Muawiyah I

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By his creation of a fleet, Muawiyah was the driving force of the Muslim effort against Byzantium. His navy challenged the Byzantine navy and raided the Byzantine islands and coasts at will. The shocking defeat of the imperial fleet by the young Muslim navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655 was a critical turning point. It opened up the Mediterranean, considered a "Roman lake", and began a centuries-long series of naval conflicts over the control of the Mediterranean. This also allowed the expansion of the state into north Africa and Spain. [84][85] Trade between the Muslim eastern and southern shores and the Christian northern shores almost ceased during this period, isolating western Europe from developments in the Muslim world: "In antiquity, and again in the high Middle Ages, the voyage from Italy to Alexandria was a commonplace; in early Islamic times the two countries were so remote that even the most basic information was unknown"[86] Muawiyah also initiated the first large-scale raids into Anatolia from 641 on. [87][88]