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The Muslim Expulsion from Spain

Roger Boase looks at a Spanish example of religious and ethnic cleansing.

Everything declines after reaching perfection …

The tap of the white ablution fount weeps in despair, like a passionate lover weeping at the departure of the beloved.

Over dwellings emptied of Islam, vacated, whose inhabitants now live in unbelief, Where the mosques have become churches in which only bells and crosses are found...

O who will redress the humiliation of a people who were once powerful, a people whose condition injustice and tyrants have changed?

Yesterday they were kings in their own homes, but today they are slaves in the land of the infidel!

Were you to see them bewildered, with no one to guide them, wearing the cloth of shame in its different shades,

And were you to behold their weeping when they are sold, it would strike fear into your heart, and sorrow would seize you.

Alas, many a maiden as fair as the sun when it rises, as though she were rubies and pearls,

Is led off to abomination by a barbarian against her will, while her eye is in tears and her heart is stunned.

The heart melts with sorrow at such sights, if there is any Islam or faith in that heart!’

These words were written by the poet Ar-Rundi after Seville fell to Ferdinand III of Castile (1199-1252) in December 1248. By that date many other cities, including Valencia, Murcia, Jaén and Córdoba, had been captured and it seemed that the end of Muslim Spain was imminent. However, it was not until 1492 that the Moorish Kingdom of Granada surrendered to Ferdinand V and Isabella, and the final Muslim expulsion did not take place until over a century later, between 1609 and 1614. This means that there was a large Moorish population in Spain half a millennium after the high point of Andalusian culture in the eleventh century.

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