The Moorish Conquest of Western Europe took place during the 8th century.
By the end of the 7th century, Arab Muslims had rapidly expanded their might from the deserts of Arabia all the way to North Africa in the west.
In the early 8th century, Moors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and began the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Moorish Conquest of Spain
Within a few decades, the Moors had occupied most of the southern Iberia and made significant encroachments into northern Iberian territories, coming into direct conflict with the Franks to the northeast.
Although Moors were most successful during the early decades of the conquest, they suffered a few decisive setbacks which set the extent of their campaigning into northern regions of Iberia.
Notable among such setbacks was the Battle of Tours which took place in 732 and where a Frankish army routed the Moorish army.
Once most of Iberia was under direct Moorish control, Omayyad rulers attempted to centralize their rule over Iberian territories.
Battle of Tours
This took a definite form when Abd ar Rehman I escaped the persecution of Omayyad at the hands of Abbasids and reached Iberia where he united the Muslim-ruled Iberian territories into a single entity.
Emirate and Caliphate of Cordoba
Abd ar Rehman laid the basis of the Emirate of Cordoba in 756 which essentially united all Moorish territories in Iberia and at the same time, remained independent of the mainstream Muslim Caliphate in Arabia.
The Emirate of Cordoba consolidated the Muslim territories and centralised authority whereas the Emir in Cordoba directly controlled the realm.
This led to stability in the outlook of Moorish Iberia and helped the Moors effectively thwart any armed thrusts from their Christian neighbours to the north.
In 1031, the Caliphate of Cordoba collapsed which divided Moorish territory into nearly two dozen minor states. During this time, a sizable portion of Moorish regions in the north was lost to the rising Christian Kingdoms.
Conclusion of the Moorish Conquest of Europe
After the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Almohad dynasty from North Africa was able to unite the remaining Moorish territories into a single entity in 1153.
However, this consolidation was short-lived. By the 13th century, most Muslim regions save the Emirate of Granada had fallen into the hands of Christian kingdoms.
The end of Granada came about in 1492 and with it, the Moorish control in Europe effectively came to an end.
Moorish Conquest Fast Facts
Only the bravery of Charles Mantel and his soldiers stopped a complete Moorish takeover of Europe
The battle of Tours was also called the Battle of Poitiers as the battle took place near both towns
The battle of Tours was one of the most important battles in the History of Medieval Europe
In 709 AD the Moorish Muslim armies had amassed at the Straits of Gibraltar ready to invade
Prior to the Moors’ invasion of Europe, they had managed to conquer all of Africa
The Moors conquered the Spanish city of Ceuta in 711 and began their invasion of Europe