The Moors were Muslim Berbers and Arabs that conquered Spain and Portugal in 711 AD and ruled over much of the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th to 15th centuries. As with the term "Saracens", Moors are not actually an ethnic group, but rather a collective term referring either to the Muslims that ruled the Iberian Peninsula at the time or to Africans in general.


Moorish army Siguenza

The Moors at the Battle of Siguenza

The Moors originated as the "Mauri" of North Africa, a tribe of Berbers that resisted the Roman Empire from present-day southern Algeria and Morocco. The Moors became known when they invaded the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, conquering Spain in 711 AD at the Battle of Transductine Promontories. The Moors became identifiable with both their religion, Islam, as well as by certain appearances: Moors could either refer to white Arabs/Berbers/Tuaregs or Africans in general. The Moors ruled over most of Spain and Portugal by the mid-8th century, but they were resisted by the Kingdom of Asturias, which constantly fought wars against the Moors.

The Moors were not a single entity, as their rule over Spain was divided between several dynasties like the Almohads or Almoravids and city-states (taifas). Christian rulers would ally with some Moorish states against rival Christian states on occasion, while at other times the Moors would fight each other. For these reasons, the Iberian Peninsula was in a state of constant warfare for seven hundred years until the fall of Granada in 1492. 

Under the Moors, Spain was influenced by Islamic culture. Islamic universities were set up in the Iberian Peninsula, and the cuisine and architecture were influenced by North African and Middle Eastern cultures. The Moorish-ruled parts of Spain were more religiously-tolerant than the Christian parts, as Muslims (Moors), Jews, and Christians (Mozarabs) coexisted peacefully. The Moors built great cities such as Granada, Zaragoza, and Cordoba into major centers of Spain, and their influence survives in the form of architecture, ranging from common houses to centers of government. After the fall of Granada in 1492, the Moors were either expelled from the Iberian Peninsula or forced to convert to Christianity (the "Moriscos") in the Spanish Inquisition along with the Jews, but their influence survives in architecture, language, and culture.