Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2, 1492

Silly me. I packed my bag and headed to the gym today, thinking I'd be able to get in the first workout since Tuesday. On Wednesday, New Year's Eve, I helped a friend move, which was enough exercise for the day, and of course yesterday, New Year's Day, nothing was open so I had a good excuse for being lazy. Today I headed out and the first thing I saw were police cars blocking the streets to make way for a parade. How could I have forgotten? This is the day that Granada finally fell to the Catholic Monarchs a full 522 years ago--January 2, 1492. Never a country to allow a good excuse for celebration go un-celebrated, today is a holiday for Granada: el Día de la Toma (the Day of the Taking)

The year 711 marks the beginning of the Muslim expansion into the Iberian peninsula--an easy target as its Visigoth rulers at the time had become disorganized and weak through internal conflict. To compound the question of timing--good for the Muslims, bad for the Visigoths--Roderic was up north duking it out with the Basques, making the conquest of Cadiz relatively easy for Tariq ibn Ziyad.

The Muslim domination of the peninsula--it wasn't known as "Spain" until the several kingdoms were united under Ferdinand V and Isabela I--was no great military effort. For the most part, the Muslim rulers were more tolerant, taxed less, and in general, were easier to get along with than their rivals. Thus the Iberian Peninsula was a Muslim stronghold for much of the following 781 years, until their final defeat under the Catholic Monarchs who united the kingdoms of the peninsula into one State, Spain.

The Catholic Monarchs, upon taking the final region of the peninsula, Granada, guaranteed the Muslim population freedom of religion and the right to remain in their ancestral land; most of the people who inhabited the region could claim several hundreds of years of family history in Spain. As with most guarantees by those who have the power to make and change laws at will, that one didn't last very long. In fact, it was exactly ten years later when the the Muslim population was forced to either convert or leave Spain. Enforcing that edict was, however, somewhat lax during the next hundred years. But finally, in 1609, all remaining Muslims were forcibly removed from Spain.

The Jewish population was not treated so well; they were evicted in July, 1492, with only six months' warning, and forced to liquidate their property at fire-sale prices. (I've read that the purchase by The Crown of Jewish property at this time and its subsequent hugely profitable sale financed Columbus's second voyage. I don't have the book at hand to provide the source notes, but the idea doesn't seem far-fetched.) Of course, they were also given the opportunity to convert to Christianity, which many did, and were then persecuted by the Inquisition forever afterward, always having to prove they were truly Christian.

Many Jews and Muslims fled to Turkey, which welcomed them with open arms by Sultan Bajazet, who said, "How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king--the same king who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?"

Coming up: Cabalgata de Reyes, The Three Wise Men Parade on January 5th and on January 6th, the big day for children here and in the hispanic world, Día de Reyes, Three Kings Day when children get to open their presents. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are doing well, my friend. I enjoy reading your blog. My daughter has been living in S. Korea for almost a year. She started a travel blog, which has been very interesting, as well. I visited her last October and had a fabulous time. Be well!