Saturday, 20 September 2014

Women Warriors - Sayyida al Hurra

It was Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday, so in honour of that, I thought today's woman warrior should be a Pirate Queen.

Sayyida al Hurra's full name was Sayyida al-Hurra ibn Banu Rashid al-Mandri al-Wattasi Hakima Tatwan, and she was governor of Tetouan in Morocco in her own right from 1515, the year her husband died. In fact, when they arrived, the city was in ruins, and her husband got permission to rebuild to house the refugees from Granada.
Together with Barbarossa of Algiers in the east, her ships controlled the Mediterranean in the west. She was also the last woman in Islamic history to hold the title of Queen (which is what Hurra means) in her own right.
As a refugee from Spain, when Ferdinand and Isabella conquered the Moorish kingdom of Granada in 1492, one of her long term aims was revenge against the Spanish, and piracy was her means of achieving this. She also married the King of Morocco, Ahmed al-Wattasi, but she made him travel to Tetouan to do so, to underline the point that she wasn't going to give up ruling the city. He was the only King of Morocco to do this - all other royal marriages took place in Fez, the capital of Morocco.

So, Sayyida didn't fight personally, like Grainne O'Malley, but she was in command, and she was respected around the Mediterranean. Eventually, however, her son overthrew her, and her ultimate fate is unknown.

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