Uthman ibn Naissa

Uthman ibn Naissa, better known as Munuza, is a Moorish (Berber) historic character depicted in different contradictory chronicles during the Umayyad conquest of Hispania.

Munuza in Asturias

On the one side, he was the governor of Gijón (or possibly León) after Musa ibn Nusayr raided northwestern Iberia ((including the region of Asturias but not Cantabria in modern Spain) on the first decade of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early 8th century. He was subject to the Wāli of Al-Andalus, Anbasa ibn Suhaym Al-Kalbi. According to late 9th century Asturian chronicles, he was defeated after the Battle of Covadonga and killed by Pelayo of Asturias at the beginning of the Reconquista.

Tradition (late Asturian chronicles) has it that he fell in love with Pelayo's sister, Ormesinda, and that, together with Kazim, kidnapped and married her. The chronicle of Alfonso III speaks of a "compulsory marriage", the failure of which compelled Pelayo into rebellion. The historical context can only be speculated, but Pelayo may have tried to secure alliances and a preferential status among the local nobles through the marriage of his sister to the new power in the area, as the Asturian kings would later do with Basques in Pamplona and all of the Christian families did with the Caliphate in Córdoba. It may also have served as a counterweight to Peter of Cantabria and represented nominal submission.

After the loss of a Muslim garrison out on a punitive expedition, Munuza may have taken undisputed control of the Asturian coastal region, but kept court in the western districts closer to dominated and occupied Galicia. Having been defeated in his bid to secure the region of León, he may have fled from Gijón, but Christian chronicles reported he was killed with all his soldiers in Trubia or La Felguera.

Munuza in Cerdanya

On the other hand, contemporary chronicles talks of a Berber Uthman ibn Naissa or Munuza in charge of operations in the Umayyad-occupied eastern Pyrenees, Cerdanya, a decade later. He may not have died in Asturias, and may have been assigned to the new location by the Umayyad commanders. He killed the bishop of Urgell, married to an illegitimate daughter of Odo the Great, with whom he had concluded an alliance of mutual assistance, and de facto detached from Cordova, declaring an independent Hispano-Berber principality. He was executed in 731 by the Cordovan wali Abd al-Rahman al-Ghafiqi after his expedition suffocated Uthman ibn Naissa's Berber detachment attempt, immediately preceding the assembly of Abd al-Rahman's expedition in Pamplona to march north over Vasconia and Bordeaux.

See also


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