Moors

The term Moors commonly refers to the medieval Muslim inhabitants of Northwest Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Septimania, Sicily and Malta. The Moors called their Iberian territory Al-Andalus, an area comprising Gibraltar, much of what is now Spain and Portugal, and part of France. There was also a Moorish presence in present-day southern Italy after they occupied Mazara in 827 until their last settlement of Lucera 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 presence in Iberia.

The term "Moors" has also been used since as early as the 4th century in European writing in a broader sense to refer to anyone of African descent. Originally a descriptive term, Moors are not a distinct or self-defined people. Writers such Procopius of Caesarea describes the people of Mount Papua in North Africa as Moors with black skin in Book XIII of his History of the Wars.

Medieval Europeans applied the term to Africans who had been absorbed into the Almoravid dynasty. The Andalusian Moors of the late Medieval era inhabited the Iberian Peninsula after the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early 8th century. The Moors' rule stretched at times as far as modern-day Mauritania, West African countries, and the Senegal River.

Earlier, the Classical Romans interacted with (and later conquered) parts of Mauretania, a state that covered northern portions of modern Morocco and much of north western and central Algeria during the classical period. The people of the region were noted in Classical literature as the Mauri. Today such groups inhabit Mauritania and parts of Algeria, western Sahara, Morocco, Niger and Mali. In the languages of Europe, a number of associated ethnic groups have been historically designated as "Moors". In modern Iberia, the term is applied to people of Moroccan ethnicity. "Moor" is sometimes colloquially applied to any person from North Africa, but some people consider this usage of the term pejorative.

Read more about Moors:  Etymology, Moors of Iberia, Moors of Sicily, Modern Age, Architecture, Heraldry, Population Genetics, Notable Moors, Bibliography

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