Report 16th March 2010

Moorish Spain     

Mrs J. Brooks gave us an enthralling history of Moorish Spain starting at the birth of Mohammed in 570 AD and the spread of Islam in the 6th century through North Africa and into Spain and France.

Through many centuries of culture and learning in cities such as proud Cordoba and Toledo, we have benefited from words such as algebra, alcohol, orange and from advanced mathematics using the symbol for zero, imported from India, and Arabic numerals not to mention medicine, art, astronomy and the invention of paper. The Bishop of Norwich even sent a monk, Daniel of Morley, to Toledo to gather this knowledge; he stayed for three years and returned to England with many books and mathematical instruments. With this information the grateful Bishop decided to found a place of learning; this place is now the University of Oxford.

Architecture passed through different styles culminating in the magnificent Alhambra, (The Red One) in Granada, (Pomegranate, and the English, grenade) one of the last Moslem strongholds and famous for its silks.

In 1556 came the Spanish Inquisition when all Jews and Moslems were required to convert to Christianity or be expelled.

Amazingly many Spanish people speak of the time of Moorish Spain as a dark age in Spanish history, a time best forgotten.  Such was the racialist propaganda put out by Francisco Franco when he was head of State, (1939 to 1975).

George Mountford

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