More than a hundred years after Mohammed’s death in 632 AD, Islam experienced rapid growth after the Arab conquest of the former Roman and Byzantine provinces of North Africa and Mesopotamia, as well as the crumbled Persian empire. They tried to push through the Byzantine territories in Eastern Europe, but they failed during the double invasion of Constantinople in 674 and 717 AD. Constantinople was safe (temporarily, at least) but the Arab, and Berber armies made a massive headway in the Iberian peninsula especially after the defeat of the Visigoth king Ruderic in the Battle of Guadalete in 711 AD. Almost all of the nobility who could claim the Visigothic kingship were wiped out in battle. The Muslims ruled Spain after the near-total defeat of the Visigoths. Hispania officially became the Muslim province of Al-Andalus. According to the Biblical Timeline with World History, the Moors (Islamic Africans) conquered Spain during 740 AD.
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When the Arab conquest of North Africa was completed in 702 AD, many of the Berbers (the Greek term for native North Africans) including the Mauri people also converted en masse after they saw their leaders adopt Islam as their religion. The term Moors initially referred to the Mauri people of Mauretania (in present-day northern Morocco), but the word gradually evolved in Europe to cover all Muslims of African-descent who invaded Spain in the eighth century. They were a part of Spain’s rich history and perhaps Islam’s domination of Spain would not have been possible if not for the presence of the Moors.
The Moors constituted the bulk of the Muslim army (along with the Arabs) that crossed the southern tip of Spain eight years later and helped defeat the weakened Visigoths in Iberia. The combined Berber and Arab army were led by a prominent Berber general named Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led them to victory in the Battle of Guadalete. Tariq ibn Ziyad continued to lead the Muslim army into victory in the cities of Toledo and Cordoba until he was recalled by the Caliph in Damascus in 714.
The Moors (which became a catch-all term for all Muslims in Spain by then) led by Abd ar Rahman Al-Ghafiqi would have succeeded in their push into Western Europe if Charles Martel and Odo of Aquitaine had not blocked their path in the Battle of Tours-Poitiers in 732 AD. Al-Ghafiqi died in battle, and the rest of the Muslim army limped back into Al-Andalus. By 740, the Moors had dominated much of Spain except for the northern Kingdom of Asturias which became a tiny remnant of the Visigothic rule after they were defeated by the Arab and Berber armies. The Moors’ domination of Spain was briefly punctuated by the Berber revolt that lasted between 739 to 743 AD.
Picture By Salvador Martínez Cubells – [www.artflakes.com], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18373367
Bauer, S. Wise. The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.
Lane-Poole, Stanley, and Arthur Gilman. The Story of the Moors in Spain. Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1990.
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