When the Moors Ruled in Europe

When the Moors Ruled in Europe

2005, History  -   119 Comments
Ratings: 7.55/10 from 184 users.

When the Moors Ruled in EuropeJoin British historian Bettany Hughes as she examines a long-buried chapter of European history--the rise and fall of Islamic culture in what is now Spain and Portugal.

Although generations of Spanish rulers have tried to expunge this era from the historical record, recent archeology and scholarship now shed fresh light on the Moors who flourished in Al-Andalus for more than 700 years.

This fascinating documentary explodes old stereotypes and offers shocking new insights. You’ll discover the ingenious mathematics behind Granada’s dazzling Alhambra Palace, trace El Cid’s lineage to his Moorish roots, and learn how the Iberian population willingly converted to Islam in droves.

Through interviews with noted scholars, you’ll see how Moorish advances in mathematics, astronomy, art, and agriculture helped propel the West out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance. What emerges is a richly detailed portrait of a sensuous, inquisitive, and remarkably progressive Islamic culture in Christian Europe.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

Eurocentric's try to put their greedy hands in every race culture but their own..
By European accounts along they were calling moors black but I guess once it was discovered that they did something of substance whites can't stop themselves and their racism from trying to steal that culture lol eurocentric's are the same retarded ass idiots that want you to believe that they left Europe and came to africa to become the Egyptians when they wasn't even smart enough to build anything in Europe at that time nether were Arabs but right below egypt in a place called Nubia they built pyramids
had kings and pharaohs hundreds of years before egypt would have their first Pharaohs
and Nubia was richer than egypt because they mined for gold .

James Knapp
4 years ago

Very distorted view of history. Apparently there were no Jews in Spain.

5 years ago

cyndiwee.........try calling an arab black and you will get slapped,africans didn't have ships.reed canoes maybe not ships moors were Arabic.you tried swiping ancient Egypt too but educated people know better.

5 years ago

moors only invaded spain never conquered spain or Europe diophantus a greek invented algebra not the Indians like one of these commenters mentioned.moors invaded Portugal never conquered,so stop your deception.

6 years ago

OMG!!! If ever I have seen a pure, unadulterated, Christian hating, propaganda docu (?)
this is it.
It is actually nauseously pro-Islam....but what do you expect from a non-European?
Yet, one finds all these mindless idiots believing this one sided rubbish...what a waste to watch.

6 years ago

This is ridden with innaccuracies.
The Cid fought his first battle alongside a Moor, later against them-not uncommon for Goths. His ancestry was Goth, not Moor. Goth were originally Scandinavian-they created what we know as Spain and Portugal, were the first to be known as "Españoles" (Spaniards). Famous Spaniards of Goth ancestry besides Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Mio Cid) include Isabella de Castilla (also descended of British royalty-King Edward III-from both parents), Fernando de Aragon-her husband, who also had some Sephardic ancestry, Miguel Cervantes (writer of Don Quixote), most of the Conquistadors, and most people in Spain and Portugal have some ancestry extending that way. At core Spain was and remains a Christian European nation.

Arabic numerals with the 0 base and the discipline renamed algebra was taken from the people of pre-Islamic India. Architecture-originally Bizantine-came here through Moor influence to reside along Gothic styled (prevalent throughout Europe from Early Middle Ages). Spain literature-as anyone who studied it knows is-all of it-is from Christian Spain (the Moors did not speak-predominantly-Spanish; Spanish painting belongs to the European tradition back to the MA; music was from the same Catholic modalities (modes) prevalent throughout the rest of Medieval Europe-this is true even about Sephardic music traditions (Sephardic is the Hebrew name for Spanish). Culturally and historically every period in Spain belongs and is part of the European tradition-Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightment, Romantic, Impressionist/Modern. In short Spaniards have always been-and accurately seen themselves as-Europeans, literally Iberia is part of the European continent.

6 years ago

How can a system where 100 virgin girls be demanded as homage every year be a great nation of generosity and leaders of a new world? The moors were barbaric tribesman that invaded and slaughtered innocent Spanish and Portugal indigenous inhabitants (Europeans). A lot of you guys forget to mention that any english system or new world systems are those given to us by the vikings by way of the normans. Scandinavians did not receive any governing laws or were by in any way conquered. We Scandinavians and Frankish have given the most to Europe. It is funny how the moors tried to rule frankish towns but failed. It is also funny that almost after Scandinavian occupation Europe was freed. Perhaps Europe owes the debt to Scandinavians and not muslims. I have little idea why the prince would even state this bs, perhaps he is a little scorned by Viking influence.

6 years ago

This clip is still misleading people. The MOORS were of color brown skin people., known as the Israelites. They ruled spain over thousand years, before the renaissance. I'm so tired of these people lying. The world was given to the Israelites. Christopher Columbus didn't discover nothing but robbing, killing and stealing. The land was given to the Indians and him and the conqistados came and took the land, slain and killed them. the truth is coming out.

6 years ago

I'm glad that some of the posters understand the difference between Roman Catholic and Christian, terms which are all too often and wrongly used interchangeably. Christians do not regard RC as very near to the pale of orthodox Christianity as laid out by the Apostles. RC is a man-made religion which invariably results in mistakes, poor decision making and evil governing due to using human understanding versus wisdom and discernment from God... witness the Crusades (though in truth that was a response to 400 years of Muslim Jihad.. still it was not authorized by God) and more recently, the residential school issues among the indigenous of N. America.

European moroccan
7 years ago

This is a bit biased. A lot of what the moors brought was originated from other places. And altough the elite were the moors/arab, the population still was overwhelmingly European. Although the moors/arab brought things that was very usefull, but to not give credit to the population is very disingenious. I think it says more than enough that spain was the center of the islamic state of that time, the people had just as much to do with it.

7 years ago

They make it sound like like Moors came and built right from the start, but they came in killing the goth that lived there and pushed them north. Death came from both sides.

Tommy Boyd
7 years ago

Cool thanks to yourself

7 years ago

Good documentary.

7 years ago

I am interested in finding out genetically about whom the Spanish called " los moriscos" or moorish. Could they be the so called lost ancestors of the gypsy people or gitanos? Their genetics are very interesting and their was an excellent article I found on a website jw.org under magacines with the word search "the moorish". Oh how they were attacted and dispersed by the Catholic church. So much for following the counsel"love thy enemies and pray for those persecuting you". So someday maybe we will find out if that is where they are from.

7 years ago

another whitewashed documentary....I just love the way how academics redine terms. Moors mean black, very dark, yet they want to say those from the middle east as Moors, forgetting that Africa is just a short distance away. MOOR = BLACK, NOT ARAB....Geez

7 years ago

You people keep calling them Muslims or Arabs. THEY were Moors, Black Moors- Moor means Black.

Malik EL
7 years ago

During the time of the Moors, there was a distinct difference between a Moor and a Arab. Moors were neither sunni or Shi ites. They practiced Islam the way Bilal and the Prophet pbuh) taught those who converted to Islam. The Prophet spoke about the Africa and his relationship with Melanted people. If you study the life of the Prophet ( pbuh) the Moors were the first group of people to submit in great numbers. The Prophets own people rejected the call to Islam. Another great point is ? If Bilal had become the first Imam like the Prophet ( pbuh) had requested of him this division would have never happened. I believe Islam is in the hand of the modern day Moors.

theresa m
7 years ago

RE the Moors...there are reports that Beethoven & even Mozart ( no connection to them being mentioned in the video, mind) might've had Moor blood. Of course most people will pooh-pooh the very idea...that's why i find it interesting that people can even raise such a suspicion considering they know their argument'll be met with derision & skepticism. And here are pictures apparently, of a rather tanned looking B.........

Luisa Araujo
10 years ago


Do your research before posting your comments.

10 years ago

Algorithm is derived from the name of a Persian mathematician called Kharazmi. There is a tendency to call all Islamic scientists and mathematicians as Arabs. A disproportionate number were all Persians.

10 years ago

Algorithm comes from the name of a Persian mathematician Kharazmi.
He was not an Arab mathematician. There is a tendency to confuse all Mulsim scientists as Arabs.

10 years ago

Islam was an african science adopted by the Afrabs or Arabs as you know them to be. Nas and Damian Marley told you all the worlds religions came out of Africa and African spirituality. Watch Hidden colors 1 and 2

10 years ago

This title is misleading. Europe was alot bigger than just spain. They tried to push into parts of france but got destroyed. Props for taking out spain, but that is not even close to taking out europe.

Ravendra T
10 years ago

This video is good. However, Arabs learnt Maths, Astronomy, Medicine and Science from Hindus/Indians. Moreover, The "zero" was invented by a Hindu sage.

dimal kaci
10 years ago

It's Moops!

10 years ago

Ms. Williams please do some research on Christopher Columbus aka Christopher Colon before you state your view as well.You disregard that history or HIS story can be one of two things, true or false. The Olmecs aka Moors or Mali Moors were in the Americas thousands of years before Columbus.

This documentary is only a great eye opener to people who have blindly believed what was put in Western text books to distort history. The Moors were so-called black people and were the original givers of civilization to all cultures.

11 years ago

Where did the Muslims-Arabs get their knowledge from? Perhaps from other parts of Black Africa? Read John Henri Clarke and Ivan Van Sertima.

Armando Pacheco

11 years ago

also, for those of you who like to make bold statements (for example, about colombus) how many sources did you read before you started ranting about him being demonic? History is rarely a case of right or worng, but interpretations of events, some of which, we may never know.
Learn to discuss your ideas, not preach.

11 years ago

i've been studying spanish history for a while and find this documentary generally very good. As for all the comments, i can't say i understand what most of you are trying to say, it all seems like ranting and raving, you'll never get a point accross like that.
Avocados aside, this to me complies with a lot of other texts I have read, and given a vast amount of people have no idea musilms were ever IN western europe before modern times, i think this is a great introduction and eye opener.

11 years ago

avocados?!? they're from central and south america!

11 years ago

in response to Xbow and Moez Bouselmi, i tend to agree more to Bouselmi since the Jizya was levied on non muslims in reply to giving them all equal facilities including protection against their own enemies. in most of the occupied areas where muslims ruled, Spain, Eastern Europe, middle east, persia and india some of the most important positions in the state governance were given to the non muslim locals, while i also agree to the fact that occupation and subjugation are unhealthy acts but unfortunately all the advanced nations of the world have done it in their times and we are still experiencing it in Iraq, Afghanistan, libya and may be in many other regions in days ahead. What still has made those days Muslim conquests a better deal was the fact that they proved far better than the rulers they over threw and since they had ingredients from many societies and cultures and skills , crafted a better world for the dwellers.

11 years ago

@Xbow : here some correction for whatyou wrote :
**Jizya = the donation. Only non muslum wealthy people have to pay that as a tax.
**Zakat : only healthy muslum have to pay this tax too.

Conclusion : Every one have to pay a certain tax.

**Dhimmis = The people on charge- Mean people that are on the state responsability and the state have to protect. Many Wizir (prime minsiters) were Dhimmis and even Jewish.

Dimmis don't have the duty as other muslum citizen to partcipate on wars and fight because they pay Jizya. Dhimis were autonomous, have their properties, lands slaves and even their laws, chruches etc.
They were a place for every religion and ethnicity.

As for digits :)

Ironically most of 'arab' countries use now hindu litterals :) and the west use the arabic digit. What you advance is 100% wrong.
Also muslum civilisation is not 'arabic' but rather multi ethnic.

Hindi litterals : ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

12 years ago

When you invade and subjugate a region that has its own unique culture and history such as the Visigothic Christian culture in Iberia before the Umayyad Caliphate invasion it doesn't necessarily follow that:

•The invasion and subjugation will ever be forgotten or forgiven no matter how wonderful the victor may be. In fact quite the opposite is true.

•Being of European extraction I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Martel (the hammer) for giving the Umayyad Caliphate the bums rush out of central Europe after he defeated their army at the Battle of Poitiers AKA the Battle of Tours in AD 732. It was after all his actions that prevented further Islamic contamination of Europe.

•The narrator said, "the Christians converted in droves." As if it was some sort of epiphany. The truth is that the Visigothic Christian occupants of Hispania that remained were 'obliged' to convert to Islam or forever occupy the lowest rung of the social ladder.

"Many Christians converted to Islam to avoid the Jizya tax which they were subjected to as Dhimmis. Conversion to Islam also opened up new horizons to the native Christians, alleviated their social position, ensured better living conditions, and broadened scope for more technically skilled and advanced work."

Well no ****, it was either convert or scrabble in the dirt for a marginal living.

Obviously the narrator has an infatuation with Islamic world but I find it to be absurd that this woman doesn't have a problem with the brutal subjugation of the indigenous population of Iberia by the Umayyad Caliphate. In fact she hardly mentions it. However in characterizing the Reconquista as a dirty grab for land by packs of barbarian Christians she marks herself as intellectually dishonest. They were simply taking back what was stolen from them. Turn about is after all fair play.

And the Narrator ignorantly attributes 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 what we call Arabic numerals to the Muslims, but in truth they are Hindu numerals that were in common usage by the Persians and Hindus hundreds of years before Islam came into existence. But to be fair the Arabs have always called them 'Hindu Numerals.' And as far as the concept of zero is concerned that bit dates back to the Babylonians who in the 2nd millennium BC had a sophisticated sexagesimal (Base 60) positional numeral system.

"The concept of zero as a number and not merely a symbol for separation is attributed to India where by the 9th century AD practical calculations were carried out using zero, which was treated like any other number, even in case of division."

The bottom line is that Conquest is conquest and subjugation is subjugation and retribution should be expected.

**Jizya = Material proof (tribute) of the non-Muslims' acceptance of subjection.
**Dhimmis = one having fewer legal and social responsibilities and rights than a Muslim.

12 years ago

Am very grateful to the arabs, though I am afraid that Khaled, on taking Alexandria, decided to burn what remained of the library. Of course, the Christians had done the most damage, including killing Hypatia.

12 years ago

I really enjoyed this documentary. I wanted them to mention that, due to church and hatred towards the Greeks which they question everything in Life, Greek knowledge was removed from Europe for 1500 years. Thanks to the Arabs and their religion which never interfere with science from carrying on the Classic Greek Knowledge to the world.

12 years ago

Abdul Aziz Gopalani
Thnak you for portraying true history, history teach us lesson, there were many guidance being an muslim, we all seek this, are we learning from it ?

12 years ago

The Narrator's Smugness is really irritating, but otherwise very good.

Taharqa (Conqueror of Egypt)
12 years ago

A. T. Heist 39

" maybe i missed it but, at the beginning, did she ever mention which region in Africa the moors originate, i know she said Muslim and Arabic speaking but, the Sudanese fit that description too. i wanna know what the moors looked like "

First of all start by doing some effective and unbiased research on the origins of the word Maures and furthermore the meaning of this word...you will be startled by what you find...Caution!!!

Well it's so interesting that you are the only one so far in this post that brings up the question of the true ethnicity of the MOORS. This shows that you are quite open minded and are willing to fight against being misguided.

Well again I'm not trying to convince or educate you but I'll place the facts and you do the research yourself. Africans are in no doubt aware of their history, heritage and glory regarding The African continent, Ancient Olmec civilization, and the MOORS.
To answer your question I will suggest that you start by doing extensive research on Shakespeare's works in which one of the famous works is better known as OTHELLO. The character of Othello himself was represented as a very dark African... There are statues all over Europe that represent the true nature of the MOORS but it looks as if here in the U.S. we are so caught up in racism that we are blinded and seem to elude the facts and go by propaganda.
The first movie ever made about Othello was starring Sir Lawrence Olivier who played the role of Othello. Ironically Sir Lawrence's face and body was painted pitch black...since they could not use a true African due to the racism at the time.
Another famous (Epic) movie known as "The Long Ships" depicting a famous MOORISH general known as AL MANSUR was played by another famous African actor known as Sidney Poitier. Al Mansur (African Muslim) is also known to have conquered the great African Empire of Timbuctu in 1591 AD due to old terrain disputes and malpractices of true Islam by the Emperors of Mali and his people. Recent manuscripts which were protected and hidden deep in the sand by the MALIANS are now re-emerging telling the true nature of the conflict and depicting in no doubt the true Nature of the war and the MOORS ruled by Al Mansur at the time. Experts say it will take over 50 years to decipher these African Manuscripts.
Every body and their grandma in Mali know of the MOORS to be of African descent and is in no way news to them except in the west and beyond...LoL

Also the most recent movie about Othello was played by an African American named Lawrence Fishburne.

Are these just mere coincidences???!!!

12 years ago

Im busy writing my masterthesis, on the perception of tourist visiting Islamic Heritage sides towards the Islamic Culture in the south of Portugal; in the case study of Mertola. However, I need to summarize the history of Al Andalus. I would be thankful if somebody has some good literature for me. I study tourism, so we dont have a history section in our library.

12 years ago

So far, this is the best documentary I've ever watched. No one could have presented it much better than Bettany Hughes. The educational value in this documentary is immense in my case. Questions have been answered and my view of history and the world have changed forever. Although I consider myself a Christian, I have so much respect for Muslims and Islam, and for prophet Mohammed, PBUH.

12 years ago

Very nice video...it keeps reminding me we can still do something to bring this nation back to where it was long ago...\

and for the person who commented about the "gun powder" thing, claiming that muslims do use it "alot" ...well, let's just not throw accusations here because if you wanna go down this road your very own nation can't possibly be free of charges of terrorism and bloody actions...so dont blame others unknowingly just because of the picture you're MADE TO BELIEVE by your own mass media and maybe governments...

great video though, and thanks for such efforts :)

12 years ago

very interesting

12 years ago

To Andrew.

How far back your ancestry goes, is absolutely all the way. someone had to give birth to your parents who were birthed by someone else etc. on down the line all the way back to bacteria 4 billion years ago. you and the oak tree in my back yard have the same grandfather way way back in time nearly a billion years ago, you and a the horse down the road have the same grandfather who lived around 60 million years ago. You and EL CID have the same grandfather somewhere back in time from 500 to 10,000 years ago. The point is we are all related, not just person to person, but life to life.

You are the cousin of every Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, and Tree Frog in the world.

Course if you wanna go all the way back, all your pieces and parts and all the energy involved is all directly related to every galaxy, star, & planet in the universe. And whats more it all sprang into existence right where you sit, about 14 billion years ago.

Thank you Renaissance and the Scientific revolution. And thank you to all our ancestors for surviving long enough to make babies.

13 years ago

Loved it! The alhambra is amazing.

13 years ago

I really enjoyed this documentary. Very enlightening. Definitely worth watching.

A. T. Heist
13 years ago

maybe i missed it but, at the beginning, did she ever mention which region in africa the moors originate, i know she said muslim and arabic speaking but, the sudanese fit that description too. i wanna know what the moors looked like.

i guess i'll keep watching.

13 years ago

This is very interesting and informative movie i like it very much this movie help me and my friends to understand a part of history
Thank You a lot Bettany Hughes

13 years ago

to garlic sausage and alike
oh so i was wrong! i believed invading a country/s and slaughtering its inhabitants like in the crusades and spanish reconquesta was differnt to be invited and welcomed in a country where the inhabitants are left unharmed and not forcefully converted to the religion of the rulers and conquerors and capitualte and are forgiven and shown mercy to and left alone like when the Muslim brought learningthrough ruling Spain, securing its borders from rebels, creating an peaceful and inspiration enviroment conducive to the magnificent leaning that went on there bring together Jews, Christians and Muslims under the Muslim Rule to communicate, exchange ideas etc.
When THE so called Christians went on the 1st crusade they slaughtered and massacreded most of the if not all of the mUslims in Jerusale and Sallahuddin took back Jerusalem from the Christians after nearly a 100 yrs of occupation instead taking his revenge and doing exactly the same to the Christians inhabitants, they capitualted, he forgave them and they left and Muslims reclaimed.
That is why Salhuddin was know as a great mercifull leader even among is adverseries.

13 years ago

Absolutely brilliant! A great informative, and extremey accurate account of the Andalus reign. I can only say, that the inquisition was uncalled for. It destroyed a culture and heritage that could have flourished to this day, proving to the world that yeah, Islam and Christianity can collaborate and invent together. How shameful. But the Influence of Granada and the Alhambra is everlasting.

Viva Andalucia

13 years ago

The BBC Documentary Science and Islam is another great doc to watch!