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Mozarabs(mōzâr`əbz), Christians of Muslim Spain. Their position was the usual one of Christians and Jews in Islam: they were a separate community, locally autonomous, and they paid a special tax in place of the requirement made of Muslims to serve in the army. In Spain the Christians had their own rulers, called counts, who were directly responsible to the Muslim emir or caliph; their taxes, separate from those of Muslims, were collected by special agents. They were allowed to maintain their hierarchy (the primate of Spain being the archbishop of Toledo), and they used the Visigothic, not the Muslim, canon law. Their liturgy, called the Mozarabic rite, was like that of ancient Gaul. It is preserved only in chapels at Toledo and Salamanca. For one or two periods, notably in the 11th cent., the Mozarabs were persecuted. The chief Mozarab centers were Toledo, Seville, and Córdoba. The Christians were probably Arabic-speaking, and their culture, basically Romance-Visigothic, was heavily influenced by Muslim civilization. In turn, the Mozarabs greatly influenced modern Spanish culture.
Spanish Christians of the Iberian Peninsula who lived in lands conquered by the Arabs in the eighth century and who adopted Arabic language and culture.
Although most Mozarabs spoke not only Arabic but also the local Romance language, Arabization had progressed so far in a number of their communities that in the tenth century the Gospels were translated into Arabic for them. Many Mozarabs had Arabic names. Under the Umayyads they had their own legal code and law courts and their own churches and monasteries. Many Mozarabs were in the service of the Muslim rulers.
Under the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties, the position of the Mozarabs deteriorated sharply. They were forced to accept Islam; those who refused were executed or expelled from the country. The Mozarabs who resettled in the northern Iberian Peninsula for a long time remained distinct in their customs and language from the local inhabitants and exercised a great cultural influence on them.