Today in the Middle Ages: May 15, 756

On May 15, 756, Abd ar-Rahman was proclaimed Emir of Cordoba, beginning the three-century Umayyad dynasty of Moorish Spain.

Several years earlier, Abd ar-Rahman had witnessed the massacre of his family, at that time the rulers of Syria, by the Abbasids. The only survivor, he escaped to North Africa and made his way to Spain, where he was able to seize power.

He spent most of his reign struggling against rebellious and unruly subjects, but succeeded in consolidating power before he died. He began the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which was finished by his son and successors.