Identity of the Moors in 16th century

Dec 2018
64
Brasil
Actually 15th, 16th and 17th century forward**
West and Northwest europeans had image of moors as dark-complexed africans, as we see in many paintings and descriptions. And before that, many muslims non-north africans were seen as moors. But the original moors that conquered Iberia - North African natives Amazigh - were still seen as moors? Did europeans have notions of the origin of the word, and about who were the first moors? Did they thought North africans were dark-complexed africans as a general thought?(because I know only some thought)
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,116
Portugal
Actually 15th, 16th and 17th century forward**
West and Northwest europeans had image of moors as dark-complexed africans, as we see in many paintings and descriptions. And before that, many muslims non-north africans were seen as moors. But the original moors that conquered Iberia - North African natives Amazigh - were still seen as moors? Did europeans have notions of the origin of the word, and about who were the first moors? Did they thought North africans were dark-complexed africans as a general thought?(because I know only some thought)
This has been discussed several times in this forum.

Words change its meaning in time, for the case of the “Moors”, “Mouros” in Portuguese, “Moros” in Castilian, the Moors were not only the original Berbers that invaded de Iberian Peninsula, that took their name from the Latin “Mauri”, but its designation was a widespread synonymous of Muslim.

A bit like the Franks were for the Muslim synonymous of Christians.

So in the Indian Ocean the Portuguese called Mouros to the Muslims, as the Spanish called Moros to the Muslims that they encountered in the Philippines and Insulindia.

Still today the People in the North of Portugal call Mouros to the ones in the South in a depreciative manner.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,664
San Diego
Actually 15th, 16th and 17th century forward**
West and Northwest europeans had image of moors as dark-complexed africans, as we see in many paintings and descriptions. And before that, many muslims non-north africans were seen as moors. But the original moors that conquered Iberia - North African natives Amazigh - were still seen as moors? Did europeans have notions of the origin of the word, and about who were the first moors? Did they thought North africans were dark-complexed africans as a general thought?(because I know only some thought)
It was originally not so much a racial identity as it was a cultural one. The muslim world of the dark ages started out as semitic but spread thru areas full of Egyptians, North Africans, Turkic regions and beyond...

The Word itself is derived from Mauritania, and Moroco- which is the region of Africa that the muslims of Iberia came from.
And as Europe came out of the dark ages, Almost every muslim they would ever meet or hear tell of was from Iberia and self identified as Moor. This created an expectation or Muslims being dark skinned, and synonymized the term with being Muslim.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,895
Western Eurasia
It was originally not so much a racial identity as it was a cultural one. The muslim world of the dark ages started out as semitic but spread thru areas full of Egyptians, North Africans, Turkic regions and beyond...

The Word itself is derived from Mauritania, and Moroco- which is the region of Africa that the muslims of Iberia came from.
And as Europe came out of the dark ages, Almost every muslim they would ever meet or hear tell of was from Iberia and self identified as Moor. This created an expectation or Muslims being dark skinned, and synonymized the term with being Muslim.
I don't think they ever self-identified as "Moor", did they use that term at all in Arabic or Mozarabic to refer to themselves? afak they identified as Muslim and the particular geographic and/or clan/tribal group they hailed from.
 

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,664
San Diego
I don't think they ever self-identified as "Moor", did they use that term at all in Arabic or Mozarabic to refer to themselves? afak they identified as Muslim and the particular geographic and/or clan/tribal group they hailed from.
True- what I mean is that if they were to travel thru Europe, they would be referred to as Moors and they would refer to themselves as moors. In the same way that native americans use that term rather than their specific tribe or clan.
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
I don't think they ever self-identified as "Moor", did they use that term at all in Arabic or Mozarabic to refer to themselves? afak they identified as Muslim and the particular geographic and/or clan/tribal group they hailed from.
If you go all the way back to the Roman period there was a tribal confederation of Berber people in North Africa that were called (in Latin) the Mauri. Since the Greeks used a similar term for them (Μαυρούσιοι), it probably has at it's basis a Berber term they used for themselves.
 
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Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,895
Western Eurasia
If you go all the way back to the Roman period there was a tribal confederation of Berber people in North Africa that were called (in Latin) the Mauri. Since the Greeks used a similar term for them (Μαυρούσιοι), it probably has at it's basis a Berber term they used for themselves.
t(a)murt just means land/country now in Berber, maybe the Greeks and Romans corrupted an original "land of XY" name, leaving out whose or whats land was it. As if we dropped the Eng (Angles) from the name of England, and creating a Lander people. :))
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,990
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Here is a link to a similar question asking why Europeans depicted the Spanish Moors as being black.

Why did European writers and artists continue to depict the Moors as being black skinned, even though they were mostly Berbers and Arabs

My answer points out that the Muslim population in Muslim Spain was very diverse, but all of them could sometimes be called "Moors". Most of the taxpayers who supported the Muslim governments willingly or unwillingly were natives of Spain, either converted to Islam, or Christians, or Jews, and so looked a lot like the people in the Christian kingdoms of Spain.

The upper classes were usually Arabs or Berbers (the true "Moors") and so looked slightly different from native Spanish. But rich Muslims often had several slave concubines who were often imported from thousands of miles away, and their sons and heirs often had such exotic women as their mothers. After a couple of generations of blonde light skinned mothers, an important Muslim leader could look like a northern European - and some did - while after a couple of generations of black African mothers, an important Muslim leader could look like a black African - and some did.

The Caliphs of Cordoba in the 10th century imported many Slav slaves to serve in their army, and many of the Slavs would have been blonde and blue eyed "Moorish" warriors.

In the 11th century the Christians kingdoms were attacking and conquering the Taifas, small Muslim states in Spain, and the Taifas called on the Almoravids who ruled in Morocco for help. After the Almoravids fell in the 12th century, the Christian kingdoms attacked and conquered some of the Taifas, and the Taifas called for help from the Almohads who now ruled in Morocco. The Almoravids and the Almohads both inflicted many defeats on the Christians and drove them back north. And their armies included many black African warriors from South of the Sahara.

And those black African Muslim warriors from south of the Sahara were the most exotic Muslim enemies, or so called "Moors", in Spain, and so might have become the stereotype of what "Moors" looked like.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,849
Cornwall
Good post MA basically, good to see some sense. Small point - not sure anyobody called for the Almohads in the same way as they were forced to call the Almoravids - they would have been regarded with total dread except by those who wished to pass over to them.

Scaeva has it right with the Mauri. Mauri basically equivalates to 'Moors' and referred to the berbers who served (and fought against) the Romans, the Vandals, the ERE, the arabs and later the Caliphate, in some degree.

This word 'moro' was later used in Spanish Christian circles to refer to any muslim - one of quite few interchangeable words ike agareno, saraceno, ismaelitas, etc etc.

I believe the English language, at some point, confused and merged the 2 (Mauri/moor and Muslim/moor). Yes it does basically mean muslim, but the man in the street seems to think it refers to some dark-skinned race from over the sea, rather than all muslims, whatever origin.

Why were they portrayed with dark or black skins? Mostly ignorance and racism of the day
 
Aug 2018
631
london
The Moors used black slave soldiers... this is documented. The Song of Roland even mentions a large unit of black ('ethiopian') soldiers within the otherwise Saracen army. They are described as being 'in the fee' of (i.e. the property of) the ruler of Carthage.