Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأندلس, trans. al-ʼAndalus; Spanish: Al-Ándalus; Portuguese: Al-Andalus; Aragonese: Al-Andalus; Catalan: Al-Àndalus), also known as the Moorish Iberia, was a medieval Muslim state in parts of what are today Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and France. The name more generally describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims (given the generic name of Moors), at various times between 711 and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly in wars with Christian kingdoms.
Following the Muslim conquest of Hispania, Al-Andalus was divided into five administrative units, corresponding roughly to modern Andalusia, Galicia and Portugal, Castile and León, Aragon and Catalonia, and Septimania. As a political domain, it successively constituted a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, initiated by the Caliph Al-Walid I (711–750); the Emirate of Córdoba (c. 750–929); the Caliphate of Córdoba (929–1031); and the Caliphate of Córdoba's taifa (successor) kingdoms. Rule under these kingdoms saw a rise in cultural exchange and cooperation between Muslims and Christians. Under the Caliphate of Córdoba, al-Andalus was a beacon of learning, and the city of Córdoba became one of the leading cultural and economic centres in both the Mediterranean Basin and the Islamic world.
In succeeding centuries, Al-Andalus became a province of the Berber Muslim dynasties of the Almoravids and Almohads, later fragmenting into a number of minor states, most notably the Emirate of Granada. With the support of locals, the Almoravids deposed the taifa Muslim princes, after helping to repel Christian attacks on the region by Alfonso VI. It is said that rule under the Almoravids and Almohads saw both a decline in cultural and social exchange.
For much of its history, Al-Andalus existed in conflict with Christian kingdoms to the north, who ultimately overpowered their Muslim neighbors. In 1085, Alfonso VI of León and Castile captured Toledo, starting a gradual Muslim decline until, with the fall of Córdoba in 1236, the Emirate of Granada was the only Muslim territory in what is now Spain. The Portuguese Reconquista culminated in 1249 with the conquest of the Algarve by Afonso III. In 1238, the Emirate of Granada officially became a tributary state to the Kingdom of Castile, then ruled by King Ferdinand III. Finally, on January 2, 1492, Emir Muhammad XII surrendered the Emirate of Granada to Queen Isabella I of Castile, who along with her husband King Ferdinand II of Aragon were known as the "Catholic Monarchs." The surrender ended Al-Andalus as a political entity, though aspects of Muslim rule are still evident in the region.
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