How did the Moorish Empire end

Rule of the Teutons and Moors

During the Great Migration, around 400 AD, Roman rule on the Iberian Peninsula came to an end. Above all the Suebi (in addition to Vandals, Alans and Visigoths) conquered ancient Hispania. The Suebi established themselves in the area of ​​today's Portugal: Their territory comprised the area of ​​today's Galicia and reached over Minho and Douro to the Tejo. The center was their capital Bracara Augusta (today's Braga).


Around the middle of the fifth century the Suebi were driven back by the Visigoths, around 550 St. Martin von Dume converted them to Christianity as Bishop of Braga. The Suebi were finally incorporated into the Visigoth Empire in 585.

The fall of the Visigoths and the Moorish conquest

In the year 711 the Visigothic Empire went under: the Moors conquered the entire Iberian Peninsula via the narrow strait near Gibraltar, and from 718 - except for the northern mountain regions - it was firmly in Arab hands. Thus the area of ​​today's Portugal also belonged to the dominion of the Arab Emirates, later of the Caliphate of Cordoba. In contrast to the rule by the Suebi and other Germanic peoples, a true heyday for the economy and society began: In agriculture, the use of artificial irrigation and new crops achieved unimagined successes. The natural sciences and medicine experienced an unexpected boom, because the Moors were way ahead of the Europeans in both. Culture and art developed freely and in addition - hardly imaginable today - there was extensive religious freedom.

Unlike in Spain, hardly any architectural evidence from that time has survived in Portugal - not even in the Algarve, that Portuguese stretch of land on the south coast that still derives its name directly from the Arabs: al-gharb means nothing else than "the West" because this region was the westernmost of the Moors' empire. The main cause of these meager remains is the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755, which destroyed most of the cities and towns in the Algarve.

The beginning of the reconquest

As early as 717, the Moors succeeded in recapturing some areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquista, so the Christian resistance against the rulers from Arabia, was from Pelágio organized. After a dispute with the Muslim ruler of Asturias, he was elected king in the northern mountainous region and saw himself in the tradition and as the successor of the fallen Visigoth Empire. His victory over the Moors in 722 established the Reconquistawhich ended only 770 years later, with the fall of the Moorish-Spanish city of Granada in 1492. Only then was the Iberian peninsula completely in Christian hands again.

In Portugal, however, the reconquest ended a little earlier: when King Afonso III. captured the city of Faro in the Algarve in 1249, driving de Mauren out of his land for good.

At a glance

  • End of Roman rule from 400
  • Visigoth rule until 711
  • Rule of the Moors from 718
  • First beginnings of the Reconquista from 722
  • Final reconquest of Portugal in 1249