By RUNOKO RASHIDI
It would not be inaccurate to say that the Moors helped reintroduce Europe to civilization. But just who were the Moors of antiquity anyway? As early as the Middle Ages, and as early as the seventeenth century, "The Moors were," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "commonly supposed to be mostly black or very swarthy, and hence the word is often used for negro." Dr. Chancellor Williams stated that "The original Moors, like the original Egyptians, were Black Africans." At the beginning of the eighth century Moorish soldiers crossed over from Africa into Spain, Portugal, and France, where their swift victories became the substance of legends. To the Christians of early Europe there was no question regarding the ethnicity of the Moors, and numerous sources support the view that the Moors were a black-skinned people. Morien, for example, is the adventure of a heroic Moorish knight supposed to have lived during the days of King Arthur. Morien is described as "all black: his head, his body, and his hands were all black." In the French epic known as the Song of Roland the Moors are described as "blacker than ink." William Shakespeare used the word Moor as a synonym for African. Christopher Marlowe used African and Moor interchangeably. Arab writers further buttress the Black identity of the Moors. The powerful Moorish emperor Yusuf ben-Tachfin is described by an Arab chronicler as "a brown man with wooly hair."
Black soldiers, specifically identified as Moors, were actively recruited by Rome, and served in Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. St. Maurice, patron saint of medieval Europe, was only one of many Black soldiers and officers under the employ of the Roman Empire. After the invasion of 711 came other waves of Moors even darker. It was this occupation of Portugal which accounts for the fact that even noble families had absorbed the blood of the Moor. From that time onwards, racial mixing in Portugal, as in Spain, and elsewhere in Europe which came under the influence of Moors, took place on a large scale. That is why historians claim "Portugal is in reality a Negroid land," and that when Napoleon explained that "Africa begins at the Pyrenees," he meant every word that he uttered. Even the world-famed shrine in Portugal, Fatima, where Catholic pilgrims from all over the world go in search of miracle cures for their afflictions, owes its origin to the Moors. The story goes that a Portuguese nobleman was so saddened by the death of his wife, a young Moorish beauty whom he had married after her conversion to the Christian faith, that he gave up his title and fortune and entered a monastery. His wife was buried on a high plateau called Sierra de Aire. It is from there the name of Fatima is derived. The Moors ruled and occupied Lisbon and the rest of the country until well into the twelfth century. they were finally defeated and driven out by the forces of King Alfonso Henriques, who was aided by English and Flemish crusaders. The scene of this battle was the Castelo de Sao Jorge or, in English, the Castle of St. George. Today it still stands overlooking the city of "Lashbuna"--as the Moors named Lisbon.
SOURCES: Golden Age Of The Moor, Edited by Ivan Van Sertima
Natures Knows No Color-Line, by J. A. Rogers