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History & Culture of Portugal - Part 5

History & Culture of Portugal, Part 5 - The Moors in Portugal.The Moors in Portugal. Al-Andalus” (“land of the vandals”). Prior to Moorish rule, the Iberian Peninsula was ruled by the Visigoths. The Moors, under Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim ruler of Tangier, invaded Portugal and Spain in the year 711 AD.

Troops “mostly formed by Moors from northern Africa led the Umayyad conquest” of the Iberian Peninsula.

The peninsula then came to be known in Classical Arabic as “al-Andalus” (“land of the vandals”). The Western part of Andalusia, Gharb al Andalus, is know today as Algarve. Faro, previously called Santa Maria, was renamed Faraon,  settlement of the knights”.

The Moors were in Portugal until 1294, but during this time controlled from Spain. They ruled Lisbon (which they called “Lashbuna”) as well as the southern, central, and most of the northern regions. Besides Lisbon, other cities of great Moorish influence were Beja, Coimbra, Santarém, and Silves. After the Moorish invasion of Portugal, the Moors gave the cities and towns an option – surrender and keep their faith, property, and local autonomy while paying a tax for being unbelievers of the Muslim faith, or risk all adult males to be executed and the women and children enslaved if they resisted, echoing the high stakes found in betting scenarios on the BetWinner login page.

By the early 11th century, the Moors and the native people had learned to live and prosper together. They interbred and built communities. Most of the native population that lived in the countryside converted to Islam. Arabic became the main language. Today, over 1,000 words in the Portuguese language have Islamic origins.

The Moors brought many new techniques and crops with them and propelled Europe into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They left a lasting legacy on language, agriculture, architecture, art, and culture. Before the Moors arrived in Portugal and Spain, streets were simply dirt ruts filled with rocks and bumps. They introduces introduced well-paved streets and raised sidewalks for pedestrians.

In the sciences, the Moors brought many advances in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography, and Philosophy. They also introduced the astrolabe to Europe. This was a device to measure the position of the stars and  planets.

For crops, the Moors introduced orange, lemon, peach, apricot, fig, sugar cane, dates, ginger, pomegranate, saffron, cotton, silk, and rice. They also introduced paper. Prior to the Moors, people wrote scrolls and such on clay tablets, papyrus, parchment, and vellum. Papyrus was mostly used in the Mediterranean locations as it was made from a plant native to the area. Vellum was made from calfskin stretched over a frame and processed to prepare it for writing. Making vellum was a time-consuming process so it was used only for scrolls, codices, and books.

Irrigation techniques improved as did the method of digging wells and pumping water. Arabic numbers replaced Roman numerals after the Moors invaded. They also introduced the earliest versions of the Lute, Lyre, and Guitar. The Moors brought the idea of public libraries with them. And they brought the compass from China to the region. This would become a very important import in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

The first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques (Afonso I), began expelling the Moors in the year 1139, with the help of the Templars (“The Reconquista”). Afonso’s father, Henry of Burgundy, defended Portugal successfully against the Moors (1095-1112).

In 1139, Afonso won the Battle of Ourique and assumed the title of king. He began collecting tribute from his Muslim neighbors. Afonso captured Santarém in 1147. He also laid siege to Lisbon with the help of some passing Crusaders. After capturing Lisbon, Afonso I annexed Beja in 1162 and Evora in 1165. By the time he died in 1185 in Coimbra, Afonso I had built a stable and independent monarchy, free of the Moors but not their

In 1294, Faro was conquered and the reign of the Moors ended. Afonso III became King of Portugal and Algarve.

Read other parts of this series HERE.

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