Years of Crisis: 1500–1503
The rumblings of change and the origins of crisis for Valencia's Mudejars issued neither from the crusades against Islam nor from within Valencian society itself, but from Granada and Castile, where Queen Isabel and Cardinal Cisneros pursued a harsh and injudicious Mudejar policy that resulted in the elimination of Mudejarism.
It has been recounted how problems began in Granada in late 1499 when the patient and benevolent archbishop Talavera was superseded by the immoderate Cisneros with his brand of conversion by coercion. There followed the revolt in Granada's Albaicín (December 1499), rebellions in the Alpujarras, the region of Almería, and the Sierra Bermeja (1500–1501), the pacification and conversion of the kingdom of Granada's Muslims (by May 1501), and, finally, the expulsion or baptism of the Mudejars of Castile (12 February 1502). It is worthwhile to recall the difficult conditions for emigration offered to the Castilian Mudejars. They were allowed to emigrate only to Egypt. The lands of the Crown of Aragon and those of Maghriban and Ottoman enemies were declared off-limits. Also, male children of less than fifteen years and females of less than thirteen were to be left behind, presumably for a thorough
Catholic indoctrination. As in past centuries, the indigenous labor force remained, but this time under the illusion of religious uniformity.
If Fernando had thought his own kingdoms could remain immune to the tragedy of conflict and conversion transpiring in Granada, he was grievously mistaken. It took little time for news and rumors about these momentous events to reach Valencia. Only two months after the Alpujarras had risen in revolt, the jurates of Valencia reported to Fernando (29 February 1500) that on account of these incidents certain persons of ill will were propagating rumors to the effect that all the Muslims in Valencia were to become Christians, either voluntarily or by compulsion. These rumors had reached the ears of the Mudejars who, fearing for their personal safety, were trading and traveling as little as possible. The jurates, who in the wake of Ottoman victories had asked the king to take measures against the Mudejars, were now requesting that he take action against those murmuring of the Mudejars' conversion.
The jurates do not identify the rumor-mongers. Undoubtedly, there were Christians in Valencia—Inquisitors, lower clergy, those resentful of Mudejar economic success—who approved of Cisneros's methods and were hoping to see a similar Mudejar policy instituted in their kingdom. Also, there might have been concern that the revolts in the Alpujarras and around Almería would inspire insurrection among Valencia's Muslims. In this light, the raids of Maghriban corsairs on Valencian and Andalusian coasts would have acquired more sinister implications. Perhaps the rumor-mongers reasoned that baptismal waters would erase the Mudejars' affiliations with Muslims outside of the kingdom.
Fernando wasted little time in responding to the jurates' plea. On 5 March 1500 he issued orders to the officials in those areas of the kingdom with large Muslim populations—Valencia, Játiva, Alcira, Castellón de la Plana, Villarreal, Oliva, Gandía, Valldigna, Murviedro, and the Vall de Uxó—and repeated the jurates' reports, but in more detail. The king labeled those promoting violence against the Mudejars as "malevolent persons ... moved ... by some sinister and grave intentions." Hence, they had disseminated the false rumor "that it would be and is our [Fernando's] intention and will to reduce by force to the holy faith and Christian religion all the Moors of the said kingdom [Valencia]." Fernando had little use for such propagandists, seeing them less as misguided religious zealots than as troublemakers who desired "to move all the people against the said Moors and to seek occasions to riot and rise against them." Not surprisingly, the Mudejars "fearing these novelties ... refuse to leave their communities to conduct either business or commerce." Fernando insisted that such rumors were not only detrimental to the entire kingdom, but also were contrary to his own inten-
tions. Although events in Granada had suggested otherwise, the king declared the principle that "our holy Catholic faith in the conversion of the infidels admits neither violence nor any force but [only] complete freedom and devotion." Those who continued to say the contrary were to be punished. All the morerías of the kingdom, both royal and seigneurial, were to be placed under royal protection and no one was to dare inflict physical or verbal abuse on the Muslims. Anyone disturbing the Muslims in their peaceful existence was to suffer penalties beyond those demanded by the Furs , commensurate with the violation of a royal safeguard.
The subsequent cycle of rebellion and conversion or emigration in Granada and Castile, culminating in the decree of 12 February 1502, detracted from the efficacy of these commands and kept tongues wagging. By September 1501, the rumors had spread to Catalonia, compelling Fernando to issue the same orders to officials there. On 20 February 1502, the orders had to be reiterated in Valencia.
Royal correspondence with the bailiff general of Valencia between March and June 1501, regarding the emigration of Mudejars through the port of Valencia, reflects the evolution of royal policy during these crucial months. On 8 March 1501 Fernando reprimanded the bailiff for permitting the emigration to North Africa of Muslims from Aragon, Catalonia, and other areas, when he had expressly forbidden the emigration of all Muslims from any of his kingdoms. The bailiff responded with surprise to this new order, arguing that he had given licenses only to Muslims of Castile and Navarre, not to those of Valencia, whose emigration he knew had been prohibited in the Corts of 1488. Although the bailiff promised obedience to royal wishes, he was again reprimanded (24 April 1501) for licensing the emigration of Catalan and Aragonese Mudejars. At this point Fernando must have felt some uncertainty regarding the complete pacification of Granada and the final formulation of a Mudejar policy for Granada and Castile. His primary concern was to maintain order and to prevent the mass flight of Spain's Mudejars to the Maghrib. Satisfied that the port of Valencia had been effectively sealed off, the king was still compelled to command officials in Valencia and Catalonia to stop Valencia's panicked Mudejars from embarking on boats in the area of Tortosa.
Once sure that the rebellions in Granada had been definitely quashed, Fernando modified the emigration policy. On 25 May 1501 he allowed for the emigration of all Mudejars of the Crown of Aragon, so long as they paid the usual passage duties. However, this did not apply to Castilian Mudejars, regarding whose passage the bailiff general would have to confer with the king, "so that according to the time we can command you what will most fulfill our service." Fernando and
Isabel were probably already considering the conversion of Castile's Mudejars and so wished to curtail their movements. The lifting of restrictions on the Mudejars of his own kingdoms was perhaps intended as a display of good faith to assuage their anxiety. Only twenty-five Aragonese Mudejars took advantage of the opportunity. Although there are no records of the emigration of Valencian Muslims, the nobles were complaining in September that many Muslims were doing so with license of the bailiff general. Fernando's permission of this emigration was a breach of the prohibitive legislation passed in the Corts of 1488. In any case, by February 1502, the final "Christianization" of Castile necessitated that Valencia's door to the Maghrib again be slammed shut.
No one in the kingdom of Valencia had greater sensitivity to the pulse of Mudejar life than the noblemen on whose estates the majority of Mudejars were vassals. They saw firsthand the Mudejar reaction to the Monarchs' Castilian policies. If Valencia's Muslims had been uneasy on account of the fate of their recently conquered fellows in Granada, the conversion of Castile's Mudejars, who had lived under Christian rule for as long a time as themselves, brought them to the verge of panic. On 12 April 1502, the military estate of Valencia informed Fernando of this in no uncertain terms.
Two things were kindling fear in the Mudejars' souls. First, the proclamation that all Muslims of Castile must either convert or emigrate led them to believe that the king would also compel them to convert "per indirectum." Valencia's Muslims had no illusions about the supposed freedom of choice offered by the Monarchs to the Castilians, and were aware of the difficult conditions attached to their emigration ("they have to become Christians or they have to leave the kingdom [Castile] in a certain manner and under certain conditions contained in the said proclamation"). They understood the Monarchs' method of conversion by indirect coercion—that is, anything short of dragging Muslims to the baptismal font—which, although it might satisfy Catholic theologians, would mean for them, as Muslims, an unwilling submission in the most trying of circumstances. The prohibition against Muslims entering and trading in Castile further aroused the Mudejars' suspicions.
Second, the Mudejars believed that the Inquisition was going to proceed against them for having dissuaded Muslims from conversion and for having claimed that Islam is a better religion than Christianity. The Inquisitors' imprisonment of two Muslims led them to think that a general Inquisition of all Muslims was being planned. The Mudejars were "beside themselves with fear," because it was true that they all defended their religion, and that in their mosques the faqih s[*] preached the merits of Islam and warned that Christianity leads to damnation. They
reasoned that this would provide the Inquisitors with sufficient excuse to punish them, and that, in order to escape the Inquisition's unendurable penalties, they would either have to convert or flee. From the Jews' experience the Mudejars had learned the lesson of the connection between conversion, Inquisition, and the horrors of the auto-da-fé.
The lords of the military and ecclesiastical estates had already warned the Inquisitors of the great damage the kingdom would suffer if, by their actions, they provoked a Mudejar revolt. In reply, the Inquisitors had assured them that the Mudejars' fears were unfounded and that they had imprisoned the two Muslims only because the latter had come to the palace of the Inquisition in order to dissuade and threaten other Muslims who were there to be baptized. The lords were planning to circulate the Inquisitors' response among the Muslims so as to assuage their fears on at least that score.
For the complete restoration of calm the nobles deemed that royal intervention was essential, and they advanced weighty arguments to prompt it. They reminded the king that the Mudejars constituted the economic foundation of the kingdom and that, were they forced to abandon it, the economy would crumble. The churches, the knights, the urban rentier class, and the artisans would all be grievously affected. Given the interdependence of the economy's components, "[when] some are destroyed, all are destroyed." Already the Muslims were so distraught that they no longer wished to work and ceased paying rents to their lords. Instead, they were hiding their movable goods in mountain caches and selling what they could of their remaining property.
Worse still, the present state of affairs was driving the Mudejars to the brink of violent reaction. The nobles, who in previous years had been much less concerned than either the king or Valencia's jurates about possible Mudejar collusion with Muslim enemies, were now raising the specter of Mudejar insurrection. They warned that there were more than 22,000 households of Muslims in the kingdom, who were well armed, had an intelligence network, and lived near impregnable mountain fastnesses. Because the Mudejars were so apprehensive that conversion might be forced on them, any untoward movement on the king's part could result in the deaths of Christians and Muslims and in the destruction of much property, all redounding to the irreparable damage of the kingdom. At this point the nobles maintained that the Mudejars, who had once warned Christians of the approach of Maghriban corsairs, would now welcome them. Notice of the sighting of at least seventeen corsair galleys made this argument more pointed. Although the nobles had an obvious interest in exaggerating the peril in which the kingdom might be placed, the Mudejars' desperation was real enough.
Indeed, the Mudejars had boats hidden along the coast, and it was
suspected that they were using them to escape to Africa. Already more than thirty Muslims had fled from Polop, while the lord Bernat de Almunia found that he was losing vassals each day. If the king did not do something to put the Muslims' fears to rest it would be almost impossible to prevent their departure.
The nobles' communication to Fernando of 24 May 1502 reveals that the king had, in fact, ordered the viceroy, his sister Juana, the Queen of Naples, to take measures, but that the nobles were not at all pleased with the royal provisions. Fernando had intended to freeze Mudejar movement: Mudejars were not to change their vassalage; they were not to sell their possessions; and they were not to have boats or go near the sea, all under penalty of enslavement. The nobles felt that such provisions would do anything but inspire confidence among the Muslims, who would perceive them as preliminary to their forced conversion. Therefore, they had convinced the viceroy to delay their public proclamation. Again the nobles insisted that Fernando interdict all interference by the Inquisitors in the affairs of Muslims. The king must give assurances that Castilian Mudejar policy would not have a Valencian sequel.
By July the situation still had not improved. On the contrary, the imprudent actions of the viceroy had served only to enhance the Mudejars' fears. At the instance of one of her servants, a certain Micer Julio, whose slave had run away, Queen Juana was conducting an investigation of the Mudejars' assistance to runaways. Throughout the month of June citations were affixed to the doors of the mosques of each morería , commanding the aljamas to send representatives to appear before the viceroy to answer the charges. The Mudejars feared that those aljamas found guilty would be offered the choice of conversion or expulsion. The citations had so terrorized the Muslims that when one was posted in Altea the entire Muslim population of 170 climbed into Turkish ships and fled the place within two days. The barony of Callosa lost twenty-five vassals in the same way. Representatives of all three estates were moved to confer with the viceroy, and they persuaded her to revoke the citations. Then they turned to the king and requested that he put a halt to all such procedures. Nevertheless, throughout the summer and fall of 1502 Mudejars persisted in their attempts to flee Valencia. A number of them were captured at the coast before they could board boats and sail to Africa.
During these panic-filled months there came to the fore the Mudejars' contacts with Maghriban corsairs and their Ottoman allies operating out of Maghriban ports. Muslim piratical activity noticeably increased in 1502 and 1503. Valencia's coasts were so harried that in April 1502, the capital and other coastal towns established a warning system that utilized smoke signals to advise not only of the enemy's approach
but also of the size of his fleet. Ships were outfitted to patrol the coastline. Moreover, it appears that the corsairs grew bolder and that the size of their raiding parties increased. Almoradi and Benidorm were attacked by forces of more than 100 and 180 Muslims, respectively. The corsairs' greatest success occurred in August 1503, when a party of more than 600 burned Cullera and captured at least 200 of its inhabitants.
This increase in the Maghriban and Turkish corsairs' determination to inflict damage on Christian Spain was probably related to the peninsular developments of 1501 and 1502. The conquest of Granada in 1492 had already filled the corsairs' ranks with bitter Granadan Muslims. The revolts of the Alpujarras and the Monarchs' harsh policy in Granada likely would have done the same. During these years Valencia's Mudejars maintained communication with the port cities of the Maghrib. Thus, when the corsairs set sail to plunder and terrorize Valencia's coasts they also had in mind assisting the kingdom's Muslims.
It seems that the Mudejars and the corsairs had prearranged plans for the escape from Valencia of those Mudejars fleeing the threat of forced baptism. Preparations might have been made as early as 1500, when the rumors of the Mudejars' forced conversion were first propagated. In any case, it is clear that when the corsairs arrived, the Mudejars were waiting for them on the shore. In May 1502 it was reported that corsairs had arrived near Corbera and that Mudejars of the coastal areas were boarding their ships. In July the jurates of Valencia were more explicit, saying that Muslim galleys were arriving "with the intelligence that they have from some Moors of the present kingdom" and were carrying off many Mudejars to the Maghrib. Most recently, Muslims from Valldigna and from Piles had departed in this manner. When news reached Valencia of the massing of a combined Turko-Maghriban fleet of eighteen ships in Bougie and Algiers, three reasons for the expedition were advanced: to capture ships returning from the Levant; to take booty and Christian captives on the Valencian coast; and to pick up those Muslims wishing to depart the kingdom for fear of forced baptism. The ultimate destination of this particular fleet is unknown, but what is more certain is the flight of an undetermined number of Mudejars from Valencia, and many of them in the ships of Maghriban and Ottoman corsairs.
It is significant that in this desperate situation the Mudejars chose flight instead of armed rebellion. On one hand, it reflects the Mudejars' sense of impotence before Christian power in Valencia. On the other hand, the willingness to abandon their homes and possessions shows that for the Mudejars the freedom to practice Islam outweighed all other considerations. When forced to convert in 1525, the Mudejars of
the Sierra de Espadán would resort to armed resistance. Nevertheless, in 1503 Fernando managed to restore some calm by assuring all parties in the Corts of Barcelona and in the Cortes of Zaragoza that the Mudejars could continue to live as Muslims in the lands of the Crown of Aragon. Consequently, a number of Mudejar refugees returned home from the Maghrib. As long as they could practice Islam, these Valencian Muslims preferred to do so in Valencia. Other Mudejars, however, were less convinced by royal assurances and thought that they could see the handwriting on the wall, the good intentions of the king notwithstanding. Thus, as late as July 1504, the bailiff general was still expressing concern that some Mudejars were secretly leaving for North Africa in hidden boats and persuading others to join them.
The continuing anxiety of those Mudejars who refused to believe that royal promises alone could protect them most likely was evoked by the unabated circulation of rumors that the Mudejars were, indeed, to be baptized or expelled. Once this idea had been planted in the minds of some Christians, it could not be easily eradicated. Consequently, in the Cortes of Monzón (1510) Fernando again had to promise that the Mudejars would remain unmolested. Likewise, in 1517 Carlos I was compelled to issue a proclamation denying any intention on his part of expelling the Muslims of Valencia and Aragon. As long as order was maintained, the promises of Fernando and Carlos were kept. But when the revolt of the Germanías threw Valencian society into a turmoil and created the conditions for radical social change, the enemies of the Mudejars, perhaps inspired by the example of Cisneros in Granada twenty years earlier, made the Mudejars' worst fears a reality.
The international clash between Christianity and Islam did not have in Valencia an impact sufficient to unravel the resilient fabric of Muslim-Christian coexistence. The Mudejars did not express their identification with Islam by rebelling against their crusading king; nor did that king harshly oppress his Muslim subjects while warring with Islamic states. The occasional Mudejar collusion with Muslim enemies was borne as a customary feature of frontier life, an insignificant annoyance in comparison with the economic benefits accruing from the Mudejar presence.
The survival of Mudejarism in Valencia during the years of crusade owed much to the outlook and determination of Fernando. The king's reply to the warning of Qa'it[*] Bay[*] in 1489 affords further insight into his stance on the question of minority enclaves. As we recall, the Mamluk sultan had threatened to persecute Jerusalem's Christian clergy if the Monarchs did not halt their attacks on Granada. Fernando responded by explaining that the war against Granada was not so much a religious
war as a politically justifiable reconquest of lands taken from the Spanish Christians by the Muslims more than 700 years ago. He also noted that the Christian offensive had been provoked by the continual depredations of Granadan Muslims on Spanish Christians. To clinch his argument Fernando reminded the Mamluk of Spain's long tradition of Mudejarism in which Muslim subjects were guaranteed the freedom to practice Islam and the protection of their persons and property. If Granada's Muslims chose to remain in Spain, they would be accorded the same treatment. In essence, Fernando was arguing that Christian conquest neither precluded Muslim-Christian coexistence nor demanded religious uniformity. In light of the later conversions in Granada and Castile, Fernando's reply appears the height of cynicism. However, Fernando's Mudejar policy in the lands of the Crown of Aragon thrusts into relief the difference between his approach and that of his wife Isabel, and suggests that his reply was, in fact, sincere. In Fernando's mind the tradition of Mudejarism was still one worth maintaining.
A key factor in explaining why Valencia's Christians and Muslims did not rise up against each other in response to the promotion of crusade is that, for them, Christian-Muslim conflict, on either the local or the international scale, was not anything new. Ever present in the social formula of convivencia itself was the element of ideological antagonism, which was either mitigated or aggravated by economic and social factors. Indeed, economic and social distress, which tended to thrust religious differences into relief, was usually most responsible for the eruption of violence. More novel than war with Islam was the harnessing of Aragon to the Castilian juggernaut, which, while it allowed for the final conquest of Granada, also unleashed forces within Valencia that threatened its tradition of Mudejarism. Although the union of the two Crowns set the stage for Spain's imperial achievements, it redirected the destinies of its constituent societies in sometimes tragic ways.