For the Portuguese wine grape, see Mourisco (grape).
Part of a series on the
History of Spain
Spain portal

Moriscos (Spanish: [moˈɾiskos], Catalan: [muˈɾiskus], [moˈɾiskos]; Portuguese: mouriscos [mo(w)ˈɾiʃkuʃ], [mo(w)ˈɾiskus]; meaning "Moorish") were former Muslims who converted or were coerced into converting to Christianity, after Spain finally outlawed the open practice of Islam by its sizeable Mudejar population in the early 16th century.

The Moriscos were subject to systematic expulsions from Spain's various kingdoms between 1609 and 1614, the most severe of which occurred in the eastern Kingdom of Valencia. The exact number of Moriscos present in Spain prior to expulsion is unknown and can only be guessed on the basis of official records of the edict of expulsion. Furthermore, the overall success of the expulsion is subject to academic debate with estimates on the proportion of those who avoided expulsion or returned to Spain ranging from 5% to 60%. The large majority of those permanently expelled settled on the western fringe of the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Morocco. The last mass prosecution against Moriscos for crypto-Islamic practices occurred in Granada in 1727, with most of those convicted receiving relatively light sentences. From then on, the indigenous practice of Islam is considered to have been effectively extinguished in Spain.[1]


Estimates of Morisco populations at the time of expulsion vary, many estimates being based on the number of recorded expulsion edicts (around 275,000). However, modern studies estimate around one million Moriscos present in Spain at the beginning of the 16th century.[2]

Of the Granada Moriscos, 80,000 are estimated to have dispersed in Andalusia and Castile during the deportation from the Kingdom Granada carried out as a result of the War of the Alpujarras.[3]

In the Kingdom of Granada

The Moorish Proselytes of Archbishop Ximenes, Granada, 1500 by Edwin Long (1829 – 1891)

Granada was the last Muslim Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, and by the late 15th century this region had the largest Morisco population, forming the majority of the region's population. The inhabitants of the kingdom spoke the Arabic language fluently, and were well-versed in Islamic doctrine. Granada retained most of the cultural traits of Muslim Al Andalus: including dress, music, gastronomy, and festivals until Moorish customs were prohibited by the Catholic monarchs following their conquest of Granada in 1492. After their second revolt against Catholic oppression, in 1568-71, the Moriscos of Granada were deported to the various regions of the Kingdom of Castile, Extremadura and Andalusia.

In the Kingdom of Valencia

The second largest Morisco population was to be found in the Eastern Kingdom of Valencia,[4] where Moriscos accounted for about a third of the population. Vassals of estate-owners who protected them due to the high tax revenue they provided, Valencian Moriscos were also a relatively distinct population. The indigene community spoke Arabic although they were also fluent in the Castilian and Valencian languages. They were known for their practice of the Islamic faith despite their nominal adherence to the Catholic Church. Among other Morisco communities, they were known for their knowledge of the Qur'an and the Sunna, and Valencia "Alfaquíes" were known to travel throughout Spain as teachers for other Morisco communities. It was the Valencian Moriscos who, due to their coastal location, established relationships with the Ottoman and Barbary ships. Valencia had been the centre of production of Hispano-Moresque ware in the late Middle Ages and pottery continued to be a significant industry.

In Aragon

Moriscos accounted for 20% of the population of Aragon, residing principally on the banks of the Ebro river and its tributaries. Unlike Granada and Valencia Moriscos, they did not speak Arabic but, as vassals of the nobility, were granted the privilege to practice their faith relatively openly.

Places like Muel, Zaragoza, were inhabited fully by Moriscos, the only Old Christians were the priest, the notary and the owner of the tavern-inn. "The rest would rather go on a pilgrimage to Mecca than Santiago de Compostela."[5]

In the Aragonese City of Monzón (Huesca), a peculiar tradition is still celebrated related to the Moriscos known as "El Bautizo del Alcalde" (The baptism of the mayor). It is celebrated on the 4th of December, the festival of Saint Barbara, patron of the City, and involves local politicians throwing chestnuts and sweets from the terraces of the Town Hall to the crowds below gathered in the main square. On the 4 of December 1643 (a few decades after the expulsion), Castilian troops reconquered the castle from the French during the Catalan Revolt. According to local sources, following the capture of the town, its inhabitants chose a Morisco as a mayor and since his Christian faith was doubted, he accepted to be baptized in public after which the town erupted in festivities.

In Castile

The Kingdom of Castile included also Extremadura and much of modern-day Andalusia (particularly the Guadalquivir Valley). The proportion of its population in most of its territory was more dispersed except in specific locations such as Villarrubia de los Ojos, Hornachos, Arévalo or the Señorío de las Cinco Villas (in the southwestern part of the province of Albacete), where they were the majority or even the totality of the population. Castile's Moriscos were highly integrated and practically indistinguishable from the Catholic population: they did not speak Arabic and a large number of them were genuine Christians. The mass arrival of the much more visible Morisco population deported from Granada to the lands under the Kingdom of Castile led to a radical change in the situation of Castilian Moriscos, despite their efforts to distinguish themselves from the Granadans. For example, marriages between Castilian Moriscos and "old" Christians were much more common than between Castilian and Granadan Moriscos. The town of Hornachos was an exception, not only because practically all of its inhabitants were Moriscos but because of their open practice of the Islamic faith and of their famed independent and indomitable nature. For this reason, the order of expulsion in Castile targeted specifically the "Hornacheros", the first Castilian Moriscos to be expelled. The Hornacheros were exceptionally allowed to leave fully armed and were marched as an undefeated army to Seville from where they were transported to Morocco. They maintained their combative nature overseas, founding the Corsary Republic of Bou Regreg and Salé in modern-day Morocco.

In the Canary Islands

The situation of the Moriscos in the Canary Islands was different than in Europe. They were not the descendants of Iberian Muslims but were Muslim Moors taken from Northern Africa in Christian raids (cabalgadas) or prisoners taken during the attacks of the Barbary Pirates against the islands. In the Canary Islands, they were held as slaves or freed, gradually converting to Christianity, with some serving as guides in raids against their former homelands. When the king forbid further raids, the Moriscos lost contact with Islam. They became a substantial part of the population of the islands, reaching one half of the inhabitants of Lanzarote. Protesting their Christianity, they managed to avoid the expulsion that affected European Moriscos. Still subjected to the ethnic discrimination of the pureza de sangre, they could not migrate to the Americas or join many organizations. Later petitions allowed for their equalization with the rest of the Canarian population.



Further information: Oran fatwa

Because conversions to Christianity were decreed by law rather than by their own will, most Moriscos still genuinely believed in Islam.[6] Because of the danger associated with practicing Islam, however, the religion was largely practiced clandestinely.[7] A legal opinion, called "the Oran fatwa" by modern scholars, circulated in Spain and provided religious justification for outwardly conforming to Christianity while maintaining an internal conviction of faith in Islam, when necessary for survival.[8] The fatwa affirmed the regular obligations of a Muslim, including the ritual prayer (salat) and the ritual alms (zakat), although the obligation might be fulfilled in a relaxed manner (e.g., the fatwa mentioned making the ritual prayer "even though by making some slight movement" and the ritual alms by "showing generosity to a beggar").[9] The fatwa also allowed Muslims to perform acts normally forbidden in Islamic law, such as consuming pork and wine, calling Jesus the son of God, and blaspheming against the prophet Muhammad, as long as they maintained conviction against such acts.[10]

The writing of a Morisco crypto-Muslim author known as the "Young Man of Arevalo" included accounts of his travel around Spain, his meetings with other clandestine Muslims and descriptions of their religious practices and discussions.[11] The writing referred to the practice of secret congregational ritual prayer, (salat jama'ah)[12] collecting alms in order to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca (although it is unclear whether the journey was ultimately achieved),[12] and the determination and hope to reinstitute the full practice of Islam as soon as possible.[13] The Young Man wrote at least three extant works, Brief compendium of our sacred law and sunna, the Tafsira and Sumario de la relación y ejercio espiritual, all written in Spanish with Arabic script (aljamiado), and primarily about religious topics.[14]

Extant copies of the Qur'an were also found from the Morisco period, although many are not complete copies but selections of suras, which were easier to hide.[15] Other surviving Islamic religious materials from this period include collections of hadiths,[16] stories of the Prophets,[17] Islamic legal texts,[18] theological works (including Al-Ghazali's works),[19] as well as polemical literature defending Islam and criticizing Christianity.[20]


Some Moriscos became devout in their new Christian faith,[21] and in Granada, some Moriscos were killed by Muslims for refusing to renounce Christianity.[22] In 16th century Granada, the Christian Moriscos chose the Virgin Mary as their patron hallow and developed Christian devotional literature with a Marian emphasis.[23]

The Moriscos also likely wrote Lead Books of Sacromonte, texts written in Arabic claiming to be Christian sacred books from first century CE.[24] Upon its discovery in the mid-1590s the books were initially greeted enthusiastically by the Christians of Granada and treated by the Christian authorities as genuine and caused sensation throughout Europe due to (ostensibly) its ancient origin.[25][26] Hispano-Arabic historian Leonard Patrick Harvey proposed that the Moriscos wrote these texts in order to infiltrate Christianity from within, by emphasizing aspects of Christianity which were acceptable to Muslims.[27][6]

The content of this text was superficially Christian and did not refer to Islam at all, but contains many "Islamizing" features. The text never featured the Trinity doctrine or referred to Jesus as Son of God, concepts which are blasphemous and offensive in Islam.[6] Instead, it repeatedly stated "There is no god but God and Jesus is the Spirit of God (ruh Allah)", which is unambiguously close to the Islamic shahada[27] and referred to the Qur'anic ephitet for Jesus, "the Spirit of God".[28][29] It contained passages which appeared (unknowingly to the Christians at the time) to implicitly predict the arrival of Muhammad by mentioning his various Islamic epithet.[30]


Aljamiado text by Mancebo de Arévalo. c. 16th century[31]

In the medieval period al-Andalus Muslims who had come under Iberian Christian rule, as a result of the incremental Reconquista, were known as Mudéjars. The religious minorities were tolerated as inferiors. The victory of the Catholic Monarchs in the Battle of Granada in 1492 ended the last Islamic rule and al-Andalus territory on the Iberian peninsula. The pre-established Treaty of Granada (1491) guaranteed religious and cultural freedoms for Muslims and Jews in the imminent transition from Emirate of Granada to Province of Castile. The Alhambra Decree (1492) promptly rescinded the Jews' rights, expelling the observant Jews and leaving a population of conversos suspected of secretly practicing Judaism (crypto-Judaism) called Marranos. The Decree set a precedent for upcoming persecution and later expulsion of Muslims and Moriscos.

When Christian conversion efforts on the part of Granada's first archbishop, Hernando de Talavera, were less than successful, Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros took stronger measures: with forced conversions, burning Islamic texts,[32] and prosecuting many of Granada's Muslims. In response to these and other violations of the Treaty, Granada's Muslim population rebelled in 1499. The revolt lasted until early 1501, giving the Castilian authorities an excuse to void the terms of the Treaty for Muslims. In 1501 the terms of the Treaty of Granada protections were abandoned.

In 1501 Castilian authorities delivered an ultimatum to Granada's Muslims: they could either convert to Christianity or be expelled. Most did convert, in order not to have their property and small children taken away from them. Many continued to dress in their traditional fashion, speak Arabic, and secretly practiced Islam (crypto-Muslims). The 1504 Oran fatwa provided scholarly religious dispensations and instructions about secretly practicing Islam while outwardly practicing Christianity. With the decline of Arabic culture, many used the aljamiado writing system, i.e., Castilian or Aragonese texts in Arabic writing with scattered Arabic expressions. In 1502, Queen Isabella I of Castile formally rescinded toleration of Islam for the entire Kingdom of Castile. In 1508, Castilian authorities banned traditional Granadan clothing. With the 1512 Spanish invasion of Navarre, the Muslims of Navarre were ordered to convert or leave by 1515.

Portrait assumed to be of Leo Africanus (Sebastiano del Piombo, around 1520)

However, King Ferdinand, as ruler of the Kingdom of Aragon, continued to tolerate the large Muslim population living in his territory. Since the crown of Aragon was juridically independent of Castile, their policies towards Muslims could and did differ during this period. Historians have suggested that the Crown of Aragon was inclined to tolerate Islam in its realm because the landed nobility there depended on the cheap, plentiful labor of Muslim vassals.[33] However, the landed elite's exploitation of Aragon's Muslims also exacerbated class resentments. In the 1520s, when Valencian guilds rebelled against the local nobility in the Revolt of the Brotherhoods, the rebels "saw that the simplest way to destroy the power of the nobles in the countryside would be to free their vassals, and this they did by baptizing them." [33] The Inquisition and monarchy decided to prohibit the forcibly baptized Muslims of Valencia from returning to Islam. Finally, in 1526, King Charles V issued a decree compelling all Muslims in the crown of Aragon to convert to Catholicism or leave the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal had already expelled or forcibly converted its Muslims in 1497 and would establish its own Inquisition in 1536).

Faced with the threat of death or expulsion, the majority Iberian Muslims converted to Christianity and became known as Moriscos. Many of these Moriscos became devout in their new Christian faith,[21] and in Granada, many Moriscos became Christian martyrs, as they were killed by Muslims for refusing to renounce Christianity.[22] In 16th century Granada, the Moriscos chose the Virgin Mary as their patron hallow and developed Christian devotional literature with a Marian emphasis.[23]

Before the reign of King Philip II, some Moriscos rose to positions of wealth and prominence and wielded influence in society. Moreover, Aragonese and Valencian nobles in particular were interested in keeping their Morisco vassals under personal control; they tried to protect them from Inquisitorial prosecution by advocating patience and religious instruction. However, in 1567 Philip II changed tack. He directed Moriscos to give up their Arabic names and traditional dress, and prohibited the use of the Arabic language. In addition, the children of Moriscos were to be educated by Catholic priests. In reaction, there was a Morisco uprising in the Alpujarras from 1568 to 1571.

Spanish spies reported that the Ottoman Emperor Selim II was planning to attack Malta in the Mediterranean below Sicily, and from there advance to Spain. It was reported Selim wanted to incite an uprising among Spanish Moriscos. In addition, "some four thousand Turks and Berbers had come into Spain to fight alongside the insurgents in the Alpujarras",[34] a region near Granada and an obvious military threat. "The excesses committed on both sides were without equal in the experience of contemporaries; it was the most savage war to be fought in Europe that century."[34] After the Castilian forces defeated the Islamic insurgents, they expelled some eighty thousand Moriscos from the Granada Province. Most settled elsewhere in Castile. The 'Alpujarras Uprising' hardened the attitude of the monarchy. As a consequence, the Spanish Inquisition increased prosecution and persecution of Moriscos after the uprising.

Huguenot support and the Ottoman threat

Further information: Long Turkish War
Further information: Islam and Protestantism

French Huguenots were in contact with the Moriscos in plans against the House of Austria (Habsburgs), which ruled Spain in the 1570s.[35] Around 1575, plans were made for a combined attack of Aragonese Moriscos and Huguenots from Béarn under Henri de Navarre against Spanish Aragon, in agreement with the king of Algiers and the Ottoman Empire, but these projects floundered with the arrival of John of Austria in Aragon and the disarmament of the Moriscos.[36][37] In 1576, the Ottomans planned to send a three-pronged fleet from Istanbul, to disembark between Murcia and Valencia; the French Huguenots would invade from the north and the Moriscos accomplish their uprising, but the Ottoman fleet failed to arrive.[36]

During the reign of Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh (1554–1557), the Turkish danger was felt on the eastern borders of Morocco and the sovereign, even though a hero of the holy war against Christians, showed a great political realism by becoming an ally of the King of Spain, still the champion of Christianity. Everything changed from 1609, when King Philip III of Spain decided to expel the Moriscos which, numbering about three hundred thousand, were converted Muslims who had remained Christian. Rebels, always ready to rise, they vigorously refused to convert and formed a state within a state. The danger was that with the Turkish pressing from the east, the Spanish authorities, who saw in them [the Moriscos] a "potential danger", decided to expel them, mainly to Morocco….

Toward the end of the 16th century, Morisco writers challenged the perception that their culture was alien to Spain. Their literary works expressed early Spanish history in which Arabic-speaking Spaniards played a positive role. Chief among such works is Verdadera historia del rey don Rodrigo by Miguel de Luna (c. 1545–1615).[38]


Embarkation of Moriscos in Valencia by Pere Oromig

At the instigation of the Duke of Lerma and the Viceroy of Valencia, Archbishop Juan de Ribera, Philip III expelled the Moriscos from Spain between 1609 (Valencia) and 1614 (Castile).[39] They were ordered to depart "under the pain of death and confiscation, without trial or sentence... to take with them no money, bullion, jewels or bills of exchange... just what they could carry."[40] Estimates for the number expelled have varied, although contemporary accounts set the number at around 300,000 (about 4% of the Spanish population). The majority were expelled from the Crown of Aragon (modern day Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia), particularly from Valencia, where Morisco communities remained large, visible and cohesive; and Christian animosity was acute, particularly for economic reasons. Some historians have blamed the subsequent economic collapse of the Spanish Eastern Mediterranean coast on the region's inability to replace Morisco workers successfully with Christian newcomers. Many villages were totally abandoned as a result. New laborers were fewer in number and were not as familiar with local agricultural techniques. In the Kingdom of Castille (including Andalusia, Murcia and the former kingdom of Granada), by contrast, the scale of Morisco expulsion was much less severe. This was due to the fact that their presence was less felt as they made up a considerably smaller percentage of the total population, as well as the government ordered internal dispersion of Morisco communities after the War of the Alpujarras, making them a less distinct group that soon began to merge with and disappear into the wider society.

Expulsion of the Moriscos from Vinaros.

Although many Moriscos were sincere Christians,[21] adult Moriscos were often assumed to be covert Muslims (i.e. crypto-Muslims),[41] but expelling their children presented Catholic Spain with a dilemma. As the children had all been baptized, the government could not legally or morally transport them to Muslim lands. Some authorities proposed that children should be forcibly separated from their parents, but sheer numbers showed this to be impractical. Consequently, the official destination of the expellees was generally stated to be France (more specifically Marseille). After the assassination of Henry IV in 1610, about 150,000 Moriscos were sent there.[42][43] Many of the Moriscos migrated from Marseille to other lands in Christendom, including Italy, Sicily or Constantinople,[44] with only about 35,000 remaining permanently in France; others also left Marseille for North Africa.[45]

The overwhelming majority of the refugees settled in Muslim-held lands, mostly in the Ottoman Empire (Algeria, Tunisia) or Morocco. However they were ill-fitted with their Spanish language and customs.

Disembarking of the Moriscos at Oran port (1613, Vicente Mostre), Fundación Bancaja de Valencia

Scholars have noted that many Moriscos joined the Barbary Corsairs, who had a network of bases from Morocco to Libya. In the Corsair Republic of Sale, they became independent of Moroccan authorities and profited off of trade and piracy. Also, Morisco mercenaries in the service of the Moroccan sultan, using arquebuses, crossed the Sahara and conquered Timbuktu and the Niger Curve in 1591. Their descendants formed the ethnic group of the Arma. A Morisco worked as a military advisor for Sultan Al-Ashraf Tumanbay II of Egypt (the last Egyptian Mamluk Sultan) during his struggle against the Ottoman invasion in 1517 led by Sultan Selim I. The Morisco military advisor advised Sultan Tumanbay to use infantry armed with guns instead of depending on cavalry. Arabic sources recorded that Moriscos of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt joined Ottoman armies. Many Moriscos of Egypt joined the army in the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt.

Modern studies in population genetics have attributed unusually high levels of recent North African ancestry in modern Spaniards to Moorish settlement during the Islamic period[46][47][48] and, more specifically, to the substantial proportion of Morisco population which remained in Spain and avoided expulsion.[49][50]

Moriscos in Spain after the expulsion

It is impossible to know how many Moriscos remained after the expulsion, with traditional Spanish historiography considering that none remained and initial academic estimates such as those of Lapeyre offering figures as low as ten or fifteen thousand remaining. However, recent studies have been challenging the traditional discourse on the supposed success of the expulsion in purging Spain of its Morisco population. Indeed, it seems that expulsion met widely differing levels of success, particularly between the two major Spanish crowns of Castile and Aragón and recent historical studies also agree that both the original Morisco population and the number of them who avoided expulsion is higher than was previously thought.[51]

One of the earliest re-examinations of Morisco expulsion was carried out by Trevor J. Dadson in 2007, devoting a significant section to the expulsion in Villarrubia de los Ojos in southern Castille. Villarubia's entire Morisco population were the target of three expulsions which they managed to avoid or from which they succeeded in returning from to their town of origin, being protected and hidden by their non-Morisco neighbours. Dadson provides numerous examples, of similar incidents throughout Spain whereby Moriscos were protected and supported by non-Moriscos[51] and returned en masse from North Africa, Portugal or France to their towns of origin.

A similar study on the expulsion in Andalusia concluded it was an inefficient operation which was significantly reduced in its severity by resistance to the measure among local authorities and populations. It further highlights the constant flow of returnees from North Africa, creating a dilemma for the local inquisition who did not know how to deal with those who had been given no choice but to convert to Islam during their stay in Muslim lands as a result of the Royal Decree. Upon the coronation of Philip IV, the new king gave the order to desist from attempting to impose measures on returnees and in September 1628 the Council of the Supreme Inquisition ordered inquisitors in Seville not to prosecute expelled Moriscos "unless they cause significant commotion." [52]

An investigation published in 2012 sheds light on the thousands of Moriscos who remained in the province of Granada alone, surviving both the initial expulsion to other parts of Spain in 1571 and the final expulsion of 1604. These Moriscos managed to evade in various ways the royal decrees, hiding their true origin thereafter. More surprisingly, by the 17th and 18th centuries much of this group accumulated great wealth by controlling the silk trade and also holding about a hundred public offices. Most of these lineages were nevertheless completely assimilated over generations despite their endogamic practices. A compact core of active crypto-Muslims was prosecuted by the Inquisition in 1727, receiving comparatively light sentences. These convicts kept alive their identity until the late 18th century.[53]

The attempted expulsion of Moriscos from Extremadura was deemed a failure, with the exception of the speedy expulsion of the Moriscos of the town of Hornachos who would become the founders of the Republic of Salé in modern-day Morocco. Extremaduran Moriscos benefited from systematic support from authorities and society throughout the region and numerous Moriscos avoiding deportation while whole communities such as those of Alcántara temporarily shifted across the border to Portugal only to return later. The expulsion between 1609-1614 therefore did not come close to its objective of eliminating Morisco presence from the region.[54]

Similar patterns are observed in a detailed examination of the Expulsion in the south eastern Region of Murcia, large swathes of which were of Morisco majority. Morisco integration had reached high levels at the time of expulsion, they formed a strong socio-economic block with complex family ties and good-neighbourly relations. This resulted in the possibility of return, with few exceptions, to be offered and taken by a majority of Moriscos expelled. Although some were initially persecuted upon return, by 1622 they were no longer given any trouble from authorities.[55]

"Moriscos in Granada", drawn by Christoph Weiditz (1529)

Recent genetic studies of North African admixture among modern-day Spaniards have found high levels of North African (Berber) and Sub-Saharan African admixture among Spanish and Portuguese populations as compared to the rest of southern and western Europe, and such admixture does not follow a North-South gradient as one would initially expect, but more of an East-West one.[56]

While the descendants of those Moriscos who fled to North Africa have remained strongly aware and proud of their Andalusi roots,[57] the Moriscos' identity as a community was wiped out in Spain, be it via either expulsion or absorption by the dominant culture. Nevertheless, a journalistic investigation over the past years has uncovered existing communities in rural Spain (more specifically in the provinces of Murcia and Albacete) which seem to have maintained traces of their Islamic or Morisco identity, secretly practicing a debased form of Islam as late as the 20th century, as well as conserving Morisco customs and unusual Arabic vocabulary in their speech.[58]

The ineffectiveness of the expulsion in the lands of Castile nevertheless contrasts with that of the Crown of Aragón (modern day Catalonia, Aragón and Valencian Community in Eastern Spain. Here the expulsion was accepted much more wholeheartedly and instances of evasion and/or return have so far not been considered demographically important. This explains why Spain was not affected on the whole by the expulsion whereas the Valencian Community was devastated and never truly recovered as an economic or political powerhouse of the kingdom, ceding its position, within the Crown of Aragón, to the Catalan counties to the north, which never had a sizeable Morisco population to begin with.[59]

Modern-day ethnicities in Spain associated to the Moriscos

A number of ethnicities in northern Spain have historically been suspected of having Morisco roots. Among them are the Vaqueiros de Alzada of Asturias, the Mercheros (present throughout northern and western Spain), the Pasiegos of the Pas Valley in the mountains of Cantabria and the Maragatos of the Maragatería region of Leon. Genetic studies have been performed on the latter two, both showing higher levels of North African ancestry than the average for Iberia, although only in the case of the Pasiegos was there a clear differentiation from adjacent populations.[60]

Moriscos and population genetics

Spain's Morisco population was the last population who self-identified and traced its roots to the various waves of Muslim conquerors from North Africa. Historians generally agree that, at the height of Muslim rule, Muladis or Muslims of pre-Islamic Iberian origin were likely to constitute the large majority of Muslims in Spain. However, it is difficult to make such an assertion about the Morisco minority by the 15th and 16th century. Modern population genetics generally assume Moriscos to have had both significant Iberian and North African ancestry, even if, after centuries of presence and intermarriage in the Iberian peninsula they were unlikely to differ significantly in ethnic terms from the wider Spanish population.[49] For this reason, studies in population genetics which aim to ascertain Morisco ancestry in modern populations search for Iberian or European genetic markers among contemporary Morisco descendants in North Africa,[61] and for North African genetic markers among modern day Spaniards.[49]

A wide number of recent genetic studies of modern-day Spanish and Portuguese populations have ascertained significantly higher levels of North African admixture in the Iberian peninsula than in the rest of the European continent.[62] which is generally attributed to Islamic rule and settlement of the Iberian peninsula.[63][64] Common North African genetic markers which are relatively high frequencies in the Iberian peninsula as compared to the rest of the European continent are Y-chromosome E1b1b1b1(E-M81)[47][65] and MtDna Haplogroups L and U6. Studies coincide that North African admixture tends to increase in the South and West of the peninsula, peaking in parts of Andalusia,[66] Extremadura, Southern Portugal and Western Castile. Distribution of North African markers are largely absent from the North East of Spain as well as the Basque country. The uneven distribution of admixture in Spain has been explained by the extent and intensity of Islamic colonization in a given area, but also by the varying levels of success in attempting to expel the Moriscos in different regions of Spain[49]} , as well as forced and voluntary morisco population movements during the 16th and 17th centuries.[67]

As for tracing Morisco descendants in North Africa, to date there have been few genetic studies of populations of Morisco origin in the Maghreb region, although studies of the Moroccan population have not detected significant recent genetic inflow from the Iberian peninsula. A recent study of various Tunisian ethnic groups has found that all were indigenous North African, including those who self-identified as Andalusians.[61]


Many Moriscos joined the Barbary pirates in North Africa.

Miguel de Cervantes' writings, such as Don Quixote and Conversation of the Two Dogs, offer ambivalent views of Moriscos. In the first part of Don Quixote (before the expulsion), a Morisco translates a found document containing the Arabic "history" that Cervantes is merely "publishing". In the second part, after the expulsion, Ricote is a Morisco and a former neighbor of Sancho Panza. He cares more about money than religion, and left for Germany, from where he returned as a false pilgrim to unbury his treasure. He admits, however, the righteousness of their expulsion. His daughter Ana Félix is brought to Berbery but suffers since she is a sincere Christian.

Extended meaning

In historical studies of minoritisation, the term "Morisco" is sometimes applied to other historical crypto-Muslims, in places such as Norman Sicily, 9th-century Crete, and other areas along the medieval Christian-Muslim frontier.

In the racial classification of colonial Spanish America, morisco was used as a term for the child of a mulatto and Spaniard.

Descendants and Spanish citizenship

In October 2006, the Andalusian Parliament asked the three parliamentary groups that form the majority to support an amendment that would ease the way for Morisco descendants to gain Spanish citizenship. The proposal was originally made by IULV-CA, the Andalusian branch of the United Left.[68] Spanish Civil Code Art. 22.1, in its current form, provides concessions to nationals of the Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and Portugal as well as to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled by Spain. It allows them to seek citizenship after two years rather than the customary ten years required for residence in Spain.[69]

According to the President of Andalusi Historical Memory Association, Nayib Loubaris, this measure could potentially benefit as many as 600 families of Morisco origin in Morocco, who moved to Rabat and various other cities across the country. Such families are easily recognizable by their Spanish surnames such as Torres, Loubaris (from Olivares), Bargachi (from Vargas) Buano (from Bueno), Sordo, Denia, Lucas etc...[70] Earlier estimates had involved much larger figures of potential descendants (up to 5 million in Morocco and an indeterminate number from other Muslim countries.[71] On January 12, 2015, the Spanish government decided and stated that it will not give Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Moriscos.[72]

Since 1992 some Spanish and Moroccan historians and academics have been demanding equitable treatment for Moriscos similar to that offered to Sephardic Jews. The bid was welcomed by Mansur Escudero, the chairman of the Islamic Council of Spain.[73]

List of Moriscos and Morisco descendants

See also



  1. Vínculos Historia: The Moriscos who remained. The permanence of Islamic origin population in Early Modern Spain: Kingdom of Granada, XVII-XVIII centuries (In Spanish)
  2. Stallaert, C. 1998
  3. Henry Lapeyre (28 November 2011). Geografía de la España morisca. Universitat de València. p. 14. ISBN 978-84-370-8413-8.
  4. E. William Monter (13 November 2003). Frontiers of Heresy: The Spanish Inquisition from the Basque Lands to Sicily. Cambridge University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-521-52259-5.
  5. Geografía de la España morisca, page 106, Biblioteca de Estudios Moriscos, Henry Lapeyre, Universitat de València, 2011, ISBN 843708413X, 9788437084138. It quotes Enrique Cock, Relación del viaje hecho por Felipe III en 1585 a Zaragoza, Barcelona y Valencia, Madrid, 1876, page 314
  6. 1 2 3 Harvey 2005, p. 270.
  7. Harvey 2005, p. 49.
  8. Harvey 2005, pp. 60-64.
  9. Harvey 2005, p. 61.
  10. Harvey 2005, pp. 61-62.
  11. Harvey 2005, pp. 179.
  12. 1 2 Harvey 2005, p. 181.
  13. Harvey 2005, p. 182.
  14. Harvey 2005, p. 173.
  15. Harvey 2005, p. 144.
  16. Harvey 2005, p. 146.
  17. Harvey 2005, p. 149.
  18. Harvey 2005, p. 154.
  19. Harvey 2005, p. 157.
  20. Harvey 2005, p. 159.
  21. 1 2 3 Vassberg, David E. (28 November 2002). The Village and the Outside World in Golden Age Castile: Mobility and Migration in Everyday Rural Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780521527132. We know that many of the Moriscos were well acculturated to Christian ways, and that many had even become sincere Roman Catholics.
  22. 1 2 Carr, Matthew (2009). The Purging of Muslim Spain. The New Press. p. 213. ISBN 9781595583611. In Granada, Moriscos were killed because they refused to renounce their adopted faith. Elsewhere in Spain, Moriscos went to mass and heard confession and appeared to do everything that their new faith required of them.
  23. 1 2 Remensnyder, A. G. (2011). "Beyond Muslim and Christian: The Moriscos' Marian Scriptures". Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Duke University. 41 (3): 545–576. doi:10.1215/10829636-1363945. ISSN 1082-9636. Early modern Spaniards, whether Old Christians or Moriscos, often used the Virgin Mary as a figure through which to define a fixed boundary between Islam and Christianity. Yet a set of sacred scriptures created by some Moriscos in late sixteenth-century Granada went against this trend by presenting her as the patron saint of those New Christians who were proud of their Muslim ancestry.
  24. Harvey 2005, p. 264.
  25. Harvey 2005, p. 267.
  26. Harvey 2005, p. 271.
  27. 1 2 Harvey 2005, p. 265.
  28. Harvey 2005, p. 275.
  29. Quran 4:171. ". The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him."
  30. Harvey 2005, p. 281.
  31. The passage invites Spanish Moriscos or crypto-Muslims to continue fulfilling Islamic prescriptions and disguise (taqiyya), so they would be protected while showing public adherence to the Christian faith.
  32. Daniel Eisenberg, "Cisneros y la quema de los manuscritos granadinos", Journal of Hispanic Philology, 16, 1992, pp. 107-124,*/, retrieved 2014-08-18
  33. 1 2 Henry Kamen, Spanish Inquisition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997, p. 216)
  34. 1 2 Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, p. 224.
  35. Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith, p.311
  36. 1 2 Henry Charles Lea, The Moriscos of Spain: Their Conversion and Expulsion, p. 281
  37. L. P. Harvey, Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614, p. 343
  38. "Miguel de Luna", CervantesVirtual
  39. L. P. Harvey. Muslims in Spain, 1500 to 1614. University Of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-226-31963-6.
  40. H.C Lea, The Moriscos of Spain; op cit; p.345
  41. Boase, Roger (4 April 2002). "The Muslim Expulsion from Spain". History Today. 52 (4). Moriscos who were sincere Christians were also bound to remain second-class citizens, and might be exposed to criticism from Muslims and Christians alike.
  42. Bruno Etienne, "Nos ancêtres les Sarrasins", in « Les nouveaux penseurs de l’Islam », Nouvel Observateur, hors série n° 54 du April/May 2004, pp. 22–23
  43. Francisque Michel, Histoire des races maudites de la France et de l'Espagne, Hachette, 1847, p.71
  44. Boase, Roger (4 April 2002). "The Muslim Expulsion from Spain". History Today. 52 (4). The majority of the forced emigrants settled in the Maghrib or Barbary Coast, especially in Oran, Tunis, Tlemcen, Tetuán, Rabat and Salé. Many travelled overland to France, but after the assassination of Henry of Navarre by Ravaillac in May 1610, they were forced to emigrate to Italy, Sicily or Constantinople.
  45. Anwar G. Chejne, Islam and the West: The Moriscos, a Cultural and Social History, SUNY Press, 1983, p.13. Quote: " may be assumed that some 35,000 managed to remain."
  46. Moorjani P, author3 N, Hirschhorn JN, Keinan A, Hao L, et al. (2011). McVean G, ed. "The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines, and Jews". PLoS Genet. 7 (4): e1001373. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001373. PMC 3080861Freely accessible. PMID 21533020.
  47. 1 2 Capelli, Cristian; Onofri, Valerio; Brisighelli, Francesca; Boschi, Ilaria; Scarnicci, Francesca; Masullo, Mara; Ferri, Gianmarco; Tofanelli, Sergio; Tagliabracci, Adriano; Gusmao, Leonor; Amorim, Antonio; Gatto, Francesco; Kirin, Mirna; Merlitti, Davide; Brion, Maria; Verea, Alejandro Blanco; Romano, Valentino; Cali, Francesco; Pascali, Vincenzo (2009). "Moors and Saracens in Europe: estimating the medieval North African male legacy in southern Europe". European Journal of Human Genetics. 17 (6): 848–52. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.258. PMC 2947089Freely accessible. PMID 19156170.
  48. Semino, Ornella; Magri, Chiara; Benuzzi, Giorgia; Lin, Alice A.; Al-Zahery, Nadia; Battaglia, Vincenza; MacCioni, Liliana; Triantaphyllidis, Costas; Shen, Peidong; Oefner, Peter J.; Zhivotovsky, Lev A.; King, Roy; Torroni, Antonio; Cavalli-Sforza, L. Luca; Underhill, Peter A.; Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Silvana (2004). "Origin, Diffusion, and Differentiation of Y-Chromosome Haplogroups E and J: Inferences on the Neolithization of Europe and Later Migratory Events in the Mediterranean Area". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 74 (5): 1023–34. doi:10.1086/386295. PMC 1181965Freely accessible. PMID 15069642.
  49. 1 2 3 4 Adams, Susan M.; Bosch, Elena; Balaresque, Patricia L.; Ballereau, Stéphane J.; Lee, Andrew C.; Arroyo, Eduardo; López-Parra, Ana M.; Aler, Mercedes; Grifo, Marina S. Gisbert; Brion, Maria; Carracedo, Angel; Lavinha, João; Martínez-Jarreta, Begoña; Quintana-Murci, Lluis; Picornell, Antònia; Ramon, Misericordia; Skorecki, Karl; Behar, Doron M.; Calafell, Francesc; Jobling, Mark A. (December 2008). "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 83 (6): 725–736. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007. PMC 2668061Freely accessible. PMID 19061982.
  50. Javier Sampedro (5 December 2008). "Sefardíes y moriscos siguen aquí" (in Spanish). El País. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Pero los cromosomas cuentan otra historia. Nada menos que el 20% de la población ibérica actual desciende de sefardíes. Y otro 11%, de norteafricanos. Si ambos siguen aquí, es que nunca se marcharon.
  51. 1 2 Trevor J. Dadson (Winter 2011). "The Assimilation of Spain's Moriscos: Fiction or Reality?" (PDF). Journal of Levantine Studies. Bibliotecas Públicas. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. 1 (2): 23–24.
  52. Michel Boeglin: La expulsión de los moriscos de Andalucía y sus límites. El caso de Sevilla (1610-1613) (In Spanish)
  53. Europa Press News Agency: Experto descubre "linajes ocultos" de moriscos que se quedaron en Andalucía, a pesar de la orden de expulsión (In Spanish)
  54. Sánchez Rubio, Rocio; Testón Núñez, Isabel; Hernández Bermejo, Mª Ángeles: The expulsion of the Moriscos from Extremadura (1609-1614)
  55. Lisón Hernández, Luis: Mito y realidad en la expulsión de los mudéjares murcianos del Valle de Ricote
  56. Adams et al.: The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula
  58. La Vanguardia, 12-Nov-2006. Los últimos de Al Andalus. En la sierra del Segura se mantiene el recuerdo de descendientes de moriscos que practicaban costumbres musulmanas. (Page 1) - (Page 2) (In Spanish)
  59. Gregorio Colás Latorre: Nueva mirada sobre la expulsión de los moriscos aragoneses y sus consecuencias
  60. (Spanish) Minorías malditas: La historia desconocida de otros pueblos de España, chapter 3, Javier García-Egocheaga Vergara, ISBN 84-305-3620-5, Tikal Ediciones (Ed. Susaeta), Madrid, 2003.
  61. 1 2 Fadhlaoui-Zid, Karima; Martinez-Cruz, Begoña; Khodjet-el-khil, Houssein; Mendizabal, Isabel; Benammar-Elgaaied, Amel; Comas, David (October 2011). "Genetic structure of Tunisian ethnic groups revealed by paternal lineages". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 146 (2): 271–280. doi:10.1002/ajpa.21581. PMID 21915847.
  62. "Gene flow from North Africa contributes to differential human genetic diversity in southern Europe". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (29): 11791–11796. July 16, 2013. doi:10.1073/pnas.1306223110. PMC 3718088Freely accessible. PMID 23733930.
  63. Botigue, L. R.; Henn, B. M.; Gravel, S.; Maples, B. K.; Gignoux, C. R.; Corona, E.; Atzmon, G.; Burns, E.; Ostrer, H.; Flores, C.; Bertranpetit, J.; Comas, D.; Bustamante, C. D. (3 June 2013). "Gene flow from North Africa contributes to differential human genetic diversity in southern Europe". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110 (29): 11792. doi:10.1073/pnas.1306223110. PMC 3718088Freely accessible. PMID 23733930.
  64. Cerezo M, Achilli A, Olivieri A, et al. (May 2012). "Reconstructing ancient mitochondrial DNA links between Africa and Europe". Genome Res. 22 (5): 821–6. doi:10.1101/gr.134452.111. PMC 3337428Freely accessible. PMID 22454235.
  65. Adams, Susan M.; Bosch, Elena; Balaresque, Patricia L.; Ballereau, Stéphane J.; Lee, Andrew C.; Arroyo, Eduardo; López-Parra, Ana M.; Aler, Mercedes; Grifo, Marina S. Gisbert; Brion, Maria; Carracedo, Angel; Lavinha, João; Martínez-Jarreta, Begoña; Quintana-Murci, Lluis; Picornell, Antònia; Ramon, Misericordia; Skorecki, Karl; Behar, Doron M.; Calafell, Francesc; Jobling, Mark A. (2008). "The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 83 (6): 725–36. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007. PMC 2668061Freely accessible. PMID 19061982. Lay summary Science News (3 January 2009).
  66. Casas MJ, Hagelberg E, Fregel R, Larruga JM, González AM (December 2006). "Human mitochondrial DNA diversity in an archaeological site in al-Andalus: genetic impact of migrations from North Africa in medieval Spain". Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 131 (4): 539–51. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20463. PMID 16685727.
  67. Alvarez, Luis; Santos, Cristina; Ramos, Amanda; Pratdesaba, Roser; Francalacci, Paolo; Aluja, María Pilar (1 February 2010). "Mitochondrial DNA patterns in the Iberian Northern plateau: Population dynamics and substructure of the Zamora province". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 142 (4): 637. doi:10.1002/ajpa.21252. PMID 20127843.
  68. Propuesta de IU sobre derecho preferente de moriscos a la nacionalidad (Spanish)
  69. Código Civil (Spanish)
  70. "Los moriscos piden equipararse a los sefardíes y piden la nacionalidad española". ABC España. DIARIO ABC, S.L. February 17, 2014. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014.
  71. "Piden la nacionalidad española para los descendientes de moriscos". Diario la Torre (in Spanish). Darrax Cultura y Comunicación. 11 October 2006. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Esta medida podría beneficiar a unos cinco millones de ciudadanos marroquíes, que es el cálculo estimado de la población de origen andalusí en este país, más otro número indeterminado en Argelia, Túnez y Turquía.
  73. La Junta Islámica pide para descendientes de moriscos la nacionalidad española (Spanish)

Further reading

External links

Wikisource has the text of a 1905 New International Encyclopedia article about Morisco.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/3/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.