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1502 Spain - The Moors

Imagine a Nation: Unstained - This Blog series highlights the plight of people fleeing in order to expose centuries of sameness. It does not condone these events or seek to encourage apathy and acceptance of them in any form.

Note: the word 'Inquisition' actually comes from the latin, 'Inquiro,' and means "to inquire into" however, nowadays it is associated with atrocity. Its goal was to cleanse the Spanish population of heresy. It became a brutal ethnic and religious cleansing regime that specifically targeted non-Catholics.

The Spanish Inquisition lasted for three hundred years. It began in 1478.

Muslims, known as Moors in these times, were among the non-catholic people groups targeted during the Inquistion period however, their status was different to the Jews. They still ruled the Kingdom of Granada when it began and their military capability was considered more of a threat than their religion. They also had strong connections with other muslim military states.


According to Matthew Carr, in his book, Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, the history of Muslim Spain began one night in the spring of 711, less than a century after the death of Muhammad. A link to download a PDF copy of his book is below.

Carr says;

For the previous three centuries, the former Roman province of Hispania had been dominated by Visigothic tribes from Germany who had crossed the Pyrenees and occupied Iberia during the breakup of the Roman Empire. In 589, the Gothic ruling caste in Spain had converted from Arian Christianity to Catholicism and established a powerful Iberian Christian kingdom [Carr 2011].

Within three years, the Christian presence south of the Pyrenees had been reduced to a small enclave in the inaccessible mountains of Asturias, and Visigothic Spain had effectively ceased to exist [Carr 2011].

The Muslims gave the name al-Andalus, the land of the Vandals, to the territories they occupied. To Iberian Christians, their conquerors became known as moros, Moors, from the Latin mauri, or maurusci, as the Romans had called the Berbers of North Africa. From the perspective of Latin Christendom, the conquest of Visigothic Spain by infidels was a barely credible catastrophe.

... Removed from the main centers of Muslim and Christian power, al-Andalus evolved from a remote frontier province of the Islamic empire into a unique Moorish-Iberian civilization whose components included Syrian and Yemeni Arabs, North African Berbers, the Slavic “slave soldiers” known as Saqaliba, who came to Spain as servants of the caliphs and later formed their own fiefdoms, Visigothic and Hispano-Roman Christians, and the largest Jewish population in Europe.

... The cultural world of al- Andalus drew inspiration from various traditions—Islamic, Jewish and Christian, and Greco-Roman [Carr 2011].

13th Century

By the mid thirteenth century, Castile and Aragon were the dominant kingdoms in Christian Iberia, and only the independent kingdom of Granada in Spain remained in Muslim control.

15th Century

The marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 was a union of two of the most powerful Christian kingdoms. It represented an immediate threat to Granada.

It was a period in which many Christians lived in expectation of an imminent Day of Judgment and the beginning of a new Christian millennium, or renovatio mundi ...On the eve of the War of Granada, a number of prophetic texts circulated in Spain, which predicted the coming of El Encubierto, the Hidden One, or the “great bat” depicted in the Book of Revelation, who would defeat the Antichrist and usher in the End of Days and a new Christian millennium [Carr 2011].

Granada was besieged on all sides by an army of soldiers that travelled great distances to see its defeat. The end of the War of Granada ushered in a new and terrible day for the Moors who now found themselves to be the subjects of Isabella and Ferdinand

They were initially granted religious freedom enduring only subtle attempts at conversion through education. Those who converted were named Moriscos, little Moors [Carr 2011].

In 1480 Isabella issued an edict that ordered both muslims and jews to live in segregated areas.

In 1481 Isabella and Ferdinand used a Muslim raid on the frontier town of Zahara as a reason to invade Granada.

In 1482, Ferdinand was sufficiently concerned at the absence of clearly visible distinctions between the two populations in Valencia that he ordered Muslims to wear only blue clothing .

1491 the battle to overthrow Granada lasted a decade. With a huge army of around 60,000 they determined to burn and destroy the enemy crops. Fighters warring against the infidel were promised papal absolution for their sins ... Within the city’s defensive walls, the population was swollen by soldiers and civilian refugees from the war-torn countryside, [Carr 2011]..

Isabella was responsible for funding the war effort which included special taxes imposed on the Jews.

1491 the Catholic Monarchs seemed to have accepted the presence of muslims in Granada. The terms of their surrender guaranteed the rights of muslims to retain land and property and income. "The agreements also specified that the “judges, mayors and governors” appointed to rule Granada should be “persons who will honor the Moors and treat them kindly” [Carr 2011].

1492 The King of Granada signed a secret agreement for the city to be handed over on January 6, 1492

At a time when Christian victories against the infidels were few and far between, and church bells in Austria and Germany tolled three times daily to remind their populations of the existential threat from the “terrible Turk” [Carr 2011].

To some Spaniards, the conquest of Granada confirmed Spain’s destiny as a “New Israel” that had been chosen by God to undertake the reconquest of Jerusalem. Columbus’s search for a new route to the Indies was partly intended to make possible a double-pronged assault on Islam from east and west [Carr 2011].

1498 Friar Hernando de Talavera, first archbishop of Granada, banned Christians from renting property to Muslims, wearing Moorish clothing, visiting bathhouses, or buying meat from Muslim butchers.

1499 Ferdinand and Isabella visited Granada, seven years after conquering it. They were joined by the archbishop of Toledo, Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros. Cisneros stayed on and at first sought to convert the muslim population. He quickly lost patience with the slow rate of progress and began sending recalcitrant Muslims to prison, where they were treated with what even Gómez de Castro describes as “methods that were not correct” until they agreed to convert. His methods resulted in an open revolt, as the residents of the Albaicín barricaded their streets and produced weapons from hidden caches... Summoned to Seville to account for his actions before Isabella and Ferdinand, Cisneros conceded that his “excessive zeal for the interests of the faith” had contributed to the unrest [Carr 2011]

By 1499 mass forced conversions or the choice of expulsion were the only deals on the table.

1501 - virtually the entire Muslim population of Granada had become nuevamente convertidos, “newly converted,” or nuevos cristianos de moros , literally “New Christians from Moors.”

1501 - July - Isabella signed a pragmática (royal decree) in July that year, which ordered all Muslims in the Kingdom of Castile and León to receive baptism or leave the country... it was not publicized until February of the following year [Carr 2011]

1502 - Ostensibly, the Muslims of Castile were presented with the same alternatives offered to the Jews—they could remain in Spain and become Christians, or they could remain Muslims and leave Spain by the end of April - their ports of embarkation were limited to the Atlantic Bay of Biscay. Last but not least, they were not allowed to take any male children with them under the age of fourteen or girls under the age of twelve, who were to be given to Castilian families to be brought up as Christians [Carr 2011].

Is there a Nation Unstained by bloodshed? Is there a Nation Unstained that has never dehumanised,

maligned or persecuted a people group crushing them under foot?

Note: All images are AI generated.


Carr, Matthew 2011, Blood and Faith - The purging of Muslim Spain 1492-1614, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd, 2017.

ISBN-13 978-1849048019. ISBN-10. 1849048010

PDF available here:

Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition

The Conquest of Granada

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