the last days of Moorish Rule
Anne Maria Clarke
Yet somehow in the telling I overlooked what has always been for him a particularly cherished element of the story concerning the way in which this great fortress fell from Moorish hands. So, I want to take a moment to put things straight as it were & to tell this beautiful part of the story as it was meant to be told.
The legend tells that in order to preserve the wonders of the Alhambra, in order that they might not be destroyed in a final act of vengeance - as we so often see as the vanquished are driven from their previous strongholds - in order that ... and in the hope that even under different rule ... this great beauty might not be despoiled but instead might live on.... Boabdil, the final Sultan of Moorish Spain simply walked away…. and as he left this beloved city and its peoples’ he is reputed to have said to the incoming Spanish
“These are the keys to paradise,”
He then lead his entourage high up over the Sierra Nevada mountains; and from there he is said to have taken one last longing, lingering look behind, before turning on his heels & with tears streaming down his face, walked away - never to return.
It had been his hope that those of his faith that were left behind would be treated in the same way as Jews and Christians had under Islamic rule. The latter had endured certain restrictions of course, especially after the 1100’s but had enjoyed considerable freedoms and had been permitted to maintain their religious institutions.Yet these were the days of Spanish emboldenment, and the incoming royalty had very different ideas and an agenda that was to shake the soul of the city to its core.
It was the year 1492, the year Columbus and his men set sail for the New World. The Spanish were in conquering mood, with a sword in one hand and a bible in the other - emboldened after their triumphant re-possession of the Iberian Peninsula, after 800 years of Islamic rule - the crowning glory being the re-conquest of Granada and the taking of the exquisite Alhambra.
Ferdinand & Isabella, the catholic king and queen who then took up residence were ruthless in their crack down upon Muslims and Jews in the city. Any agreement the outgoing Sultan had brokered on behalf of his people was totally disregarded & abandoned. Instead, Granada, where once upon a time, Christians, Muslims & Jews lived and worked alongside one another now became the place where the merciless Spanish Inquisition set up its headquarters and where, under its auspices, thousands were forced to renounce their faiths and convert to Christianity or else be driven from the city.
The history, myths and legends surrounding the last Muslim ruler in Spain – whose surrender ended seven centuries of Islam at the heart of Western Europe – is the subject of a new book by Cambridge academic Elizabeth Drayson. The Moor’s Last Stand: The life of Boabdil, Muslim King of Granada.
According to her, Boabdil’s heroism, long repudiated by most historical commentators, is evident in his ability to recognise the futility of further resistance, and the choice he made in rejecting the further suffering, starvation and slaughter of his people. Instead, he bargained for the best terms of surrender possible, rejecting martyrdom and willingly sacrificing his reputation for the greater good.
“The loss of Granada is viewed by modern writers as a prelude to the repression of the Muslim world,” Drayson claims. “At a time when Europe is seeking a way of addressing issues of racial and religious intolerance, equality and freedom, we might look closely at the Spanish Muslim society of which Boabdil was the final heir, which successfully tackled some of these problems.
“Boabdil represents a last stand against religious intolerance, fanatical power, and cultural ignorance; his surrender of the city and kingdom of Granada symbolised the loss of the fertile cross-cultural creativity, renewal and coexistence born out of the Muslim conquest of Spain.”
The fall marked end of golden age of Islamic learning and refinement which had embodied and held sacred much of the wisdom of Classical Greece & Rome and in so doing, brought a level of civilisation to Europe commensurate with that of the Italian Renaissance.
Today, there are hardly any Jews or Muslims in Granada and the old town of Albayzin, where my new family live: yet the magnificent palaces of the Alhambra still stand proudly overlooking the city as if nothing has changed... and in the evenings as the sun sets over the mountains one can imagine the call to prayer echoing through the narrow, white clad streets, harmonising with the sweet chimes of church bells and the murmur of Jewish evening prayer.
Anne Maria Clarke
x x x
Elizabeth Drayson. The Moor’s Last Stand: The life of Boabdil, Muslim King
The Purging of Muslim Spain
John Edwards | Published in History Today Volume 67 Issue 11 November 2017
From Golden to Grim: Jewish Life in Muslim Spain
By Howard Sachar
x x x
More fairy-stories, myths, legends and books by
Anne Maria Clarke
http://www.archivepublishing.co.uk /Transpersonal Books - Transpersonal Psychology. Understanding the Soul - Expanding Consciousness