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  • The Moors of Andalusia

  • The History of the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula During the Middle Ages
  • By: Charles River Editors
  • Narrated by: KC Wayman
  • Length: 2 hrs and 11 mins

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The Moors of Andalusia

By: Charles River Editors
Narrated by: KC Wayman
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The term Moor is a historical rather than an ethnic name. It is an invention of European Christians for the Islamic inhabitants of Maghreb (North Africa), Andalusia (Spain), Sicily and Malta, and was sometimes use to designate all Muslims. It is derived from Mauri, the Latin name for the Berbers who lived in the Roman province of Mauretania, which ranged across modern Algeria and Morocco. Saracen was another European term used to designate Muslims, though it usually referred to the Arabic peoples of the Middle East and derives from an ancient name for the Arabs, Sarakenoi. The Muslims of those regions no more refer to themselves by that term than those of North Africa call themselves Moors. Maghreb, or al-Maghreb, is a historical term used by Arabic Muslims for the territory of coastal North Africa from Alexandria to the Atlantic Coast. It means “The West” and is used in opposition to Mashrek, “The East,” used to refer to the lands of Islam in the Middle East and north-eastern Africa. The Berbers refer to the region in their own language as Tamazgha. In a limited, precise sense it can also refer to the Kingdom of Morocco, the proper name of which is al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyyah, “Kingdom of the West.”

The history of the Spanish Peninsula is closely bound to that of the Moors. The term “Spain” was not in wide use until the region was united by the monarchs of Aragon and Castile, and the Moors called the lands they ruled in the Iberian Peninsula Al-Andalus, traditionally thought to be an Arabic transliteration of Vandal, the Germanic tribe which briefly ruled the region in the early fifth century. The English name Andalusia derives from the Spanish Andalucia, which is still used by Spain to name its southern region.

Not surprisingly, three religions attempting to coexist during medieval times resulted in nearly incessant conflicts, marked by high taxation, disparate societies, rigid cultural controls, and systemic violence. Despite the odds, these three religions managed to live in a state of quasi-acceptance and peace in most of the major cities in the Iberian Peninsula like Cordoba and Toledo, with sporadic warfare occurring on the borders between Al-Andalus and the Christian kingdoms near the Pyrenees Mountains. Muslims, Christians, and Jews would attempt to reorganize their societies several times over the centuries through warfare, always with Jews on the lower rungs and Christians and Muslims fighting it out above them.

Though it’s often forgotten today, the fighting that took place during the Reconquista was not originally driven by religion. Instead, the majority of the battles were fought by ambitious rulers who sought territorial expansion, like many other civilizations during the Middle Ages. In fact, the Reconquista would not gain its unique religious flavor until the 13th century, when the territories that would become Castile and Aragon drummed up religious fervor to achieve its aims and gained papal support from Rome.

While the Moors have always been associated with Spain due to their lengthy stay on the Iberian Peninsula, the most famous battle they were involved in was actually fought in modern France. While the Franks were consolidating a kingdom there, Muslim forces were pushing out of North Africa and into the Iberian Peninsula in the early 8th century, and by the dawn of the 730s, the Umayyad dynasty had expanded its territory from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees, a series of seasonally snow-capped mountains in Europe that forms a border between the nations of Spain and France. This would lead to Charles Martel’s most famous military victory came at the Battle of Tours, also called the Battle of Poitiers, on October 10, 732.

©2022 Charles River Editors (P)2023 Charles River Editors
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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