When the Moors Ruled in Europe – History of Islam in Spain. Part 2 1

medina-azaharaAs this second and last part of When the Moors Ruled in Europe opens Bettany Hughes takes us to Medina Azahara, the ruins of a vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III, Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, in order to give credence to an Andalusian caliphate. Located on the western outskirts of Córdoba, construction on the complex began in 936 a.d., and by 1010 it was conquered and razed during a civil war waged against the caliph by traitorous mercenaries, never to rise again. More…


When the Moors Ruled in Europe – History of Islam in Spain. Part 1 1

Moors in SpainThis is a British Channel 4 two-part documentary from 2005. In two one-hour sections. It presents in a well-documented and accesible way the story of the Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula and their nearly 800-year domination here. The name al-Andalus generally describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims or “Moors” at various times between 711 and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly in wars with Christian kingdoms. The Channel 4 team, headed by presenter, Bettany Hughes, goes beyond the mythical treacherous and bloodthirsty Moor with a curved scimitar to delve into the society and daily life of Muslim society in medieval Iberia, a civilization which enjoyed advanced knowledge of science, medicine and literature, as well as a high degree of tolerance among the three religions of the book: Islam, Christianity and Judaeism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Spain in 750 a.d.) More…

In Search of the Spirit of Al-Andalus Reply

Granada cathedral Alhambra

With the Moorish architecture of Granada’s Alhambra and the Cordoba cathedral as evocative backdrops, Marcel Theroux meets a group of Spanish Muslims who are drawing on the area’s Islamic legacy to a promote a new religious tolerance. Muslim intellectuals in Granada and Cordoba explain their ongoing efforts to promote a cordial cultural and religious coexistence. The very apt Spanish term is “convivencia,” “living together.” Not all is sweetness and light, however, as there is opposition from both sides. More…

A Brief History of al-Andalus I/II Reply

Muslim warriors

Faith-inspired Muslim warriors helped to conquer Iberia, but there was more to it than that.

Just Like Modern Life: Greed, Treachery and the Will to Power

Shot through with sagas of ambition, bravery and cultural achievement, the story of the rise and fall of al-Andalus, the area of the Iberian Peninsula occupied by the Muslims in the Middle Ages, makes passionate reading. Nor is it lacking in the eternal attributes of greed, treachery and the unbridled will to power. Add to those factors generous doses of religious fundamentalism on both sides, and you’ve got a story that resonates with 21st-century readers.

Contrary to the lessons we were taught as schoolchildren, neither was the Muslim conquest of Iberia a simple question of bloodthirsty Muslim warriors with curved scimitars imposing “the Koran or the sword”, nor was the Christian Reconquest, at least in its first 500 years, a conscious, organized campaign to reclaim Iberia for Christianity. More…