Ever since H. R. Idris categorized the last forty years of the Zirid emirate (972–1148) as one of “agony,” the characterization has stuck. According to his narrative, the fall of the Zirid dynasty was as inevitable as the ascent of the Normans in Sicily, who exploited the Zirids for years before seizing their capital of Mahdia in 1148. This article challenges this anachronistic view of the Zirid dynasty by showing the relative strength of the Zirids throughout the 1110s and 1120s, as they made strategic alliances with other Muslim powers in the Mediterranean and won multiple victories against the Normans.

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