Alarcos, Battle of

Alarcos, Battle of

▪ European history
      (July 18, 1195), celebrated Almohad (Almohads) victory in Muslim Spain over the forces of King Alfonso VIII of Castile. In 1190 the Almohad caliph Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb (Manṣūr, Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb al-) forced an armistice on the Christian kings of Castile and Leon, after repulsing their attacks on Muslim possessions in Spain. At the expiration of the truce (c. 1194) Alfonso invaded the province of Sevilla (Seville), prompting Abū Yūsuf to leave his North African capital, Marrakech, with an expedition against the Christians. The Castilians managed to surprise the Muslim advance guard; but, having underestimated the strength of the Almohad army, they were severely beaten by Yaʿqūb, who was joined by the cavalry of the Castilian Pedro Fernández de Castro, a personal enemy of Alfonso. The defeat occurred in a battle fought near the fortress of Alarcos (Al-Arak in Arabic). Alfonso and his army fled to Toledo and Alarcos, while Yaʿqūb returned triumphantly to Sevilla. There he assumed the title Al-Manṣūr Billāh (“Victorious by God”). For years afterward, even with the support of the king of Aragon, Alfonso was unwilling to confront the Almohads while they marched through his territories, taking Montánchez, Trujillo, Santa Cruz, and Talavera and destroying the vineyards of Toledo.

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