The Expulsions Begin in Valencia

Areas of Dense Morisco Settlement

Areas of Dense Morisco Settlement

On August 4th, 1609 the expulsion process in Valencia began. The clauses of the expulsion order were as follows, (Paraphrased by Prof. L.P. Harvey):

  1. Firstly all the Morsicos [Muslims] of this Kingdom, men and women with their children, should within three days from the publication of this proclamation in the places where they live, leave their houses and embark wherever the Commisar orders them to do. They might take with them “such goods and chattels as they can carry” and embark on the ships prepared to take them across to North Africa, where they would be landed “without suffering either in their own persons or in what they are carrying with them, any ill treatment or harm by word or by deed.” They are told they will have provisions supplied on the voyage, and are advised themselves to bring what they can with them. Disobedience to the proclamation is to be punished by death.
  2. Any Morisco [Muslim] found away from home and unsupervised in the period  from three days after the proclamation until the embarkation had started might be arrested and be stripped of all the possessions and anybody (presumably any Christian) who performed this act of confiscation would incur no penalties at all. If the Morisco [Muslim] offered resistance, he could be killed.
  3. All Moriscos [Muslims] were to wait where they were until the commissar came to collect them (and were threatened with similar treatment if they failed to do so).
  4. If there were any attempts to hide or bury property or to burn houses, crops or other property, all the inhabitants of the village in question became subject to the death penalty.
  5. In six houses out of every hundred the Morsico [Muslim] inhabitants were to remain behind to show those who took over the properties how to work, among other things, the sugar mills and irrigations systems. These were to be chosen from among the most likely to convert…[1]
  6. No old Christian, whether soldier or native of Valencia, might make so bold as to ill-treat the Moriscos by word or deed, nor touch their property, or their wives or children.
  7. Nobody was to hide any of the Moriscos [Muslims] or to help them escape. The penalty for this was six years in the galleys
  8. To reassure the Moriscos [Muslims] that they would not be molested, ten of the first group to arrive in North Africa [Maghrib] were to be allowed to return to reassure their fellows that they would be well treated (and so on with future transports)…
  9. Children of four and below who wanted to stay (how their wishes were to be ascertained is not stated) might with their parents agreement remain and not be expelled. We can see here and in the next clause that this issue of ‘innocent children’ continued to be fudged…
  10. Children of six and below with single old Christian might remain, and the mother as well, even though she was a Morsico [Muslim] Woman. But if the father were a Morisco [Muslim] and his wife were an old Christian, he should be expelled, and children under six should remain behind with the mother.
  11. Those who for a considerable period, as might be two years, had lived among Christians and had not attended Morisco [Muslim] meetinghouses [Jama’a‘s[2] as the Spanish word used is aljamas], might remain
  12. Those who with license of their Bishop received the holy sacrament (from the rectors of the places where they reside) might remain
  13. His Majesty grants and agrees that if any of the said Moriscos [Muslims] should wish to leave for other kingdoms, they may do so, so long as they depart from their place of residence within the time limit  laid down, and do not enter any part of the Spanish realms.

It is the firm will of His Majesty that the penalties of this should be enforced without allowing any remission.

To be proclaimed in the accustomed form, Valencia September 22, 1609,       (ibid, 310-311).”

A few comments are necessary for this proclamation:

Around 5300 Muslims departed from Valencia on September 30, arriving in Wahran [Oran] on October 5th, (ibid, 312). They initially were offered free passage aboard the King’s ships[3], but the Muslims rightfully distrustful of the Spanish Christians, chose to charter their own private ships, and paid 75 Reales for all over 12 years old, and 35 Reales for all children below 12 years old. As for the journey towards the ports, murder and robbery was common upon the Andalusi emigrants. In fact, Alfonse de Fonseca, the Archbishop of Toledo at the time said that on his way from Valencia to San Mateo, (one of the embarkation points), “…he saw the roads full of dead Moriscos, (Lea, ‘2001,’ 329).”

One wonders if these Muslims, most of them the sons and daughters of the Mudajaneen, regretted leaving their ‘homeland’? In fact, quite a large number were happy that finally they were able to make hijrah into Dar Al Islam from Dar Al Kufr. It was recorded that a Faqih from Valencia at the main Valencia port of Alicante was asked why Muslims were complying with the king’s orders, (when otherwise Muslims had always resisted)? The Faqih replied thus:

“Do you not know how many of us bought or stole boats in which to cross to Barbary [the Maghrib] with much danger? Then why, when we are offered safe and free passage, should we not avail ourselves of it, and go to the land of our ancestors under our king, the Turk [Uthmani], who will let us lives as Moors [Muslims] and not as slaves, as we have been treated by our masters? (ibid).”

On the other hand, some Valencians did revolt against the Spanish. To ascertain their intentions and motives for revolting, a few factors have to be taken into consideration. Firstly, they knew too well the odds were stacked against them and therefore it can not be seriously considered that they were revolting in order to defeat the Spanish and create an Islamic State in Valencia. Nay, more likely than not, their reasons to stay were that they felt an attachment to the land and felt that life in the Magrhib was rough. Their attachment to the land was so strong that they were willing to fight the Christians to stay under their rule of kufr! On the other hand, there were those that believed the odds would be evened and that due to obscure prophecies, people believed that the ‘Fatimi,’ (or commonly known as the Mahdi), will come down into Spain and defeat the Spanish. Such was the state of the Muslims of Andalus that their only hope to save them was the Mahdi, (in addition to the fact that they have their facts wrong, and you would be hard pressed to come up with evidence to show that the Mahdi would appear in the Maghrib or Andalus from the Sunnah). The major centers of the resistance to the expulsion order were in in Val de Aguar, (near the coast), and Muela de Cortes, which was in the hills. By far, the larger of the two resistance movements was the one in Val de Aguar with an estimated 11,000-22,000 Muslims fighting until being forced to surrender, (ibid, 314). Eventually resistance was crushed and all its leaders were executed. By October 20th 1609, the number of Muslims expelled increased to 32,000[4] from Valencia, (ibid, 315). What is interesting to now understand and ask is, what happened to those that were disembarked into the Maghrib at Wahran?

For the Spanish to disembark the Muslims at Wahran was an easy task as it was under Spanish control at the time. The typical journey of a Muslim family would begin with them being disembarked at Wahran while making their way on foot with their belongings into Muslim occupied territory. However, the Spanish, either knowingly or by chance, did not negotiate with the tribes that border Wahran for safe passage of these Spanish Muslims, nor reached an agreement regarding the crossing routes. As a result, when these Muslims marched into Tlemcen from Wahran, many of these Muslims were robbed by the tribes in the desert area bordering Wahran, probably mistaking them for Christians, (keep in mind, after more than hundred years under Christian rule and spending most of that time living overtly as Christians and covertly as Muslims, meant that their mannerisms, clothes, habits and sometimes, looks and anything on the exterior were heavily Christian influenced). As for the Maghrib, aside from the theoretical joy they should have been feeling to see their Muslims brethren finally free from the rule of the kuffaar, they were faced with a massive human flood of refugees which they would have felt would have put a massive load on the people of the Maghrib and their economies, (how else would you feel if, without being consulted that one fine day, 120,000 people showed up on your countries’ doorsteps?). In the end, approximately 116,022 Muslims had been expelled successfully by December 1609 but this does not even scratch the surface of the total tally of expellees, (ibid, 316). Other historians put the number at more than 150,000 that left from Valencia while the Inquisitorial authorities of Valencia put the number at 100,656, (Lea, ‘Moriscos of Spain,’ 332).

[1] In practice, this clause was not applied as all Muslims and murtads were told to leave

[2] In the Muslim era, The Jama’a used to be the name given to masajid but was now adapted to mean Muslim meetinghouses, (which would make sense since the Arabic verb Jama’a means to gather [together])

[3] as after the first round of embarkations, out of a total of three rounds, the King began charging for transport aboard his ships, thus ending any pretense of charity and kindness on the part of the Spanish

[4] By December 1609, this number would more than triple.


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