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The Morisco Revolt occurred in 1568. It was a rebellion by the remnants of the community of Muslim converts to Christianity in Granadamarker against the Crown of Castile.

The defeat of Muslim Spain

In the medieval period, in the wake of the Reconquista, some Muslims left Christian-ruled Spain for Muslim countries. Most however, continued to live in Spain. They were known as Mudéjares. Until the 1500s the Muslims who remained in Christian-ruled Spain were granted religious tolerance but were subject to legal discriminations. When the small kingdom of Granada, the last Muslim-ruled state in Spain, was defeated in 1492, the Muslim population was, as usual, granted toleration by the terms of the Treaty of Granada. After they rose in rebellion in Granada (1499-1501), local Muslims were considered to have violated the terms of treaty, and were, as a consequence, compelled to convert to Christianity or be exiled. In 1502 Queen Isabella rescinded official toleration of Islam in the entire Crown of Castile, although the Crown of Aragon continued to tolerate its large Muslim population. After the Rebellion of the Brotherhoods in Valencia, King Charles I (aka Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire) rescinded toleration of the Muslims of the Crown of Aragon in 1526. Spanish Muslims officially no longer existed. Nominally Catholic but of Muslim ancestry they became known as Moriscos. Many Moriscos continued to speak the Arabic language (or the Berber language of North Africa) and to wear Moorish dress.

Despite their public conversion, the Moriscos were distrusted by the "Old Christian" population of Spain, who considered them insincere converts and secret Muslims. Many did indeed continue to practice a form of crypto-Islam in secret.

The Ottoman threat

In the mid-16th century, Ottoman Turkey emerged as the dominant Muslim power in the Mediterranean Seamarker. There were increasing clashes between Turkey and Castile. Philip II of Spain feared that the Moriscos of Granada might aid a potential Turkish invasion of Spain. The Ottoman court planned an armed intervention in favor of the Moriscos, but the Ottoman Sultan, Selim II, was influenced to invade Cyprusmarker instead because of its strategic location to crush the Christian power in the Mediterranean.

The reaction of the Spanish crown

In 1567, Philip II issued a royal decree ending all toleration of "Moorish" ways. He banned the speaking of Arabic or Berber, banned Moorish dress, required Moriscos to adopt Christian names, and ordered the destruction of all books and documents in Arabic script. Morisco children would be educated exclusively by Catholic priests. This decree broke earlier pledges of toleration.

It is alleged that Philip issued this decree with the intent of provoking rebellion, so the Moriscos could be destroyed or expelled. This may be true, or Philip may have wanted to ensure the loyalty of the Moriscos by complete assimilation.

The rebellion

Philip's new harsher approach sparked the outbreak of armed rebellion in Granada. The revolt was planned by Ferag ben Ferag, descended from the royal house of Granada, and Diego Lopez Ben Abu. They carefully ascertained the dispositions of the inhabitants of the Alpujarra mountains, where the best stand could be made against the royal forces, solicited aid from the kings of North Africa, and persuaded the local bandits to embrace their cause.

On Christmas Eve 1568, representatives of the Moriscos of Granada, the Alpujarras, and elsewhere clandestinely assembled at the Vale de Lecrin. They acclaimed Fernando de Valor as their king, under the name Aben Humeya, and repudiated Christianity.

The insurrection was led by Aben Humeya, and took the form of guerrilla warfare against the Castilian forces in the Alpujarras.

To suppress the revolt, Philip sent his illegitimate half-brother Don Juan de Austria, with a large force of Spanish and Italianmarker troops. The rebels were defeated in the autumn of 1570.

The aftermath: the expulsion of the Moriscos

After the suppression of the revolt, Philip ordered the dispersal of about 80,000 Moriscos of Granada to other areas. Philip expected that this would break down the Morisco community and facilitate their assimilation into the Christian population. Instead, the measure worsened the situation. The Granadine Moriscos were scattered across Castile, influencing the local Moriscos who had been become more integrated. Conflict between Moriscos and Christians increased, leading to the final expulsion of the Moriscos by Philip III in 1609.

People of the war

Among those who fought in the war there was El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the son of a Conquistador and an Inca princess, who became a captain.

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