Qanat system used in dry area


 Watson, who, without a doubt, wrote the best works on Islamic farming,[1] in one of his shorter works, appropriately entitled ‘A Medieval Green Revolution,’ holds that:

‘Arab geographers, authors of farming manuals, and other writers from the 10th century onward tell of great changes that came over the countryside of the early Islamic world either before or during their time. Most notably, many new crops were grown and new techniques of growing both old and new crops were introduced. Though unfortunate gaps in the available sources do not allow us to plot accurately the progress of these changes through time and space, it seems likely that their spread began at the time of the Arab conquests or shortly afterward and was largely completed by the end of the 11th century. By then, at any rate, agricultural changes had touched places far and wide, affecting to varying degrees, often profoundly, almost every part of the Islamic world. So impressive was the transformation of agriculture in so many regions that one is justified in using the term-alas, so hackneyed-agricultural revolution.’[2]  


Medieval Islamic farming, in all its dominant traits, methods and techniques, was much more advanced than that of the Christian West. It was also to remain so for centuries thereafter. More importantly, Islamic farming innovated in many areas, which were pioneering. Hence records show that cereal yields in Egypt  were around 10 for 1, yields which were only to be obtained in Europe at the end of the 17th century.[3] The diffusion of new crops and improved cultivation meant that fields that once yielded one crop yearly before, now yielded three or more crops in rotation; and agricultural products met the demands of an increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan urban population, providing it with a variety of products unknown in northern Europe.[4] Throughout the Islamic world, cities were supported by a very advanced farming system that included extensive irrigation works, expert knowledge of agricultural methods, the best orchards and vegetable gardens, the rearing of the finest horses and sheep, ‘the most advanced system in the world,’ says Artz.[5] Arriving crusaders in the East were stunned at the sight of the coastal regions of Syria  and Palestine ; Tripoli  and its surrounding covered in cultivated fields, and an abundance of orchards and gardens, vast plantations of sugar; citrus trees, banana plants, date palms… all thriving.[6] Dunayat (in northern Syria) was lying on a vast plain, surrounded by sweet smelling plants and irrigated vegetable gardens, according to the same crusader account.[7] Under Muslim rule, the south of Spain became a highly prosperous region, and as described by a poet quoted by Shack:

‘Where the Arabs set foot on Spanish soil life and water sprang up, the sycamores, pomegranates, bananas and sugar cane intertwined in the glistening labyrinths, and even the very stones blossomed in gay colours.’[8]

The al-Jaraffe district, to the West of Seville , in the 12th century, was, according to all accounts, covered in so luscious fruit orchards that ‘the sun hardly touched the ground.’[9] In that same country, such was the quality of produce some wheat could keep for a century in adequate storage conditions.[10] In Sicily , Lowe holds, practically all the distinguishing features of Sicilian husbandry were introduced by the Muslims: citrus, cotton, carob, mulberry, sugar-cane, hemp, date palm, safron... the list is endless.[11] Bresc, Glick and Castro also find that virtually all of the technical farming jargon of Spain and Sicily derives from Arabic.[12] Such was the Muslim expertise that in Sicily, agriculture remained in Muslim hands under early Norman rule, and was, according to Scott ‘carried to the highest perfection.’[13] This expertise meant that every plant or tree, whose culture was known to be profitable and which could adapt itself, was to be found in the gardens and plantations. Records were kept of the crops produced in each district; the methods of their disposition and the prices they brought were noted on the public registers; the breeds of horses, asses, and cattle were improved; and the greatest care was taken of them; and any food, which after experiment was found to be the most nutritious, was adopted.[14]


This medieval picture of an accomplished Islamic farming sector did not prevent nearly all modern historians,[15] from adopting the usual lines of denigration, a point raised by Cherbonneau:

‘It is admitted with difficulty that a nation mostly of nomads could have known any form of agricultural techniques other than sowing wheat and barley. The misconceptions come from the rarity of works on the subject… If we took the trouble to open up and consult the old manuscripts, so many views would be changed, so many prejudices would be destroyed.’[16]

Indeed, in their systematic and sustained effort to alter Islamic history, to suppress from it every single accomplishment, the majority of Western historians rewrite completely such history. Most often, regarding this subject, agriculture, one of the practices is to totally ignore the medieval period, doing away with centuries of history. If and when some such historians recognise Islamic accomplishments, they either demean them as much as possible, or simply misattribute them to others. In this latter instance, any sign of non-Islamic origin of agricultural accomplishments is exploited to levels as to even defy credible scholarship.


This matter of fallacies and demeaning Islamic accomplishments in the field is the first to be addressed in this chapter. As it proceeds, this chapter will reveal the pioneering and crucial contribution of Islamic farming to our modern agriculture, and thus will demonstrate that the assertion found in most history books that the agricultural revolution took place in the 18th century, and later in the West, is one of the most ridiculous found in history.  





1. Historical Misinterpretations and Fallacies:


One of the established assumptions in historical writing is that, just before, or around, the early-mid 18th century, farmers in the English countryside initiated what is commonly known as the agricultural revolution. English landed classes, it is explained, were helped by the enclosure of land (began in 16th century), which gave them both security and institutional foundations to innovate. This led to widespread and critical changes such as crop rotation, improvements in animal husbandry, farm experiment etc… By the mid-late 18th century, English agriculture, it is explained, managed to release both surplus capital and labour for industry, and provide a wide enough market to give the foundation for industrial expansion, that so called Industrial Revolution that began in the late 18th century. Further changes (greater and better use of fertilisers, improved animal rearing, mechanisation, etc) in England and the rest of the Western world took place in earnest and, as time passed, reached a high momentum, completely reversing the picture that prevailed in past centuries, with poor food production now being replaced by large food surpluses. Simultaneously there was an equally momentous reversal on the wider international level, food purchasing orders now coming from the southern countries hardy able to feed their fast rising populations, whilst as recently as the 19th century, it was the opposite, France, for instance, purchasing wheat from Algeria.


The combined historical writing on agricultural change and the present state of southern dependency on Western food aid and supplies, result thus in the view that agricultural innovations and advances took place in the West. This view is totally misleading and fallacious, though. This chapter on Islamic farming will elaborate in great detail on the fact that nearly all innovations in modern agriculture were known and practiced in the medieval Islamic world. As summed up from Watson’s medieval Green Revolution, Islamic agriculture got more produce out of the land by bringing more land under cultivation and by making old land much more productive than in the past.[17] It was highly capital intensive, and highly labour intensive; more capital being invested in the construction of irrigation works, terracing, providing seed and fertilisers,  the reclamation of land, which also required heavy investment in labour, as well as in tools, animals and outbuildings. The introduction of new crops by the Muslims, as will be expanded upon, had the same effect of increasing production, productivity, higher investment of capital, labour, research, innovations (both on the ground and as recorded in treatises), and better use of the soil. The combination of all such factors brought former dead land into cultivation, and new irrigation techniques and systems also contributed to this.[18]  


These are some Islamic accomplishments, which mainstream history attributes to others, from whom, supposedly, the Muslims simply borrowed. For instance, Ashtor holds:

‘The numerous accounts of these activities do not point to technological innovations within the irrigation system, which the Muslim rulers had simply taken over from their predecessors. The records in the writings of the Arabic historians show that those who drained the swamps and dug the canals were the Nabateans, not Arabs.’[19]

‘The information which the Arabic authors provide us in the methods of agricultural work, besides the irrigation canals and engines, is rather scanty. But collecting these records from various sources one is inclined to conclude that the Arabs did not improve the methods of agricultural work. There is only slight evidence of technological innovations in near eastern agriculture throughout the Middle Ages, whereas the history of European agriculture is the story of great changes and technological achievements.’[20]  

‘The Egyptian historian al-Makrizi says that the harvests had diminished so much under Moslem rule that it was necessary to put aside a quarter of even a third of the crop in order to render cultivation profitable.[21]  Undoubtedly the Arabic author had the later Middle ages in mind. But the decrease of the crops had probably begun a long time before he wrote. It was the consequence of neglect, of old tired methods of cultivation, of heavy taxation and the attitude of a short sighted government.’[22]

Once more, Ashtor is promoting fallacies, which the subsequent sections in this chapter will thoroughly demolish. With regard to the particular claim that Muslim agriculture was a mere copying of Nabatean farming, the following outline will show that nearly all Islamic innovations in farming were accomplished in the medieval period, thus, centuries apart from the Nabatean model. It will also show that they relate to this model hardly at all, and that, the faith itself, the expansion of Islam, besides experiment on the land, followed by recording such experiments in farming treatises, were the real foundations of the Islamic agricultural revolution.

As for Islamic farming being derived from Nabatean agriculture because the work of an early Islamic farming treatise by Ibn Wahshiya (860-ca 935) is entitled Filaha Nabatiya,[23] there is no better way to answer this issue than Watson’s following observation:

‘A careful reading of the entire text has persuaded this writer (Watson) that a substantial part of the work was composed at the beginning of the 10th C. Only this dating makes it possible to explain extensive parts of the text; the references to Baghdad , Basra , Wasit and Kufa, all of which were to all intents and purposes founded in the Islamic period; the discussions of Islam and of the Arab conquest of Persia ; and the frequent mention of new crops, unknown to the region of ‘‘Babylonia'' in Sasanian times. These sections are not, as suggested, a light overlayer in a text the greater part of which is more ancient. They are on the contrary, deeply embedded in the text and a fundamental part of it. Even the discussions of superstitions which were once thought to be much more ancient can sometimes be shown to belong to the time of Ibn Wahshiya.’[24]


Islamic farming history, just like other aspects of Islamic history, also suffers from the generalised re-writing of history by Westerners, a rewriting which simultaneously suppresses the positive and enhances the negative. Looking at some aspects of Islamic history, we read, for instance, that ‘the Muslim slave trade’ was so excessively cruel that it forced Western nations to intervene, and colonise Africa to stop this most inhuman trade by the Muslims.[25] In relation to Muslim Spanish history, we read that the Islamic presence was far from being an image of tolerance and civilisation,[26] that only a few thousand Muslims were expelled from Spanish soil in 1609-1610,[27] not millions as was accepted before,[28] that the elimination of Muslims was necessary because they constituted a cancerous growth in the Spanish body,[29] etc.. So, in relation to Spanish farming, for instance, it is hardly surprising to find new ‘historians’ such as Butzer and his group ‘demonstrating’ to us that the Muslims did not fundamentally alter the available range of cultivars and technology, and that if it might seem they brought changes to Spanish farming this was simply due to the fact that before them there was a catastrophic decline.[30] Of course Butzer and his group are distorting facts. Had he and his group been right, that Islam had little to do with the changes in Spain, we would have found changes and transformations in agriculture in other places in Christendom equal in tenor to those taking place in Muslim Spain. Yet, this is not the case, whether in pre-medieval Western civilisations or in medieval Christendom. Nowhere do we find any advances comparable to those taking place in medieval Islamic Spain; advances, however, shared throughout the medieval Islamic land from the far east to the far west. Moreover, and specifically in relation to irrigation, as the Spanish vocabulary in the field demonstrates,[31] and as Cowell notes, the Spanish Muslims skills in irrigation and in terracing, are said to have resulted in an agricultural productivity far beyond the wit of ‘the relatively barbarous, less cultivated native Spaniards.’[32] Finally, here, as will be abundantly shown in this chapter, the changes Muslims made in the field were not just dramatic; the Western agricultural revolution would incorporate such changes as rotation of crops, better use of fertilisers, experimental gardens, etc, only 5-6 centuries after the Muslim world, from the 16th century onwards.


The major problem one encounters with modern Western historians is that, in their systematised endeavour to re-write history, they not only contradict facts, and often themselves, and confuse history even more, they even contradict medieval Western writers who, even if hostile to Islam, at least recognised Islamic merits. This, again, is a pattern observed in all subjects as seen here in one or two instances. Hence,  one of the early Western scientists to promote the use of reason against authority, Adelard of Bath (fl. Early 12th century), attributed his inspiration to his ‘masters’ the Arabs, in his Quaestiones naturales, saying explicitly: ‘a magistris Arabicis ratione duce didici,’[33] yet, modern historians, such as Lawn, insist that Adelard did not mean ‘Arab,’ his inspiration being Classical thought, instead.[34] The translators of the 12th century, who also, without exception, stated that their dearest wish was to acquire the science of ‘the Arabs,’ and to transmit it to the West. Gerard of Cremona, the leading figure amongst such translators, for instance, and in front of the ‘multitude' of Arabic books in every field, ‘pitied the poverty of the Latin .’[35] Modern historians, however, overwhelmingly insist that such translators aimed at the recuperation of ‘Greek’ learning, instead.[36]

The same holds in relation to farming. Thus, whilst nearly all modern Western scholars demean the Islamic role, contemporary sources say the very opposite. As an indication of Muslim skill in matters of agriculture, Jeronimo Munzer, an important nobleman who travelled through Spain in the years 1494-5, when a great many Muslims still remained in Aragon, tells us:

‘Among all the kingdoms of Spain, Aragon is without a doubt the one that has the greatest numbers of Moors, who are expert farmers. They pay a very high tax comprising the fourth part of their fruit, not counting other levies, and this is why the Spanish proverb says: he who owns no Moors has no gold.’ In Aragon many towns are inhabited solely by Arabs and it is a remarkable thing that in some districts and territories where scarcely fifteen Christians could scrape a living, about sixty Moors live with ease; they have wonderful skill in the management of water and in the cultivation of the land, and as they eat very meagrely they accumulate considerable riches.’[37]

And such was the Muslim superiority in farming skills, that following their mass elimination in the years 1609-1610, churches and land proprietors lost considerable incomes.[38] Thus, the Duke of Grandia suffered especially from this; all the operatives in his sugar mills were Muslims, no one else knew the processes.[39] In Ciudad-Real, the capital of La Mancha, the cloth industry was ruined.[40] Even a large part of the kingdom of Valencia , the garden of Europe, was for years an inhabited wilderness. With the Muslim expulsion the knowledge of many arts, once the source of great profit, was hopelessly lost.[41] The tabla de los depositos of Valencia-presumably a bank of deposit-was bankrupted, and the tabla of Barcelona, which was regarded as exceptionally strong, was likewise bankrupted.[42] Such was the scale of the losses that the nobles were annually assisted by the king, as though they were in danger of starving. The Count of Castellar was awarded the sum of 2000 ducats a year, Don Juan Rotla 400, the Count del Real 2000, the Duke of Grandia 8000, and so forth.[43]


One specific, and generalised, distortion found amongst Western historians is that Islamic irrigation techniques were a mere legacy from former civilisations.  Thus, in his Land behind Baghdad , Adams draws the conclusion that the density of settlement in the Diyala Plains in Islamic times, as well as the extent of the irrigation system, never reached the high point of later Sasanian times in spite of considerable reconstruction in late Umayyad and early Abbasid times.[44] His conclusions, however, as Watson points out, are based on inadequately collected data, such as his figures on taxation, which fail to take into account changes in rates of taxation, or efficiency of collection, and that his archaeological data is also inadequate due to his limited choice of samples, and so is Adams’ incapacity to distinguish between the rural pottery of the Sasanian, Umayyad and Abbasid, shortcomings that impact directly on the wider picture and its relation to irrigation, and thus, render his conclusions wholly distorted.[45]        

Watson sums up and refutes many such distortions relating to  Islamic irrigation:

‘In the vast literature of irrigation history may be found assertions which tend to minimise or even discredit, the contribution of early Islamic times to the development of irrigated agriculture, particularly in Spain, North Africa  and the Levant. Thus Ribera Y Tarrago, writing in a long tradition which belittles the Muslim legacy in Spain, argues that the irrigation system of the Huerta of Valencia  is pre-Islamic, principally on the ground that it does not resemble the undoubtedly Muslim system in the region of Marrakech ![46] In North Africa, Gauckler, following the previous practice of European scholars writing on the region, assigned virtually all the ruined irrigation works of Tunisia  to the Romans,[47] an error the enormity of which was finally pointed out in Solignac, whose careful work is a model of this kind of investigation.[48] In Libya, the qanawat (underground tunnels) of the desert were attributed by Beadnell to the Romans,[49] whereas they are almost certainly Islamic. Again, for the Levant, one reads in Benvenisti that ‘with the Arab conquest a period of decline and decay in irrigated agriculture began.’[50]  Such assertions need not be taken seriously. To prove for a particular region whether in early Islamic times irrigated agriculture had progressed beyond its classical antecedents requires very careful analysis, and the results may not be unambiguous.’[51]  


The following extensive look at Islamic irrigation and water management proves Watson’s point, and shows how mainstream historical writing is thoroughly fallacious.

[1] Especially A.M Watson: Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

[2] A. Watson: A Medieval Green Revolution: New Crops and Farming Techniques in The Early Islamic World, in The Islamic Middle East 700-1900; edited by A. Udovitch (Princeton; 1981), pp. 29-58; at p. 29. 

[3] In P. Guichard: Mise en valeur du sol et production: De la ‘revolution agricole’ aux difficultes du bas Moyen Age; In  Etats et Societes (J.C. Garcin et al edition); Vol 2 (Presses Universitaires de France; 2000), pp. 175-99;  p. 184.

[4] T. Glick: Islamic; op cit; p.68 ff.

[5] F.B. Artz: The Mind; op cit; p.150.

[6] P. Guichard: Mise en valeur;  op cit; pp.175-6.

[7] M. Erbstosser: The Crusades; op cit; p. 130.

[8] Poesie and kunst der Araber in Spanien und Sizilien (Berlin; 1885), ii; p. 167.

[9] E. Levi Provencal: Histoire de l'Espagne Musulmane; Vol III (Paris, Maisonneuve, 1953), p.275.

[10] Ibid. 272.

[11] A. Lowe: The Barrier and the Bridge (G. Bles, London, 1972), p. 78.

[12] H. Bresc: Politique et Societe en Sicile; XII-XV em siecle (Variorum; Aldershot; 1990).

-A. Castro: The Spaniards. An Introduction to their History. trans. Willard F. King and Selma L. Margaretten, (The University of California Press, 1971).

-T. Glick: Islamic; op cit.

[13] S.P. Scott: History; op cit;  vol 3; p. 42.

[14] Ibid.

[15] With some exceptions other than those just mentioned, such as:

A.M Watson: Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

-T. Glick: Islamic and Christian Spain; op cit;.

-J. Vernet and J. Samso: Development of Arabic Science in Andalusia, in The Encyclopaedia of the History (Rashed ed), op cit, Vol 1, pp 243-76;

-T. Fahd: Botany and agriculture, in Encyclopaedia (Rashed ed) , op cit, vol 3 pp. 813-52.  

-L. Bolens: L'Eau et l'Irrigation d'apres les traites d'agronomie Andalus au Moyen Age (XI-XIIem siecles), Options Mediterraneenes, 16 (Dec, 1972).

[16] A. Cherbonneau: Kitab al-Filaha of Abu Khayr al-Ichbili, in Bulletin d’Etudes Arabes, vol 6 (1946); pp 130-144. at p. 130.

[17] A. Watson: A Medieval Green Revolution; op cit; p. 43. 

[18] Ibid. 

[19] E. Ashtor: A Social and Economic History of the Near East in the Middle Ages (Collins; London; 1976), p. 46.

[20] Ibid; p. 49.

[21] Al-Makrizi: Khitat; op cit; Vol I; p. 101; ‘quoted’ by Ashtor.

[22] E. Ashtor: A Social; op cit; p. 50.

[23] Ibn Wahshiya: Al-Filaha al-nabatiya (Dar al-Kutub; Cairo ); Ms. 490; I; pp. 173; 70.

[24] A.M. Watson: Agricultural Innovation, op cit, p 219, note 1.

[25] H.A.L. Fisher: A History of Europe (From the Beginning of the 18th Century to 1937) (Eyre and Spottiswoode; London; 1952), p. 1033.

The ‘horrors’ of the Muslim slave trade have been revived by the British channel Channel Four in 2003 in its programme on Empire as seen by this author on S4C; 18 February 2003; 12.10 am.

[26] P. Conrad: Histoire de la Reconquista (Presses Universitaire de France; Paris; 1998).

[27] H. Lapeyre: Geographie de l'Espagne Morisque (SEVPEN, 1959).

[28] Such as by .S. Lane Poole: The Moors; op cit; p. 279.

[29] R. M. Pidal: Historia de Esapana dirigida por Ramon Menendez Pidal’ Vol 2 (Madrid; 2nd edition; 1966); p. 41.

[30] K.W. Butzer et al: Irrigation agroecosystems in Eastern Spain: Roman or Islamic Origins? Annals of the Association of American Geographers; 75 (1985), p. 482 in particular.

[31] See, for instance, A. Castro: The Spaniards; tr by W.F.King and S. Margaretten (University of California Press; 1971), pp. 256-8.

[32] F.R. Cowell: The Garden as a Fine Art (Weidenfeld and Nicolson; London; 1978), p. 73.

[33] Quaestiones naturales, ed. M. Muller; BGPTM xxxi (1934) ii; quotation in J. Jolivet: The Arabic Inheritance; in A History of Twelfth Century Western Philosophy; Edited by P. Dronke (Cambridge University Press; 1988), pp.113-48. p. 113.

[34] B. Lawn: The Salernitan Questions (Oxford at the Clarendon Press; 1963), pp. 21-2.

[35] C.H. Haskins: Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science (Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. New York. 1967 ed), p. 14.

[36] Such as F.L. Ganshof: The Middle Ages; in The European Inheritance, Ed: Sir. E. Barker, George Clark, and P. Vaucher, Vol I (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 413.

O. Pedersen: Early Physics and Astronomy (Cambridge University Press, 1974), p.339.

[37] J. Munzer: Relacion de Viaje; Ed Aguilar (Madrid; 1952), vol 1; p.415.

[38] H.C. Lea: The Moriscos of Spain (Burt Franklin; New York; 1968), p.379.

[39] Ibid; p.327.

[40] Ibid;  p.383.

[41] S.P. Scott: History; op cit; vol 3; p. 321-2.

[42] H. Lea: The Moriscos of Spain; op cit; p.371.

[43] Ibid.

[44] R. McC. Adams: Land Behind Baghdad  (Chicago; 1965), pp. 84 ff. 

[45] A. Watson: A Medieval Green Revolution; op cit; p. 53. 

[46] J. Ribera: Dissertaciones y opusculos, 2 vols (Madrid, 1928), vol 2;  pp. 309-13.

[47] P. Gauckler: Enquete sur les Installations hydrauliques Romaines en Tunisie; 2 Vols (Paris; 1901-2).

[48] A. Solignac: Recherches sur les installations hydrauliques de kairaouan et des Steppes Tunisiennes du VII au Xiem siecle, in Annales de l’Institut des Etudes Orientales, Algiers , X (1952); 5-273.

[49] H.J. Beadnell: An Egyptian Oasis (London; 1909), p  167 ff.

[50] M. Benvenisti: The Crusaders in the Holy Land (Jerusalem ; 1970), p.263.

[51] A. Watson: Agricultural; op cit. Note 34, pp. 193-4.




Irrigation and Water Management

     A major accomplishment of Islamic civilisation was its legal code around water use and management. As Serjeant points out, a considerable part of most Islamic legal books is devoted to water law, a subject, which incidentally, he notes, has not been studied in Europe to any appreciable extent.

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    Land Use and Management

     Just as with water, the arrival of Islam considerably altered land ownership, and more crucially, land use. Islam legalised individual ownership of the land in contrast to tribal institutions which made the hima (the land which was kept as a preserve, sacred territory, or land reserved for the exclusive use of a tribe or a tribal chief) common to all members of the tribe.

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Farming Science

  According to Bolens, Muslim farming owed its success to:
‘The adoption of agrarian techniques to local needs,’ and to ‘a spectacular cultural union of scientific knowledge from the past and the present, from the Near East, the Maghrib , and Andalusia. A culmination more subtle than a simple accumulation of techniques, it has been an enduring ecological success, proven by the course of human history.’

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Aftermaths of Islamic Farming


 The decline of Islamic farming, just as other aspects of Islamic civilisation, as the last part of this work will abundantly show, began with the many invaders of the Islamic world, from the Banu Hillal in North Africa (1057), to the Crusaders (1095-1291) to the Mongols (13th century), Timur Lang (late 14th century), and so on. These invasions destroyed crops and orchards, closed down trade routes, destroyed irrigation and water supply, and caused farmers to take flight. Everywhere the Muslims fell under the Christian foe, from being land owners, they were made into slaves or serfs tied to the estates of their new masters. In the East (the Holy Land and Cyprus), during the crusades, most of the Muslims who had converted to Christianity were made into serfs or slaves, and Muslim slaves were added from time to time to the labour force. In Spain, following the Christian taking of the country in the 13th century, Muslim farmers became over taxed by their new Christian masters; in the Kingdom of Valencia the Muslims who remained were mainly in mountainous regions where grazing and non intensive agriculture were practiced. In Sicily, too, the Muslims gradually became concentrated largely in mountainous regions.

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