The Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, invaded Grenada
The expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain (1609-1613)Dearbhla Murphy (17437186)1The expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain is an extensive component of Spanish history, although it is not necessarily a time period to be proud of, it is still hugely important to remember it. It is appropriate to begin this essay with the obvious yet essential question of ‘Who were the Moriscos?’. It may seem like a juvenile way to commence an essay but it is fundamental that we accurately grasp the background history of the title in question. In order to understand the sequence of events we must familiarise ourselves with the victims.
1.1Who are the Moriscos?The Moriscos were former Moors who were now under Christian rule. Following the ‘Fall of Granada’ in 1492 , where the catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, invaded Grenada as it was the last location in Iberia still ruled by Muslims. According to the work of Stephen Clissold (History Today) ,new approaches were taken when the former King of Granada signed new capitulations which stated the following: Muslims were now free to emigrate out of Spain in possession of all of their valuables or in compromise, they were invited to stay in Spain and practice their ethnic religion of Islam. Christians agreed to fully respect their choices and Muslims were granted access to their Mosques. Muslims were also permitted to hold authoritative positions regarding educational organisations within their community.
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According to these new capitulations, “no Moorish man or women would be induced to turn Christian against their wish”. Although no Muslim was forced to turn Christian, Archbishop of Granada, Hernando de Talavera made great attempts in using “instruction and persuasion” to convince Muslims to convert to Christianity. This process was taking too long for Cardinal Ximèrez de Cisneros and so he abruptly decided to take matters into his own hands. He overthrew the Archbishop and adopted drastic measures to ensure Catholic conversion by all Muslims resident in Spain. The cardinal cruelly burned Sacred books of the Islamic religion and this immediately triggered riots to breakout as the Muslims insisted that the regulations of the former agreement were being beached by the Christians.
In 1499, the Moorish people revolted but it did not last long as the Spanish government shut down all rebellions and the Muslims were faced with an ultimatum- they either had to emigrate from Spain or convert to Christianity. The term ‘Moriscos’ is used to describe any Moors who remained in Spain and redirected their faith to Christianity.1.2Why were the Moriscos expelled from Spain?By 1526 practicing Islam was officially illegal in Spain and by 1527 King Philip II declared that all Moriscos were no longer free to dress in their traditional gowns, speak in their native languages or practice their customs. The Spanish grew increasingly suspicious of the Moriscos as they believed they were conspiring with the Turks and offshore pirates to launch an attack in retaliation against these new decrees issued by King Philip II.
These fears grew more extreme and relevant as each day passed and this led King Philip III to sign the edict and commence the expulsion of all Moriscos from Spain.This edict to expel the Moriscos from Spain was issued In April 1609, this expulsion was declared by King Philip III of Spain as a method of ‘ethnic cleansing’. His goal was to eliminate over 300,000 Jews from across Iberia. He was a clever man and was not naiïve enough to believe he could complete his quest all at once and so he turned his primary point of attention to the city of Valencia, where the vast majority of all Moriscos lived. 2.1How the Moriscos were expelled?It is believed that the primary stages of the expulsion were carried out in a tame and humane manner,conducted in a military style fashion which was led by the Flanders Veteran, Don Agustín Mejía.
Juan de Ribera put forward the idea that all children under the age of ten to remain in Spain and be educated by Christian priests up to the age of thirty. In return they were to receive hot meals, warm clothing and a place to stay. This proposal was soon approved by the Council of State, although they reduced the age to children of five years and under as opposed to ten years old.The Moriscos were permitted to take with them any possessions they could hold in their hands, while their land and cattle was passed onto whoever exiled them. This embarkation soon became increasingly violent as many of the ‘Old Christians’ took advantage of the situation and sought revenge against the Moriscos. The farmers overlooking the expulsion introduced tarifs upon the Moriscos for basic human essentials such as drinking water from the streams or even obtaining shade from the trees amidst the hot sun, this was especially common in cases where they were being exiled to France . Unfortunately, there were many incidents where Moriscos were attacked and robbed by Christians while en route to their ships, cases of rape were also documented on many occasions. Children were often kidnapped by Christians to be raised ‘properly’ under Christian rule.
The number of Moriscos who died during the expulsion or while en route to exile is said to be unknown, although there are estimated figures. According to Pedro Aznar Cardona, between October 1609- July 1611, 50,000 Moriscos died resisting the exile, while 60,000 died during their journey across sea and land to the North African coastline. Roger Boase speaks of the first convoy as he depicts the Moriscos embarking on a three day journey across the sea from Delia to Oran on the 2nd October 1609. Most of the Moriscos evacuated to Maghrib, Barbary Coast, Oran, Tunis or Rabat. Thousands of Moriscos were murdered upon arrival in their new countries as nomadic Muslim Christians believed them to be of Christian descent. If they were lucky enough to avoid a hostile arrival they usually endured a slow death of starvation as they landed miles away from any sign of civilisation.In July 1610, the Church ordered that all Morisco children who were left in Spain should be introduced to the slavery market where Christians could choose them. The church attempted to justify this statement by convincing the people that this would ensure they were given a thorough Christian upbringing, it was also an implementation strategy as it was common knowledge that slaves did not usually marry, thus confining the spread of Islam again throughout Spain.
It ensured that Christianity remained the only religion in Spain. This method of expulsion continued until 1613 when Spain were content that they had achieved ‘religious purity’. 2.2What happened after Spain had successfully achieved the expulsion of the Moriscos?As a consequence of purging the Moriscos from Spain, Spain, as a result suffered a great economic decline in their absence.
The Moriscos formerly occupied a huge percentage of the Spanish labour force, especially in the agricultural sector. The farming land south of the Ebro, once farmed by the Moriscos and renowned for its fertility, was destroyed during the Exodus, a sort of self destruction by Spain. After the Moriscos were exiled it became increasingly obvious that they were the only farm labourers who could efficiently work the land, Christians lacked the skill and knowledge to perform the agricultural tasks to the same degree as the Moriscos once did previously. It was not long until the Spanish realised what severe effects the absence of the Moriscos would have upon their defeated economy as they eradicated the most successful component of their former workforce.2.3Would the expulsion of the Moriscos stop the attacks of the Barbary Corsairs on Spain?The Moriscos mostly seeked refuge in countries on the North African coast. The Barbary Coast, Maghrib, Oran, Tunis and Rabat were all popular destinations. Moriscos were not welcomed openly into these new countries as the local Muslims were convinced that they were practicing Christians.
According to Alan G. Jamieson, the Turkish rulers welcomed the Moriscos, they viewed them as external Muslims who would now help them in the war at sea against the Christians. As a general rule, the majority of Moriscos who came to Morocco did not display any desire to fight with the Muslims against the Christians during the maritime war, they generally distanced themselves and kept to their own business. There was one group of people who were the exception to this rule – The Moriscos from Hornachos participated fully in this conflict against the Christians. In under just a few decades, the Muslims had completely converted the Moroccan port of Salé into a Corsair base. This base was so significant that it even threatened the Algiers.
The Moriscos from Hornachos, otherwise known as ‘Hornacheros’ were said to be the most ruthless of their kind, feared even by fellow Moriscos. They restored the dishevelled port of Rabat and soon it became the criminal capital of piracy where it introduced training in an effort to fight against the Christians, in particular those who lived in Spain. There was an estimated number of 4,500 of ‘Hornacheros’ and they were said to create an alliance with the Pirates of coastal towns in North Africa. It can be recognized that the Spanish idea to expel the Moriscos backfired in a number of ways as it still did not see the end of the Barbary attacks and it also had a severely negative impact of the strength of the Spanish economy as it saw a large portion of the workforce being ordered to evacuate the country.
3.1In conclusion, it must be recognized that Spain committed a form of genocide as they exterminated an entire religion from their land in search of a whole ‘Christian’ country. Their expulsion of an entire race led to severe economic consequences which lasted for many years until they eventually overcame the poverty and restored their native power. This eradication of Islam from the Iberian Peninsula was a momentous time period in Spanish history.
The Moors and Moriscos endured great hardship under the harsh reign of Spanish Catholics, it is unfortunate that this form of ill treatment continued as they landed in their new lands. They were sub treated in North Africa as natives grew suspicious of their ethnic backgrounds, questioning the sincerity of their Islamic faith. This secular act that Spain regrettably committed must not be forgotten so as to ensure that it does not repeat itself in years to follow.