Spanish "Moros y Cristianos" (Moors and Christians) parades and historical reenactments trace the history of the "Reconquista" of the Iberian Peninsula by Catholic forces in the 16th century.
Photograph by Franc and Jean Shor, National Geographic

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  • On January 2, 1492, the Emirate of Granada fell to the forces of Catholic leaders King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of what is now Spain. This ended the so-called “Reconquista,” a wresting of the Iberian Peninsula from Moorish control.
     
    The Moors were medieval Muslims indigenous to the Maghreb and western Mediterranean basin. Moors had led the area around the city of Granada for more than 700 years.
     
    Life in Granada changed radically under Catholic leadership. Under Moorish leadership, Muslims and Jews were allowed to practice their religion, although they were taxed heavily. Catholic leaders ultimately forced Muslims and Jews to convert to Christianity or be tortured and expelled. Some of these conversos (called Marranos if they were Jewish and Moriscos if they were Muslim) continued to practice their religion in secret. Thousands more migrated to the Maghreb and the “New World” of the Americas.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Catholic Adjective

    having to do with the Christian denomination with the Pope as its leader.

    convert Verb

    to change from one thing to another.

    emirate Noun

    state or territory under the authority of an emir, or Islamic leader.

    expel Verb

    to eject or force out.

    indigenous Adjective

    characteristic to or of a specific place.

    Jew Noun

    person who practices the Jewish religion.

    Maghreb Noun

    region in North Africa made of five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania.

    medieval Adjective

    having to do with the Middle Ages (500-1400) in Europe.

    Mediterranean basin Noun

    land that surrounds the Mediterranean Sea.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    Moor adjective, noun

    people and culture native to North Africa, blending Arab and Berber cultures, who established a major civilization on the Iberian Peninsula between 756-1492.

    Muslim Adjective

    having to do with Islam, the religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.

    New World Noun

    the Western Hemisphere, made up of the Americas and their islands.

    peninsula Noun

    piece of land jutting into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: peninsula
    radically Adverb

    completely or extremely.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    religion Noun

    a system of spiritual or supernatural belief.

    tax Noun

    money or goods citizens provide to government in return for public services such as military protection.

    torture Noun

    inflicting pain to force a victim to provide information.

    ultimate Adjective

    final or maximum.

    wrest Verb

    to take away by force.