Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo

Abd al-Rahman, known as Sanchuelo (983 – 3 March 1009), was the ʿĀmirid hajib (chief minister) of the Caliphate of Córdoba under Caliph Hisham II from 1008 until his death. Actual power in the caliphate at the time was in the hands of the hajib.

Sanchuelo was born in Córdoba. He was the son of the hajib Almanzor and a Christian convert named Abda (born Urraca), the daughter of Sancho II of Pamplona. He was nicknamed Sanchuelo (Arabic: Shanjoul‎), the diminutive of Sancho, because he looked like his Christian grandfather.

In or about 997, the Kingdom of Pamplona attacked Calatayud and in revenge Almanzor ordered the beheading of 50 Pamplonan captives. According to Ibn Darraj, Sanchuelo himself beheaded his uncle, perhaps Count Gonzalo Sánchez of Aragon.

When Almanzor died, he was succeeded by his son Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar. When he died, he was succeeded by his younger brother on 20 October 1008. Sanchuelo used his great influence and forced the weak caliph to designate him as his heir (November 1008). The population of Córdoba responded angrily to this development. They had already disliked the rule of Almanzor because he had recruited many Berber mercenaries for his protection. Abd ar-Rahman was also accused of poisoning his brother, Abd al-Malik.

When Abd al-Rahman went on an expedition against King Alfonso V of León (February 1009), the citizens of Córdoba rose against him. They were led by Muhammad II al-Mahdi, a member of the Umayyad dynasty. Muhammad II al-Mahdi removed his relative Hisham II from the throne, became the new caliph and destroyed Abd al-Rahman's residence, al-Madina al-Zahira ("the flourishing city"). On receiving this news Abd al-Rahman returned to Córdoba, but his troops abandoned him. He was arrested and later assassinated on the orders of al-Mahdi.


  • E. Lévi-Provençal: ´Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Abi Amir Sanchuelo, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam. Second edition, vol. 1 (1960), p. 84.