The Moors were Muslims of Berber descent who came to conquer the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century under the banner of Islam. Their conquests ushered in a long period of Muslim rule in modern-day regions of Spain and Portugal, a period that lasted for nearly 800 years.
Moorish Conquest of Spain
The earliest campaign that began the Moorish period in Iberia was launched by Berber military leader, Tariq bin Ziyad, in 711. Following rapid success on the battlefield, the Moors would annex a vast portion of Iberia to Muslim rule.
The conquest was followed by a prolonged period of infighting, different kingdoms and caliphate, and the ultimate weakening of Moorish political entities. This eventually led to the loss of all Moorish territories in Iberia to Christian kingdoms by the end of the 15th century.
711 to 720: Moorish Conquest of Iberia
In 711, Tariq bin Ziyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and decisively defeated Visigoth King Roger at the Battle of Guadalete. This was followed by an eight-year campaign that ended the Visigoth kingdom of Hispania and brought Hispania under Moorish rule.
By 720, Moorish rule in the region included Seville, Mertola, Granada, and Murcia as well as regions in southeast Iberia and the lower Ebro valley. In 718, Muslim armies faced fateful resistance in the Asturian region which would later give birth to the independent Christian kingdom of Asturias. Barcelona, Septimania, and Narbonne also fell to Moorish rule in 720.
720 to 756: Resistance and Civil Warfare
Although Moors were successful in defeating the might of the Visigoth kingdom, they couldn’t subdue portions to the north and northeast of Iberia. One of the notable events in this regard was the Battle of Covadonga which was fought in 722 in the Asturian region in which Pelagius defeated a Moorish army and laid the foundations of the Christian kingdoms of Asturias.
Another decisive battlefield defeat of the Moorish army took place in 732 when Frankish commander Charles Martel defeated a large Muslim force in the Battle of Tours. These losses marked the northeast extent of the Moorish expansion in Iberia.
Battle of Tours
Another major problem occurred in 739 when the Berber Moors revolted against their Arab overlords. This led to a situation of civil warfare in Moorish territories until the Omayyad survivor Abd ar-Rehman I landed in Iberia and decisively defeated a rebel force in 756, thereafter proclaiming himself the Emir of Cordoba.
756 to 1031: Omayyad Rule Moorish Iberia
After Abd ar-Rehman I laid the foundations of an Omayyad rule in Iberia in 756, the Omayyad dynasty continued to rule the Moorish territories in the region until 1031. Until 929, the Omayyad rulers considered themselves rulers over an emirate but in 929, they wrested themselves free from nominal allegiance to the Fatimid caliphate and proclaimed themselves the Caliphs of Cordoba.
By the early 11th century, the internecine warfare for power over the Caliphate resulted in the division of Muslim territories into two dozen taifa states.
1031 to 1492: Decline and End of Moorish Rule
From the 11th to 12th centuries, the Moorish territories in Iberia comprised a number of largely independent taifa states. By the 12th century, these states were consolidated once again by the Almohad dynasty but the centralization was short-lived and by the 13th century, most of the Moorish territories had been lost to the Christian kingdoms to the north.
By 1492, the last independent Muslim state in Iberia fell to the Kingdom of Spain, bringing about the end of Moorish rule in the region.