"The Moors civilized Europe" theory

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,638
Benin City, Nigeria
Everybody influenced each other, especially when we talk about Mediterranean world (that explain why so many civilization flourished in that area)

Apart the meso-American (the reason why they were so limited), no civilization built



The problem is that we don't see any blacks among moors in medieval spanish representations and other miniatures (apart in rare occasions and always in a position of submission). We can establish that black slaves were quite common into muslim societies since the VIII century. So yes, there were blacks among moors but mainly slaves. The word "moor" itself come from Mauretania, an ancient kingdom from the ancient time. But greeks and romans didn't note any black presence in North Africa. The blacks that ancient European encountered at these time came mostly from the eastern part of the African continent (Nubia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia).

An interesting point : the majority of black representations into the moorish-muslim world come from the paintings of the 19th century ?
We do see black Moors represented in Alfonso X's Book of Games (1283), and since they are being waited on while they play chess, they are obviously not in a position of "submission":





All of the other "Moors" depicted in the illustrations for the Book of Games are not black, but these particular ones are clearly black Moors.

There is also a reference to black qaids (commanders) among the Almohads in Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary (written around 1274). It would be hard to trace the reference down again, so I won't do that just right now although I might be able to later. There is an 1842 English translation of Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary available online and that is where I first saw this; of course the use of some black soldiers by both the Almoravids and (to a lesser extent) the Almohads is well known, and the book Medieval Muslim Government In Barbary (1958) by J.F.P. Hopkins discusses some other instances where black soldiers were used, but I had not seen that reference to black qaids/commanders among the Almohads until I stumbled upon it in that translation of Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary.

There was also a black poet and man of letters, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Yaqub al-Kanimi, from Kanem, at the court of the Almohad ruler al-Mansur (and he wasn't a slave). Part of a poem that he recited to al-Mansur is quoted in Yaqut's "Dictionary of Countries" (1224).

There is also a reference to there being some black troops among the 711 army of Tariq ibn Ziyad in work written circa 950 by Ishaq ibn al-Husayn, though of course whether that is really reliable is uncertain since the claim is made two and a half centuries after the event.

There is also a reference to leaders from the Ghana empire visiting al-Andalus in al-Zuhri's Book of Geography (1137).

Also, it would be misleading to suggest that any blacks among the "Moors" would necessarily always be in a position of "submission" when one takes into account the relationship between Zafun/Diafunu and the Almoravids described in Yaqut's "Dictionary of Countries" (1224), where Zafun/Diafunu held a dominant position in their relationship:

"Zafun is a vast province in the land of the Sudan, near the Maghrib, and adjoining the land of the veiled people (mulaththamun). The people of Zafun have a powerful and redoubtable king. He has a capital, which they call Zafun. He leads a nomadic life, seeking [pasture] in places where the rains have fallen. This used to be the way of life of the veiled people before they took possession of the Maghrib. The king of Zafun is stronger than the latter and more versed in the art of kingship. The veiled people acknowledge his superiority over them, obey him and resort to him in all important matters of government. One year this king, on his way to the Pilgrimage, came to the Maghrib to pay a visit to the Commander of the Muslims (amir al-muslimin), the Veiled King of the Maghrib, of the tribe of the Lamtuna. The Commander of the Muslims met him on foot, whereas the [King of] Zafun did not dismount for him. A certain person who saw him in Marrakech on the day he came there said that he was tall, of deep black complexion and veiled. The whites of his eyes were bloodshot as if they were two glowing coals, and the palms of his hands were yellow as if tinted with saffron. He was wearing a cut garment enveloped in a white cloak. He entered the palace of the Commander of the Muslims mounted, while the latter walked in front of him." - Yaqut

Zafun/Diafunu was a Soninke state.

There were also some non-black slaves among certain black kingdoms/empires in the western and central Sudan, if we go by medieval Arabic sources.

I don't have much interest in the question of the racial composition of the "Moors" that were in Iberia though I agree with general consensus that the vast majority were not black, but it is not necessary to imagine that because they mostly were not black that any black "Moors" there were slaves. One should seek out additional reliable information about these topics where possible before jumping to conclusions.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,985
Portugal
You are maybe enable to read, I say it began to the 12 century. Damn. And also, it not true that it was only use in Germany. He was a Saint for god sake don't be dumb. Sorry for that. But I don't think that you are willing to discuss so sorry man. My bad
According to the Wikipedia’s entry “Saint Maurice”: “Because of his name and native land, St. Maurice had been portrayed as black ever since the 12th century. The oldest surviving image that depicts Saint Maurice as a black African in knight's armor[14] was sculpted in mid-13th century for Magdeburg Cathedral;”

[14] - Suckale-Redlefsen and Robert Suckale ,(c1987), Mauritius der heilige Mohr/ The Black Saint Maurice, Houston, Texas, Menil Foundation, page 19.

Meaning that the oldest image that we have from him is from the 13th century, not 12th. The existence of an image from the 12th is implied but no example is given.

Personally I find the idea of the relation between the black Saint Maurice and the arrival of a new wave of Berbers to the Iberian Peninsula a bit overstretched.

Francisco Bethencourt in his book “Racisms” states “[…]The Africanization of one of the three Magi followed the Africanization of Saint Maurice[…]”

“Originally a white saint, Maurice begun to become black in the 13th century […] the Teban Legion was interpreted as Egyptian and then as black, on a double process of Orientalization and the Africanization. The saint was represented as black mostly in Germany, as well as in the central and Northern Europe, was maintained white in France, Flanders and Italy.” (pp. 74-75 of the Portuguese edition, the translation to English is mine).

Bethencourt explains this as an Imperial policy of Frederic II, anointed in Rome before the an altar to Saint Maurice in the Saint Peter cathedral, giving the image of an universal empire, dominating different peoples of the world, in a similar way that was also seen in Byzantium and Sicily (and in Castile, I may add).

EDIT:

There were also some non-black slaves among certain black kingdoms/empires in the western and central Sudan, if we go by medieval Arabic sources.

I don't have much interest in the question of the racial composition of the "Moors" that were in Iberia though I agree with general consensus that the vast majority were not black, but it is not necessary to imagine that because they mostly were not black that any black "Moors" there were slaves. One should seek out additional reliable information about these topics where possible before jumping to conclusions.
Talking from memory now, I already saw references to black slaves in the Iberian Peninsula in the Medieval period, among the Muslims, but also read often that most of the Slaves were Slavs, and from other origins from the Orient (Greeks, Circassians…)

Aha! Thank you. Now I understand where Phillipino 'Moro' fighters name comes from ( I did 'Sikiran' as a youth ) ... I did not know how the 'Moro' fitted in.
Yes, it is a recurrent theme in this forum, mentioned in several threads.

EDIT:

By the way about Mauretania the site Perseus has an entry that mentions several classic sources: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MAACAH, MASSICYTES, MAURETA´NIA
 
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May 2019
64
Afrique
According to the Wikipedia’s entry “Saint Maurice”: “Because of his name and native land, St. Maurice had been portrayed as black ever since the 12th century. The oldest surviving image that depicts Saint Maurice as a black African in knight's armor[14] was sculpted in mid-13th century for Magdeburg Cathedral;”

[14] - Suckale-Redlefsen and Robert Suckale ,(c1987), Mauritius der heilige Mohr/ The Black Saint Maurice, Houston, Texas, Menil Foundation, page 19.

Meaning that the oldest image that we have from him is from the 13th century, not 12th. The existence of an image from the 12th is implied but no example is given.

Personally I find the idea of the relation between the black Saint Maurice and the arrival of a new wave of Berbers to the Iberian Peninsula a bit overstretched.

Francisco Bethencourt in his book “Racisms” states “[…]The Africanization of one of the three Magi followed the Africanization of Saint Maurice[…]”

“Originally a white saint, Maurice begun to become black in the 13th century […] the Teban Legion was interpreted as Egyptian and then as black, on a double process of Orientalization and the Africanization. The saint was represented as black mostly in Germany, as well as in the central and Northern Europe, was maintained white in France, Flanders and Italy.” (pp. 74-75 of the Portuguese edition, the translation to English is mine).

Bethencourt explains this as an Imperial policy of Frederic II, anointed in Rome before the an altar to Saint Maurice in the Saint Peter cathedral, giving the image of an universal empire, dominating different peoples of the world, in a similar way that was also seen in Byzantium and Sicily (and in Castile, I may add).

EDIT:



Talking from memory now, I already saw references to black slaves in the Iberian Peninsula in the Medieval period, among the Muslims, but also read often that most of the Slaves were Slavs, and from other origins from the Orient (Greeks, Circassians…)



Yes, it is a recurrent theme in this forum, mentioned in several threads.

EDIT:

By the way about Mauretania the site Perseus has an entry that mentions several classic sources: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MAACAH, MASSICYTES, MAURETA´NIA
I already take my reference from the Wikipedia in French admits says 11 century, and say it's due to the homonymy between Maur of Maurice and Mauretania which will become moors. And for France it maybe true but for example the Corse have a flag with saint Maurice, but don't know since when.

And I say it again I never claim that the moor were all black or mostly black just to make things clear, jsut using that the Almoravid did bring sub Saharan in their movement from takrur and Ghana.

Francophone Wikipedia
Maurice d'Agaune — Wikipédia
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,985
Portugal
I already take my reference from the Wikipedia in French admits says 11 century, and say it's due to the homonymy between Maur of Maurice and Mauretania which will become moors. And for France it maybe true but for example the Corse have a flag with saint Maurice, but don't know since when.

And I say it again I never claim that the moor were all black or mostly black just to make things clear, jsut using that the Almoravid did bring sub Saharan in their movement from takrur and Ghana.

Francophone Wikipedia

Maurice d'Agaune — Wikipédia
I confess that I didn’t knew that the “Maure” heads seen in several flags was the head of Saint Maurice! Well, it is a possibility as the French Wikipedia states.

That the Moor weren’t all black we agree, I just expressed my doubts that there was a direct relation between the black Saint Maurice and the arrival of the Almoravids to the Iberian Peninsula. Besides if there are black representations of the Saint in the 11th century that predates the arrival of the Almoravids.

Anyway black persons weren’t totally ignored by the Europeans in the Medieval Period, and not necessarily trough Al Andalus.

Even if a bit later, the Abyssinian emperor Wedem Ar’ad sent an embassy (1297-1312) to the king of the Spains, and the embassy visited Rome and Avignon (“The Ethiopians – A History”, Richard Pankhurst, p.77)
 
May 2019
64
Afrique
I confess that I didn’t knew that the “Maure” heads seen in several flags was the head of Saint Maurice! Well, it is a possibility as the French Wikipedia states.

That the Moor weren’t all black we agree, I just expressed my doubts that there was a direct relation between the black Saint Maurice and the arrival of the Almoravids to the Iberian Peninsula. Besides if there are black representations of the Saint in the 11th century that predates the arrival of the Almoravids.

Anyway black persons weren’t totally ignored by the Europeans in the Medieval Period, and not necessarily trough Al Andalus.

Even if a bit later, the Abyssinian emperor Wedem Ar’ad sent an embassy (1297-1312) to the king of the Spains, and the embassy visited Rome and Avignon (“The Ethiopians – A History”, Richard Pankhurst, p.77)
But I think you maybe right too our two version are not mutually exclusive. It might be also a political move. I just says that it seems to have some correlation here, and since the first invasions didn't include any a very little amount of black population. Maybe the shock was more important. Yeah I know that medieval Europe were aware of black people. But for the average guy it wasn't that common at all.
 
Mar 2019
52
Belgium
You are maybe enable to read, I say it began to the 12 century. Damn. And also, it not true that it was only use in Germany. He was a Saint for god sake don't be dumb. Sorry for that. But I don't think that you are willing to discuss so sorry man. My bad
I said that Saint Maurice represented as a black man was revered only in Germany. In my country he's represented as a white man into icons.
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,411
Australia
We do see black Moors represented in Alfonso X's Book of Games (1283), and since they are being waited on while they play chess, they are obviously not in a position of "submission":





...
Not that I know much about it , but could a form of 'manumission' be involved ( or via other process) and people be able to change their status, adopt Islam and become a citizen ?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,985
Portugal
…our two version are not mutually exclusive.
That is true.

Yeah I know that medieval Europe were aware of black people. But for the average guy it wasn't that common at all.
In most of Europe yes, in the Iberian Peninsula and especially in Italy it would be a little more common. At least in the case of the Sea Republics that traded with Alexandria. It seems that black slaves were common there and often traded to Italy. Slaves (from several skin colours) had a reasonable high demand in Italy. Italy was also one of the export markets for the first African black slaves that the Portuguese begun to trade in the beginning of the 15th century.

Not that I know much about it , but could a form of 'manumission' be involved ( or via other process) and people be able to change their status, adopt Islam and become a citizen ?
“Citizen” is an odd word for the medieval Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, the word more adequate would be “subject” of a monarch.

And I known that many of us today, and I think that especially in the English speaking countries, make the equation for the past black=slave. That equation is false. Skin colour and slave status were not related. That relation begun mostly with the expansion of the Slave trade in Africa by the Portuguese and the availability and low price of the African slaves. But the Portuguese in their discoveries traded any human being of any skin colour: Black and less black Africans, Indian Americans, Chinese and Japanese (the women had much demand…), Javanese, Indians from India… all around the Indian Ocean the situation was similar. Often the Portuguese found themselves slaves of others, especially of the Muslim (and Jews). The case of Fernão Mendes Pinto is well known and paradigmatic.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,777
Cornwall
I already take my reference from the Wikipedia in French admits says 11 century, and say it's due to the homonymy between Maur of Maurice and Mauretania which will become moors. And for France it maybe true but for example the Corse have a flag with saint Maurice, but don't know since when.

And I say it again I never claim that the moor were all black or mostly black just to make things clear, jsut using that the Almoravid did bring sub Saharan in their movement from takrur and Ghana.
Sorry I've missed recent conversation. Moor = muslim btw so.....................

There are a number of references to the Almoravids use of black troops from the 'Curve of the Niger' aka the 3 rivers . Mina in his historia de Sevilla quotes that they were used as garrison troops there, because they did not speak arabic and Sevilla had a large proportion of non-muslim residents likely to corrupt garrison troops (in his words as I recall). He does suggest that there is remnant evidence of this in tiny outlying villages in Sevilla province (but I'm not too sure if that is possible)

Other authors speak of the entry of the Almoravids in Spain at Algeciras as being signalled by the sound of the beat of the javelins on the hippo-skin shields.

Jacinto Bosch Vila himself and those quoting him speak of the Almoravids using black mercenaries from the 3 rivers lands and also mercenaries/soldiers from Asia Minor

The first Almoravid activity was in the direction of the 3 rivers and the conquest of Gao etc. Though an ex poster on here, Mansa Musa, used to deny that the Almoravids could possibly beat his beloved black empire, it seems undeniable that, whatever the situation, they continued to use them, either subjects or mercenaries (I think the most likely is certain leaders sent troops as a sort of tribute/payment)

In his definitive history of the Almohads, Huici Miranda also makes reference to a garrison force of black troops - I can't remember the context but I'm fairly sure it was in the outlying parts of Morocco. It seems likely that the Almohad Empire merely inherited a lot of existing arrangements from the expiring Almoravids. I remember they were referred to in fairly derogative terms by the Almohad leaders , who were extremely (what we would today call) racist towards non-berbers such as blacks, arab subjects/allies, jews and Andalusian muslims, to name but a few.
 
Aug 2014
1,273
pakistan
They claim that the Moors were Black, and that they came to Europe, through Spain and civilized the White Europeans
I imagine the blacks in Muslim Spain were mostly slaves or descendants of slaves, like in North Africa of pre-European colonization times. But it must be kept in mind that slaves in Muslim society could become generals, ministers etc. There are even several slave dynasties in Muslim history. In Indian subcontinent, Black slaves established a dynasty in Bengal.
 
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