By Jon Stefansson
Saga Book of the Viking Club for Northern Research, Vol.6 (1908-9)
Introduction: Under the Umayyad dynasty in Cordoba the Moors in Spain had, in the 9th and 10th centuries, reached a height of culture and civilisation far beyond any country in Europe. In science and learning, in art and literature they were the masters at whose table picked up the crumbs. They were first in peace as they were first in war. And now the Vikings were to measure their strength against the invincible Arab legions, fresh from their conquests round the basin of the Mediterranean. Elsewhere Viking victories have been attributed to deficient organization on the part of those attacked. Here the best organized military force then existed, anywhere, was defeated by them. We have only the story of one side, the Arabs, and I will let their historians tell it in their own words. No stronger proof, no more powerful proof of the ability of the Norse Vikings to overcome hopeless difficulties, to lose heart in no emergency, can be adduced than the sober tale of the Arab, so superior to the chronicles of Christian Spain, with their credulous exaggerations and meagre facts.