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Andalusia: A Brief History

Andalusia was colonized at about the 9th century BC by the Phoenicians, who founded the coastal town of Gadir (now Cadiz), and by the 5th century BC Carthaginians and Greeks had settled in the region. In 210-206 BC the Romans conquered Andalusia, and the region eventually became the Roman province of Baetica. This province flourished under Roman rule and was the birthplace of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Roman rule lasted until the Vandals(Germanics) and then the Visigoths overran the region in the 5th century AD.

In 711 AD Muslim Arabs crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier and invaded southern Spain, ending Visigothic rule there. The Arabic name Al-Andalus was originally applied by the Muslims (Moors). It means "Country of the Vandals"--the Germanic people who had invaded Spain in the 5th century. In the 11th century, when the Christians began to reconquer most of the peninsula, Al-Andalus, or Andalusia, came to mean only the area still under Muslim control and thus became permanently attached to the modern-day region.

After the Muslim conquest, Andalusia became part of the independent Ummayad caliphate of Córdoba, which was founded by 'Abd ar-Rahman III in 929. After the breakup of this unified Spanish Muslim state in the early 11th century, Andalusia was divided into a number of small kingdoms, or taifas, the largest of which were Málaga, Seville, and Córdoba. These petty principalities, which warred incessantly among themselves, had begun falling to Christian forces based in Leon and Castile in the 11th century, although the Berber Almoravids, were able to establish centralized rule from about 1086 to 1147. The Almoravids were in turn succeeded by another force of Muslim invaders, the Almohads, who ruled over Andalusia from about 1147 to 1212.

Despite its political instability, the Moorish period has been regarded as the golden age of Andalusia on account of its economic prosperity and its brilliant cultural flowering. Agriculture, mining, and industry flourished as never before, and a rich commerce was carried on with North Africa. Some of the crops grown in Andalusia today, such as sugarcane, almonds, and apricots, were introduced by the Arabs, and much of the region's elaborate irrigation construction dates from the Muslim period. In the realm of culture, a vibrant civilization arose out of Christians, Arab Muslims, and Jews under the relatively tolerant rule of the Muslim emirs. The cities of Córdoba, Seville, and Granada became celebrated as centres of Muslim architecture, science, and learning at a time when the rest of Europe was still emerging from the Dark Ages. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and the fortress-palace of the Alhambra in Granada were built during this period.

The Almohads' power in southern Spain disintegrated after their defeat by Christian armies led by King Alfonso VIII of Castile at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. The petty Muslim states that reemerged in this power vacuum were unable to mount a unified resistance to the Christian reconquest, and by 1251 Ferdinand III of Castile had reconquered all of Andalusia except the sultanate of Granada, which survived until its capture by the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. All of Andalusia was incorporated into the Christian kingdom of Castile.

Andalusia continued to prosper after the Christian reconquest, in part because the ports of Cadiz and Seville were the gateways through which the wealth of the New World flowed into Spain. The Moriscos (Christianized Muslims) were expelled from Spain in 1609 . Gibraltar was formally ceded to the British in 1713, and Andalusia was divided into its eight present-day provincias in 1833.


Any of the Spanish Christians living under Muslim rule (8th-11th century), who, while unconverted to Islam, and culture. Separate Mozarabe enclaves were located in the large Muslim cities, especially Toledo, Córdoba, and Seville, where they formed prosperous seperate communities ruled by their own officials and were subject to a Visigothic legal code. They also maintained their own bishoprics, churches, and monasteries and translated the Bible into Arabic.


Spanish MUDÉJAR (from Arabic mudajjan, "permitted to remain"), any of the Muslims who remained in Spain after the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula (11th-15th century). In return for the payment of a poll tax, the Mudejars were a protected minority, allowed to retain their own religion, language, and customs. Headed by leaders assigned by the local Christian princes, they formed separate communities and quarters in larger towns, where they were subject to their own Muslim laws. As highly skilled craftsmen, the Mudejars were also responsible for an extremely successful blending of Arabic and Spanish artistic elements: a Mudejar style, marked by the frequent use of the horseshoe arch and the vault, distinguishes the church and palace architecture of Toledo, Córdoba, Seville, and Valencia.


With the fall of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain (1492), however, the situation of the Mudejars rapidly deteriorated. Mudejars were dubbed Moriscos and forced to leave the country or convert to Christianity; thus, by 1614 the last of an estimated 3,000,000 Spanish Muslims (which included the Berbers)were expelled from Spain.


One of the Spanish Muslims (or their descendants) who became baptized Christians. The Moriscos, however, continued to speak, write, and dress like Muslims. Ill-taught in their new faith, yet punished for ignorance by Church and Inquisition, the Moriscos turned outside Spain for Muslim support. They obtained legal opinions (fatwas) that assured them that it was permissible to practice Islam in secret (taqiyah), then produced books known as aljamiados, written in Spanish, using the Arabic alphabet, to instruct fellow Moriscos in Islam. In 1566 Philip II issued an edict forbidding the Granada Moriscos their language, customs, and costume. The Moriscos revolted in 1569. After two years of war they were removed en masse, and royal order for deportation on Sept. 22, 1609 was given. The Morisco's expulsion was completed some five years later. An estimated 300,000 Moriscos relocated mainly in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. They were assimilated after several generations.


The Berbers (who look Middle Eastern), were a group of predominantly but not entirely migratory tribes who spoke a recognizably common Hamito-Semitic language with significant dialectal variations. Berber tribes could be found from present-day Morocco to present-day Algeria. The first allies of Carthage and then clients of the Roman Empire. The Berbers were eventually were assimilated into the Arab community in the 7th century AD, and converted to Islam. Also adopted Arabic as their language. Two distinct confederations of Berber-- the Almoravids and Almohads--spread islam to what is today Andalucia, Spain in the 11th-13th century. In the 12th century a wave of invading Bedouin Arabs wrecked the Berbers' peasant economy in coastal North Africa and converted many of the settled Berber tribes into nomads. Today, there are about 4 million Berbers living in Europe, primarily in France.


In English usage, a Moroccan or, formerly, a member of the Muslim population of Spain, who created the Arab Andalusian civilization and subsequently settled as refugees in North Africa between the 11th and 17th centuries. By extension (corresponding to the Spanish moro), the term occasionally denotes any Muslim in general as in the case of the Moors of Sri Lanka(Ceylon) or of the Philippines.


In Spanish history, a Jew who converted to the Christian faith to escape persecution but who continued to practice Judaism secretly. It was a term of abuse and also applies to any descendants of Marranos.

As a result of popular agitation, a great pogrom against the Jews erupted in 1391 and rapidly spread throughout the peninsula. Forced to choose Christianity or death, many Jews converted. A number of these conversos, freed of earlier legal restraints, now attained prominence in public life, but they were always suspected of continuing privately to observe Jewish practices. The demand that they demonstrate limpieza de sangre--i.e., that their ancestry was unsullied by Jewish or Muslim blood--was intended to exclude them from any important place in government or the church.

To the Jews, the Marranos were pitiful martyrs. The Jews maintained religious bonds with the Marranos and kept strong their faith in the God of Israel. The Inquisitors finally became convinced, however, that only the total expulsion of the Jews from Spain could end Jewish influence in the national life. Purity of faith became the national policy of the Catholic sovereigns, and thus came about the final tragedy, the edict of expulsion of all the Jews from Spain on March 31, 1492. Portugal promulgated an edict of expulsion in 1497 and Navarre in 1498.

A considerable minority of Jews saved themselves from expulsion by baptism, thus adding strength and numbers to the Marranos, but the mass of Spanish Jews refused conversion and went into exile. The physical separation of the Marranos from their piritual sympathizers, however, did not make them more amenable to inquisitorial discipline. The Jewish religion remained deeply rooted in their hearts, and they continued to transmit their beliefs to the succeeding generations. Many Marranos did eventually choose emigration, however, principally to North Africa and to other western European countries. Marranism had disappeared in Spain by the 18th century owing to this emigration and to gradual assimilation within Spain.

Author: Spanish Celtic Ansestry


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