MOORS

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MOORS ; a class of the inhabitants of Western Africa, particularly of the states of Fez and Morocco. The Arabians call them medainien (mariners) ; they call themselves Moslem (the faithful), and are strict Mohammedans. They are of Arabian origin; they live in towns, and are employed principally in traffic. The Romans called a part of Western Africa Mauritania, and the inhabitants Moors. Their wars with the Romans are well known. This territory was afterwards under the dominion of the Vandals, whose king Genseric (429) established a powerful ldngdom, which was, however, overthrown (534) by Belisarius. The Saracens (Arabians), followers of Mohammed, extended their conquests in the seventh century to this part of Africa, which was governed by a deputy of the caliph of Damascus. Subsequently (711-13) they took advantage of the disorders in the Spanish kingdom of the Visigoths to reduce that country, with the exception of a small part, under their yoke. The Spanish writers gave them the name of Moors from their residence in Mauritania. While the greatest part of Europe was sunk in barbarism, learning and the arts flourished among the Arabians in Spain, where remarkable monuments of their labors are still seen; but the division of the country among different rulers, and their dissensions, so weakened the power of the Moors, that they could no longer resist the incessant encroachments of the princes of the newly established Christian states in Spain, and were finally reduced to the possession of the kingdom of Grenada. Ferdinand the Catholic, after a ten years' war (1491), conquered this also, and thereby put an end to the dominion of the Moors in Spain, after it had lasted nearly 800 years. A part of the Moors went to Africa; most of them remained in Spain, where they were industrious, peaceful subjects, and adopted generally the external forms of Christianity. These last were called, in Spain, Moriscos. Philip II, in his ferocious zeal for Christianity, resolved upon their entire destruction. His oppressions and persecutions excited an insurrection of the Moriscos in Grenada (1571), after the suppression of which over 100 000 of . them were banished. Philip III, in the same spirit of fanaticism, completed their expulsion from the country. Nearly a million of the Moriscos emigrated to Africa. As they were the most ingenious and industrious inhabitants of Spain, they were a great loss to the country. Agriculture speedily fell into decay. This expulsion of the Moriscos is regarded as one of the leading causes of the decline of Spain. The History of the Reign of the Moors in Spain, by doctor Jos. Ant. Conde, is drawn from Arabian manuscripts.