The New International Encyclopædia/Moors

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MOORS (ML. Morus, Lat. Maurus, Gk. Μοίρος, perhaps from μαῦρος, mauros, ἀμαυρός, amauros, dark, or perhaps from their original native name). The name given to a mixed people constituting a very important element in the population of Northern Africa. Their appearance indicates their origin, which is a mixture of the Mauri, Numidians, Phœnicians, Romans, and Arabs, who have successively held possession of the country. They are a well-formed race, with fine Oriental features, and a mild and melancholy expression of countenance. The Moors employ the Arabic language, but with many corruptions and deviations from the original, and these appear to increase toward the west. The Moors first appear in history as the allies of the Vandals in their attack upon Roman Africa. They were conquered and converted by the Arabs at the beginning of the eighth century after a severe struggle. Having once embraced Mohammedanism, they joined the Arabs in the invasion of Spain, passing over in such numbers that in the early period of Spanish history the terms Moors, Saracens, and Arabs are used synonymously to designate the Mussulmans of the Peninsula. In the tenth century Moorish domination supplanted that of the Arabs in Northwestern Africa. At the close of the eleventh century the Moorish sect of the Almoravides (q.v.), who had established their sway in Morocco, invaded Spain and swept away the Arab kingdoms which had arisen on the ruins of the Caliphate of Cordova. After half a century their realm fell to pieces, and the Moorish sect of the Almohades (q.v.) became dominant in Morocco and Spain. In the meanwhile the Christian power in Spain had been steadily growing, and in 1212 the power of the Almohades was shattered in the battle of Navas de Tolosa. What was left of Moorish dominion in the Peninsula was soon consolidated in the Kingdom of Granada, which rose to a height of splendor almost rivaling that of the former Caliphate of Cordova. The kings of Granada carried on a vigorous warfare with the kings of Castile; but at length, weakened by internal discord, they succumbed in 1492 to the arms of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The Moors, or at least that portion of them who refused to accept Christianity, were then expelled from Spain, and began their piratical career in the Barbary States. Those who accepted the religion of their conquerors came to be known as Moriscoes. They were subjected to the most rigorous supervision, and any lapses from their adopted religion were ruthlessly punished by the Inquisition. For more than three-quarters of a century they lived as peaceful subjects of Spain and constituted by far the most industrious and intelligent element in the population. The persecutions of Philip II. drove them to revolt (1568-70), but the insurrection was suppressed with great cruelty by Don John of Austria, and a large number were driven from the country. The policy of oppression was continued with increased severity under Philip II.'s successor, and in 1609 the Moriscoes were finally expelled from the country, the loss of more than half a million of her most active citizens proving in the end a disastrous blow to Spain. The Moriscoes crossed over to Africa, but were received with hostility by their kin, from whom long absence had estranged them.

Consult: Abu ibn Mohammed al Makarri, The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain, trans. and annotated by P. de Gayangos (2 vols., London, 1840-43); Aschbach, Geschichte Spaniens und Portugals zur Zeit der Herrschuft der Almoraviden und Almohaden (Frankfort, 1833-37); Coppée, History of the Conquest of Spain by the Arab Moors (2 vols., Boston, 1881); Dozy (ed.), Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne (Leyden, 1848-51), trans. from the Arabic of Ibn Adhari; id., Recherches sur l'histoire politique et littéraire de l'Espagne pendant le moyen âge (2 vols., 2d ed., Leyden, 1860); Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain (London, 1886); Lea, The Moriscoes of Spain (Philadelphia, 1901).