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Slaves and Silver across the Strait of Gibraltar: Politics and Trade between Umayyad Iberia and Khārijite North Africa

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that economic relations between the Iberian Umayyads and the North African Midrārids, Rustumids as well as 'Abbāsid governors allowed for a rapid transformation of relations between Umayyads, Khārijites and 'Abbāsids, and provided a solid basis for continuing ties between these erstwhile enemies. It is now well established that the Ibādā Rustumids pioneered large scale trans-Saharan trade with West Africa, and controlled the flow of West African slaves through the northern Saharan oasis towns along the three main trade routes through the desert. The chapter focuses on the slave trade, without a doubt many other forms of trade were also important to the political alignments of North African Khārijites,Iberian Umayyads and even 'Abbāsids. Indeed, connections across the Strait of Gibraltar appear to be prevalent for much of North African and Iberian history, even when the political actors, such as the Umayyads and Khārijites, initially interacted as enemies.

Keywords: economic relations; Gibraltar; North African Khārijites; North African Midrārids; slaves; trade; Umayyad Iberia



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