Monday, November 28, 2011

When Blacks Ruled Spain, Portugal and North Africa

(This is not out of hate or bitterness against anyone. There is no language of hate or anger in the article. Therefore, please do not abuse the information contained therein against anyone.)

Check for the majority of Spanish, Portuguese and North Africans and you will see very dark hair and bushy eye lashes. It is the black genes in those people. How did that happen? Read on!

Duke Alessandro de Medici
Duke Alessandro de Medici

There has been mainstream Eurocentric or Western attempts in describing 'Moors' as people of Caucasian or mixed race; or a claim that it was interchangeable with Arab and Muslim. These are all mainstream Western attempts to minimise the role and place of Blacks in history and influence in European development. 

Duke Alessandro de Medici

In its original form the term "moor" denoted a physical description. It was not used by the Moors themselves. Christians called those lands occupied by black Muslims – Moorish. The Moors called the lands ‘Al-Andalus.’ The only time the term ‘Moor’ came to be used in a non-descriptive manner was during the Islamic epoch of Spain when all Muslims were called Moors, and even then there were modifiers like "Moriscos" to denote non-black converts.  
The term maure, mauri or "Moor" was used before the 8th century invasion of Iberia or Iberian Peninsula, which was conquered and ruled by the Moors for nearly 800 years in the period between 711 and 1492. The Iberian Peninsula was referred to by the Moors as ‘Al-Andalus’ and consisted of Asturian, Leonese, Mirandese, Spanish, Portuguese  and Galician: Península Ibérica, Catalan: Península Ibèrica, Aragonese  and Occitan: Peninsula Iberica, French: Péninsule Ibérique, Basque: Iberiar Penintsula. It is located in the extreme southwest of Europe  and includes the modern-day sovereign states  of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.   
Most Muslims of medieval Spain were local “muwalladun.” But the bulk of the Islamic "foreigners" were Berber/Arabic speaking Africans traditionally called Moors. They far outnumbered Arabs, Persians, Syrians and even the Slavs. Al-Mansur, the ruler over all the Muslim dominions following the collapse of the caliphate and preceding the Taifa states, was "stocky and dark-skinned..." (H. Kennedy, Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History", p. 41; p 237).
The Spanish account of the Almohad invasion quips that their "faces were like pitch and the most handsome of them was like a cooking pan"; this was of course nine centuries ago.
Alfonso X described the invading soldiers of the 13th: Los moros de la hueste todos vestidos del sirgo et de os panos de color que ganaran … las caras dellos negras como la pez el mas fremoso dellos era negro cmo la olla ("All the Moorish soldiers were dressed with silk and black wool that had been forcibly acquired… their black faces were like pitch and the most handsome of them was like a cooking pan.")

All Muslims were called Moors for the simple fact that most of the invaders were notably dark-skinned.  Following the tenth century all local converts were described variously by the Spanish and Portuguese as muladi or mulado after the Spaniards and Portuguese had adopted the Arabic “muwalladin” for half-castes and modified it to mean mixed-race as well as local converts. They tended to call non-black foreigners, including Arabs, saracens. 
The dictum holds true that all blacks were Moors but not all Moors were black. Because Moor became synonymous with Islam there came a point in Iberia where the term offered no significant ethnological value, but held its original connotations irrespective of Islam in other parts of Europe (hence the representation of Moors on numerous family crests).
The Moors here are perfectly black; the only personal distinction between them and the Negroes being, that the Moors had long black hair, and had no scars on their faces. The Negroes are in general marked in the same manner as those of Tombuctoo." - The narrative of Robert Adams: an American sailor, who was wrecked on the western coast of Africa, in the year 1810, was detained three years in slavery by the Arabs of the Great Desert, and resided several months in the City of Tombuctoo. With a map, notes and an appendix (1817).
"Mauri, the inhabitants of Mauritania. This name is derived from their black complexion"  - A classical dictionary: containing a copious account of all proper names mentioned in ancient authors, with the value of coins, weights, and measures used among the Greeks and Romans, and a chronological table (1822) by John Lemprière (
The Greeks called the Moors, Mauri or mavros which means dark-skinned or black, the word "Moor" is a derivative of this. The Romans called the land Mauritania which means "Land of the blacks". By the time of Shakespeare 'moor' and 'negro' were equivalent. And by the early 17th century the Latin nigri supplanted the Greek mavros.  

In Latin, Mauricius means dark skinned.In Italian, it's Mauro; in French, Maurice; in German, Moritz; English, Morris.
Quoting Isidore: "Mauretania vocata a colore populorum; Graeci enim nigrum [uiT'oov vocant" ("Mauretania derives its name from the color of its people, for the Greeks render nigrum as mauron.") This refers not to "sub-Saharan Africa" but northern Africa: "Let's be more precise: we are talking about the inhabitants of Maghreb, particularly Algeria and Morocco (Mauri) in the first millennium AD, not about prehistoric inhabitants of the Sahara. In the context of our discussion, "Sub-Saharan look" might mean the typical appearance of Wolof, Tibbu, Fula, Somalis or San, but not the predominant type found among Kabyles, Chaouia, Riffians or any other Berber group in the Atlas.

I am not sure why are you mentioning the Garamantes here. Isn't this discussion supposed to be about the Mauri? The Romans clearly distinguished these populations, they were two distinct people living in two different regions. You seem to be playing with definitions here

According to A Book of English Surnames, Blackmore, Blakemore, Blackmoor, Blacomer, Blackomer and Blakomor all derive from the phrase "black as a moor."
Charles Dickens said: "Tho convenient term " black-a-moor" — which may be a corruption of " black as a Moor" — comprehended alike the dark- skinned of both Africa and Asia."

In ‘Race, Rhetoric and Composition,’ they argue: "Blackamoor seems understandable, thus, not as a compound of black and moor, but rather as a contraction of the implied argument that this person being referred to was "as black as a Moor."
Procopius was clear that the Moors who broke their treaty with Belisarius were distinct from the Vandals, who were "not black-skinned like the Moors, but very white and fair-haired." (History of the Wars, Books III and IV (Vandalic Wars)

In the first or second century Juvenal quipped "a Gaetulian" he encountered was "so black you’d rather not see him at midnight". He said, "tibi pocula cursor Gaetulus dabit aut nigri manus ossea Mauri et cui per mediam nolis occurrere noctem," (satire V. 53). Which translates roughly as, "..handed to you by a Gaetulian messenger, or by the black bony hand of a "Moor" whom you would rather not meet at midnight"

The Kabyles or Kabaily of Algerian and Tunisian territories besides tillage, work the mines contained in their mountains. They live in huts made of branches of trees and covered with clay which resemble the Magalia of the old Numidians. They are of middle stature, their complexion brown and sometimes nearly black.” from The Encyclopedia Britannica: Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and General Literature Henry G. Allen Company p. 261 Volume I 1890.

The Arthurian text The Romance of Morien, written in 13th century Dutch, one can see that by the name "Morien" the author meant: "He was all black, even as I tell ye: his head, his body, and his hands were all black, saving only his teeth. His shield and his armour were even those of a Moor, and black as a raven."

In the 13th century German tapestry entitled "Wild Men and Moors", you can see quite clearly the dark-skinned "Moors" defending their castle from pale-skinned "Wild men". 

13th century German tapestry entitled "Wild Men and Moors"
Moors served under the Romans in Britain, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Romania - virtually everywhere Rome held sway. Latin phrases such as "woolly hair like a Moor" leave little doubt as to their racial composition.
"A historical rather than an ethnographical term applied to very different peoples of northwestern Africa. In Roman history it is applied to Inhabitants of Mauretania (Morocco and Algeria), who were in part Phoenician colonists. In Spanish history the " Moors " and " Morlscos" were mainly Berbers rather than, as commonly supposed, Arabs.

The Moors, in a stricter ethnological sense, are the mixed Trarza and other tribes on the western coast, from Morocco to the Senegal, mainly of nomadic habits. They are of mixed Berber, Arab, and often Negro blood. Many speak Arabic
."  - Dictionary of races or peoples (1911).
WHO WERE THE "ANCIENT BRITONS"? "The earliest of these two races would seem to have inhabited our islands from the most ancient times, and may, for our purpose, be described as aboriginal. "

"In physique it was short, swarthy, dark-haired, dark-eyed, and long-skulled; its language belonged to the class called "Hamitic ", the surviving types of which are found among the Gallas, Abyssinians, Berbers, and other North African tribes; and it seems to have come ORIGINALLY FROM some part either of EASTERN, NORTHERN, OR CENTRAL AFRICA
."  - The mythology of the British Islands; an introduction to Celtic myth, legend, poetry, and romance (1905) by Charles Squire.

The current pope's coat of arms, which features a bear, a shell, and a "moor's head." Note: the moor is crowned.

Coat of Arms of Pope Benedict XVI

The coat of arms comes from the Bavarian tradition which Joseph Ratzinger introduced into his coat of arms when he became Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. 

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

(Moor of Freising or Caput Aethiopum, the head of a Crowned Ethiopian, is depicted in natural colour (brown) with red lips, crown and collar. The Moor's ( head typically facing to the viewer's left (dexter in heraldic terms) and is associated with the ancient emblem of the Diocese of Freising, founded in the eighth century, which became a Metropolitan Archdiocese with the name of München und Freising in 1818, subsequent to the Concordat between Pius VII and King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria (5 June 1817). 

This is the ancient emblem of the Diocese of Freising, founded in the 8th century, which became a Metropolitan Archdiocese with the name of München und Freising in 1818, subsequent to the Concordat between Pius VII and King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria (5 June 1817).

The Moor's head is not rare in European heraldry. It still appears today in the arms of Sardinia (the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily and before Cyprus and Corsica  (located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia), as well as in the blazons of various noble families. 

Flag for Corsica

Coat of Arms for Sardinia

Italian heraldry, however, usually depicts the Moor wearing a white band around his head instead of a crown, indicating a slave who has been freed; whereas in German heraldry the Moor is shown wearing a crown. The Moor's head is common in the Bavarian tradition and is known as the caput Ethiopicum or the Moor of Freising.

The Moor’s head, facing left and typically crowned, appeared on the coat of arms of the old principality of Freising as early as 1316, during the reign of the Bishop of Freising, Prince Konrad III. 

There was widespread the use of the "Black Moor head" in European heraldry the prevalence of blacks on shields, family crests, landmarks etc, throughout the medieval period, is the strongest indication of what "Moor" meant. Were it "medium tan/brown as a moor," we'd be having a very different discussion.

MOOR'S HEAD, the heraldic term for the head of a NEGRO MAN, in profile, couped at the neck, wreathed about the temples, and having a pearl pendent at the ear.
"MOOR'S HEAD, the heraldic term for the head of a NEGRO MAN, in profile, couped at the neck, wreathed about the temples, and having a pearl pendent at the ear." - Encyclopædia of heraldry: or General armory of England, Scotland, and Ireland, comprising a registry of all armorial bearings from the earliest to the present time (1844) by John Burke, Sir Bernard Burke
In Abd Allah's Roudh el-Kartas, he describes Yusuf ibn Tashfin, the founder of Marrakesh/Morocco, as "Brown color, middle height, thin, little beard, soft voice, black eyes, straight nose, lock of Muhammad falling on the top of his ear, eyebrow joined, wooly hair."

The portrait of Mulay al-Rashid (or "Mulay Arsheid Zeriff" in the US National Portrait Gallery), the founder of the current Alaouite dynasty of Morocco, and conclude he was anything other than black African. As far as Moulay-Ismail, this is how Mulay al-Rashid was described at the time: "He is of middle size; his face is long and thin; his beard, forked and white, his color, almost black with a white mark near the nose" - Abbé Busnot, Histoire de Regne de Mouley Ismael, Roven, 1714


Alfonso X was the ruler of Castile, Galacia and Leon for much of the 13th century. How did he describe the invaders?

- Los moros de la hueste todos vestidos del sirgo et de os panos de color que ganaran … las caras dellos negras como la pez el mas fremoso dellos era negro cmo la olla

"All the Moorish soldiers were dressed with silk and black wool that had been forcibly acquired… their black faces were like pitch and the most handsome of them was like (as black as) a cooking pan."

 Islamic or Moorish Spain was, in fact, mostly black African. Richard Fletcher says: "... "Moorish" Iberia does at least have the merit of reminding us that the bulk of the invaders and settlers were Moors, i.e. Berbers from Algeria and Morocco."
Although 'Moor' came to be used in a very general non-descriptive sense to denote Muslim culture in Iberia, some people have taken this as indication that the term never had any specified ethnic/racial connotations. This is indeed a false argument because, as we've seen, the Spanish had modifiers like "Moriscos" to denote mixed heritage.
Northern Africa includes the Maghreb, Egypt, Western Sudan, as well as the northern regions of what is today Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Sudan. The Sahara went from grass to woods to desert by 3,500 BCE. From Morocco to the Red Sea, the once fertile Sahara was pretty much the same climate, where various peoples tended to congregate in the vicinity of Lake Chad.

Today the northern Sahara is a dry sub-tropical climate, while the south is a humid tropical environment.
Ibn Khaldun wrote: "The inhabitants of the first and the second zone in the south are called the Abyssinians, the Zanj, the Sudanese. These are synonyms used to designate the particular nation that has turned black. The name Abyssinians however is restricted to those Negroes who live opposite Mecca and the Yemen and the name Zanj is restricted to those who live along the Indian Ocean. These names are not given to them because of an alleged descent from a black human being, be it Ham or anyone else. Negroes from the south who settled in the temperate fourth zone or in the seventh zone that tends towards whiteness, are found to produce descendants whose color gradually turns white in the course of time."

"Our objective is to highlight the age of sub-Saharan gene flows in North Africa and particularly in Tunisia. Therefore we analyzed in a broad phylogeographic context sub-Saharan mtDNA haplogroups of Tunisian Berber populations considered representative of ancient settlement. More than 2,000 sequences were collected from the literature, and networks were constructed. The results show that the most ancient haplogroup is L3*, which would have been introduced to North Africa from eastern sub-Saharan populations around 20,000 years ago. Our results also point to a less ancient western sub-Saharan gene flow to Tunisia, including haplogroups L2a and L3b. This conclusion points to an ancient African gene flow to Tunisia before 20,000 years BP. These findings parallel the more recent findings of both archaeology and linguistics on the prehistory of Africa. The present work suggests that sub-Saharan contributions to North Africa have experienced several complex population processes after the occupation of the region by anatomically modern humans. Our results reveal that Berber speakers have a foundational biogeographic root in Africa and that deep African lineages have continued to evolve in supra-Saharan Africa." - Ancient Local Evolution of African mtDNA Haplogroups in Tunisian Berber Populations,

Ibn Butlan, the Iraqi, wrote in the 11th century: "The Berber women ...[t]heir color is mostly black though some pale ones can be found among them. If you can find one whose mother is of Kutama, whose father is of Sanhaja, and whose origin is Masmuda, then you will find her naturally inclined to obedience and loyalty in all matters." Most of the early Arab writers variously described Berbers as so-called sons of Ham.
Ham, having become black because of a curse pronounced against him by his father, fled to the Maghrib to hide in shame.... Berber, son of Kesloudjim [Casluhim], one of his descendants, left numerous posterity in the Maghrib." - Ibn Khaldun, Histoire I, 177–178.

"Now the real fact, the fact which dispenses with all hypothesis, is this: the Berbers are the children of Canaan, the son of Ham, son of Noah." Down this line came Berr who had two sons, Baranis and Madghis al-Abtar. All Berber tribes descended from one or the other of these brothers and were classified as either Baranes or Botr." - Histoire I, 173–185

Adolph Bloch said, in a presentation to the French Anthropology Society in 1896, entitled “Sur des races noires indigènes qui existaient anciennement dans l’afrique septentrionale” (On native black races which existed formerly in northern Africa): "The race which gave birth to the Moroccans can be no other than the African negroes because the same black type [...] is found all the way to Senegal upon the right bank of the river without counting that it has been recognized in various parts of the Sahara [...] and from there comes black Moors who still have thick lips as a result of negro descent and not from intermixture [...] As to the white, bronze, or dark Moors, they are no other than the near relations of black Moors with whom they form the varieties of the same race; and as one can also see among the Europeans, blondes, brunettes, and chestnuts, in the midst of the same population so one may see Moroccans of every color in the same agglomeration without it being a question of their being real mulattos."

In Hispanio-Arabic Poetry and its Relation with Old Provencal Poetry we discover an Arab poet refused to work along side his son because, evidently: "the dark-skinned Berber seemed to him far below his own intellectual standards."
Yaqut, the Syrian geographer of the twelfth-thirteenth centuries, that relates a meeting which took place at a transitional period, between the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties:

"The king of Zafun is stronger than the veiled people of the Maghreb and more versed in the art of kingship. The veiled people acknowledge his superiority over them, obey him and resort to him in all important matters of government. One year the king, on his way to the pilgrimage, came to the Maghreb to pay a visit to the commander of the Muslims, the veiled king of the Maghreb, of the tribe of Lamtuna. The Commander of the Muslims met him on foot, whereas the king of Zafun did not dismount for him. He was tall, of deep black complexion and veiled." Zafun was both black and Berber.

On the remains of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians: "The Phoenicians had nothing in common with the official Jewish type: brachycephal, aquiline or Hittite nose, and so on [...] skulls presumably Phoenician, have been found west of Syracuse [...] but these skulls are dolichocephalic and proganthous, with Negroid affinities"

"Other bones discovered in Punic Carthage, and housed in the Lavigerie Museum, come from personages found in special sarcophagi and probably belonging to the Carthaginian elite. Almost all the skulls are dolichocephalic." - Eugene Pittard "Les races et L' histoire."

"The anthropological examination of skeletons found in tombs in Carthage proves that there is no racial unity [...] The so called Semitic type, characterized by the long, perfectly oval face, the thin aquiline nose and the lengthened cranium, enlarged over the nape of the neck has not been found in Carthage. On the other hand, another cranial form, with a fairly short face, prominent parietal bumps, farther forward and lower down than is usual is common [...] most of the Punic population in Carthage had African and even Negro ancestors" - Charles Picard "Daily Life in Carthage at the time of Hannibal"

Appian relates that the figurative Ethiopians "extend from eastern Ethiopia westward to the Mauritanian Mount Atlas."

Cambridge History of Africa: "The Soninke, the people of ancient Ghana, are the northernmost Sudanic people. Before the arrival of the Berbers, their ancestors had occupied the Sahara, as is suggested by the survival of black groups in Walata, Nema, Tichit, and as far Shinqit, who speak Azer, which is a Soninke dialect." 80% of Berber Y-chromosomes originate in east Africa, south of Egypt.

"Snowden (1970) and Desanges (1981) reference various writers’ physical descriptions of the ancient Maghreb’s inhabitants. In various writers’ physical descriptions of the ancient Maghreb’s inhabitants. In addition to the presence of fair-skinned blonds, various “Ethiopian” or “part-Ethiopian” groups are described, near the coast and on the southern slopes of the Atlas mountains. “Ethiopians,” meaning dark-skinned peoples usually having “ulotrichous” (wooly) hair, are noted in various Greek accounts and European coinage (Snowden, 1970). Hiernaux (1975) interprets the finding of “subsaharan” population affinities in living Maghrebans as being solely the result of the medieval transsaharan slave trade; it is clear that this is not the case. Furthermore, the blacks of the ancient Maghreb were apparently not foreign or a caste." (S.O.Y Keita, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83:35-48 (1990).

Joseph Vogel stressed: "Populations and cultures now found south of the desert roamed far to the north." (Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa by Joseph O. Vogel, AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California, 1997, pp. 465-472).

"Except for the Zandj (black slaves) from lower Iraq, no large body of blacks historically linked to the trans-Saharan slave trade existed anywhere in the Arab world ... The high costs of slaves, because of the risks inherent in the desert crossing, which would have not permitted such a massive exodus ... Until the Crusades the Muslim world drew its slaves from two main sources: Eastern and Central Europe (Slavs) and Turkestan. The Sudan only came third." - Africa from the Seventh to Eleventh Century, UNESCO, 1988.


1 comment:

LORD ABBA EL said...