Who Were The Moors?

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 13th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1-1e9e1x/
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A short history of the effects of the Moors on Europe and the Caribbean

Understanding Power

Depending on where you are in the world, certain words have particular connotations. The term 'Moor' is known by most people in America in reference to Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

In other parts of the world Moors are known as conquerors, more powerful than Ghengis Khan or Tamerlane or even Alexander the Great.

The Moors, (a term for Africans based on the conception that they all came from Morocco) invaded Spain and remained there for Eight Hundred Years.

To give an example; the Spanish invaded Mexico and were tossed out in 300 years.

The English captured islands in the Caribbean and were out after 300 years.

The United States of America is only in existence 238 years.

Hence, for Africans to invade, to settle to control a territory the size of the Iberian Peninsula for Eight Hundred Years is impressive.

There were many wars fought during this time, after all Europe was Catholic and the Moors were Muslim. Most wars ended with the defeat of the Europeans.


When the Moors were finally driven out in 1490, they took to the sea and became the most dangerous Pirates.

Not only did they attack ships and capture the crew and sell them into slavery, (unless a ransom was paid) they invaded villages along the sea coasts. In the dead of night. Corsairs would come ashore in some European village, capture the people who lived there, and carry them off into slavery..

This is why so many European capitals are way in land and living on the coast was not desired.

The Extent of the Power

The Moors were so bold that they reached Iceland and captured over Four Hundred People which they carted away and enslaved.

Many countries paid 'tribute' to the Caliph and were allowed to trade. As England paid tribute, the Corsairs did not attack those ships which flew the English flag.

The purpose of attacks were to obtain slaves.

The Moors had two kinds of slaves, public and private. Public slaves were owned by the government and did the hard labour, some having to row the galleys which would capture even more slaves.

Private slaves were owned by private people and depending on how they looked or the nature of the owner conditions varied.

Into Eastern Europe

There was a fad for European women and the Moor launched many attacks into what is today called Ukraine but then was referred to by the Moors as 'Circassia', (taken from the Caucus Mountains).

The Africans had no problem marching all the way into the Ukraine and capturing women, (and men) and carrying them off to slave markets in North Africa.

The fear many Eastern Europeans have of Africans in grounded in history.

There was a time having a Circassian slave was like having a BMW today. Over time, the price dropped very low as there were so many Circassian slaves available.

The reality

The Moors, however, preferred the ransom to the slave. They tried to capture Nobles or High ranking Catholic Church officials, or Jews, because the ransom would be paid quickly, in full.

A King's Ransom, such as that paid for Richard The Lionhearted.

(Robin Hood, whether one person or not, real or not, is put into that period of time as wealth was being collected from England to redeem that King. Many people objected to the heavy taxes to free a king who’d spent most of his reign elsewhere and never even learned to speak English).


The ‘poor box’ one will find in many churches was there to collect money to pay ransoms.

With the rise of Protestantism the various sects had no money to pay ransoms. These were new sects with very little finance. This is why most of those who were captured and not redeemed were Protestants.

Over time, organisations were created to raise money for the redemption of these Protestant slaves as the Catholic and Jewish faiths had their redemption funds already in hand..

From the Shores of Tripoli

The power of the Moors was unleashed on the new nation of the United States. Having having taken Independence it was no longer flying the British Flag, so was fair game.

This led to the Tripolitan War which was interrupted by the War of 1812, then resumed afterwards.

America seems to forget that war, and the only mention of it is the the Marine Corps hymn...”to the shores of Tripoli”...their first battle.

Redeeming Slaves

Many countries, such as the islands in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica, collected money which was held in Trust for the Redemption of slaves.

At the corner of Duke Street and Harbour Street in Kingston stands the Women’s Self Help Organisation. That building at 1 Duke Street was owned and operated as a place where women, redeemed from the Moors, were taught crafts and trades so they could take care of themselves.

The Defeat

What ended the power of the Moors was Napoleon’s attack and later invasion of Algeria.

This happened during serious internal disputes in the Caliphate.

The Corsairs no longer had the backing of a government, safe ports, and with Napoleon controlling the Meditteranean Sea, that was the end of the Corsairs.

The countries which had collected money held in Trust for the Redemption of slaves, found themselves with millions of dollars for an eventuality that would not occur.

The money was often used to build teacher's colleges or some other good work.

Those of you who are reading Othello for your exams must understand, that in Shakespeare’s day people were afraid of the Moors, they saw them as a great power, which is why events (in the play) transpired as they did.


African, Corsairs, European Slaves, Iberian Peninsula, Moors, Napoleon, Redemption Of European Slaves, Slavery

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar M G Singh
14th May 2015 (#)

A wonderful post that added to my knowledge

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author avatar kaylar
14th May 2015 (#)

You are very welcome

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
15th May 2015 (#)

For some reason my head started to sing the Billy Idol song "Rebel Yell" in particular the line "with a rebel yell she cried Moor, Moor, Moor." lol
Great history lesson on the Moors.

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author avatar kaylar
16th May 2015 (#)

Many people from Eastern Europe who came to America before WWI were terrified by Black Americans because they had grown up with the stories of how the Moors had invaded and captured and enslaved, and were unstoppable.

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