Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Connection #5 - Yacoub Almansour to King Alfonso VIII

Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur (Arabic: ابو يوسف يعقوب المنصور‎) (c. 1160 – January 23, 1199), also known as Moulay Yacoub, was the third Almohad Amir
Succeeding his father, Abu Ya'qub Yusuf, Yakub al-Mansur reigned from 1184 to 1199 with distinction. During his tenure, trade, architecture, philosophy and the sciences flourished, to say nothing of military conquests. In 1191 Yaqub al-Mansur repelled the occupation of Paderne Castle and the surrounding territory near Albufeira, in the Algarve which had been controlled by the Portuguese army of King Sancho I since 1182.
In the Battle of Alarcos, on July 18, 1195, he defeated the Castilian King Alfonso VIII. After victory, he took the title al-Mansur Billah ("Made Victorious by God"). The battle is recounted by the historian Abou Mohammed Salah ben Abd el-Halim of Granada in his Roudh el-Kartas (History of the Rulers of Morocco, French translation by A. Beaumier, 1860) in 1326.
He died in Marrakech, Morocco. During his reign, he undertook several major projects. He built the Koutoubia Mosque and the El Mansouria mosque in Marrakech and a kasbah, accessed by Bab Agnaou and Bab Ksiba in the southern part of its medina. He attempted to build what would have been the world's largest mosque in Rabat. However, construction on the mosque stopped after al-Mansur died. Only the beginnings of the mosque had been completed, including the Hassan Tower. Al-Mansur protected the philosopher Averroes and kept him as a favorite at court.

Begun in the late 12th century, the Hassan tower was designed to be the minaret of what became the world's second largest mosque (second to the one in Samarra, Iraq).
The Almohad ruler, Yaqub al-Mansur, designed the minaret to become 80 metres tall, with a unique design for each of its facades. When he died in 1199, somehow the whole building process came to a dramatic halt. The minaret was then 50 metres high, the same size as it has today.
The mosque came into use, having its columns completed, and with cedar roof. The gigantic earthquake of 1755, which also destroyed central Lisbon, destroyed the structure to the condition that it now is in.
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