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  • Muhammad Ibn Abd ar Rahma, Emir de Córdova (c.826 - 886)
    Muhammad I ibn 'Abd al-Rahman, amir al-Qurtubi1 b. circa 826, d. 886 Father 'Abd al-Rahmân II al-Mutawassit ibn al-Hakam, amir al-Qurtubi1 b. 792, d. 22 September 852 Of the Umayyad. Muhammad I i...
  • alMunzir Al Amawi (c.842 - 888)
    Al-Mundhir From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Al-Mundhir (Arabic: المنذر ), (c. 842 - 888) was Emir of Cordoba from 886 to 888. He was a member of the Umayyad dynasty of Al-Andalus (Moorish Iber...
  • al-Hakam II, Caliph of Córdoba (915 - 976)
    Al-Hakam II (al-Ḥakam II ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III; Arabic: الحكم الثاني‎) (January 13, 915 – October 16, 976) was the second Caliph of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia), and son of Abd-ar-rahman II...
  • 'Abd ar-Rahmân III al-Nasir bin ibn Muhammad, emir of Córdoba (889 - 961)
    Abd-ar-Rahman III (Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muhammad ibn Abd Allāh; Arabic: عبد الرحمن الثالث‎; 11 January 889/91[14] – 15 October 961) was the Emir and Caliph of Córdoba (912–961) of the Ummayad dynasty in...

A project to document the events, well-known figures, the government and society, and the accomplishments in literature, science and mathematics, and philosophy of the nation in the parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania ruled by Muslims from the conquest in 711 to 1492. The term al-Andalus comes from "land of the Vandals."

The Conquest of al-Andalus (711 – 732)

After the fall of the Byzantine capital and base at Carthage in the Maghrib in 698, the Muslim armies turned their attention to the conquest of Iberia. North Africa and Iberia had a long history of political, cultural, and commercial ties. The invasion began full force with the landing in the year 711 of the Arab commander Tariq ibn Ziyad at Gib al-Tariq (Gibraltar), a location called after this event. The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula was finalized in the Battle of Guadalete on July 19, 711. The fight continued in southern France, and in 759 the Franks under Pepin the Short expelled the Muslims from Septimania.

Following the conquest, al-Andalus was divided into five administrative areas roughly corresponding to Andalusia, Galicia and Portugal, Castile and Léon, Aragon and Catalonia, and Septimania. This last administrative area was lost to the Franks in 759. As a political domain or domains, al-Andalus successively constituted a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, initiated by the Caliph Al-Walid I (711–750); the Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750–929); the Caliphate of Córdoba (929–1031); and the Caliphate of Córdoba's taifa (successor) kingdoms.

When the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750, the exiled Umayyad prince, Abd ar-Rahman I, ibn Mu'awiyya, became Emir of Cordoba. He and his descendants ruled for the next 150 years.

Emirate and Caliphate of Cordoba (756 – 1039)

The Umayyad rulers of the Iberian Peninsula called themselves "Emir" until 929. The Caliphate of Córdoba (Arabic: خلافة قرطبة Khilāfat Qurṭuba) ruled the Iberian peninsula (Al-Andalus) and part of North Africa, from the city of Córdoba, from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Islamic Iberia were constructed in this period, including the famous Great Mosque of Córdoba. In January of 929, Abd-ar-Rahman III proclaimed himself Caliph (Arabic: خليفة) of Córdoba[1] in place of his original title Emir of Córdoba (Arabic: أمير قرطبة 'Amīr Qurṭuba).

Ummayad rulers of al-Andalus

The Rule of al-Mansur 976 - 1022

While the young Hisham II Al-Mu'ayyad became Caliph in name upon the death of his father, al-Hakam al-Mustansir, on 1 October 976 but the effective ruler who arose from a power struggle to rule from 981 until his death in 1022 was al-Mansur.

Taifas (1039 - 1085)

The Córdoba Caliphate collapsed during a ruinous civil war between 1009 and 1013, although it was not finally abolished until 1031. Al-Andalus then broke up into a number of mostly independent states called taifas. These were generally too weak to defend themselves against repeated raids and demands for tribute from the Christian states to the north and west, which were known to the Muslims as "the Galician nations", and which had spread from their initial strongholds in Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque country and the Carolingian Marca Hispanica to become the Kingdoms of Navarre, León, Portugal, Castile and Aragon and the County of Barcelona. Eventually raids turned into conquests, and in response the taifa kings were forced to request help from the Almoravids, Islamic rulers of the Maghreb. Their desperate maneuver would eventually fall to their disadvantage, however, as the Moravids they had summoned from the south went on to conquer many of the taifa kingdoms. The taifa kings were known by the Arabic historians as ملوك الطوائف (kings of the factions or groups). This term was Hispanised into Reyes de Taifas, hence Taifa kingdoms. The rulers who emerged in the 1010s and 1020s can be divided into four groups: local Arab patrician families (Sevilla, Cordoba, Zaragoza), old established Berber chiefs (Badajoz, Toledo, and Albarracin), saqaliba leaders, and newly arrived Berber soldiers (Granada and other cities).

Seville (Sevilla). The Abbadi (Arabic,بنو عباد) comprised an Arab Muslim Dynasty which arose in Al-Andalus on the downfall of the Caliphate of Cordoba (756–1031). Abbadid rule lasted from about 1023 until 1091. The 'Abbadi family (the 'Abbadids) replaced previously powerful local Arab patrician families, the Banu l-Hajjaj and Banu Khaldun, the latter being the family of Ibn Khaldun.

Almoravids, Almohads, and Marinids (1085 – 1492)

Government and Society


Science and Mathematics

Astronomy. The constellations still bear the names given them by Muslim astronomers in al Andalus —Acrab (from ‘aqrab, “scorpion”), Altair (from al-ta’ir, “the flyer”), Deneb (from dhanb, “tail”), Pherkard (from farqad, “calf”)—and words such as zenith, nadir and azimuth, all still in use today.

Maslama al-Majriti (d. 1007 CE) was a mathematician and astronomer who translated Ptolemy’s Almagest, and corrected and added to al-Khwarizmi’s astronomical tables. Al-Majriti also used advanced techniques of surveying using triangulation.

Al-Zarqali, or Arzachel in Latin, was a mathematician and astronomer who worked in Córdoba during the 11th century. He was skilled at making instruments for the study of astronomy, and built a famous water clock that could tell the hours of the day and night, as well as the days of the lunar month. Al-Zarqali contributed to the famous Toledan Tables of astronomical data, and published an almanac that correlated the days of the month on different calendars such as the Coptic, Roman, lunar and Persian, gave the positions of the planets, and predicted solar and lunar eclipses. He created tables of latitude and longitude to aid navigation and cartography.

Another prominent Andalusian mathematician and astronomer in Seville was al-Bitruji (d. 1204 CE), known in Europe as Alpetragius. He developed a theory of the movement of stars described in The Book of Form. Ibn Bagunis of Toledo was a mathematician renowned for his work in geometry. Abraham bar Hiyya was a Jewish mathematician who assisted Plato of Tivoli with translation of important mathematical and astronomical works, including his own Liber Embadorum, in 1145 CE. Abu al-Hakam al-Kirmani was a prominent 12th century scholar of Al-Andalus, a scholar of geometry and logic.

No branch of mathematics is more visible in Muslim culture than geometry. Geometric design reached heights of skill and beauty that was applied to nearly every art form, from textiles to illustration to architectural decoration. Tessellated, or complex, overall patterns were used in Andalusian architecture to cover walls, ceilings, floors and arches. Some scholars of Islamic arts believe that these designs were much more than artisans’ work -- they consciously expressed the mathematical knowledge of the culture that produced them.


Born in Córdoba in what is now Spain, he wrote books on logic, inference and deduction. For some time he was the personal physician of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir, sultan of al-Andalus and wrote The Treatment of Dangerous Diseases Appearing Superficially on the Body (Mualajat al-amrad al-khatirah al-badiyah ala al-badan min kharij). It was cited by later writers, but thought to be now lost, until a copy of it was discovered among the manuscripts now at the National Library of Medicine. Much of the treatise is on the subject of poisonous bites.

Al-Kattani also wrote an anthology of Andalusian poetry, and became especially famous by his book on metaphor in Andalusian poetry.

  • רמב"ם, موسى ابن ميمون Maimonides (1138-1204) the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. He worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt. With the contemporary Muslim sage Averroes, he promoted and developed the philosophical tradition of Aristotle. As a result, Maimonides and Averroes would gain a prominent and controversial influence in the West, where Aristotelian thought had been lost for centuries. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas were notable Western readers of Maimonides.
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol, also Solomon ben Judah (Hebrew: שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול‎, Shelomo ben Yehuda ibn Gevirol; Arabic: أبو أيوب سليمان بن يحيى بن جبيرول‎, Abu Ayyūb Suleiman ibn Yahya ibn Jabirūl; Latin: Avicebron, a corruption of Ibn Gibran), was an Andalucian Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher. He was born in Málaga about 1021; died about 1058 in Valencia.

Geography and History

Arab scholars from North Africa made substantial contributions to geography after the 9th century. The geographer al-Idrisi produced a world map, together with detailed descriptions, in his The Delight of Him Who Wishes to Traverse the Regions of the World.

Perhaps the greatest world traveler of his time was Ibn Battutah, a native of North Africa who explored the Far East, India, and the region of the Niger in Africa (see Ibn Battutah ). In all, it is estimated that he traveled about 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) and visited nearly every Muslim country. His Rihlah (Travels), written in about 1353, is filled with information about the cultural state of the Muslim world of his time.

The Tunisian Ibn Khaldun was one of the great social scientists of all time. His masterpiece, The Muqaddimah (Introduction), is filled with brilliant observations on the writing of history, economics, politics, and education. It has long been regarded as one of the finest philosophies of history ever written.


Poetry flourished exuberantly in 11th century al-Andalus. Verse was the common expression of the day, an arabesque of words and meaning the language of love, diplomacy and satire. Andalusians loved poetry and virtually everyone composed it. No poet so embodied the spirit of this brilliant poetical age as did al-Mu'tamid, the poet-king of Seville, who lived from 1040 to 1095. Al-Mu'tamid is considered one of the most outstanding Andalusian poets of his age. "He left," wrote literary histo­rian Ibn Bassam, "some pieces of verse as beautiful as the bud when it opens to disclose the flower."

Music and Musicians

המוסיקה היהודית האנדלוסית يهود الأندلس Jewish Sephardic music

A number of musical instruments used in classical music, particularly in Spanish music, are believed to have been derived from Arabic musical instruments used in Al-Andalus: the lute was derived from the al'ud, the rebec (ancestor of violin) from the rebab, the guitar from qitara, naker from naqareh, adufe from al-duff, alboka from al-buq, anafil from al-nafir, exabeba from al-shabbaba (flute), atabal (bass drum) from al-tabl, atambal from al-tinbal,[91] the balaban, the castanet from kasatan, sonajas de azófar from sunuj al-sufr, the conical bore wind instruments,[92] the xelami from the sulami or fistula (flute or musical pipe),[93] the shawm and dulzaina from the reed instruments zamr and al-zurna,[94] the gaita from the ghaita, rackett from iraqya or iraqiyya,[95] the harp and zither from the qanun,[citation needed] canon from qanun, geige (violin) from ghichak,[96] and the theorbo from the tarab.[97] It is also commonly acknowledged by flamenco performers that the vocal, instrumental, and dance elements of modern flamenco were greatly influenced by the Arab performing arts.

Lasting Heritage Of the Moors on Spain

This project points to the myriad ways in which al-Andalus has left its mark on Spain. And while many of the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants fled with the Reconquista, there are/were many Spanish and Portuguese families and indeed many Hispanic and Brazilian families whose names, DNA, and traditions reveal their heritage.

Medlands points out that the Banu Qasi family rose to considerable prominence during the 9th and early 10th centuries in north-western Spain in the area adjacent to the Carolingian "March" of Spain. The names "Fortun" and "Lubb" are significant names of this family, and the former is recorded frequently among Navarrese nobility and the latter presumably was transformed into the equally common "Lope" and its Basque equivalent "Ochoa".

Linguistic Heritage

There are some tricks to finding the words of Arabic origin in Spanish (and there are many such words). Guad associated with a Spanish name for a body of water derives from the word for "river" or Wadi in Arabic. Words that begin with "al" which is the definite article ("the") in Arabic are generally of Arabic origin. Here is an article about the Arabic influence on Spanish.

  • Algarve - the southern region of Portugal gharb "the west"
  • Gibraltar - Jbel Tariq, "Mountain of Tariq"
  • Guadalquivir, "the big river"
  • alcazar - citadel, palace
  • algebra
  • algorithm
  • aceite - oil
  • aceituna - olive

Arabic Names and Naming Practices Bibliography

  1. Period Arabic Names and Naming Practices by Da'ud ibn Auda (David B. Appleton) from site.
  2. Wikipedia article on Arabic names


  1. Kennedy, Hugh, Muslim Spain and Portugal. Longman, 1998.
  2. Reilly, Bernard F., The Medieval Spains. Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  3. Medieval Lands: Moorish Spain, Charles Cawley.
  4. website on Islamic Spain, Mathematics page
  5. The Legacy of Muslim Spain (Studien Und Texte Zur Geistesgeschichte Des Mittelalters,), Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Brill Academic Publishers, 2000.
  6. online article about The Poet-King of Seville
  7. online article about Ishbiliyah: Islamic Seville

Siglo de Oro ~ The Spanish Golden Age

The Spanish Golden Age of the 15th-17th centuries. For the earlier Golden Age of Islamic and Jewish cultures in Spain, see Al-Andalus.

The Spanish Golden Age (Spanish: Siglo de Oro, Golden Century) period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the political rise and decline of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty.

El Siglo de Oro does not imply precise dates and is usually considered to have lasted longer than an actual century. It begins no earlier than 1492, with the end of the Reconquista (Reconquest), the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and the publication of Antonio de Nebrija's Gramática de la lengua castellana (Grammar of the Castilian Language). Politically, it ends no later than 1659, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, ratified between France and Habsburg Spain. The last great writer of the period, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, died in 1681, and his death usually is considered the end of El Siglo de Oro in the arts and literature.

The Habsburgs, both in Spain and Austria, were great patrons of art in their countries. El Escorial, the great royal monastery built by King Philip II of Spain, invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters.

Diego Velázquez, regarded as one of the most influential painters of European history and a greatly respected artist in his own time, cultivated a relationship with King Philip IV and his chief minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares, leaving us several portraits that demonstrate his style and skill.

El Greco, another respected artist from the period, infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting. Some of Spain's greatest music is regarded as having been written in the period.

Such composers as Tomás Luis de Victoria, Francisco Guerrero, Luis de Milán and Alonso Lobo helped to shape Renaissance music and the styles of counterpoint and polychoral music, and their influence lasted far into the Baroque period which resulted in a revolution of music.

Spanish literature blossomed as well, most famously demonstrated in the work of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Spain's most prolific playwright, Lope de Vega, wrote possibly as many as one thousand plays during his lifetime, of which over four hundred survive to the present day.

1. Maria Rosa Menocal, The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain (Little, Brown, 2002)

2. Chris Lowney, A Vanished World: Medieval Spain’s Golden Age of Enlightenment (Free Press, 2005)

3. David Levering Lewis, God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 (Norton, 2009)

4. Richard E. Rubenstein, Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages (Harcourt, 2003)

5. “El Cid” (Anthony Mann, 1961)

6. The Song of the Cid (Translated by Burton Raffel, Introduction by Maria Rosa Menocal, Penguin Books, 2009)

7. Maria Rosa Menocal, Raymond P. Scheindlin and Michael Sells, editors, The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: The Literature of Al-Andalus (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

8. Peter Cole, translator and editor, The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain 950-1492 (Princeton University Press, 2007)

9. Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds (Doubleday, 2008)

10. Jose Faur, In the Shadow of History: Jews and Conversos at the Dawn of Modernity (State University of New York Press, 1992)

11. Robert Irwin, The Alhambra (Harvard University Press, 2004)

12. Fruits of Al-andalus, Sepharad

Notable Jewish figures in Al Andalus

  • Abu al-Fadl ibn Hasda, philosopher, vizier at Zaragosa
  • Abu Ruiz ibn Dahri fought in the war against the Almohades.
  • Amram ben Isaac ibn Shalbib, scholar and diplomat in the service of Alfonso VI of Castile
  • Bahya ibn Paquda, philosopher and author of Chovot ha-Levavot
  • Bishop Bodo-Eleazar; according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "a convert to Judaism ... [who]... went to Córdoba, where he is said to have endeavored to win proselytes for Judaism from among the Spanish Christians."
  • Dunash ben Labrat (920-990), poet
  • Isaac ibn Albalia, astronomer and rabbi at Granada
  • Jekuthiel ibn Hasan, king's minister at Zaragosa, fell from favor, executed
  • Joseph ibn Hasdai, poet, father of Abu al-Fadl ibn Hasdai
  • Joseph ibn Migash, diplomat for Granada
  • הרמב״ם Maimonides (1138-1204) rabbi, physician, and philosopher
  • Menahem ben Saruk
  • Solomon Ibn Gabirol, poet and philosopher
  • Moses ben Enoch
  • Judah HaLevi יהודה הלוי, poet and philosopher (1075-1141)
  • Abraham ibn Ezra, rabbi and poet
  • Moses ibn Ezra, philosopher and poet
  • Benjamin of Tudela, traveler and explorer
  • Samuel Ha-Nagid ibn Nagrela, king's minister and poet
  • Hasdai ibn Shaprut, royal physician and statesman
  • Judah ben Saul ibn Tibbon

Sephardic pedigrees

See also List of Jewish surnames, Spanish and Portuguese names, List of Sephardic People, List of Iberian Jews

  • Abravanel
  • Abulafia
  • Camondo
  • Carabajal
  • De Castro
  • Harari
  • Maimon
  • Paredes
  • Silva

Leading Sephardi rabbis


(Geonim/Rishonim from the Near East or North Africa accepted as authorities by Sephardim)

Islamic Spain

  • Isaac Alfasi
  • Joseph ibn Migash
  • Judah al-Bargeloni
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol
  • Abraham ibn Ezra
  • Moses ibn Ezra
  • Judah ha-Levi
  • Bahya ibn Paquda
  • הרמב״ם Maimonides (1138-1204)

Christian Spain

  • Nahmanides
  • Solomon ben Adret
  • Yom Tob of Seville (the Ritba)
  • Nissim of Gerona
  • Asher ben Jehiel (Ashkenazi by birth, became Chief Rabbi of Toledo)
  • Jacob ben Asher
  • Moses de Leon
  • David Abudirham
  • Isaac Campanton
  • Isaac Aboab
  • After the expulsion
  • David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra
  • Jacob Berab
  • Levi ibn Ḥabib
  • Joseph Caro
  • Bezalel Ashkenazi
  • Moses ben Jacob Cordovero
  • Ḥayim Vital
  • Moses Alshech
  • Solomon Nissim Algazi
  • Yaakov Culi
  • Hayim Palaggi

Miscellaneous & repeats.

  • Hasdai ibn Shaprut (882-942)
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol, Avicebrón.
  • יהודה הלוי Judah HaLevi (1075-1141)
  • Samuel Ha-Nagid ibn Nagrela, (993-1056)
  • Joseph ibn Naghrela
  • Abraham and Moses ibn Ezra
  • Ibn Gabirol
  • Judah ben Joseph ibn Ezra (Nasi).
  • Joseph ben Solomon ibn Shoshan (Al-H.ajib ibn Amar).
  • David ibn Yah.ya
  • Abraham Benveniste
  • Meïr Alguadez
  • Jacob ibn Nuñez,
  • Abraham Senior
  • Samuel Abravanel
  • Don Isaac Abravanel,
  • Joseph Pichon of Seville
  • Abraham Zacuto
  • Menahem ben Saruq,
  • Dunash ben Labrat
  • Samuel Ha-Nagid,
  • הרמב״ם Maimonides (1138-1204)
  • Moses ben Enoch
  • Abu Ayyub Solomon ibn al-Mu'allam,
  • Abraham ibn Meïr ibn Kamnial,
  • Abu Isaac ibn Muhajar,
  • Solomon ibn Farusal

Slavery in Al-Andalus