Al-Andalus, 1085. The western jewel of Islam had broken into pieces. The petty Taifa emirs who inherited the once-mighty Caliphate squabbled and fought, then paid the Christian lords Parias in gold to avoid fighting at all. Alfonso VI, Christian king of a unified León and Castilla, could now put his extorted dinars to work. He would muster a great feudal host—not merely for plunder but to rip out the heart of Muslim Spain. He would seize the ancient Visigothic capital of Toledo and with it the great central plain to declare himself imperator of all Iberia.
But Alfonso would find there was fight left in al-Andalus, as Christian strikes radiating from Toledo were too much for even the emirs in their pleasure palaces to bear. Al‑Mutamid of Sevilla, the strongest among them, would risk the Taifa dynasties’ independence and call to arms a Muslim force unlike any that the Christian Kings had faced. Granada and Badajoz would join him to invite the Almoravid fundamentalists in to save the Muslim faithful. Yusuf, Sultan al‑Murabitun, had secured his Berber empire in Africa and seized a port and fleet just across the Mediterranean strait from al-Mutamid's Algeciras. A titanic campaign for Spain was set to unfold.