The Sultana Series - Learn More

About Moorish Spain

For centuries before the Catholic monarchs conquered Granada and claimed its beautiful Alhambra, a diverse people ruled Muslim Spain for two and a half centuries. These are their stories.

Based on two decades of research from Lisa J. Yarde into the Nasrid dynasty, whose members governed from Granada's Alhambra Palace beginning in 1232 and ending in 1492, this epic series* examines the turbulent lives and loves of the Moors of Spain.

Glossary of Terms in the Sultana novels

A handy reference for the Arabic and Spanish terms used in the novels.

Islamic Regions and Modern Equivalents in the Sultana novels

Discover the Moorish names for modern-day Spanish monuments, cities, regions, and more. 

Bibliography of sources for the Sultana novels

The Moors

The Moors were Islamic people of Arabian and Negro descent, who invaded the Iberian Peninsula, which encompasses modern-day Portugal and Spain, beginning in the Christian eighth century. They called the conquered land al-jazirat al-Andalus, but in later years, the term referred only to the south of Spain and became Andalusia in modern times.

The Moors penetrated the interior and brought three-fifths of the peninsula under their control. They gave their unique culture, rich language, and the religion of Islam to a land that welcomed them at first, for the valuable riches and social order they brought. Where superstition and ignorance once pervaded all elements of life, the Moors brought intellectual pursuit and reasoning. Their blood mingled with that of the Visigoths and produced a mixed-race of individuals.

By Islamic law, Muslim men could marry or have relations with non-Muslim women. Periods of zealous anti-Christian and anti-Jewish views occurred and resulted in forced conversion, but mostly, Christians and Jews enjoyed religious tolerance under Moorish rule. Some families chose to convert willingly, for all the requisite benefits including as the avoidance of certain taxes and the gains of political and social advancement while others practiced their former religion in secret.

Spurred on by religious fanaticism, bigotry, and jealousy of the Moorish achievements, the people of the northern half of the peninsula began the Reconquista, a determined struggle against the Moors. Beginning in the Christian tenth century, the rebellion spread slowly southward, until only one Moorish kingdom remained, Granada, nestled within the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The rulers of Granada were the Nasrid family.

The Nasrid family allegedly arrived in the peninsula during the early stages of the establishment of Moorish rule. They claimed descent from Sa’d ibn Ubadah, a chieftain of the Khazraj tribe in Arabia, a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad. Ibn Ubadah’s descendants settled in the Arjuno region and served in the army of the Umayyad Caliphate, distinguishing themselves in their military leadership as officers and generals.

Recent research has allowed me to learn ever-increasing details about the lives of the historical figures in the Sultana series. Watch this space, as I will continue to make updates here about the real stories behind the characters’ lives. Major sources of these updates are Fernandez-Puertas’ The Alhambra - Volume I and more recently, Fernandez-Puertas’ article about The Great Sultans and Boloix-Gallardo’s Las sultanas de la Alhambra, all of which I’ve referenced in the books. Where there are differences between the narrative in each novel and the history of the period, I have noted those variations below for anyone looking to distinguish fact from fiction. Otherwise, the details of the novels including dates, events, Christian and Moroccan historical figures, the presence of Christian guards protecting Muslim rulers, former Christian concubines wed to Muslims, the food, drinks, bath and prayer rituals, and births and deaths of major characters derive from primary and secondary sources, as they recorded the turbulent but glorious lives of the Nasrid Dynasty.

       About the historical figures in Sultana: The White Mountains

About the Nasrid Dynasty

Wikipedia Project on the Nasrid Dynasty

For several years, I have helped contribute to the Wikipedia entry on the Nasrid Dynasty, donating the wealth of my research to expanding the available information. When I started researching the Nasrid period in 1995, the sources were deplorable or mired in legends and foolish fancies about Moorish culture and society. After amassing so much detail on the Moorish period in Spain and the last Muslim dynasty to rule a significant portion of the country, I had to pay it forward for future generations to learn more about a fascinating history and people. As much as some ridicule the data compiled on Wikipedia, I'm very proud to have added in any small way to the entries on the Sultans of the Nasrid Dynasty and my contributions will continue.

A Map of Moorish Spain

Major cities of the novels

Moors under the governance of the Nasrid Dynasty divided the Andalusian territory into administrative provinces, such as Granada, Almería, and Malaga. Governors controlled the provinces. Within each province, there were subdivisions of districts under the control of governors, too; at least 33 official districts within Granada. These districts might be a city or town, e.g. Almería, a hamlet, e.g. Pechina, or later during the Reconquista period, a geographic region, e.g. Las Alpujarras. Nasrid princes, trusted officers of the military, judges, and other esteemed men controlled each area after an official appointment by the Nasrid ruler to whom they had offered an oath of loyalty.

The Alhambra

Explore the setting of the novels

Visit  and Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife for more information.

Other Web Resources on Moorish Spain

Note: All images are mine or derived from public domain artwork.