During the Ummayad dynasty, Hispania was an integral province of the Ummayad Caliphate ruled from Damascus, Syria. When the Caliphate was seized by the Abbasids, Al-Andalus (the Arab name for Hispania) split from the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad to form their own caliphate.
Many of the masterpieces of Spain were constructed in this period, including the famous Great Mosque of Córdoba. The title Caliph was claimed by Abd-ar-Rahman III on 16 January 929; he was previously known as the Emir of Córdoba.
All Caliphs of Córdoba were members of the Umayyad dynasty; the same dynasty had held the title Emir of Córdoba and ruled over roughly the same territory since 756. The rule of the Caliphate is considered as the heyday of moslem presence in the Iberian peninsula, before it fragmented into various taifas in the 11th century.
The Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by another family of Meccan origin, the Abbasids, in 750. The Abbasids had an unbroken line of Caliphs for over three centuries, consolidating Islamic rule and cultivating great intellectual and cultural developments in the Middle East.
By 940, however, the power of the Caliphate under the Abbasids was waning as non-Arabs, particularly the Berbers of the Maghrib, the Turks, and later, in the latter half of the 13th century, the Mamluks in Egypt, gained influence, and the various subordinate sultans and emirs became increasingly independent.
Initially controlling Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the Fatimid caliphs extended their rule for the next 150 years, taking Egypt and Palestine, before the Abbasid dynasty was able to turn the tide, limiting Fatimid rule to Egypt. The Fatimid dynasty finally ended in 1171. The Umayyad dynasty, which had survived and come to rule over the moslem provinces of Spain, reclaimed the title of Caliph in 929, lasting until it was overthrown in 1031.
The Fatimid Caliphate or al-Fātimiyyūn (Arabic) that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Egypt, Sicily, Malta and the Levant from 5 January 909 to 1171. The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the Egyptian city of Cairo as their capital.
1258 saw the conquest of Baghdad and the execution of Abbasid caliph al-Musta'sim by Mongol forces under Hulagu Khan. A surviving member of the Abbasid house was installed as caliph at Cairo under the patronage of the newly formed Mamluk Sultanate three years later; however, this line of caliphs had generally little authority although some Abbasid rulers had the actual rule over the Mamluk Sultans.
Later moslem historians referred to it as a "shadow" caliphate. Thus, the title continued into the early 16th century.Source: Wikipedia English, 17 February 2011