Who were the Umayyads, how did their rule come to be based in Spain, and what did they achieve there?
The Umayyad clan was a part of the Quraysh tribe and was the very first great Muslim empire to rule over the Caliphate. They were a merchant family that was based at Mecca whose leader was Abu Sufyan. There was a struggle for the caliphate that saw the murder of the third Caliph, the defeat of Ali and the establishment of the first Umayyad caliphate, Muawiyah.
The Umayyad Dynasty expanded its territory to other countries under Abd al-Malik who was the caliphate from 685 to 705. They were able to conquer other countries due to the strong Syrian army. The Umayyad House faced rebellion from the Abbasid family which defeated them in 750 thus taking over the caliphate. The Abbasid caliphate ordered the death of the entire Umayyad Clan.
However, one Umayyad, Abd-al-Rahman, survived and went to Spain where he founded another Umayyad dynasty in 756. Abd al-Rahman took over Cordoba and made it the capital. He constructed the Great Mosque of Cordoba that was a significant achievement in architecture. The Umayyad Caliphate in Cordoba caused great progress in art, trade and education. Cordoba became the best intellectual centre of Europe as it had magnificent schools and libraries. They made marbles, boxes of carved ivory and animal statuaries. They sold their art and created huge profits for Spain.