escape from decisivebattle, but situation was quite bad. There was hostility and envy betweenIberian Christian kingdoms and King Alfonso VIII didn`t have faith to get help, but fear from new massive Islam conquest in Europe did his job.
On the 12-13th July 1212 Christian army made a bypass maneuver through Sierra Morena mountains around Moorish posts and into Andalusian Las Navas de Tolosa where was the Moorish camp. The army of Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir was surprised, but soon they stood on their legs and begun counterattack. Moorish army outnumber the all Christian coalition in size 4/1. The only way to Iberians was forward. They made such a crushing attack like a thunderstorm, the Caliph had his tent surrounded with a bodyguard of several thousands black African slave-warriors who were chained together as a defense. The Navarrese force led by their brave king Sancho VII broke through this bodyguard. The Caliph escaped, but the Moors were routed, leaving some 100,000 casualties on the battlefield.
After the battle, the kingdom of Navarre adopted a new coat of arms in memorial of Sancho's achievement. The new coat of arms featured a network of golden chains on a red field with an emerald , while Christian losses were far fewer, only about 2,000 men (though not as few as legend had it). The losses were particularly heavy among the Orders. Those killed included Pedro Gomez de Acevedo (bannerman of the Orden de Calatrava), Alfonso Fernandez de Valladares (comendator of the Orden de Santiago), Pedro Arias (master of the Orden de Santiago, died of wounds on 3 August) and Gomez Ramirez (master of the Orden del Templo). Ruy Diaz (master of the Orden de Calatrava) was so grievously wounded that he had to resign his command, the defeated Moorish troops were pursued through all Andalusia and suffer colossal losesin the aftermath of this setback.
After that crushing defeat of the Almohads which significantly hastened their decline both in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Maghreb within a decade, the Reconquest of the European continent begin. Only couple of decades later Christians ruled almost all of the Iberian Peninsula. As this battle came as the birth of the Spanish nation after a eight century Muslim rule of Spain.