Moors


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Moors,

nomadic people of the northern shores of Africa, originally the inhabitants of Mauretania. They were chiefly of Berber and Arab stock. In the 8th cent. the Moors were converted to Islam and became fanatic Muslims. They spread SW into Africa (see MauritaniaMauritania
, officially Islamic Republic of Mauritania, republic (2015 est. pop. 4,182,000), 397,953 sq mi (1,030,700 sq km), NW Africa. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean in the west, on Western Sahara in the northwest and north, on Algeria in the northeast, on Mali in the east
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) and NW into Spain. Under Tarik ibn ZiyadTarik ibn Ziyad
, fl. 711, Berber leader of the Muslim invaders of Spain. When the heirs of the Visigothic king, Witiza, requested help from the Moors of N Africa against the usurper Roderick, Tarik, with his Moorish army, crossed (711) from Africa to Gibraltar (originally named
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 they crossed to Gibraltar in 711 and easily overran the crumbling Visigothic kingdom of RoderickRoderick
, d. 711?, last Visigothic king in Spain (710–711?). After the death of King Witiza, a group of nobles chose Roderick, duke of Baetica, as successor to the king. Having defeated Witiza's son, Roderick established himself on the throne.
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. They spread beyond the Pyrenees into France, where they were turned back at Tours by Charles MartelCharles Martel
[O.Fr.,=Charles the Hammer], 688?–741, Frankish ruler, illegitimate son of Pepin of Heristal and grandfather of Charlemagne. After the death of his father (714) he seized power in Austrasia from Pepin's widow, who was ruling as regent for her grandsons, and
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 (732). In 756, Abd ar-Rahman IAbd ar-Rahman I,
d. 788, first Umayyad emir of Córdoba (756–88). The only survivor of the Abbasid massacre (750) of his family in Damascus, he fled from Syria and eventually went to Spain.
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 established the Umayyad dynasty at Córdoba. This emirate became under Abd ar-Rahman III the caliphate of Córdoba. The court there grew in wealth, splendor, and culture. The regent al-MansurMansur, al-
(Muhammad ibn Abi-Amir al-Mansur billah), 914–1002, Moorish regent of Córdoba, known in Spanish as Almanzor. He became steward to Princess Subh, wife of the caliph Hakim II, and under her patronage and by clever manipulation he rose to become (978) royal
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 in the late 10th cent. waged bitter warfare with the Christians of N Spain, where, from the beginning, the Moorish conquest had met with its only opposition. The cities of the south, Toledo, Córdoba, and Seville, speedily became centers of the new culture and were famed for their universities and architectural treasures (see Moorish art and architectureMoorish art and architecture,
branch of Islamic art and architecture developed in the westernmost lands of the Muslims, known as the Maghreb: N Africa and Spain. The Great Mosque at Al Qayrawan in Tunisia is the prototype of western Islamic religious edifices.
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). With the exception of brief periods, there was, however, no strong central government; the power was split up among dissenting local leaders and factions. The caliphate fell in 1031, and the AlmoravidsAlmoravids
, Berber Muslim dynasty that ruled Morocco and Muslim Spain in the 11th and 12th cent. The Almoravids may have originated in what is now Mauritania. The real founder was Abd Allah ibn Yasin, who by military force converted a number of Saharan tribes to his own
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 in 1086 took over Moorish Spain, which was throughout the whole period closely connected in rule with Morocco. Almoravid control slowly declined and by 1174 was supplanted by the AlmohadsAlmohads
, Berber Muslim dynasty that ruled Morocco and Spain in the 12th and 13th cent. It had its origins in the puritanical sect founded by Ibn Tumart, who stirred up (c.1120) the tribes of the Atlas Mts. area to purify Islam and oust the Almoravids.
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. These successive waves of invasion had brought into Spain thousands of skilled Moorish artisans and industrious farmers who contributed largely to the intermittent prosperity of the country. They were killed or expelled in large numbers (to the great loss of Spain) in the Christian reconquest, which began with the recovery of Toledo (1085) by Alfonso VIAlfonso VI,
1030–1109, Spanish king of León (1065–1109) and Castile (1072–1109). He inherited León from his father, Ferdinand I. Defeated by his brother Sancho II of Castile, he fled to the Moorish court of Toledo.
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, king of León and Castile. The great Christian victory (1212) of Navas de Tolosa prepared the way for the downfall of the Muslims. Córdoba fell to Ferdinand IIIFerdinand III,
1199–1252, Spanish king of Castile (1217–52) and León (1230–52), son of Alfonso IX of León and Berenguela of Castile. At the death (1217) of her brother, Henry I of Castile, Berenguela renounced her right of succession in
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 of Castile in 1236. The wars went on, and one by one the Moorish strongholds fell, until only Granada remained in their hands. Málaga was taken (1487) after a long siege by the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella, and in 1492 Granada was recovered. Many of the Moors remained in Spain; those who remained faithful to Islam were called Mudejares, while those who accepted Christianity were called MoriscosMoriscos
[Span.,=Moorish], Moors converted to Christianity after the Christian reconquest (11th–15th cent.) of Spain. The Moors who had become subjects of Christian kings as the reconquest progressed to the 15th cent. were called Mudéjares.
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. They were allowed to stay in Spain but were kept under close surveillance. They were persecuted by Philip II, revolted in 1568, and in the Inquisition were virtually exterminated. In 1609 the remaining Moriscos were expelled. Thus the glory of the Moorish civilization in Spain was gradually extinguished. Its contributions to Western Europe and especially to Spain were almost incalculable—in art and architecture, medicine and science, and learning (especially ancient Greek learning).

Bibliography

See S. Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain (1886, repr. 1967).

Moors

 

(1) In antiquity, the name given by the Romans to the indigenous population of Mauretania.

(2) In medieval Western Europe, the name of the Muslim population of the Iberian Peninsula and the western part of northern Africa (chiefly the urban dwellers), who spoke local dialects of Arabic. Some of the people inhabiting present-day Mauritania are called Moors.

References in classic literature ?
We called to him, and he, raising his head, sprang nimbly to his feet, for, as we afterwards learned, the first who presented themselves to his sight were the renegade and Zoraida, and seeing them in Moorish dress he imagined that all the Moors of Barbary were upon him; and plunging with marvellous swiftness into the thicket in front of him, he began to raise a prodigious outcry, exclaiming, "The Moors- the Moors have landed!
They were not astonished to see liberated captives or captive Moors, for people on that coast are well used to see both one and the other; but they were astonished at the beauty of Zoraida, which was just then heightened, as well by the exertion of travelling as by joy at finding herself on Christian soil, and relieved of all fear of being lost; for this had brought such a glow upon her face, that unless my affection for her were deceiving me, I would venture to say that there was not a more beautiful creature in the world- at least, that I had ever seen.
While we were still engaged in this conversation, a Moor came running up, exclaiming that four Turks had leaped over the fence or wall of the garden, and were gathering the fruit though it was not yet ripe.
The renegade interpreted to us what the Moor said to his daughter; she, however, returned him no answer.
"Daughter, is this true, what he says?" cried the Moor.
The Moor had hardly heard these words when with marvellous quickness he flung himself headforemost into the sea, where no doubt he would have been drowned had not the long and full dress he wore held him up for a little on the surface of the water.
But, as good seldom or never comes pure and unmixed, without being attended or followed by some disturbing evil that gives a shock to it, our fortune, or perhaps the curses which the Moor had hurled at his daughter (for whatever kind of father they may come from these are always to be dreaded), brought it about that when we were now in mid-sea, and the night about three hours spent, as we were running with all sail set and oars lashed, for the favouring breeze saved us the trouble of using them, we saw by the light of the moon, which shone brilliantly, a square-rigged vessel in full sail close to us, luffing up and standing across our course, and so close that we had to strike sail to avoid running foul of her, while they too put the helm hard up to let us pass.
I could have been content to have taken this Moor with me, and have drowned the boy, but there was no venturing to trust him.
While I was in view of the Moor that was swimming, I stood out directly to sea with the boat, rather stretching to windward, that they might think me gone towards the Straits' mouth (as indeed any one that had been in their wits must have been supposed to do): for who would have supposed we were sailed on to the southward, to the truly Barbarian coast, where whole nations of negroes were sure to surround us with their canoes and destroy us; where we could not go on shore but we should be devoured by savage beasts, or more merciless savages of human kind.
I am laid down in the bottom of the boat, with my saddle-pillow; and we shove off, leaving the ponies to the desolate freedom of the moor. They will pick up plenty to eat (the guide says); and when night comes on they will find their own way to shelter in a village hard by.
The change to this warm and cheerful place of shelter from the chilly and misty solitude of the moor is so luxuriously delightful that I am quite content, for the first few minutes, to stretch myself on a bed, in lazy enjoyment of my new position; without caring to inquire into whose house we have intruded; without even wondering at the strange absence of master, mistress, or member of the family to welcome our arrival under their hospitable roof.
Byline: LUKE TURNER LEYTON ORIENT 3 SOLIHULL MOORS 0