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Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain…

Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain

by Matthew Carr

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In 1492, with the surrender of the Kingdom of Granada to the Christian armies of Isabella and Fernando the last vestige of Moslem rule on the Iberian Peninsula came to and end. Many Moslems, however, remained behind. Although they were soon forced to convert to Christianity, and many became Christians in faith as well as in name, they were never considered true Christians, or even true Spaniards. The Moriscos, as these people came to be known, were treated with suspicion, contempt and cruelty, in varying degrees over the decades. The idea of a successful and benignly pluralistic society apparently never occurred to Spain's religious and secular rulers. Finally over 100 years after the fall of Granada, in 1609 King Philip IV signed an edict ordering the eviction of the entire Morisco population. The fact that many of these people, hundreds of thousands in number, were being sent to their deaths did not trouble the Spanish authorities, who had seriously considered a massacre of the entire Morisco population, anyway.

Blood and Faith does and excellent job of describing that 100-year period of uneasy co-existence between the two cultures under Christian rule, setting the seen in detail for the final blow of expulsion. The research seems meticulous and is certainly in-depth. Astonishingly, I had never even heard of this gigantic historical ethnic cleansing. The horrific episode was unknown to me.

At any rate, Carr also does a very good job of framing this story within the context of the current mistrust of Moslems as a group both here in the U.S. and in Europe, where stereotyping and worries about Moslem immigrants working (and breeding!) to undermine European culture are now commonplace.

The book is highly detailed, not a quick read, but for anyone interested in European history, or fascinated at the way history does, indeed, seem to repeat itself down through the centuries, this is a fine book. ( )
2 vote rocketjk | Apr 29, 2013 |
In April 1609, King Philip III of Spain signed an edict denouncing the Muslim inhabitants of Spain as heretics, traitors, and apostates. Later that year, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory, on threat of death. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families and communities were obliged to abandon homes and villages where they had lived for generations, leaving their property in the hands of their Christian neighbors. In Aragon and Catalonia, Muslims were escorted by government commissioners who forced them to pay whenever they drank water from a river or took refuge in the shade. For five years the expulsion continued to grind on, until an estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, nearly 5 percent of the total population. By 1614 Spain had successfully implemented what was then the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history, and Muslim Spain had effectively ceased to exist. Blood and Faith is celebrated journalist Matthew Carr's riveting chronicle of this virtually unknown episode, set against the vivid historical backdrop of the history of Muslim Spain. Here is a remarkable window onto a little-known period in modern Europe - a rich and complex tale of competing faiths and beliefs, of cultural oppression and resistance against overwhelming odds. ( )
1 vote HurstPub | Nov 4, 2010 |
Fear of the strangers in our midst, economic dependence on their labor, ethnic cleansing -- sound familiar? Welcome to 16th century Spain! Carr brings together many the vast amount of primary and secondary source material into a readable history of the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain that echoes many contemporary concerns. I would have given it a higher rating if the book had included maps and illustrations. ( )
  dunyazade | Feb 7, 2010 |
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Who remembers the last survivors of Muslim Spain, whom Spaniards contemptuously called Moriscos (“little Moors”)? Impressive research on them has appeared in the last 30 years, yet until now, none of it has escaped beyond the walls of the academic ghetto. Matthew Carr’s well-balanced and comprehensive book brings the story of their tragic fate to a wider public.
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Tells the story of 1609 Spain when King Philip III declared the Muslim inhabitants as heretics, traitors, and apostates. Later that year they were given 3 days to leave Spanish territory.

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