This is What Happened to Muslims and Jews after the fall of Islamic Spain in 1492

On January 2, 1492, the Catholic royal powerhouse Queen Isabel of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon finally conquered Granada, the last Muslim stronghold of Spain, ending the 700 years of Moorish rule in the Iberian Peninsula. After decades of war between the Catholic monarchs and Boabdil, the last Sultan of Spain, Boabdil was sent into exile and was granted an enclave in the Alpujarra Mountains. Within a year, Boabdil buried his wife, Morayma, and his youngest son Yusuf. Broken and dejected, he finally left the Spanish peninsula and spent the rest of his days in Morocco until his death, 40 years later. Boabdil’s eldest son, Ahmed, stayed behind in Spain. After having spent years in the Spanish courts as a royal hostage of Isabella and Ferdinand, he later adopted Christianity and the customs and spent the rest of his days in Spain.

For the remaining Moors and Jews who wanted to stay in Spain, they were ordered to abandon their faith and convert to Catholicism. Despite the promise made to Boabdil on the surrender of Granada, and terms of the Treaty of Granada 1491, Muslims and Jews were initially allowed to continue practicing their faith. However, it was not long before the terms of the treaty were violated, and mosques were being converted into Christian churches.

There were various rebellions by the Moors due to religious repression. The uprisings were deemed a contravention of the Moor’s surrender terms. This culminated with the Muslims and Jews eventually being expelled from the Peninsula. Those that stayed behind in Spain were forced to convert to Christianity. The Muslim converts were known as the Moriscos, and the Jewish converts were known as the Marranos.

The final fall of Granada in 1492 was seen as a great triumph of Christianity and Catholicism. Queen Isabel of Castile deemed Granada’s fall from grace as her greatest triumph. A tired and disconsolate Boabdil had negotiated the surrender of Granada with the condition that Muslims and Jews be able to practice their religion without interference from Christianity. Both Boabdil’s sons were hostages of the Castilian court, and as a result of this, his wife, Moryama, had fallen into depression, while Boabdil’s mother Aisha was constantly plotting and scheming to overthrow his father Muley Hacen and his uncle Al-Zagal.

When Granada finally fell into the hands of the Christians little by little Castile began to revoke the more tolerant policies towards Muslims and Jews. Archbishop Cisneros (the famous Spanish inquisitor) ordered mass conversions of both Muslims and Jews. He ordered the burning tens of thousands of valued Arabic manuscripts on science, technology, astrology, agriculture, in fact, a vast amount of valuable knowledge written by Islamic scholars was destroyed. Only books on medicine claim to have survived the mass destruction of Islamic-based knowledge. The repressive measures led to revolts that ended in many Muslims being forced to choose between conversion, exile, or execution. To stop any future uprisings by the Muslims in Spain, Isabel also decided to put more resources into the Spanish Inquisition to suppress any further threats. By 1502 the Catholic monarchs had made the practice of Islam illegal in Spain.

The fall of Al-Andalus is seen as one of the most tragic events in Islamic history. At the height of the Moorish Empire, the Iberian Peninsula had a population of over 5 million Muslims. The Moors created an advanced civilization based on faith knowledge, tolerance, technology, scientific discoveries, and creativity. The capital of Muslim Spain – Córdoba –  boasted paved roads, hospitals, streetlights, and Europe’s first universities. While Europe’s largest Christian library contained 600 books, Moorish calligraphers in Córdoba were producing 6000 books per year. Al-Andalus was seen as a fusion of North African, European where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived in relative peace and prosperity together.

The expulsion of the Moriscos at the port of Dénia, made by Vincente Mostre, 1613.

On March 1492 the Spanish monarchs signed an edict forcing the Jews out of Spain. There was a mass exodus and hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula went on to live in the Ottoman Empire. These Jews are now known as Sephardic Jews. In fact, Ottoman navy ships were sent to Spain to pick up the exiled Jewish people, and they were taken to Istanbul to avoid any further mass killing or genocide.

Over the next hundred years, many Moriscos were able to conceal the practice of Islam but still often suffered from harassment, looting, and kidnapping. By 1609 King Philip of Spain (the great grandson of Isabel and Fernando) signed an edict finally expelling all Moriscos from Spain. The Moriscos were given only three days to pack up all their belongings and leave for North Africa or the Ottoman Empire.

By 1614 all Moriscos and Marranos were expelled from Spain; Islam and Judaism were entirely eradicated from the Iberian Peninsula. It’s believed that the population of Muslims in Spain decreased from 500,000 to 0 within 100 years and has been described as one of the greatest acts of genocide.

Three books great to read on this topic are:

  • The Shadow of the Pomegranate Tree – Tariq Ali
  • Leo the African – Amin Maalouf
  • The Hand of Fatima – Ildefonso Falcones

Written by Sabera Ahsan

Sabera Ahsan

Sabera Ahsan is a former Primary school teacher, police equality advisor and government policy officer. She currently dedicates her time to writing and reading about Moorish Spain.

  • Gabriel

    Typical Muslim fairy tales. Christian were so happy to see Moorish stealing their land and there was peace, no matter if muslims brought war against innocent people and blah, blah, blah. Nothing about Berber piracy? Nothing about Martyrs of Cordoba? Nothing about the rape of Visigoth Queen Egilona by the muslim murderer of her husband? Nothing about Isabella de Solis, who was forced to be a sex slave? Nothing about the rape of Visigothic women by Muslim soldiers? Well muslims deserved it. They invaded in a foreign land. You mess with the bull you get the horns. Stop crying and next time don’t steal somebody else’s land. Blame muslims for the massacre. They shouldn’t be in Spain.

    • Saad Bin Alamgir

      whatever you are talking that’s nonsense…….muslim are going to rule europe in 40-50 years…..then I wanna see your real face

      • Gabriel

        In 40-50 years you will have died in your civil wars. Your time has passed. Get over it. Whenever we want, you are out of Europe in a few minutes.

      • Franco DeCelis

        Just have a good wash, have a ham sandwich with a g;ass of red wine and relax. And read some books. There is a little country in the Middle East which is making nonsense of all of you. Let alone Europe.

  • Mephisto

    Somehow the brutality of the Umayyad conquest of Iberia is always overlooked. Captured armies were beheaded. Women and children were taken into slavery and those who did not convert were executed. Spain paid the Moors back after 700 years of oppression.
    It’s time to take back the rest of the Christian lands that have been stolen. Islam is a disease.

  • Gun Slinger

    Its a shame all the documents and scrolls were destroyed. However, I don’t think I’d call it a “Genocide” on the part of Spain. One has to remember how it was taken in the first place. Pay back can be a bitch, so to speak! Losing its history is shameful to whom ever destroyed it. Kinda like ISIS today, history dating back hundreds of years if not thousand, destroyed to further their cause. Islam is notorious for warring between their own. Its truly is a shame however, Christianity wasn’t far behind. it would seem like some Pope’s thought nothing of massacring jews as well as other Christians to further their own edits of knowledge gleaned from the old Testament. So- – – – – – – Sorta like the Pope that sided with King Philip of France to oust the Templars. Read torture and murder! Just to wipe their debts clean of the fortunes they owed. It would seem like politics, back stabbing and murder isn’t something new huh? Ahhh progress?

  • Franco DeCelis

    Nonsensical writing from someone whose family left for Infidel Europe because the Quran and its accompanying Shariah law, treatment of women and primitive Muslim customs always generate wars and backwardness.
    Spain belongs to Spaniards and Europe to Europeans

    • Zaxx

      “Spain belongs to Spaniards and Europe to Europeans”

      I don’t related to this article but hey fuckers, just like every damn countries Europe has invaded. Are not their countries belong to them/ their native. FUCK YOU. Just like Malaysia belongs to Malay, Indonesia belong to Indon, Brunei belong to Bruneian, Philippines belongs to Filipino, South Africa belongs to south African. We Filipino still have huge grudge on Europe especially Spanish who god has reserved hell for all of you. Not only us but every countries in asia have utterly grudge on europe. One day when europe in mess or back to dark age we will make your Spanish bloodlines repay for what you have done even if you are same religion. We and other asia countries.


      • Wotan Mit Uns

        Lol, stfu, manlet.

        • Zaxx

          u STFU you stupid inhabitants of hell. FUCK EUROPE

          • Wotan Mit Uns

            Go stick your one centimeter long dick in a blender, zipper-head.

      • Franco DeCelis

        i hope there are no Muslims in the Phillipines and if there are they don’t cause you problems in 2019. Usually Muslims do cause problems

        • Zaxx

          HAHA fck u for trying to avoid for what i had said. The real inhabitant muslim in Philippines is good and behave. The terrorist who caused problems in Philippines is an outsider. Anyways if u Europe ever being attack especially Spain whether by terrorist or anyone we will just said hell yeah and fuck u. We fuckin hate your people and all southeast asian hate Europe. Fck u stupid mtherfcker.

    • Calvinius

      I wonder what the Catalan and Basque people think about that “Spain belongs to Spaniards” notion.

      • Franco DeCelis

        Internal quarrels. Nothing to do with Muslims, Africans or whatever

        • Calvinius

          What you don’t seem to understand is that they don’t consider themselves Spaniards. They consider themselves groups that were conquered by the Spaniards.

  • spitfire

    Web sites don’t have to be fair or tell all the history in an unbiased manner. Glean from this site elements of history and do your own research. If you are a real student of history you already know that civilizations are always in a state of flux. Who is to say, in another 500 years Islam may have completely collapsed as a philosophy and religion. History provides numerous stories of brutality and conquest. Populations go from persecuted to persecutors. The Jews for example have been both conquerors (e.g., King David’s conquests in Caanan) and conquered (e.g., Rome’s desolation of Jersusalem, 70 A.D.). I understand people take sides and some people have a lot of rage (see some of the comments), but that comes in part from lack of perspective and the biased information that hasn’t been balanced with the “rest of the story.” The story of mankind is the story of suffering and persecution. Every person that rages against another is in a way a persecutor. If you are one who continues to rage about past injustices you are playing the part of a persecutor. The supporters of this web site are obviously supporters of Islam. They want to advance their cause. That doesn’t mean they will be successful or that they are good people. One characteristic of mankind is to push their view to gain a stronger foothold. But the wiseman sees that a foothold in a crumbling world is of limited strength. Only a foothold in the eternal is an everlasting foothold. My foothold is in Yahweh, God of Abraham, and in his eternally begotten Son, who came into this world as the incarnate Yeshua, to atone for the sins of his elect body in order that they would gain an eternal foothold in God’s heavenly kingdom of justice and holiness as decreed by God.