Spain was known by its Arabic name, Al-Andalus for the next three hundred years. The Moors were tolerant of the Christians and Jews who lived in the land they conquered, but they taxed the people who did not share their Islamic faith at a higher rate. Consequently, some citizens converted to Islam to avoid paying higher taxes.
The Moors formed a caliphate, or religious center, in Cordoba. Scholars studied the works of Greek and Roman authors, while artists and architects established the city as a center of the arts. Cordoba also became a center for studying mathematics, astronomy, and agriculture.
A civil war among the Muslims in the eleventh century caused the caliphate’s collapse into small kingdoms called taifas. The disunity allowed for the Christian reconquest of Spain.
Christian warriors began the Reconquista, or reconquest of the peninsula 1085. The Christian kingdoms of Castille and Aragon in northern Spain won several military victories. After years of fighting, a nobleman named Afonso expelled the Muslim rulers from the western part of the peninsula and established the Kingdom of Portugal in 1139. By the end of the thirteenth century, only the Emirate of Granada in southwest Spain remained under Muslim control.