The Moors in Europe

Submitted 4 years 5 months ago by maxpain.

The Moorish invasion of Western Europe began in the 8th century A.D. During the early decades of this period Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and started their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. It was the Berber leader, Tariq bin Ziyad, who led the attack. The Berbers are native tribes of Africa.

A European scholar sympathetic to the Spaniards remembered the conquest in this way:

The reins of their (Moors) horses were as fire, their faces black as pitch, their eyes shone like burning candles, their horses were swift as leopards and the riders fiercer than a wolf in a sheepfold at night . . . The noble Goths [the German rulers of Spain to whom Roderick belonged] were broken in an hour, quicker than tongue can tell. Oh luckless Spain!

During this period, Iberia was a part of a Hispanic kingdom ruled by the Visigoths. For the next eight years, Tariq led a military campaign that brought the vast majority of the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish rule. This served as the basis of a series of attacks against Europe over the next few centuries.

The Moors kept large parts of Spain under their control for about eight centuries between A.D. 711 and around A.D. 1492. The Moors never established a stable central government. In the 11th Century the caliphate fell, and Moorish Spain was captured by the Almoravids, who were supplanted in 1174 by the Almohads. During this period, Christian rulers continued efforts in Northern Spain to recapture the south. In 1085 Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile recaptured Toledo. Cordoba fell in 1236, and one by one the Moorish strongholds surrendered. The last Moorish city, Granada, was captured by Fernidad V and Isabella I in 1492. Most of the Moors were driven from Spain, but two groups, the Mudejares and Moriscos, remained.

This had a lasting impact on Spain. Islamic architecture and literature came to dominate Spanish life, the effects of which are still visible today. Spain’s greatest author Miguel de Cervantes used a Moorish character to narrate the story of the central character in his famous book Don Quixote.

Interesting facts about Moors

During its peak, Cordova, the center of Moorish territory in Spain, was the most modern city in all of Europe. The streets were well-paved and pedestrians could walk on the raised sidewalks. At nighttime, several streets were often illuminated with lamps. Cities like London or Paris featured paved streets and lamps only centuries later. Cordova also boasted about 900 public baths.

The Moors created a huge impact in the field of education. Europe at that time only had two prominent universities. But within the Moorish territory of Spain alone, almost 17 universities existed. Education was universal in Muslim Spain, while in Christian Europe, 99 percent of the population was illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. The Moors boasted a remarkably high literacy rate for a pre-modern society. The founders of Oxford University were inspired to form the institution after visiting universities in Spain. According to the United Nations’ Education body, the oldest university operating in the world today, is the University of Al-Karaouine of Morocco founded during the height of the Moorish Empire in 859 A.D. by a woman named Fatima al-Fihri. During the 10th and 11th centuries, Moorish Spain also had almost seventy libraries. This was at a time when public libraries in Europe were non-existent.

The effort to build libraries and institutions of higher learning in Moorish Spain was largely led by the members of the Umayyad Dynasty, who wanted to be perceived as intellectual rivals to the Abbasids in Baghdad. The Arabic number system replaced Roman numerals and introduced a new system of mathematical calculation in the region.

The Moors, who ruled Spain for 800 years, introduced new scientific techniques to Europe, such as an astrolabe, a device for measuring the position of the stars and planets. Scientific progress in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and Philosophy flourished in Moorish Spain

Agriculture under the Moors underwent huge development. Many new crops like sugarcane, apricots, oranges, lemons, ginger, peaches, pomegranates, cotton, saffron, etc. were introduced. Prior to the arrival of the Moors, native farmers used the Roman irrigation system. Moorish influence led to the establishment of a large number of wells, reservoirs, and canals that redirected water from one region to the other. As a result, agricultural production in the region surged.

Ultimately, the Moors helped to lift the general European populace out of the Dark Ages, and paved the way for the Renaissance period. In fact, a large number of the traits on which modern Europe prides itself came to it from Muslim Spain, namely, free trade, diplomacy, open borders, etiquette, advanced seafaring, research methods, and key advances in chemistry.

At a time when the Moors built 600 public baths and the rulers lived in sumptuous palaces, the monarchs of Germany, France, and England convinced their subjects that cleanliness was a sin and European kings dwelt in big barns, with no windows and no chimneys, often with only a hole in the roof for the exit of smoke.

In Europe’s great Age of Exploration, Spain and Portugal were the leaders in global seafaring. It was the Moorish advances in navigational technology such as the astrolabe and sextant, as well as their improvements in cartography and shipbuilding, that paved the way for the Age of Exploration.

One of the key genres of evidence of the Moorish demographic in Europe is linguistics. Like many name tags, “Moor” evolved into a variety of personal names. Thus, we have the following: Moore, Morrison, Morris, Morse, Maurice; Maureen/Moreen; and the not so obvious (to many English speakers), Maurits (Dutch), Moro and Moreno (Spanish and Portuguese), Mohr (with variants Morhart, Morhardt, Morehart, Morath, Morese, Morandi).

In some languages, Moore was transliterated as Black, Blackamoor, Negro, Schwarz or Schwarzkopf (German). St Maurice of the 3rd Century and St Victor Maurus of the 4th Century were early Moorish Christian saints.

Beyond Europe and Africa, the Dutch renamed an island, Mauritius, after Prince Maurits of the Netherlands—Prinsz Maurits literally means Prince Moor or Black Prince. Interestingly, Mauritius, lying deep in the Indian Ocean, and with the world’s third largest Hindu population, is one of the African Union’s 55 sovereign states.

Likewise, the colonial term morisco was applied to a mixed-race person whose parents were a white Spaniard and a mulatto (an African-Spaniard), the equivalent of ‘quadroon’ in British colonies.

the Moors established the Umayyad caliphate in Cordoba. The court grew in wealth, power, and culture. Other cities full of Moorish culture were Toledo, Granada, and Seville.


Seven hundred years of Moorish influence left an unmistakable mark on Spain, making it markedly different even today from the rest of Western Europe. The Moors not only brought their religion, but also their music, their art, their view of life, and their architecture...two of the greatest examples of which are the Alhambra in Granada and the Escorial in Cordoba.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was Africans that brought civilization to Spain and large parts of Europe and not the other way around. Half of man's recorded history had passed before anyone in Europe could read or write. The priests of Egypt started to keep records written between 4000 and 3000 BC, but more than two thousand years later the poems of Homer were still circulated in the Greek city-states by word of mouth... while the Pharaohs were constructing pyramids, the Greeks were making nothing more distinguished than large garbage heaps.

The first civilization of Europe was established on the Greek island of Crete in 1700 BC and the Greeks were primarily civilized by the Black Africans of the Nile Valley. The Greeks then passed on this acquired culture to the Romans who ultimately lost it; thus, initiating the Dark Ages that lasted for five centuries. Civilization was once again reintroduced to Europe when another group of Black Africans, The Moors, brought the Dark Ages to an end.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire multitudes of white warring tribes from the Caucasus were pushed into Western Europe by the invading Huns. The Moors invaded Spanish shores in 711 AD and African Muslims literally civilized the wild, white tribes from the Caucus. The Moors eventually ruled over Spain, Portugal, North Africa and southern France for over seven hundred years.

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