The Moorish Civilization : when Blacks ruled Spain

The end

1492, Europe is freed. Boabdil, the Black Muslim General and ruler of Granada city, is defeated after a besiegement of eight months by the Christian armies. Consequently, the last Moorish bastion falls and some 3.5 million Blacks living in Spain and Portugal fall back to Africa or disperse throughout Europe. 

boabdil
Source : The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, introduction

After they made the Iberian Peninsula shine a thousand lights, and have allowed the European Renaissance by reintroducing sciences and arts, islamized Blacks and Arabs are defeated. Columbus meanwhile, uses the navigation techniques they have introduced, to arrive in America by chance, looking for India.

“Blacker than the blackest ink”

Here is an exert of the Song of Roland, a French epic tale of the battle between Franks and Africans in northern Spain in the 8th century, which tells us about the invaders’ appearance: “At their head rides the Saracen Abisme. No worse criminal rides in that company, stained with the marks of his crimes and great treasons, lacking the faith in God, Saint Mary’s son, And he is black, as black as melted pitch

Ethiope (Burnt faces/Africa in ancient Greek), a curse land indeed; The blackamoors from there are in his keep, broad in the nose they are flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in company… When Roland sees that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink – no shred of white on them except their teeth…” [1].

Middle Ages’ illustration of the battle between the French and the Moors. Roland, nephew of Charlemagne, confronts Marsile, king of Zaragoza in Spain (Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France)
The Kingdom of Agen defended by the Moors against Charlemagne’s Armies, 1335 Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 63
The Kingdom of Agen defended by the Moors against Charlemagne’s Armies, 1335
Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 63

In 639, Arabs entered Africa as part of Jihad which sought to Islamize through war and control politically the world. The majority of the indigenous Blacks of Egypt, the Pharaohs’ descendants, had migrated already to other parts of Africa. Those who remained were intensively crossbred with successive white invaders who put an end to the African power thousand years earlier.

The Arabs took over Egypt and completed the racial whitening of the country that civilized humanity. They appropriated African Science (Egyptian) translated into Greek. They swooped down on Libya and Maghreb which were predominantly Black at that time and inhabited by indigenous peoples that the Romans called Moors, derived from Mauros / Maures which means Black in Greek and Roman [2].

The Moors were partially christianized by the Romans, another part of them remained Vitalist (animist), knowing Amun (Amen) as its only God, the unique African God. Deemed invincible warriors, the Moors resisted tremendously to the Arabs for 30 years, often led by women, before being defeated. Mauretania – that is to say Black people’s land – (old name of Maghreb under the Roman rule) [2] became Muslim by force.

711, Europe has fallen into a semi-barbarous state since the end of the Roman empire, when was noticed the surge from sea – under the command of the African General Tarik Ibn Ziad – of a first wave of 7000 men including 6700 Blacks [3] who submitted her, cheered by the people who had enough of the Visigoth kings.

Spanish King Alfonso X called “the wise” gave an account of the invasion “All the Moorish soldiers were dressed with silk and black wool that had been forcibly acquired… their black faces were like pitch and the most handsome of them was like (black as) a cooking pan [4]. The Moors under African or Arab command took over till southern France before being repelled at Poitiers by Charlemagne’s grandfather. They fell back in Spain, Portugal and Sicily; that they literally re-civilized for more than seven centuries.

The Moors appearing before the antichrist. picture for the Christian propaganda, 1400. Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, pages 38 and 39
The Moors appearing before the antichrist. Illustration made by Christians to serve their propaganda, 1400.
Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, pages 38 and 39
Illustration of the Battle of Poitiers made by Charles de Steuben in 1837. Here it seems that the Muslim leader on the right is an Arab, but notice that the seven people behind, next to him or at his feet - except the white woman whose presence appears as accidental - are all black.
Illustration of the Battle of Poitiers made by Charles de Steuben in 1837. Here it seems that the Muslim leader on the right is an Arab, but notice that the seven people behind, next to him or at his feet – except the white woman whose presence appears as accidental – are all black.
Some Arabs, Moors and Christians, in a battle against other Christians. 1254 Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 58
Arabs, Moors and Christians, in a battle against other Christians. 1254
Source: The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 58
A Moorish Kingdom in 1400, facing White Christians
Notice the excessively black color of the Africans of the Maghreb, including that of the queen and the king. This color has deeply marked the Europeans.
Source : Getty Museum of Los Angeles
The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black Source : Wikipedia
The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black
Image of the public domain 
The cross and the same 4 heads of the Moorish rulers on the official flag of Sardinia currently, an island belonging to Italy.

The so-called Saracen occupation of Europe was  thus predominantly African. The Arab feature was a minority in that Islamized population although it is basically the Arab culture which was going to be introduced by Africans. Racial prejudice of Arabs against Blacks often poisoned the atmosphere in the region. It should also be said that Blacks obviously resorted to the African psychology of occupation.

After submitting European peoples to their political authority, they did not destroy them, they let Christianity thrive, they did not change names, they did not impose their language, and they did not bully the local culture. They however had their say about the appointment of bishops. In contrast with Europe or the misogynist Arab world, black and white women in Moorish Europe enjoyed a freedom typical of ancient African women, practicing all jobs, unveiled. Europeans did not suffer under black occupation the way Africans have suffered under Arab and European occupations.

The great prosperity of Moorish Spain

The Moors introduced African sciences – translated into Greek – Arabic-Persian and Indian. They greatly reduced the tax on citizens. Great sponsors of knowledge, they built 17 Universities in Europe where, before, there were only two, taught the Jewish who went to found the famous University of Oxford in England. They democratized education, founded advanced medical schools at the time. They urbanized Spain through roads paving, pedestrian walk constructions, street lighting in the evening, built hundreds of public baths and mosques.

Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain. Beside them, two maids – a white lady and a black one – and a black musician. 1283; Source: the Golden age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, page 29
Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain. Beside them, two maids – a white lady and a black one – and a black musician. 1283; Source: the Golden age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, page 29

They created floral gardens, set air conditioning, heating and water flow through pipes to homes. They established a formidable silk industry. The famous African scholar Ziryab – worthy of his ancestor Imhotep the Egyptian – botanist, geographer, musician, astronomer praised in Europe, replaced the golden dishes with crystal ones, taught to serve meals in several phases with dessert at the end, revolutionized fashion by changing wardrobe four times according to the four seasons.

Europeans translated all the knowledge they received from Arabic and exported it beyond Spain. Cities such as Granada, Seville and especially Cordoba with its one million inhabitants, its 200,000 middle class houses, its 60,000 noble houses, its 80,000 shops including 20,000 bookshops, experienced an architectural development, a scientific progress and a phenomenal luxury.

Moorish architecture in Spain. The most spectacular in the work of the Africans of the Maghreb and the Arabs, is the flamboyance of the colors, a concept which is very present in these medieval masterpieces.
Moorish architecture in Seville, Spain
The Alcazar in Seville
These buildings were so much valued that the Spanish nobles, after having reconquered their country, choose to live in.
Moorish mosque in Cordoba
The Alhambra in Grenada
There is no doubt that the Moorish / Imperial Morocco civilization has produced the most sophisticated black and african architecture, after that of the Egyptian-Sudanese civilization.

The Moorish dynasties

In Africa, a black king of a Saharan Kingdom, Yahya Ibn Ibrahim, tried to Islamize his vitalist subjects. He brought back from Mecca a religious leader named Ibn Yacine who failed to convert them. Yacine was chased away by the people, and fled to Senegal where he succeeded more, leading an apparent pious life. Finally having enough followers, he led a jihad with Yahya as commander in chief. He conquered Morocco, raising the famous movement of the Almoravids. Abu Bakar, brother and successor of Yahya, completed the formation of an empire extending from Tangier to the Senegal River. He destroyed the powerful vitalist Empire of Ghana in 1075, opening 160 years of chaos in West Africa, controled by Muslim slave traders.

Abu Bakar’s supposed representation of Mecia Viladestes dating from 1413. Source: histoiredumaghreb.com
Abu Bakar (Mecia Viladestes, dating from 1413)
Source: histoiredumaghreb.com

Abu Bakar’s successor, his cousin Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, who founded the city of Marrakech, is described in those times’ documents as a man with brown skin and curly hair [5]. Tachfin consolidated the empire and responded to the emergency call of Moors and Arabs threatened by the Christians of Europe, after the collapse of the first Arab and Moorish dynasty of Umayyad, which knew only the Abbasid dynasty interval. The regent of Northwestern Africa conquered Spain, thus setting a gigantic empire which included Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Western Sahara, Mauritania with Marrakech as a capital city.

The Almoravids, then the last and fourth Moorish Almohad dynasty strengthened science and art in Spain, before beginning to suffer defeats in the early 13th century until the taking of Granada in 1492. Like in Egypt, scientific archives were burnt. Christian extremists prohibited public baths and promoted dirt. Europe collapsed but the acquired sciences generated an intellectual fever at the origin of the European Renaissance. Europe has never recognized that fabulous contribution of Blacks to its awakening.

Lisbon in the 16th century 
We see the Moors after their defeat. There are about forty free blacks in this picture. They carry crosses, they are therefore already christianized
Source : Walters Museum
Illustrations of Moors
The Moors

Hotep !

PS : We have written a second article on the exact role of the Blacks in the Moorish civilization.

By : Lisapo ya Kama ©

Source : The Golden Age of the Moor; The book is a collective work of 14 historians, edited by Ivan Van Sertima.

  • [1] Page 43
  • [2] Page 151
  • [3] Page 161
  • [4] Page 184
  • [5] Page 61
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