Moriscos (Spanish: [moˈɾiskos], Catalan: [muˈɾiskus],
[moˈɾiskos]; Portuguese: mouriscos [mo(w)ˈɾiʃkuʃ],
[mo(w)ˈɾiskus]; meaning "Moorish") were former Muslims who converted
or were coerced into converting to Christianity, after
outlawed the open practice of
Islam by its sizeable
(termed mudéjar) in the early 16th century.
Moriscos were subject to systematic expulsions from Spain's
various kingdoms between 1609 and 1614, the most severe of which
occurred in the eastern Kingdom of Valencia. The exact number of
Moriscos present in
Spain prior to expulsion is unknown and can only
be guessed on the basis of official records of the edict of expulsion.
Furthermore, the overall success of the expulsion is subject to
academic debate with estimates on the proportion of those who avoided
expulsion or returned to
Spain ranging from 5% to 60%. The large
majority of those permanently expelled settled on the western fringe
Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Morocco. The last mass
Moriscos for crypto-Islamic practices occurred in
Granada in 1727, with most of those convicted receiving relatively
light sentences. From then on, the practice of
Islam by Spain's
indigenous[dubious – discuss] population was considered to have been
effectively extinguished in Spain.
1 Name and etymology
1.1 Other meanings
2.1 In the Kingdom of Granada
2.2 In the Kingdom of Valencia
2.3 In Aragon
2.4 In Castile
2.5 In the Canary Islands
2.5.1 Canary Islanders in San Antonio, Texas
4.1 Conquest of al-Andalus
4.2 Forced conversions of Muslims
4.3 After the conversion
5 International relations
Spain after the expulsion
7.2 Modern-day ethnicities in
Spain associated to the Moriscos
Moriscos and population genetics
7.4 Descendants and Spanish citizenship
9 See also
11 External links
Name and etymology
The label morisco for Muslims who were converted to Christianity began
to appear in texts from the first half of the sixteenth century,
however at this time the term's use was limited. It became
widespread in Christian sources during the second half of the century,
but it was unclear whether the
Moriscos themselves adopted the
term. In their texts, it was more common for them to speak of
themselves as simply muslimes (Muslims), but in later periods they
might have begun to accept the label. In modern times, the label is
in widespread use in Spanish literature and adopted to other
languages, including in
Modern Standard Arabic
Modern Standard Arabic which adopts it as
The word morisco itself began to be used in twelfth century Castilian
text as an adjective for the noun moro. These two words are
comparable to the English adjective "Moorish" and noun "Moor".
These terms were used by the Castilians in two general sense: "North
African" or "Muslim". The terms moro and morisco in this older
meaning continued to be used in Spanish, even after the more specific
meaning of morisco (which does not have a corresponding noun) became
widespread. According to L. P. Harvey, the two different meanings of
the word morisco have resulted in mistakes where modern scholars
misread historical text containing morisco in the older meaning as
having the newer meaning. In the early years after the forced
conversions, the Christians used the terms "New Christians", "New
converts", or the longer "New Christians, converted from being Moors"
(nuevos christianos convertidos de moros; to distinguish from those
converted from Judaism) to refer to this group.
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In historical studies of minoritisation, the term "Morisco" is
sometimes applied to other historical crypto-Muslims, in places such
as Norman Sicily, 9th-century Crete, and other areas along the
In the racial classification of colonial Spanish America, morisco was
used as a term for the child of a mulatto and Spaniard, i.e. a
There is no universally agreed figure of
Estimates vary because of the lack of precise census, and the
Morisco's tendencies to avoid registration and authorities, and to
pass off as the majority. Also, the population figure might have
fluctuated depending on the period, due to factors such as birth
rates, conquests, forced conversions and/or relocations,
There is a general agreement among historians that, based on expulsion
records, around 275,000
Moriscos were finally expelled in the early
17th century. Historian
L. P. Harvey in 2005 gave a range of
300,000 to 330,000 for the early 16th century; based on earlier
Domínguez Ortiz and Bernard Vincent who gave 321,000 for
the period 1568-75, and 319,000 just before the expulsion in 1609.
However, Christiane Stallaert put the number at around one million
Moriscos in the beginning of the 16th century. Recent studies by
Trevor Dadson on the expulsion of the
Moriscos propose the figure of
500,000 just before the expulsion, consistent with figures given by
other historians. Dadson concludes that, assuming the 275,000 figure
from the official expulsion records is correct, around 40% of Spain's
Moriscos managed to avoid expulsions altogether and up to a further
20% managed to return to
Spain in the years following their
In the Kingdom of Granada
The Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500 by Edwin
Long (1829 – 1891)
Emirate of Granada
Emirate of Granada was the last
Muslim Kingdom in the Iberian
Peninsula, which surrendered in 1492 to the Catholic forces after a
Granada was annexed to Castile as the Kingdom of
Granada, and had a majority
Muslim population of between 250,000 and
300,000. Initially, the
Treaty of Granada
Treaty of Granada guaranteed their rights
Muslim but Cardinal Cisneros's effort to convert the population
led to the a series of rebellions. The rebellions were suppressed,
and afterwards the Muslims in
Granada were given the choice to remain
and accept baptism, reject baptism and be enslaved or killed, or to be
exiled. The option of exile was often not feasible in practice,
and hindered by the authorities. Shortly after the rebellions'
defeat, the entire
Muslim population of
Granada had nominally become
Although they converted to Christianity, they maintained their
existing customs, including their language, distinct names, food,
dress and even some ceremonies. Many secretly practiced Islam,
even as they publicly professed and practiced Christianity. This
led the Catholic rulers to adopt increasingly intolerant and harsh
policies to eradicate these characteristics. This culminated in
Philip II's Pragmatica of 1 January 1567 which ordered the
abandon their customs, clothing and language. The pragmatica triggered
Morisco revolts in 1568–71. The Spanish authorities quashed
this rebellion, and at the end of the fighting, the authorities
decided to expel the
Granada and scatter them to the
other parts of Castile. Between 80,000 and 90,000 Granadans were
marched to cities and towns across Castile.
In the Kingdom of Valencia
In 1492, the Eastern Kingdom of Valencia, part of the Crown of Aragon
had the second largest
Muslim population in
Spain after Granada, which
became nominally the largest after the forced conversions in Granada
in 1502. The nobles of Valencia continued to allow
Islam to be
practiced until the 1520s, and, to some extent, the Islamic legal
system to be preserved.
In the 1520s, the
Revolt of the Brotherhoods
Revolt of the Brotherhoods broke out among the
Christian subjects of Valencia. The rebellion bore an anti-Muslim
sentiment, and the rebels forced Valencian Muslims to become
Christians in the territories they controlled. The Muslims joined
the Crown in suppressing the rebellion, playing crucial roles in
several battles. After the rebellion was suppressed, King Charles
V started an investigation to determine the validity of the
conversions forced by the rebels. He ultimately upheld those
conversions, therefore putting the force-converted subjects under the
authority of the Inquisition, and issued declarations to the effect of
forcing the conversion of the rest of the Muslims.
After the forced conversions, Valencia was the region where the
remains of Islamic culture was the strongest. A Venetian ambassdor
in the 1570s said that some Valencian nobles "had permitted their
Moriscos to live almost openly as Mohammedans." Despite efforts to
ban Arabic, it continued to be spoken until the expulsions.
Valencians also trained other Aragonese
Moriscos accounted for 20% of the population of Aragon, residing
principally on the banks of the
Ebro river and its tributaries. Unlike
Granada and Valencia Moriscos, they did not speak
Arabic but, as
vassals of the nobility, were granted the privilege to practice their
faith relatively openly.
Places like Muel, Zaragoza, were inhabited fully by Moriscos, the only
Old Christians were the priest, the notary and the owner of the
tavern-inn. "The rest would rather go on a pilgrimage to
Santiago de Compostela."
In the Aragonese City of Monzón (Huesca), a peculiar tradition is
still celebrated related to the
Moriscos known as "El Bautizo del
Alcalde" (The baptism of the mayor). It is celebrated on the 4th of
December, the festival of Saint Barbara, patron of the City, and
involves local politicians throwing chestnuts and sweets from the
terraces of the Town Hall to the crowds below gathered in the main
square. On the 4 of December 1643 (a few decades after the expulsion),
Castilian troops reconquered the castle from the French during the
Catalan Revolt. According to local sources, following the capture of
the town, its inhabitants chose a
Morisco as a mayor and since his
Christian faith was doubted, he accepted to be baptized in public
after which the town erupted in festivities.
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile included also
Extremadura and much of
Andalusia (particularly the
Guadalquivir Valley). The
proportion of its population in most of its territory was more
dispersed except in specific locations such as Villarrubia de los
Arévalo or the Señorío de las Cinco Villas (in the
southwestern part of the province of Albacete), where they were the
majority or even the totality of the population. Castile's Moriscos
were highly integrated and practically indistinguishable from the
Catholic population: they did not speak
Arabic and a large number of
them were genuine Christians. The mass arrival of the
much more visible
Morisco population deported from
Granada to the
lands under the
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile led to a radical change in the
situation of Castilian Moriscos, despite their efforts to distinguish
themselves from the Granadans. For example, marriages between
Moriscos and "old" Christians were much more common than
between Castilian and Granadan Moriscos. The town of
Hornachos was an
exception, not only because practically all of its inhabitants were
Moriscos but because of their open practice of the Islamic faith and
of their famed independent and indomitable nature. For this reason,
the order of expulsion in Castile targeted specifically the
"Hornacheros", the first Castilian
Moriscos to be expelled. The
Hornacheros were exceptionally allowed to leave fully armed and were
marched as an undefeated army to Seville from where they were
transported to Morocco. They maintained their combative nature
overseas, founding the Corsary
Republic of Bou Regreg
Republic of Bou Regreg and
In the Canary Islands
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The situation of the
Moriscos in the
Canary Islands was different than
in Europe. They were not the descendants of Iberian Muslims but were
Moors taken from Northern Africa in Christian raids
(cabalgadas) or prisoners taken during the attacks of the Barbary
Pirates against the islands. In the Canary Islands, they were held as
slaves or freed, gradually converting to Christianity, with some
serving as guides in raids against their former homelands. When the
king forbid further raids, the
Moriscos lost contact with Islam. They
became a substantial part of the population of the islands, reaching
one half of the inhabitants of Lanzarote. Protesting their
Christianity, they managed to avoid the expulsion that affected
European Moriscos. Still subjected to the ethnic discrimination of the
pureza de sangre, they could not migrate to the Americas or join many
organizations. Later petitions allowed for their equalization with the
rest of the Canarian population.
Canary Islanders in San Antonio, Texas
Canary Islanders migrated to San Antonio, Texas, in the 1700s and by
then had a racial system of segregation. The San Antonio River was the
line of segregation as Christianized Moors were
forced to live on the eastern side of the San Antonio River as were
dark-skinned people of Afromestizo heritage. This was how the east
side of the San Antonio became the home of the modern day black
Because conversions to Christianity were decreed by law rather than by
their own will, most
Moriscos still genuinely believed in Islam.
Because of the danger associated with practicing Islam, however, the
religion was largely practiced clandestinely. A legal opinion,
Oran fatwa" by modern scholars, circulated in
provided religious justification for outwardly conforming to
Christianity while maintaining an internal conviction of faith in
Islam, when necessary for survival. The fatwa affirmed the regular
obligations of a Muslim, including the ritual prayer (salat) and the
ritual alms (zakat), although the obligation might be fulfilled in a
relaxed manner (e.g., the fatwa mentioned making the ritual prayer
"even though by making some slight movement" and the ritual alms by
"showing generosity to a beggar"). The fatwa also allowed Muslims
to perform acts normally forbidden in Islamic law, such as consuming
pork and wine, calling Jesus the son of God, and blaspheming against
the prophet Muhammad, as long as they maintained conviction against
The writing of a
Muslim author known as the "Young Man
of Arévalo" included accounts of his travel around Spain, his
meetings with other clandestine Muslims and descriptions of their
religious practices and discussions. The writing referred to the
practice of secret congregational ritual prayer, (salat jama'ah)
collecting alms in order to perform the pilgrimage to
it is unclear whether the journey was ultimately achieved), and
the determination and hope to reinstitute the full practice of Islam
as soon as possible. The Young Man wrote at least three extant
works, Brief compendium of our sacred law and sunna, the Tafsira and
Sumario de la relación y ejercio espiritual, all written in Spanish
Arabic script (aljamiado), and primarily about religious
Extant copies of the
Qur'an were also found from the
although many are not complete copies but selections of suras, which
were easier to hide. Other surviving Islamic religious materials
from this period include collections of hadiths, stories of the
Prophets, Islamic legal texts, theological works (including
Al-Ghazali's works), as well as polemical literature defending
Islam and criticizing Christianity.
Moriscos became devout in their new Christian faith, and in
Moriscos were killed by Muslims for refusing to renounce
Christianity. In 16th century Granada, the Christian Moriscos
Virgin Mary as their patroness saint and developed Christian
devotional literature with a Marian emphasis.
Moriscos also likely wrote the Lead Books of Sacromonte, texts
Arabic claiming to be Christian sacred books from first
century CE. Upon its discovery in the mid-1590s the books were
initially greeted enthusiastically by the Christians of
treated by the Christian authorities as genuine and caused sensation
throughout Europe due to (ostensibly) its ancient origin.
Leonard Patrick Harvey proposed that the
Moriscos wrote these texts in order to infiltrate Christianity from
within, by emphasizing aspects of Christianity which were acceptable
The content of this text was superficially Christian and did not refer
Islam at all, but contains many "Islamizing" features. The text
never featured the
Trinity doctrine or referred to Jesus as Son of
God, concepts which are blasphemous and offensive in Islam.
Instead, it repeatedly stated "There is no god but God and Jesus is
the Spirit of God (ruh Allah)", which is unambiguously close to the
Islamic shahada and referred to the Qur'anic ephitet for Jesus,
"the Spirit of God". It contained passages which appeared
(unknowingly to the Christians at the time) to implicitly predict the
arrival of Muhammad by mentioning his various Islamic epithet.
Conquest of al-Andalus
Further information: Reconquista, Mudejar, and Treaty of Granada
Islam has been present in
Spain since the
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
in the eighth century. At the beginning of the twelfth century, the
Muslim population in the Iberian Peninsula — called
"Al-Andalus" by the Muslims — was estimated to number as high
as 5.5 million, among whom were Arabs,
Berbers and indigenous
converts. In the next few centuries, as the Christians pushed from
the north in a process called reconquista, the
declined. At the end of the fifteenth century, the reconquista
culminated in the fall of
Granada and the total number of Muslims in
Spain was estimated to be between 500,000 and 600,000 out of the total
Spanish population of 7 to 8 million. Approximately half of
the Muslims lived in the former Emirate of Granada, the last
Muslim state in Spain, which had been annexed to the Crown
of Castile. About 20,000 Muslims lived in other territories of
Castile, and most of the remainder lived in the territories of the
Crown of Aragon.
The Christians called the defeated Muslims who came in their rule the
Mudéjars. Prior to the completion of the Reconquista, they were
generally given freedom of religion as terms of their surrender. For
example, the Treaty of Granada, which governed the surrender of the
emirate, guaranteed a set of rights to the conquered Muslims,
including religious tolerance and fair treatment, in return for their
Forced conversions of Muslims
Main article: Forced conversions of Muslims in Spain
When Christian conversion efforts on the part of Granada's first
archbishop, Hernando de Talavera, were less than successful, Cardinal
Jimenez de Cisneros took stronger measures: with forced conversions,
burning Islamic texts, and prosecuting many of Granada's Muslims.
In response to these and other violations of the Treaty, Granada's
Muslim population rebelled in 1499. The revolt lasted until early
1501, giving the Castilian authorities an excuse to void the terms of
the Treaty for Muslims. In 1501 the terms of the Treaty of Granada
protections were abandoned.
In 1501 Castilian authorities delivered an ultimatum to Granada's
Muslims: they could either convert to Christianity or be expelled.
Most did convert, in order not to have their property and small
children taken away from them. Many continued to dress in their
traditional fashion, speak Arabic, and secretly practiced Islam
(crypto-Muslims). The 1504
Oran fatwa provided scholarly religious
dispensations and instructions about secretly practicing
outwardly practicing Christianity. With the decline of
many used the aljamiado writing system, i.e., Castilian or Aragonese
Arabic writing with scattered
Arabic expressions. In 1502,
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile formally rescinded toleration of
the entire Kingdom of Castile. In 1508, Castilian authorities banned
traditional Granadan clothing. With the 1512 Spanish invasion of
Navarre, the Muslims of Navarre were ordered to convert or leave by
However, King Ferdinand, as ruler of the Kingdom of Aragon, continued
to tolerate the large
Muslim population living in his territory. Since
the crown of
Aragon was juridically independent of Castile, their
policies towards Muslims could and did differ during this period.
Historians have suggested that the
Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon was inclined to
Islam in its realm because the landed nobility there depended
on the cheap, plentiful labor of
Muslim vassals. However, the
landed elite's exploitation of Aragon's Muslims also exacerbated class
resentments. In the 1520s, when Valencian guilds rebelled against the
local nobility in the Revolt of the Brotherhoods, the rebels "saw that
the simplest way to destroy the power of the nobles in the countryside
would be to free their vassals, and this they did by baptizing them."
 The Inquisition and monarchy decided to prohibit the forcibly
baptized Muslims of Valencia from returning to Islam. Finally, in
1526, King Charles V issued a decree compelling all Muslims in the
Aragon to convert to Catholicism or leave the Iberian
Peninsula (Portugal had already expelled or forcibly converted its
Muslims in 1497 and would establish its own Inquisition in 1536).
After the conversion
Granada for the first decades after the conversion, the former
Muslim elites of the former Emirate became the middlemen between the
crown and the
Morisco population. They became alguaciles, hidalgos,
courtiers, advisors to the royal court and translators of Arabic.
They helped collect taxes (taxes from
Granada made up one-fifth of
Castile's income) and became the advocates and defenders of the
Moriscos within royal circles. Some of them became genuine
Christians while others secretly continued to be Muslims. The
Islamic faith and tradition were more persistent among the Granadan
lower class, both in the city and in the countryside. The city of
Granada was divided into
Morisco and Old Christian quarters, and the
countryside often have alternating zones that are dominated by Old or
New Christians. Royal and Church authorities tended to ignore the
secret but persistent Islamic practice and tradition among the
Outside Granada, the role of advocates and defenders were taken by the
Morisco's Christian lords. In areas with high Morisco
concentration, such as the
Kingdom of Valencia
Kingdom of Valencia and certain areas of
other kingdoms, former Muslims played an important role in the
economy, especially in agriculture and craft. Consequently, the
Christian lords often defended their Moriscos, sometimes to the point
of being targeted by the Inquisition. For example, the Inquisition
sentenced Sancho de Cardona, the Admiral of
Aragon to life
imprisonment after he was accused of allowing the
Moriscos to openly
practice Islam, build a mosque and openly made the adhan (call to
prayer). The Duke of Segorbe (later Viceroy of Valencia) allowed
his vassal in the
Vall d'Uixó to operate a madrassa. A
witness recalled one of his vassals saying that "we live as
no one dares to say anything to us". A Venetian ambassador in the
1570s said that some Valencian nobles "had permitted their
live almost openly as Mohammedans."
In 1567, Philip II directed
Moriscos to give up their
Arabic names and
traditional dress, and prohibited the use of the
Arabic language. In
addition, the children of
Moriscos were to be educated by Catholic
priests. In reaction, there was a
Morisco uprising in the Alpujarras
from 1568 to 1571.
Main article: Expulsion of the Moriscos
Moriscos in Valencia by Pere Oromig
At the instigation of the Duke of Lerma and the Viceroy of Valencia,
Archbishop Juan de Ribera, Philip III expelled the
Moriscos from Spain
between 1609 (Aragon) and 1614 (Castile). They were ordered to
depart "under the pain of death and confiscation, without trial or
sentence... to take with them no money, bullion, jewels or bills of
exchange... just what they could carry." Estimates for the number
expelled have varied, although contemporary accounts set the number at
between 270,000 and 300,000 (about 4% of the Spanish population).
The majority were expelled from the
Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon (modern day
Catalonia and Valencia), particularly from Valencia, where
Morisco communities remained large, visible and cohesive; and
Christian animosity was acute, particularly for economic reasons. Some
historians have blamed the subsequent economic collapse of the Spanish
Eastern Mediterranean coast on the region's inability to replace
Morisco workers successfully with Christian newcomers. Many villages
were totally abandoned as a result. New laborers were fewer in number
and were not as familiar with local agricultural techniques.
In the Kingdom of Castille (including Andalusia,
Murcia and the former
kingdom of Granada), by contrast, the scale of
Morisco expulsion was
much less severe. This was due to the fact that their presence was
less felt as they were considerably more integrated in their
communities, enjoying the support and sympathy from local Christian
populations, authorities and, in some occasions, the clergy.
Furthermore, the internal dispersion of the more distinct Morisco
Granada throughout Castile and
Andalusia after the War
of the Alpujarras, made this community of
Moriscos harder to track and
identify, allowing them to merge with and disappear into the wider
Expulsion of the Moriscos
Expulsion of the Moriscos from Vinaros.
Moriscos were sincere Christians, adult Moriscos
were often assumed to be covert Muslims (i.e. crypto-Muslims), but
expelling their children presented the government with a dilemma. As
the children had all been baptized, the government could not legally
or morally transport them to
Muslim lands. Some authorities proposed
that children should be forcibly separated from their parents, but
sheer numbers showed this to be impractical. Consequently, the
official destination of the expellees was generally stated to be
France (more specifically Marseille). After the assassination of Henry
IV in 1610, about 150,000
Moriscos were sent there. Many of
Moriscos migrated from
Marseille to other lands in Christendom,
Sicily or Constantinople, Estimates of returnees
vary, with historian Earl Hamilton believing that as many as a quarter
of those expelled may have returned to Spain.
The overwhelming majority of the refugees settled in Muslim-held
lands, mostly in the
Ottoman Empire (Algeria, Tunisia) or Morocco.
However they were ill-fitted with their Spanish language and customs.
Disembarking of the
Oran port (1613, Vicente Mostre),
Fundación Bancaja de Valencia
Further information: Long Turkish War
Islam and Protestantism
French Huguenots were in contact with the
Moriscos in plans against
the House of Austria (Habsburgs), which ruled
Spain in the 1570s.
Around 1575, plans were made for a combined attack of Aragonese
Moriscos and Huguenots from
Henri de Navarre
Henri de Navarre against
Spanish Aragon, in agreement with the king of
Algiers and the Ottoman
Empire, but these projects floundered with the arrival of John of
Aragon and the disarmament of the Moriscos. In
1576, the Ottomans planned to send a three-pronged fleet from
Istanbul, to disembark between
Murcia and Valencia; the French
Huguenots would invade from the north and the
their uprising, but the Ottoman fleet failed to arrive.
During the reign of Sultan
Mohammed ash-Sheikh (1554–1557), the
Turkish danger was felt on the eastern borders of
Morocco and the
sovereign, even though a hero of the holy war against Christians,
showed a great political realism by becoming an ally of the King of
Spain, still the champion of Christianity. Everything changed from
1609, when King Philip III of
Spain decided to expel the Moriscos
which, numbering about three hundred thousand, were converted Muslims
who had remained Christian. Rebels, always ready to rise, they
vigorously refused to convert and formed a state within a state. The
danger was that with the Turkish pressing from the east, the Spanish
authorities, who saw in them [the Moriscos] a "potential danger",
decided to expel them, mainly to Morocco….
— Bernard Lugan, Histoire du Maroc: Le Maroc et L'Occident du XVIe
au XXe Siecle
Spanish spies reported that the Ottoman Emperor
Selim II was planning
Malta in the Mediterranean below Sicily, and from there
advance to Spain. It was reported Selim wanted to incite an uprising
among Spanish Moriscos. In addition, "some four thousand Turks and
Berbers had come into
Spain to fight alongside the insurgents in the
Alpujarras", a region near
Granada and an obvious military threat.
"The excesses committed on both sides were without equal in the
experience of contemporaries; it was the most savage war to be fought
in Europe that century." After the Castilian forces defeated the
Islamic insurgents, they expelled some eighty thousand
Granada Province. Most settled elsewhere in Castile. The
Alpujarras Uprising' hardened the attitude of the monarchy. As a
Spanish Inquisition increased prosecution and
Moriscos after the uprising.
Aljamiado text by Mancebo de Arévalo. c. 16th century. The passage
Moriscos or crypto-Muslims to continue fulfilling
Islamic prescriptions and disguise (taqiyya), so they would be
protected while showing public adherence to the Christian faith.
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Miguel de Cervantes' writings, such as
Don Quixote and Conversation of
the Two Dogs, offer ambivalent views of Moriscos. In the first part of
Don Quixote (before the expulsion), a
Morisco translates a found
document containing the
Arabic "history" that Cervantes is merely
"publishing". In the second part, after the expulsion, Ricote is a
Morisco and a former neighbor of Sancho Panza. He cares more about
money than religion, and left for Germany, from where he returned as a
false pilgrim to unbury his treasure. He admits, however, the
righteousness of their expulsion. His daughter Ana Félix is brought
Berbery but suffers since she is a sincere Christian.[citation
Toward the end of the 16th century,
Morisco writers challenged the
perception that their culture was alien to Spain. Their literary works
expressed early Spanish history in which Arabic-speaking Spaniards
played a positive role. Chief among such works is Verdadera historia
del rey don Rodrigo by Miguel de Luna (c. 1545–1615).
Moriscos joined the
Barbary pirates in North Africa.
Scholars have noted that many
Moriscos joined the Barbary Corsairs,
who had a network of bases from
Morocco to Libya. In the Corsair
Republic of Sale, they became independent of Moroccan authorities and
profited off of trade and piracy. Also,
Morisco mercenaries in the
service of the Moroccan sultan, using arquebuses, crossed the Sahara
Timbuktu and the Niger Curve in 1591. Their descendants
formed the ethnic group of the Arma. A
Morisco worked as a military
advisor for Sultan
Al-Ashraf Tumanbay II
Al-Ashraf Tumanbay II of
Egypt (the last Egyptian
Mamluk Sultan) during his struggle against the Ottoman invasion in
1517 led by Sultan Selim I. The
Morisco military advisor advised
Sultan Tumanbay to use infantry armed with guns instead of depending
Arabic sources recorded that
Moriscos of Tunisia, Libya
Egypt joined Ottoman armies. Many
Egypt joined the
army in the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt.
Modern studies in population genetics have attributed unusually high
levels of recent North African ancestry in modern Spaniards to Moorish
settlement during the Islamic period and, more
specifically, to the substantial proportion of
which remained in
Spain and avoided expulsion.
Spain after the expulsion
It is impossible to know how many
Moriscos remained after the
expulsion, with traditional Spanish historiography considering that
none remained and initial academic estimates such as those of Lapeyre
offering figures as low as ten or fifteen thousand remaining. However,
recent studies have been challenging the traditional discourse on the
supposed success of the expulsion in purging
Spain of its Morisco
population. Indeed, it seems that expulsion met widely differing
levels of success, particularly between the two major Spanish crowns
of Castile and
Aragón and recent historical studies also agree that
both the original
Morisco population and the number of them who
avoided expulsion is higher than was previously thought.
Monuments in Sale where many
Moriscos sought refuge and founded the
Republic of Salé.
One of the earliest re-examinations of
Morisco expulsion was carried
out by Trevor J. Dadson in 2007, devoting a significant section to the
Villarrubia de los Ojos
Villarrubia de los Ojos in southern Castille.
Morisco population were the target of three
expulsions which they managed to avoid or from which they succeeded in
returning from to their town of origin, being protected and hidden by
Morisco neighbours. Dadson provides numerous examples, of
similar incidents throughout
Moriscos were protected and
supported by non-Moriscos and returned en masse from North Africa,
Portugal or France to their towns of origin.
A similar study on the expulsion in
Andalusia concluded it was an
inefficient operation which was significantly reduced in its severity
by resistance to the measure among local authorities and populations.
It further highlights the constant flow of returnees from North
Africa, creating a dilemma for the local inquisition who did not know
how to deal with those who had been given no choice but to convert to
Islam during their stay in
Muslim lands as a result of the Royal
Decree. Upon the coronation of Philip IV, the new king gave the order
to desist from attempting to impose measures on returnees and in
September 1628 the Council of the Supreme Inquisition ordered
inquisitors in Seville not to prosecute expelled
Moriscos "unless they
cause significant commotion." 
An investigation published in 2012 sheds light on the thousands of
Moriscos who remained in the province of
Granada alone, surviving both
the initial expulsion to other parts of
Spain in 1571 and the final
expulsion of 1604. These
Moriscos managed to evade in various ways the
royal decrees, hiding their true origin thereafter. More surprisingly,
by the 17th and 18th centuries much of this group accumulated great
wealth by controlling the silk trade and also holding about a hundred
public offices. Most of these lineages were nevertheless completely
assimilated over generations despite their endogamic practices. A
compact core of active crypto-Muslims was prosecuted by the
Inquisition in 1727, receiving comparatively light sentences. These
convicts kept alive their identity until the late 18th century.
The attempted expulsion of
Extremadura was deemed a
failure, with the exception of the speedy expulsion of the
the town of
Hornachos who would become the founders of the Republic of
Salé in modern-day Morocco. Extremaduran
Moriscos benefited from
systematic support from authorities and society throughout the region
Moriscos avoiding deportation while whole communities
such as those of
Alcántara temporarily shifted across the border to
Portugal only to return later. The expulsion between 1609-1614
therefore did not come close to its objective of eliminating Morisco
presence from the region.
Similar patterns are observed in a detailed examination of the
Expulsion in the south eastern Region of Murcia, large swathes of
which were of
Morisco integration had reached high
levels at the time of expulsion, they formed a strong socio-economic
block with complex family ties and good-neighbourly relations. This
resulted in the possibility of return, with few exceptions, to be
offered and taken by a majority of
Moriscos expelled. Although some
were initially persecuted upon return, by 1622 they were no longer
given any trouble from authorities.
Moriscos in Granada", drawn by
Christoph Weiditz (1529)
Recent genetic studies of North African admixture among modern-day
Spaniards have found high levels of North African (Berber) and
Sub-Saharan African admixture among Spanish and Portuguese populations
as compared to the rest of southern and western Europe, and such
admixture does not follow a North-South gradient as one would
initially expect, but more of an East-West one.
While the descendants of those
Moriscos who fled to
North Africa have
remained strongly aware and proud of their Andalusi roots, the
Moriscos' identity as a community was wiped out in Spain, be it via
either expulsion or absorption by the dominant culture. Nevertheless,
a journalistic investigation over the past years has uncovered
existing communities in rural
Spain (more specifically in the
Murcia and Albacete) which seem to have maintained traces
of their Islamic or
Morisco identity, secretly practicing a debased
Islam as late as the 20th century, as well as conserving
Morisco customs and unusual
Arabic vocabulary in their speech.
The ineffectiveness of the expulsion in the lands of Castile
nevertheless contrasts with that of the
Crown of Aragón
Crown of Aragón (modern day
Valencian Community in Eastern Spain. Here the
expulsion was accepted much more wholeheartedly and instances of
evasion and/or return have so far not been considered demographically
important. This explains why
Spain was not affected on the whole by
the expulsion whereas the
Valencian Community was devastated and never
truly recovered as an economic or political powerhouse of the kingdom,
ceding its position, within the Crown of Aragón, to the Catalan
counties to the north, which never had a sizeable
to begin with.
Modern-day ethnicities in
Spain associated to the Moriscos
A number of ethnicities in northern
Spain have historically been
suspected of having
Morisco roots. Among them are the Vaqueiros de
Alzada of Asturias, the
Mercheros (present throughout northern and
western Spain), the Pasiegos of the Pas Valley in the mountains of
Cantabria and the Maragatos of the Maragatería region of Leon.
Genetic studies have been performed on the latter two, both showing
higher levels of North African ancestry than the average for Iberia,
although only in the case of the Pasiegos was there a clear
differentiation from adjacent populations.
Moriscos and population genetics
Morisco population was the last population who self-identified
and traced its roots to the various waves of
Muslim conquerors from
North Africa. Historians generally agree that, at the height of Muslim
rule, Muladis or Muslims of pre-Islamic Iberian origin were likely to
constitute the large majority of Muslims in Spain.
However, it is difficult to make such an assertion about the Morisco
minority by the 15th and 16th century. Modern population genetics
Moriscos to have had both significant Iberian and
North African ancestry, even if, after centuries of presence and
intermarriage in the Iberian peninsula they were unlikely to differ
significantly in ethnic terms from the wider Spanish population.
For this reason, studies in population genetics which aim to ascertain
Morisco ancestry in modern populations search for Iberian or European
genetic markers among contemporary
Morisco descendants in North
Africa, and for North African genetic markers among modern day
A wide number of recent genetic studies of modern-day Spanish and
Portuguese populations have ascertained significantly higher levels of
North African admixture in the Iberian peninsula than in the rest of
the European continent. which is generally attributed to Islamic
rule and settlement of the Iberian peninsula. Common North
African genetic markers which are relatively high frequencies in the
Iberian peninsula as compared to the rest of the European continent
are Y-chromosome E1b1b1b1(E-M81) and Macro-haplogroup L
(mtDNA) and U6. Studies coincide that North African admixture tends to
increase in the South and West of the peninsula, peaking in parts of
Andalusia, Extremadura, Southern Portugal and Western Castile.
Distribution of North African markers are largely absent from the
Spain as well as the Basque country. The uneven
distribution of admixture in
Spain has been explained by the extent
and intensity of Islamic colonization in a given area, but also by the
varying levels of success in attempting to expel the
different regions of Spain , as well as forced and voluntary
Morisco population movements during the 16th and 17th centuries.
As for tracing
Morisco descendants in North Africa, to date there have
been few genetic studies of populations of
Morisco origin in the
Maghreb region, although studies of the Moroccan population have not
detected significant recent genetic inflow from the Iberian
peninsula. A recent study of various Tunisian ethnic
groups has found that all were indigenous North African, including
those who self-identified as Andalusians.
Descendants and Spanish citizenship
In October 2006, the Andalusian
Parliament asked the three
parliamentary groups that form the majority to support an amendment
that would ease the way for
Morisco descendants to gain Spanish
citizenship. The proposal was originally made by IULV-CA, the
Andalusian branch of the United Left. Spanish Civil Code Art.
22.1, in its current form, provides concessions to nationals of the
Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea,
and Portugal as well as to the descendants of
Sephardic Jews expelled
by Spain. It allows them to seek citizenship after two years rather
than the customary ten years required for residence in Spain.
According to the President of Andalusi Historical Memory Association,
Nayib Loubaris, this measure could potentially benefit as many as 600
Morisco origin in Morocco, who moved to Rabat and various
other cities across the country. Such families are easily recognizable
by their Spanish surnames such as Torres, Loubaris (from Olivares),
Bargachi (from Vargas) Buano (from Bueno), Sordo, Denia, and
Lucas. Earlier estimates had involved much larger figures of
potential descendants (up to 5 million in
Morocco and an indeterminate
number from other
Since 1992 some Spanish and Moroccan historians and academics have
been demanding equitable treatment for
Moriscos similar to that
offered to Sephardic Jews. The bid was welcomed by Mansur Escudero,
the chairman of the Islamic Council of Spain.
Portrait assumed to be of
Leo Africanus (Sebastiano del Piombo, around
Aben Humeya, born with the Christian name Fernando de Córdoba y
Válor, leader of the
Young Man of Arévalo, crypto-
Muslim author in Spain.
Abdelkader Perez, Moroccan ambassador to England.
Abdelkhalek Torres, Moroccan nationalist leader during the Spanish
protectorate, Moroccan ambassador to
Egypt and Minister of
Al-Andalus, the part of the
Iberian Peninsula under Islamic rule.
Aljamiado, a Romance language written in
Almogavars, rough Christian soldiers
Andalusian Arabic, the former language of Moriscoes.
Conversos, the baptized Jews and Muslims of the
Iberian Peninsula and
Hornachos, a village inhabited by Moriscos.
Genetic history of the Iberian Peninsula
Genetic studies of Moroccans
Limpieza de sangre, the rules of ethnic discrimination against
Marranos, baptized Jews
Moriscos who lived from banditry
Muslim inhabitants of the
Iberian Peninsula and North
Mozarabs, Christians under Islamic rule.
Mozarabic language, the Romance language spoken in Al-Andalus.
Mudéjar, Muslims under Christian rule
Muladi, a Christian converted to
Islam after the Islamic conquest
Persecution of Muslims
Philip III of Spain
Reconquista, the conquest of
Al-Andalus by the Christians of the
Treaty of Granada
Treaty of Granada (1491)
^ Vínculos Historia: The
Moriscos who remained. The permanence of
Islamic origin population in Early Modern Spain: Kingdom of Granada,
XVII-XVIII centuries (In Spanish) Los moriscos que se quedaron. La
permanencia de la población de origen islámico en la España Moderna
Reino de Granada, siglos XVII-XVIII Autores: Enrique Soria Mesa
Localización: Vínculos de Historia, ISSN-e 2254-6901, Nº. 1, 2012
(Ejemplar dedicado a: El agua en la historia: usos, técnicas y
debates), págs. 205-230
^ a b c d Harvey 2005, p. 5.
^ a b c Harvey 2005, p. 2.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 4.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 2-3.
^ Catlos 2014, p. 281.
^ a b Haryey 2005, p. 10.
^ Haryey 2005, p. 11.
^ a b Haryey 2005, p. 12.
^ Haryey 2005, p. 13.
^ Stallaert 1998, p. 36.
^ Dadson 2014, p. 147.
^ a b c d Carr 2009, p. 40.
^ Carr 2009, p. 59.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 48.
^ a b Carr 2009, p. 74.
^ Harvey 2005, pp. 53–55.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 49.
^ Lea 1901, p. 227.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 234.
^ Lapeyre 2011, p. 14.
^ Vincent 2014, p. 20.
^ Monter 2003, p. 126.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 90,92.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 92.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 93.
^ a b c Harvey 2005, p. 94.
^ a b Monter 2003, p. 125.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 125.
^ Lapeyre 2011, p. 106 quoting Enrique Cock, Relación del viaje
hecho por Felipe III en 1585 a Zaragoza, Barcelona y Valencia, Madrid,
1876, page 314
^ Rivard Report: How the Eastside Became Home to San Antonio’s Black
Community, by Mario Marcel Salas, Jan. 14, 2018
^ a b c Harvey 2005, p. 270.
^ Harvey 2005, pp. 60-64.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 61.
^ Harvey 2005, pp. 61-62.
^ Harvey 2005, pp. 179.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 181.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 182.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 173.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 144.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 146.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 149.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 154.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 157.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 159.
^ a b Vassberg, David E. (28 November 2002). The Village and the
Outside World in Golden Age Castile: Mobility and Migration in
Everyday Rural Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 142.
ISBN 9780521527132. We know that many of the
Moriscos were well
acculturated to Christian ways, and that many had even become sincere
^ Carr 2009, p. 213: "In Granada,
Moriscos were killed because
they refused to renounce their adopted faith. Elsewhere in Spain,
Moriscos went to mass and heard confession and appeared to do
everything that their new faith required of them."
^ Remensnyder, A. G. (2011). "Beyond
Muslim and Christian: The
Moriscos' Marian Scriptures". Journal of Medieval and Early Modern
Studies. Duke University. 41 (3): 545–576.
doi:10.1215/10829636-1363945. ISSN 1082-9636. Early modern
Old Christians or Moriscos, often used the Virgin
Mary as a figure through which to define a fixed boundary between
Islam and Christianity. Yet a set of sacred scriptures created by some
Moriscos in late sixteenth-century
Granada went against this trend by
presenting her as the patron saint of those New Christians who were
proud of their
^ Harvey 2005, p. 264.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 267.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 271.
^ a b Harvey 2005, p. 265.
^ Harvey 2005, p. 275.
^ Quran 4:171. ". The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a
messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a
spirit from Him."
^ Harvey 2005, p. 281.
^ Harvey 1992, p. 9.
^ Carr 2009, pp. 40–41.
^ Daniel Eisenberg, "Cisneros y la quema de los manuscritos
granadinos", Journal of Hispanic Philology, 16, 1992, pp. 107-124,
^ a b Henry Kamen,
Spanish Inquisition (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1997, p. 216)
^ Catlos 2014, p. 284-285.
^ Catlos 2014, p. 284.
^ a b c d e Catlos 2014, p. 285.
^ a b c d Catlos 2014, p. 286.
^ Catlos 2014, p. 286, both in text and note 17
^ a b Haliczer 1990, p. 256.
^ L. P. Harvey. Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614. University Of Chicago
Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-226-31963-6.
^ H.C Lea, The
Moriscos of Spain; op cit; p.345
^ Boase, Roger (4 April 2002). "The
Muslim Expulsion from Spain".
History Today. 52 (4).
Moriscos who were sincere Christians were also
bound to remain second-class citizens, and might be exposed to
criticism from Muslims and Christians alike.
^ Bruno Etienne, "Nos ancêtres les Sarrasins", in « Les
nouveaux penseurs de l’Islam », Nouvel Observateur, hors
série n° 54 du April/May 2004, pp. 22–23
^ Francisque Michel, Histoire des races maudites de la France et de
l'Espagne, Hachette, 1847, p.71
^ Boase, Roger (4 April 2002). "The
Muslim Expulsion from Spain".
History Today. 52 (4). The majority of the forced emigrants settled in
the Maghrib or Barbary Coast, especially in Oran, Tunis, Tlemcen,
Tetuán, Rabat and Salé. Many travelled overland to France, but after
the assassination of Henry of Navarre by Ravaillac in May 1610, they
were forced to emigrate to Italy,
Sicily or Constantinople.
^ Dadson, Trevor J. (3 April 2018). "Tolerance and Coexistence in
Early Modern Spain:
Old Christians and
Moriscos in the Campo de
Calatrava". Boydell & Brewer Ltd. Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via
^ Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith, p.311
^ a b Henry Charles Lea, The
Moriscos of Spain: Their Conversion and
Expulsion, p. 281
^ L. P. Harvey, Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614, p. 343
^ a b Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 224.
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2009. Esta medida podría beneficiar a unos cinco millones de
ciudadanos marroquíes, que es el cálculo estimado de la población
de origen andalusí en este país, más otro número indeterminado en
Argelia, Túnez y Turquía.
^ La Junta Islámica pide para descendientes de moriscos la
nacionalidad española (in Spanish)
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University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52259-5.
Gerard A. Wiegers. Islamic Literature in Spanish and Aljamiado: Iça
of Segovia (fl. 1450), His antecedents and Successors. Leiden: Brill,
Bernabé Pons, Luis F., Los moriscos. Conflicto, expulsión y
diáspora, Madrid: Catarata, 2009.
Stallaert, Christiane (1998). Etnogénesis y etnicidad en España: una
aproximación histórico-antropológica al casticismo. Barcelona:
Proyecto a Ediciones. ISBN 978-84-922335-7-1.
Salas, Mario Marcel. Rivard Report. How the Eastside Became Home to
San Antonio's Black Community, January 14, 2018
Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia
article about Morisco.
Alhadith, a web resource at Stanford University for students and
Morisco language and culture
The expulsion of Muslims from
Spain by Professor Roger Boase
Treaty of Granada
Moriscos culture influence in Morocco. Study in Spanish with Arabic
Moriscos of Spain, their conversion and expulsion´ by Lea,