We were taken to the Inquisition where, for no more than following the truth, we were deprived of life, property and children.


In the eleventh century, the tide began to turn against Islam. The pope in 1095 summoned all Christian princes to come together in a great crusade against the infidel.1 Already, in northern Spain, Christian princes from France and Burgundy were helping the kings of Castile and Aragon against the Muslims, and in 1085 Toledo was captured. Finally, in 1212 a combined Christian force put together by Castile met the Almohads at Las Navas de Tolosa and shattered their control in the peninsula. By the mid-thirteenth century the Muslims retained power only in the kingdom of Granada. Two centuries of formal peace ensued. With the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella to the throne in 1474, belligerent ardor was redirected into a new war of conquest. Of the two realms of Spain, Aragon had been the one with an imperial history, but Castile with its superior resources in men and money rapidly took over the leadership.

The war against Granada, which excited the imagination of Christian Europe, took on the status of a European crusade, blessed by the papacy and with funds and volunteers from all over the continent. Campaigns began in 1482 and still retained much of the old medieval spirit: the deeds of Rodrigo Ponce de León, marquis of Cadiz, seemed to recall those of the famed warrior the Cid. But the age of chivalry was passing. The brutal enslavement of the entire population (fifteen thousand people) of Málaga after its capture in 1487 gave proof of the savagery of the Christians.2 Military idealism in that period continued to be fed by chivalric novels, notably the Amadis de Gaula (1508), but beneath the superficial gloss of gallantry there burned an ideological intolerance typified by the conquests in Africa of Cardinal Cisneros, who helped to finance the capture of Mers-el-Kebir in 1505 and Oran in 1509 (the latter an event marred by mass slaughter of the defenseless civil population).3

Ten years of war ended with the capitulation of Granada in 1492. The end of the kingdom of al-Andalus meant that the Muslims (known among Spaniards as “Moors”) ceased to exist as a nation, and became no more than a minority within a Christian country. As subjects of a Christian king they were now, like the Muslims who had for centuries lived under Christian rule, known as “Mudéjares.” The terms of the capitulation of Granada were generous to the vanquished and reflected medieval traditions of coexistence. The Mudéjares were guaranteed their customs, property, laws and religion. They kept their own officials, to be supervised, however, by Castilian governors. Those wishing to emigrate were allowed to so.

The reality of the settlement was somewhat different from these terms. Many of the elite found life under Christian rule intolerable and passed over into North Africa. Reorganization of the territory was entrusted to Iñigo López de Mendoza, second count of Tendilla and later first marquis of Mondéjar. Hernando de Talavera was appointed first archbishop, and encouraged conversions by means of charitable persuasion, respect for Mudéjar culture and the use of Arabic during religious services. Progress was slow, and in 1499 Cisneros asked Ferdinand and Isabella, who were then in Granada, for permission to pursue a more vigorous policy.

There appear to have been no compulsory conversions. But the policy of mass baptisms provoked a brief revolt in December 1499 in the Albaicín, the Muslim quarter of Granada. The rising was pacified only through the good offices of Tendilla and Talavera. There were further scattered revolts in other parts of the south, through most of 1500 and into the early weeks of 1501. They presented the government with a serious policy problem. Some, including Tendilla and Cisneros, favored harsh measures. Cisneros’s view was that by rebellion the Mudéjares had forfeited all rights granted by the terms of capitulation and they should be offered a clear choice between baptism or expulsion. His personal preference was “that they be converted and enslaved, for as slaves they will be better Christians and the land will be pacified for ever.”4 Ferdinand, by contrast, favored moderation. “If your horse trips up,” he told his councilors, “you don’t seize your sword to kill him, instead you give him a smack on his flanks. So my view and that of the queen is that these Moors be baptized. And if they don’t become Christians, their children and grandchildren will.”5 It was an important indication of the widely different policy that the monarchs would adopt towards the Muslims in Castile and in Aragon. In Granada and Castile, as Ferdinand saw it, circumstances made obligatory conversion inevitable. In Aragon, there was as yet no need for that approach.

Over the next few months the Mudéjares of Granada were systematically baptized; a few were allowed to emigrate. By 1501 it was officially assumed that the kingdom had become one of Christian Muslims—the Moriscos. They were granted legal equality with Christians, but were forbidden to carry arms and were subjected to pressure to abandon their culture. A huge bonfire of Arabic books, ordered by a royal decree of October 1501,6 was held in Granada. It was the end of the capitulations and of Muslim al-Andalus. “If the king of the conquest does not keep faith,” lamented a contemporary Arab leader and scholar, Yuce Venegas, at that time resident on his estates near Granada, “what can we expect from his successors?”7

With Granada apparently converted, Isabella was not inclined to tolerate Muslims elsewhere in her realms. On 12 February 1502 all Mudéjares in Castile were offered the choice between baptism and exile. Virtually all of them, subjects of the crown since the Middle Ages, chose baptism, since emigration was rendered almost impossible by stringent conditions. With their conversion Islam vanished from Castilian territory, and continued to be tolerated only in the crown of Aragon. The different policy adopted in the two realms demonstrated that unity of religion was not an immediate priority of the crown.8 By repeating a step that had already been taken against the Jews, Isabella abolished plurality of faiths in her dominions of Castile but also created within the body of Christian society the wholly new problem of the Moriscos.

From about 1511, various decrees attempted to make the new converts modify their cultural identity and abandon Muslim practices. These measures culminated in an assembly convoked by the authorities in Granada in 1526. At the meeting all the distinctive characteristics of Morisco civilization—the use of Arabic, their clothes, their jewelry, the ritual slaughter of animals, circumcision9—came under attack. A decree was passed encouraging intermarriage between Old Christians and Moriscos. It was also decided to transfer the local tribunal of the Inquisition from Jaén to Granada.

In the crown of Aragon there was no comparable pressure on the Mudéjares. The principal reason for this was the great power of the landed nobility and the authority of the Cortes. On the estates of the nobles the poorer Mudéjares formed a plentiful, cheap and productive source of labor, from which the expression arose “Mientras más Moros más ganancia” (More Muslims, more profit). Whether to placate his nobility or in pursuit of a moderate policy, Ferdinand repeatedly warned the inquisitors of Aragon not to persecute the Mudéjar population or resort to forced conversions. The Mudéjares therefore continued to lead an independent existence until the revolt of the Comuneros in 1520.

At the same time that the Comunidades of 1520 broke out in Castile, Valencia experienced disturbances of its own. Here the rebels, grouped into Germanías, or brotherhoods, organized an urban revolution directed against the local aristocracy. Valencia had the largest Muslim population of any part of Spain. The Mudéjares were almost exclusively a rural community and were subjected to the big landowners of the realm. The Germanía leaders saw that the simplest way to destroy the power of the nobles in the countryside would be to free their vassals, and this they did by baptizing them. The years 1520–22 in Valencia thus witnessed the forcible baptism of thousands of Muslims. The defeat of the rebels by royal troops should in theory have allowed the Mudéjares to revert to Islam, since forced baptisms were universally regarded as invalid. But the authorities were not so eager to lose their new converts. The Inquisition in particular was concerned to hold the Mudéjares to the letter of their baptism. To the argument that the conversions had taken place under compulsion, the standard answer was once again given that to choose baptism as an alternative to death meant the exercise of free choice, which rendered the sacrament of baptism valid.10 The Inquisition was therefore ordered to proceed on the assumption that all properly administered baptisms were valid.

It now seemed incongruous to tolerate Muslims elsewhere in the crown of Aragon. In November 1525 Charles V issued a decree ordering the conversion of all Mudéjares in Valencia by the end of the year, and of those elsewhere by the end of January 1526. From 1526 the Muslim religion no longer existed in Spain officially: all Mudéjares were now Moriscos. Writing to the pope in December that year, Charles V admitted that “the conversion was not wholly voluntary among many of them, and since then they have not been instructed in our holy faith.” Considerable efforts were subsequently made to evangelize the new “converts” in the regions of greatest concentration. Among the clergy leading the campaign was the distinguished humanist Antonio de Guevara, who labored in Valencia and Granada.11

The situation of the Moriscos varied across the peninsula according to density of population. The highest concentration was in the kingdom of Granada, where Moriscos in the 1560s were some 54 percent of the population; in areas such as the Alpujarra mountains they constituted the totality. In Valencia they formed a third of the population in the late sixteenth century, in Aragon about a fifth. In Catalonia Moriscos were a tiny group, and in Castile they were proportionately even less, perhaps a total of some twenty thousand in 1502,12 scattered throughout the country in small urban morerías and living at peace with their Christian neighbors.

There were major differences between the Morisco communities. The Granadans, recently subjugated, included a flourishing upper class, preserved their religion and culture intact and usually spoke Arabic (algarabía, the Christians called it). They were an integral Islamic civilization. The Valencians were largely a rural proletariat, but because they lived quite separately from the Christian population and were so numerous, they managed to preserve most of their customs, religion and language. Elsewhere in Spain, Arabic was almost unknown among the Moriscos. All spoke a form of Castilian. In Aragon, where Mudéjares had lived longest among Christians, the decline of Arabic produced the beginnings, in the sixteenth century, of a Morisco literature written in Spanish. Residual knowledge of Arabic, however, was sufficient to warrant the import of sacred texts from abroad.13 Aragonese Moriscos, for the most part, lived and dressed like their Christian neighbors; they differed only in religion.14

Though deprived of access to Christian society by discrimination, the Moriscos were not uniformly poor. As a separate community, they had an economic life parallel to that of Christians. The majority worked the land. But in Aragon they also herded flocks of sheep and cattle for the market; in Saragossa they were carpenters, metalworkers and cloth workers. They were active in the building industry, and produced swords and arms for sale. Some were traders, investing their profits in the land.15 In towns wholly populated by Moriscos, such as Almonacid de la Sierra (in Aragon), the inhabitants logically produced their own liberal professions: a surgeon, a scrivener, a lawyer, a noble, in addition to lesser callings.16

To maintain their internal integrity, the Muslim leaders strengthened the social role of their community, the aljama. It was an institution that allowed them to preserve their autonomy and culture, but at the same time made it possible to cooperate on good terms with the authorities.17 They spoke among themselves the version of Spanish known as aljamía.18 When written down, in Arabic script, this produced a secret literature that the inquisitors were unable to read and that they normally categorized, when they discovered and confiscated writings, as “Korans.” Not until the middle of the nineteenth century did the Arabist Pascual de Gayangos, resident for nearly half his life in France and England, discover that what appeared to be Arabic was in reality a special variant of Castilian.19

Until the early years of the reign of Philip II the efforts of the Inquisition to keep Moriscos to their nominal Christianity were little more than a gesture. The largest numbers to be prosecuted were in the crown of Aragon, but they were only the tip of the iceberg of unbelief in Morisco Spain. There were two main reasons for the relative absence of prosecutions: the conviction of both Church and state that a proper program of conversion should be undertaken, and the strong opposition of Christian lords to any interference with their rights over their Morisco vassals. In Aragon, for instance, nearly 70 percent of the Moriscos were under noble jurisdiction.20 We may add to these two reasons the fact that Mediterranean society, not only on Spain’s coast but throughout the inland sea as far as Greece, still accepted the possibility of social coexistence between Christians and Muslims. In some islands near Corfu, there were even cases of upper-class Muslim ladies who converted voluntarily to Christianity.21

In January 1526 the leaders of the Valencian Moriscos succeeded in obtaining from the crown and the inquisitor general Manrique a secret concordia, or agreement, that if they all submitted to baptism they would be free for forty years from any prosecution by the Holy Office, since it would be impossible for them to shed all their customs at once. In 1528 the agreement was made public, and in that same year the Cortes of Aragon, meeting at Monzón, asked Charles to prevent the Inquisition prosecuting Moriscos until they had been instructed in the faith. Their request was timely, for the guarantee was no more lasting than the one granted to the Mudéjares of Granada. The Holy Office interpreted the accord to mean that it could bring to trial those converts who had slipped back into Islamic practices.

In December of 1526, the year when the Inquisition was transferred from Jaén to Granada, regulations were reissued forbidding Granada Moriscos to use the Arabic language, Muslim clothes or Muslim names. Morisco money offered to Charles brought about the suspension of these rules. But the removal of one burden was balanced by the imposition of another in the form of the Inquisition, whose activity the Moriscos continued trying to curtail over the next generation. In Aragon, protests raised against the Inquisition in the Cortes of Monzón of 1533 included claims that the tribunal was seizing land confiscated from its victims, to the detriment of the feudal owners of the land.22 Similar complaints were raised in the Cortes of 1537 and 1542. In 1546 the pope intervened and agreed that for a minimum period of ten years the Inquisition should not confiscate any property from the Moriscos.

Only the year after this, however, we find the Cortes of Valencia stating that the tribunal was disregarding such injunctions. It was after great difficulty that finally in 1571 the Inquisition showed itself open to compromise. The resulting accord was embodied in a decree of October 1571 by which, in return for an annual payment of 2,500 ducats to the Inquisition, the tribunal agreed not to confiscate or sequestrate the property of Moriscos on trial for heresy. Monetary fines could be levied, but with a limit of 10 ducats only. The agreement benefited all sides: the Inquisition, since it brought in a regular annual revenue; the Moriscos, since it protected property for members of their families; and the lords of the Moriscos, since it preserved lands they had leased to their Morisco dependents.

The religious problem, and the activities of the Inquisition, aggravated the position of the Moriscos and provoked many of the conflicts of this period. Spanish publicists later claimed that these events led logically to the decision to expel the Moriscos. In reality, expulsion was never inevitable. There was little difference between the tensions of the time and the equally tense coexistence of the Middle Ages. Islamic civilization was able to cope with the pressures placed on it. Christian society, for its part, regularly turned a blind eye to the Islamic activities of the Moriscos.

Though Moriscos still retained many of their old social customs, and fought to preserve their own religion, they gradually came to realize that some compromises would have to be made. Forced to conform to Christianity, they sought advice from their leaders. In about 1504 a mufti living in Oran (north Africa) issued a fatwa, or opinion, on the situation of Muslims living in Spain. He ruled that in times of persecution Muslims could conform to virtually all outward rules of Christianity without defecting from their beliefs.23 This ruling, which permitted taqiyya (dispensation from religious obligations when under persecution), circulated in text among the Moriscos in the 1560s. The practice made it possible for Moriscos to cling on to their religion.24 It also enabled them to live in their own country, Spain, on terms that they could in some measure decide for themselves. But it did not close their minds to Christianity. On the contrary, many accepted that they could be partially Christian and share in both religions, a state of mind to be found at the same period in southeast Europe, where many Muslims rejected orthodoxy in favor of a more open, syncretic approach.25 The Mediterranean, we have already seen (chapter 1), had no sharp ideological divide: Christians and Muslims (not to mention several minority faiths) lived and traded together, even in times of armed conflict.26

In many parts of the peninsula, consequently, there continued to be a practical coexistence between Old Christians and New Christians of Muslim origin. The town of Arcos de Medinaceli, on the estates of the duke of Medinaceli near the frontier of Castile with Aragon, was in the 1550s nine-tenths Morisco in population. The Moriscos played their due part in the financial and political administration of the town, sharing municipal posts equally with Old Christians.27 When Moriscos were buried, Old Christians attended the funeral. It was a poor community, which may explain the absence of anything beyond the formal signs of Christianity in the religion of the Moriscos. But there was clear evidence that many of them, even though formally Catholic, also had special rites—in their fasts, their burials, their ablutions—that differentiated them from other Christians. None of this altered the tranquility in which the communities in Arcos lived during the two generations before the revolt in Granada.

It was not a unique situation. Reading the times through the perspective of inquisitorial documents, one can be misled into imagining a permanent state of confrontation. Though there were important and periodic conflicts, what also seems striking is the absence of confrontation in many parts of Spain through much of the sixteenth century.28 It was in this period too that the Christians could afford still to entertain a romanticized vision of their links with Moriscos, with the appearance in 1565 of the romance Abencerraje y Jarifa, a story of love between Christian and Muslim. Some Moriscos also took a universal view of religious truth. The Inquisition of Toledo tried one for saying “that every one should be allowed to practice his own religion,” another for maintaining “that the Jew and the Muslim could each be saved in his own law.”29

There was a notable increase in tension between the communities by the end of the sixteenth century, though to present an image of oppression by Christians based on sexual hatred goes beyond the general run of the available evidence.30 The ability of the communities to coexist was recognized and welcomed by many, but did not alter the fact that as a whole the Moriscos refused assimilation.31 That—as social experts can recognize easily in the light of attempts today to integrate minorities of a different religion—was central. Apart from culture, dress and communal autonomy, the principal problem remained that of conversion, for Moriscos overwhelmingly rejected the type of Christianity offered to them.

In 1513 archbishop Talavera of Granada, who had encouraged his Moriscos to sing Arabic hymns at mass, complained to the crown about cultural pressure put upon them. Francisco Núñez Muley, a Morisco leader who in his youth was page to Talavera, recalled how the archbishop went through the mountains of Granada to preach and say mass. Since there was no organ for music he made the natives play the zambra (a traditional dance), and during mass always said the greeting “The Lord be with you” in Arabic. “I remember this,” Núñez reminisced, “as if it were yesterday.”32 Many Christian nobles understood the need for some cultural tolerance. In 1514 the count of Tendilla criticized Ferdinand’s attempt to make Moriscos abandon their clothing: “What clothing did we use to wear in Spain, how did we wear our hair, what sort of food did we eat, if not in the Morisco style?”33

But the early missionary efforts were fruitless. When he went to Granada in 1526, Charles V was informed that “the Moriscos are truly Muslims: it is twenty-seven years since their conversion and there are not twenty-seven or even seven of them who are Christians.” In Granada and Valencia they held fast to their religion, observing prayers, fasts and ablutions, and were strengthened in their faith by their clergy, the alfaquis. Had religious practice alone been at issue, social tension might not have been so high. But in the everyday contact with Old Christians there was periodic irritation and conflict over dress, speech, customs and, above all, food. Moriscos slaughtered their animal meat ritually, did not touch pork (the meat most commonly eaten in Spain) or wine, and cooked only with olive oil, whereas Christians cooked with butter or lard. They tended also to live apart in separate communities, which could lead to antagonism: for example, in Aragon there was friction between highland Christians (the montañeses) and Moriscos living in the plains. Even in Castile, where the older Morisco communities were more assimilated, there were cases such as Hornachos (Extremadura), a flourishing and almost entirely Morisco town of five thousand people which at the expulsion in 1610 emigrated in its entirety to Morocco. Though religious zeal was weaker in Castile and in those parts of Aragon where coexistence with Christians had diluted traditional practices, Islam endured because of community solidarity. In general, Moriscos were strongly repelled by the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and felt extreme repugnance at the sacraments of baptism (families would wash the chrism off on returning home, and hold a Muslim ceremony), penitence and the Eucharist (Morisco irreverence at mass was proverbial).34

There were many attempts to catechize them.35 From 1526, missionaries were sent out in Valencia and Granada. In the 1540s a Franciscan, Fray Bartolomé de los Angeles, carried out missions in Valencia; in the 1560s further campaigns were conducted there by Jesuits and other clergy. In 1566 the archbishop of Valencia, Martín de Ayala, published his manual Christian Doctrine in Arab and Castilian. Ayala also tried, with little success, to find clergy who knew, or could learn, Arabic. Juan de Ribera, archbishop of Valencia from 1568, initiated a financial scheme to increase the stipends of priests and make work among the Moriscos more congenial to the clergy. He also helped to found a seminary and a college for Morisco boys and girls. For the forty-three years that he held this see, Ribera made every effort to travel round his bishopric and attend to the needs of the Moriscos.36

Considerable opposition to the missionary program in the crown of Aragon came from the seigneurs, who had opposed the forced conversions of 1526 and at every stage fought the activities of the Inquisition. In 1561 in Valencia the inquisitor Miranda named members of the rich Morisco family of Abenamir as familiars of the Inquisition, but the duke of Segorbe, their overlord, ordered them to give up the appointment since his protection was sufficient for them. In 1566 the Inquisition of Aragon complained that “the seigneurs daily persecute the comisarios and familiars that the Holy Office has in their lands, expelling them and telling them that in their territory they want no Inquisition.”37 It was in the nobles’ interest to keep Morisco dependents under their control, since they were a substantial source of revenue. In various meetings of the Cortes they pressed continually for Moriscos to be free from inquisitorial confiscations, a concession eventually granted in the 1571 agreement.

There were conflicts between nobles and the Inquisition. In 1541 a prominent Valencian grandee, the Admiral of Aragon, Sancho de Moncada, was reprimanded by the Inquisition for building a mosque for his Moriscos and telling them “that they should pretend to be Christians externally but remain Muslims internally.” In 1569 he was placed under house arrest for three years for persistently protecting his Muslim vassals against the Holy Office.38 In 1571 the Grand Master of the Order of Montesa appeared in an auto de fe for protecting his Moriscos. In 1582 in Aragon when the lord of Ariza, Jaime Palafox, heard that the Inquisition had arrested three of his vassals, he and his men burst into the house of a familiar and beat and stabbed him to death. The courts sent him “for life” to the North African fortress of Oran.39

Even had the nobles been more cooperative, it is unlikely that the Moriscos would have responded favorably to Christian overtures. Supported by the taqiyya, they defiantly maintained and proclaimed their separateness. Maria la Monja of Arcos in 1524 said “that not for all the world would she cease saying that she had been a Muslim, so great a source of pride was it for her.”40 The authorities, as the Granada regulations of December 1526 showed, were convinced that all Morisco customs were obstacles to the acceptance of Christianity. In 1538 a Morisco of Toledo was arrested by the Inquisition and accused of “playing music at night, dancing the zambra and eating couscous,” implying that these activities were heretical. In 1544 the synod of the bishopric of Guadix held that “it is suspicious to take baths, especially on Thursday and Friday night”! Even the Morisco manner of sitting—never on seats but always on the ground—could be viewed as evidence of a preference for Islam.

In several parts of Spain the Inquisition prosecuted Morisco religion when the occasion arose. In Daimiel (Ciudad Real), where the community had duly converted in 1502, a generation of tranquility was interrupted by an important series of arrests and prosecutions around 1540.41 The most intense period of religious pressure did not come until after the provincial Church councils of 1565. Attempts to Christianize Spaniards, the clergy felt, made no sense if not applied also to the Moriscos. In Granada the Church council demanded that radical measures be adopted. Philip II’s chief minister, Cardinal Espinosa, agreed. In Valencia, however, the archbishop, Martín de Ayala, wrote to Philip II in 1567 protesting vigorously against the senseless persecution of Moriscos by the Inquisition:

I cannot fail to advise Your Majesty of the danger in this realm, because the inquisitors have recently punished, with confiscation of goods, some of the newly converted. I was there in the auto in order to please the Holy Office, but it pained me deeply that they punished persons who were not in any way guilty, and their guilt is no worse than that of all the others in this kingdom. I feel that it would be beneficial and very necessary for Your Majesty to order the inquisitors to suspend action against the said newly converted.42

Tensions and conflicts were at their most intense in the most Islamic of the Morisco territories, Granada. When all the repressive legislation was repeated in a pragmatic of January 1567 in Granada, the community leader Francisco Núñez Muley drew up a memorial protesting against the injustices done to his people:

Every day we are mistreated in every way, by both secular officials and clergy, all of which is so obvious that it needs no proof. . . . How can people be deprived of their natural tongue, in which they were born and raised? The Egyptians, Syrians, Maltese and other Christian people speak, read and write in Arabic, and are still Christians as we are.

Two generations of tension exploded finally into the revolt that began on Christmas Eve of 1568 in Granada and spread to the Alpujarras. It was a savage war, with atrocities on both sides, and military repression was brutal. Thousands of Moriscos died. Over eighty thousand were forcibly expelled from the kingdom and made to settle in Castile. The end of the rebellion did little to solve the problem. The Granadans brought into Castilian communities an Islamic presence they had not hitherto known. Where Castile had had about twenty thousand Mudéjares, by the end of the century the numbers had swelled to over one hundred thousand, mostly Arabic in tongue and Muslim in culture. Moreover, the military threat was now obvious. Some four thousand Turks and Berbers had come into Spain to fight alongside the insurgents in the Alpujarras. Morisco banditry in the south reached its peak in the 1560s. There were millenarian hopes of liberation from oppression. Inevitably, seeing the obduracy of the Moriscos, the authorities reverted to a repressive policy.

The Granada war created a decisive change in attitudes. The excesses committed on both sides were without equal in the experience of contemporaries. It was the most savage war to be fought in Europe that century. Philip II was staggered by the massacres of priests committed by the rebels. The Moriscos, for their part, had suffered unspeakable atrocities. Apart from the deaths and expulsions, thousands were sold into slavery within Spain. In Córdoba alone, in 1573, there were over fifteen hundred Morisco slaves.43

From that period the attempts at conversion decreased and the repression intensified. Those expelled from Granada to the provinces of Castile took with them their Islamic beliefs and their hatred of Castile. In Arcos de Medinaceli the older community of integrated Moriscos was pressurized by threats from the newcomers to declare themselves openly as Muslims.44 From the 1570s in Aragon and Valencia, Moriscos formed the bulk of Inquisition prosecutions.45 In the tribunal of Granada itself, Moriscos represented 82 percent of those prosecuted between 1560 and 1571.46 In the tribunal of Cuenca, the arrival of the Granadans quintupled the number of Moriscos prosecuted, strengthened the faith of the Castilian Muslims and provoked a wave of persecution by the Holy Office.47 In the tribunal of Saragossa 266 Moriscos had been tried over the years 1540–59; between 1560 and 1614 the total shot up to 2,371, a ninefold increase. In Valencia there were 82 Morisco prosecutions in the earlier period, but 2,465 in the latter—a thirtyfold increase. In the autos de fe in both tribunals in the 1580s, Moriscos constituted up to 90 percent of all accused. The repression in Aragon was singularly harsh. Though the kingdom had only half as many Moriscos as Valencia, it suffered much higher rates of execution and condemnation to the galleys.48

It is true that the repression of the Moriscos was not strictly comparable to the severity meted out to judaizers and Protestants. In Cuenca only 7 Moriscos were executed in person out of 102 cases in the period 1583–1600, and in Granada only 20 were executed out of 917 Moriscos appearing in autos in the years 1550–95.49 This was because the Moriscos were not usually treated as heretics but rather as semi-infidels to whom patience should be shown. However, there is no doubt that the patience of the Christian missionaries had long since run out. Reporting from a visit to the Moriscos of Aragon in 1568, the bishop of Tortosa wrote: “These people have me fed up and exasperated. . . . They have a damnable attitude and make me despair of any good in them. . . . I have been through these mountains for eight days now and find them more Muslim than ever and very set in their bad ways. I repeat my advice that they should be given a general pardon without insisting on confessions, for there is no other way (unless it be to burn them all).”50 He was, obviously, not recommending the latter option. “All of them live as Muslims, and no one doubts this,” the Inquisition of Aragon had affirmed in 1565.51

Throughout Spain there was ample evidence that most Moriscos were proud of their Islamic religion and fought to preserve their culture. The Morisco María de Lara, prosecuted by the Inquisition of Granada in 1572, admitted: “at home we were Muslims, outside home we were Christians.” She and her family ate their meals virtually in secret within their own houses, so as not to betray the fact that the meat they consumed came from an animal that had been ritually killed. Oppression only strengthened their separateness. “They marry among themselves and do not mix with Old Christians, none of them enters religion nor joins the army nor enters domestic service nor begs alms; they live separately from Old Christians, take part in trade and are rich,” runs a report of 1589 made to Philip II on the Moriscos of Toledo.52 By contrast, for Moriscos the inquisitors were “thieving wolves whose trade is arrogance and greed, sodomy and lust, tyranny, robbery and injustice.” The Inquisition was “a tribunal of the devil, attended by deceit and blindness.”53

Even while the confrontation developed, in some parts of Spain there was peace between Christians and Muslims. In many communities, the continued coexistence of both cultures was accepted. In the area of La Sagra (Toledo), where Moriscos were some 5 percent of the population, during the late sixteenth century there was “a peaceful and fruitful coexistence.”54 In the province of Cuenca, coexistence was positive.55 In parts of Aragon, there was even occasional intermarriage between the communities.56

Some Moriscos had over the years made their own contribution towards creating a sympathetic attitude among the majority population. In 1588 when workers were demolishing a part of the former mosque in Granada in order to build a third nave of the cathedral, they found in the rubble a leaden box with a parchment in Arabic. Two prominent Morisco leaders, Alonso del Castillo and his son-in-law Miguel de Luna, were called in to decipher the document. Their conclusion (there was nobody at hand to contradict them) was that it was an early version of the Gospel of St. John, written in Arabic. A few years later, starting in 1595 but continuing through to 1600, the surprising discovery was made in the caves of Valparaiso (later named Sacromonte, or “sacred hill”), outside Granada, of over twenty leaden sheets engraved in ancient Arabic, which Luna also helped to translate. His conclusion, which he communicated to the expectant (and credulous) Church authorities, was that they added further information to the Christian revelation. The tablets were judged to date from very early Christian times, and depicted a form of religious practice in which features offensive to Muslims did not exist.57

A big controversy ensued, with the authorities of the Church in Granada insisting on their authenticity, while the very few Spanish experts who knew Arabic—among them the scholar Benito Arias Montano—had little doubt that they were forgeries. The tablets were taken to Rome in 1642, examined and eventually pronounced to be a fraud (perpetrated almost certainly by Luna and Castillo in an attempt to fuse together Islamic culture and Christian faith). It was a notable attempt to claim a place for Arabic Christianity within the framework of Iberian Catholicism. But the tablets also helped to reinforce the special sense of identity that the civic leaders of Granada, whatever their ethnic descent, claimed for themselves. If Christianity could trace some of its origins to the caves of Sacromonte, they felt, Granada could claim a special place in Christendom. In 2000 the papacy returned the tablets to Granada, where they can be seen today in a museum.

Despite continuing signs of coexistence, there were events that aggravated confrontation between Christian and Islamic civilization in Spain. In Granada Moriscos were now, after the expulsions, less than a tenth of the population;58 and the center of tension moved to the huge Morisco community of Valencia.59 Here the military threat from the Ottoman empire, backed up by piracy and coastal raids, made the authorities take steps to restrict and disarm Moriscos. The Alpujarra crisis of 1568–70 was followed opportunely by victory over the Turkish fleet at Lepanto in 1571. But Lepanto did not end fears of invasion.60 Morisco banditry in the south worsened after the 1570s. From this decade French Protestant leaders were in touch with Aragonese Moriscos. Street riots between the communities took place. In Córdoba there were serious incidents in August 1578, provoked in part by open Morisco rejoicing at the destruction of the Portuguese army in the battle of Alcazar el Kebir.61 In 1580 at Seville a conspiracy abetting invasion from Morocco was discovered. In 1602 Moriscos were plotting with Henry IV of France. In 1608 the Valencian Moriscos asked for help from Morocco. The threat was powerful and real. “Fear entered into the heart of Spain.”62

By the 1580s official opinion had moved in favor of a solution similar to that of 1492. In Lisbon in 1581 Philip II convened a special committee to discuss the matter. In September 1582 the council of State formally proposed a general expulsion. The decision was approved by both Church and Inquisition. It was warmly supported by Martín de Salvatierra, bishop of Segorbe, who had in 1587 drawn up a memorial favoring expulsion,63 and by Archbishop Ribera who, seeing the failure of his zealous attempts to convert the Moriscos, turned into their most implacable enemy. He wrote to the king, urging that the entire Morisco population be expelled, “as was done with the Jews, though it is more necessary that the Moriscos leave.”64

When Philip III came to the throne in 1598 it became clear that at all levels there were many who disagreed with the proposal of expulsion. No opinions in favor were expressed in the Cortes of Castile or in those of Valencia. Both the duke of Lerma and the king’s confessor in 1602 opposed expulsion since “it would be terrible to drive baptized people into Barbary and thus force them to turn Muslim.” As late as 1607 the crown’s highest ministers preferred a policy of preaching and instruction. The publicists (arbitristas) of the period were uniformly opposed to expulsion. González de Cellorigo in his Memorial (1600) denounced the idea. The nobility of the crown of Aragon were solidly against any measure that would deprive them of their labor force.

However, by 1609 the duke of Lerma had changed his mind. He presented to the council of State a decision that the lords in Valencia—where his own estates lay—should be compensated by being given the lands of the expelled Moriscos. Opportunely, the lords were coming round to support expulsion. For years, their costs had been rising while the fixed rents from their Morisco vassals stagnated.65 There were, moreover, fears for security. Morisco population growth seemed uncontrollable. Between Alicante and Valencia on one side and Saragossa on the other, a huge mass of 200,000 Muslim souls advanced into the flesh of Christian Spain. In Granada there were further expulsions to counteract the rise in numbers. In Aragon there had been 5,674 Moriscos in 1495, but in 1610 they numbered 14,190—a fifth of the population. In Valencia the results of censuses made in 1565 and 1609 suggested that the Old Christians might have increased by 44.7 percent and the Moriscos by a remarkable 69.7 percent. “Their aim was to grow and multiply like weeds,” claimed a writer in 1612.66 Castration as a method of control was recommended in 1587 by Martín de Salvatierra.

Were all Moriscos without exception, even if they were good Christians, to be expelled? What about those whose families had been Christian for centuries? What about husbands and wives in mixed marriages? Or their children? The questions troubled many in the royal council,67 but the rigorists won the day. The inquisitor general, Bernardo Rojas de Sandoval, who happened to be uncle of the chief minister the duke of Lerma, insisted that “all are apostates.” The man whom the king put in charge of the operation, the count of Salazar, was also firm that no exceptions be made. The expulsion was eventually decreed on 4 April 1609, and took place in stages up to 1614.

Since the country had few naval resources, the operation was made possible only through the help of hundreds of English, French and Italian merchants who agreed to charter their trading vessels.68 The first act of expulsion took place at nightfall on 2 October 1609, when seventeen galleys from Naples and a dozen foreign merchant ships sailed out from the port of Denia in Valencia, with five thousand Moriscos on board, destined for the Spanish colony of Oran in North Africa. For the next five years, in all the villages where they lived, the soldiers systematically rounded up and escorted to points of embarkation tens of thousands of Spaniards of Islamic origin. Some villages rebelled and were duly castigated; in Valencia alone over five thousand Moriscos died as a result. Hundreds took to flight and lived in the mountains as outlaws, but they were slowly rooted out. Thousands of children “under the age of reason” (that is, less than twelve or fourteen years) were retained in Spain against the wishes of their distraught parents. The inhabitants of the totally Morisco village of Hornachos in Extremadura, agreed in 1610 to accept expulsion to Africa on one condition: that they could take their children with them.

In all, about 300,000 Moriscos were expelled, from a peninsular total of some 320,000.69 Although the human losses of the expulsion represented little more than four percent of Spain’s population, the real impact in some areas was very severe. Where Moriscos had been a large minority, as in Valencia and Aragon, there was immediate economic catastrophe. But even where they were few in number, the fact that they had a minimal inactive population with no gentry or clergy or soldiers meant that their absence could lead to dislocation. Tax returns fell and agricultural output declined.

The Inquisition also faced a bleak future. In 1611 the tribunals of Valencia and Saragossa complained that the expulsion had resulted in their bankruptcy, since they were losing 7,500 ducats a year which they had formerly received from ground rents. The tribunal of Valencia at the same time acknowledged receiving some compensation, but claimed that a sum of nearly 19,000 ducats was still payable to it by the government to make up for what it had lost.70 A statement of revenue drawn up for the tribunal of Valencia just before the expulsion of the Moriscos shows that 42.7 percent of its income derived directly from the Morisco population. A similar statement drawn up for the Inquisition of Saragossa in 1612 showed that since the expulsion its revenue had fallen by over 48 percent.71

The authorities had carried out a radical surgery to excise from Spain two of the three great cultures of the peninsula.72 The contemporary French statesman Cardinal Richelieu in his memoirs described the Morisco expulsions as “the most barbarous act in human annals.” Cervantes in his Quixote makes a Morisco character, Ricote, applaud the heroic act of Philip III “to expel poisonous fruit from Spain, now clean and free of the fears in which our numbers held her.”73 Writers then and later closed their ranks and attempted to justify the operation. Many of the Valencian nobility had opposed expulsion, but Boronat, the leading historian of the Morisco question, glosses over their opposition and praises those few lords “of pure blood and Christian heart” whose religion overrode their self-interest and made them support the measure. For the historian Florencio Janer the expulsion was the necessary excision of an “enemy race” from the heart of Spain.74

These uncompromising statements do not necessarily reflect the real opinion of all Spaniards. When the mass ejection was first being mooted, an official of the Inquisition spoke up and opposed the move, “because after all they are Spaniards like ourselves.”75Time and again, officials and intellectuals spoke up for the Islamic minority, defended them and opposed any extreme measure such as expulsion. A well-known theologian of the time, Pedro de Valencia, condemned the proposed move as “unjust”;76a government official, Fernández de Navarrete, stated that it was “a mistaken policy decision.” Even Philip III’s chief minister, the duke of Lerma, who eventually directed the measures of 1609, admitted that it was “terrible to drive baptized people into Africa.” Given the enormous controversy aroused within Spain by the expulsions, it is not surprising that as late as 1690 the Moroccan envoy in Madrid could report hearing officials denounce the duke of Lerma’s responsibility for the act.77

The Spanish Inquisition took no active part in the decision to expel, which was arrived at exclusively by a small group of court politicians. It continued, however, to act with severity against Moriscos accused of offenses against religion, and after 1609 those still in its cells were given the unenviable choice of punishment or exile. Almost in its totality, Muslim Spain was rejected and driven into the sea: thousands for whom there had been no other home were expelled to France, Africa and the Levant.78 It was the last act in the creation of an orthodox society and completed the tragedy that had been initiated in 1492.

Few exceptions on religious grounds were allowed. In 1611 when it was proposed to expel the Moriscos of the valley of Ricote, a community of six towns in Murcia, a special report pointed out that the twenty-five hundred inhabitants were truly Christian.79 But the expulsion still went ahead. Even so, the realm was not as cleansed from Islamic heresy as the zealots would have wished. A small proportion of Moriscos managed to obtain special permission to remain: they consisted in part of the wealthy assimilated elite, in part of slaves, and thousands of children, who were put into care to be brought up as Christians. Also included were adults who had married non-Moriscos, could demonstrate that their parents were non-Moriscos or had the local bishop’s certificate saying they were authentic Christians.80 The inquisitors themselves allowed groups of Christian Moriscos to remain behind.81

The vast majority of expelled Spaniards had to settle for a new life in the Muslim territories of North Africa.82 Others managed to negotiate with the Ottoman authorities of Eastern Europe in order to migrate to the Balkans. Many of those expelled also yearned to return home. An agent of the English government in Morocco in 1625 reported that the Moriscos in exile were offering to supply men for an invasion of Spain. “Many have confessed to me that they are Christians. They complain bitterly of their cruel exile, and desire deeply to return under Christian rule.”83 Many who were expelled simply made their way back and tried to carry on their lives as before. For decades afterwards, Moriscos could be found throughout the peninsula. A typical returnee was Diego Díaz, a butcher by profession who explained how in 1609 “they put us on a ship to take us out of Spain. We put into port in Algiers, where I was for six months. After that, I got into another boat, a fishing boat. When I saw the Spanish coastline I jumped into the water and swam ashore at Tortosa. From there I went to Valencia, where I learnt my trade.”84 He managed to carry on his life without incident, quite publicly, for over twenty years, until quarrels with his neighbors got him into trouble with the authorities.

There were areas where the expelled insisted on returning en masse. In one remarkable case in Castile,85 they kept returning stubbornly, and six hundred returnees had to be expelled again to France; but they came back, and had to be expelled for the third time two years later. Resident Christians colluded in the return of exiles. Between 1615 and 1700 prosecutions of Moriscos made up about 9 percent of cases tried by the Inquisition. The incidence varied from only one case in Valladolid to 197 in Valencia and 245 in Murcia.86 There continued, moreover, to be startling cases in later years, such as the group of wealthy Morisco families brought to trial in Granada in 1728.87

Among the interesting persons detained by the Holy Office in this period was Alonso de Luna, born around 1565 in the town of Linares (near Jaén in Andalucia). He seems to have been a son of Miguel de Luna, taking his first name from his grandfather Alonso del Castillo. He grew up in Granada, was brought up as a Christian, and spoke and wrote Arabic as well as he did Castilian. At the age of twenty he converted secretly to Islam and read the Koran (there must have been many copies accessible) so thoroughly that he claimed later to know it by heart. His unquestionable gifts as a scholar made it possible for him to form part of the team that translated the leaden books of Sacromonte. He studied Latin, philosophy and medicine at college, perhaps one of the colleges set up in Granada by Christian clergy.

At an undisclosed age, he left the city and went traveling through Europe. It was an absence—we do not know how many years in all—that opened his mind to new perceptions of the relationship between Islam and the West. He spent some time in the south of France, then in 1610 (the year, that is, after the final expulsion of Moriscos had commenced) was in Rome, where he made contact with some of the pope’s physicians. In 1612 he was in Istanbul, where he met some of the Moriscos who had been expelled from Spain and also helped the Dutch ambassador, Cornelis Haga, to negotiate an alliance between Turkey and the United Provinces (which were at that date enjoying a truce with Spain, from which they would become independent many years later).88 During all these journeys he managed to pick up sufficient French and Italian to be able to write in these languages, which suggests that his absence was not a short one, and may have lasted for at least a decade. In those fruitful years, he may have put together the ideas which led to the writing of a mysterious document, known to us only in Italian and Spanish originals, called The Gospel of Barnabas, whose authorship has always puzzled scholars and which was probably written in Istanbul.89

The Gospel seems to have first emerged among exiled Moriscos living in Tunis shortly after the expulsion. It became known on the continent of Europe in the course of the seventeenth century, in an Italian version now preserved in the National Library at Vienna. A version in Spanish certainly existed, for it was consulted by the English scholar George Sale when he was preparing a translation of the Koran (1734), but it later disappeared and only in 1976 turned up in Australia in a partial eighteenth-century copy. The text of this intriguing document90 claims to be an authentic life of Christ, dating from the same period as the gospels of the Christian Bible. The basic difference is that it disagrees at several points with Christian tradition, states that Jesus (who is quoted as saying firmly, “I am not the Messiah”) was a mortal prophet but not the Son of God, that he was not crucified (Judas Iscariot was), and that he foretold the coming of the true Messiah (described as the “Messenger”), Mohammed. The gospel was first printed in English in 1907, arousing such interest that an Arabic version was published the year after.

At several points in the Gospel, Jesus states explicitly that the Savior of the world is not himself but Mohammed.

The disciples asked, “O Master, who shall that man be of whom you speak, who shall come into the world?” Jesus answered with joy of heart: “He is Mohammed; Messenger of God, and when he comes into the world, even as the rain makes the earth to bear fruit when for a long time it has not rained, even so shall he be occasion of good works among men, through the abundant mercy which he shall bring. For he is a white cloud full of the mercy of God, which mercy God shall sprinkle upon the faithful like rain.”

The Gospel was obviously written by a Muslim, and apparently drawn up in Spanish as its original text, for the Italian version has several significant spelling errors. The fact that it has several explicit references to western Mediterranean society, and even to the writings of Dante, suggest a sixteenth-century authorship,91 very possibly Alonso de Luna. The intention of the document, to demonstrate that Christianity is a valid religion but that its focus really points to Mohammed as the Messiah, has fascinated Muslims around the world, and continues to be studied by some of them today as a serious text. The idea of a compatibility, leading eventually to a convergence, between Christianity and Islam, was directly in line not only with the forgeries of Sacromonte but also, remarkably, with Luna’s own direct testimony as given to the Spanish authorities.

For by 1618 Luna was back in Spain. We do not know what motivated him to go back, though it seems likely that his travels had made him develop a sense of a special mission, one that particularly affected Spain and its Muslim exiles and therefore required Luna’s presence in the country. He was also in very poor health, and no doubt hoped to end his days in the land that had once been al-Andalus. In 1618, shortly after his return, he was arrested by the Inquisition of Murcia, on the Mediterranean coast some distance from Granada, and questioned over several matters. His answers are vivid proof of the messianic hopes that some Spanish Muslims were developing. The Inquisition caught him with letters written in his own hand, one addressed to the pope and three others to the king. The letters described a vision he had had, according to the statement he made to the Inquisition:

One night in the countryside he was by the power of God carried by angels to the fourth heaven, and from there to the sixth, and he had many visions and saw God our Lord seated on his throne, with his angels who were moving the heavens. And God said to him, “My son, do not be afraid, I shall give you to know all things, write to the king and to the pope and tell them that it is now the time of the Resurrection, when all heresies will end, and the whole world will convert to the Holy Catholic Faith.” And in the last days he will come to help the Arab nation, and the conversion will be through the Arab language, because it is the most perfect language and God has chosen it as the best, and the angels use it to praise him. And God will punish the Spaniards because they did not wish to use it, even though everybody has a duty to know it.

And God had ordered him to write in the letters that the king should know that during his reign the General Conversion would come about. And God also revealed to him that the books of Sacromonte of this city contain the entire Catholic and Gospel truth. And that there remains one book to be read, which till now no one has managed to read or understand, which God is keeping back for himself, to be read and interpreted and given out at the Conversion and Last Judgment.92

It seems likely that in the end the Inquisition released Luna with a simple reprimand. In a written report, inquisitors say that they thought of torturing or imprisoning him, but judged that he was too ailing to put up with either. An open condemnation of what he was claiming was out of the question, since that would have brought the Inquisition into direct conflict with the cathedral of Granada, which continued to maintain that the tablets of Sacromonte were part of the divine revelation. So Luna probably got off, and disappears thereafter into the mists of history.

The exiled Moriscos of Spain now merged their lives into that of the Islamic peoples of the Mediterranean. The émigrés from Hornachos settled in what had been the deserted town of Rabat in Morocco, and gave it new life; others settled in Salé, just across the river from Rabat. Across the centuries the émigrés managed to retain a certain nostalgic and imagined folk memory of the land from which they came. Their houses, their vocabulary, even their music retain vestiges of the Andalucia that had been their home, and the guitar their music players strum in the street at night is the guitar that sings of lost Granada.93 The memory survives.94 A traditional ballad in Tunisia goes:

May rain lavishly sprinkle you as it showers!
Oh, my time of love in Andalucia:
our time together was just a sleeper’s dream
or a secretly grasped moment.95

Despite everything, Islam continued to form an extension of the Hispanic experience and could not be wholly uprooted. It was, curiously enough, the absence and exile of the Muslims that made Spaniards accept them back into the mainstream of peninsular culture. Social practices that in former times were seen as unacceptable because they were Islamic passed after the expulsions into general use among Christians and formed part of the style and manners of Spain. Throughout Spanish society, Muslim habits and courtesies prevailed until our own time.96 Even the Catholic way of thinking could not escape from some remnants of seven centuries of Muslim influence. Islamic thought and concepts could be found deep within the mystical ideas of Christians, as Arabist scholars have convincingly suggested. Aspects of the writing of the mystic and poet Juan de la Cruz, and of the imagery used by Teresa of Avila in her mystical work The Interior Castle were derived from Islamic sources. Though Islam had disappeared from Spain, it remained a permanent part of Spain’s international confrontations, ever present in the war by both sea and land that continued unabated till the nineteenth century, when Spain’s dream of expanding into Africa turned sour after the terrible slaughter of its forces at the battle of Annual in Morocco in 1921.

Long before the expulsions, in a society where Muslims were perceived as an enemy, those who wished to rebel against Christian values expressed opinions in their favor or even joined them.97 Individuals who rebelled against aspects of their own environment deliberately adopted pro-Arab attitudes and customs. Time and again, there were cases of Spaniards who became “renegades” and either entered Muslim service or embraced Islam.98 It was, as we have noted (chapter 1) a phenomenon that was not confined to Spain and existed long before the Inquisition. War and piracy were responsible for most of the involuntary converts. The number of persons who crossed into the world of Islam may have been substantial;99 a scholar suggests “hundreds of thousands,” voluntarily or not, in the whole area of the Mediterranean.100 We know some of their stories because they frequently found refuge in Spain, where they explained to the inquisitors what had made them cross over from one faith to the other. Some had been captured as children, and only as adults several years later were they able to choose to return. We have the testimony of a Portuguese priest, Antonio de Sosa, who was held prisoner in Algiers between 1577 and 1581. His Topography of Algiers, published posthumously in Spain thirty years later (1612), is a fascinating eyewitness account of cultural life in the city. According to him, Christian converts to Islam constituted more than half of the population of Algiers around 1580–81, a detail that (if correct) underlines the continual crossing of religious and political boundaries in the early modern Mediterranean. Such interchanges led to the creation of a new frontier society that lived in the in-between, simultaneously partaking of various cultures.101 It was a general phenomenon that extended through the inland sea and as far as the Balkans, where tens of thousands of Christians in the Ottoman Empire converted to Islam and enjoyed the privileges of elite status.102

In the wake of the expulsions, historical memories of Islam’s fundamental role in the peninsula were consciously blotted out for nearly three hundred years. Neglect of the language of Spanish Arabs was such that when the authorities in 1749 wished to prepare a catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in the Escorial, they had to call on a Syrian Christian priest to come to Spain to do the work. The legacy of Islam was left to perish. In his richly informed and illustrated Travels through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776(1779), the English Catholic traveler Henry Swinburne offered a pioneering perspective of a country that seemed to have lost touch with Europe. Some Spaniards who read the work (in French translation) were angered by it. The diplomat José Nicolás de Azara protested that the author “speaks endlessly of Muslims, their history and architecture, especially in Córdoba and Granada; and surpasses himself in praises of that sublime people, in order to humiliate our own.”103 In fact, when Swinburne was in Granada he was struck, as Washington Irving subsequently would be, by the total neglect of the Islamic heritage. “The glories of Granada have passed away with its old inhabitants,” he observed. “The streets are choked with filth; its aqueducts crumbled to dust; its woods destroyed; its territory depopulated; its trade lost; in a word, everything in a most deplorable situation.”104 Fortunately, in the nineteenth century the Romantic movement in European literature and Orientalism in art, helped powerfully by Americans such as Washington Irving as well as Spanish scholars and artists, began to restore dignity to the Muslim past.105

Islamic Spain revived in the twentieth century. During the civil war of 1936, Arab volunteers fought alongside the army insurgents, and long after the victory of Franco in the war I remember vividly seeing the long columns of the brightly costumed Muslim cavalry guard as they escorted the dictator to his residence in the Pardo outside Madrid. With the coming of democracy came the era of immigration from Africa, and with it a revival of Muslim claims to al-Andalus. Muslims in Spain number 1 million, or 2 percent of the population. The Inquisition would shudder to know that a grand mosque, completed in 2003, now again calls the faithful to prayer in the Albaicín, and that some six hundred mosques have been founded on Spanish soil.

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!