History confirms that the Moors ruled in Europe — primarily Spain and Portugal — for almost 700 years. They were known for their influence in European culture, but not many people know that the Moors were actually Europeans of African descent.
Moors were usually depicted as being “mostly black or very swarthy, and hence the word is often used for negro,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Several written works at the time also confirm that. The 16th century English playwrights William Shakespeare used the word Moor as a synonym for African and Christopher Marlowe used Moor and African interchangeably.
Author and historian Chancellor Williams said “the original Moors, like the original Egyptians, were black Africans.” An Arab chronicler also described Moorish Emperor Yusuf ben-Tachfin as “a brown man with wooly hair.”
In European Art, Moors are also often shown with African features: pitch black, frizzled hair, flat and wide face, flat-nosed, and thick lips. The Drake Jewel, a rare documented piece of jewel from the 16th century, seemed to show a profile of a Black king dominating the profile of a white woman.
Moreover, Moors were known to have contributed in areas of mathematics, astronomy, art, cuisine, medicine, and agriculture that helped develop Europe and bring them from the Dark Ages into the Renaissance.
Generations of Spanish rulers have allegedly tried to abolish this era from the historical record. But recent archaeology determined that Moors indeed ruled in Al-Andalus for more than 700 years — from 711 A.D. to 1492.