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Ostensibly, the Abbasids were on the side of the Shia, and the rebellion they fomented against the Sunni Umayyads was on behalf of the descendants of Ali. However when Abu'l Abbas became the first Abbasid Caliph, both the male Umayyads and descendants of Ali were hunted down for slaughter.

Under Al-Mansur, changes became even more evident as the capital of empire was moved east from Damascus to Baghdad. As if that wasn't enough, Al-Mansur then renounced the Shi'ites and aligned with the Sunni's. Despite the changes made, Abbasid power was never quite the same as the Umayyad's had been. From the start, the Iberian peninsula had been separated under the control of the last surviving Umayyad. While the rest of the empire did remain under Abbasid control through 945, central authority actually underwent steady decline throughout the entire period, as one area after another asserted local control with varying degrees of success. In 945, even the semblance of secular control was lost when the Buyids took over Baghdad. In 1258, even non-secular control was lost.

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