ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Moors in Spain: A Height of a Muslim Nation

Updated on December 13, 2007

When you think of medieval Europe, you usually think of knights, castles, and the church. Rarely, though, do you think of the Moors, the powerful, benevolent rulers of Spain for nearly 700 years. While the rest of Europe was still struggling with Feudalism and food shortages, Moorish Spain was a center of culture, science, and trade. The illustrious Moors brought to the dry Spanish plains irrigation systems imported from Syria, transforming the area into a rich agricultural cornucopia. Foods introduced by the Moors were pomegranates, oranges, lemons, aubergines, sugar-cane, cotton, rice, figs, grapes, and many others. The Moorish conquest and subsequent colonization of Spain had many effects on Spanish and European culture.

In the early 8th century Moorish soldiers crossed over to Spain from North Africa. The 10,000 man army was lead by Tarik bin Ziyad, who in 711 AD won a major victory over the defenders of the Iberian peninsula. After this quick victory Tarik ran like a plague through the Iberian Peninsula and after a month had ended European dominance there. Musa bin Nusayr, the Arab governor of North Africa, crossed over with 18,000 men to help subdue the peninsula. In the aftermath of the Arab conquest thousands of eager Arabs flooded into the newly conquered emirate. This quick and easy conquest could not have been accomplished without the events of 755. At that time the current rulers of Spain were the Visigoths. In 755 the Visigothic King was engaged in a power struggle with his half- brother, who had claimed the thrown for himself. To subdue this usurper, the King asked for aid from the Witiza family, a powerful and influential clan in Morocco. The clan agreed and helped in capturing and beheading the usurper. Meanwhile, as the king was busy quelling the rebellion, he was not winning any popularity contests. The Arabs in turn made pacts with local nobles, who agreed that they would withhold support from the king when the Moors invaded. These agreements, together with the indigenous population's apathy, lead to the speedy take over of Spain.

By the beginning of the 9th century, Spain had become the gem of Europe with its bristling capital at Cordoba. At a time when London was no more than a wide spot in the road, Cordoba boasted a half-million citizens, 700 mosques, 300 public baths, and over 70 libraries. The twenty-one suburbs had paved and lit streets, with marble and mosaic floors and balconies. Artificial gardens and fountains graced the city proper, and paper, still unheard of to the west, was in ample supply.

Nearing the end of the 1st Millennium, Cordoba was the intellectual center of Europe. Students from all over Europe came to be taught by Arab, Christian, and Jewish scholars in the great Library of Cordoba, which held over 600,000 manuscripts. The rich and complex society had a tolerant view of other faiths. Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in harmony, and the society had a literary base. Private land ownership was encouraged, as well as banking among Jews. Non-believers in the Muslim faith were simply levied a special tax. Unfortunately, rifts began to form within Arabic Spain, and in 1013 Cordoba fell to a Muslim faction with fanatical religious beliefs. The great library of Cordoba was torched, and many inhabitants fled the once brilliant city. Luckily, most of the books were spared the flame and were dispersed among the surrounding towns.

As the Moors were fighting and dividing, the Christians in the north were doing the opposite. In the northern areas of Spain, Christian kingdoms united to drive the Moors from the European continent. In 1105 the Christians captured Toledo, where the Muslims held vast libraries of Greek, Roman, and Arabic books on philosophy and mathematics. These books included the classics of Rome and Greece, lost to the west for hundreds of years. The intellectual plunder lead to scholars from all over Europe to come to Toledo. Using Jewish interpreters, the scholars translated the Arabic books, and these works left lasting jealousies on the scholars of Europe. The texts included medicine, astrology, astronomy, pharmacology, psychology, physics, physiology, zoology, biology, botany, mineralogy, optics, chemistry, mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, music, meteorology, geography, mechanics, hydrostasis, navigation, and history. These transcripts helped to light the fire of the renaissance. While the intellectual plunder of Toledo was being studied by European scholars, the Moors were being pushed back by Christian armies. As every new enclave was taken, more information was seized and translated. In 1234 the Moors were reduced into the Vassal state of Granada, which fell in 1492. With this victory, the intolerant Spaniards killed or exiled all Arab or Jewish people who had retreated into Granada.

The Moors left a lasting impact on Spain as well as all of Europe. Because of the flood of information gained, the first universities sprang up and degrees were developed. Directly from the Moors we get the Arabic number system still in use today. Also, the concept of zero was gained. Arabic music spread giving us the keyboard, flute, and harmony. The new agricultural crops gave the Spanish reason to create vast sugar cane and cotton plantations in the new world. Mathematics and architecture were derived, and optics lead to the use of perspective in painting. The first lawyers began to practice, and food utensils were beginning to gain favor. As a result of centuries of Moorish domination, many words from Arabic, the language of Islam, are now used in Spanish. One example is "almirante," Spanish for admiral, derived from Arabic amir-al-bahr ("prince of the sea"). Many Spanish words beginning with "al" are derived from Arabic articles. Another example of Arabic influence on the Spanish Language is the word wadi, Arabic for river. Wadi is found in many Spanish river names such as Guadalajara and Guadalquivir. Altogether the Moors had major impact on Spanish and European culture.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      MarioEnriqueRiosPinot 

      3 years ago

      Very nice...maps a little fuzzy. There are lots of wonderful images.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We are preparing out trip for Spain and Portugal and this time, we want to focus on the Moors in Spain. I have noted the places you have mentioned. This is a very useful background for us.

    • profile image

      shadylaine. 

      6 years ago

      ok, the moor's held most of spain, for 700 years. england, france, even italy, for crying out loud, owned north africa. they tried ti civilise the rag heads. but you can't teach an idiot any thing. look at the facts.

    • profile image

      Stephanie 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much for this history on the Moors in Spain. I'm reading Louis L'Amour's The Walking Drum and trying to follow the politics of it all and this really helped me piece together what's going on. I really enjoyed learning about the contributions the Arabs have made to society in the 12th century.

    • profile image

      Mike Hunt 

      6 years ago

      VERY HELPFUL!!!! :()

    • profile image

      Rick 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative article, we need to give credit where credit is due.

    • profile image

      Alissa 

      8 years ago

      helped with a project. thanks

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      8 years ago from The English Midlands

      Very interesting!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 

      8 years ago from The English Midlands

      I have put a link to this hub on one of my pages:

      https://hubpages.com/travel/Moors-in-Spain-A-Heigh...

    • profile image

      Eli Johansen 

      8 years ago

      Oh yeah, the moors were just peachy people!

      Get a fucking life and learn to objective, even if it isn't bashing the evil white man...

    • tanvir munim profile image

      tanvir munim 

      10 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      excellent Hub!

      i appreciate such informative hub!

      go forward.

    • profile image

      catalunya apartments 

      10 years ago

      Thanks for the information on the Moors, it's come in handy for a project of mine.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)