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When the Moors Ruled in Europe (2005)

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This program contends that the popular perception of the Muslim occupation of Spain toward the end of the first millennium is largely wrong. The eighth century Muslim invasion of the ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Bettany Hughes ...
Herself - Presenter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Antonio Almagro ...
Moussa Aouni ...
Pedro Chalmeta Gendrón ...
Lauro Olmo Encisco ...
Antonio Fernández-Puertas ...
Emilio González Ferrin ...
Francisco Franco ...
Himself (archive footage)
Mariá Ángeles Gallego ...
Serafín Fanjul García ...
Eduardo Manzano ...
Antonio Orihuela ...
Dwight F. Reynolds ...
Julio Samso ...
Amalia Zomena ...


This program contends that the popular perception of the Muslim occupation of Spain toward the end of the first millennium is largely wrong. The eighth century Muslim invasion of the Iberian Pennisula was largely welcomed by the locals and rejuvenated the area with advanced technology, agriculture and a construction boom. This program describes these innovations. All this changed in the eleventh century when the regional government fragmented. That set the stage for the Christian invasion and the Islamic fundamentalist resistance leading to more of a civil war than a holy war that decimated the region with corruption, destruction and exile. Written by David Foss

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User Reviews

An interesting re-examination of the Moors in Spain
1 June 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Bettany Hughes is known for her documentaries on ancient Greece. However, over the years she's branched off in a few other directions--in this case the Moors in Spain. In 711, the Muslim Berbers crossed from North Africa into Spain and soon conquered Spain. Over the next almost 800 years, the Christians in the region slowly chipped away at this new Muslim kingdom until it was ultimately reconquered in 1492 and Spain was unified. Hughes not only explains this process but discusses how the Inquisition that followed tended to eliminate all the positive contributions of these Moors--and painting them as ruthless conquerors. However, in this interesting documentary, she discusses the Moors many contributions--such as preserving and adding to ancient Greek teachings, bringing various fruits to Europe, architecture, science, mathematics and literacy. How 'nice' these folks were to the Christian inhabitants was only vaguely talked about, but these clearly were civilized folks--who, ultimately, were removed from Spain in a most uncivilized manner. And, today, many in Spain adhere to the traditional teaching that practically NOTHING positive can be said about the Moors. All in all, I liked the documentary--mostly because it challenges traditional interpretations of history. As usual, Hughes is an excellent host and keeps our interest throughout.

By the way, one seemingly inconsistent thing I noticed from this documentary is Hughes' discussion of the introduction of the Arabic numerical system to Europe. I just recently saw Terry Jones' documentary "The Story of 1" and it claimed that despite them being called Hindu-Arabic numerals, they are, in fact, of Indian origin. He contends that the numerical system eventually made its way west--and erroneously had the word 'Arabic' added to it. I don't know who is right--but I did notice this discrepancy. Both, by the way, are excellent documentaries.

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