Rulers of the lands of Morocco, Mauritania, northern Algeria, large parts of Spain, and southern Portugal, through the 11th and 12th centuries. They emerged as a confederation of 3 Berber tribes of one clan, the Sanhaja originating from the lands of southern Mauritania. The 3 tribes were the Lamtuna, Gudula, and Massufa.
The Almoravids were a group of zealous Muslims, originating in southern Mauritania. Their Muslim orientation was one of the simple and basic rules. Their theological foundation had been formed by Ahdallah Abdallah bni Yasin.
The Almoravids were a ruling class in the society, and they were easy to spot on the street, as they wore a face muffler called litham.
The Almoravids functioned as military commanders who also were administrators, called jurists (fuqaha). This authority was a fragile one, as their claim to be jurists was heavily challenged by other Muslim groups. This challenge undermined their power and became part of the reason for the fall of the Almoravids. The main group challenging their authority was the Almohads, who replaced the Almoravids in 1147.
Their presence as rulers often had fragile foundations, as in Spain where they had to use Christian guards to stay in power.
Their theology was based on a strict Malikite version of Sharia (Muslim law).
Architecture from the Almoravid period is characterized by simplicity, employing little decoration.
1039: The Almoravid leader Abdallah bni Yasin declares holy war against the Sanhaja Berbers.
1054: The Almoravids start their conquest of Maghreb.
1056: They take control over Sijilmassa (near Rissani in modern Morocco).
1059: Yasin is killed, and Abu Bakr bni Umar of the Lamtuna tribe becomes leader of the Almoravids.
1060: Abu Bakr returns to Mauritania to fight rebels challenging the heart of the Almoravids.
1062: The Almoravids establish their capital in Marrakech (today’s Morocco).
1082: The Almoravids take control over Algiers.
1085: The Almoravid leader Yusuf bni Tashufin relocates in Spain, establishing himself in Cordoba.
1086: At the Battle of za-Zallaqa, Yusuf loses the city of Toledo to the Christians. Yusuf returns to Maghreb, since he could not decide whether to conquer Spain or not, the country being governed by weak Muslim rulers.
1090: Yusuf starts a policy of deposing the Muslim rulers, hence extending Almoravid control in Spain. He first has the leaders of Granada and Malaga removed from power.
1091: The leaders of Almería and Sevilla are removed from power as well.
1093: The leader of Badajoz is also deposed. Now, only Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called El Cid, resists the Almoravid conquest. He supports a Muslim country near Valencia, although he himself is a Christian.
1102: Valencia falls to the Almoravids.
1110: Saragossa is captured under the leadership of Ali bni Yusuf. This becomes the last victory in Spanish territory. The Almoravids are in many ways weak rulers: In number they are few compared to local Arabs and Spanish Christians. However, more significantly, they were forced to use Christians for their guard.
1118: The beginning of the end, with the loss of Saragossa to the Christian kings of Spain.
1125: The beginning of the Almohad rebellion starts in the Atlas Mountains, in Tin Mal.
1147: Marrakech falls to the Almohads, and the Almoravid leaders move, first to Spain, and then to the Balearic Isles.