Al-Andalus

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Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأندلس) was the Arabic name given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims, or Moors, at various times in the period between 711 and 1492.[1] As a political domain or domains, it was successively a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031), and finally the Caliphate of Córdoba's taifa (successor) kingdoms. For large parts of its history, particularly under the Caliphate of Córdoba, Andalus was famous for learning and the city of Córdoba became one of the leading cultural and economic centers in both the Mediterranean basin and the Islamic world.

This civilization was quite advanced at architecture and urban planning. The Moors were very wealthy because they controlled the gold trade from the Ghana Empire in West Africa. They built many beautiful buildings in all the land they controlled. Many of their large buildings still stand in cities in Andalusia, such as in Seville, Granada, and Cordoba.

Muslim Spain was multicultural and tolerant; Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side. There was also a large Slavic population (saqaliba) near the Mediterranean coast. Though these people were at first brought in to be slaves, some of them became generals (as did some Mamluks in another caliphate) and some generals became rulers of their own cities (taifas) for a short time.

In 1236, the Reconquista (gradual Christian reconquest) under the forces of Ferdinand III of Castile progressed as far as the last remaining Islamic stronghold, Granada. Granada was reduced to a vassal state to Castile for the next 256 years, until January 2, 1492, when Boabdil surrendered complete control of Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella.

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Footnotes[change | change source]

  1. "Andalus, al-" Oxford Dictionary of Islam. John L. Esposito, Ed. Oxford University Press. 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 12 June 2006.

Bibliography[change | change source]

An Islamic History of Europe. video documentary, BBC 4, August 2005.

  • Stavans, Ilan. 2003. The Scroll and the Cross: 1,000 Years of Jewish-Hispanic Literature. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92930-X
  • Wasserstein, David J. 1995. Jewish élites in Al-Andalus. In Daniel Frank (Ed.). The Jews of Medieval Islam: Community, Society and Identity. Brill. ISBN 90-04-10404-6

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