Over a thousand years ago, the sun-washed lands of Southern Spain were home to Muslims, Christians, and Jews living together and flourishing. Their culture and beliefs intertwined and the ...
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Over a thousand years ago, the sun-washed lands of Southern Spain were home to Muslims, Christians, and Jews living together and flourishing. Their culture and beliefs intertwined and the knowledge of the ancients was gathered and reborn. Here were the very seeds of the Renaissance. But this world too quickly vanished. Greed, fear, and intolerance swept it away. Puritanical judgments and absolutism snuffed out the light of learning. Within a few centuries, the fragile union of these people dissipated like smoke. Brought to life by powerful, feature-film style re-creations, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain explores the causes that destroyed the one civilization of pluralism and interfaith cooperation that for a few centuries lit the Dark Ages in Medieval Europe.Written by
Unity Productions Foundation
Islamic Spain was also called Moorish Spain, after the Moors, a synonym for blacks in medieval Europe. But, you'd never know that if you view Cities of Light as historical fact. Blink, and you'll miss the few blacks in this presentation. The 800 year conquest of Spain by Islamic Moors was initiated by Tarik ibn Ziyad. Primary Christian sources like the Primera Cronica General made the following observation of his troops: "Their faces were as black as pitch, the handsomest amongst them was as black as a cooking pot".
But, it is in the Cantigas of Santa Maria where we see how well integrated the Moors were in Spanish society. Cantigas illustrators portray Blacks in a variety of roles-from members of the aristocracy to the military. Included among the images of medieval Spain is a black man receiving gifts from a caliph or emir. In another illustration two noble black Moors are shown playing chess while being attended by black and white servants and musicians . Also, in the army black Moors are shown not only as foot soldiers, bowmen, lancers, and horsemen but also as high-ranking officers.
One day, a documentary on Islamic/Moorish Spain will be made without the racial bias of Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain. Until then, check out the Cantigas illustrations in The Image of The Black in Western Art.
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