Fraxinetum

The "plateau of Moors" near Fraxinet

Fraxinet or Fraxinetum (Arabic: فرخشنيط‎, romanizedFarakhshanīt or فرخسةFarakhsha, from Latin fraxinus: "ash tree", fraxinetum: "ash forest") was the site of a 10th-century fortress established by Muslims at modern La Garde-Freinet, near Saint-Tropez, in Provence. The modern Massif des Maures ("plateau of Moors") takes its name from the Muslims of Fraxinet.

Muslim Fraxinet

Buckwheat was introduced to Fraxinet by the Andalusis.

According to Liudprand of Cremona, in about 889 a ship carrying twenty adventurers from Pechina near Almería in what was then called Al-Andalus anchored in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez in Provence. They were called muwallad, that is, converts to Islam who spoke both Latin and Arabic.[1] They built a tiny stone fortification and protected their outposts by cultivating thorny bushes.

The region around Fraxinet was known in contemporary sources as Djabal al-Qilâl (Arabic: جبل القِلال‎, "mountain of the many peaks") and is, strangely enough, depicted on Arab maps of the period as an island. The area controlled by Fraxinet included St-Tropez, its gulf and hinterland, as well as Ramatuelle and its peninsula.[2] Ibn Hawqal recorded that the area was richly cultivated by its Muslim inhabitants, and they have been credited with a number of agricultural and fishing innovations for the region. Shipwrecks in the area indicate that Fraxinet may have been a center of trade as much as piracy.[3]

A leader of Fraxinet itself, Nasr ibn Ahmad, is mentioned in the Muqtabis of Ibn Hayyan of Córdoba, the greatest historian of medieval Spain. According to that 11th-century chronicle, Abd ar-Rahman III made peace in 939-940 with a number of Frankish rulers and sent copies of the peace treaty to Nasr ibn Ahmad, described as the commander of Farakh shanit, as well as to the Arab governors of the Balearic Islands and the seaports of al-Andalus—all of them subject to the Umayyad caliphate. Nothing else is revealed about the Fraxinet commander.[4]