The Moors were foot soldiers of the Ummayad dynasties of Syria who crossed the straits of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula. Later in that period, two new dynasties emerged: the Almoravids and the Almohads. They are said to have come from the Senegal river valley of West Africa.
What surprises me is that even though the Moors were largely Arabs and Berbers, the Europeans seem to have imagined them in a somewhat contradictory and unflattering way. There is a book by John V. Tolan which explains what I'm trying to say. It is titled Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination.
The Song of Roland is an epic poem based on the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778, during the reign of Charlemagne. It is the oldest surviving major of French literature. Below are some excepts that demonstrate the contradictions I'm talking about.
.... Then canters forth with all his great army.
Canters before a Sarrazin, Abisme,
More felon none was in that company;
Cankered with guile and every felony,
He fears not God, the Son of Saint Mary;
Black is that man as molten pitch that seethes;
Better he loves murder and treachery
Than to have all the gold of Galicie;...
... And Ethiope, a cursed land indeed;
The blackamoors from there are in his keep,
Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear,
Fifty thousand and more in company.
These canter forth with arrogance and heat,
Then they cry out the pagans’ rallying-cheer....
Such discipline of Sarrazins he’ll see,
For one of ours he’ll find them dead fifteen;
When Rollant sees those misbegotten men,
Who are more black than ink is on the pen
With no part white, only their teeth except,
Then says that count: “I know now very well
That here to die we’re bound, as I can tell....
This is a short documentary of the Moorish contributions to Europe. It also highlights the darkness which surrounds European perceptions of this period and the Moorish people.
Blackamoors is a decorative art form that arose as a result of the 800 year Islamist domination of Iberia. In this art form, Arabs and Berbers seem to be largely missing.
From a historians point of view, what is the reason for the disappearance of the Arab rulers from European imagination (artists and writers) and their replacement with subsaharan African slaves