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Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain [Hardcover]

Matthew Carr
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Jan 2010
In April 1609, King Philip III of Spain signed an edict denouncing the Muslim inhabitants of Spain as heretics, traitors, and apostates. Later that year, the entire Muslim population of Spain was given three days to leave Spanish territory, on threat of death. In a brutal and traumatic exodus, entire families and communities were obliged to abandon homes and villages where they had lived for generations, leaving their property in the hands of their Christian neighbors. In Aragon and Catalonia, Muslims were escorted by government commissioners who forced them to pay whenever they drank water from a river or took refuge in the shade. For five years the expulsion continued to grind on, until an estimated 300,000 Muslims had been removed from Spanish territory, nearly 5 percent of the total population. By 1614 Spain had successfully implemented what was then the largest act of ethnic cleansing in European history, and Muslim Spain had effectively ceased to exist. "Blood and Faith" is celebrated journalist Matthew Carr's riveting chronicle of this virtually unknown episode, set against the vivid historical backdrop of the history of Muslim Spain. Here is a remarkable window onto a little-known period in modern Europe - a rich and complex tale of competing faiths and beliefs, of cultural oppression and resistance against overwhelming odds.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (25 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849040273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849040273
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 is a well-known tragedy. Less well-known is the later expulsion in 1609 of the descendants of the Moors, who had ruled Spain for centuries. Carr (The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism) examines the uneasy coexistence of Christians and Muslims beginning in 1492, when Spain was united under the Christian Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Over the next century, Christian leaders grew less and less tolerant of Iberian Muslims, requiring them to convert to Catholicism. In April 1609, this growing intolerance culminated in an edict accusing these converts, known as Moriscos, of heresy and apostasy and decreeing their expulsion. Over the next five years, an estimated 350,000 Muslims were forced to abandon their homes; many died on the journey to the ships that would take them to North Africa, and many others were terrorized, raped, robbed and killed by forces that were supposed to protect them. Carr deftly narrates the complex events leading up to this little-known but horrific episode as a warning against religious intolerance and xenophobia.' --Publishers Weekly, September 2009<br /><br />'Blood and Faith is a fascinating account of perhaps the first major episode of European ethnic cleansing and, just as importantly, the story of the beginning of the conviction that 'blood' matters more than belief; a conviction that led, in the end, to modern racism. In an age when so may people, on both sides, believe we face an historic confrontation between Christendom and Islam, it is essential to place the relations between these two global Abrahamic religions in a wider historical framework. This book does that eloquently and judiciously.' --Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University<br /><br />'In this first comprehensive appreciation in many decades of the Muslim expulsion from Spain, Blood and Faith meticulously recaptures the fateful self-mutilation of a society that might have become Europe's first multicultural nation and offers a grim lesson about religious and racial repression in our contemporary age of contested faiths.' --David Levering Lewis, Professor of History, NYU and author of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215-

Who remembers the last survivors of Muslim Spain, whom Spaniards contemptuously called Moriscos ( little Moors )? Impressive research on them has appeared in the last 30 years, yet until now, none of it has escaped beyond the walls of the academic ghetto. Matthew Carr s well-balanced and comprehensive book brings the story of their tragic fate to a wider public. Blood and Faith is a splendid work of synthesis. The story begins with the 10-year war a crusade to conquer the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. The Christian victory in 1492 signalled the beginning of the long ethnic cleansing of Holy Spain. Spanish Jews were the first victims; they were quickly forced into exile. The other ethnic and religious minority in the Iberian peninsula, the Muslim Moors, posed a more complex problem. Moors had lived for centuries in Spain and were valued for their hard work and expertise as farmers and craftsmen. Every noble landlord knew the old saying Whoever has a Moor has gold, and aristocratic fortunes were built on a simple basis: The more Moors, the more profit. The slow breakdown of this living- together (convivencia) began with the conquest of Granada. In 1492, the Muslim Granadinos were unwillingly incorporated into Christian Spain, but this brought nothing but trouble. Most fought an unremitting rear-guard action in defense of their culture, Islamic faith and social institutions, resisting a forced conversion to Christianity by any possible means. They posed a real danger to Christian Spain. Granada s long coastline offered an open frontier to the Ottoman Turks, Spain s mortal enemies. In 1568, after repeated small revolts, a civil war of unceasing savagery erupted. It was bloodily suppressed by 1571, and thereafter there was no going back on either side. As many as 80,000 Muslims men, women and children were deported deep into the Christian heartland. Yet this provided no solution. Some contemporary writers had contrasted the peaceable Moors of Aragon and Castile with the savage Moors of Granada, but this distinction soon became irrelevant. All Muslims, peaceable or savage, were increasingly regarded by their Christian neighbors as malign and dangerous. What was a Morisco in their eyes? A murderer, highwayman or bandit. All Moriscos became pollutants of Roman Catholic Spain, with their secret Islamic rituals and contempt for the values of the majority. And like the Jews in 1492 they were impure, their blood self-evidently corrupting; their very presence in Spain was an abomination. Over the next four decades, Spanish officials planned the purgation of the Muslim threat. Every remote possibility was canvassed drowning, castration, exposure on the icy shores of Newfoundland. As time passed, the government s resolution hardened: it was no longer a matter of if but of when and how. Finally, from 1609 to 1614, an estimated 300,000 Muslims were marched to the coasts and put on ships for North Africa. Carr, the author of A History of Terrorism, charts this steady breakdown, though without demonizing either Christian or Muslim. He suggests that the growth of mutual mistrust and the spiral of increasing violence were the igniting spark of the final expulsion. Yet it is impossible to read this book without sensing its resonance in our own time. In his epilogue, A Warning From History?, Carr s message is stark. The current language of outrage in Europe indulging prophecies of imminent demographic doom brought on by fertile Muslims is heading toward the idea of an agreeable holocaust, which is what a 17th-century Dominican friar called Spain s final solution to its insoluble problem. We should know better. --New York Times

'In this first comprehensive appreciation in many decades of the Muslim expulsion from Spain, Blood and Faith meticulously recaptures the fateful self-mutilation of a society that might have become Europe's first multicultural nation and offers a grim lesson about religious and racial repression in our contemporary age of contested faiths.' --David Levering Lewis, Professor of History, NYU and author of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215-

About the Author

Matthew Carr is a writer, broadcaster, and journalist who has reported on a number of violent conflicts. He is also the author of the acclaimed memoir My Father's House and of The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism. He lives in Derbyshire, England.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History or the Future 6 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Reading the untold Holocaust of Muslims in Spain, the way they were cleansed from Europe sent shivers down my spine, because I could see the exact same arguments used then, being used in today's right wing Media. If you want to know the future, if you are Muslims - read the past - this brilliant book is something I will give to my children to warn them.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 5 Dec 2012
Informative , brilliant and thoughtful in describing a critical time in Spanish/European history and interaction with Islam. A must read for anybody interested in this subject.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable leftist "Year Zero" revisionism 2 Dec 2013
By J. King
Yawn worthy attempt to rewrite the bloody history of the muslim conquest of Spain.

Starting when this was already a fait accompli and criminalizng the noble Spanish resistance to conquest this apparatchik follows the path already trod by those view the Crusades as an precursor event rather than a response to the Arab conquest of the Christian countries of Turkey, Syria, The Lebanon and Egypt.

Will go down well with brainwashed BBC/Guardian Latteists, till they get their own "Holiday in Cambodia".
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After the Reconquest: Ethnic Cleansing 7 Jan 2010
By Loves the View - Published on Amazon.com
Victory was not enough. Once control was wrested from the Moors, the Spanish monarchs wanted a Christian country. Perhaps they believed they were doing God's work or perhaps they feared or hated the "other". Whatever the initial impetus, what began with a quest for religious purity devolved into acts of incredible cruelty.

Each element, such as the idea that silencing people equals converting them, to dehumanizing minorities to the stellar detachment of the officials who ultimately drafted the expulsion plans, has relevance for today. Carr has a good discussion of this at the end.

Carr shows how everyday people fared in this purge. There were winners and losers. There are almost no Morisco winners. Whether they left their homes in tears or with heads held high, the odds were heavily against a successful relocation. Carr tells individual stories. Many who left with little had clothes stolen off their backs and/or soon died of hunger or thirst. The wealthy were vulnerable to pirates and greedy transport providers. Many were sold into slavery.

Winners included those who purchased Morisco lands at bargain prices, those who stole from the fleeing Moriscos, those who owed money or property to Moriscos. Christian losers include those who relied on the Morisco labor (both manual and professional) and those who loaned Moriscos money. In the broader picture, Spain lost due to no longer having the cultural and economic contributions of the Moors and to public and international opinion.

Was the act of taking children from parents to raise them as Christians a humanitarian act? What of giving children under 4 the choice as to whether to say in Spain and live with Christian families or leave the country with their parents? Is a woman who marries and "Old Christian" or joins a convent to avoid expulsion a "winner"? What are the expectations that a coerced conversion is a sincere conversion? How was a large segment of the population, already "un" and undereducated to learn a new language without teachers?

Carr tells a stunning story. His avoidance of sensational terms makes it all the more compelling. He takes the broad concepts and shows many examples of how this played out in individuals lives.

I recommend this for all history readers interested purges/pogroms or this particular period of Spanish history.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A relevant read for today. 14 Sep 2009
By Robert Busko - Published on Amazon.com
In the spring of 711 a general named Tariq Ibn Ziyad and an army of seven thousand Berber warriors raided the Iberian Peninsula. While some historians maintain that this excursion into Catholic Spain was a simple raid, in reality the raiders stayed and settled becoming a permanent part of the population. Thus began the creation of Muslim Spain and a legacy that lasted until 1609. Some would argue that the incursion into Spain nearly 1300 years ago by these Muslim raiders is still working itself out.

Thus begins Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain by Matthew Carr. In a book that is timely and no less relevant today, Carr explains the dynamics that operated on the Iberian Peninsula where three religions openly worshipped. Christians, Jews, and Muslims managed to coexist and prosper and together created much of what we see today as Spanish Culture. While the Jews were initially welcomed into Spain, the Muslims fought their way in, the fact is that for a period of time all three religions existed in a spirit of tolerance.

Carr examines the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and the impact it had on all of Spain, not just the Jews. This launched the Spanish Inquisition a time of unbelievable cruelty and hopelessness. "Become a Catholic or face torture or expulsion" This same choice was provided to the Moors a little more than a century later. These conversions were not completely successful and a number of revolts throughout Spain occurred.

Carr does a wonderful job at explaining the complications involved in expelling a large percent of the population. The ties that linked the three faiths/cultures were often complex and not easy to define. Clothing serves as a case in point. For the Muslim women, clothing was a managed affair. For men, the issue was less defining. According to Carr both Muslim and Christian men could be found wearing the clothes of the other's culture. It was often impossible to merely look at a man and know which God he worshipped.

While the entire book is interesting, perhaps the most important chapter in the book is the Epilogue: A Warning from History? While both the expulsions of the Jews and the later expulsions of the Muslims was a cruel act, one can understand the pressures that the rulers felt at the time. While modern Spain has become more enlightened and more tolerant, that same feeling didn't exist in seventeenth century Spain. The tolerance of modern Spain can be seen in the country's reaction to the Madrid subway bombings in 2004. But the pressure to seek Muslim conversions to Catholicism with the intent to make assimilation easier is present even today.

Blood and Faith is a relevant read today made so by the events we read in the news almost everyday.

I highly recommend.

Peace always.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those who want to better understand religious relations in European History 15 Feb 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Spain has roots from its conquest of the Moors nearly a thousand years ago. "Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain" tells the story of the end of this chapter in Muslim history, as King Philip reclaims Spain as a Christian nation by ordering the Muslims to leave Spain, a place they had at that point called home for hundreds of years. A tragic tale of Christian and Islamic relations, "Blood and Faith" is a must read for those who want to better understand religious relations in European History.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down 15 July 2013
By Nasrid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Extremely interesting,spellbinding and tragic, with the exile of 320,000 morescos muslims from spain 1609-1614,and hardly known in the world today
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vendor was good, but the book wasnt 18 Feb 2013
By Regina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Got this book for my daughter's high school history class as required reading. It shipped on time and the supplier was good, but turns out that the book wasn't very good reading.
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