|Capital|| Achir (before 1014), Kairouan (from 1014 to 1057)|
Mahdia (after 1057) · ·
|Languages||Berber, Arabic, African Romance, Hebrew|
|Religion|| Islam (Sunni, Ibadi)|
|•||973–984||Buluggin ibn Ziri|
|•||1121–1148||Abu'l-Hasan al-Hasan ibn Ali|
The Zirid dynasty (Berber: ⵉⵣⵉⵔⵉⴻⵏ (Izirien), Arabic: زيريون (Zīryūn)), also called banu ziri, was a Sanhaja Berber dynasty, from the central Maghreb (Algeria) which ruled in cental Maghreb from 972 to 1014 and Ifriqiya (eastern Maghreb) from 972 to 1148.
Descendants of Ziri ibn Menad, a military leader who rallied the Fatimids and gave his name to the dynasty, the Zirides are emirs who ruled in the name of the Fatimid caliphs settled in Egypt. In fact they reinforce their independence until officially break with the Fatimids from the middle of the 11th century. Transmitting power by hereditary means, they constitute a true dynasty. It is the first dynasty of Berber origin of the medieval period of the Maghreb. It opens the way to a period of Maghreb's history where political power will be held by Berber dynasties (Almoravids, Almohades, Zianids, Merinids and Hafsids).
Continuing their conquests to Fez and to all of Morocco in 980, they encountered the resistance of the local Zenetes who made allegiance to the Caliphate of Cordoba Various Zirid branches will reign over the central Maghreb, but also on the Taifa of Granada in Al-Andalus. Thus, at the beginning of the 11th century, following various family disputes, the branch of the Hammadids seceded and took control of the territories of the central Maghreb. The Zirids proper are then designated as Badicides and occupy only Ifrikiya (current Tunisia and east Algeria) between 1048 and 1148. A part fled to Al-Andalus and later founded, in 1019, the Taifa of Granada on the ruins of the Caliphate of Cordoba. The Zirides of Granada are defeated by the expansion of the Almoravids, who annex their kingdom in 1090, while the Badicides and the Hammadids remain independent. Following the recognition of the Abbasid sunni caliphate and the assertion of Ifriqiya and the Central Maghreb in independent kingdoms of sunni obedience in 1048, the Fatimids caused the migration of the Hilalians to the Maghreb. In the 12th century, the Hilalian invasions combined with the attacks of the Normans of Sicily on the littoral weaken the Zirid power. The Almohads achieve to conquer the central Maghreb and Ifriqiya in 1152, thus unifying the whole of the Maghreb and ending the two zirids dynasties: Badicide and Hammadide.
The Zirids were Sanhaja Berbers originating from the area of modern Algeria. In the 10th century this tribe served as vassals of the Fatimid Caliphate, defeating the Kharijite rebellion of Abu Yazid (943-947), under Ziri ibn Manad (935-971). Ziri was installed as the governor of central Maghreb and founded the gubernatorial residence of Ashir south-east of Algiers, with Fatimid support.
When the Fatimids moved their base to Egypt in 972, Ziri's son Buluggin ibn Ziri (971-984) was appointed viceroy of Ifriqiya. The removal of the fleet to Egypt made the retention of Kalbid Sicily impossible, while Algeria broke away under the governorship of Hammad ibn Buluggin, Buluggin's son.
The relationship with the Fatimid overlords varied - in 1016 thousands of Shiites lost their lives in rebellions in Ifriqiya, and the Fatimids encouraged the defection of Tripolitania from the Zirids, but nevertheless the relationship remained close. In 1049 the Zirids broke away completely by adopting Sunni Islam and recognizing the Abbasids of Baghdad as rightful Caliphs, a move which was popular with the urban Arabs of Kairouan.
The Zirid period of Tunisia is considered a high point in its history, with agriculture, industry, trade and learning, both religious and secular, all flourishing. Management of the area by later Zirid rulers was neglectful as the agricultural economy declined, prompting an increase in banditry among the rural population.
When the Zirids renounced Shia Islam and recognized the Abbasid Caliphate, the Fatimids sent the Arab tribes of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulaym to Ifriqiya. The Zirids were defeated, and the land laid waste by the Bedouin. The resulting anarchy devastated the previously flourishing agriculture, and the coastal towns assumed a new importance as conduits for maritime trade and bases for piracy against Christian shipping.
After the loss of Kairouan (1057) the rule of the Zirids was limited to a coastal strip with Mahdia as the capital, while several Bedouin Emirates formed inland. Between 1146 and 1148 the Normans of Sicily conquered all the coastal towns, and in 1152 the last Zirids in Algeria were superseded by the Almohads.
The Zirid period is a time of great economic prosperity. The departure of the Fatimids for Cairo far from ending this prosperity will see its amplification under the zirid and hammadid emirs. Referring to the government of the emir al-Mu'izz, the historian Ibn Khaldun describes: " It never seen by the Berbers of that country a kingdom more vast and more flourishing than his own." The land of the north produces wheat in quantity, the region of Sfax cultivates the olive tree in abundance, the cultivation of the date is develloped in Biskra. Other crops such as sugar cane, saffron, cotton, sorghum, millet and chickpea are grown. The breeding of horses and sheep is flourishing and fishing is active, providing plentiful food. The Mediterranean is also an important stake, even though it was for a time abandoned after the departure of the Fatimids where the priority of the Zirid emirs is to terrestrial and internal conflicts. Their maritime policy enabled them to establish trade links, in particular for the importation of timber necessary for their fleet, and enabled them to conclude an alliance and very close ties with the Emirs Kalbites of Sicily. They must, however, face blockade attempts by the Venetians and Normans who seek to reduce their wood supply.
The Arab chronicler Ibn Hawqal visited and described the city of Algiers under the Zirid era: "The city of Algiers, is built on a gulf and surrounded by a wall. It contains a large number of bazaars and a few sources of good water near the sea. It is from these sources that the inhabitants draw the water they drink. In the outbuildings of this town are very extensive countryside and mountains inhabited by several tribes of the Berbers. The chief wealth of the inhabitants consists of herds of cattle and sheep grazing in the mountains. Algiers supplies so much honey that it forms an export object, and the quantity of butter, figs and other commodities is so great that it is exported to Kairouan and elsewhere ".
- Abul-Futuh Sayf ad-Dawla Buluggin ibn Ziri (973-983)
- Abul-Fat'h al-Mansur ibn Buluggin (983-995)
- Abu Qatada Nasir ad-Dawla Badis ibn Mansur (995-1016)
- Sharaf ad-Dawla al-Muizz ibn Badis (1016–1062) declared independence from the Fatimids and changed the khutba to refer to the Abbasid Caliph in 1048, changed capital to Mahdia in 1057 after Kairouan was lost to the Banu Hilal
- Abu Tahir Tamim ibn al-Mu'izz (1062–1108)
- Yahya ibn Tamim (1108–1131)
- Ali ibn Yahya (1115–1121)
- Abu'l-Hasan al-Hasan ibn Ali (1121–1148)
Offshoots of the Zirid dynasty
Zirids of Granada
The Zirids are also known as a dynasty of the Taifa of Granada, a Berber kingdom centered in Al-Andalus. The founder was the brother of Bologhine, Zawi ben Ziri, a general of the Caliphate of Córdoba army under the orders of Caliph Hisham II.
After his death of Hisham II in Medinaceli on 12 August 1002 (25 Ramadan 392), a civil war spreads in Al-Andalus. Zawi ibn Ziri takes part as General of one of the Armies and destroys several cities, as Medina Azahara in 1011 and Córdoba in 1013. He founds of Taifa of Granada, and he declares himself as first Emir. He died poisoned in Algiers in 1019.
History tells that art and civil construction made under the rule of Zirids governors and emirs in Al-Andalus, mainly in the Taifa of Granada, were very important. An example is the Cadima Alcazaba in Albayzin, Granada and part of the old wall surrounding Granada.
— Royal house —
|Direct Fatimid rule over central Maghreb and Ifriqya||Emir of Maghreb
vassal of the Fatimids
972 – 1048
|Independence from the Fatimid Caliphate|
|Maghreb under Zirds (972-1048)||Emirs of Ifriqiya
(loss of central Maghreb to the benefit of Hammadids)
1048 – 1148
|Secession from the Zirid Emirate of Ifriqiya||Emirs of central Maghreb
1014 – 1152
|New title||Emirs of Granada
1013 – 1090
|Emirs of Malaga|
1058 – 1090
The ruins of Achir, a fortress founded by Ziri ibn Menad, the eponym of the Zirid dynasty
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