Segments in this Video

Muslim Culture at Its Peak (01:02)


In 711 AD, Muslim forces invade Spain and create a rich and powerful society. Muslim culture then is intellectually curious, sensuous, and progressive. This part of Muslim history is almost systemically written out of history books.

Ethnic Cleansing in Spain (01:49)

Queen Isabella is a religious fanatic who is determined to cleanse Spain of the last traces of people who were not Christians. Thus ends the Moorish civilization that flourished in Spain for 700 years. What is the real story of the Moors?

Alhambra Palace in Granada (03:04)

Built by the kings of Granada in the 14th century at the height of their power, the Alhambra is one of the wonders of the medieval world.

Alhambra: Control of Proportion (04:41)

The men who built the Alhambra had a complex knowledge of geometry. The entire building from the ground up is based on one single ratio. Graphic representations of the Alhambra demonstrate the precise proportionality in all aspects of the palace.

Birth and Spread of Islam (02:37)

In the 7th century, Mohammed claims to have been visited by God and given the revelations that today make up the Quran. Islam took a foothold in the desert city of Medina and grew. Arab Muslims spread east and west, conquering lands as they expanded.

Islam: Integration of Religion and Education (02:59)

Among the Prophet's first revelations was the instruction to seek knowledge. From the earliest days of Islam, literacy and religious study went hand in hand.

Islam: Mathematical and Scientific Investigation (02:43)

Arab knowledge of astronomy was applied in new ways as Arabs were incorporated into Islam. Islam became a culture that embraced mathematic and scientific investigation, and they incorporated the knowledge of the ancient Greeks.

Muslim Invasion of Europe (02:53)

The vibrancy of Islamic culture stood in stark contrast with Europe's cautious approach to learning. The power vacuum in Europe after the fall of Rome left Europe vulnerable to Muslim invaders. In 711, Berber tribes invaded Europe.

Muslim Invasion of Spain (03:19)

Visigothic Spain often welcomed Muslim invaders with open arms in order to gain Muslim protection. The invasion was swift and effective, but the invasion lacked strong leadership.

Muslims Create Wealth in Spain (03:29)

A Muslim prince named Abdul Rahman arrived in Al Andalus and began to make improvements. He brought cutting edge technology for irrigation, thus transforming the landscape. New agriculture created enormous wealth, which in turn created great cities such as Cordoba.

Splendor of Islamic Cordoba (03:12)

Abdul Rahman builds Cordoba on top of Roman ruins, and builds the city's crown jewel and largest mosque of Western Islam: the Mosque of Cordoba.

Islam: Culture of Innovation (02:58)

Archaeological evidence proves that Islamic culture had a much greater influence on early Spain than most history books acknowledge. Islam's attractiveness included its wealth, structure, and intellectual power. Islam brought paper to Europe.

Advanced Islamic Learning (03:36)

Cordoba amassed millions of books in its 70 libraries. They included sophisticated studies of astronomy, mathematics, medicine far in advance of any in the Christian world.

Islamic Records of Life in Cordoba (01:32)

Everyday life in Islamic Cordoba as well as contracts and legal documents are preserved in ancient records found in the city.

Muslim Spain: Key Power in Western Islam (03:40)

Civilized and highly sophisticated, Islamic Cordoba contained medical centers, an organized legal system, and libraries full of academics and scientists working on ideas far in advance of anything else in Europe.

Court Life in Islamic Cordoba (03:42)

Cordoba's Medina Azahara had artificial rivers running from room to room, and the sound of fountains and rivulets heard everywhere. Vocal and instrumental music would fill the air. The concept of courtly love has its roots in Islamic tradition.

Downfall of Medina Azahara and the Caliphate (02:14)

Abdul Rahman III paid little attention to the military while pouring vast resources into learning and beautification. As the military recruited more foreigners, the caliphate came under attack and Medina Azahara was destroyed.

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The Moors: At the Height of Empire

Part of the Series : When the Moors Ruled Europe
DVD Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



With the grandeur and geometric sophistication of the Alhambra as a powerful opening example, this program looks at Islamic culture in southern Spain following the Berber invasion of 711. Scholar Bettany Hughes talks with Professor Antonio Fernández-Puertas of the University of Granada, who has studied Nasrid art and architecture for 40 years; with Professor Lauro Olmo Encisco of Alcala University in Madrid, an expert on the Visigothic site of Recópolis; and with Islamic historian Ali Raisuni, who posits noble motives behind Moorish expansion. These conversations, as well as the program’s energetic visuals and helpful overviews of Islam’s origins, yield valuable insight into the social, economic, scientific, and military dynamics of the period. (53 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL37635

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8633-1

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“A great introduction for Western audiences to Islamic influences on medieval and Renaissance society. Highly Recommended.” —Educational Media Reviews Online


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