Subh of Cordoba

Subh (Arabic: صبح‎) (circa 940 – circa 999),[1] also known as Aurora in The Basque Country, Sobeya, Sobha, and Sabiha Malika Qurtuba ('Queen of Cordoba'),[2] was the spouse of Caliph al-Hakam of Cordoba (r. 961–976), and the regent of the Caliphate of Córdoba in Spanish Al-Andalus during the minority of her son, Caliph Hisham II al-Hakam.

Consort of Al-Andalus
Bornc. 940
Caliphate of Córdoba
Diedc. 999
Córdoba, Caliphate of Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
SpouseAl-Hakam II
ChildrenHisham II
Subh Umm Hisham
Era name and dates
Islamic Golden Age: 10th century
Regnal name
Subh, Malika Qurtuba


Early lifeEdit

Subh was originally a Christian from Navarra by the name Aurora,[3] who was brought as a slave - a Jāriya - to be a concubine in the harem of the Caliph in Cordoba. Her origin has alternatively been identified as Basque from the Gascony region.[4]


In the Caliph's harem of Cordoba, Subh became the favorite concubine and wife of the Caliph al-Hakam. She was described as not only beautiful, but also as intelligent and analytical.[5]

In the later years of his reign, the Caliph lost interest of the routine management of political affairs, and reportedly left it to his favorite wife.[5] To fill this task, she expressed the need for a secretary, and in 966, Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (also known as Almanzor) was appointed to this post. There were rumors that Almanzor became her lover and that this was the reason why she was to give him such influence in the affairs of state, and their alleged relationship became the subject of satirical poems and libelous rhymes.[5] The Caliph reportedly alluded to the matter once when he remarked that Almanzor apparently was remarkable influence in the minds of the harem, but apparently the Caliph never saw a reason to take any action.[5] Whether they actually were lovers or not have never been confirmed, but it is a fact that Almazor became a trusted collaborator to whom she trusted completely in her political work.[5]

Mother of the rulerEdit

In 976, Caliph al-Hakam died and was succeeded by Subh's minor son, the eleven-year old Caliph Hisham II al-Hakam, under the regency of General Ghalib al-Nasiri, al-Mushafi (the chief administrator of the late caliph), and Subh as well as Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, who became the administrator of the properties left to Subh by al-Hakam.[6] Reportedly, Subh provided Almanzor with the necessary funds to give him control of the army, by which he could secure the stability necessary for her son, a child, to be secured as Caliph with her as regent, after which she gave him much power in her government.[5] Subh also named Almanzor hajib [chief of viziers].[5] Almanzor had become the de facto ruler of Córdoba by 978, pushing both Subh and Hisham to the sidelines.[6]

The 13th-century historian Al-Murakushi describe the situation: "The stature of Ibn 'Amir continued to grow until he made the acquaintance of Sayyida Subh, the mother of Hisham, the son of alHakam. He took charge of her business affairs and managed her lands. In this way he earned her appreciation. Things continued like this until the death of al-Hakam. Hisham was still young, and there was fear of trouble. Ibn 'Amir provided Subh with the security and calm necessary for her son to be able to reign. Ibn 'Amir was very competent and circumstances worked in his favour. Subh made available the necessary funds, and he was able to win over the army. There then followed a train of circumstances that allowed him to rise even higher, until he became practically the sole manager of the affairs of state."[5]

The collaboration between Subh and Almanzor reportedly worked well until 986, when a conflict arouse between them, causing Subh to an unsuccessful attempt to depose Almanzor from his position by introducing other male favorites as his rivals.[5] Her second and last attempt to depose him in 997 resulted in his complete accession of all power.[5]

In popular cultureEdit

Subh appeared as a character in the 2003 Syrian television series Cordoba's Spring, played by Nesreen Tafesh. The series was written by Walid Saif.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cronología de Subh en una recopilación de biografías andaluzas
  2. ^ Mernissi, Fatima (1997). The Forgotten Queens of Islam. Minnesota Press. p. 44.
  3. ^ Harrison, Richard. "Spain". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  4. ^ "The Ivories of Al-Andalus". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mernissi, Fatima; Mary Jo Lakeland (2003). The forgotten queens of Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-579868-5.
  6. ^ a b Fletcher, Richard (2006). Moorish Spain. University of California Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-520-24840-3.
  7. ^ "Rabee' Qortoba". Damlag. Retrieved December 25, 2016.