The Context

‘Religious Discrimination: Jews, Muslims and Moriscos in Spain 15th-17th Centuries’


During Al-Andalus, the long period when much of the Iberian Peninsula was controlled by Muslim rulers and the majority professed the Islamic religion, there were conflicts and battles between Christians and Muslims. However, there were also periods when people of different faiths coexisted peacefully. In general, under the Islamic administration, Christians and Jews were allowed to retain their property, their customs and their religions by paying a tax. Even the Iberian Christian Kingdoms kept, more or less, this tradition until the 15th century. Nevertheless, during the 15th century, this “religious tolerance” was disappearing and the rights of Muslims and Jews were revoked. In 1492 all the Jews were forced to convert or be expelled. At the beginning of the 16th century, the conversion to Catholicism was declared compulsory for the Muslims too. Many people engaged in a struggle with the Christian authorities because their rights were not respected, but these revolts against arbitrary power failed and it was the beginning of a global religious persecution which involved mass baptisms, often forced, confiscation of property, book burnings, torture and, finally, expulsions.