The ramparts of the Portuguese Castle of the Moors – “Castelo dos Mouros” – fell to the Christians of the Second Crusade in 1147, a bunch of thieves and drunkards, according to local reports, which included a fair number of Brits. There’s a story that a huge fortune in gold and coins still lies beneath the castle’s broken and much-restored walls, hidden there by the Moors when Afonso Henriques’ thugs were climbing the hills above Sintra. My guess is there’s none. Our relations with the Muslims have always revolved, it seems to me, around money and jealousy. Besides, the Crusaders looted their way across Lisbon – after a solemn agreement with the King that they could do so – and then massacred and raped their way through the panic-stricken Muslim population.
It was the only victory the Second Crusade achieved – things went badly wrong for it in the real Middle East. After that – and the 15th-century expulsion of the Muslims – Portugal’s conflict with the region was economic rather than military, trying to grab the Indian trade routes from Yemeni Arabs. When Vasco da Gama “discovered” India and reached Calicut (Kozhikode) on 20 May 1498 – this story comes from Warwick Ball’s Out of Arabia – he was greeted by an Arab from Tunisia with the words “May the devil take you! What brought you here?”