Moors (Lat. Mauri; Sp. Moros; Dutch, Moors), the people of Mauritania or Morocco and adjoining parts. The Arabs who conquered Mauritania in the 7th century converted to Mohammedanism the native population, who in Europe were still called Moors, though in their own language they called themselves Berbers, while by the Arabs they were termed Moghrebin, "men of the west." Arabic manners and customs, and in a corrupt form the Arabic language, soon prevailed in the country, the Arab conquerors freely amalgamating with their converts, who far exceeded them in numbers. In 711 an army drawn from this mixed population crossed the straits at Gibraltar, so named from their Arab leader, and began the conquest of the Spanish peninsula. The Spaniards and Portuguese called these invaders Moors because they came from Mauritania, and the term Moors with them soon became synonymous with Mohammedans or Moslems, as the invaders designated themselves. The Spanish writers subsequently applied the term to all the Mohammedans of northern Africa; and when, at the close of the 15th century, the Portuguese made their way around the cape of Good Hope and encountered the Arabs on the coasts of E. Africa and of S. Asia, they still called them Moors. Even the Turks, who in race, language, and everything but religion, were foreign and alien to both Moors and Arabs, were sometimes loosely spoken of as Moors by the Spanish historians.
In 1246 Mohammed ibn Alahmar, king of Granada, became vassal of Ferdinand III. Of Castile, and from this time the Moorish rule declined in Spain, until it received its death blow from Ferdinand the Catholic, who in 1492 raised the cross on the walls of Granada. After this event many of the Moors emigrated to northern Africa, where they were inhospitably received by the Arabs, but found a home in the coast cities. The remnant in Spain, named Moriscoes, were subjected to a bloody persecution by Philip II., and were finally and completely expelled from Spain by Philip III. in 1609. (See Spain).