Battle of Ucles (1108)
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The Battle of Ucles was fought on 29 May 1108 between the Kingdom of Castile and the Almoravids.
In early May 1108, an Almoravid army under Abu Tahir Tamim ibn Yusuf, governor of Granada, moved against the Eastern flank of Castile. Contingents from Cordoba, Valencia and Murcia joined the advancing army, and on 27 May they arrived in front of the key castle of Ucles. They overran the outer defences but failed to take the citadel. King Alfonso VI of Castile, aged 77 and suffering from a wound, was in no shape to lead an army, so direction of the relieving force was given to his son Sancho, a lad of fifteen, although Count Alvar Fañez was in effective command. He reached Ucles on 28 May, and early next day both armies formed for battle. Tamim ibn Yusuf deployed the Cordoba contingent in the front line, with the veteran governors of Murcia (Muhammad ibn Aysa) and Valencia (Abdallah ibn Fatima) guarding both flanks and the strong Granada host in second line, led by himself. Young Sancho was ill-advised by his mentor Garcia Ordoñez and Alvar Fañez, and the Castilian main body of mounted knights charged headlong against the Almoravid first line, without infantry support. The Cordoba host led by Muhammad ibn Abi Ranq suffered many casualties and lost ground, but the Muslim contingents from Murcia and Valencia advanced on both flanks, dispersed the Castilian infantry still formed in front of its camp and then fell from behind on the enemy knights, which by then had engaged the Granada main body. Assailed from all sides, the Castilian knights were almost annihilated; many died trying to protect the prince, who had his horse killed under him. Finally a group of seven knights managed to break out from the encirclement, carrying Sancho to temporary safety in the small castle of Belinchon, some 20 km from the battlefield. Another small group including Alvar Fañez managed to escape towards Toledo. Enraged by the death in the battle of popular imam al-Yazuli, the Almoravids took no prisoners, and the heads of some 3,000 Christians including count Garcia Ordoñez were piled high, to terrorize Ucles citadel into surrender. When news of the disaster reached Belinchon castle, the Mudejar lord in command here ordered Sancho and his seven knights killed, and opened the gates to the Almoravids. Fortunately for Castile, Tamim ibn Yusuf failed to advance much further, taking only Huete, Ocaña and some minor castles. Struck with grief by the death of his only son, king Alfonso VI died the following year.