Guest Post by Tammy Eledge
In the year 711 A.D. the Moors who were also called Berbers who were originally from West Africa decided to expand their Empire came from Africa to Europe, from Morocco to Spain and they conquered most of Spain except the northern part. For 800 years they ruled over Spain and brought the Renaissance period into Europe. What the Moors started in Spain travelled throughout Europe with the Spaniards and they brought Europe out of the Dark Ages. The Wisdom, Science, and Teachings of the Moors in Spain brought a new light into Europe and the Europeans copied it to the fullest.
In 1492 the Europeans and the Spaniards defeated the Moors and Spain was then back under the control of the Spaniards. When the Moors were defeated they were given two choices, the first to return to West Africa or the second, to stay and denounce their religion, heritage, and country and become a Catholic under the rule of the Royal Family of Spain. Most of them returned home to West Africa but some chose to stay under the conditions that were laid out to them and they became known as Mosricos.
The people that were still in Spain that were related to them were called Morenos. The ones that stayed in Spain became employees of the King and Queen of Spain. The Moors began to share their secrets with the King and Queen. One of the secrets that they shared was the way that they had travelled to other lands for centuries and when they did some of them would stay behind and help build colonies in the new land and sometimes they befriended the natives and even sometimes marry and have children with them. This also was the case in Europe under the Moors rule in Spain and when they travelled throughout Europe.
Some of the surnames that descended from the Christianized Moors are: Moore, Moor, Morrison, Black, Blackman, Blackson, Brown, and Sacracen. Not all of the Black figures on European Coats of Arms were founders of the previously named families and their children, but some were put on the arms because they had fought against the families. Although other coats of arms honored St. Maurice the First Knight that was of Moor blood. The legend states that while Aglovale was traveling through the Moorish lands searching for Lancelot he had fallen in love with a beautiful princess. They pledged their love for each other but he refused to abandon his quest and left the country before they were married and left her with an unborn son named Morien, who grew into a tall handsome youth that was black of face and limb. It is said that Sir Morien’s blows were so mighty that if a spear flew toward him it would not hurt him. His dress, shield and armour were those of a Moor and black as a raven.
From this relationship descended Sir Edward and Sir Thomas Moore, Knights that were descended from the Moores of Moore Place in Kent, who went to Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth the I. Sir Edward Moore the eldest brother received a leave of the dissolved abbey of Mellefont in County Louth, which he made his primary residence and continued upon his descendants until the moved to Moore Abbey in County Kildare. The 1st and 3rd Marquesses of Drogheda were Knights of St. Patrick, and the 11th Earl was a Knight of the Garter. Upon the Moore family crest is a Moor’s head. More information on the Moore families, 161 Moore coat of arms and genealogy information can be found at https://coadb.com/surnames/moore-arms.html. The coat of arms discussed in this article along with it’s blazon can be found below.
55) Moore – (Earl and Marquess of Drogheda; descended from Sir Edward Moore, Knt., eldest surviving son of John Moore, Esq., of Benenden). (Ballyhale, co. Kilkenny, Moorfield, co. Kildare, &c; descended from Hon. Ponsonby Moore, second son of Edward, fifth Earl of Drogheda). Same Arms. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet or, a Moor’s head ppr. wreathed about the temples ar. and az. Supporters—Two greyhounds ar. Motto—Fortis cadere cedere non potest.Charleville; 5) Nicholas, 6) Brent, ancestor of Moore, of co. Louth). Az. on a chief indented or, three mullets pierced gu.
As can be seen in the above example many Moors in history went on to become very prominent figures such as nobles, intellectuals, military leaders and even held positions of royalty in the European society. We will discuss just a few of them here along with their contributions to society and history.
One of the most famous Moor royals was Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Penne and Duke of Florence whom was nicknamed ‘il moro, ‘Italian for ‘The Moor”. He was officially recognized as the son of Lorenzo II de Medici and an unknown African woman. Alessandro was the last of the Medici line to rule over Florence when he assumed the throne at the very young age of 19. He was instrumental in building the massive fortresses throughout Florence during his reign including the Fortezza da Basso. Throughout his lifetime he gained many enemies and was assassinated by his own cousin Lorenzino de Medici in 1537.
Another well known Moor in society is Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696-1781) who is the great-grandfather of Russian literary hero, Alexander Pushkin. Abram Gannibal’s actual origins are unknown but he could have been from Eritrea, Ethiopia or Cameroon. What is known is that he was kidnapped at the age of 7 by slave traders and was taken to the court of Sultan Mustafa II in 1703, he was later bought by a Russian Ambassador that sent him to the court of the Emperor Pyotr Alexyevich (Peter the Great). Peter saw great potential in Abram and Peter asked him to accompany him on military campaigns. Abram studied in France in 1717 where he learned many foreign languages, science, mathematics and war studies. A year later he joined the French Army and quickly rose through the ranks to become Captain and fought against the Spanish. After he was injured in the army he went to an artillery school in Metz, France and completed his education by 1722 and returned to Russia to work as a military engineer. In 1725 after Peter the Great died Prince Menshikov rose to power and exiled Abram to Siberia. In 1730 Empress Elizabeth the daughter of Peter the Great assumed the throne and issued a full pardon for Abram and made him a Major-General and Superintendent of Reval from 1742-1752. He retired to a rather large estate in Russia that had hundreds of European slaves.
There are many more “Moors” in history that are noteworthy and are worth knowing and holding a place in history. If you are descended from one of these Moor families take pride and know that you come from a very long and noble histories and great accomplishments.