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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Many Moriscos were sold into slavery


The

failure of the attempts to convert the Moriscos had long been recognized, and the question arose what to do with them. Some men proposed a general massacre, or sending them to sea and scuttling the ships. Others suggested that they be sent to the Americas to work in the mines,--a solution which might have had interesting consequences. From about 1582, however, the idea of expelling them from Spain became more and more general, and was favored by men of the highest character,--for example, by Juan de Ribera, archbishop of Valencia (canonized in the eighteenth century). The expulsion was virtually decided upon as early as 1602, but the decrees were postponed for several years. In September, 1609, the expulsion from Valencia was ordered. All Moriscos except certain specified groups were required to be at various designated ports within three days; they were allowed to carry such movable property as they could, while the rest of their possessions was to go to their lords,--a sop to the nobles, for whom the expulsion meant great economic loss; they were informed that they would be taken to Africa free of charge, but were told to carry as much food as they could. Six per cent of the Morisco men and their families were excepted by the decree, so that they might instruct the laborers who should take the place of the expelled Moriscos. Various other groups, such as slaves, small children (under certain specified conditions), and those whose conversion was regarded as unquestionably sincere,
were also exempted. The Moriscos were unwilling to avail themselves of the exceptions in their favor, and a general exodus began. The decree was cruelly executed, despite the government's attempt to prevent it. Murder, robbery, and outrages against women went unpunished; even the soldiers sent to protect the Moriscos were guilty of these abuses. Many Moriscos were sold into slavery, especially children, who were taken from their parents. When news came that the peoples of northern Africa had given a harsh reception to the first of the Moriscos to disembark there, many preferred to take the chances of revolt rather than submit to expulsion, but these uprisings were easily put down. Decrees for the other parts of Spain soon followed; the decree for Castile proper, Extremadura, and La Mancha came in the same year, 1609; for Granada, Andalusia, and Aragon in 1610; and for Catalonia and Murcia in 1611, although the execution of the decree for Murcia was postponed until 1614. The terms of all, while varying in details, resembled that of Valencia. More time was given, usually a month; the permission to carry away personalty was accompanied by a prohibition against the taking of money or precious metals; and in some cases all children under seven were required to remain in Spain when their parents elected to go to Africa. On this account many Moriscos made the voyage to Africa by way of France, on the pretence that they were going to the latter country, thus retaining their children.

[Sidenote: Failure of the expulsions to stamp out the Morisco and Jewish elements in Spanish blood.]


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