[1A] Berbers and Barbarians
The African continent in the seventh and eighth century could be described as a rich tide pool for rapidly developing cultures and societies, with one of the most voracious religious conquests in the history of man.This period serves as a brilliant example of how religious movements are able to greatly influence the development of increasingly complex civilizations.
Preceding the Islamic conquests, the Vandali of Rome established a kingdom in North Africa during the fifth century. The Vandals’ belief system was a non-trinitarian form of Christianity, known as Arianism. This ‘Arian heresy’ is considered responsible both for the rise and fall of Vandali kingdom, which was replaced by the spread of Islam through mightier conquest and greater offerings of peace and stability. Springing forth from its roots in the North-African region, the Islamic conquest crept through the Sahara and on to the Sahelian empires of the southwestern areas over the many decades of the spreading belief.
The Arab Muslims, intent on creating an Islamic empire, assembled a military conquest by bringing soldiers and settlers to North Africa. Starting in Egypt around 640, they moved across the region, bringing much of the urban areas under a unified political-religious rule by around 700. Because of the military spread and the intent to convert, even Berbers were included in this movement, and most converted voluntarily and as a condition of peace.
The Berbers originally lived all over the Maghreb from western Egypt to the Atlantic, occupying this region as both camel-herding nomads and farming communities. The travelling Berbers established small trade patterns throughout the region, considered to have aided the flow of both goods and beliefs as Islamic followers set up outposts over many decades. Having been assimilated during the Islamic conquest, the Berbers of the al-Maghreb began invading the Iberian peninsula in the early eighth century. Prior to the Umayyad conquest, the land of Iberia was part of a Christian Visigothic kingdom which meant constant religious tensions between neighboring societies and the destabilization of any attempt at central governing. The Berber invasion of Iberia led to the ousting of less centralized Arian Barbarians and the introduction of Islamic rule, which offered more unified government. The Iberian peninsula became part of the