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The Roman North Africa of Dihya's youth was a melting pot, in which peoples of different races and religions openly intermixed, including Romans, Berbers, Vandal and Visigoth settlers, and tribes of black Numidians. There were [[Christians]] of various denominations - Catholics, Arians, Donatists (who rejected the ecclesiastic authority of the patriarchs) - and also numerous [[Jews]] and [[Paganism|pagans]]. All these groups lived mostly in peace, marred occasionally by outbreaks of persecution against the Jews and Donatists, and other conflicts.  
 
The Roman North Africa of Dihya's youth was a melting pot, in which peoples of different races and religions openly intermixed, including Romans, Berbers, Vandal and Visigoth settlers, and tribes of black Numidians. There were [[Christians]] of various denominations - Catholics, Arians, Donatists (who rejected the ecclesiastic authority of the patriarchs) - and also numerous [[Jews]] and [[Paganism|pagans]]. All these groups lived mostly in peace, marred occasionally by outbreaks of persecution against the Jews and Donatists, and other conflicts.  
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Very little is known about the private life of Dihya. It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in the numerous legends which surround her. Dihya was born the daughter of Tabat, a chieftain of the Jrawa tribe, who lived in the region of the Aures mountains. Some (mostly Jewish) historians claim that Dihya professed Judaism. These point out that her Arab title, "al-Kahina", may be a corruption of the Hebrew word Kohen, which means "a person of the priest class". The surname Cohen derives from the same word.  
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Very little is known about the private life of Dihya. It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in the numerous legends which surround her. Dihya was born the daughter of Tabat, a chieftain of the Jrawa tribe, who lived in the region of the Aures mountains. Some (mostly Jewish) historians claim that Dihya professed Judaism. These point out that her Arab title, "al-Kahina", may be a corruption of the Hebrew word Kohen, which means "a person of the priest class". The surname Cohen derives from the semetic root.  
    
Additionally one Arabic chronicle, by Ibn Khaldoun, written centuries after her death, calls Dihya "a Jewess". It is possible that the Berber Queen followed the Jewish religion, but there is no solid proof for this. Indeed, many Berber tribes professed Judaism at this time, but others also held Christian or traditional beliefs.  
 
Additionally one Arabic chronicle, by Ibn Khaldoun, written centuries after her death, calls Dihya "a Jewess". It is possible that the Berber Queen followed the Jewish religion, but there is no solid proof for this. Indeed, many Berber tribes professed Judaism at this time, but others also held Christian or traditional beliefs.  
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When she was a young woman, a chieftain who demanded to possess her as his bride terrorized her tribe. Dihya went into hiding for some time. Finally she agreed to the marriage. On the wedding night, she slew her new husband by smashing his skull with a nail. Although possibly apocryphal, like much else in her biography, the story points to her fierce will and determination.
 
When she was a young woman, a chieftain who demanded to possess her as his bride terrorized her tribe. Dihya went into hiding for some time. Finally she agreed to the marriage. On the wedding night, she slew her new husband by smashing his skull with a nail. Although possibly apocryphal, like much else in her biography, the story points to her fierce will and determination.
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==The Arab Invasion ==
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==The Arab Invasion==
    
In 646 AD, after the Muslims finally finished their conquest of [[Egypt]], they soon turned their sights to Roman North Africa. The Exarchate of Africa found itself on the frontline of the war with the expanding Arab state. The Byzantine Empire, itself suffering defeats on almost all fronts, and further weakened by a constant civil war, could give no assistance to such a distant province. The Exarchate had to completely rely upon local, limited resources. That they managed to hold off the Muslim advance for so long speaks to the enthusiastic resistance of the local population against the Arabs.  
 
In 646 AD, after the Muslims finally finished their conquest of [[Egypt]], they soon turned their sights to Roman North Africa. The Exarchate of Africa found itself on the frontline of the war with the expanding Arab state. The Byzantine Empire, itself suffering defeats on almost all fronts, and further weakened by a constant civil war, could give no assistance to such a distant province. The Exarchate had to completely rely upon local, limited resources. That they managed to hold off the Muslim advance for so long speaks to the enthusiastic resistance of the local population against the Arabs.  
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The siege of Carthage, however, had given Dihya the extra time to prepare. Soon a new power in Africa was born. One consequence of the Byzantine defeat was that the Romans had lost their interest Africa. From this point onward, only Muslim sources from far after the fact are available, and these tend to take a dim view of Dihya.  
 
The siege of Carthage, however, had given Dihya the extra time to prepare. Soon a new power in Africa was born. One consequence of the Byzantine defeat was that the Romans had lost their interest Africa. From this point onward, only Muslim sources from far after the fact are available, and these tend to take a dim view of Dihya.  
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==Destruction of Carthage and Its Aftermath ==
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==Destruction of Carthage and Its Aftermath==
    
During the siege of Carthage, Dihya completed her lifetime's achievement. She consolidated all the major Berber tribes under a common purpose - driving out the invaders. Beginning with guerrilla warfare, she soon graduated to launching full-scale invasion against the Muslims. She was joined in this by the survivors of the Byzantine army, as well as the remnants of the local Visigoths.  
 
During the siege of Carthage, Dihya completed her lifetime's achievement. She consolidated all the major Berber tribes under a common purpose - driving out the invaders. Beginning with guerrilla warfare, she soon graduated to launching full-scale invasion against the Muslims. She was joined in this by the survivors of the Byzantine army, as well as the remnants of the local Visigoths.  
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==See Also==
 
==See Also==
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* [[The Story of Umm Qirfa]]
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*[[The Story of Umm Qirfa]]
    
==References==  
 
==References==  
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==Further Reading==
 
==Further Reading==
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*Primary chronicle: Ibn-Khaldun (a compilation of earlier accounts; very biased and written a long time after her death).  
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*Primary chronicle: Ibn-Khaldun (a compilation of earlier accounts; very biased and written a long time after her death).
*Anonymous, Une Jeanne d'Arc Africaine: Episode de l'Invasion des Arabes en Afrique. Paris, 1890?  
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*Anonymous, Une Jeanne d'Arc Africaine: Episode de l'Invasion des Arabes en Afrique. Paris, 1890?
 
*Encyclopedia of African History and Culture. Vol. 2, African Kingdoms (500-1500). Edited by Willie F. Page.
 
*Encyclopedia of African History and Culture. Vol. 2, African Kingdoms (500-1500). Edited by Willie F. Page.
 
*Facts on File, 2001.
 
*Facts on File, 2001.
 
*Gautier, E. F. La Passé de L'Afrique de Nord. Paris, 1937.
 
*Gautier, E. F. La Passé de L'Afrique de Nord. Paris, 1937.
*Hannoum, Abdelmajid. Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine. Heinemann, 2001.  
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*Hannoum, Abdelmajid. Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine. Heinemann, 2001.
 
*Hannoum, Abdelmajid. The Legend of the Kahina: A Study in Historiography and Mythmaking in North Africa. Ph.D. thesis, Princeton, 1996.
 
*Hannoum, Abdelmajid. The Legend of the Kahina: A Study in Historiography and Mythmaking in North Africa. Ph.D. thesis, Princeton, 1996.
    
==Appendix: Dihya in Fiction==
 
==Appendix: Dihya in Fiction==
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#Dihya appears as the titular character in Cahena: a Dream of the Past, a historical fantasy written by Manly Wade Wellman. The main protagonist is named Wulff, a Saxon from the Byzantine army who survived the massacre of Carthage. Wulff joins the ranks of Dihya’s army and becomes her loyal retainer and subsequently a lover. The Queen herself is described as a mighty sorceress able to use magic.  
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#Dihya appears as the titular character in Cahena: a Dream of the Past, a historical fantasy written by Manly Wade Wellman. The main protagonist is named Wulff, a Saxon from the Byzantine army who survived the massacre of Carthage. Wulff joins the ranks of Dihya’s army and becomes her loyal retainer and subsequently a lover. The Queen herself is described as a mighty sorceress able to use magic.
#Completely fictionalized Dihya appears in one episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.  
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#Completely fictionalized Dihya appears in one episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.
#Female Berber leader Kahina (played by Aliston Bruce) appears in the Legacy motion picture. Plot is set in the 1<sup>st</sup> century and Berbers fight against the Roman Empire.  
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#Female Berber leader Kahina (played by Aliston Bruce) appears in the Legacy motion picture. Plot is set in the 1<sup>st</sup> century and Berbers fight against the Roman Empire.
 
#Featured in the Canadian TV series Relic Hunter (episode 64). The relic hunters recover an artifact that had belonged to Dihya. She is seen in flashback scenes.
 
#Featured in the Canadian TV series Relic Hunter (episode 64). The relic hunters recover an artifact that had belonged to Dihya. She is seen in flashback scenes.
#Kahina is the titular character in the following [[France|French]] Novels: <BR>- La Kahéna: Reine d'Ifrikia written by Didier Nebot. <BR>- La Kahéna, Reine des Aures written by Germaine Beauguitte. <BR>- Le Roman de la Kahena written by Magali Boisnard  
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#Kahina is the titular character in the following [[France|French]] Novels: <BR>- La Kahéna: Reine d'Ifrikia written by Didier Nebot. <BR>- La Kahéna, Reine des Aures written by Germaine Beauguitte. <BR>- Le Roman de la Kahena written by Magali Boisnard
#Kahina appears in plays: <BR>- Al-Kahana written by Ahmed Djelloul <BR>- La Kahena written by Abdelmajid El Aroui  
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#Kahina appears in plays: <BR>- Al-Kahana written by Ahmed Djelloul <BR>- La Kahena written by Abdelmajid El Aroui
 
#A fictional female character loosely based on Dihya is the main protagonist of a Moroccan comic book titled Tagllidt N Ayt Ufella (Queen of the heights). The Queen fights an evil [[Jinn]] (Genie).
 
#A fictional female character loosely based on Dihya is the main protagonist of a Moroccan comic book titled Tagllidt N Ayt Ufella (Queen of the heights). The Queen fights an evil [[Jinn]] (Genie).
  
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