The Expulsion of the Moriscos, 1609-1614

Many Moors remained under Christian rule in Spain, writes Stephen Clissold, but most of them were finally expelled under Philip III.

The fall of Granada, the last Moorish kingdom of the Iberian peninsula, in 1492 brought the seven centuries of the Christian Reconquest to a close. But it also bequeathed a problem that was to distract Spain throughout the ensuing period of imperial greatness and contribute to her eventual decline.

During the previous Christian advance, the conquered Moors had either been driven out or had elected to stay on, docilely for the most part, as mudéjares under Christian rule. The Capitulations signed with the last King of Granada promised a similar choice for the Catholic Monarchs’ new subjects. But the ‘peaceful co-existence’ between men of differing faiths which had marked long periods of the Middle Ages was now a diminishing prospect.

Circumstances and attitudes had changed and would lead eventually to a planned mass expulsion on a scale, and with the accompanying human misery, distressingly characteristic of more recent times. The operation was not one of repatriation. The Moriscos, as the former Moors now under Christian rule came to be called, had no patria other than Spain.

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