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Granada 16th Century

Kingdom of Granada – the last Muslim Kingdom in Spain – falls to Christian forces

On January 2nd, 1492, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII, surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. The capitulation of the Kingdom of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs brought the demise of the last Muslim-controlled polity in the Iberian Peninsula.

Located at the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers in southern Spain, the city of Granada was

Granada 16th Century

originally a Jewish city, beginning in the 8th Century. A series of wars between Muslim factions led to the city being controlled by Muslim kings. Yet the city had a mixed population of Muslims, Christians, and Jews until the 11th century.

In fact Sephardic Jews flourished in Granada from 1027 to 1066, when Granada was a powerful Jewish state. Although the king was Muslim, the most powerful figure in Granada was a Jewish administrator, Samuel ha-Nagid. As vizier he made policy, and even led the army. Thanks to Samuel ha-Nagid’s strengthening and fortification of the city, Granada was able to survive as an Islamic state until four centuries later.

In 1492, what was sometimes known as the Granada Wars ended when Emir Muhammad XII surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to the Catholic monarchs. Up to then, Muslim control throughout the Iberian peninsula gradually gave way to the Christians until the Kingdom of Granada was the only Muslim-controlled district left. The surrender of Granada to the Catholic monarchy marked the end of Muslim power in Spain.

The terms of the surrender allowed Muslims to continue the practice of their faith and customs. On the other hand, the Jews were pressured to either convert to Christianity or leave Spain within three years. These particular provisions were superceded by the Inquisition whose decrees demanded that the Jews either convert or leave before August of the same year. The decrees against the Jews frightened many Muslim inhabitants and many fled to North Africa over the next decade. Ten years after the surrender of Granada, there was a mandate for all Muslims to convert to Christianity or leave Spain. This resulted in the increasing numbers of “moriscos” (Moors) who were Muslim converts to Christianity.

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