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The Battle of Covadonga 722 AD

The Battle of Covadonga 722 AD


It is the year 711. In the wake of the power struggle among the ruling class, the internally weakened Visigothic Kingdom faces probably the most challenging threat in its history. The invading force, commanded by Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, exploits the crumbling Visigothic army and deals a decisive blow in the Battle of Guadalete. The betrayed Visigothic king, Roderic, together with a good part of the royal dignitaries lose their lives. Unexpectedly, following this single defeat, his kingdom is on the brink of destruction. Shortly after the battle, Tariq proceeds north and, thanks to minimal opposition, captures Cordova, and the capital in Toledo, where he claims the royal treasury. Tariq’s progress to the capital was surprisingly unhindered, especially when given his army’s relatively low numbers. The Visigothic Kingdom, unlike their northern neighbours the Franks – who held annual military assemblies – had only to focus on defending against Basque raids and supervising their north-eastern borders along the Pyrenees. Thus, the quality of the Visigothic military was directly influenced by the limited threats that their geographical boundaries allowed. For the Visigoths at the time, there were few opportunities for military growth. What’s more, the combination of a severe lack of unity among the nobles, together with a highly centralized government, resulted in the surprisingly fast rupturing of Roderic’s kingdom. The almost complete conquest of the Visigoth kingdom by the Moors, was spearheaded by Tariq, together with his supervisor Musa bin Nusayr, the governor of North Africa. Upon hearing the news of Tariq’s initial successes in Europe, Musa landed with another contingent in Algeciras. In the course of the next six years these two leaders captured the lion’s share of the peninsula, from Algeciras up to the river Duero in the North. Many of the local nobles submitted to the new rulers in order to preserve their positions and their land holdings. Others, like count Theudimer, were forced to submit after a brief military defiance. Some remaining Visigoths, however, ran north, seeking refuge in Asturias, protected as it was by the barely accessible Cantabrian Mountains. The mountainous region of Asturias was always considered marginal and remote. Although it had been subdued by the Romans centuries earlier, it had never been fully conquered by them or by the later Visigoths. The fierce and unruly Astures were not the only challenge for the Umayyads, as the region lacked roads and much of the infrastructure of neighbouring areas. While Musa managed to subdue the region, the Muslims had a tough time trying to hold it, because the Astures frequently launched surprise attacks on the Umayyad garrisons. With Asturias being one of the very few regions of the Iberian Peninsula partially resisting Muslim conquest, it served as a zone of refuge for surviving Visigothic nobility. One of the nobles, a man named Pelagius (who was a relative of King Roderic’s), managed to attract both Astures and Visigoths to his command, which gradually allowed him to raid the invaders’ posts in the area. Conflict escalated with the arrival of new administrators for the freshly established Al-Andalus province. The two conquerors of the Visigoth Kingdom, Tariq and Musa, together with pillaged Visigothic treasuries, had been summoned back to Damascus by the Umayyad caliph, and the new administrators had doubled the jizya tax – the tax on non-Muslim citizens of the caliphate. The increased taxes caused major unrest in Asturias. Pelagius’ increasingly popular guerrilla campaign attracted many new soldiers, discontented by the harsh policy of Muslim rulers. Growing defiance in the region ultimately forced the new local governor, Munuza, to retreat south. Regardless of the problems faced by the Umayyads in trying to hold onto the Asturias, they still persisted in their expansion beyond the Pyrenees. By 719, the Umayyads had overrun Septimania and began raiding Frankish Aquitaine. In 721, they besieged Toulouse, one of the most formidable strongholds in Gaul. But this ended disastrously for them. After three months of inconclusive Moorish attacks, Duke Odo of Aquitaine struck the unsuspecting Muslims in a surprising attack and annihilated their force in the ensuing Battle of Toulouse. The unexpected defeat in Aquitaine forced Al-Kalbi, the new governor of Al-Andalus, to find a way to raise the morale of his troops at the same time as raising his own reputation. He decided that putting down the rebellion in Asturias would do nicely to mitigate the defeat at Toulouse. The Umayyad force under commanders Al-Qama and Munuza entered the mountainous lands of Asturias in early summer of the year 722. Pelagius, who had just several hundred men at best under his command, was aware of the Muslim numbers and so avoided pitched battle. Knowing that he needed a suitable place to set up his defence, he retreated to a narrow valley, close to the village of Covadonga. When Al-Qama arrived in the area, he sent an envoy to Pelagius, requesting his surrender. Pelagius refused. Al-Qama, despite probably being aware of the likelihood of an ambush, marched his best men into the constricted valley. Asturian fighters, hiding on the slopes above, soon attacked with arrows, stones and a range of other projectiles. The rest of Pelagius’s men, hiding in nearby caves, waited until the time was ripe and then struck down into the valley in a frenzied attack on the invaders. Al-Qama hurriedly ordered a retreat, but the lack of discipline and the inability of his forces to manoeuvre in the narrow valley, allowed Pelagius the slaughter of the majority of the invaders. Only a handful managed to retreat unscathed. As a result of this victory over Al-Qama, Pelagius’s popularity in the Asturias grew quickly and he received both the recognition and the support of Galician and Asturian nobles. Buoyed by his victory, the nobles reinforced his guerrilla troops. A few months later, with his numbers considerably augmented, Pelagius went on to defeat yet another Umayyad force moving through the Asturian valleys. In wiping out these two armies, Pelagius ensured that the Umayyads ceased their attempts to subdue the region and he secured the independence of the Asturias. The emerging Kingdom of Asturias, with Pelagius elected as its first king thanks to his astute achievements, became a safe haven for all Christians from Al-Andalus seeking refuge. Pelagius’ resistance, peaking in two victorious clashes in the narrow valleys of the Cantabrian Mountains, preserved Christian independence in Iberia and is regarded as the first act of a centuries-long fight, which eventually became known as Reconquista – the “reconquest” of Spain.

100 thoughts on “The Battle of Covadonga 722 AD

  1. You most pay jazyah tax or you will get beheaded because your a kaffir(nonmuslim) its in fact ransom of your blood
    Now go on and bring sharia law to your countries europeans!

  2. This is why any No Muslims should NEVER submit to ant Muslim rule in their land. Because once Islam takes control they follow the Koran against Non Muslims.

  3. That is what spain history class don't teach you, due the political correctness and it is a shame, if we forgot the history we are doomed to repeat it

  4. Did the Basques also play a role in the reconquista? There was mention in this video of them fighting the Visigoths but not the Muslims. Can anyone elaborate?

  5. This whole situation has a lot of parallels with Aegon's conquest in Game of Thrones (minus the dragons of course). Invading foreign army has small numbers, invaded country's nobles are divided, and one part of the kingdom (Dorne)is able to fight the invaders off using essentially guerilla warfare.

  6. the Jews opened the doors of the cities killing the guards. IT WAS A JEWISH PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING. LIKE NOW WITH TH E KALERGI PLAN

  7. Why did the reconquista stop in the Iberian peninsula? All of North Africa, Anatolia, and the Levant were once Christian lands… the Muslims should have been pushed all the way back to their desert peninsula.

  8. Islam throughout its history knows when to attack the West when we are divided and weak just like now just walk right into Europe

  9. its funny seeing all the muslims talk about how good their generals are in the few videos where they win, but in their more frequent losses, like this one, you never see them around saying anything. why is that?

  10. Brilliant channel! i love how the chasing healthy rectangle stops chasing the cracked, mess up rectangle. a great range of battles, easily drawing the viewer in, humour great, but very attuned. Thanks you Baz!

  11. Very good video, but saying the reconquest of Spain is very wrong 8:14. The process of reconquista took 700 years, during witch period many kingdoms were formed. Only later those kingdoms would unite to form what we know today as Spain, and even then, there was still a kingdom who remained independent and goes by the name of Portugal.

  12. Please make a documentary on the battle of tashtaqaracha pass which took place between the arabs and the Gokturks.

  13. Very good video, beautifully well explained and detailled; thank you!
    This is a seminal event for all of the Iberian Peninsula, both Spain and Portugal were "born" in Covadonga.

    Fact is, even Gallaecia – which comprised not only nowadays Galicia (Spain) but also all Northern Portugal, didn't have any significant moorish influence. Evidence points that the region became somehow deserted, thus becoming a no man's land. By the early second half of the IX Century, the Douro line was already secured for the Christian forces in what is today Northern Portugal, and the northernmost remnant of moorish building in Portugal is found already south of the Douro river. Little to none villages or towns have arab origin names in the region – what we do have is a stupid amount of enchanted moorish princesses legends, don't ask me why.

    Point is, after the born of the Asturias Kingdom, taking back Northwestern Iberia was a matter of time – only setback was Al-Mansur's campaign that marched straight to Compostela through nowadays Northern Portugal.

  14. I don't find in your channel Las Navas de Tolosa… Probably the most epic medieval battle not only in Reconquista but in global History. With 3 spanish kings charging in a suicidal attack in the name of Spain, Christianity and because Deus Vult.

  15. Its unclear if Roderic was the only Visigothic king at this time. Some have argued that Wittiza or his son ruled part of the peninsula. Wittiza (a previous king) may or may not have been dead by now but its not clear completely. Some sources suggest Roderic was a usurper. If so, its possible the Muslims were able to play the sides off against each other to conquer Spain.

  16. I'd be interested in seeing the final months of US troops invading the last of the ISIS caliphate. There will always be Islamic terrorists of course, but it's helpful to keep them from holding lands.

  17. Why didn't they sail North and attacked Xixon? Was it too dangerous? Didn't they have good ships at this period?

  18. Covadonga battle is an invent aswell as the kingdom of Asturias. Asturias was a part of Galician Kingdom which was never conquered by Muslims!!

    Fucking pseudohistorians!

  19. Spain was invaded by Muslims and the Spaniards were able to expel Muslims from their land, this story must mark the way to 21st century Europe if our Civilization want to survive

  20. as I was swiftly looking across my recomended, I´ve seen "the battle of Cowabunga"…. intrigued, clicked, not dissapointed.

  21. From Revenge of the Sith Fan made video- "After almost a Thousand Year, Spain is ours again"+PELAGIUS is also one of the named Sith😁Coincidence😂

  22. Awesome history!
    Too bad that most people don't realize that the Crusades in the Middle East were also a reconquest of previous Christian lands.

  23. Djizia or the non-muslim tax is significantly much lower than the zakat or muslim tax and as for muslim people who can't afford it are exempt from paying and may receive a monetary help

  24. So thats how it sound when your hear a name pronounced horribly… Everything nice but pronunciation sometimes is just… Ughh

  25. Love the channel but I wish the final facts would be written slightly larger and stay on screen a few seconds longer.
    My old eyes struggle.

  26. as an arab muslims ,i am not sad because we lost Al Andalous because we will take it again but i am sad because spaniards and portugueses did NOT convert to islam ..what a loss? i realy wished they are muslims like the turks ,because if they are ,the Ummah will be much stronger and more numerous..O spaniards and portugueses .why you refused islam ?:(

  27. تم فتح كامل شبه الجزيرة الإيبيرية في بضع سنين و بالتحديد بالتاريخ الميلادي في سبع سنوات من714م إلى721م

  28. The priest the Ummayads sent to parley for Pelagius surrender asked him to surrender.
    Pelagius responded defiantly and replied with this:
    “I will not associate with the Arabs in friendship nor will I submit to their authority,” Pelagius responded. Then the rebel leader made a prophecy that will be fulfilled centuries later: “Have you not read in the divine scriptures (eg Mark 4:30-21) that the church of God is compared to a mustard seed and hat it will rise up again through divine mercy?”

    The priest affirmed it and Pelagius continued: “Christ is our hope that through this little mountain, which you’d see, the well being of Spain and the army of the Gothic people will be restored. …Now therefore, trusting in the mercy of Jesus Christ, I despise this multitude and I am not afraid of the father, that is the lord Jesus Christ, who is capable of liberating us from these few.”

  29. Muslims are three types (read Quran :Surat Al Fatir ,Ayat 32/Quran ch 35 Verse 32)

    1st Muslim is Al SABIQ he is stronger than 10 infidels*Non muslims ——>Allah said "O Prophet! Rouse the believers to fighting. If they be twenty of you who persevere they shall vanquish two hundred; and if there be of you a hundred, they shall vanquish a thousand of those who disbelieve"Al Anfal Ayat 65

    2nd Muslim is Al MOKTASED he is stronger than 2 infidels—–>Allah said "Allah has now lightened your burden for He found weakness in you. So if there be hundred of you who persevere, they shall vanquish two hundred; and if there be a thousand of you they shall, by the leave of Allah, vanquish two thousand" Al Anfal ayat 66

    3rd Muslim is Al Zalim li Nafsih he is like the infidels in term of power
    ——>Most of muslims of nowadays belongs to this type of muslim

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