Saladin, the Almohads and the Banū Ghāniya

The Contest for North Africa (12th and 13th centuries)


In Saladin, the Almohads and the Banū Ghāniya, Amar Baadj gives us the first comprehensive, modern study of a fascinating but little-known episode in the history of the medieval Mediterranean. This is the story of the long struggle between the Almohad caliphs of the Maghrib, the Banū Ghāniya of Majorca, and the Ayyubids for dominance of North Africa.

The author makes use of important textual sources that have been ignored as well as new archaeological evidence to challenge some of the basic assumptions about the events in question. He also successfully places these events in their wider temporal and geographical context for the first time.
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Biographical Note

Amar S. Baadj, Ph.D. (2012), University of Toronto, is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg in the University of Bonn, Germany. He has published articles about the history of the medieval Maghrib and Egypt.

Review Quotes

'Das Buch, das mit einer sehr nützlichen kommentierten Übersicht über die von dem Verfasser benutzten Quellen endet, stellt eine substantielle Erweiterung unserer Kenntnisse über diese interessante, bisher aber zu wenig erforschte Periode der Geschichte Nordwestafrikas da'.

Stephan Conermann in: Sehepunkte 16 (2016), Nr. 3 [15.03.2016], URL:

'Students of North African history will benefit from Baadj’s use of heretofore ignored sources, in particular the Midmar of Ibn Taqi al-Din (d. 1220 CE). The domain of the Abbasids had fractured long before Saladin and the Almohads; it was not to be restored'.

Kenneth W. Meyer, Western Washington University, in African Studies Quarterly, Volume 17, Issue 2, June 2017, pp. 83-84

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Maps


Chapter 1: Setting the Stage
1.1 Geography
1.2 The Berbers
1.3 Trade Routes
1.4 Bilād al-Sūdān and the Sources of Gold
1.5 Northwest Africa down to the Hilālī Invasion (Mid-Eleventh Century)

Chapter 2: The Eastern Maghrib in the Period of City-States and Petty Dynasties
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The Zirid State in al-Mahdīya
2.3 Qafṣa and the Banū al-Rand
2.4 Tunis and the Banū Khurāsān
2.5 Qābis and the Banū Jāmiʿ
2.6 Ṣfāqus
2.7 The Hammadids in al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ

Chapter 3: The Coming of the Almohads and the Rise of the Banū Ghāniya
3.1 The Almoravids and the Realignment of the Trans-Saharan Trade Routes
3.2 The Almohads and the Unification of the Maghrib
3.3 The Emergence of the Banū Ghāniya
3.4 The Invasion of Africa

Chapter 4: The Emergence of a New Order in Egypt
4.1 Economic Conditions in Egypt under the Fatimids
4.2 The Rise of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn and the Ayyubids in Egypt

Chapter 5: The Ayyubids and the West
5.1 Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s Interest in the Maghrib
5.2 Sharaf al-Dīn Qarāqūsh and the Conquest of Libya and Ifrīqiya

Chapter 6: The Almohad Response under al-Manṣūr
6.1 Yaʿqūb al-Manṣūr Reconquers Ifrīqiya
6.2 The Correspondence Between Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn and Yaʿqūb al-Manṣūr

Chapter 7: The Long Career of Yaḥyā b. Ghāniya
7.1 Yaḥyā b. Ghāniya Conquers Ifrīqiya
7.2 The Almohads Capture the Balearic Islands
7.3 The Caliph al-Nāṣir Invades Ifrīqiya
7.4 Yaḥyā Expands his Raids throughout the Almohad Empire
7.5 The Death of Qarāqūsh
7.6 The End of the Banū Ghāniya and the Transition to Hafsid Rule in Ifrīqiya

Chapter 8: Conclusion
8.1 An Appraisal of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s Maghribī Policy
8.2 The Legacy of the Banū Ghāniya and Qarāqūsh in North Africa

Appendix A: Primary Sources
A.1 Maghribī Historians
A.2 Mashriqī Historians
A.3 Geographers and Travelers


1. Amirs of the Banū Ghāniya
2. Almohad Caliphs

1. Libya
2. Ifrīqiya and Al-Maghrib al-Awsaṭ
3. Al-Maghrib al-Aqṣā
4. Medieval West Africa and the Three Axes of the Trans-Saharan Trade
5. Upper Egypt, Nubia, Red Sea Basin
6. North Africa and the Mediterranean World in the Age of the Almohads


All interested in the history of the medieval Maghrib in particular and medieval Africa and the medieval Mediterranean in general.

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