A look at some of the history and holidays on November 23
Repose of Alexander Nevsky: Nevsky was a deeply religious Russian Orthodox Prince of Novgorod, a skilled politician and a successful military commander during the 13th century, a time when his kingdom was being overrun by the Mongolian Golden Horde from the East, and under attack by Teutonic Knights from the West. His story is long and a bit convoluted, though quite interesting. His story is told from the perspective of the Russian Orthodox Church here.
1248 – Reconquista of Spain: Muslims surrender Seville
As the colored areas of the map above shows, during the first 148 years after the death of Mohammed, between 622 and 750, Muslims spread their religion by the sword to the West, reaching all of the way to India, and to the East across all of North Africa and, in Europe, they conquered most of Spain as well in between 711 and 788, the so-called Umayyyad Caliphate conquest of Hispania. But for the great French Duke Charles Martel, who in 732 decisively defeated an Islamic army invading from Spain into France at the Battle of Tours, all of Europe would have been conquered.
As to the Umayyad conquest of 8th century Spain, only Pelagius the Christian Visigoth King in a small area of the north, withstood the Muslim onslaught. The Reconquista of Spain by Christian forces is dated from Pelagius’s defeat of an attacking Muslim slave army at the Battle of Covadonga circa 722. The Reconquest in Spain took over 700 years as Christian forces drove back the Muslim invaders one stronghold at a time.
Today’s date in 1248 marked a major event in the Reconquista. In July of 1247, a Christian army led by King Ferdinand III of Castile had laid siege to the Muslim controlled city of Seville. On this date in 1248, the Muslim ruler of the town surrendered, This completed the reconquest of most of Spain, with the lone holdout being the Muslim enclave of Granada in the south. That would fall to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
That is not the end of the story. As radical Islamists see it, any territory once conquered by Muslim invaders must remain Islamic. Jihad is justified to retake such lands. In 2001, al Qaeda justified terrorism in the West in part as a legitimate response to Christian “aggression” for cleansing Islam from al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) more than half a millennium earlier. As Austin Bay stated in 2004:
Spain was an Islamist target before 9-11. . . . For Islamists, 1492 isn’t the year Columbus “discovered” America, it’s the year Spain completed the “reconquista” — the elimination of Iberia’s Moorish (Muslim) states. Osama bin Laden bitterly lamented the loss of Al Andalus (Spain). His claims of “humiliation” resonated with European leftists. . . .