BRIEF HISTORY OF GRANADA
In 1238, Ibn al-Ahmar rose up against Ibn Hud and conquered parts of the province of Granada. He established the kingdom of Granada, which extended from the mountains of Sierra Nevada to Gibraltar and which was originally made up of the province of Granada (where he set up his court), the provinces of Malaga and Almeria, and part of the provinces of Cordoba, Jaen, Sevilla, and Cadiz.
Before he died in 1273, Ahmar gave some of these territories to King Fernando who he helped to conquer Seville.
For about 250 years, this Moorish kingdom was ruled by 20 monarchs, and had a thriving Muslim community and a strong Islamic culture.
Unfortunately, the kingdom was gradually undermined due to the internal disagreements between its rulers and the successive conquests of various parts of the kingdom by the Christian armies. Its situation was becoming ever more precarious and the Catholic Monarchs decided to conquer the capital as the final step towards unity in Spain. On 2nd January 1492, Granada surrendered.
Although the treaties signed by the Catholic Monarchs with Boabdil for the surrender of Granada stated that the different languages, religions and customs would be respected, after a few years it became clear that this was not happening in practice, and Cardinal Cisneros insisted that everyone, regardless of their religion, be baptised.
The inquisitors had never been happy with these treaties which they believed slowed down their attempts to reduce the Muslim population and the practice of Islam in Spain. They also thought a Muslim revolt was imminent and that it was useless to expect peaceful conversion to Christianity. Cardinal Ximenes therefore asked Isabel and Fernando for permission to continue his inquisition activities and they agreed. Consequently, on 18th December 1499, some three thousand Moors were baptised, a major mosque in Granada was converted to a church and the burning of supposed religious books and documents began.
This understandably led to revolts and protests with a lot of unrest among those who had been forced to convert to Christianity, and a series of mutinies followed, culminating in the 1680 revolt which was finally put down. The most determined rebels fled to the Alpujarras where there was a violent uprising several years later.
Although promises were made that the treaties would be honoured, this did not happen and Ximenes announced that those Moors who refused to be baptised would be expelled. These baptisms were carried out en mass and at an incredible speed - so fast in fact that there was no time for religious instruction to be given to the new "converts". It has been estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Muslims were forcibly baptised in this way in Granada. The offer of emigration to Africa was really only a hollow promise and only available for those who were able to pay and who had not already been baptised.
After the Catholic Monarchs died, things got progressively worse: Queen Juana forbade the Moriscos to wear their national dress, and Carlos V introduced a theological council in 1526 which attempted to reform them. These rules were not rigidly imposed and people were able to avoid them by paying certain taxes. That all changed, however, with Felipe II who prohibited the use of Moorish dress, language and customs. As a result, there was a violent uprising on 24th December 1568. It began in the Albaicín and continued on into the Alpujarras with the Morisco Aben-Humeya being proclaimed king. Reinforcements were sent from Africa and the revolt extended to the rest of the province of Granada. Churches were burnt, villages ransacked and Christians were murdered. Following the death of Aben-Humeya, the uprising was eventually quashed in 1571. The rebels were then expelled from the kingdom and it was subsequently repopulated by Spaniards from other parts of the country.
In the centuries that followed, peace returned to Granada and it became an important cultural centre.
However, in 1808, Napoleon installed his brother Bonaparte on the Spanish throne. The Alhambra was at this time in a sorry state, and having fallen into disrepair in recent years and inhabited by thieves and beggars, it was used as a barracks by Napoleon's troops. During one of their retreats, they were responsible for blowing up two of its towers (Torre de Siete Suelos and the Torre de Agua) which were left in ruins. There was strong Spanish resistance to the Napoleonic Invasion, and consequently in 1812, he was replaced by the Spanish King Fernando VII.