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Mallorca Through the Ages - The Dark Ages (454 AD - 902 AD)

Vandals in mallorca during the dark agesThe Vandals who stayed on Mallorca did not integrate with the locals and while African troops kept order on the Island, they replaced the Roman Catholic Church with their own religion. While Mallorca's bishop was forced to appear in Carthage in 484 A.D., priests continued to perform conversions from Arianism to Roman Catholicism.

Having seized what is now France, the Franks advanced into the Iberian Peninsula, conquering the Suevi by 585 A.D. While the Vandals were under pressure from all sides, Mallorca untouched until the Vandal King Hilderic asked Constantinople for assistance; it was the excuse that Justinian, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, needed to attack.

The Vandals were driven out of Sardinia, Tripoli and Carthage by 534 A.D. as the Byzantines recovered more south-east Iberia. General Apolinar captured the Balearics the same year and the islands became part Mauretunia and they governed from Ceuta in North Africa. Once again Mallorca was an important trading centre and although little is known of this era, there was a significant increase in wealth on the island, but it was only temporary. The Roman Empire collapsed following the death of Emperor Justinian in 565 A.D and the Byzantines abandoned Mallorca after the Visigoths captured southeast Iberia in 621 A.D.

Vandals in mallorca during the dark agesThe new religion, Islam, began with the Prophet Allah in 622 A.D. and by the end of the century its influence spread across North Africa, converting the Berbers in the Atlas Mountains. Many Christian refugees fled to Mallorca to escape persecution while Berber ships attacked the Christian trade routes. The first attacks against Mallorca and Minorca were made in 707 A.D. and the islanders were enslaved while their leaders were shipped to the Islamic Caliph in Damascus.

The Islamic raiders were known as the Moors, a name derived from Mauretaniai, (now Morocco and western Algeria). They advanced across Iberia over the next 25 years, until only the Asturian and Basque mountains were still in Christian control. The Moors integrated with the indigenous population, respecting the Christian and Jewish faiths while charging them higher taxes.

Vandals in mallorca during the dark agesWhat was happening in the Balearics at this time is sketchy, but after the Moors captured Ibiza in 798, Mallorca appealed to Charles 'the Great', (otherwise known as Charlemagne), for help. His ships defeated the Moorish fleet and then stayed on to protect the islands; some believe his nephew Bernard was sent to govern the Islands.

Louis retook the area south of the Pyrenees by 806, securing a buffer zone against the Moors, but the death of Charlemagne in 814 left him in a weak position and his fleet had to withdraw from Mallorca. Although the island signed a non-aggression pact with the Moors, Abd al-Rahman II called it off in 848, accusing the island of being a pirate base. He then raided Mallorca with 300 ships and forced the island to buy back its right to live in peace. With the uneasy truce settled, Berbers began settling on the island while Moorish ships used it as a stopping off point.

In 860 a new invader attacked the Balearic Islands, Bjorn Ironside's Viking fleet from Scandinavia. His ships then captured Narbonne before heading for Italy where they sacked the town of Luna, mistaking it for Rome, and Pisa. After filling their ships with treasure Ironside's Vikings headed for home, only to be attacked and defeated in the Straits of Gibraltar.

The death of Louis in 875 split the Frankish Empire and while Catalonia remained under Frankish rule, the rest of the Christian territories fragmented under feudal rule. Yet again the Balearic Islands (or the Medex Islands as they were known) were forgotten and went into decline as trade dropped off. However, they were not forgotten for long.

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