- Muslim (Shiite) sect whose caliphs (q.v.) claimed descent from Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad (q.v.), and acknowledged no Muslim authority in Islam (q.v.) other than its own. They founded a state in Tunis in 909, dominating northwest Africa, as well as Sicily (qq.v.). Their fleet was supreme in the western Mediterranean (q.v.), much as the Vandal fleet had been in the fifth century. By the mid-10th century, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica (qq.v.), and the Balearic Islands were in their possession. Fatamid power reached its apogee during the reign of their fourth caliph (q.v.), al-Muizz, who celebrated the conquest of Egypt (q.v.) in 969. Despite this advance, Nikephoros Phokas conquered Crete (qq.v.) in 961. In 973 the Fatamids moved their capital to Cairo, continuing their expansion with the conquest of Palestine (q.v.) and portions of Syria and western Arabia (qq.v.). Under caliph al-Hakim the Fatamids defeated a Byzantine fleet in 998, and they destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (qq.v.) in 1009, events which created a state of hostilities with Byzantium (q.v.) until 1038, when a treaty was signed allowing Byzantium to rebuild the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After al-Hakim's death in 1021 Fatamid power declined steadily throughout the remainder of the 11th century. The First Crusade (q.v.) conquered Palestine, including Jerusalem (q.v.) in 1099. The Fatamids were left with little more than Egypt, which Nur al-Din (q.v.) conquered in 1169, effectively ending Fatamid rule. The last Fatamid caliph died in 1171.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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