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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

This was begun in the reign of Abd er Rahman I


[Sidenote: The wealth of Cordova.]

[Sidenote: Economic prosperity.]

In the tenth century Moslem Spain came to be one of the richest and most populous lands in Europe. The wealth of Cordova was astounding, although some allowance has to be made for the exaggerations of the chroniclers. At one time the Moslem capital was said to have 200,000 houses, 600 mosques, and 900 bath-houses, besides many public buildings. It was well paved, had magnificent bridges across the Guadalquivir, and contained numerous palaces of the caliphs and other great functionaries. The most famous of all was that of Az-Zahra, which was a palace and town in one, erected by Abd-er-Rahman III for one of his wives. The great mosque of Cordova, which is in use today as a Catholic cathedral, was equally luxurious. This was begun in the reign of Abd-er-Rahman I, and was continued and enlarged by later Moslem rulers. It came to have nineteen aisles one way, and thirty another, with twenty-one gates, and 1293 columns of porphyry and jasper with gilded capitals. In its adornment it was a wealth of marble, silver, and precious stones. Travellers came to Cordova from all parts of the world, but it is worthy of note as an evidence of the lack of complete security, even in the greatest days of the caliphate, that it was the practice to come in great bodies, for the roads were infested with bandits. One measure of the advance of Moslem Spain is in the revenues of the government, which were eighteen times greater in the reign of Abd-er-Rahman III than they were in the reign of Abd-er-Rahman I.[16] This wealth depended on economic well-being, which was especially in evidence in the tenth century. The Arabs were not innovators in agriculture, but they had already learned much from others, and they assimilated Hispano-Roman and Moz?rabic methods, with the result that Spain became richer in this regard than she had ever been before. They introduced rice, sugar, and several other products which had not previously been cultivated in Spain, and made use of irrigation in Granada, Murcia, and Valencia. Stock-raising, mining, and manufacturing were also extensively carried on. As a natural result of all this activity there was a like development of commerce. The principal part of Abd-er-Rahman III's revenues proceeded from import and export duties. It is worthy of note that there was a considerable traffic not only in slaves but also in women,--such was Arabic character. Seville was perhaps the most important port. Through the medium of commerce Spain came into close contact with the Moslem East and with the Byzantine Greeks. As a result of the mathematical problems involved in trade it is believed that the Arabs introduced into Europe the very important cipher, or zero, which they on their part had received from India.

[Sidenote: Languages.]

[Sidenote: Education.]


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