Moorish Conquest of Spain 711 to 732

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Map Code: Ax02322

After the death of Muhammad in 632, the ruling Umayyad dynasty, originally from Mecca, rapidly expanded the Islamic Empire and the Arabic language across the North African ‘Maghreb’ region, eradicating Byzantine control. The Berber peoples of the western Maghreb at first opposed the Arabs, but were defeated at the battle of Mamma in 688 and fell under the authority of the Umayyads, whose Caliph Al-Walid I then turned his attention northwards to Visigothic Iberia (in Arabic ‘al-Andalus’). Berbers who converted to Islam became known as ‘Moors’, and in 711 a largely Moorish army led by Tariq ibn Ziyad crossed the sea to Gibraltar, captured Cordoba, and decisively defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Guadalete near Toledo, which became the Moorish capital. In 714, Musa ibn Nusayr, at the head of another Berber-Arab army, took Seville, Mérida and Lusitania (roughly, modern Portugal), before joining forces with Tariq. The Moors then jointly proceeded, largely peacefully and by means of treaties, to bring the whole Iberian peninsula under their control. They exercised their control gently, affording religious tolerance of Christians and Jews. In 717 Tariq led an army across the Pyrenees Mountains and into southern France, with the further aim of taking its Mediterranean coastal region, but in 732 he was defeated by the Franks at the Battle of Tours.

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