In 1492 the city of Granada was taken from the Moors after being laid siege by Ferdinand and Isabela, the Catholic monarchs.
In this moment, Spain became, nominally at least, a politically unified body for the first time in its history.
The bigger task was to create cultural unity.
The Moors were unique in European history in that they sought to build on rather than destroy what had come before. The great achievement of Moorish Spain was this accumulation and compilation of knowledge.
Without knowing enough to be able to say that everything was rosy for the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims living hand in hand in harmony. They surely didn’t. However, they did all have the right to coexist in Moorish Spain.
After 700 years of this, the population of the Iberian peninsula was completely embedded. This photo of the church roof in the village of Júbar is a dramatic illustration of the point.
The idea that you could simply expel the Jews or expel the Moors is ridiculous.
It’s not as if there were neat demarcations between communities after all those centuries. Traditions and people had mixed. In all honesty, that blend is still apparent today, particularly in Andalucia.
The Alpujarras was the region of Spain which remained culturally diverse for the longest. It fell to a body of 6,000 troops, based in Granada, to patrol the entire region and ensure compliance with the new religious protcols.
That is to say to enforce the exclusivity of Catholic worship.
As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard for such a small force to keep an eye on what people were up to. This apparently is where the habit of hanging hams came from. The troops would basically travel round, hanging ham legs inside churches to make sure that they weren’t being used for Muslim or Jewish services.
This way the soldiers really just had to patrol the ham legs and make sure they were still hanging from the roof in order to ensure at least some level of compliance.
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