Moors, the name given by Europeans to the natives of North Africa, and to those of North African descent who lived in Spain during the Middle Ages. During Roman times the native inhabitants (Berbers) were called Mauri by the Romans. In the seventh century A.D., invading Arabs conquered the Berbers and converted them to Islam. The mixed Arab-Berber population continued to be called Mauri, or Moors, in Europe.
The Moors invaded Spain in 711, defeated the Visigoths, and conquered most of the Iberian peninsula. They introduced improved methods of agriculture, stockbreeding, manufacturing, and metallurgy. Moorish Spain was noted for art and learning.
The Christian reconquest of Spain was completed with the fall of Granada in 1492. The Moors then came under increasing pressure to convert to Christianity or leave Spain. Those who converted were called Moriscos. Most kept their old customs and secretly remained Muslims. The two main Morisco areas were Granada and Valencia. In 1570 a revolt in Granada was put down, and the Moriscos were scattered throughout central Spain and slowly assimilated. In 1609 the Moriscos of Valencia were expelled to North Africa; their number was perhaps 100,000. The scattering and expulsion of the Moriscos deprived Spain of many skilled farmers.