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Yusuf I

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Subject: Alhambra, Battle of Río Salado, Banu Khazraj, Moorish architecture, Gibralfaro
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Yusuf I

Yusuf I redirects here. It can also refer to Yusuf I, Almohad Caliph.

Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada (June 29, 1318 – October 19, 1354) was the seventh Nasrid ruler of the Moorish Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula. He was Sultan between 1333 and 1354.


A detailed portrait of Yusuf indicates "he was white-skinned, naturally strong, had a fine figure and an even finer character. His teeth sparkled, he had large eyes and dark straight hair, a thick beard, a handsome face and a clear voice that was a pleasure to hear. His figure and beauty made him stand out among other people. God endowed him with an extraordinary intelligence, good judgment and sound opinions. He was ingenious and thoughtful and could foresee the future. By nature pacific, he tried to maintain friendship with all the other monarchs of his day. He loved art and was especially fascinated by architecture. He liked to dress with elegance, was a collector of arms and adornments and had some mechanical ability." Like his brother and predecessor Muhammed IV, he lived under the influence of the courtiers and his paternal grandmother, Fatima. As a minor, Moorish chroniclers noted his authority "was limited to choosing the food he wished to eat from the dishes that were placed before him."


Yusuf constructed the Gate of Justice, forming the grand entrance to the Alhambra in 1348. He likewise adorned many of the courts and halls of the palace, as may be seen by the inscriptions on the walls, in which his name repeatedly occurs. He founded a religious school in the heart of his capital in 1349. He also rebuilt the noble Alcazaba of Málaga, the ancestral home of his paternal grandfather Abu Said Faraj, the former governor of Málaga.

He established peace with Alfonso XI of Castile but once the four years of agreed peace were over, he allied with the Marinid dynasty who had entered the Iberian Peninsula via Gibraltar. He lost Algeciras in 1344 and Gibraltar in 1349 after having undergone a difficult siege in which Alfonso XI of Castile died due to the plague, after having besieged Gibraltar. As a gesture of his goodwill towards the Christian kingdoms, Yusuf gave orders to his own troops and the leaders of the frontier towns not to attack the cortege as it traveled to Seville. He received his subjects publicly every week on Monday and Thursday to listen to their concerns. On solemn state occasions, he presided over court activities from a wooden folding armchair that is currently preserved in the Museo de la Alhambra and bears the Nasrid coat of arms across its back.

Yusuf had two wives, the first Butayna, was a former slave who bore him his heir, Muhammed V when he was twenty and a daughter named A'isha. Yusuf's second wife, Maryem, who was also a slave bore him seven children. These children were two sons Ismail II, who was born nine months after Muhammed V, and another son Qays as well as five daughters, named Fatima, Mu'mina, Khadija, Shams and Zaynab. The eldest married her cousin who would reign as Muhammed VI. Maryem's influence was said to be greater than that of Butayna, and Yusuf favored his second son Ismail above his other children, which would have consequences in later years.

Yusuf I was assassinated whilst praying in a mosque in Granada at the age of thirty-six. On October 19, 1354, a maniac rushed suddenly from behind and plunged a dagger in his chest. The cries of the king brought his guards and courtiers to his assistance. They found him weltering in his blood. He made some signs as if to speak, but his words were unintelligible. They bore him senseless to the royal apartments, where he died almost immediately. His eldest son, Muhammed V succeeded him at the age of sixteen.


  • The Alhambra From the Ninth Century to Yusuf I (1354). vol. 1. Saqi Books, 1997.
Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada
Cadet branch of the Banu Khazraj
Born: 1318 Died: 1354
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Muhammed IV
Sultan of Granada
Succeeded by
Muhammed V
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