In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Muslim Spain

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Histories
  • The Almoravids

Islamic Studies Muslim Spain
Frank Peters
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0054


Muslims entered the Iberian peninsula in 711 AD and lived there as rulers and subjects until 1510 when they were banned by the decrees of Spain's Christian rulers. The name “al-Andalus,” which is what the Muslims called Spain, summoned up the image of a brilliant political achievement and a refined literary and material culture. It also evoked the notion of convivencia, or the “living together” of different religious communities that is thought to have characterized social and political life in medieval al-Andalus. The strength and extent of convivencia and its reality in Muslim Spain continues to be examined and debated today.

General Overviews

The Muslims' presence in Spain, closer to the perceived heart of Europe perhaps than their parallel presence in the Balkans, has long attracted historians. Their history has often been rewritten as larger attitudes toward Islam change (Castro 1954, Linehan 1993) and there now exist a number of resources for anyone interested in the subject. An important collection of sources is now available in English (Constable 1997). Studies range from an encyclopedia devoted entirely to medieval Iberia (Gerli 2003) to collected essays on the subject, whether newly commissioned surveys (Jayyusi 2000) or reprinted classics (Marin 1998). Shorter surveys of the time and place include many with an emphasis on the Muslim perspective (so, most clearly Lévi-Provencal 1960 ). Others stress the complex political scene (Makki 2000) or the equally complex social issues raised by different ethnic and religious communities living together (Guichard 2000).

  • Castro, Americo, The Structure of Spanish History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1954.

    A seminal book on rethinking Spain's Muslim experience.

  • Constable, Olivia Remie, ed. Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim and Jewish Sources. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.

    Presents representative sources in English translation.

  • Gerli, E. Michael, ed. Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

    A broad-ranging one volume encyclopedia.

  • Guichard, Pierre. “A Social History of Muslim Spain.” In The Legacy of Muslim Spain, Vol. 2. Edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, 679–708. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

    Life in al-Andalus through the eyes of a social anthropologist.

  • Jayyusi, Salma Khadra, ed. The Legacy of Muslim Spain. 2 vols. 2d ed. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

    Survey essays by leading scholars.

  • Lévi-Provençal, Evariste. “al-Andalus.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol. 1. Edited by H. A. R. Gibb, J. H. Kramers, Evariste Lévi-Provençal, J. Schacht, et al., 490–491. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 1960.

    From Iberia's premier Islamicist, with a list of the Arab primary sources.

  • Linehan, Peter. History and Historians of Medieval Spain. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.

    History in the eyes of the beholders. An important historiographical study.

  • Makki, Mahmoud. “A Political History of al-Andalus (92/711-897/1492).” In The Legacy of Muslim Spain, Vol. 1, 2d ed. Edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, 3–87. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

    With a bibliography (pp. 85–87) of the chief primary sources in Arabic.

  • Marin, Manuela, ed. The Formation of al-Andalus.2 vols. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Variorum, 1998.

    Reprints of classical studies on the early centuries of the Muslim presence in Iberia.

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