The Moors were the medieval Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta. Their descendants are presently known as the Maghrebis.
The Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised Gibraltar, most of Spain and Portugal, and parts of Southern France. There was also a Moorish presence in what is now Southern Italy, primarily in Sicily. They occupied Mazara on Sicily in 827 and in 1224 were expelled to the settlement of Lucera, which was destroyed in 1300. The religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia.
Depiction of three Moorish knights found on Alhambra’s Ladies Tower
Castillian ambassadors attempting to convince Moor Almohad king Abu Hafs Umar al-Murtada to join their alliance (contemporary depiction from The Cantigas de Santa Maria)
The term “Moors” has also been used in Europe in a broader sense to refer to Muslims, especially those of Arab or Berber descent, whether living in Spain or North Africa. During the colonial years the Portuguese introduced the names “Ceylon Moors” and “Indian Moors”, in Sri Lanka. The Bengali Muslims were called Moor. Moors are not a distinct or self-defined people. Medieval and early modern Europeans applied the name to Arabs, Berbers, Muslim Europeans, and Sub-Saharan Africans.
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