Almanzor (Abu Amir Muhammad al-Mansur) ibn Abi Amir

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أبو عامر محمد المنصور بالله بن أبي عامر ابن عبد الله المعافري

Also Known As: "Abu Aamir Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abi Aamir", "Al-Hajib Al-Mansur", "Sanchuelo", "Sanjūl"
Birthplace: Algeciras
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of al-Manṣūr Muḥammad bin Abī ʿĀmir
Husband of Teresa, infanta de León; Oneca de Castilla and Abda la Vascona
Father of Sanch Garcés de Abarca II
Brother of ʿAbd al-Malik al-Muẓaffar bin Abī ʿĀmir

Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Almanzor (Abu Amir Muhammad al-Mansur) ibn Abi Amir

Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abu Aamir Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abi Aamir, Al-Hajib Al-Mansur أبو عامر محمد بن عبد الله بن أبي عامر الحاجب المنصور (c. 938-August 8, 1002) was the de facto ruler of Muslim Al-Andalus in the late 10th to early 11th centuries. His rule marked the peak of power for Moorish Iberia.


He was born Muhammad Ibn Abi Aamir, into a noble Arab family from the area of Algeciras. He arrived at the Court of Cordoba as a student studying law and literature. He became manager of the estates of Prince Hisham.

In a few years he schemed his way from this humble position to considerable heights of influence, eliminating his political rivals in the process. Caliph Al-Hakam died in 976 and Ibn Abi Amir was instrumental in securing the succession of the young Hisham II, aged twelve, to the throne. Two years later he became Hajib (a title similar to that of Grand Vizier in the Muslim East), or Chancellor. During the following three years he consolidated his power with the building of his new palace on the outskirts of Córdoba, al-Madina az-Zahira, while at the same time completely isolating the young Caliph, who became a virtual prisoner in Medina Azahara.

Effective Ruler

In 981, upon his return to Cordoba from the battle in which he crushed his last remaining rival (and father-in-law, Ghalib Al-Nasiri), he assumed the title of Al-Mansur bi-llah, Victorious by Grace of God. In Christian Europe he was referred to as Almanzor.

His grip to power within Al-Andalus was now absolute. He dedicated himself to military campaigns against the Christian states of the peninsula. He organized and took part in 57 campaigns, and was victorious in all of them. To wage these campaigns against the Christian states, he brought in many Berber mercenaries, which upset the political order over time.

Although he mainly fought against León and the Castile, in 985 he sacked Barcelona and in 997 Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Although he spared the tomb of St. James the Apostle he destroyed the city and stole the bells from the shrine to humiliate the Christians. He also waged several campaigns against the Kingdom of Navarra.

He married Abda, daughter of Sancho Garcés king of Navarra, who bore him a son by the name of Abd al-Rahman. He was commonly known as Sanchuelo (Little Sancho, in Arabic: Shanjoul).


The consequence of his victories in the north was to prompt the Christian rulers of the Peninsula into an alliance against him (c. 1000). He spent his last years fighting this alliance. In 1002 after an attack on the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla he was returning to Cordoba. He met Christian forces at the Battle of Calatañazor where he was defeated and fatally injured. Almanzor died and is buried in a tomb in the village of Salem, close to Medinaceli in the modern Spanish province of Soria.

He was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik, who continued to rule Al-Andalus as Hajib until his death in 1008.

After Abd al-Malik, his ambitious half brother Sanchuelo took over. He however tried to take the Caliphate for himself from Hisham as al-Mansur had effectively made the caliph a figurehead ruler. This plunged the country into a civil war. The Caliphate disintegrated it into rival Taifa kingdoms. This proved disastrous for Muslim Iberia as divided the Christian Kingdoms were able to conquer the Taifas one by one.

Almanzor peak in central Spain is named after him.

[edit]In Fiction

'Almanzor' is a major character in the thoroughly researched, but extremely anachronistic, historical novel The Long Ships (Red Orm) by the Swedish author Frans Gunnar Bengtsson. Large parts of the book take place in Muslim Iberia under Almanzor's rule, depicted from the point of view of Scanian Vikings who are captured by Moors while on a raid into Spain, serving as galley slaves. Later they become mercenaries in Almanzor's army and finally manage to escape back to Denmark after participating in the conquest and sacking of Santiago de Compostella.

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Abī ʿĀmir (Sanchuelo) (d. 399/1009) was an unpopular Andalusian governor whose brief rule was characterised by excess and ended with his execution. Born about 374/984, he was the youngest son of al-Manṣūr b. Abī ʿĀmir and ʿAbda, daughter of the king of Pamplona, Sancho Garcés II Abarca. His mother called him Sanchuelo (Sanjūl), a diminutive of Sancho, in memory of his grandfather.

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān was designated ḥājib (chamberlain) by the caliph Hishām II (r. 366–99/976–1009) in 399/1008 after his elder brother al-Muẓaffar died from an apparent attack of angina, though it was suspected that ʿAbd al-Raḥmān poisoned him. As ḥājib, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān assumed the titles al-Maʾmūn and Nāṣir al-Dawla.

From the time he took power, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān proved particularly inept in politics and squandered the legacy of al-Muẓaffar. Unlike his father and brother, he lived a disorderly, libertine life that alienated the people. His political incompetence became clear when he made the unprecedented move to designate himself as successor to Hishām II. In claiming succession from Hishām II, he essentially transferred the caliphate of Córdoba from the Umayyads to the ʿĀmirids, beginning the fitna, or period of troubles, that lasted for twenty years. The appointment was prepared by the qāḍī l-jamāʿa Ibn Dhakwān (d. 413/1022) and the kātib Aḥmad b. Burd (d. 418/1027) and supported by ʿulamāʾ won over for the cause; it was proclaimed in Rabīʿ I 399/November 1008.

ʿAbd al-Raḥmān's actions caused considerable unrest in Córdoba, where the deposed Marwānids agitated against him. In the midst of this explosive situation, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ignored the advice of his Slav officials (Ṣaqāliba) and set out on an expedition against the kingdom of León. Meanwhile in Córdoba a great-grandson of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (r. 300–50/912–61), Muḥammad b. Hishām b. ʿAbd al-Jabbār al-Mahdī (d. 8 Dhū l-Ḥijja 400/23 July 1010), took advantage of his absence and organised an uprising. When ʿAbd al-Raḥmān received news of the revolt, he tried to renounce his title of heir, but failed to win any support and found himself abandoned by the Berbers, his main supporters. He then refused the offer of asylum made by his ally the Christian count Ibn Gómez, and attempted to return to the capital. He did not reach his destination; in a convent near Guadalmellato (Armillāṭ), the camp nearest Córdoba, he was taken prisoner by the ḥājib Ibn Dhurā (on orders from al-Mahdī), and shortly afterwards both he and the count were beheaded. His body was nailed to a plank high on the Bāb al-Sudda, at the royal palace in Córdoba on 4 Rajab 399/4 March 1009.

Maria Luisa Ávila


Xavier Ballestín, Khilafa, fitna, final, in Carlos Laliena Corbera and Juan F. Utrilla Utrilla (eds.), De Toledo a Huesca. Sociedades medievales en transición a finales del siglo XI (1080–1100), (Zaragoza 1998), 71

Ibn al-Abbār, al-Ḥulla al-siyarāʾ, ed. Ḥusayn Muʾnis (Cairo 1963), 1:270

Ibn Ḥazm, Naqṭ al-ʿarūs, Spanish trans. Luis Seco de Lucena, Arabic text Christian Friedrich Seybold, index M. Milagros Cárcel Ortí, Valencia 1974

Ibn ʿIdhārī, al-Bayān al-mughrib fī akhbār al-andalus wa-l-magrib = Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord et de l'Espagne musulmane, ed. Georges Séraphin Colin and Evariste Lévi-Provençal (Leiden 1948–51, repr. Beirut 1967), 3:38–50 and 66–74

Ibn ʿIdhārī, La caída del califato de Córdoba y los reyes de taifas (al-Bayān al-mugrib), Spanish trans. Felipe Maíllo Salgado (Salamanca 1993), 43–56 and 68–74

Ibn al-Khaṭīb, Aʿmāl al-aʿlām, ed. Evariste Lévi-Provençal (Rabat 1934), 104–26

Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh ʿInān, Dawlat al-Islām fī l-Andalus (Cairo 1383–1408/1964–9), 2:622–37

Evariste Lévi-Provençal, Histoire de l'Espagne musulmane (Paris 1999), 2:291–7

al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ al-ṭīb min ghuṣn al-Andalus al-raṭīb, ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās (Beirut 1968), 1:424–6

Manuela Marín (ed.), Estudios onomástico-biográficos de al-Andalus, vol. 11, Mujeres en al-Andalus (Madrid 2000), index

Leopoldo Torres Balbás, Bab al-Sudda y las zudas de la España oriental, Al-Andalus, 17/1 (1952), 166–75, especially 169

Joaquín Vallvé, El califato de Córdoba (Madrid 1992), 255–7

David J. Wasserstein, The caliphate in the west (Oxford 1993), 21–7 and index

David J. Wasserstein, The rise and fall of the party-kings. Politics and society in Islamic Spain 1002–1086 (Princeton 1985), 47–51.

Cite this page

Ávila, Maria Luisa. "ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Abī ʿĀmir (Sanchuelo) ." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Brill Online, 2013. <>

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