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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Children of legally taken concubines


[Sidenote: Status of women.]

A Mohammedan was allowed to have as many as four wives and a greater number of concubines, all together forming the particular individual's harem. The wives were subject to their husbands, but were not without rights. The first wife was privileged to forbid her husband's taking concubines or additional wives without her consent, although it is doubtful if the right was generally exercised. Possibly a wife's most important powers were those having to do with property, coupled with her privilege of bringing suit at law without the previous consent of her husband. Children of legally taken concubines, even if the latter were slaves, were held to be legitimate and free. Women enjoyed more liberty than they are commonly supposed to have had, being privileged, for example, to visit freely with their relatives. The Arabs were very fond of music and dancing, and took delight in licentious poetry. Not a little of the pleasure-loving character of this race survives today in southern Spain.

[Sidenote: Methods of warfare.]

[Sidenote: Moslem law.]

Much has been said already with regard to the general administration of the Moslem realm, which was not greatly different from that of the Visigothic kingdom preceding it. As for the Moslem armies they were not so superior in organization when they entered Spain as their rapid conquests might lead one to suppose. They were nothing more than tribal levies, each group marching with its chief as leader. Campaigns were also managed in a somewhat haphazard fashion, for the Moslem troops went forth to war when the tasks of harvest time did not require their presence at home. Many expeditions were made with no idea of military conquest; rather they were for the sake of destroying an enemy's crops or securing plunder, after which the army would return, satisfied with what it had done. The Moslem rulers gradually began to surround themselves with special troops, and, finally, Almansor abolished the tribal levy, and formed regiments without regard to tribe. As for Moslem law the Koran was at the same time a book of holy writ and one of civil law. This was supplemented by the legislation of the caliphs, but there was always more or less confusion between law and religion. There was never a formal code.

[Sidenote: Religion in Moslem Spain.]

Attention has already been called to the difference in the religious fervor of the Moslem tribes. Many of the Arabs even went so far as to deny the existence of God, although the vast body of them, perhaps, were indifferentists. The Berbers and the mass of the people generally were very enthusiastic Mohammedans, so that it was unsafe to express one's opinions contrary to the faith or even to engage openly in certain philosophical studies, for these were regarded as heretical. Among the religious themselves there were varying interpretations of the Koran and differences of rite. Religious toleration existed to such an extent that not only were the Moz?rabes allowed to retain their churches, their priesthood, and their councils, but also some of their holy days were celebrated by Christians and Moslems alike. There was one instance where the same building served as a Mohammedan mosque and a Christian church. Christian clergymen from foreign lands frequently visited Moslem Spain, while native churchmen went forth from the caliphate to travel in the Christian countries, returning later to the peninsula.


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