The Spread of Greek Culture
The cultural center of what would become our Western heritage moved from Rome and Constantinople to cities in the Islamic world, the most famous of which were Baghdad and Cordoba.
Rome’s decline, followed by the disastrous Byzantine wars with Persia, left a vacuum into which the Muslim invaders stepped, taking over the land and ideas of the peoples they conquered, including their accumulated resources of Greek literature, philosophy and sciences.
As previously mentioned, in 750 the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad dynasty in a deadly feud that left the latter facing near extermination. Luckily, 16-year-old Abd ar-Rahman escaped and, with the help of those still loyal to the Umayyads, fled to Spain, where he had Berber relatives on his mother’s side. With loyal Umayyad help, he entered Cordoba (formerly Khordoba of the Visigoths) and became its ruler.
Besides Spain, there were other pathways of transmission and translation between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Venice traded with the Muslim world for centuries. We owe our coffee habit to the importation of the beverage into Europe from the Arab world by Venetian merchants.