During the Arab invasion of Morocco, there was a great general known
as Gibril Tarik. The African Tarik, now governor of Mauritania,
entered into friendly relations with Count Julian, governor of Ceuta
who was on very bad terms with his master, Roderic, the King of Spain.
Count Julian urged the African Tarik to invade Spain.
In 711 A.D., General Tarik, accompanied by 100 horses and 400 African
soldiers, crossed over into Spain on an exploratory mission. Tarik's small
army ravaged several Spanish towns and returned to Africa laden with
spoils. Later that same year, Tarik took an army of 7000 Africans,
crossing from Africa to Gibraltar (named after him), defeating King
Roderic and conquering most of the Iberian Peninsula. Thus began the
Moorish domination of Spain, which was not fully ended until 1492.
The Moors built magnificent cities in Spain. Cordoba, in the tenth
century was much like a modern metropolis. The streets were
paved, and there were sidewalks for pedestrians. At night it was said
that one could travel for ten miles by the light of lamps along a
continuous strip of buildings. This was several hundred years before
there was a paved street in Paris or a street lamp in London.
The population of the city was over one million. There were 200,000
homes, 800 public schools, a number of colleges and universities,
and many royal places surrounded by beautiful gardens.
The Tanneries of Cordoba and Morocco City were the best in the
world. Cordoba was the most wonderful city of the tenth century. It
was served by 4,000 public markets and 5,000 mills. Public baths
numbered in the hundreds. This amenity was present at a time
when cleanliness in Christian Europe was regarded as a sin.
The mineral wealth of the land was not disregarded. Copper,
gold, tin, silver, lead, iron, quicksilver, and alum were extensively
mined. The sword blades of Toledo were the best in Europe, and
the factories in Murcia turned out the finest of brass and iron instruments.
Education was universal in Moorish Spain, available to the most humble,
while 99% of Christian Europe was illiterate not even the kings
could read or write. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, public
libraries did not exist in Christian Europe, while Moorish Spain had
more than seventy, of which the one in Cordoba contained over six
hundred thousand manuscripts. There were more than seventeen
great universities in Moorish Spain, while Christian Europe had only
two universities of any value.
Scientific progress in astronomy, chemistry, geography, mathematics,
physics, and philosophy flourished in Moorish Spain. Scholars, artist
and scientists formed learning societies, while scientific congresses
were organized to promote research and to facilitate the spread
of knowledge. A brisk intellectual life flourished in all Islamic
The moors also introduce the manufacture of gunpowder into
Europe, which their enemies later adopted, using this explosive
to drive them back to Africa.