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The Maurish Years

Often, language is discriminatory, derogatory, disrespectful, sometimes outright sexist. Normally, we don’t notice such offending subtleties unless we ourselves are the victims of such linguistic malpractices. My female readers will probably be able to confirm such a notion more easily.

Back to the Maures and the Maurish years. Mallorca went through an epoch some 1000 years ago that is alternately called Mallorca Musulmana, the Muslim period, the Islamic period, the Moorish period or the Arabic period. In my opinion, none of these definitions fits the actual historic reality.

The first visit from North Africa to Mallorca was probably by a fleet of ships coming from Ifriqiya which in today’s terms would be the northern part of Morocco and Western Algeria. In fact, the Romans called that geographic stretch Mauretania, then an independent kingdom named after the Mauri tribe, not to be confused with today’s nation of the same name which is located further south. That visit occurred at the beginning of the 8th century. The visitors are said to have come with friendly intent and a peace treaty was agreed between locals and the visiting fleet. People from that part of North Africa were not what today we would like to call Arabs; they were predominantly Berbers and Nomads. At that time, Mallorca suffered from, and also engaged themselves in, a number of pirate activities; the island was defended from a Saracen pirate incursion in 799 by the French emperor Charlemagne. Back in the 9th century AD settlers from that north African territory moved into Andalusia and the Balearic islands, mostly Berbers from Mauretania (land of the Maures). The continued piracy in the region lead to retaliation by Al-Andalus which launched its naval power against Palma, then  called Medina Mayurqa, and the whole of the island. The Maures finally invaded Mallorca in AD 902 and remained in control until AD 1229. If today we call the Maures by the term of Moors or Arabs it is somewhat derogatory and misleading.

The photos were taken in Valldemossa (top) and Palma (bottom), Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 10th and 13th, 2012. The time was 16:02:57 and 18:24:40, respectively.

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