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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Expulsion of the Moriscos


[Sidenote:

Failure of the attempts to Christianize the Moriscos.]

The problem of religious unity was now officially solved; all Spain legally had become Christian. The Moriscos were the subject of grave suspicions, however, as regards their orthodoxy, and with reason, since most of them continued to be Mohammedans in fact. The harsh legislation of other days was resurrected, and was applied with even greater severity. Prohibitions extended to the use of anything reminiscent of their former religion or customs, such as amulets, the Arabic language, Arabic names, their special form of dress, their characteristic songs and dances, and their habit of taking baths. The laws applying to Granada were particularly harsh, provoking the already mentioned war of 1568-1571. After the suppression of that rebellion and the deportation of the Granadine Moriscos to other parts of Castile, steps were taken to prevent their return and to keep them under surveillance. The Moriscos were not allowed to dwell together in a district of their own; they might not stay out overnight, or change their residence without permission; and their children were ordered to be brought up in the homes of Christians of long standing, or at any rate to be sent to Christian schools. Prohibitions against carrying arms and other measures designed to prevent the Moriscos from endangering the peace were general throughout Spain. Gradually the idea arose that the best thing to do would be to get rid

of the Moriscos in some way. In the first place the attempt to convert them had been a failure. The Moriscos were not altogether to blame, for no adequate steps had been taken to instruct them in the Christian religion. Orders to do so had been issued, but for many reasons they were difficult to execute. Such a task would have been enormously expensive, and the funds were not at hand; few Christian priests were competent to serve as instructors, since not many of them knew Arabic; there existed the serious obstacle of the hatred of the Moriscos for the Christian religion, due to the bad treatment they had received and their fear of the Inquisition; and the nobles threw the weight of their influence against molesting the Moriscos in this way as in others. In the second place, the very hatred of the Christian masses for the Moriscos had rendered their conversion difficult. Some of the charges made against them would seem to indicate that prejudice was the real foundation of this animosity. It was said that the Moriscos ate so little meat and drank so little wine that Christians had to pay nearly all of the _alcabala_, or the tax on their sale; they were denounced because they monopolized the industrial arts and trades, to the disadvantage of Christians; complaints were made that they always married, never becoming monks, wherefore their numbers increased more rapidly than those of the Christian population. Thus their frugality, industry, and domesticity were made the subject of accusations. Naturally there were more serious grounds of complaint than these, such as the inevitable private conflicts of old Christians and Moriscos, but differences in race, religion, and general customs were enough to cause popular hatred in that day, when intolerance was the rule. In the third place, it must be said in measurable justification of Spanish policy that the Moriscos did represent a danger to the state. They were numerous, and, naturally enough, hostile to the government; time and again they were proved to have fostered or taken part in uprisings and to have worked in conjunction with Moslem pirates; finally, the likelihood of a fresh Moslem descent from Africa, assisted by Spanish Moriscos, was not to be disregarded.

[Sidenote: Expulsion of the Moriscos.]


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