iberian-peninsula

4

A hefty road climb out of the busy town of Ubique, switchbacks to Benaocaz and into Villaluenga del Rosario, a tiny village high up on the edge of the Parque natural de la sierra de Grazalma.

Just as we turn off the road, climbing up again past fields of Iberian pigs, Emily’s chain snaps. Legs of steel and too much grinding sand in the lowlands. A quick fix and on into the woods to camp.

An uneasy slumber due to cold and the sounds of a boar hunt.

whiteraven13  asked:

The country in my fantasy novel is mostly inspired by Moorish Spain. I was wondering, would scimitars make sense to give to the basic low-level infantrymen in the army or would only the more wealthy/higher ranked people have those?

The cavalry have those. The scimitar is a blade specifically designed to be used from horseback. It’s the grandfather of most cavalry blades, including those used in Europe down through the centuries. The curved design and single edge meant it could slash enemies with less risk of losing the blade as you traveled past at high speeds. A stabbing weapon that buries itself in an enemy and you’re at risk of it getting stuck as the horse races past, then you lose your weapon. It was so successful a design that it traveled throughout the world. The scimitar is a very visually distinctive weapon which is why you see it everywhere, but it’s not an infantry sidearm. It also wasn’t the only sword in use.

Javelins rather than swords, apparently, were a symbol of rank.

The basic rule of thumb for swords in the (mostly) western world is curved for cavalry and straight for infantry. The curved, single edged sword like a saber is also the weapon of choice for boarding actions in naval combat. The reason being that the single edged blade can’t be forced back into you when in tight quarters. (I know someone out there is crying, but katana. The Japanese thought that too about British/Naval sabers, they were wrong.)

It’s probably worth remembering as you begin your investigation that “Moor” was the European term for Muslim, and that covers a vast variety of different ethnicities and cultures from Persia to North Africa; many of whom practiced distinct variations of their religion. Because these cultures are so different, it’s important that you narrow your search down to specified groups. This will help you when it comes to determining weapons, troop movements, battle strategies, and tactics.

Some things to remember, the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula was one of the (many) factors that kicked off the Crusades. The Muslims of the period were more scientifically advanced than the Europeans. If you wanted to see a doctor in the Middle Ages, and wanted to live, you went to see a Muslim. It’s one of the many inventions we can thank the Middle East for, including our numerical system and the survival of Aristotle. You know, an interesting period in history.

However, in the beginning, at least, the conquered Spain was part of a larger empire that spanned the Middle East and North Africa. So, if you really want to know what weapons were carried then its important to look to the invaders and their culture. Whether the scimitar was even in use really depends on the period you want to reference. 711 A.D? 1011 A.D? 1212 A.D? Or when the last Muslim foothold on the Iberian Peninsula finally came to an end in 1492, around the same time Columbus sailed the ocean blue?

It’s a huge period in history that covers a lot of ground. Try to remember that military evolution happens very quickly, and is influenced heavily by the enemies engaged.

When it comes to Moorish battle tactics, I know very little about them. I can tell you they tended to favor lighter armaments and light horses/coursers rather than the heavy. Here’s an overview of the Umayyad conquest that includes troop movements.

The answer to your question, though, of what did the infantry use is spears.

Here’s Wikipedia on Medieval Warfare.

Here’s Wikipedia on the Moors.

Wikipedia on the Umayadd conquest.

Wikipedia on Al-Adulus (Andalusia).

The tactics used in La Reconquista in 1347.

Watch some history nerds go at it (with references) on the Historum forums.

Warfare and Firearms in Fifteenth Century, Morrocco 1400-1492.

The Culture and Civilization of the Umayyads.

Swords and Sabers During the Early Islamic Period.

Islamic Arms and Armor.

An Overview of the Umayyad Caliphate.

More nerds discussing Medieval Arab warfare, strategy, and tactics on the Historum forums. (Love your nerds.)

Always remember: Wikipedia is a jumping off point for research, it is not the end. It’s a decent overview that will give you a grounding to start from but, as any good college professor will tell you, you want the citations at the bottom not the article header or the words in the middle.

The subject of warfare is complicated, to say the least, and covers a vast array of cultures across both Europe, the Middle East, Eastern Europe/Byzantine/Ottomans, and, occasionally, Central Asia.

Hopefully though, this gives you a jumping off point for more specified research into the time period and the armor worn/weapons wielded/tactics used.

-Michi

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The Moors were the medieval Muslim inhabitants of North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta. They came from Morocco, western Algeria, the Western Sahara, and Mauritania. The Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised most of Spain and Portugal and parts of France. The initial rule of the Moors in the Iberian peninsula under this Caliphate of Córdoba was regarded as tolerant in its acceptance of Christians, Muslims and Jews living together in the same territories. The Moors left a rich cultural legacy in Spain & Portugal, as seen through Moorish architecture such as La Mezquita in Córdoba and the Alhambra Palace. Religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia. 

For More Information Search: Moors; Caliphate of Córdoba; Alhambra Palace, Reconquista; Ferdinand & Isabella; The Fall of Granada

4

Barcelona

Barcelona has to have some of the most stunningly diverse array of architecture on the planet. The best part is the whole city looks like it’s in pretty good repair, and even the places that look a little run down have tons of character.

In part, this is due to it being the home of what is probably the most intriguing architect I know of: Antoni Gaudi. This man was from another planet, and as the next posts will show you, he was way ahead of his time.

Better have a big memory card in your camera if you’re gonna go shoot around here, it’s totally worth it.

Linguistics map of the Iberian Peninsula 1000-2000 AD

When language isolates are discussed, people often assume they are some weird, unique language that just sprung out of nowhere. It’s much more likely that these languages (like Basque) were parts of must larger families that died out. In this gif, you can see how Castilian overwhelms Iberia, which had been primarily speaking Arabic - Mozarabic. Even at that time, Basque was already a fairly small language. So what did the language landscape look like before Arabic - Mozarabic was the dominant language family?

I don’t know, but language has been around a lot longer than we have historical accounts, and it’s reasonable to think that Basque’s language family was once spoken in a much wider area. Who knows, maybe it originates from a language family that dominated Europe before Germanic and Romance languages existed. In any case, we no longer can trace it back to connect it to the languages in Europe today.

A PSA on Jewishness, because apparently non-Jews just have to know this stuff and can't figure it out on their own

Jews are an ethnic group. Global Jewry is made up of several different ethnic groups, the largest of which are: Sefardi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and western Europe; Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in central and eastern Europe; and Mizrahi Jews, whose ancestors historically lived in MENA (Middle East/North Africa). There are other groups of ethnic Jews living in other places in the world as well. Jews from all of these groups have moved across the world, largely due to persecution in their host countries, and formed new communities in new places, so that there may be longstanding communities of Ashkenazi Jews in France, and Sefardi Jews in Morocco.

All ethnic Jews have ancestral, genetic heritage stemming from the Levant (specifically, the area now known as Israel and/or Palestine). All Jews also have cultural heritage stemming from the Levant. This is no less important or relevant than genetic heritage.

Some Jews have mixed heritage (one Jewish parent only). They are also Jews. The matrilineal descent question is a question of Jewish religious law, and is interpreted differently by different Jewish denominations and individuals. (My personal stance is to affirm patrilineal descent.) 

The religion historically practiced by Jews is Judaism. Ethnic Jews may practice any religion they please; this does not mean they are less Jewish in terms of their heritage. Non-ethnic Jews may convert to Judaism; this does not make them any less Jewish in terms of their religious practice. Judaism does not proselytize.

Judaism as a whole takes no global stance of Zionism as a political ideology. Different Jews have different opinions on Zionisms (plural intentional, because Zionism takes a lot of forms), and while they may be good or bad people, and you may agree or disagree with their politics, their Zionism or anti-Zionism does not inherently make them any more or less Jewish. 

The question of Jewish identity is ultimately not the purview of non-Jews. It is nothing more or less than gross arrogance for non-Jews to assume that their opinions on this question are remotely relevant or of interest to Jews, and the persistent insertion of some non-Jews into these private conversation is extremely offensive.

If you are not Jewish, and have written, or are considering writing, a post on  Jewish identity/ethnicity, I have some advice for you: don’t. You almost certainly don’t know what you’re talking about, and you definitely can’t have a better understanding of these complex issues than someone who is actually Jewish themselves. If you really feel, for some inexplicable reason, that you simply must weigh in on this issue, consult an actual Jew before doing so. 

This work examines the debt owed by Europe to the Moors for the Renaissance and the significant role played by the African in the Muslim invasions of the Iberian peninsula. While it focuses mainly on Spain and Portugal, it also examines the races and roots of the original North African before the later ethnic mix of the blackamoors and tawny Moors in the medieval period. The study ranges from the Moor in the literature of Cervantes and Shakespeare to his profound influence upon Europe’s university system and the diffusion via this system of the ancient and medieval sciences. The Moors are shown to affect not only European mathematics and map-making, agriculture and architecture, but their markets, their music and their machines. The ethnicity of the Moor is re-examined, as is his unique contribution, both as creator and conduit, to the first seminal phase of the industrial revolution.

Todays Snake Is:

The Snub-nosed Viper or Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei) is a venomous snake found on the Iberian peninsula and in northern Africa. Due to the destruction and fragmentation of much of its habitat, this species is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN. These snakes typically only breed once every three years and, like other vipers, give birth to live young. 

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