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Moors

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For the terrain type, see: Moor. For the figure in heraldry, see Maure. For the archaic racial category see Moors (meaning).

Moors is used in this article to describe the medieval Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus (the Iberian Peninsula including the present day Spain and Portugal) and the Maghreb, whose culture is often called "Moorish".

Origins of the Name

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Juba II king of Mauretania

The name derives from the ancient Berber tribe of the Mauri and their kingdom, Mauretania, which became a Roman province after its last king Bocchus II willed it to Octavian in 33 BC. Mauretania lay in present day Morocco and Western Algeria. The name of Mauri was applied by the Romans to all non-Romanized natives of North Africa still ruled by their own chiefs, until the 3rd century AD. Some scholars propose that the characterization of the Islamic civilization in Iberia as "Moorish" is misnomer which implies the predominance of Berber traits in the civilization, rather than Arab and Islamic ones. The Muslim conquest of Iberia was undertaken by Arab caliphates. The Arab Umayyad dynasty of Damascus was transplanted to Muslim Spain and was responsible for the incorporation of much of the culture and architecture from the old Umayyad capital. The soldiery of the first wave of invasions was derived predominantly from Berber peoples of North Africa.

Moorish Empire

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A depiction of an ancient moor

In AD 711, some Moors, in fact Arabs and Berbers, invaded Visigoth Christian Spain. Under their Berber leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad, they landed at Gibraltar on 711 April 30 and brought most of the Iberian Peninsula under Islamic rule in an eight-year campaign. They attempted to move northeast across the Pyrenees Mountains but were defeated by the Frank Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. The Moors ruled in Spain and Portugal, except for small areas in the northwest and largely Basque regions in the Pyrenees, and in North Africa for several decades. The Moorish state suffered civil conflict in the 750s.

The country then broke up into a number of mostly Islamic fiefdoms, which were consolidated under the Caliphate of Cordoba. Christian states based in the north and west slowly extended their power over Spain. Galicia, Len, Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia or Marca Hispanica, Portugal and eventually Castile became Christian in the next several centuries. This period is known for the tolerant acceptance of Christians, Muslims and Jews living in the same territories, although the Caliphate of Crdoba collapsed in 1031 and the Islamic territory in Spain came to be ruled by North African Moors.

In 1212 a coalition of Christian kings under the leadership of Alfonso VIII of Castile drove the Muslims from Central Spain. However the Moorish Kingdom of Granada thrived for three more centuries. This kingdom is known in modern times for such architectural gems as the Alhambra. On January 2 1492, Boabdil, the leader of the last Muslim stronghold in Granada surrendered to armies of a recently united Christian Spain. The remaining Muslims were forced to leave Spain or convert to Christianity. These descendants of the Muslims were named moriscos. They were an important part of the peasantry in some territories, like Aragon, Valencia, and Andalusia, until their systematic expulsion in the years from 1609 to 1614. Henre Lapeyre has estimated that this affected 300,000 out of a total of 8 million inhabitants at the time. The expelled Moors mostly went to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and helped to develop their culture; others became corsairs.

See also

de:Mauren eo:Mauxroj es:Moro fr:Maures he:מורים nl:Moren nn:Maurarar no:Maurere pl:Maurowie ro:Mauri sl:Mavri ru:Мавры

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