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April 27, 2015

April 27, 711: Moors invade Iberian Peninsula

Place names often have strange derivations, and today’s anecdote is no exception.

On this day in 711, Tariq ibn-Ziyad and his army of Moors landed on the southern coast of Spain. They set up camp on a strategic high point that came to be known as Jabal Tariq, or Tariq’s Mountain.

You know it better today as Gibraltar.

TDIH April 27, 2015

According to legend, the Visigoth king Roderic raped the daughter of a Moorish ally. The ally wanted revenge, and he sponsored Tariq’s army to cross of the Strait of Gibraltar. (Of course, the thought of plundering Spain’s riches might have also played a role in this decision.)

The retribution was swift. Roderic was killed in battle in 712, and by 714, Tariq had conquered several Spanish cities before being recalled to Damascus. Among the riches secured by Tariq was said to be King Solomon’s table. “Most writers say that it stood upon three hundred and sixty-five feet, each made of a single emerald,” claimed Charles Morris in his Historical Tales.

Tariq’s successors would rule over the Iberian peninsula, in whole or in part, until the fall of Alhambra in 1492. The country was often known as al-Andalusia; several Islamic groups, including ISIS, have called for it to return to Muslim rule.

For more on the Moopish conquest of Iberia, visit this page from BBC.

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