When was the golden age of the Moors in Spain?

Nov 2013
707
Texas
Rather than get in to the subjectivity of it (which provinces, to what extent it can be generalised, or whether there is even such a thing....) I'd like some sort of golden age for the Moors in Spain. Here are a few thoughts:

850-950- It could be a golden age doesn't need to last that long in order to establish a noteworthy culture (the Athenian golden age didn't last as long as advertised either; basically the 5th century prior to losing the Peloponesian war.) It could be during this period that the Moors experienced a short but sweet golden age that turned Andalusia in to the cultural capital of Spain (though Cordoba suggests, of course, that was already well under way.)

760-1000- 760 seems a little early though; I suspect the Moors were latecomers to the Islamic golden age (or maybe reached Grenada or Cordoba before other regions?)

757-1257- the Islamic golden age (but IMO 5 centures is simply too broad for a region as large as the Dar-Al Islam; or even as diverse as Islamic Iberia. The high middle ages were more like the Islamic silver age; though the golden age may have continued in some cities like Baghdad or even Fez)

1180-1200- The Almohads oddly seemed to have done a good job during this period; though I get the impression they did a better job of ruling Fez than Iberia. Given that the Almohads are often caracaturised as an incompetent dynasty, one wonders if Andalusia fell not despite but because of it's "alliance" with Morrocco.
 
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Jul 2017
335
Argentina
Hi Piccolo.
"Moors" is kind of an ambiguous word. The whole arab-muslim presence in the peninsula doesn't fit in it.
By the years 929/976 the Calphate of Córdoba (
Ḫilāfat Qurṭuba) was not in its biggest territorial extention. But the state machinery was in its best shape.
Córdoba was the brightest city out of the dark-age-sunk Europe. It is supposed to have had a million people. The Califa Abderraman took care of libraries, translators, scientists....
Its somehow difficult for me to be objective, since I'm from Córdoba (Argentina).
Anyway.... JohninCrom will soon post something better.

¡¡¡aguanTe Talleres!!!
 
Nov 2013
707
Texas
Andalusia insofar as it can be generalised

Well, a case could be made that even the Greeks weren't too homogeneous either (differences between Sparta, Athens, Macedon, etc. that is if we even count Macedonia.......)


Yet, perhaps, it might be suggested that the golden age of Greece was 500 t0 320 BC (roughly Pythagoras to Alexander the Great)


Though, that the Greek golden age basically consisted of infighting and falling to more ragged neighbors up north, is a golden age suspiciously similar to the Moors in Spain.....(which is why, as significant as Greek contributions were, they make me wonder sometimes........)


How about, 802-1002 (after Louis the Pious capture Barcelona in 801 but before the fall of the Cordoba Caliphate in 1009......)






Hi Piccolo.
"Moors" is kind of an ambiguous word. The whole arab-muslim presence in the peninsula doesn't fit in it.
By the years 929/976 the Calphate of Córdoba (
Ḫilāfat Qurṭuba) was not in its biggest territorial extention. But the state machinery was in its best shape.
Córdoba was the brightest city out of the dark-age-sunk Europe. It is supposed to have had a million people. The Califa Abderraman took care of libraries, translators, scientists....
Its somehow difficult for me to be objective, since I'm from Córdoba (Argentina).
Anyway.... JohninCrom will soon post something better.

¡¡¡aguanTe Talleres!!!
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,672
Cornwall
Piccolo brings this up every so often. He knows 'moors' is a meaningless word in English, derived from either a (one of many) Spanish word for muslim, moro, or the mauri, a confederation of assorted berber tribes. The more correct is of course 'muslim'.

So let's look at the golden age(s) of muslim Spain, very briefly:

711-718 - the initial takeover/invasion. Has to be a golden age doesn't it? Taking over new lands and still more or less unified under the direction of Damascus.

From there (certainly from the fall of the Omeyas) it's a bit of a violent, complicated almost anarchical period with little central control, improving through the 9th century, until

912- 1009 (death of Sanchuelo) - the Caliphate of Cordoba (declared in 929) initially under Abd Al Raman III. What most people think of as THE golden age, a time of enormous power and wealth, holding sway over all of Hispania and Western Morocco. The most ultimate military power under the dictator Almanzor ironically would lead to it's collapse on the assassination of his 2nd son, Sanchuelo. A period not quite as 'tolerant' as sometimes peddled. By the end of this period muslim Spain was as muslim as Algiers is today. Everyone spoke arabic and all the place names were arabic

1st Taifa period - gone the power of the Caliphate, a split into at least 32 (more if counting very transient ones) Taifas, left the way open for the Christian kingdoms to start building. Decades of squabbles, civil wars and monarchs of minor age meant not too much was done. period culminated in the ceding of muslim Toledo to Castilla. This ultimately provoked the invasion of the Almoravids

1086 - until decline early 12th century - Almoravid Empire. Unstoppable for a period of around 25 years, ultimately became decadent and declined badly in Spain due to pressure from the Almohad revolt. Is this a golden age of muslim Spain? No not really, they were a berber empire who had subjugated poor old muslim Spain.

2nd Taifa period - unlike the first one kingdoms like Castilla, Portugal and Aragon were well-positioned, with strong kings, to take advantage of the Almoravids weakening. Large gains were made and the large kingdom of Zaragoza yielded peacefully to Alfonso El Batallador of Aragon - his muslim citizens were treated and respected as his Chritian ones (at this time)

The Almohad Empire - the cruel and ruthless Almohads eventually overcame Almoravid rule in Africa and greatly expanded it. When they came to apply power and armies in Spain it was fearful. Reversed a lot of previous losses temporarily and built a lot of the castles, defences and architecture you see today. Empire from Tripoli in Libya to the Atlantic Coast up toward Lisbon and Tortosa (just south of). Everyone in the empire was obliged to be a devout muslim. This was the end of Christians and Jews in the Magreb and the same in 'Spain' - at this time there was mass emigration to Toledo and this is the period of great learning, school of translators etc. This period reminds me very much of the religious intolerance of 16th/17th century Spain, when other religions left or went 'underground'. Is the Almohad Empire a golden age for muslim Spain? No For 'muslims in Spain'? I suppose so.

Emergence of Granada - the collapse - gradual as it was - of the Almohad Empire led to huge parts of Al Andalus falling to greedy Portugal, Castille and Aragon. What remained was a rump state under Al Nasr, allied with Castilla - and participating in the fall of Sevilla - called the Nazari kingdom of Granada. Because they built the Alhambra and other beautiful alcazars for us today and lasted over 250 years, this is what people today think of with the daft phrase 'moorish Spain'. Whilst always tributary and 'ally' to Castilla, there were periodic battles and disputes, meaning quite a colourful 200 years or so. Fairly sizeable in geography, blessed with many dozens of mountain fortresses, good economy and high population, it was considerable nation. Although it would be silly to compare it to the Almohad Empire it has to be remembered that it took the huge might of the combined forces of Ferdinand and Isobel 10 years and considerable grief to finally conquer it (1482-1492). Although the surrender was on terms of preserving religion etc, soon rabid Catholicism took over and following 2 rebellions all moriscos were finally expelled in 1609-12 - even though many of them had roots back to Visigothic and hispano-roman Hispania - unlike all the immigrants populating the Chritian states and re-populating muslim ones!
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,672
Cornwall
1180-1200- The Almohads oddly seemed to have done a good job during this period; though I get the impression they did a better job of ruling Fez than Iberia. Given that the Almohads are often caracaturised as an incompetent dynasty, one wonders if Andalusia fell not despite but because of it's "alliance" with Morrocco.
I'll just have look at this.

The Almohads were initially built up under Abd Al Mu'min to be an incredibly strong and powerful force, still under the doctrines of the late Mahdi, Ibn Tumart. Yusuf I continued along the same lines, though wasn't as brilliant as his predecessor nor his successor and a catastrophic defeat in Portugal led to his own death, which came about directly because of his own lack of leadership and inspiration. On the plus side El Rey Lobo, muslim king of Valencia and Murcia, was eventually defeated and died, after decades of struggle.

Yaqub Al Mansur (1184-1189) - this is the absolute peak of the Almohad empire, both miltarily and unity wise - the only piece missing was the Almoravid/Banu Ganiya Balearics - soon to be conquered under Al Nasr. He started a slight move away from the Mahdism toward the personal deity of the present Caliph adjusting a few things to his own suiting. Islamism was absolute and enforced (after slackness under Yusuf). His armies were united and powerful and his visits to the Province of Al Andalus (not an 'alliance') led to the catastrophic defeat of Castilla at Alarcos and the Portuguese being pushed right back. After Alarcos the Almohad army spent 2 campaining seasons marching north through Extremadura, around Toledo and Madrid (no siege equipment) and back down the eastern side, whilst the remaining armies of Castilla and Aragon were forced to refugee in the hills above Madrid. The treaties enforced on the Christian kingdoms were so absolute and long-lasting that his armies could go back to Africa and the leagcy of Almohad fortresses in Al Andalus is very visible today. Should be mentioned that Leon was usually allied with the Almohads in any case, being enemy of Castilla and also Portugal to a point. It was said (as it is!) that during his reign a woman could walk in complete safety from Tripoli in the east to Sale in the west without being molested. Obviously exeggeration but you get the drift.

The death of Yaqub led to Al Nasr. Not immediately obvious that he was starting down the road of incompetence because of all the Empire put in place by Yaqub. The treaty with Castilla would run right up to 1211 - at which points various threats were made and the huge Almohad army landed in Spain. Al Nasr did not have the brain or inspiration of his predecessor - his rule tended to be with a beheading axe for encouragement. When faced with the eternal logistical problems of the army, during the passage to Spain, 2 city governors were beheaded, for trying to do an impossible supply job.

Las Navas was an odd battle. 2 armies poor on supply, poor on water, raced to get as far toward the other as possible before they were to meet, therefore on a ground of neither's choosing. The Almohads ended up camped on an enclosed battlefield, without the open space advantages which allowed North Africans to rout Christians, most recently at Alarcos - a slogging battle should always favour the heavy knights of the Christians, although this is balanced by the vastly superior numbers of the Almohads, 'jihadists' in the front! The Christians very nearly perished - another day stuck on a plateau without water would have been the end - a mysterious guide led them down the right way!

Unlike most battles of the age it was a long battle, ultimately Al Nasr's lack of leadership, imagination and inspiration led to the flight of his army and him, with the death of his famously chained-together negro bodyguards.

Back in Sevilla I have read that he invited the 200 leading nobles of the town to a feast - each was beheaded as they arrived (ref (Historia de Sevilla, Mina). This, if it happened, was down to a perceived 'lack of enthusiasm' from the press-recruited Sevillan and Andalucian contigents of his army. But documentally there is no evidence of this oft-repeated allegation (Garcia Fitz)

Within a year nearly all the leading protagonists of Las Navas were dead. Al nasr was assassinated in mysterious but undoubtedly unpleasant ways, partly because of a loss of confidence in him of course. Alfonso VIII died, Pedro II was killed at Muret and plague, dynastic troubles, famine and bankrupcy was the order of the day In fact in the coming years many Castillian, Aragonese and Leonese served in Morocco for legitimate Caliphs in the many dynastic struggles and civil wars that followed the death of Al Nasr and the long, slow painful decline of the Almohads. In Al Andalus, once the Christians got their act togethr, vast areas were conquered from helpless muslim areas, leaving just the rump state of Granada.

I see both the Almoravid and Almohad Empires as invaders of muslim Al Andalus, repressing the muslims of Al Andalus as they did everyone else (but supported by the religious leaders). You can walk round many Almohad ruins today, from Sevilla to Castellar/Jimena right up to Cuenca province.

Best source for the Almohads is Ambrosio Huici Miranda's 'Historia Political del Imperio Almohade' (2 vols) - which is an epic work
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,081
Canary Islands-Spain
I'd prefer the next dates for the OP:

929 - Proclamation of the Caliphate by Abd-al-Rahman III

1085 - Fall of Toledo

At the beginning of this period, the situation of Al-Andalus was very well balanced, the caliphates of Abd-al-Rahman III and Al-Hakam II are almost free of mistakes (... almost). With Almanzor (not a caliph himself), the military power of Al-Andalus peaked higher than ever. It was probably the most powerful state west of Byzantium. The Taifa period saw a political and military decline, still not catastrophic. Instead, culture even peaked higher than during the Caliphate. This is particularly true for the 12th century, but then the situation became really dared.

The first realy deadly blow for Muslim Iberia was the fall of Toledo in 1085, which broke them just in the middle of the spine.
 

LatinoEuropa

Ad Honorem
Oct 2015
5,222
Matosinhos Portugal
The word Moor in Portuguese is a normal word.
For example
F.C.P Vs Benfica let's play against the Moors.


Muslims » Mouros) in the Iberian Peninsula contributed certain riches, Mosques that were transformed into Catholic churches and castles, gastronomy etc., etc.
 
Mar 2013
1,441
Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
Córdoba was the brightest city out of the dark-age-sunk Europe.
Not really. Constantinople would easily dwarf and destroy Cordoba in comparison.

Also, around 1000 CE or so Europe was hardly “dark-age-sunk” anymore as Carolingian Renaissaince, agricultural improvements, and the commercial revolution have completely made the former Pagan-Europe into a wealthy Christian Europe.

In term of science, military and architecture the Byzantine Empire dwarfs every single caliphates and sultanates you can list:

http://historum.com/general-history/136986-byzantine-science-cultural-contribution-world.html

http://historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/68952-roman-byzantine-architecture-illustrations-portraits-scenes-antoine-helbert.html

The city of Constantinople:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX4UJv-eIjQ



The Byzantine Empire, even when it was on the brink of total collapse, managed to smash the vast (first) Umayyad Caliphate in 717-718 with the result that Dar Al Islam was smashed in pieces:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4BtmRMwYmw
 
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Jul 2017
335
Argentina
Hey El Cid...
Thanks for reading my post and also for the remark.
I'll try to make time to watch those movies you linked. After the world cup, obviously. Jaja.

Anyway.... take a look to this quote from the english version of wiki (taken from a book of an unitedstater author and editorial): " In the 10th and 11th centuries Córdoba was one of the most advanced cities in the world, and a great cultural, political, financial and economic centre."

Although... I must admit... in my country you can graduate from highschool and never having heard about frankish king Charlemagne and his empire. About Constantinople.... all a student learns in my country is that indian spices came through it to Spain and when the city fall, spanish kings had to look for another way to India.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,081
Canary Islands-Spain
Not really. Constantinople would easily dwarf and destroy Cordoba in comparison.
By the time Cordoba peaked, Constantinople was a pity recovering from a very traumatic period.


Also, around 1000 CE or so Europe was hardly “dark-age-sunk” anymore as Carolingian Renaissaince, agricultural improvements, and the commercial revolution have completely made the former Pagan-Europe into a wealthy Christian Europe.
Too early, Cid, too early. The results of the impressive economic development of feudal Europe were still to be seing by that time.

Hyperbole at its best. For example, hospitals were first developed in ancient Egypt. But hospitals as we know them, with separate sections for specialities, were developed in the Islamic world. They even developed mental hospitals first.

A careful reading of most of this "Byzantine" breaking advances you posted are like that.

"Preservation of classical texts". That was a common Byzantine limitation, too overwhelmed by their past they were unable to improve and do better. Muslims took this classical background and pushed ahead, there's nothing in the Byzantine Empire as the mind of Ibn-Khaldun, for example.

In terms of military the idea is ironic, considering the Byzantines lost 70% of their empire to the Arabs by the 8th century, and were destroyed by a Islamic power.




The Byzantine Empire, even when it was on the brink of total collapse, managed to smash the vast (first) Umayyad Caliphate in 717-718 with the result that Dar Al Islam was smashed in pieces:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4BtmRMwYmw
That was the wish of the Byzantines. They were happy to survive in a corner of their empire, regularly punished by their much powerful Caliphal neighbours, also paying tribute with regularity. Only after the fragmentation of the Caliphate they could rise again.