The Battle of Granada was a siege of the city of Granada fought over several months, resulting in its surrender on January 2, 1492. The city was captured by the combined forces of Aragon and Castile, recently united as Spain, from the Taifa Muslim kingdom of Granada. Its fall marked the end of the Reconquista, the campaign by the medieval Christian states of Spain to drive out the Moors.
In 711, the Moors invaded Spain, initiating an eight-year campaign that resulted in the majority of the Iberian Peninsula falling under Islamic rule, except for areas like Asturias, where they were repelled at the Battle of Covadonga, and the predominantly Basque regions in the Pyrenees, as well as North Africa, for several decades.
The Christian perspective in Europe viewed the Moors' invasion as an act of aggression, as part of the Islamic world's expansion was driven by the belief in universal Islamic rule and the divine law of Islam. Yet, the invasion's actual narrative is more intricate. Roderic, the Visigoth King, had wronged the daughter of one of his Counts, Julian, who secretly allied with the Moors and pledged support in case of an invasion. Jewish advisers also accompanied the invading force. Additionally, evidence suggests that some territory was acquired through peaceful treaties.
During the Umayyad sultanate (756-929) and later the caliphate of Cordoba (929-1031) in Andalusia, the Islamic society flourished. Moorish Iberian academies became leading centres of scholarly excellence, attracting scholars from Paris, Oxford, and beyond. During the Caliphate of Cordoba's peak, the city itself stood as a major European capital and likely the most cosmopolitan city of its era.
Although the Muslim rulers’ treatment of their Christian and Jewish subjects varied and there were periods of persecution, especially under the Almohads, for much time Christians and Jews actively participated in and contributed to the society's communal life. Interfaith marriages were common, and individuals from different faiths studied together in academies. Arabic works, often translated from Greek, were converted into Latin, fostering a vibrant cultural exchange.
Concerted efforts by Spanish Christians to recapture Al-Andalus began to break up the Muslim territory as cities were regained. In 1064 Barbastro fell, followed by Toledo in 1085. This victory fuelled the idea of a "crusade" to capture Jerusalem, inspiring the First Crusade, proclaimed ten years later. Even though the Spanish conquistadors were never technically crusaders, they were portrayed as such in the legends related to the Reconquista, such as the story of El Cid.
By 1212, a coalition of Christian kings, led by Alfonso VIII of Castile, succeeded in driving Muslims from Central Iberia. Cordoba yielded in 1236, and Seville in 1248. Subsequently, the Muslim presence was confined to small enclaves or city-states known as Taifas, with Granada being the most significant and the last to fall. For the ensuing two centuries, the city experienced cultural and economic prosperity.
Between 1482 and 1492, the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon initiated a series of military campaigns to conquer Granada. Internal conflicts and civil war weakened the Granadans, while the Christians maintained a general unity. Economically, the Granadans were strained by the tribute paid to Castile to avert attacks and conquest. Despite several unsuccessful attempts to disperse the besiegers, Prince Boabdil, the Moorish ruler, was forced to seek support from the Islamic Marinid state in Morocco. He negotiated a four-month truce with the Spanish, agreeing to surrender if no assistance arrived by the truce's expiration. When help failed to materialize, the city capitulated on the agreed date, January 2, 1492. The defeat of Granada and its annexation by Castile marked the conclusion of the last vestige of Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula.
The surrender of Granada was perceived as a significant setback for Islam and a triumph for Christianity. The victory was also seen as a counterbalance to the loss of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks four decades earlier.
The terms of the treaty for Granada's surrender were surprisingly generous to the Muslims, given their limited bargaining power. Muslims were granted three years to emigrate and return freely and assured the freedom to practice their religion without coercion. Boabdil, the ruler of Granada, received the rulership of a small principality in the terrain of Alpujarras. However, he found his position untenable and sought refuge in Morocco in 1493, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Over time, Castile began to rescind some of the treaty's more tolerant provisions. This led to mass conversions, the burning of valuable Arabic manuscripts, and measures adverse to Muslims and Jews, sparking a revolt that forced many Muslims to choose between baptism, exile, or execution. The subsequent years saw heightened tensions, necessitating a sizable military presence in Granada to deter potential revolts. Additionally, Isabella reinforced the Spanish Inquisition.
The escalating oppression of the Moors, now referred to as Moriscos or "New Christians," led to the Rebellion of the Alpujarras (1568–71). Following the Moors' defeat, most Moriscos from the former Kingdom of Granada were exiled to other parts of Spain. The next century saw a number of persecutions, and in 1609 the last Moors still adhering to Islam were expelled from Spain.
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- ferdinand ii